A blog by Dr Lin Day



Stay Cool Top Tips

Here are some tips to help you, and your baby or toddler, stay cool when temperatures soar:

 

Indoors

 

·      Stay indoors at the hottest time of the day in a well-ventilated room.

·      Close the blinds to prevent your home becoming a mini greenhouse.

·      A fan won’t make the room cooler, but moving air over your skin can make you feel more comfortable (check it has a finger guard).  Better still; put a bowl of ice in front of it.

·      Place wet towels and bottles of frozen water around the room to help reduce air temperature.

·      Take a cool bath or shower with your toddler (not recommended for babies) or wet your hair.

·      Place a cool, damp flannel on your pulse points.

·      Wrap a tea towel soaked in cold water around your feet.

·      Turn on the oven and bathroom extractor fans to help remove warm or steamy air from the room.

·      Avoid using the oven - it will heat up the house.

·      Cool down with a cold water bottle on your tummy.

·      Wear as little clothing as possible and go barefoot.

·      Sit or play on the floor where the air is cooler.

·      Reduce bedtime clothing and bedding to a minimum and keep the bedroom well ventilated.

·      Light dust your skin with corn flour to absorb sweat and make you feel more comfortable.

·      Slightly dampen your bed sheets to help you cool you down.

 

You and your child will sleep more comfortably when the room is between 16°C (61°F) and 18°C (65 °F).

 

Out and about

 

If you do need to venture out in hot weather, try scheduling activities earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.

 

It also helps if you:

 

·      Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from natural fibres such as cotton or silk. Cover your child’s arms and legs. Avoid synthetic fibres, which increase sweating.

·      Wear a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade and keep your head cool.

·      Keep to shady places such as a shopping mall or library.

·      Stay in the shade especially between 11 am and 3 pm, when UV radiation is at its strongest.

·      A sun tent can provide shade, but make sure that it doesn’t get too hot inside.

·      Mist yourself or your child with cold water or spray from a garden hose.

·      Sit in a cold, shaded paddling pool or refresh your feet in a bowl of cold water. Make sure your child is closely supervised at all times.

·      Attach a sunshade to the pushchair to protect your child from the sun. Check that there are no metal parts on the pushchair that can get hot and cause burns.

·      A lamb’s wool fleece is an ideal way to keep your child cool in the pushchair when you’re out and about (although you may get a few strange glances). The fleece absorbs moisture and helps to disperse heat.

·      When travelling, place a portable blackout blind or sunscreen in the side window to reduce temperature and glare, and to help shield your child’s skin and eyes from the sun.

·      Consider travelling at night when the temperature is cooler.

 

Stay hydrated

 

·      Drink more water than usual so that you never become thirsty. A glass of water every 30 minutes or so will prevent dehydration.

·      Avoid salty foods, which retain water and increase blood pressure.

·      Drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages (mums and dads!).

·      Eat ice cubes and keep trays stocked up in the freezer.

·      Avoid drinks with large amounts of caffeine such as tea, coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks.

·      Keep your metabolism steady by eating small, regular meals. Large portions increase metabolism and generate more body heat.

 

Stay safe

 

Seek immediate medical attention if you or your child experience one or more of the following symptoms during the heatwave:

 

·      Strong, rapid pulse.

·      Extreme weakness or fatigue

·      Throbbing headache.

·      Dizziness.

·      Nausea.

·      Confusion.

·      Muscle cramps.

·      Fast and shallow breathing.

 

Excessive heat may cause problems if you become dehydrated. Find a cool area where you can rehydrate and rest.

 

By Dr Lin Day (www.babysensory.com

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)

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

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)

Breastfeeding Information

The best preparation for breastfeeding is good information. The more information you have about breastfeeding before the birth, the less likely you are to encounter problems.

After the birth, a family member, midwife or NCT lactation expert who offers positive support can help you to succeed.

If problems do occur, there are ways to overcome them. Here’s how:

  • Start breastfeeding as soon as possible after delivery.
  • Feed your baby frequently to promote milk production.
  • Pump your breasts during and between feeds to increase milk supply. Milk can be pumped from one breast while your baby feeds on the other breast.
  • If your breasts are very full, express some foremilk before feeding to stimulate the let-down reflex and to elongate the nipple in readiness for latch-on.
  • When positioning to nurse, hold your baby so that her whole body faces you. Your baby should not have to turn her head to nurse.
  • Cradle your baby close to the breast, but avoid leaning over.
  • Use a nursing cushion to help support your baby.

Failure to latch on to the breast is a common problem, but the following can be really helpful:

  • Trigger the let-down release through skin-to-skin contact.
  • Offer a clean finger to encourage your baby to drop her tongue down before latching on to the nipple.
  • Try different nursing positions.
  • Smear your nipple with breast milk.
  • Apply a cold pack to your nipple to harden it slightly before feeding.
  • Compress your breast towards your chest (about 1½ inches (3.8 cm) from the base of the nipple) to make the nipple firmer. When your baby is sucking well, slowly release the pressure.
  • Talk, rub or pat your baby to maintain wakefulness.
  • Nurse your baby in a warm bath.

Listen out for clicking sounds, which may suggest inadequate attachment to the breast and/or improper sucking.

If normal movement of the tongue is affected, or your baby’s tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth, she may have difficulty in attaching properly to the breast. See your healthcare professional or cranial osteopath if feeding is affected.

 Correct latch-on

  • Your baby’s top lip should rest just above your nipple, generally leaving the upper part of the areola exposed.
  • Invite your baby to take the nipple rather than forcing it into her mouth.
  • Ensure that your nipple gets to the roof of your baby’s mouth. If it only reaches the gum line, then latch-on is incomplete and may cause soreness.
  • Your baby’s chin should touch your breast, but not her nose.
  • If you experience a pinching or biting sensation on your nipple or breastfeeding hurts, your baby may not have latched on correctly.

General tips

If your baby repeatedly falls asleep at the breast, gently tickling her feet, undressing, nappy changing, rocking or walking may keep her alert.

If your baby is not strong enough to latch on to the nipple, offer expressed breast milk from a bottle or sterilized dropper, until she is ready to breastfeed.

If your baby has lost weight, wake her every 2 or 3 hours until the birth-weight milestone is reached.

Only offer a dummy or pacifier when breastfeeding is fully established and weight gain steady.

Give yourself and your baby time to enjoy feeding, skin-to-skin contact intimacy, and eye contact. Anxiety can make your baby tense. A dark, quiet, and comfortable place to relax or a warm bath with your baby aids breastfeeding. Rest or sleep when your baby sleeps.

If your baby’s head was compressed during the birth process, there may be tension on the nerves and muscles of the lips, mouth, and tongue or other areas of the body. Any imbalance will make it difficult for your baby to trough the tongue, maintain a seal around the nipple, or milk the breast during feeding. Early cranial osteopathic treatment can reduce facial tension and help alleviate feeding and latch-on problems.

Your Baby’s first Easter

Your baby may be too young to decorate a hard-boiled egg or go on an egg hunt, but there are still plenty of ways to make Easter an educational and enjoyable event. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Hide and seek
One of the best games to play with your baby is ‘peek-a-boo’ or ‘hide-and-seek’. It’s traditional, simple to organise, educational and lots of fun.

To develop your baby’s thinking, memory and hand-eye coordination skills, hide a plastic egg under a cloth or cup. Say “Where’s the egg?” If your baby is at the reaching and grasping stage, she will look for it, even though it is out of sight. From the age of nine months, your baby may deliberately prolong the fun by hiding the object for you to discover.

If you have a spare tissue box, fill it with Easter ribbons or brightly coloured fabrics. Your baby will delight in pulling out the materials one by one. She will also discover that when you put the materials back in the box, they continue to exist even though they are hidden from view.

Easter puppets

A rabbit puppet and a pop-up frog are wonderful hide and seek toys. They provide a wealth of learning opportunities from visual stimulation to speech and language development. They also encourage rich parent-baby interactions and the element of surprise that babies love so much.

Easter books

Three-dimensional books with large, brightly coloured illustrations, textured materials and hide-and-seek pictures that encourage interaction make great Easter presents for babies. Your baby may investigate the properties of a texture with her finger tips or turn the pages to discover something new. Your voice and facial expressions will capture your baby’s interest and attention and liven up her experience of the world. Best of all, your baby will enjoy cuddling up to you, which has a huge impact on her future learning and development. Research shows that babies who are regularly cuddled have bigger brains than babies who are deprived of close loving physical contact.

Easter treasure basket 

Line a shallow basket with a soft bunny blanket and fill it up with Easter-themed objects such as a plastic egg, a textured book, a soft toy rabbit, lamb or duck and a mealtime set. Include a toy that your baby can safely chew on.

When your baby explores the objects, she will find out about weight, size, shape, taste, smell, sound and temperature. Every time a new object is explored, highly sensitive nerve endings in the skin will send messages to her brain. In this way, information is collected that will lead to the later recognition of objects.

Easter songs

Focus on Easter songs such as ‘Peter Rabbit’ and ‘5 little Ducks’. Even if your baby cannot understand the words, she will enjoy the sound of your voice and your facial gestures and body movements. These time-honoured songs have a repetitive theme, which help to establish a sense of order (mathematical reasoning) and a sense of security. They also provide a powerful stimulus in terms of language and social development.

Easter games

A simple activity such as rolling a plastic egg across the floor will encourage a whole range of mobility skills as well as hand-eye coordination and sensory exploration. When your baby is a little older, you can sit on the floor and roll the egg back and forth or roll it down a slope for your baby to catch. An egg that makes playful sounds will provide an endless source of amusement and fun. Best of all, your quality interactions will make a huge difference to your baby’s emotional development and learning.

Nesting eggs

Towards the end of the first year, your baby will enjoy activities that encourage use of the pincer grip. A multi-coloured nesting egg set for example, provides a wonderful, educational opportunity. When your baby tries to nest the eggs, she will learn about size and space, which forms the foundation for mathematical and spatial awareness. These skills will stand her in good stead for the future.

Easter outing

The spring air provides the perfect opportunity to tantalise your baby’s sense of smell. The fragrance of flowers, cut grass, new leaves growing and the smell of rain will help your baby learn about the world. Fresh air contains high levels of negative ions that can have a positive impact on your baby’s health and brain function. Sunlight provides Vitamin D that your baby needs to grow strong, healthy bones and offers protection from a number of common ailments and disorders.

Activities that the whole family can enjoy together might include a visit to the river or pond to see the ducklings, a trip to a farm to see the baby animals or the excitement of an Easter party, which includes relatives and close friends. Avoid dressing up as the ‘Easter Bunny’ since the costume might unsettle or even frighten your baby.

Capture the occasion

To mark the occasion, dress your baby in an Easter-themed outfit. Your baby will look adorable in a bunny costume. Capture the moment on camera. A photograph will provide a fond memory of your baby’s first Easter for many years to come.

Further reading:

Day RL (2012) Bringing Easter to life. Early Years Educator 13 (12): 23-25.

What’s in a Nappy Wipe?

If your baby suffers from nappy rash, eczema, dermatitis or allergies, anti-bacterial preservative methylisothiazolinone may be the culprit. If used on your baby’s face, the preservative can cause itchy eyes and facial swelling. In 2013, the American Contact Dermatitis Society identified the chemical as the ‘Allergen of the Year’.

Due to increasing health concerns, many manufacturers of nappy wipes are under serious pressure to remove methylisothiazolinone from their products. The problem is that even if the chemical is removed, other preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria will be included.

In addition to methylisothiazolinone, nappy wipes may contain methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben or other ingredients ending with ‘parben’. These preservatives can affect reproductive development and damage organs when absorbed through your baby’s skin.

While nappy wipes are super-convenient for cleaning up after your baby, the following alternatives are much safer:

  • Cotton balls dipped in warm water.
  • Wet paper towels or tissues.
  • Washable terry towelling, fleecy cotton or flannel squares moistened with water.
  • Washed nappy wipes.

If you find nappy wipes too convenient to resist, only use them for travelling, and dispose of them in a waste bin. Alternatively, take a small bottle of water with you, tissues, towels or cotton wool.

Environmental concerns

Although it is the effect on babies that concerns us most, the Daily Mail ‘How wet wipes are destroying the planet’ (20th March 2015), reported that wipes, including ‘flushable’ and ‘biodegradable’ ones tossed down the loo, can block sewage pipes and cause raw sewage to flood into nearby homes, gardens and parks. Wipes can also float about in the seas for years endangering marine life before reaching the coastline. The Marine Conservation Society said that volunteers pick up them up at a rate of 35 wipes per kilometre. Wipes are currently the fastest growing cause of pollution on UK beaches.

According to the market analysts Euromonitor, between 1,500 and 2,250 nappy wipes are used per child from birth until age three in the UK alone.  When they end up in landfill sites, the synthetic fibres can take a hundred or more years to break down. In septic tanks, the chemicals and preservatives can kill beneficial bacteria and enzymes, which break down solid waste.

Washable, chlorine-free cloths or reusable wipes are much safer for your baby. They don’t contain any harsh chemicals or preservatives. They are also biodegradable and they don’t leave a footprint on the planet.

If you are set on the disposable route, wash the chemicals out under warm running water before use. If the wipes are not soiled, they can be rinsed through the washing machine, dried and stored in a plastic tub until needed.

Further reading

Day RL (2008). The chemical evolution. Early Years Educator 10 (4): 24-26.

Day RL (2010). Chemical evolution 2. Early Years Educator 11 (7): 31-33.