Archives for February 2017

Ear Infections in Babies Part 2

The dreaded ear infection.  It usually strikes after your baby has already been sick with an upper respiratory condition such as a cold, sinus infection or allergies. Just when you think she’s recuperating, wham, she shows signs of an ear infection. Your poor sweet baby is miserable again. This is often the way it plays out when it comes to ear infections in babies.

Yesterday we explored the causes and symptoms of ear infections in babies. As soon as you recognize a sign of an ear infection, it’s important to find out if it is indeed an infection or something else. The symptoms of ear infections can also be signs of teething, digestive issues or other illnesses. But if the symptoms follow a period of nasal congestion, it’s likely to be an ear infection and it’s worth a trip to your pediatrician to find out.

Ear Infections in Babies Part 2Fortunately, ear infections are highly treatable with antibiotics. Once diagnosed, your doctor will find the right medication for your baby and she should start feeling better within a few days. It is important to complete the entire course of antibiotics to ensure the infection is completely demolished.

It is essential to treat ear infections quickly and thoroughly to avoid long term damage to the eardrum. Also, ear infections reduce vibrations in the ear that are associated with sound. When ear infections are repeatedly left untreated they may lead to hearing loss. This can delay a baby’s speech and affect her ability to speak properly throughout her lifetime.

The bad news about ear infections is that they can come back time and time again in early childhood. Until your baby’s middle ear matures, the Eustachian tube remains a breeding ground for bacterial and viral infections. And of course you don’t want your baby to take too many antibiotics at such a young age as it can impair her immune system permanently.

If your baby has repeated ear infections, your pediatrician may recommend inserting tubes in your baby’s ears. The hollow plastic structures are inserted into an incision in the eardrum to allow fluid to drain and more air to flow through the area. This should help reduce the chance of ear infections and relieve discomfort your baby may feel if she does have fluid buildup. The surgery is done by an otolaryngologist and the procedure is called a myringotomy.

Later this week we’ll examine ways to prevent ear infections to help avoid risk of ear infections in babies.

Sources: WebMD, BabyCenter and Parenting

Ear Infections in Babies Part 1

Ear Infections in Babies Part 1Ear infections in babies are quite common. In fact, approximately 50% of babies have had an ear infection by their first birthday. This week we’re talking about the causes, symptoms, treatments, risks and prevention methods for ear infections in babies.

Causes of Ear Infections in Babies

Ear infections occur when fluid builds up behind the ear drum. This can happen because the normal channel for fluid to pass through the middle ear, the Eustachian tube which connects to the back of the throat, may be blocked thereby trapping fluid. Germs including bacteria and viruses are often introduced through the throat into the Eustachian tubes. Babies have short, wide and flat Eustachian tubes, which causes fluid to sit in the warm, dark, damp areas of the middle ear where bacterial or viral infections can grow.

Often an ear infection follows an upper respiratory issue such as a common cold, sinus infection or allergy flare-up. The excessive fluids you notice from a runny nose, spitting up mucus or watery eyes are also dripping into your baby’s ears. The fluid builds up behind the eardrum, causing an infection. As the inflammation increases, it can be quite painful to your baby.

Symptoms of Ear Infections in Babies

Because ear infections in babies are so common, it’s smart for parents to be on the lookout for signs that your baby may have one, especially after a cold, sinus infection or during allergy seasons. You may notice that your baby’s runny nose turns from clear to yellow or green. That’s a sign of infection.

In addition to a drippy nose, your baby may have eye drainage. When the two are combined, ear infection is the likely diagnosis. Some babies even get a yellowy drainage from their ears that may be accompanied by a bad smell, although these symptoms are less common.

Increased crankiness and waking frequently at night are symptoms of an ear infection. Ear infections can be painful and your baby is not able to explain or understand her plight. Lying down may exacerbate the pain because it puts extra pressure on the eardrum and doesn’t allow fluids to drain. If you notice your baby has one more painful side, try to lie her down with that ear up.

Also, your baby may or may not have a fever with an ear infection. She’s more likely to have a higher fever with whatever illness causes the ear infection than with the ear infection itself. Even if she does have an elevated temperature, it’s her body’s way of trying to fight the infection so that’s a positive sign that her immune system is activating properly.

Many parents notice babies tug on their ears when they have an ear infection. This can be a sign of an ear infection as your baby is trying to get to the bottom of the source of pain. Ear tugging may also be a sign of teething or just a fun activity that your baby enjoys.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more important information on ear infections in babies.

Sources: WebMD, BabyCenter and Parenting

Alternatives to Swaddling

Alternatives to SwaddlingSwaddling is a sleep aid that many baby experts and parents recommend. Much like their time in the womb, swaddling provides a cozy and snug environment for your baby. Since many newborns have twitching-like reflexes that they are unable to control, swaddling helps keep them still, calm and ready for sleep. However, some babies resist swaddling leaving parents to wonder about alternatives to swaddling.

Swaddling is a tried and true method of soothing babies to sleep for many. It’s one of the 5 S’s that Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block, recommends for calming babies. But when babies are not feeling the love from a swaddle or age-out of swaddling, many parents search for alternatives to swaddling to help pacify their babies and lure them to sleep.

One helpful solution is wrapping only the upper or lower area of your baby’s body. This can be achieved in several ways. First, you can use your traditional swaddle blanket or a pre-made swaddle blanket and only wrap up your baby’s legs. Or you can use an upper body only swaddle called the Swaddle Strap, which holds your baby’s arms in place to avoid sudden movements that may wake her.

Sleep sacks are also great alternatives to swaddling. They zip over your baby’s clothes or pajamas to form a wearable sleeping bag, of sorts. Sleep sacks come in long sleeve or sleeveless versions to keep your baby cooler or warmer depending on the season. Another nifty take on the sleep sack is the Zipadee-Zip. It zips your baby’s arms and legs within compartments in a blanket to allow some movement but still binds your baby for warmth and comfort.

Sometimes alternatives to swaddling don’t involve a different wrapping method, but simply require sleep associations and a better sleep environment to help ease your baby into dreamland. A consistent naptime and bedtime routine that may include a bath, a feeding, a story or a lullaby are all great for getting your baby ready for sleep. Also, having a sound machine and a soft nightlight can make your baby’s room feel comfortable and safe. Creating sleep associations will signal to your little one that it’s time to clam down and get ready for rest. After awhile, she’ll come to expect and enjoy the routine and the sleep that follows.

Rocking, wearing or bouncing your baby to sleep may help too. Being held closely and tightly to mommy or daddy is somewhat like being swaddled, but better! Plus movement may help your baby relax and fall asleep faster.

You may need to combine some of these alternatives to swaddling or try a few to find what works best for your baby. For those who enjoy it, swaddling is great up until 3 or 4 months. After that, transitioning to alternatives to swaddling is a better choice to allow your baby space to move and to prevent muscular problems associated with tight swaddling.

Sources: Parenting and BabySleepSite

 

Blocked Tear Ducts in Infants

Blocked Tear Ducts in InfantsWhen your baby wakes up with a little crust around her eyes, it may seem normal once or twice. But if it continues to happen several times a day or if you notice a pus-like substance coming from her eyes, she may have blocked tear ducts. Blocked tear ducts in infants is very common and treatable. Today we’re exploring why blocked tear ducts in infants occurs and how resolve the problem.

Causes and Symptoms of Blocked Tear Ducts in Infants

Like many parts of your baby, her tear ducts are very tiny at birth. It is common for babies, especially newborns, to develop blocked tear ducts. Often the tear ducts fail to open adequately because the skin forming them is so thin. Although rare, sometimes the nasal bone or undeveloped openings in the corners of the eyes can cause the clog. When tear ducts are blocked they cannot drain tears properly which can lead to infection.

Blocked tear ducts are most common in infants and occur in approximately 6 of every 100 babies. Watery eyes or big tears are a sign of blocked tear ducts in infants. Additionally, a yellowish or whitish discharge in the corner of the eye (which may crust over) or redness and puffiness around the eyes are symptoms too. Usually blocked tear ducts do not cause fever unless they are severely infected. Symptoms usually present within days or weeks of birth.

Ways Parents can Resolve Blocked Tear Ducts in Infants

Often blocked tear ducts in infants clear up on their own with just a little help from parents. If you notice your baby has a blocked tear duct, you can try the following home remedies:

  • Wipe the corner of the eyes clean with a warm washcloth or cotton ball several times a day.
  • Massage the area gently to encourage the tear ducts to open. Use a circular motion turning towards the nose.
  • Rub a few drops of breast milk into the area. Breast milk has incredible healing powers!
  • Protect your baby’s face from wind, smoke and sunlight.

*Always ensure your hands are thoroughly clean before touching your baby’s eyes.

Procedures to Resolve Blocked Tear Ducts in Infants

For blocked tear ducts that do not resolve with home remedies, doctors can perform a probing procedure. This works on around 80% of babies with blocked tear ducts. For extreme cases, surgery may be necessary. If blocked tear ducts cause an infection, antibiotics may be necessary to clear it up.

Sources: WebMD and Parenting

Why You Should Avoid Soft Cheese during Pregnancy

Why You Should Avoid Soft Cheese during PregnancyIf you’re a cheese lover, it may be hard for you to avoid soft cheese during pregnancy – but doing so is for a very good reason. Soft cheese is on the list of foods to avoid while pregnant for a few reasons and we’re exploring them today.

Why is it necessary to avoid soft cheese during pregnancy?

It’s spreadable, creamy and downright delicious, however it’s important to avoid soft cheese during pregnancy if it is unpasteurized because it may contain harmful bacteria called listeria. Listeria is a bacteria found in water and soil that causes the illness called listeriosis. Listeria is most commonly found in raw meats, vegetables and unpasteurized cheeses. Usually the process of cooking or pasteurizing food kills listeria, however some packaged food may be contaminated during packaging.

Unpasteurized soft cheeses are more likely to be contaminated with listeria because they contain more moisture than hard cheeses. Moisture is the perfect breeding ground for listeria.

What types of soft cheeses might have listeria?

Unpasteurized mold-rippened soft cheeses and bleu-veined cheeses are most likely to have listeria. Mold-rippened cheeses include brie, goat cheese, camembert and blue-veined cheeses include Danish blue, gorgonzola and Roquefort. These cheeses are generally considered safe if they have been pasteurized. However it is vital to be sure you avoid soft cheese during pregnancy if it has not been pasteurized. Hard cheeses don’t harbor moisture and are not likely to be contaminated with listeria.

Why is listeria more harmful during pregnancy?

Anyone who consumes food contaminated with listeria may end up with listeriosis but you are more likely to get it during pregnancy due to your weakened immune system. Your body is working very hard to create that precious baby and your immune system gets the short end of the stick, thanks to hormones. Less energy goes into keeping you well while you are pregnant and therefore moms-to-be are more susceptible to all sorts of infections, including listeriosis.  Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to get listeriosis than others, according to the CDC.

Additionally, listeriosis can be dangerous for your unborn baby. Is has been linked to miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects or infections in babies. That’s why it’s essential that you do everything possible to avoid listeria contamination during pregnancy.

What to do if you believe you have listeriosis

If you think you may have listeriosis, contact your physician immediately. Antibiotics can help you get rid of the infection and protect your baby from any negative side-effects as well. Symptoms of listeriosis include nausea, vomiting, headaches, fever and other flu-like symptoms.

Sources: NHS, American Pregnancy Association and The Bump

I Heart #LovingMoments

Valentine’s Day may be over but we’re still spreading love with the fantastic photos that were submitted during our I Heart #LovingMoments Valentine’s Day Photo Contest! By the looks of it everyone cherished their cherubs this Valentine’s Day. As they captured your hearts you captured them in adorable photos. Thanks to all the moms who shared their Valentine’s nurslings with us.

Congratulations to these five nurslings were selected as the winners of our I Heart #LovingMoments Valentine’s Day Photo Contest:

I heart #LovingMoments

Submitted by Staci Albright

I heart #LovingMoments

Submitted by Veronica Bohan

I heart #LovingMoments

Submitted by Zy Anna

I heart #LovingMoments

Submitted by Rebecca Ann Seybold

I heart #LovingMoments

Submitted by Jordan Kissinger

We were struck by cupid’s arrow for all of our entries. Here are the other precious entries:

Afsha Mia Mohsin Alyssa Shepherd Andrea Nelms Carrie Richmond Christine Isom Erin Wheeler Rachel Dawn Huber Tasha Miller Vanessa Styx

The Benefits of Breastfeeding: Longer Telomeres for Longevity

The vast benefits of breastfeeding are extraordinary. It seems every year there are new discoveries about how breastfeeding protects our babies in incredible ways throughout their lifetimes. That’s why we consider breastfeeding the greatest gift of health a mom can offer.

Exciting new research sheds new light into why breastfeeding reduces risk of certain terminal diseases and contributes to longevity. You may have known that lowered risk of heart disease, certain types of cancers and diabetes are on the list of benefits of breastfeeding. This is both a short term and long term advantage of breastfeeding. But do you know why? Researchers now believe it has to do with the effects of breastfeeding on DNA.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding: Longer Telomeres for LongevityA recent study followed babies whose mothers exclusively breastfed for at least 4-6 (which is only a fraction of the APA’s recommendation of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding) weeks. When the children were between 4 and 5 years old, the researchers measured their telomeres, which are parts of DNA that cap off chromosome cells. Telomeres protect cells from being damaged by free radicals, inflammation, and other foreign pathogens. The results showed that breastfed babies had 5% longer telomeres than non-breastfed children. And any amount of breastfeeding, even less than 4 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding, showed somewhat longer telomeres than non-breasted children.

Diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancers are often a result of inflammation. With longer telomeres, cells are stronger and less likely to be affected by potential threats and mutation. Plus, breastfeeding helps to safeguard against other risk factors for disease such as obesity and promotes a healthy immune system and microbiome. Additionally, breastfed babies take fewer antibiotics.

Telomeres usually shorten with age as evidenced by shorter telomeres in the adult population. There is some speculation, however, that telomeres may shorten within early childhood. Getting the best start in life through breastfeeding may contribute to longevity as cells retain their strength with age.

The study was done on a group of low-income Latina women and their babies. This somewhat homogenous group helps eliminate extraneous variables since breastfeeding is more common in higher income more educated families therefore skewing data in breastfeeding research. However, telomeres were not measured in the babies at birth so it is unknown whether the children were born with longer telomeres or they were a direct result of breastfeeding. Also, telomeres may contribute to success in breastfeeding.

Nonetheless, this research is encouraging as yet another example of the benefits of breastfeeding. Your loving gift of today may mean a longer, healthier life for your children in years to come.

Sources: University of California San Francisco and NY Times

 

Ways Your Baby Shows Love

When Valentine’s Day rolls around, you may long for some extra affection from your loved ones. And when you have a new little loved one who you nurture day and night, you may wish for some extra love there too. While your baby may not be doling out the hugs and kisses or signing Valentine’s Day cards quite yet, rest assured she’s showing her love in many many ways. You may not even realize the ways your baby shows love but we’re enlightening you to the love today.

Ways Your Baby Shows LoveYour baby knows you – There’s nothing like you in all the world and your baby is keenly aware of it. In fact, your baby can sniff you out among other people even before her vision has fully developed. Your unique scent, along with the smell of your breast milk, makes you highly recognizable to your baby. That plus your soft touch and beautiful face are ways she knows you intimately. This personal connection is a bond of love.

Your baby mimics you – Have you ever noticed that your baby tries to replicate your facial expressions? It may come in the form of silly faces, smiles or moving her lips to try to repeat your sounds. Copying is the strongest form of flattery and in this case it’s because your baby loves you so.

Your baby misses you – It may break your heart that your baby cries when you leave but it’s only because she loves you and wants to be with you. Even when she cries upon your return it’s because she’s reminded that you were gone. So let her express her emotional connection and know that separation anxiety is a normal part of a loving relationship.

Your baby smiles at you – Those precious baby smiles are always something to celebrate. And when they turn to giggles and downright belly laughs, they are even more fun to receive. You make your baby so happy, she laughs out of love.

Your baby talks to you – Your babbling baby is actually trying to tell you something. In her own words she’s saying she loves you. She feels comfortable enough to chatter away and she does believe it makes sense. So accept her loving words and respond back to engage in a conversation.

Your baby reaches for you – When you’re wanted or needed your baby will let you know. At first it’s only with cries but as she matures your baby will reach for you to show her desire to be held or cuddled. She may even give you little kisses to be close and feel your touch.

Your baby seeks your attention – Whether it’s during nursing or when she’s at play, your baby wants to know you’re there and you’re watching her. She may signal for you through milky suckling or crawl away and return to ensure you haven’t gone far. It’s just her way of showing you’re her safety net.

Your baby stares at you – When your baby gazes at you intently, she’s learning your every feature, expression and movement. She loves everything about you and wants to know you intimately. Embrace your baby’s loving stares and reciprocate with meaningful eye contact.

Cherish these ways your baby shows love! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sources: Babycenter and Parenting

The Do’s and Don’ts of Valentine’s Day while Breastfeeding

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. If you’re a new mom, the holiday may take new meaning as your love has expanded to welcome a new family member. This Valentine’s Day may be different from previous celebrations because taking care of a new baby is a full time labor of love. We’re sharing the do’s and don’ts of Valentine’s Day while breastfeeding to help you and your little one enjoy the holiday.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Valentine’s Day while BreastfeedingDO celebrate all kinds of love.

Romantic love may have started your family and now unconditional love is what you have for your baby. Celebrate all of the loves in your growing family this Valentine’s Day because there is no greater gift than that.

DON’T forget to pamper yourself too.

The best moms know when it’s time to relax and rejuvenate. As a new mom, you’re on the clock 24/7. Give yourself a little break for pampering this Valentine’s Day. De-stressing with a beauty treatment or simply taking a luxurious bath may be all you need to feel refreshed again.

DO get frisky if your doctor has given you the green light.

If your OBGYN says you’re cleared for intercourse, go for it on this most romantic day of the year. Otherwise, show your hubs some affection with lots of snuggles and kissing.

DON’T forget you can get pregnant while breastfeeding.

Exclusive breastfeeding usually means you have a very low chance of getting pregnant for the first six months after giving birth. However, even if you are not having regular menstrual cycles yet you may ovulate. In fact, if your period hasn’t returned by six months, you have an increased chance of ovulating before your first period. If you’re not ready for another baby, play it safe.

DO spend time as a family on Valentine’s Day

Spending time together as a family is a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Do something the entire family can enjoy, such as visiting a park or museum, or having a family game afternoon.

DON’T neglect your hubby because you’re too tired.

Sleep is important but so is connecting with your partner. Carve out some romantic time to enjoy your husband once the baby is asleep. Keeping the spark alive in your marriage is important for couples with a new baby.

DO enjoy a sweet treat.

Valentine’s Day treats are abundant and when you’re breastfeeding you need some extra calories to make that amazing breast milk. So go ahead, indulge in a few desserts in the name of love.

DON’T overdo it on chocolate or alcohol.

Chocolate is decadent and delicious but it does have caffeine. Limit the amount you eat while you are breastfeeding if your baby is sensitive to caffeine. Also, avoid excessive drinking since some alcohol content does enter your breast milk. Some moms abstain from drinking alcohol altogether while nursing but the general agreed upon guideline is if you can safely drive a car, you can breastfeed. That’s probably no more than two drinks for most nursing moms.

DO have a very Happy Valentine’s Day while breastfeeding!

Breastfeeding = Love

The theme of February is love, but for us every month is about love because breastfeeding = love! You’re showing your baby love in all the ways you take care of her every need. Breastfeeding is one of the most powerful ways you can love your baby because it encompasses so much of what we want our children to understand about love. From health, nutrition and happiness, to comfort, affection and safety, breastfeeding provides all of these to your baby and more.

Breastfeeding is health: Your baby’s health is your top priority as she is growing and developing every day. Breast milk has seemingly countless health benefits ranging from lowered risk of diseases like cancer and diabetes, to a stronger immune system now and throughout your baby’s lifetime. Breastfeeding sets your baby up for the healthiest start in life and it continues for many years into the future.

Breastfeeding is nutrition: Breast milk is the very best nutrition on the planet for your baby. It contains hundreds of essential nutrients that will help your baby thrive. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 4-6 months and continuing to breastfeed until at least a year once solids are introduced. Breastfeeding kick-starts a healthy diet that you and your child can maintain throughout her life.

Breastfeeding = LoveBreastfeeding is happiness: Breastfeeding offers many emotional benefits for your baby. It promotes the perfect bond between mother and baby as you spend your days cuddling and nursing. You and your baby learn each other intimately and sync to each other’s rhythms through breastfeeding. You solidify the love of family, closeness, smiles and unconditional love when you breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is comfort: Breastfeeding feels so good to your baby, and hopefully to you as well. When babies are fussy, nursing is one of the best ways to pacify them. It’s not just about the milk, but about being close to mom and feeling the love flow between the two of you. Breastfed babies often sleep better too, because the comfort they receive during nursing soothes them to sleep.

Breastfeeding is affection: There are many ways to show love and affection but we can’t think of one that beats breastfeeding. It is the gift that keeps on giving for your baby’s entire lifetime. And it’s a pure act of love from a mother to a baby.

Breastfeeding is safety: When your baby is unsure of the world around her, she feels reassured by your loving touch. You are her first form of safety because she trusts that you will always be there for her. Breastfeeding is her way of feeling secure in this great big world.

We hope you have a magnificent Valentine’s Day as you remember all the ways breastfeeding = love!