Archives for May 2016

Places to Avoid while Pregnant

Places to Avoid while PregnantYour health and safety and that of your baby are your upmost priority when you are pregnant.  You are your baby’s everything at this sacred time – food, shelter, warmth, oxygen and love.  Taking precautions to protect your baby is a crucial part of pregnancy care.  Yesterday we shared some of the places to avoid while pregnant.  Today we’re continuing our list to help you and your developing baby stay safe:

Freshly Cleaned or Painted Spaces

Cleaning solvents and paint products (including paint itself and paint thinner) are made with chemicals.  Studies have found that pregnant women who had exposure to these hazardous substances were more likely to have miscarriages, preterm births and babies with birth defects.  It’s best to use natural cleaners in your home during pregnancy (and once you have your baby too!) and to avoid spending time in freshly cleaned or painted spaces where you could inhale toxins.

Gardens Recently Sprayed with Pesticides

Similarly, gardens and outdoor spaces recently sprayed with pesticides contain hazardous chemicals.  Avoid going to places that were sprayed within several hours of your visit where you might inhale pesticides or absorb them through your skin.  Pesticides may also be a problem in fresh produce so be sure to thoroughly wash your fruits and vegetables or buy pesticide-free produce.

Jobs with Intense Physical Demands

If your job has intense physical demands like lifting heavy objects, running, standing for long periods of time or otherwise tax your body in extreme ways, consider taking a step back during your pregnancy.  Many physically demanding jobs offer pregnancy leave or offer you a less strenuous workload during this sacred time for your body.  Also, if you work around toxic chemicals in a factory or lab, you may need to be reassigned during pregnancy.

Airplanes within Six Weeks of your Due Date

Many airlines will not allow passengers to fly if they are within six weeks of their expected due date.  If a medical situation arose while you were in flight, it could pose a huge threat to your health and that of your baby.  Staying grounded is the best place to be when delivery may be just weeks away.

Certain Countries

Avoid traveling to certain countries where you cannot ensure the safety of your food and water or where there are reports of major outbreaks of disease or illness.  Usually countries that may be dangerous are put on a governmental Travel Warnings list.  Also, don’t go near livestock or other animals that may have been compromised, especially when traveling abroad.

Follow these guidelines of places to avoid while pregnant to help ensure you and your baby are safe, healthy, happy and comfortable.

Places to Avoid While Pregnant: Part 1

Places to Avoid While PregnantWhen you are pregnant, your body becomes more than your own “vehicle.” It is now the one and only place for your baby to grow and develop until she is born.  Therefore, during pregnancy you’ll need to take certain precautions to ensure a safe, comfortable and nurturing environment for your developing baby.  Just as you are adjusting your diet, personal care products and some lifestyle habits to accommodate for pregnancy, there are certain places to avoid while pregnant for the health and safety of your baby.

Today we’re sharing part 1 of our series on places to avoid while pregnant:

Some Gym Classes and Sports Games

Exercise during pregnancy is recommended but some types of workouts and sports are off limits.  Contact sports where you may get hit with a ball, another person or you may fall easily is highly discouraged.  Biking and horse-back riding are also no-nos during pregnancy due to your risk of falling or getting injured.  Also, you should not participate in workouts that require you to be on your back for long periods of time, twist your core or elevate your heart rate too high.  These could severely interrupt blood flow to your baby and put her in distress.  Additionally, if you were not a runner prior to pregnancy, don’t take up this form of exercise until after your baby arrives.

Downhill Ski Slopes

Much like biking and horse-back riding, downhill ski slopes are places to avoid while pregnant.  Downhill skiing and snowboarding have a high risk of falling and causing injuries, not only to your bones but to your abdomen where your most precious baby is growing.  Plus, your balance may be off during pregnancy so you may not be on par with your normal skill level.  If you are a ski bunny, try cross-country skiing instead.  It is better cardiovascular exercise and far less dangerous.

Deep Underwater

Snorkeling should be fine but going scuba diving deep underwater is among the places to avoid while pregnant.  Not only does diving put you in an uncontrolled environment, it may compromise your breathing and therefore your baby’s source of oxygen too.  Plus, you form tiny air bubbles in your blood when you make your ascent from scuba diving, which can be dangerous for your and your baby.

Amusement Parks

Roller coasters are not a good idea for pregnant women.  The jolting movements, extreme downhills and upside-down motions are not good for your baby.  If you are going to be at an amusement park, stick to the gentle rides like carousels and trains.  You can be the designated “bag holder” for those who want the thrill of monster roller coasters.

Zoos

The animals themselves may not harm you, but the stench of a zoo is a nausea trigger for many pregnant women.  If you are prone to pregnancy nausea, you may want to skip the zoo for awhile and stick to outings with more pleasant scents.

Saunas and Hot Tubs

While it may feel great, avoid saunas and hot tubs during pregnancy.  The elevated temperatures of the water can quickly overheat your body, which is extremely dangerous to your baby.  Also, saunas and hot tubs can be breeding grounds for bacteria if they are not properly and thoroughly cleaned.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of our series on places to avoid while pregnant.

How to Get Pregnant while Breastfeeding

Many new moms enjoy their foray into motherhood so much they want to conceive again quickly after giving birth the first time.  When your body is still recovering from childbirth and you are breastfeeding, it may be a bit trickier to conceive the second time around.  Today we’re examining how to get pregnant while breastfeeding.

Getting pregnant while breastfeeding is possible for many new moms but it may take some extra work on your part.  Breastfeeding often causes women to go into lactational amenorrhea when they will not ovulate or have irregular How to Get Pregnant while Breastfeedingovulation.  This is actually a form of birth control that is 99% effective for the first six months if moms are exclusively breastfeeding on a routine basis.  It’s nature’s way of making sure moms don’t get pregnant again too soon since the optimal recovery time after childbirth to regain strength and nutrients lost during pregnancy is two years.

However, you can help your body increase your fertility to get pregnant while breastfeeding using a few methods.  First, you may want to wait until your baby starts solids at around 6 months of age.  This is when you may decrease breast milk production, which will help your body refocus on fertility.  After all, making all that breast milk takes a lot of work and your body may not have energy for ovulation at that time.

Also, if your menstrual cycle has not yet come back, going for longer stretches – ideally at least six hours at night – between feedings helps your body return to normal ovulation.  The optimal timeframe to not feed your baby is 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. to increase fertility.  Going from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. is even better.  Most babies fall into longer overnight sleep patterns between four and seven months of age.

Drastically changing your breastfeeding routine may help stimulate and reinvigorate ovulation too.  Gradual changes have less of an effect.  But do be careful and thoughtful of your baby’s needs before making abrupt significant changes.  Breastfeeding has many benefits for both of you so you’ll want to consider the potential side-effects first.

When you do get your period, begin using normal ovulation tracking methods to find out when you are most fertile.  Ovulation kits, checking your basal body temperature and monitoring cervical mucus are all good ways of determining ovulation.  When you know you are ovulating, engage in intercourse at least once a day.  You may also want to lie on your back with your legs up for 15 minutes after sex to let gravity help the semen stay in your body.

Remember, you can get pregnant while breastfeeding before your period returns.  For those who are trying to conceive, that may be an instance of good timing.  Also, you may find your periods return to normal or become sporadic.  Irregular cycles are a sign that ovulation is not occurring or will at least be very unpredictable.  Sometimes women who had no trouble conceiving the first time find it difficult the next time around, especially while breastfeeding.  In other cases, giving birth resets fertility, in a sense, and women become more regular ovulators.

Once you do conceive, you should be able to continue breastfeeding throughout pregnancy.  You can even breastfeed both your toddler and newborn after the new baby arrives.  It may be exhausting and a bit challenging to figure out the logistics at first, but it is possible.

Before trying to conceive, make sure you are in good health to carry another baby.  Meet with your doctor to discuss whether your body is ready for another pregnancy.  Continue to eat healthily and take prenatal vitamins to support breast milk and fertility.  Consider using some natural fertility boosters such as milk thistle, chasteberry, grapeseed oil, flaxseed oil, cod liver oil, shatavari, red raspberry leaf and lots of Vitamin C and B6.

Discovering how to get pregnant while breastfeeding is an unpredictable situation.  It certainly is possible and many women have done it using one or a combination of these methods.  We wish you much luck and fertility on your journey!

How Often Should I Pump While Breastfeeding

Pumping breast milk for your baby may be a necessity or a convenience for you.  Some moms have to spend time away from their babies for medical reasons or to return to work.  Others want the flexibility of having someone else feed their baby and participate in the nourishment process.  Either way, many moms ask: how often should I pump while breastfeeding.  The answer differs for each mom and is based on your goals.

Whether you’re trying to increase milk supply or simply have more milk to store, here are a few pumping guidelines:

how often should I pump while breastfeedingYou can begin pumping as soon as you want after giving birth but avoid giving your baby a bottle until at least two weeks of age, if possible.  This will help establish breastfeeding as your baby’s primary source of feeding.  Your baby will stimulate your breast better than a pump.  Plus you want your baby to be most familiar with sucking from your nipple rather than a bottle.

Milk supply is strongest in the morning and then slows towards the late afternoon and evening.  Therefore, pumping in the morning is an ideal time to collect the most milk.  If you are only pumping to have more milk to store, you’re probably fine doing it once per day in the morning.  Pumping sessions should last between 10 and 15 minutes if you’re pumping both breasts at once.

On the other hand, if you are trying to increase milk supply, pump about half an hour after a feeding or one hour before a feeding several times a day.  You may not get very much but you are still stimulating your breasts and training them to produce more at certain times.  Be consistent with your pumping schedule to allow your body to adjust to milk demands accordingly.

Other ways to pump to increase milk supply include pumping the opposite breast while your baby is feeding to take advantage of the let down from your baby’s stimulation.  Or try pumping one breast when your baby is nursing on her second side.  Another way to increase milk production is to pump for 5 or 10 minutes beyond the last drops you produce.  Take a break and then start pumping again.

If you are pumping to relieve your breasts of excessive milk, do so whenever you feel it is necessary but only for short periods of time. Pump until you have alleviated the discomfort however pumping too long will make your body continue to produce more milk at that time.  When your breasts are too full you are at risk of getting clogged ducts and eventually mastitis so you should express a little bit to keep the milk flowing.  This is usually a problem towards the beginning of breastfeeding when you are establishing your routine milk supply.  After a few weeks your body should adjust to what your baby needs.

Some moms choose to exclusively pump and offer breast milk only through bottles.  While there are advantages derived from the very act of breastfeeding, providing breast milk – whether straight from the breast or through a bottle – is still the best nourishment for your baby.  Mothers who exclusively pump may do so because their babies have trouble latching, they have to be away from their babies for extended periods of time or they feel more secure knowing the exact volume their babies are drinking.

To answer the question “how often should I pump while breastfeeding” you should consider your own goals.  Some moms never pump, some pump one to four times daily, while others pump for every feeding.  To figure out your ideal pumping situation, examine your goals, your milk supply and always take the lead from your baby.

Fenugreek Boosts Breast Milk Supply

Fenugreek Boosts Breast Milk SupplyFenugreek is a culinary and medicinal herb that hails from the Mediterranean, Europe and Asia.  It has a rich history as a powerful ancient herb that, among other uses, can increase breast milk supply.  It is formally known as Trigonella foenum-graecum L. and it contains unique properties that can make it a truly majestic herb for new mothers.

While research is lacking on exactly how Fenugreek boosts breast milk supply, lactation experts and moms agree that it really works for many breastfeeding mothers.  Fenugreek is generally considered an effective and safe galactagogue, a fancy way of saying it boosts breast milk supply.  And because it is a natural herb, it is probably a better choice than pharmaceutical solutions to low milk supply.

Researchers believe that Fenugreek may be effective at stimulating breast milk supply because of a phyto-estrogen known as diosgenin, which acts like estrogen in a lactating mother’s body.  Estrogen is one of the essential hormones required to produce breast milk.  The theory is, by supplementing with Fenugreek, mothers increase their estrogen-like factor and therefore produce more breast milk.

Fenugreek Boosts Breast Milk SupplyStudies show that using the proper amount of Fenugreek – approximately six grams a day – breastfeeding moms can improve their milk supply within three days.  Some women experience increases by up to 900% when they take Fenugreek regularly.  Most moms take Fenugreek until they reach their desired results and then discontinue its use.  Once breast milk supply is elevated, normal breast stimulation through breastfeeding usually sustains milk supply.

Although herbal supplements are not monitored by the Food and Drug Administration, Fenugreek is considered safe by most obstetricians and pediatricians for both lactating mothers and babies.  It is labeled GRAS or Generally Recognized As Safe when purchased from a reputable supplier.  The major reported side-effect for lactating moms besides an increase in breast milk production is sweat or urine that smells like maple syrup.  This is due to the natural sugars found in Fenugreek.

Fenugreek comes in capsule, powder or tea formats.  Many people find the taste bitter and therefore mix it in other foods such as soups, stews and salads.  The spice is a staple in Indian and Mediterranean cuisines.

Additionally, Fenugreek contains a host of other great nutrients for mothers to pass along to their babies.  These include Vitamins A, C and several of the important B vitamins.  Plus it contains trace minerals such as calcium, iron, folate, choline, magnesium and potassium as well as many others.  And being a seed, Fenugreek has a good deal of plant-based protein.

Fenugreek should not be taken by pregnant women because it can cause the uterus to contract. This could lead to preterm labor and premature birth of a baby.

If you find that your milk supply is low, ask your doctor if it is safe for you to take Fenugreek to boost your breast milk supply.

Hunger Cues: What are the Signs that your Baby is Hungry?

As a new parent, learning the signs that your baby is hungry can be challenging.  Between recovering from giving birth, exhaustion and deciphering your baby’s various cries, it can be hard to recognize hunger cues right away.  That’s why we’re reviewing common hunger cues that are the signs that your baby is hungry.

Most parents know that when their baby cries, it might mean he is hungry.  But there are easier and quieter ways to tell that your baby is gearing up for a feeding.  Usually your baby will show hunger cues before he actually cries.  In fact, crying is a late sign that your baby is hungry.  To avoid this frustration, be aware of these hunger cues.

Hunger Cues: What are the Signs that your Baby is Hungry?

The first signs of hunger are often so subtle you may not recognize them at all.  These include opening and closing the mouth, smacking lips or sucking on anything in sight – hands, feet, lips, toys, clothes, you name it.  When you see these signs that your baby is hungry, he is getting ready for some grub.

If you miss those early signs, the active hunger cues are a bit more obvious.  Rooting is an excellent clue that your baby wants to breastfeed. He may even root on other people, which always give friends and family members a good chuckle.  Similarly, your baby may prepare his own body for breastfeeding by trying to get in his favorite nursing position.  Other signs include hitting or sucking on you, breathing fast, fidgeting or getting fussy.

As we already address, when your baby is crying, he’s very hungry and should be fed immediately.  You may also notice that your baby’s head is moving rapidly when he wants to eat.  That is another late hunger cue.

Some signs that your baby is hungry may change as your baby gets older.  For instance, once your baby exits the newborn stage, he’ll start putting more things in his mouth as a form of exploration.  And some babies become thumb or finger suckers quite early.  That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s hungry.

Also, during growth spurts, your baby may go from completely fine to famished in 60 seconds flat.  Babies require more breast milk during these times of major growth and may get hungry extremely fast.

Most lactation specialists recommend breastfeeding your baby whenever he is hungry, especially in the early months.  If you are unsure that your baby’s behavior is actually a hunger cue or something else, go ahead and offer your breast.  Breastfeeding is soothing to babies and feeding more frequently shouldn’t cause any future problems.  Knowing your baby is well nourished and comforted is one of the most important acts of love you can offer.

“Off the Chart” Baby Milestones

Many parents obsess over what their children can do based on baby milestones charts.  While milestones charts are helpful in determining if your baby is developmentally delayed, they often don’t represent the full spectrum of what is amazing about your baby.  Today we’re looking at some “off the chart” baby milestones that will melt your heart and become precious memories of your little tot.

Signs of Affection:  You waited over a month for that first smile and it captured your heart.  When your baby starts giving kisses, giving hugs, blowing kisses or reaching for you (even when it is related to separation anxiety) you can’t help but feel that the love you’ve been showered upon your baby since conception is being returned.

“Off the Chart” Baby MilestonesDancing:  Most babies have an innate sense of rhythm.  While sometimes they may look like they are beating to the tune of their own drum, any movement to music is incredible.  Baby dancing may at first appear like regular old kicking or bopping.  Then all the sudden your adorable babe will be bouncing around to the beat and having a great time to boot.

Food Preferences:  Babies and children have more discerning palates than adults because their taste buds haven’t been dulled over time.  Therefore, babies often have distinct likes and dislikes when it comes to food.  Starting solids may be “on the chart” but discovering the flavors of the world that your baby loves (and hates) is “off the charts” awesome.

Communication through Sign Language:  If you’ve decide to initiate sign language as a form of communication, it will take quite a bit of time and practice before your baby uses signs appropriately.  When he finally does, you will be astounded and proud of how he uses his hands to do his talking.  Plus, it will make life easier knowing what your baby wants.

Word Phrases:  The first word is great but the first phrase is spectacular.  When your baby can string two or more words together, you know the cogs are really turning in his little brain.  Don’t expect phrases immediately after he’s blurting single words, but over time, they will roll off his tongue to his and your delight.

First Artwork:  Towards the end of your baby’s first year you may try to help him hold a crayon or dip your baby’s precious fingers in paint to see what he can create.  He’ll love seeing the colors spill onto paper as he moves his hands about.  This fun first piece of artwork is definitely something for his scrapbook or to frame and display in your home.

Meeting Family:  When you finally muster the courage for a long plane trip or car ride to visit relatives, be sure to have your camera ready.  Introducing grandparents, great-grandparents, other relatives and close friends to your baby is a special moment for everyone.

Discovering Toys: You are the best toy your baby will ever have.  But once he becomes aware of the wondrous things toys can do, you may occasionally get the shaft.  You’ll probably have to show your baby how toys work at first, but he’ll soon get the hang of it and squeal with joy when he gets playful results from them time-and-time again.

Unless there is true cause, don’t fret about baby milestones on the developmental chart.  But do be sure to cherish the “off the chart” baby milestones that are the truly awesome moments in their lives.

What’s Busting your Breast Milk Production?

Mammals like us humans have the unique ability to nourish our babies through breast milk.  Nature tells us that most mammal mamas produce enough milk to feed their babies adequately.  But humans have been known to mess with nature from time-to-time, which may reduce breast milk production.  Today we’re looking at breast milk production busters so you can avoid low milk supply.

First of all, as a reminder, your supply may not be as low as you think.  Many moms have misconceptions about the state of their milk supplies.  Determining milk supply by the firmness of the breast, let-downs, how much you pump, not leaking, a baby who wants to nurse constantly or a baby who will take a bottle after breastfeeding are not sufficient indicators.  The best way to know if your baby is getting enough breast milk is if he is gaining weight appropriately, has consistent wet and dirty diapers and seems satisfied after most feedings.

If you do find that your breast milk production has slowed, it could be due to several factors:

What’s Busting your Breast Milk Production?

Breast milk production, like other hot commodities, is a game of supply-and-demand.  The more you breastfeed, the more breast milk your body will produce.  Conversely, the less you breastfeed, the less breast milk you will produce.  Therefore, anything that prevents you from breastfeeding your baby regularly and whenever your baby is hungry will reduce breast milk production.

The major impediment to supply-and-demand is supplementing.  Whether its formula or pumped milk, supplementing will train your breasts not to produce the amount of milk your baby needs at any given time.  If you continue supplementing, the cycle will perpetuate and your milk supply will continue to drop or not increase with your baby’s growing demand.

Breastfeeding on demand is the best way not to bust your milk supply.  This allows your baby to determine when he’s hungry and your body will adjust accordingly.  Also, let your baby breastfeed as long as he wants.  Offer both breasts with each feeding to establish good supply on each side.  Sleeping babies often don’t want to wake for feedings, especially newborns.  Some babies will “dream feed,” which is eating while sleeping, which will help ensure your baby eats every 2-3 hours during the day.  Otherwise you may have to employ some drill sergeant tactics to wake your baby for daytime feedings.

Being dehydrated, sick or taking certain medications can bust your breast milk production.  Breast milk has high water content so you’ll need to be hydrated to produce that fabulous milk.  But you don’t have to go overboard.  Drink a normal, healthy amount of water – 8 to 10 glasses a day – to quench your thirst.  Also, consult your doctor and pediatrician before starting new medications as they may interfere with milk supply. If you are sick, discuss alternatives to medications such as clearing sinuses with steam treatments or a netty pot rather than resorting to medication.

Some experts also believe that bottles and pacifiers may result in low milk supply because babies won’t be as efficient on the breast.  Breastfeeding is hard work for babies, whereas sucking on a bottle or a pacifier is relatively easy.  Inefficiently at the breast may reduce supply.  Depending on your situation and your baby, consider waiting to introduce bottles and pacifiers until your breast milk is well established.

Keep your supply healthy and avoid these breast milk production busters!

 

 

Breastfeeding for your Baby’s Healthy Gut

We often share the amazing benefits of breastfeeding on our blog.  For your baby, breast milk is the number one superfood on the planet and is designed to meet her exact nutritional requirements.

New research published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology shows that breastfeeding is especially healthy for your baby’s gut.  In discovering how babies use breast milk to improve gut bacteria, researchers have also uncovered how they may be able to replicate it with cow’s milk.

Every human being has trillions of microbes that live in the digestive tract.  According to the latest studies, this healthy bacteria influences much about our biological health including our immune system, metabolism, nutritional absorption and physiology.  The community of microbes in the digestive system is referred to as the gut microbiome and there’s a lot riding on this tiny population.

Breastfeeding for your Baby’s Healthy Gut

Babies have a non-existent gut microbiome until the moment they are born.  Bacteria passed from mother to baby during vaginal delivery is the first opportunity for babies to build this important network.  That’s why recent research acknowledges the benefits of exposing babies born via C-section to vaginal bacteria from their mothers.  The birthing process is a vital first step in protecting babies and beginning to establish their gut microbiome.

Beyond birth, the leading source of nourishing a baby’s gut microbiome is through breastfeeding.  Breast milk contains glycoproteins that introduce bacteria from the mother and her diet into the baby’s digestive system.  Glycoproteins are made up of protein and sugars known as oliosaccharides.  Specific bacterium are produced that help infants and young children develop enzymes that strengthen their bodies.  One crucial enzyme called EndoBI-1 was determined to come from the oliosaccaride sugars found in glycoproteins.

Identifying the source of EndoBI-1 from breast milk compounds is breakthrough on several levels.  First, it better informs medical professionals about how breastfeeding improves a baby’s overall health, starting with the gut microbiome.  And it proves that breast milk has evolved with the human species.  Pretty phenomenal!  But it also has greater implications for babies who cannot or are not breastfed.

Researchers now believe that non-breastfed babies can benefit from these findings as well.  If formula products incorporate oliosaccharides, they can break down cow’s milk in a similar way to a human mother’s milk.  This would give formula-fed babies some of the same advantages as breastfed babies when it comes to a healthy gut.

This latest study was conducted by a team led by Professor David A. Mills, PhD, the Shields Endowed Chair in Dairy Food Science.

How to Avoid Flat Head Syndrome

Your precious newborn baby’s head is delicate for several reasons.  First, she needs help holding up her head because her neck muscles cannot yet do the job. Additionally a newborn baby’s skull is very soft and not yet closed.  Since babies spend most of their time on their backs due to weak neck muscles and their skulls are still malleable, they are at risk of developing flat head syndrome.  Today we’re taking a look at how to avoid flat head syndrome.

How to Avoid Flat Head Syndrome

When you look at your baby’s head you probably find it super adorable and kissable.  Well, it is that, but it also has two soft spots known as fontanels.  One fontanel is towards the front of her head and the other towards the back.  These allow the baby’s head some flexibility during birth since space is rather narrow in the birth canal, as you can imagine. Also, these openings between bones allow plenty of space for your baby’s most important brain to grow.  The back fontanel closes by around 4 months of age and the front one should be fully closed by 19 months.

Many parents are worried about touching the soft spots but the truth is it’s ok to touch them gently.  Sometimes touching them is unavoidable, like when you’re getting your baby dressed or when you are washing her hair.  You are unlikely to damage anything during normal daily activities.

The bigger concern about a baby’s head is flat head syndrome or plagiocephaly.  With that back fontanel and the fact that your baby is placed on her back often for neck support and sleep, some babies develop a flat spot on the back of their heads. This has been even more common since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that babies sleep on their backs to avoid risk of SIDS.  Between sleeping on her back, enjoying her bouncy chair and infant swing, and riding in a car seat, there’s a lot of pressure on the back of your baby’s head that may cause it to be misshapen.

Fortunately, there are some ways to avoid flat head syndrome.  First, be conscious of how much time your baby spends on her back.  For sleep it is a necessity but for waking hours, try not to leave her in chairs and swings too long.  A better alternative is holding her or wearing her in a baby sling or carrier.  As her neck strength improves and she can hold her head up for longer periods of time, you can hold her in a sitting position for play time.

Tummy time is also recommended for infants until they learn to crawl.  Tummy time has several advantages.  First, it builds neck muscles for eventual autonomous head holding.  It also strengthens your baby’s core muscles that she’ll need for crawling and a variety of other activities very soon.  And tummy time gives you baby a time-out from lying on her head and potentially creating a flat spot.  Aim for multiple tummy time sessions a day for as long as your baby will tolerate it.

Also, try to position your baby’s head differently when she does need to put pressure on it.  Chances are she’s going to have a favorite head position.  Counter-balance her position by laying her on the opposite side sometimes.  When breastfeeding you’ll naturally alternate sides.  Do the same for bottle feeding.

If your baby’s head continues to develop a flat spot that is not improving by 6 months, your pediatrician may recommend cranial orthotic therapy where your baby will wear a custom-fit helmet for a certain period of time until the issue is resolved.

Addressing the problem early is the key to avoid flat head syndrome.  Watch for signs and use these tips to help keep some pressure off of your baby’s head.