Archives for March 2017

When to Ditch the Crib

Switching from a crib to a toddler bed is a big step in your child’s life. Making the decision to transition out of a crib should be based on your child’s interest, maturity and safety. There is no set age or time limit on beds that are most appropriate for your child; it’s up to you and your little one to determine what works best for your family.

Here are some tips for when to ditch the crib:

when to ditch the crib_109063278The most obvious reason to ditch the crib is if your baby is consistently climbing out of the crib. Escaping from the crib poses a potential safety hazard not only because your baby may fall and hurt herself, but also because then she may have free reign of the house without your knowledge and supervision. If your baby is climbing out of the crib but is not yet mature enough for a toddler bed, make sure the crib mattress is at its lowest position and ensure no bulky toys are in the crib that can be used as a “step” for your baby to more easily climb out of the crib. If your little Houdini is only escaping occasionally, you can surround the crib with cushions to help keep her safe if she falls.

Toddlers who show interest in sleeping in a “big kid” bed and have the maturity to stay in bed (most of the time) without wandering the house may be ready for the transition. A crib’s rails provide strict boundaries but a toddler bed has imaginary boundaries since, even if you have safety rails, your child can climb out of bed at her leisure. Kiddos who can understand and respect the imaginary boundary are probably ready to sleep in a bed. Also, if your child is old enough to leave her room on her own without wreaking havoc in your house, a bed may give your little one some welcome independence.

Sometimes parents ditch the crib because a new baby is on the way. This can go smoothly if your toddler is truly ready for the change. It’s best to do it several months prior to the baby’s arrival to help your child get acclimated to the new sleeping arrangement. If she’s not ready by the time your baby is born, you can see if a few months of being an older sibling makes a difference since the baby can sleep in a bassinet for awhile.

Once you commit to the transition from a crib to a toddler bed, make it a fun family event. Talk about the change for a few weeks prior to switching out the beds. Allow your little one to pick out sheets, pillows and a blanket to make the bed feel special and personal. But keep some elements familiar: put the bed in the same place as the crib and keep your bedtime routine the same to give your tot a sense of security. Set rules about when it is OK for your child to get out of bed too. This may be a good time to introduce a sleep/wake clock that signals to your child when she can get up. You can also talk about emergency situations that require your child to leave her room.

Second and subsequent children often have an easier time transitioning to a bed because they want to be like their older siblings. Being a “big kid” is an aspiration, but make sure you and your little one is truly ready before giving into this request. It may affect your toddler’s sleep for awhile, and therefore yours as well.

Most children transition out of the crib into a bed between 1½ and 3½ years old. No one can dictate when the time is right for your little one so follow your child’s cues and your mommy instinct on when to ditch the crib.

Sources: Café Mom’s The Stir and Baby Center

Ways to Keep Your Baby Awake While Breastfeeding

Ways to Keep Your Baby Awake While BreastfeedingThe thought of falling asleep while eating is pretty funny for an adult, but babies are excellent at this skill. Breastfeeding is delightfully pleasing and relaxing. Your baby is suckling, snuggled close and wrapped in the warmth of her favorite person, and her belly is being filled with the most delicious and nutritious breast milk. That’s enough to make anyone fall asleep, especially a tired baby. But sometimes you need to keep your baby awake while breastfeeding to ensure she finishes her meal.

Today we’re sharing ways to keep your baby awake while breastfeeding:

Naked Baby: Stripping your baby down to her diaper may encourage your baby to stay awake. Once she’s out of the warmth of her clothes and swaddle, the cooler air can be stimulating enough. You can still keep her warm with skin-to-skin cuddles.

Talk and Sing: Your baby loves to hear your voice and she may not want to miss a moment of what you have to say. Chatter and sing away to keep her interested in both breastfeeding and your words.

Burp and Switch: Burping your baby every few minutes can interrupt the breastfeeding trance before she falls asleep. You can also switch breasts several times during a feeding to keep her on the move.

Diaper Change: When you need major stimulation to keep your baby awake while breastfeeding, do a diaper change, whether she really needs one or not. Most babies don’t sleep through diaper changes and chances are she’ll stay up for awhile afterwards.

Alone Time: If you know your baby is hungry but continues to doze during a feeding, lie her on a flat surface for a minute or two. She will probably start to fuss and look around for the milk. Just a moment of being upset may be all she needs to stay up for that yummy breast milk.

Tickle: Tickle your baby on different areas of her body. Try her feet and toes, armpits, belly or around her neck and face. This refreshing touch may intrigue your baby enough to stay awake.

Wet Washcloth: When you need extra reinforcements, try the washcloth trick. Pat a damp washcloth on your baby’s feet or neck. The coolness will keep her eyes wide open.

Change the Scene: If a dark, familiar room makes your baby drowsy, try moving the feeding to a brighter, livelier environment. It’s hard to sleep when there s a lot of light and commotion in the background.

Massage the Palm: Using your thumbs, massage your baby’s palms. This is called the Palmer Reflex and may help get your baby ready to eat.

Exercise: Invigorate your baby with a little exercise. Cycle her feet, flap her arms or pull her into a seated position as if she’s doing sit-ups. She probably won’t be able to resist wakefulness during a baby workout.

Sources: KellyMom and My Baby Sleep Guide

What You Need to Know about Newborn Screenings

What You Need to Know about Newborn ScreeningsNewborn screenings are part of your baby’s very first health exam. Every baby regardless of symptoms or family history undergoes newborn screenings in the hospital. Babies not born in a hospital should be screened at a hospital or clinic within a few days of birth. Here’s what you need to know about newborn screenings:

Why are Newborn Screenings Important?

The short answer is: Newborn screenings save lives and help parents make informed decisions about their babies’ health. Newborn screenings test for a range of disorders. Some of them are life-threatening while others are less critical, at least in your baby’s immediate future. Also, some conditions need to be addressed with medication, supplementation, diet or procedures right away. Other conditions will give you information about your baby’s health that may not come into play for years down the road.

What Health Conditions are Checked in Newborn Screenings

Every state in the U.S. offers newborn screenings however the exact tests that are done vary by state. Most states run a battery of tests related to congenital diseases ranging from the baby’s ability to metabolize certain nutrients or produce crucial hormones, to immunodeficiencies, hearing lost or heart conditions. You can find out exactly which conditions are screened in your state from the Baby’s First Test website.

How are Newborn Screenings Conducted?

Most of the health conditions checked in newborn screenings are done through a simple blood test. A nurse will likely prick your baby’s heel to get a blood sample and the results will be sent to your pediatrician within five to seven days. A hearing test is done by placing a soft speaker near your baby’s ear to check her response to sound. A heart test is conducted using a pulse oximetry sensor on your baby’s finger or toe to check the amount of oxygen in her blood. Each of these tests takes a matter of seconds or minutes and are non-invasive. You may not even realize they are happening and your baby probably won’t either.

What Happens if a Problem is Discovered?

If your baby’s results come back abnormal, further tests will be done to get a better understanding of your baby’s health. Your pediatrician can review the test results with you and make recommendations on the best secondary testing necessary based on the lab results. Sometimes medication, vigilance or simply being aware of the problem is all the treatment that is required.

Sources: CDC, Baby’s First Test, March of Dimes and Kid’s Health

Pregnancy Dreams Part 2

If you’re having strange dreams during pregnancy, you’re in good company. Many moms-to-be report bizarre dreams and nightmares during their 9+ months of pregnancy. As we discussed earlier this week, the imaginative scenarios that arise in your dreams are thanks to a combination of hormones and emotions that are swirling around in your body and psyche. Questions about your labor and delivery process, ability to be a parent and even characteristics of your baby may rear their head in your pregnancy dreams. Today we’re helping you interpret some common themes in your pregnancy dreams.

Pregnancy Dreams about Childbirth

Pregnancy Dreams Part 2Although your birthing dreams may be traumatic or have you giving birth to non-human animals or inanimate objects, dreaming about childbirth actually means you’re excited about the arrival of your baby. It is normal to have anxiety over the labor and delivery process because there are many unknowns and some of it may be out of your control. Pregnancy dreams about giving birth to anything other than a human baby are just representative of your baby and your feelings of nurture toward your little bundle of joy.

Pregnancy Dreams about Harming or Forgetting your Baby

It seems horrible that you would even dream about harming or forgetting your baby but these dreams are actually quite common and normal. Becoming a parent is a huge responsibility – probably the biggest role of your life. You may not feel prepared for the job and that can be reflected in dreams about leaving your baby somewhere or not being able to protect your baby from danger. Recognizing these fears may help you come to terms with feelings of not being ready for motherhood and may even up your game in preparing for the arrival of your baby.

Pregnancy Dreams about your Baby’s Gender

Your baby’s gender is probably top-of-mind for you during pregnancy. Even if you opt to find out the sex of your baby, the weeks leading up to the gender reveal can provoke pregnancy dreams about your baby boy or girl. As much as you may wish you could dream up your baby’s sex, it’s just not possible. You’ll have to wait for your blood work, ultrasound or delivery to know for sure.

Pregnancy Dreams about Conception

Metaphorical and realistic dreams about conception are common during pregnancy. Sometimes these dreams manifest as planting or burrowing in the earth or they may become sexual in nature. This is your subconscious helping you connect to your baby and form an early bond as she grows and develops in your womb.

Pregnancy Dreams about Water

Whether you’re pregnant or not, dreams about water are usually a reflection your own feelings. If the water is pure and clear, you’re feeling optimistic and confident about your life. Murky water may represent feelings of uncertainty and doubt. Water dreams during pregnancy often occur in the first trimester as the amniotic sac fills with fluids.

Pregnancy Dreams about Being Trapped

Dreams of entrapment may have dual meaning. First, it can help a mom-to-be emphasize with her baby who is “trapped” in the womb. Also, it may represent an expectant mom’s feelings of losing freedom as she enters this new phase in her life.

Pregnancy dreams are fascinating and can help you acknowledge and manage feelings of fear, anxiety, inadequacy and doubt. If you experience pregnancy dreams, take some time to understand the emotions behind them. It may help clear your mind and enter motherhood with excitement and fresh perspective.

Sources: Huffington Post and Fox News

 

Pregnancy Dreams Part 1

Whether we remember them or not, we all dream. When you’re pregnant, your dreams may feel like they are on overdrive, thanks to the whirlwind of hormones and emotions that being a new parent conjures up. Pregnancy dreams – and often nightmares – can paint a picture of how new moms are feeling, even if she isn’t outwardly expressing herself during waking hours. Today we’re examining the meaning behind common pregnancy dreams.

When you’re expecting you may feel like you’re having more dreams than usual. That’s probably not true, but because pregnancy dreams are so vivid and sometimes troublesome, you may be more likely to remember them. Plus, when your dreams are scary, you may wake up more frequently, which also helps you remember your most recent dreams.

Pregnancy Dreams Part 1Hormones, stress and a range of emotions are probably the culprit of your strange pregnancy dreams. As with any dreams, they are provoked by something in your subconscious. Moms-to-be certainly have a lot of mixed feelings floating around and many of them debut in the form of pregnancy dreams. When you dream about turmoil and conflict, it is most likely representative of the internal and external changes you’re feeling as you enter a new stage in your life. After all, having a baby truly changes everything, from your relationship with your spouse and friends, to your job and your own identity.

Psychologist Alan Slegel studied pregnancy dreams in the 1970s and concluded that the seemingly bizarre imaginative dreams of moms-to-be were helpful in preparing them for motherhood. Not only do pregnancy dreams help expectant mothers release their fears, they also help mothers accept their new role as parents. More recent studies showed there may be a strong correlation between pregnancy dreams and shorter labor and less postpartum depression. Perhaps coping with feelings in dreams eases anxiety in the long run.

Many pregnant women question their ability to be a mother after experiencing pregnancy dreams. They wonder if the horrible things their imagination dreamed up are a sign of things to come. Fortunately, that’s not true at all so you can rest assured your mothering skills are not based on your subconscious dreams.

Many pregnant women claim to have dreams pertaining to similar in topics.  These are often about the labor and delivery process or taking care of a new baby. Later this week we’re sharing what the experts say these pregnancy dreams are all about.

Sources: Huffington Post and Fox News

Poison Prevention Tips for Parents

Poison Prevention Tips for ParentsThis week is National Poison Prevention Week so we’re sharing poison prevention tips for parents to help keep your little ones safe. These vital reminders may make the difference between life and death for your children. Take this time to reevaluate your home and safety habits so your kids don’t become part of the startling statistics:

According to Poison Control, children under the age of 6 make up half of the poison exposures in the U.S. Infants and toddlers were the most likely to be affected. The most common poison exposure may surprise you: it is personal care items and cosmetics. Cleaning supplies and medications followed closely behind.

Take precautions to keep your kids safe with these poison prevention tips for parents:

Poison Prevention Tip #1: Be Vigilant with Medications

Whether it’s storing or administering, many poison exposures are related to medications. It’s essential that prescription and over-the-counter medications are only given according to dosage instructions. Read the directions, measure carefully and take note of the timing when giving your kids medication. Only give your children prescription medications meant for them and prescribed by a healthcare provider. Always keep medications in their original bottles with safety caps and locked out of reach of small children. Never set a dose of medication on the table when children are around as they may grab it when you’re not looking. Also, dispose of medications when you’re done with them or when they expire.

Poison Prevention Tip #2: Store Household Cleaners Out of Reach

The best storage places for dangerous chemicals are out of the sight and reach of young children. A high cabinet that locks is ideal. If your storage cabinets are not high, secure locks should be mandatory. Always keep products in their original containers so you can read the directions with each use. Never store cleaning products or chemicals in food containers as children may be confused about their contents. Use products when children are not around and never leave them out with your kids unattended. Never mix chemicals or cleaners and turn on fans or open windows after use to prevent toxic fumes.

Poison Prevention Tip #3: Keep Cosmetics and Personal Care Items Away from Kids

You may not realize it but your lipstick and deodorant are dangerous to your kids. They may see you using these items often and feel it is safe to give them a try but this category is the leading cause of poison exposure among young children. Beyond what you keep in your bathroom, consider items that may be in your purse or lying around your house. Put them away to avoid a potential hazard for your little ones.

Poison Prevention Tip #4: Check your Home

Homes built before 1978 may have lead-based paint. You may need to remove lead sources and take actions to prevent lead dust from being near your children. In addition to smoke detectors, homes need carbon monoxide detectors. And if you live in an area where radon is common you may want to have your house tested for that substance as well.

Poison Prevention Tip #5: Be Prepared

Should your child have a poison exposure, take action quickly. Keep emergency numbers for poison control, your pediatrician and the nearest hospital by your phone. Call 911 immediately if you fear your child has ingested poison or is showing signs of respiratory distress.

Sources: Poison Control, Safe Kids and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Breast Milk Nutrition Part 2

Breast Milk Nutrition Part 2It’s National Nutrition Month so we’re exploring the nutrition in your baby’s breast milk. As your baby’s best first food, breast milk contains a wealth of nutrients that not only help her grow and develop now, but also support her health for a lifetime. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 4-6 months of your baby’s life, and continuing to one year or beyond. Today we’re rounding out our discussion of breast milk nutrition by breaking down the most potent categories and explaining their nutritive value.

Water: H2O is essential hydration for your baby since water is a large part of her body composition and she is not getting water from any other source.

Protein: The two types of protein found in breast milk are whey and caseins. Breast milk protein typically contains 60-80% whey, which is much easier for babies to digest than caseins. In comparison, cow’s milk and formula have a higher concentration of caseins that may cause more gastrointestinal problems for babies. Protein helps build muscles and bones and is vital to a strong immune system.

Fat: Fat is crucial to your baby’s growth and development. The fat content in your breast milk changes during each feeding. The foremilk that comes first is rich in carbohydrates (mainly lactose) and water while the hind milk that follows has more fat and therefore calories. That is why feeding on one side until your baby reaches the hind milk is important. Fatty acids and cholesterol help your baby’s brain develop (as well as nervous system and eyes) and are linked to improved cognition among breastfed babies. Fats also aid the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Carbohydrates: Lactose or milk sugar is the main carbohydrate found in breast milk. Carbohydrates are used to energize the body for all metabolic functions including growth. Lactose promotes healthy flora in your baby’s gut and can fight off harmful bacteria there as well.  It also helps your baby absorb essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Oligosaccharides are another carbohydrate that supports a healthy immune system in the gut as well.

Antibodies: Many of the other categories of breast milk nutrition have protective properties for your baby. Additionally, antibodies help prevent your baby, who has little-to-no immune system at birth, from getting sick. Secretory Immunoglobulin A is the main antibody found in breast milk. It forms a protective barrier in your baby’s intestines and lungs to keep pathogens away from these critical organs and out of the bloodstream.

Enzymes: Enzymes help your baby break down breast milk during digestion so it can be metabolized and put to good use throughout her body. There are around 40 different types of enzymes that have been identified in breast milk including lactoferrin, lipase, amylase and protease.

Vitamins and Minerals: Breast milk is rich in vitamins and minerals that help your baby with nearly every function of her tiny little body. The alphabet of vitamins including A, B, C, D, E and K are swimming around in your breast milk. Minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, zinc and chloride, among others.

Hormones: Scientists are not positive about the purpose of hormones in breast milk but there are many of them including prolactin, relaxin, endorphins and thyroid hormones, among others. Some of these are required for milk production, while others are a natural part of a woman’s body or may have helped during the reproductive and childbirth stages.

Sources: Parenting Science, Very Well, Baby Center, American Pregnancy and Rehydrate

Breast Milk Nutrition Part 1

You already know breast milk is the most nutritious food on the planet for your baby. That’s why you pour so much of your heart and soul into breastfeeding. But do you know exactly what is in your breast milk? We’re breaking down breast milk nutrition in honor of National Nutrition Month.

Breast milk contains over 200 powerful elements that help your baby thrive. And it’s not just the individual ingredients but rather then combination of them that makes breast milk such an extraordinary superfood. Plus, your breast milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of your baby so you’re always providing what your baby needs when she needs it.

Breast Milk Nutrition Part 1Because your breast milk evolves, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact quantity of certain nutrients. Not only will your milk evolve as your baby grows and ages, your breast milk also changes based on the time of day, frequency of feedings, duration of feedings and your diet. However, there are some constants when it comes to breast milk.

All mature breast milk (milk produced 21 days after initiating lactation) contains water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, hormones antibodies and white cells. Breast milk is made of just over 88% water. Proteins make up 1% of breast milk, fats are just under 4%, carbohydrates are around 7% and everything else is less than 1%. If that less than 1% seems insignificant, think again. That’s a category with a ton of really important nutrients for your baby. In general, 100 mL (approximately 3.5 oz) of breast milk contains 70 calories.

Colostrum, the early seedy substance that feeds your baby in the first few days of life, differs in composition to meet the immediate needs of your newborn baby. Colostrum is more potent in protein but contains less fat and calories. This is why your newborn is hungry often, in addition to her small stomach. Colostrum also has more beta-carotene, Vitamin E and zinc than mature breast milk.

From a biological and evolutionary perspective, breast milk nutrition and composition makes a lot of sense. Human babies develop slowly, which is why breast milk protein is low. We also keep our babies with us rather than leaving them for long periods of time to say, hunt for food, so they need less fat in their diets because they are fed frequently.

Stick around: later this week we’re breaking down breast milk nutrition further and taking a deep dive into each nutritious category.

Sources: Parenting Science, Very Well, Baby Center, American Pregnancy and Rehydrate

Signs of a Baby Growth Spurt

Signs of a Baby Growth SpurtWhen your baby’s behavior seems out of the ordinary, you may wonder if she’s getting sick, teething or needs a schedule change. If none of the usual check list applies, your little one may be going through a baby growth spurt. You may not notice the growth at first, but when signs of a baby growth spurt are paired with sudden weight gain or sizing out of clothes, that’s probably what’s happening.

Although babies don’t all follow the same growth schedule, typically growth spurts occur around the same time for most babies. These include: 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months. You may noticed that baby clothing sizes start to sync up with these traditional growth spurts, as do your baby’s check-ups. Growth spurts may last just a couple of days or up to a week.

If you suspect your baby is growing, keep an eye out for the most common signs of a baby growth spurt:

Extreme Hunger

If your baby wants to nurse around the clock, a growth spurt is the likely culprit. As you can imagine, growing takes a lot of energy so your baby needs extra food to fuel her mission. Breast milk is the best nutrition for a growing baby because it contains everything her body needs to power growth and development. Don’t worry that your milk supply won’t be enough for her – your body will adjust to keep up with your baby’s nutritional needs.

Hibernation

Growth hormones are secreted during sleep so your baby may hunker down for some deep sleeping sessions during a baby growth spurt. Unless your pediatrician recommends otherwise, don’t wake your baby for feedings during a growth spurt. She’ll make up for the lack of milk during her natural waking hours. Also, be careful not to be too rigid with your schedule during a growth spurt. If your baby needs more sleep, don’t keep her up just because her normal schedule dictates it.

Fussiness

Your baby may be crankier than usual during a baby growth spurt. This may be because she’s hungry or tired or perhaps she’s tired because she was up eating all night. It’s hard to know for sure what is causing the fussiness during a growth spurt but do your best to meet your baby’s needs and keep her comfortable. Luckily it won’t last long!

If you’re unsure that your little one is going through a baby growth spurt, her signs are combined with other symptoms such as a fever, or she doesn’t come out of it within a week, consult your pediatrician as it may be something other than a growth spurt. Remember, growth spurts are a normal part of infancy and childhood. Your baby will be having them all the way through her teenage years.

Sources: KellyMom, Parents and Today’s Parent

Breastfeeding Positions for your Baby’s Style

Breastfeeding Positions for your Baby’s StyleFinding the most comfortable way to breastfeed may be mostly dependent on how your baby likes to feed. Once you and your baby find your breastfeeding rhythm, you’ll learn your baby’s style. Chances are she’ll have a favorite position and will let you know it pretty quickly. Here are some tips on figuring out the breastfeeding positions for your baby’s style.

Cradle

The traditional cradle position lays your baby across your lap while her head is supported by the arm on the same breast side she is nursing. This breastfeeding position maximizes your skin to skin contact because your baby’s body intersects with yours length-wise. It also frees one hand to caress your baby so it’s ideal for babies who like a lot of touch and sensation during nursing. Cradle is often better for babies one month or older who are experts at latching quickly and efficiently.

Cross-Cradle

Similar to cradle, your baby lies across your lap. But in cross-cradle you hold your baby with the opposite arm as the breast she is nursing and support her head with the hand on the same side breast. Again, you get lots of opportunity for skin-to-skin contact with cross-cradle. Newborns and smaller babies often enjoy cross-cradle because of the added support and help with positioning for a proper latch.

Football

In the football hold you position your baby to the side of the nursing breast. She will lie face up under your upper arm while your lower arm supports her body. Your hand tips her head towards your nipple for latching. The football hold is great for moms who have had a c-section as it does not lay your baby across your incision site. Also, if your baby needs more direction in finding the nipple and remaining latched, the football hold gives you extra control.

Dangle

The dangle position allows your baby to lie on a flat surface while you hover over her and dangle your breast into her mouth. This breastfeeding position helps if you have slow let-downs or if you have a plugged duct as gravity will be on your side. Also, babies who prefer to lie independently rather than in mom’s arms enjoy this position.

Reclining

Side-lying or reclining allows you and your baby to lie side-by-side on a bed, couch or the floor. As your baby faces you, you can align your breast to her mouth for nursing. This is great for relaxation, feeding in bed or for nursing before or after cuddling. If you and your baby are co-sleeping, reclining is a wonderful way to nurse to help both of you get the most sleep. Often babies nurse in the reclining position without waking up.

Which breastfeeding positions match your baby’s style?

Sources: BabyCenter and Parents