A blog by Dr Lin Day



Best Buy Christmas Baby Toys

Best Buy Christmas Baby Toys

Choosing toys for babies is great fun, especially with so many different products to choose from and Christmas on the horizon. However, deciding which toy will keep your baby happy, interested, busy and stimulated can be difficult.

We have lots of ideas to get you started, but you can also visitwww.babysensoryshop.co.uk for additional gift ideas.

Newborn to 3 months

Newborn babies enjoy looking at black and white objects and bright, colourful toys. They are also attracted to things that move or make soft gentle sounds. Here are a few ideas that will capture their attention and aid development:

  • Cot mobiles (remove the mobile once the baby learns to sit up).
  • Tummy time play mat.
  • Musical toys.
  • Pictures with high-contrast graphics, bright colours, or black-and-white patterns.
  • Textured fabrics.
  • Comforter with ribbons attached.
  • Soft toys with large eyes and happy faces.
  • Rattle or jingle toys.
  • Lullaby CDs.

3 to 6 months

Babies between 3 and 6 months-old may be able to reach out and grasp things with their hands. Favourite toys often include objects that can be held, biffed, kicked or dropped. Examples might include:

  • Brightly coloured toys attached to the pram.
  • Play gym or activity centre.
  • Textured play mat.
  • Books with mirrors, faces and bright colours.
  • Toy telephone.
  • Giggle ball.
  • Teething toys.

Toys that move and make sounds provide amusement and encourage babies to exercise. Babies who are learning to sit up will enjoy toys with buttons to push or press. Generally, toys that can be gripped, squeezed or mouthed will be popular with this age-group.

 6 to 9 months

From 6 to 9 months-old, most babies can sit up unsupported for an extended period of time. Some babies may have started to crawl. The following toys will help to lead their learning and development forwards:

  • Pop-up toys.
  • Activity tables.
  • Large plastic animals.
  • Toys that can be pushed or pulled.
  • Musical instruments.
  • Toys with mirrors.
  • Balls.

A ball encourages a whole range of mobility skills as well as hand-eye coordination and sensory exploration. Balls that are lightweight, bouncy or make playful sounds can provide an endless source of amusement and fun!

 9 – 12 months

Between 9 and 12 months-old, some babies will be crawling and some may be walking. Hand-eye coordination is usually well established at this stage. Babies are amused by toys that they can stack or knock down; they also enjoy putting shapes in holes and making music. The following are both fun and educational for this age-group.

  • Push along floor toys.
  • Strollers.
  • Shape sorters.
  • Nesting cups.
  • Large plastic bricks.
  • Wooden puzzles with large handles.
  • Hammering toys.
  • Large interlocking beads.
  • Drums.

Some babies enjoy playing with bricks while others love puzzles or push-along toys. Very often, it is the simplest toys that offer the best value. Toys that include everything from flashing lights to electronic sounds reduce the potential for creativity and may be relegated to the bottom of the toy box a few days later.

Containers that fit together are fun to play with. They can be stacked, nested or used as hiding places for toys. When the novelty wears off, the lid will provide entertainment.  A soft fabric activity set such as a farm or doll’s house travels well and provides endless opportunities for imaginative play.

Homemade toys

A blanket or quilt can be used as a play mat with toys attached to hooks sewn along the sides, or used as a comforter on long car journeys. A treasure basket filled with interesting objects such as paper cups and plates, a sock with a ball in the toe, a soft brush, reflective paper or a shiny box can provide endless hours of play.

Other simple homemade creations or everyday objects include:

  • Objects that vary in texture and sound such as cotton reels and large play buttons hung from a play frame.
  • Books with different textures glued to each page.
  • Plastic containers made into sound shakers.
  • Net bags filled with crumpled paper.
  • Measuring cups and large plastic spoons.
  • Plastic cubes filled with family photographs.

A cardboard box filled with shredded paper, fabrics or soft balloons offers endless possibilities for creativity.

Safety

If homemade presents or everyday objects are given to babies, they should be carefully supervised and removed from the cot during daytime naps and at bedtime.

Classic toys

Classic toys that parents had as babies such as bricks, stackers, balls, tea sets and puppets are usually favourites. Babies will enjoy these toys for many years to come.

Books are also one of the best toys for babies and it is never too early to introduce them. Some contain textured materials, shiny pages and lots of other sparkly surprises. Three-dimensional books, books with large, brightly coloured pictures and hide-and-seek books that encourage interaction with the parent make great toys for babies.

However, second-hand toys may not meet the current safety standards and they might not be safe for mouthing.

Baby bundles

If you are looking for great toys, music and fun ways to play with and stimulate your baby, ask your Baby Sensory Class Leader for information about our baby bundles.

You can also visit www.babysensoryshop.co.uk for best-buy baby bundles and other great Christmas gift ideas.

By Dr. Lin Day (www.babysensory.com)

Fireworks Night – Top Tips

Fireworks Night – Top Tips

Guy Fawkes Night can be an exceptionally sensory experience for babies and young children. The lights, sights, colours, sounds and excitement make it an event worth celebrating. However, it is important to be extra careful about safety. Here are a few tips on how to make it a fun, safe occasion for your baby and the whole family.

Safety is paramount, so think about attending an organized display. Find a safe place and don’t get too close to the fireworks. Loud noises above 80 dB (sound pressure measured in decibels) can affect the development of hearing in babies and young children. Fireworks register at 140 dB, which is loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.

Earmuffs can effectively reduce dangerous noise levels and they can be used on babies as young as six weeks-old. Unfortunately, there isn’t any ear protection designed for newborn babies. It is never a good idea to use earplugs because they could damage the soft ear canal of a baby or young child. They could also become a potential choking hazard if they find their way to your baby’s mouth.

Wrap your baby up in several layers of clothing, making sure that his or her hands, feet and head are well covered. A forward-facing sling carrier, or back pack, keeps your baby close to your body and provides warmth, safety and security. Putting your baby in a carrier also enables you to hold on to a mobile toddler or child, who may be inclined to walk off if unsupervised.

Watching the bonfire can also be great fun, but it can pose a serious safety risk. Children are far more likely to get injured than adults, so safety and supervision are paramount. Sparks can fly out of the fire so fast that a baby’s or child’s eyelids may not have time to react. Even if emergency aid is immediate, damage to the eye could be permanent. Wood smoke contains over 200 chemicals, many of which are detrimental to health. Treated or painted wood smoke contains an even greater range of toxic compounds. The only way to prevent injury, and to protect children’s health, is to keep them at a safe distance from the source of danger.

Most children are mesmerised by fireworks, but if your baby or child becomes overwhelmed or frightened, offer plenty of reassurance. If this doesn’t work, make a quick get-away. Alternatively, watch the display from the car.

If you are thinking about celebrating Guy Fawkes Night at home, set the theme with Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ or Tchaikovsky’s 1812 cannon overture. Use LED battery operated fairy lights to create a magical effect (the bulbs do not get hot, so there is no risk of injury). Serve hot soup or drinks to adults in glass-free flasks to reduce the risk of accidents, but keep alcohol out of the reach of small hands. Even a small amount left in a glass can be poisonous to a baby or small child.

Never give a sparkler to a child under five years of age. A sparkler reaches a temperature of about 2000oC, which is five times hotter than cooking oil. Older children should wear protective gloves, hold a sparkler at arms length and be fully supervised at all times. Sparklers can stay hot after they have gone out, so plunge them into a bucket of water to keep children safe.

If fireworks are to be used, avoid firecrackers, jumping jacks and spinners that can cause damage and injury. The best option for babies and children is to look at the display from an upstairs window.

If your baby or child is warm, wears earmuffs and keeps a safe distance from the bonfire and fireworks, then the celebrations will be stimulating, safe, fun and memorable for everyone.

By Dr. Lin Day (www.babysensory.com)

If your interested in going to Baby Sensory classes click HERE to find your nearest class.

A mobile baby is the ultimate game changer

You spend the first few months of your baby’s life giddy with excitement at every development – from grasping something in their hands to that very first wobbly roll – and you eagerly await the moment they take their first shuffly crawl. And then it happens. And your life will never be the same again.

I remember when my daughter (my vivacious, active, energetic, incredibly cheeky 18-month old I’ll simply call Moo for the purposes of this blog – not because she has a particular fondness for cows, but because it’s a nickname we somehow adopted for her since birth!) first started to creep forward on her knees. We were beyond excited, hovering above her with the video camera in our hands at every opportunity. She was unsteady at first, and grew increasingly frustrated as she rocked herself forward on her knees over and over again.

Sometimes she was so frustrated that I had to give her a friendly Time Out and distract her with another quest (oh the wonders of stacking cups). After lots of wobbles, a few tears and some painful nights not sleeping as she tried to master the activity in her cot, she began to crawl. Did I mention that she was only seven months old?

We were ecstatic. I captured it on camera and posted it to Facebook (as you do). My little trouper was on the move.

And about 20 minutes later when she was following me to the kitchen, tugging at my pyjama bottoms and wouldn’t sit still, I realised what this meant. No more “lie here sweetie while mummy gets her coffee” or “just wait one second while I answer the door”. No, none of that existed any more. She was here, there and everywhere.

It’s even harder if you try to leave the house. Seven months into maternity leave and the days of meeting up with friends – at cafes, houses or parks – abruptly came to an end. She was crawling all over the place, trying to get up stairs, behind bookshelves or out of patio doors, picking up everything and opening drawers and cupboards she shouldn’t be.

Or I was trying to stop her crawling because I didn’t think the gravelly terrain of the local playground or the dirty floor of a nearby coffee shop was particularly the place for her to scuttle around on her hands and knees – the same hands she puts everything in her mouth with! Although, admittedly, she won this battle more often than not.

I don’t want to put parents off though. The pride you get from each physical, emotional and mental development is fantastic, and I even remember beaming when I turned up at our first Baby Sensory class post first crawl and she shuffled right across the circle into the middle to watch our lovely leader sing “Say hello to the sun”.

Of course, I then spent every subsequent class slightly jealous of all the other mummies whose babies sat or lay there staring into their eyes as they sang, signed and cooed at their immobile little ones, while Moo was crawling – then walking – all over the place.

That’s right. Within a week of crawling, she was pulling herself up and cruising along furniture. At nine months old, she took her first steps. Again, we captured it on camera. Again, we were over the moon.

But if you thought crawling was difficult, wait till they’re running and you have to chase them everywhere! At least there are some benefits to a fully standing walking child. You can actually take them out – to the park, houses, cafes etc. – without worrying about mucky sore knees. They’re not so frustrated at not being able to reach for the toys they want. And (my favourite) you can hold their tiny little hands as you walk with them side by side.

So, while a mobile baby is a huge game changer in this parenting lark, it’s also immensely satisfying. Your little baby is becoming a toddler, and seeing them grow up happy and healthy is the single most amazing feeling in the world – even if you don’t get to sit still for the next upteen years….

Living with a Colicky Baby

Living with a Colicky Baby

 What is colic?

Colic is defined by inconsolable crying on and off for 3 or more hours a day, 3 or more days a week, and 3 weeks in a month. Your baby may cry or scream at the same time each day, usually in the late afternoon or evening.

Colicky symptoms usually begin in the second week after birth, peak at about 6 weeks, and decline at 3 to 4 months. Colic rarely persists longer than 6 months.

Do all babies suffer from colic?

Colic occurs in approximately 30% of breast and bottle-fed babies, and equally in both sexes. Although first-born babies seem to be affected with colic more than later siblings, they are just as likely to suffer from the condition. Colicky babies gain weight and are otherwise healthy.

What are the symptoms?

One or more of the following may suggest that your baby has colic:

  • Crying an hour or more after a feed.
  • High pitched, intense cry.
  • Incessant, inconsolable crying at a regular time each day or night.
  • Pulling knees to chest.
  • Abdominal bloating.
  • Excessive flatulence.
  • Frequent, explosive, watery stools.

If your baby suffers from chronic constipation, diarrhoea with blood or mucus, a high temperature, vomiting, weak sucking or poor weight gain, see your GP to rule out other illnesses.

 What are the causes of colic?

One or more of the following may cause colic or exacerbate symptoms.

  1. Lactase deficiency.
  2. Intestinal hormone imbalance.
  3. Lack of beneficial bacteria.
  4. Maternal diet.
  5. Formula milk protein intolerance.
  6. Skull misalignment.
  7. Overstimulation.
  8. Lack of exercise or carrying.
  9. Tight clothing.
  10. Parental stress.

Lactase deficiency

Cells lining the small intestine produce the enzyme lactase. Lactase breaks down milk sugars (lactose), which fuel metabolism and promote rapid brain growth. Insufficient lactase production can cause undigested lactose to ferment in the large intestine leading to excessive gas production, flatulence and abdominal bloating.

Foremilk (watery milk at the beginning of a feed) contains more lactose than hindmilk (high-fat milk at the end of a feed). The high-fat content of hindmilk increases the capacity of the intestine to digest lactose. If your baby is unable to nurse long enough during breast feeds, he or she may not receive the high-fat milk needed to aid digestion.

  • Express some foremilk from both breasts before a feed to ensure that your baby receives hindmilk.
  • Let your baby finish one breast before offering the other so that more high-fat milk (hindmilk) is consumed.

When breastfeeding and milk production are fully established, a pacifier can help satisfy the need to suck when your baby is not hungry.

Although it may be tempting to give your baby gripe water or natural remedies to relieve colic between feeds, they may contain potentially harmful chemicals, which can have adverse side effects.

 Intestinal hormone imbalance

Muscular contractions of the intestinal tract are stimulated by motilin, a hormone secreted by cells lining the small intestine.

Motilin in breast milk has a nocturnal peak, which may explain why breastfed babies become colicky in the evening or at night (motilin is also found in formula milk). High levels of motilin can lead to painful muscular contractions. However, close physical contact increases melatonin (a hormone that induces sleep), which suppresses painful intestinal contractions.

Motilin levels also increase when babies are exposed to environmental smoke and/or nicotine in breast milk. Exposure can be minimized by restricting smoking in the home or near the baby.

Lack of beneficial bacteria

Beneficial or ‘friendly’ bacteria in the intestinal tract play a vital role in protecting your baby from harmful microorganisms that cause inflammation and bloating.

Babies born by Caesarean section may miss out on beneficial bacteria naturally passed on during vaginal birth. Bacterial colonisation may also be delayed if your baby has been exposed to antibiotics. This may explain in part, why your baby suffers from colic.

Probiotics (live beneficial bacteria) occur naturally in breast milk. There is some evidence (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/126/6/1217) that formula milk enriched with probiotics may reduce colicky symptoms in healthy bottle-fed babies, but more studies are needed to substantiate this.

Maternal diet

Many breastfeeding mothers have found that excluding cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, wheat, eggs, soy, caffeine-based foods and drinks, orange juice, and dairy products from their diet reduces colicky symptoms.

Foods not associated with colic include unsaturated vegetable oils, garlic, Brussels sprouts, beans, avocado, bananas, carrots, potatoes, beef, sardines, salmon, and low-fat yoghurt.

 Formula milk protein intolerance

If your baby has been recently introduced to formula and presents the symptoms of colic, an allergic response to one or more proteins in cow’s milk could be responsible. Colic may also be accompanied by other allergic symptoms such as an itchy skin rash, vomiting and diarrhoea.

If an allergy is suspected, formula milk that has been specially treated to change the proteins, or contains no milk proteins, can be given as an alternative on the advice of your healthcare professional. Soy formula milk is just as potentially allergenic as cow’s milk, and there is no evidence to suggest that it reduces colicky symptoms.

 Skull misalignment

Misalignment of the skull due to childbirth can put pressure on the vagus nerve, which passes through the neck and thorax to the abdomen. Compression of the vagus nerve can cause intestinal spasms and pain. Cranial osteopathy has been shown to be successful in treating colicky symptoms (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16648084). Treatment involves applying very light pressure to the affected area until tension is released.

 Tight clothing

A snug-fitting nappy can push against your baby’s tummy, especially after a feed. If you cannot easily slide 2 fingers inside the nappy, it may be too tight. Tight clothing can restrict the movement of food through the intestines leading to bloating and discomfit.

Overstimulation

Overstimulation can irritate the nervous system and lead to uncontrollable, high-pitched crying at the end of the day. A daytime routine that includes frequent rest-breaks or naps, and short play episodes when your baby is alert and responsive will help avoid overstimulation.

By the end of the third month, the nervous system has adjusted to environmental stimuli, which is one reason why colic usually stops.

Lack of exercise or carrying

Lack of exercise or overuse of a baby bouncer, car seat or other restraining device may reduce intestinal contractions and lead to bloating. However, regular exercise and tummy time improves intestinal mobility and helps force out excess gas.

“The relative lack of carrying in our society may predispose to crying and colic in heathy babies.”

In many cultures, babies are carried by their mothers, grandmothers or siblings in a sling or pouch on their backs, fronts or hips almost constantly. The baby experiences continual physical comfort and an intimate and secure environment. Colic is rare in babies who are constantly held or cuddled.

Research shows that carrying the baby in a carrier, for at least 3 hours during the day (in addition to feeding), reduces colic in the first 3 months of life by as much as 45%. (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/77/5/641). Close physical contact, carrying and walking are undoubtedly the best ways to comfort a distressed baby. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective in reducing stress.

Parental stress

Parental tension and anxiety do not cause colic. However, colic can increase parental stress, which in turn leads to increased bouts of fussiness and crying in babies.

Continuous crying and maternal fatigue can have serious implications for the mother-baby relationship. It can also trigger postnatal depression, Shaken Baby Syndrome, and early termination of breast feeding.

Parents with a colicky baby need support, particularly in the early months when it is important to establish a strong bond with the baby. Baby Foundations parenting classes can help by empowering parents with information and practical advice on how best to manage colic (http://www.babysensory.com/en/babyfoundations).

If further help is needed, Cry-sis (www.cry-sis.org.uk) provides support to families with excessively crying, sleepless and demanding babies. The helpline (08451 228 669) is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 10 pm.

By Dr. Lin Day: www.babysensory.com

From one mum to another

‘I’m so happy to welcome Natasha as our first guest blogger. Her posts ‘From one mum to another’ will become a regular feature as she tracks her journey through life with little…well I’m about to say too much already!

Welcome Natasha and I am really looking forward to hearing what life is like as a mum in digital world of 2015!’

Pacifier – Good or Bad?

Pacifier – Good or Bad?

David Beckham hits back at criticism over 4 year-old Harper’s pacifier.

Experts claimed that the pacifier risked stunting her speech and put her teeth at risk of damage. Beckham blasted back saying:

Everybody who has children knows that when they aren’t feeling well or have a fever, you do what comforts them best and most of the time it’s a pacifier. So, those who criticize, think twice about what you say about other people’s children because actually you have no right to criticize me as a parent.”

So should a 4 year-old be using a pacifier? At present, there are mixed opinions as to whether a pacifier in the pre-school years is good or bad. From the child’s viewpoint, the pacifier offers comfort and contentment at a time of need. From the parent’s viewpoint, pacifier use is up to them.

Health professionals argue that prolonged pacifier use may lead to speech delays and dental problems in some, but not all children, if continued after 4 years of age. Problems, if any, depend on the frequency of sucking (how often), duration (how long) and intensity (can you hear it across the room?). However, if the pacifier is taken away too soon, the child will find the fingers or thumb to suck on, which is a much harder habit to break. About 12% of adults still suck their fingers or thumbs.

There isn’t a gold standard in the literature about an ideal age to eliminate pacifier use. Expert opinions also vary greatly (visit:http://www.asha.org/About/news/Press-Releases/2010/pacifier-speech-skills.htm).

Removing the pacifier before your child is ready can create a great source of anxiety. Most children give up their pacifiers on their own, and when they are ready, before they go to school.

 Benefits

 Babies have an innate desire for non-nutritive sucking, but the need for continued sucking can linger for years because it provides the following benefits:

Gives rise to feelings of well-being and contentment.

  • Offers emotional security during periods of isolation or separation from the parent (e.g. during naps and at bedtime).
  • Provides comfort when unwell or distressed.
  • Triggers the calming reflex, which induces sleep.
  • Provides temporary distraction in stressful situations.
  • Prevents finger or thumb sucking.

Sucking on a pacifier is a much healthier means of seeking comfort than eating a packet of crisps! However, pacifiers also have pitfalls. The drawbacks may include:

  • Interference with breastfeeding and milk production in the first 3 to 4 weeks after birth.
  • Night-time crying when the pacifier falls out of the child’s mouth.
  • Increased risk of middle ear infections after 6 months-old (continuous sucking allows secretions from the throat to seep into the middle ear).
  • Skin irritation from excess saliva that may collect behind the base.
  • Contamination by bacteria if not washed or sterilised frequently – latex pacifiers are more significantly colonized with Candida andStaphylococcus than silicone pacifiers.
  • Possible teeth misalignment and/or speech delays from consistent or prolonged use.
  • Dependency on the pacifier.
  • Difficulty in breaking the habit.

In 2006, the International Journal of Orthodontics, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, argued that prolonged use of a pacifier could negatively affect speech skills by interfering with the development of tongue tip movement needed for the production of certain sounds. Instead of making an attempt to use sounds and words, the child may point to objects to have their needs and wants met.

Pacifier use after 4 years-old has been associated with a higher incidence of dental problems (http://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/0415/p681.html). However, thumb or finger-sucking can also alter tongue and teeth positioning. Even slight alterations can affect speech production.

Currently, about 75% of pre-school children in Western countries use a pacifier. Therefore, you can take comfort from the fact that you are not alone. You may wish to consider an orthodontic pacifier, which can help reduce dental problems than a traditional round one (for more information, visit: http://www.aapd.org/assets/1/25/Adair-14-01.pdf).

If you do have concerns, seek the advice of a dental specialist, who will recommend techniques to help your child break the habit. Early orthodontic management may prevent more extensive treatment later on.

Breaking the habit

Methods may include distraction with activities, toys and other objects of affection, putting unpalatable substances on the pacifier, cutting it short to reduce sucking satisfaction, restricting use to bedtime only or stopping the habit abruptly. Social pressure when the child goes to school can also put a stop to the habit. However, the pacifier may be replaced by the fingers or thumb.

Some parents find that agreeing with the child to donate the pacifier to the dummy fairy or to the Christmas elves works best. They will be sure to find a good home with a child who really needs it.

 

By Dr. Lin Day: www.babysensory.com

Baby Foundations classes cover everything you need to know about your baby before and after the birth including pacifier use and alternative techniques to soothe and comfort your newborn baby.

Visit: www.babysensory.com/en/babyfoundations

The Dangers of Baby Containers

Leaving your baby in a bouncer, rocker, or other restraining container for a prolonged period of time can be dangerous….

The consequences of spending too long in a container may include flattening to the back of the head (flat head syndrome) and delayed sitting, crawling, walking and speaking skills. Your child may also develop problems such as clumsiness, poor posture and balance, and reading and writing difficulties when he or she goes to school.

All babies need opportunities to move and explore the world in order to develop physical strength and brain power. Most containers do not provide such conditions. If a bouncer, car seat or other restraining device is to be used, confinement should be limited to short periods of time only.

Although it is essential to put your baby in a car seat when travelling, use should be restricted to car journeys. If your baby is confined in an uncompromising position for a considerable period of time, he or she will become restless, uncomfortable and stiff. Spine and back disorders have been linked to prolonged use when not travelling.

Overuse of a container is a common cause of head flattening, which may also involve bulging of the forehead, fullness of the cheeks and ear misalignment. Any flattening of the soft bones of the skull can put pressure on the nerves, tissues, ligaments and blood vessels of the body and affect feeding and sleeping. It is important to take steps to correct the condition.

 Solutions

Here are a few ways to help your baby’s head round out naturally:

  • To remove pressure on the back of the head, wear your baby in a sling carrier. Your baby will benefit from the extra stimulation of looking around and seeing the world and you will have both hands free to get on with other things. A carrier with a wide girth that places the legs at a 90-degree angle and encourages your baby to bend his or her knees will help prevent hip dysplasia.
  • Regular tummy time during supervised waking hours gives your baby the opportunity to lift his or her head, which promotes neck extension and head turning. Tummy time also gives your baby the opportunity to exercise, which strengthens muscles needed for spinal development.
  • If you do need to keep your baby safe in a container, a head rest, which consists of a soft foam outer core and a central hole, can remove pressure on the back of the head.
  • If skull flattening is severe, a band or helmet may be prescribed when your baby is between 4 and 6 months-old. At this time, your baby experiences rapid brain and skull growth. The band or helmet provides a space or void in the flattened area of the head, which allows the skull to grow into a more symmetrical shape. Treatment generally lasts 4 months or less.
  • Cranial osteopathy, which involves gentle, safe, manipulative movements, can be effective in treating flat head syndrome. Treatment can be started soon after birth or within the first 18 months before the bones of the skull begin to harden and set in place.

What the experts say

In 2008, the term ‘Container syndrome’ was used by health professionals to describe the increased incidence of flat head syndrome and the rise in development and language delays related to the use of bouncers, car seats and other restrainers or containers.

Studies show that babies in the UK and USA spend up to 75% of their waking hours in a container. In less developed countries, more than 90% of time is spent in close physical contact with a care-giver.

A recent publication by the Journal of Pediatrics stated that sitting devices such car seats and bouncers can lead to death if babies are allowed to sleep in them. The study showed that positional suffocation was the cause of death in 46 cases. Of these, 52% were caused by strangulation from the device’s straps. The death of a 3 month-old baby in 2015 in a baby bouncer reminds us of the potential hazards.

The researchers claimed, “It is important to note that an infant in a properly positioned car seat, in a car, with properly attached straps is at little risk from a suffocation injury. However, contrary to popular belief, the restraints and design of infant sitting or carrying devices are not intended for unsupervised sleeping.“
Read more at: http://www.themotherish.com/swing-and-car-seat-dangers/

Staying healthy

To keep your baby’s body and brain healthy, a container should only be used when absolutely necessary. If your baby appears uncomfortable or starts to fuss, then take him or her out and provide close physical comfort.  Alternatively, wear your baby in a sling carrier.

The best way to remove pressure on the back of your baby’s head, and provide opportunities for movement and exploration, is tummy time during waking hours. However, your baby should always be placed on his or her back to sleep.

 

By Dr. Lin Day: www.babysensory.com

Baby Foundations classes cover everything you need to know about your baby before and after the birth from skull development to tummy time, sensory play, feeding, sleep, equipment and development.

Visit: www.babysensory.com/en/babyfoundations

Co-sleeping – Benefits and Risks

All young mammals stay in close proximity with the mother, and human babies are no exception. In some cultures, the practice of sleeping with the baby is still common, but in others, co-sleeping has been abandoned in favour of cots, cribs or cradles. In some homes, the baby may sleep in a room separate from the mother, which is a risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – if the baby is less than 6 months-old.

Co-sleeping lost favour in the 13th century, when Catholic priests in Europe recommended that mothers should stop the practice for fear of smothering their babies. In the 20th century, babies were separated from their mothers in hospitals to protect them from infections. Other influences such as internet publications and the decline in breastfeeding have contributed to separation.

About 30% of babies share the parental bed at some point during the night. Many mums-to-be, who do not intend to bed-share, nevertheless do so after the birth. Bed-sharing is more widely accepted today, although the practice has its critics.

Benefits of co-sleeping

  • Helps the baby to fall asleep more easily.
  • Regulates the baby’s breathing patterns and body temperature.
  • Promotes bonding.
  • Enhances the physiological and psychological well-being of the baby and parent.
  • Provides security and comfort of body contact with the mother throughout the night.
  • Enables the mother to monitor the baby’s well-being.
  • Reduces stress for the parents.
  • Convenient night time breastfeeding for the mother and baby.
  • Less crying at night.

Even though the mother sleeps more lightly, she is more likely to gain a restful night’s sleep.

Both parents should feel comfortable with the decision to co-sleep, agree that they are equally responsible for the baby, and acknowledge that the baby is present.  Parents should not face disapproval if they have found co-sleeping to be an effective option.

Sidecar or bed nest

If co-sleeping does not work for one or both parents, a sidecar or bed nest placed against the parental bed, can provide an alternative. However, the side panel should always be lowered or removed so that the mother and baby have easy access to each other.

There must not be a gap or ridge between the parental bed and the sidecar or bed nest. Recently, a 7-week-old baby died of asphyxiation after manoeuvring herself over a ‘safety ridge’ on one side of the bed nest.

Risks of co-sleeping

Although there is an association between co-sleeping and SIDS, evidence suggests that it is not co-sleeping that is the risk factor, but the circumstances in which it occurs. For example:

  • If the baby is premature or of low birth weight.
  • Parental alcohol consumption.
  • Parental overtiredness or exhaustion.
  • Taking drugs or medications in the hours leading up to co-sleeping.
  • If one or both parents are smokers.
  • If the parent suffers from sleep deprivation.
  • Sleeping on a sofa or armchair, with or without the parent. The baby may slip face down into the crevice or get wedged at the back of the chair.
  • Leaving the baby in the parental bed alone.
  • Getting stuck between the mattress and the wall or furniture.
  • Falling out of the parental bed.
  • Suffocating on a waterbed, soft mattress, soft bedding (pillows, blankets, quilts, etc.).
  • Getting entangled in the mother’s hair if it is excessively long.

The mattress must be flat, firm and smooth. A soft surface such as a waterbed, sofa, beanbag or any other flexible and yielding structure increases the risk of SIDS. There must be no space between the mattress and the wall or furniture where the baby could become stuck. There must be no loose blankets or pillows that could obstruct the baby’s breathing.

An alternative is to place the mattress on the floor, making sure there are no crevices that the baby could become wedged in.

Ideally, the baby should sleep on the mother’s side of the bed. Research shows that fathers are less attuned to the baby’s movements and more likely to roll on top of them.

Co-sleeping is not recommended for formula fed babies because it is thought that the mother may not arouse as easily as the breastfeeding mother. However, more research is needed to substantiate this.

 Safety and SIDS

The practice of co-sleeping has benefits and risks. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that the risk of SIDS increases when babies co-sleep with parents who smoke or are intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, medications or sedatives.

 The following may also increase the risk of SIDS:

  1. Sleeping in the prone (tummy) or side position.
  2. Overheating.
  3. Chilling.
  4. Unfamiliar sleeping conditions.
  5. Covering the baby’s head or face.
  6. Mattress and bedding.
  7. Environmental smoke.

In the absence of hazardous circumstances, the number of co-sleeping SIDS deaths is no more than expected in the general population, in fact slightly less.

 What the experts say

Popular parenting magazines and the media have tried to discourage parents from co-sleeping with their baby because of the risk of SIDS. According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, there is currently not enough evidence to recommend against co-sleeping. In fact, co-sleeping is probably safer than sleeping alone (providing there are no risk factors), because the baby spends more time sleeping on his or her back.

Research shows that the SIDS rate is lowest (and even unheard of) in countries where co-sleeping is normal practice. Information published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission showed more than 3 times as many crib-related infant fatalities compared to co-sleeping accidents.

The Department of Health advises that the safest way for the baby to sleep is on his or her back in a cot with both sides fully up and secure in the parents room for the first 6 months. Back-sleeping continues to have a significant effect on reducing SIDS.

 

Visit: www.babysensory.com to discover more about you and your growing baby.

The Lullaby Trust provides expert advice on safe sleep for babies and raises awareness of SIDS. Tel: 0808 802 6869; web:www.lullabytrust.org.uk

New Baby and Sibling Rivalry

It is perfectly natural for an older child to be jealous of a new baby brother or sister. He or she has always been the centre of attraction.

The following can make a huge difference to your child’s behavior and emotions when your new baby arrives.

  • Being involved in the pregnancy.
  • Helping to pack your maternity bag.
  • Attending antenatal appointments.
  • Visiting the maternity unit.
  • Choosing baby clothes, nappies and equipment.
  • Selecting gifts and toys for the new baby.
  • Deciding how the nursery will be decorated.
  • Visiting friends and family who have new babies.
  • Looking at pictures of babies in magazines and books.
  • Sharing photographs of your child as a baby.
  • Discussing potential baby names.
  • Bathing, changing and cuddling a newborn doll.

Despite all the planning and preparation, your child may react by ignoring the baby or by demanding more attention. Rest assured that this is perfectly normal behaviour. After all, bringing home a new baby is a major life-changing event.

Any change, especially one that involves a different routine, will be very disorienting to your child. Where possible, keep set times for meals, play, reading, bathing and bedtime. A familiar routine will give your child the security that he or she still needs.

Even if your child appears to love the new baby, he or she needs to learn how to touch, where to kiss, how to play, and when to stop. If interactions go beyond the expected norm, getting cross will only make your child feel left out and unwanted.

The following can make your child feel loved and ensure continued cooperation:

  • Let Daddy hold the baby so that you can cuddle your child.
  • Spend quality time together after nursery or school.
  • Spend one-to-one time together when your baby is asleep.
  • Provide plenty of cuddles and expressions of love.
  • Snuggle up with your child and new baby and watch a DVD together.
  • Give positive praise when something has been done well.
  • Take an interest in nursery or school activities.
  • Point out all the things that your child can do that the new baby can’t.
  • Share a favourite story together at bedtime.
  • Have toys on hand so that you can feed your new baby without feeling that your child is being neglected.
  • Involve your child in changing and entertaining the baby.
  • Ask your child to help push the pram or rock the crib.
  • Take your child to the park or somewhere special on his or her own each week.
  • Ask family or friends to take your child out for a fun activity.

If your child becomes aggressive or acts up, encourage him or her to express feelings when safely tucked up in bed. Don’t be surprised if your child reverts to baby talk; it is part of the adjustment process.

Adjustment to a new baby will depend on pre-planning and preparation, your child’s personality, age and stage of development, and his or her relationship with you. Ultimately, your child needs to know that he or she is still loved and wanted. Cuddles are important at any major life-changing event, and also throughout life. They can make a real difference to how your child feels and behaves and to relationships in the future.

 

Visit: www.babyfoundations.com to discover more about you and your growing baby.

New Baby and Sibling Rivalry – By Dr. Lin Day (www.babysensory.com)