potty

Top Tips For Potty Training Accidents

It is inevitable that your child will have accidents when he or she is being potty trained. Be supportive, even when your child has not successfully used the toilet. With time, the accidents should become fewer and fewer until your child is completely potty trained and accidents are few and far between.

It’s been a long time since you were in diapers. Parents often do not realize that their children have accidents simply because they think differently. A child cannot plan ahead the way adults do every day — how many times, for example, do you jump in the car for a long trip with an older child and he or she needs to stop for a restroom less then ten minutes into the trip? Toddlers have an even shorter planning ability. They may hold it, thinking they can wait to use the potty when their television program or game is finished. Often, this is not the case, and the result is an accident.

Your child may also simply not realize he or she needs to use the potty. Even if your child has previously voiced the need to go to the restroom, other activities, such as being engrossed in play, can take your child’s mind off bodily needs. Ask you child often if he or she needs to use the potty, just as you would ask him or her to drink water on a hot day.

Be consistent with potty training rules as well to prevent these accidents. Your child may be doing this on purpose to gauge your reaction. Accidents should never result in punishment, but be firm as to what your child can and cannot do until he or she is potty trained. Regular accidents are not OK if your child knows better and had previously been able to control his or her bathroom actions.

However, if your child is having regular accidents and is upset at this, consult your doctor. There may be medical reason as to when potty training is becoming more difficult, and sometimes, simple dietary changes can help you fix these problems. Most children have accidents up to 6 months after successful toilet training. If accidents continue, speak with your child about the situation. If he or she is deliberately causing accidents, you may wish to postpone potty training until he or she is more mature. Punishment in these situations rarely works, but don’t let your child use potty training as a way of getting attention.

Accidents are normal. Although undesirable, remember to be supportive of your child as he or she is trying to learn to use the potty, even when they’re unsuccessful. Join an online support group if you find this process especially stressful. This, along with the multiple articles and tools for parents, can help you learn more techniques for potty training more quickly and avoiding accidents. Use accidents as a learning tool. As your child progresses in the potty training process, he or she will have fewer accidents. Don’t be surprised if your child regresses after having made significant progress—potty training takes time and support and is often a case of two steps forward and one step back.

 
About The Author: Diane Ball has an interest in Potty Training.
For further information on Potty Training please visit
http://www.painlesspottytraining.com/potty-training.html or
http://www.painlesspottytraining.com/blog/2006/09/27/top-tips-for-potty-training-accidents/

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Diapers – Wet or Dry Pail Method

Cloth diapering has come a long way! However, unless you use a diaper service, you will need to launder the diapers – but what do you do with them in the mean time?

WET PAIL METHOD (SOAKING)
This method allows you to soak your diapers until ready to wash. The benefit to this method is easier stain removal, and less frequent laundering.
HOW TO DO IT:
Fill your pail 1/2 full with cold water and 1/4 cup of vinegar or baking soda.
Dispose of flushable liner or shake off excess poop into toilet. No rinsing is necessary (especially if your baby is breastfed exclusively).
After 3-4 days or at about 2 – 3 dozen dirty diapers – empty the contents of your diaper pail into the washer and spin out the excess liquid.
Proceed with washing instructions.
Please make sure if you are using this method that your pail is securely fastened and out of reach of children.

DRY PAIL METHOD (NO SOAKING)
The benefit of this method is a lighter pail and no diaper soup!
HOW TO DO IT:
Sprinkle baking soda at bottom of pail and line your pail with a washable bag for easy transport to washing machine.
Dispose of flushable liner or shake off excess poop into toilet. No rinsing necessary (especially if your baby is breastfed exclusively).
Put wet or soiled diapers in the pail
Do a quick cold-water rinse cycle before your regular wash cycle so as not to set any stains in the hot water wash.
Proceed with washing instructions.
If you use this method you will need to wash about every 2 days or your diapers will stink!

drowning prevention

Prevent Drowning- This Summer and Always

Recently I watched a story on our local TV news about a toddler that fell into his family’s backyard pond. The mother was close by and only had her back turned for a moment. Fortunately, this mother was able to retrieve her son from the bottom of the pond and, since she had CPR training, revive him before the ambulance arrived. This story has a happy ending; the little boy is fine and the pond is now a sandbox.

Not Always a Happy Ending

All too often though, stories like this end in tragedy. Drowning is the second most common cause of death for small children from 1 to 4 years old! The little ones are at risk because they are usually unaware of potential dangers and they move so darn fast! As parents and caregivers, we need to minimize the dangers.

The bathtub and backyard pools account for most drowning accidents involving small children. It only takes 2 ½ inches of water to drown a child. Even if the child does not drown, near drownings can leave a child with permanent brain damage. Most drownings are preventable with a little diligence and planning.

What You Can Do to Prevent Drowning

  1. Watch Your Child: The most important thing is to watch your children constantly around any water, inside or out. Never leave them alone in or near water for even a moment. Keep your eyes on them and be within arms reach of small children at all times – really! It only takes a split second for tragedy to occur.
    I’ve observed little ones playing at the waters edge while the parents were about 5 feet away – but with their backs to their child. That child could drown and they wouldn’t hear a thing – even if only looking away for a minute, that is all it takes.
  2. Be Aware of Standing Water: When bath time is done, empty the tub right away. That also goes for any wading pools and buckets of water too (even the dirty water in a cleaning bucket can be a temptation and a hazard for a child). The toilet can also be dangerous; keep toilet lids down or get a toilet seat lock.
  3. Teach Your Kids to Swim: A great defence against drowning is swimming lessons. Many of these lessons do not just teach your child to swim, but also teach different water skills and safety. However, swimming lessons will not ‘drown-proof’ your child and there is no substitute for direct supervision. You still need to watch them very closely.
  4. Enclose Your Swimming Pool or Pond: If you have a swimming pool at home, you should completely enclose it on all sides and have a lock on the gate. CPR training can really save lives. If you have a hot tub, ensure that it is covered securely when you are not using it. Backyard ponds and other water features should also either be fenced in or have a grate covering them – or, like the woman at the beginning of this article, turn them into a sandbox or play area while your children (or grandchildren) are young.
  5. Learn CPR: CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is an important lifesaving technique that anyone who plans to spend time around the water should know – particularly if you are in charge of the care of children.  While CPR can sometimes save drowning victims’ lives, it can also help stave off death until emergency personnel can be on scene.

Water play can be great fun — please play safe!

 

Baby in a back seat located child safety seat

Preventing Children’s Deaths in Hot Cars

children-are-still-dying-in-hot-cars--dont-let-it-happenA parent’s worst nightmare is something happening to their child.

Compound that nightmare by knowing it was preventable and was their own fault? Already this summer, numerous children have died after being left in a vehicle. The outside temperature does not even have to be hot in order for a car to become too hot to live in for even a short period of time. Even in mild temperatures, the interior of a car can become hot enough to lead to death during an extended period of time. What is so frustrating is this happens every single summer.

The excuses for leaving a child in the car vary: my baby was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him up…or I thought I’d only be gone a few minutes. Perhaps the most heartbreaking is I forgot my child was in the back seat. While some say they can never imagine forgetting their child was in the vehicle, it can happen with a change of routine, sleeping child, fatigue, and a host of other reasons. My heart breaks for these people and their families, and I hope with these tips it will never happen to another family.

Tips to Help Prevent Leaving Children Behind:

  • Make a habit of always looking in the back seat when you get out of your car – even when you know your child is not with you
  • When arriving home, get your kids out of the car first before getting your groceries or whatever out of the car
  • Put one of your children’s toys on the front seat as a reminder that they are in the back seat
  • Put your cell phone, briefcase, or purse in the backseat on the floor in front of your child
  • Put a sticky note on your dashboard to remind you
  • Use one of those child safety mirrors in the back window so that each time you look in your rear-view mirror you see your child as well
  • Set an alarm on your cellphone for your anticipated arrival time at your destination with a reminder about your child

Some of you may think that this is all common sense and we don’t need reminders like this. But children are still being left behind in cars during hot weather with fatal effects. I

If you see a child in a car, don’t hesitate – call 911.

newborn-and-toddler

First-Born Jealousy

Question: Our first-born is showing extreme jealousy towards the new baby. He’s obviously mad at us for disrupting the predictable flow of his life with this new challenger for our attention. How can we smooth things out?

Think about it: Before the baby entered your family, your toddler was told he’d have a wonderful little brother to play with, and how much fun it would be. Then the little brother is born and your toddler is thinking, “Are you kidding me? This squirming, red-faced baby that takes up all your time and attention is supposed to be FUN?” He then “plays” with the baby in the only ways he knows how. He plays catch. You yell at him for throwing toys at the baby. He plays hide-and-seek. You yell at him to get the blanket off the baby. He gives the kid a hug, and you admonish him to be more careful. Is it any wonder that your toddler is confused?

Teach: Your first goal is to protect the baby. Your second, to teach your older child how to interact with his new sibling in proper ways. You can teach your toddler how to play with the baby in the same way you teach him anything else. Talk to him, demonstrate, guide and encourage. Until you feel confident that you’ve achieved your second goal, however, do not leave the children alone together. Yes, I know. It isn’t convenient. But it is necessary, maybe even critical.

Hover: Whenever the children are together, “hover” close by. If you see your child about to get rough, pick up the baby and distract the older sibling with a song, a toy, an activity or a snack. This action protects the baby while helping you avoid a constant string of “Nos,” which may actually encourage the aggressive behavior.

Teach soft touches: Teach the older sibling how to give the baby a back rub. Tell how this kind of touching calms the baby, and praise the older child for a job well done. This lesson teaches the child how to be physical with the baby in a positive way.

Act quickly: Every time you see your child hit, or act roughly with the baby, act quickly. You might firmly announce, “No hitting, time out.” Place the child in a time-out chair with the statement, “You can get up when you can use your hands in the right way.” Allow him to get right up if he wants – as long as he is careful and gentle with the baby. This isn’t punishment, after all. It’s just helping him learn that rough actions aren’t going to be permitted.

Demonstrate: Children learn what they live. Your older child will be watching as you handle the baby and learning from your actions. You are your child’s most important teacher. You are demonstrating in everything you do, and your child will learn most from watching you.
Praise: Whenever you see the older child touching the baby gently, make a positive comment. Make a big fuss about the important “older brother.” Hug and kiss your older child and tell him how proud you are.

Watch your words: Don’t blame everything on the baby. “We can’t go to the park; the baby’s sleeping.” “Be quiet, you’ll wake the baby.” “After I change the baby I’ll help you.” At this point, your child would just as soon sell the baby! Instead, use alternate reasons. “My hands are busy now.” “We’ll go after lunch.” “I’ll help you in three minutes.”

Be supportive: Acknowledge your child’s unspoken feelings, such as “Things sure have changed with the new baby here. It’s going to take us all some time to get used to this.” Keep your comments mild and general. Don’t say, “I bet you hate the new baby.” Instead, say, “It must be hard to have Mommy spending so much time with the baby.” or “I bet you wish we could go to the park now, and not have to wait for the baby to wake up.” When your child knows that you understand her feelings, she’ll have less need to act up to get your attention.
Give extra love: Increase your little demonstrations of love for your child. Say extra I love yous, increase your daily dose of hugs, and find time to read a book or play a game. Temporary regressions or behavior problems are normal, and can be eased with an extra dose of time and attention.

Get ’em involved: Teach the older sibling how to be helpful with the baby or how to entertain the baby. Let the older sibling open the baby gifts and use the camera to take pictures of the baby. Teach him how to put the baby’s socks on. Let him sprinkle the powder. Praise and encourage whenever possible.

Making each feel special: Avoid comparing siblings, even about seemingly innocent topics such as birth weight, when each first crawled or walked, or who had more hair! Children can interpret these comments as criticisms.

Take a deep breath and be calm. This is a time of adjustment for everyone in the family. Reduce outside activities, relax your housekeeping standards, and focus on your current priority, adjusting to your new family size.

Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting , The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999

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Adopting a Baby? You May Be Able to Breastfeed!

Induced Lactation – Adoptive Breastfeeding
I have the wonderful privilege of breastfeeding (induced lactation) my adopted daughter Haley. We began this journey when she was 18 hours old. It is a day I will always remember looking into the eyes of this precious angel as her birth mom sat there and watched us. She later told a social worker that it helped her so much to see Haley and I bond at that moment.

When we began that day I was producing 3 or 4 ounces a day. By the time she was 6 months old I had achieved a full supply of breast milk for her. Her doctor told me that even 2 ounces a day would greatly benefit her over formula alone. She would receive my antibodies. Today she is a healthy happy walking nursing 1 year old.

I have so many who wonder about the details of adoptive breastfeeding/induced lactation I thought I would give you all a mini course in it. It has been going on for many centuries. In biblical days it was called wet nursing. In 3rd world countries women will induce lactate to care for orphans. Here we do it for adopted children. WHY? Why not! It is better for the babies. They receive antibodies, better nutrients and enzymes, bonding and much more. It is a wonderful way to bond with a newly adopted child. Many have successfully nursed an older adopted child too. I know of several who have gotten 6-9 month old’s to nurse after being adopted.

Pregnancy is not necessary for breastfeeding. Prolactin (a hormone) is. Pregnancy does change the breast tissue so helps but is not necessary. Many adoptive moms who have never been pregnant have produced 30-100% of the breast milk their child needs. Pumping, sucking, herbs and drugs all help raise the prolactin level.

I started by pumping every 3-4 hours with a Hospital grade breast pump (Medela Lactina double pump). The light weight pumps available at most stores will not do the job of Induced Lactation. The Lactina is expensive to buy so I rented it for 3 months.

I also started taking herbs: 9 Fenugreek (an Indian spice that makes your sweat smell like maple syrup), 6 Blessed Thistle (NOT Milk Thistle), 6 Marshmallow Root (make the milk thicker and higher in calorie). I also drank Mothers Milk Tea and lots of water. Eating oatmeal. pineapple, and Henry Weinhart’s Rootbeer will also help.

I got milk drops 10 days after starting the pumping/herbs routine. By 4 weeks I was getting enough to freeze an ounce a day. By the time she was born I was freezing 2-3 ounces a day.
When she was born I nursed first, 10 minutes each side, switching sides 4 times (YES 45 minutes of nursing) then I would give her 1-2 OZ of formula or donated breast milk in a Lact-aid supplementer. The Lactaid allows the formula to go thru a tiny tube at my breast so she got my milk and formula at the same time. This also stimulated me to produce more milk. I chose to nurse first without the supplementer because I wanted her to nurse both with and without the supplementer. She was always willing to nurse 45 minutes without the supplementer so I would often times offer the extra 1-2 OZ in a bottle.

There are two drugs available that many choose to help with milk supply. DOMPERIDONE is one. It is not available in the USA. It is available in Mexico $102 a month, Canada $50 a month and New Zealand $25 a month. It is used for stomach/digestion problems with a side effect of my milk production. You need to take it the whole time you nurse or your supply will probably drop.
RAGLAN is the other drug. It is available very inexpensively from your local doctor. It is also used for stomach issues. You take it for only 4 weeks. I chose not to take either drug since I had nursed 3 bio children before (even if 12 years earlier).

I hope this answers your questions and you can tell a friend about the wonders of adoptive breastfeeding! Spread the word! I would also be happy to talk with others interested in adoption and adoptive breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding an adopted child is a great way to give them better nutrition and antibodies but it is an even better way to bond with them. I know I have a special connection with my nursing angel Haley. She loves her mama’s milk.
Copyright 2005 My Precious Kid – See our many other safety and travel items for your special child. We offer back packs, sports packs, safety books, baby sling, adult safety products, pet safety products, TAGGIES, First Aid Kits and much more. We also have some combination packs of these items for even better pricing.
Kay Green is a Christian homeschool mom to Melissa 22, Jordan 19, Allison 17, Haley 4. Her and her husband of 25 years live in rural Oregon with their children. Kay owns My Precious Kid, http://www.mypreciouskid.com Kay Green All rights reserved.

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Cloth Diapers and Detergent Residue

Detergent residue is a film left on fabric by detergent. Detergent residue builds up on all items that are laundered, but usually you will notice it only when dealing with a fabric that is supposed to be either waterproof or absorbent. Problems with wicking and leaking are often the result of detergent residue and is a widespread issue throughout the cloth diapering industry.

Because there are so many additives (both natural and synthetic) that can cause problems with fabrics, it is impossible to list them all here. However, here are some to look out for:

  • Fabric softeners
  • Brighteners
  • Stain Guards
  • “Natural” Soaps

What problems can a detergent residue cause?

WICKING & LEAKING: Wicking is the spreading of fluid across a fabric. How does that residue cause waterproofing to wick?
There are two ways that residue can cause wicking.
One way is that the detergents leave a film on the cover which works as a transport for the liquid to travel along the inside of the cover, along to the edges then across the front. It appears like the fluid went right through the cover but it actually went around!
The second way is that a cover with a laminate works by not allowing a “whole” water molecule to pass through the membrane and one possible way this is done is through water tension. The water molecules bind to each other and do not penetrate fabric. Detergents have wetting agents that break water tension, which allows the detergent to dissolve and disperse and allows clothes to get cleaner. When residue from detergent is left on the covers, the fluid loses its water tension and can saturate the fabric. This appears as a general wetness of the cover, not a specific leak like at the thighs or tummy. Unfortunately, most people will assume their covers are worn out or defective before realizing that they have a detergent residue problem – a problem that can usually be remedied!

REPELLING: This is an issue for diapers. If diaper fabric fibers get coated in detergent residue they will begin repelling the urine like a duck’s plumage repels water. Residue is not the only culprit here, but it is a common one that can be remedied.

STINKY DIAPERS: There are numerous causes of stinky diapers or covers, detergent residue being among them. This is because the residue will trap or “bind” the odor to the fabric. With our diaper covers, detergent residue is the number one reason that the product may smell. Luckily, residue can be removed- in a process you might hear referred to as “stripping.”

RASHES: As can be expected, if your diapers are covered with a chemical residue, they can be expected to cause skin irritation in babies with sensitive skin.

YELLOWING OR GRAYING OF WHITES: Notice your whites aren’t very white any more? The most common cause is detergent residue…

So, now what?
The good news is that products that have been damaged by detergent residue can usually be saved! If the residue is not too extensive, it can often be resolved by doing a couple hot water rinses with no detergent, then throwing the diapers and covers in the dryer.
If this does not resolve the issue, a more intense “stripping” may be necessary. Repeat the following process twice:

  • Run your covers and diapers through a wash with only hot water (if allowed by manufacturer’s washing instructions).
  • Run a second wash using 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar in this second wash.
    1/2 cup vinegar again in first rinse cycle.
  • Run a second rinse cycle with plain hot water.
  • Dry covers in dryer.With proper care, cloth diapers will work very well and last a long time!
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How to Wash Cloth Diapers

diaper1Washing diapers is so easy these days! Please note that you should always follow the manufacturer’s care and washing guidelines for your particular diapering products, if they vary from the following!

BASIC WASHING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Wash diapers in hot or warm water with about 1/2 the recommended amount of laundry detergent.
  • Dry in dryer or outside on a clothesline, as sunlight is a natural brightener and disinfectant!
    In order for your diapers to be fully absorbent – always wash NEW diapers 2-3 times before using to “fluff up” the fibers.
  • Always follow manufacturers washing and care guidelines! Outcomes may vary depending on water, detergent, washing machine, etc.

    Important tips:

  • Don’t use bleach or whitening agents. They will breakdown the fibers of fabrics and destroy your diaper covers. Not to mention that they are very harsh on your baby’s skin and the environment…
  • When washing or soaking diapers (do not soak covers), a good alternative to chlorine bleach is the environmentally friendly oxygenated bleach. But be careful, not all are created equal…make sure the product you choose contains no additives beyond sodium carbonate.
  • Don’t use fabric softeners. They will leave a waxy residue on your diapers and covers and lead to leaking. Even using dry sheets in the regular laundry can leave a residue in the dryer, which can effect your diapering.
  • Don’t use any natural cleaning products that contain oils or softeners which may coat the fibers of your diapers or covers. People have reported problems with the following cleaning agents:
    All Free and Clear (and other Free and Clear detergents)
    Dr. Bronner’s Soap
    Some versions of Bio-Kleen
    7Th Generation
    Dreft
    Ivory Snow
    Most “pure soap” products

    Products that have been damaged by natural cleaning products can sometimes be saved! Repeat the following process twice: Run your covers and diapers through a wash with only hot water (if allowed by manufacturer’s washing instructions). Run a second wash using 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar in the wash – and 1/2 cup vinegar again in first rinse cycle. Run a second rinse cycle with plain water.

  • Don’t use laundry detergents that contain perfumes, dyes, chlorine bleaching agents or any stain guard ingredients.
  • Don’t use too much detergent in your wash as this can lead to stinky ineffective diapers and covers and skin irritations. A little goes a long way!
  • Do be careful when using diaper rash ointments, especially those containing fish oils. These can stain your diapers and covers, make them smelly and ruin their performance. Use all ointments sparingly. Flushable liners act as a good barrier for creams.
  • Do use the highest water levels in your washing machine to ensure complete rinsing of diapers and covers. Any detergent residue will affect the performance of diaper products!
  • Do unfold your diapers before soaking or washing to allow complete cleaning.
  • Do add occasionally a 1/2 cup of vinegar to the first rinse cycle in order to remove any residual detergent. This deodorizes, sanitizes and brightens. Don’t overuse or use in final rinse, as this will have the opposite effect! Your diapers may become smelly. Don’t use vinegar on diaper covers except one time when you are trying to strip detergent residue off.
  • Do use an extra spin cycle after washing. This will reduce drying time up to 25%!
  • Do throw a dry towel in the dryer with your diapers. This will reduce drying time as well!
  • Make sure that your covers fit snugly and that you are using the correct size of diaper and cover for your baby.
  • Smell your diapers and covers after they are washed! If they smell stinky or like detergent – wash them again with less detergent and more water.

    With the proper care, your diapers will be very effective and last a very long time!

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Baby Bottles – Which Ones Are Safe?

Reports over the past several years have many parents wondering just which bottles are safe for their babies — and even their older children. The main reason is because of a chemical called Bisphenol A – or BHA. While BHA isn’t used in baby bottles anymore, there are lots of people who still have these bottles around. Also, it may still be found in other plastic products.

Bisphenol A is used in the production of epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics (many of them used for baby bottles and sports bottles) and is a hormone-disrupting chemical considered to be potentially harmful to human health and the environment. Depending on whom you talk to, BPA is either perfectly safe or a dangerous health risk. The plastics industry says it is harmless, but a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that human exposure to BHA is very low and strongly supports the conclusion that exposure to BHA poses no known risk to human health.

What to believe?
I’m not here to make that conclusion for you, but what I will do is provide information and alternatives so you can make your own decisions.

What are Polycarbonates?
Polycarbonates are used in thousands of consumer products such as reusable food containers, lifesaving medical devices and sport safety equipment. Manufacturers of such products, including baby bottles use polycarbonate because it prevents cracking, shattering and other hazards that can lead to injuries.

Bisphenol A is now deeply imbedded in the products of modern consumer society because not only it is used in the manufacture of polycarbonates, epoxy resins and other plastics, including polysulfone, alkylphenolic, polyalylate, polyester-styrene, and certain polyester resins — it is also used as an inert ingredient in pesticides (although in the US this has apparently been halted), as a fungicide, antioxidant, flame retardant, rubber chemical, and polyvinyl chloride stabilizer.

Who is exposed to Bisphenol A?
Everyone! Bisphenol A is found in many everyday products including food cans, plastic water containers and baby bottles. A study in the US found that 95% of people tested had been exposed to BPA.

Why is it a concern?
Bisphenol A is a hormone disruptor. Studies have linked low-dose BPA exposure with such effects as: permanent changes to genital tract; increase prostate weight; decline in testosterone; breast cells predisposed to cancer; prostate cells more sensitive to hormones and cancer; and hyperactivity.

The key concern for parents is whether BPA can get into their child’s food through leaching from polycarbonate bottles and containers.

What are hormone disruptors?
Hormone or endocrine disruptors are substances that can interfere with the normal functioning of the hormone system of both people and wildlife in a number of ways to produce a wide range of adverse effects including reproductive, developmental and behavioural problems.

Who is most at risk?
Fetuses, infants and children around puberty. Fetuses are especially sensitive groups as their immature detoxification systems make them more vulnerable and they are at a delicate stage of development.

How can you tell the difference between plastics with BHA ans those without?
If you decide to stay away from baby bottles with BHA, you need to know how to tell which ones have this chemical and which ones don’t. The easiest way to tell is to look for the triangular recycling imprint on the bottles. Polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers that contain BPA will be labeled with the recycling symbol #7. However, not all recycling symbol #7 containers will be made with BPA.

What are the alternatives?
#5 Plastic baby bottles are non-toxic, recyclable and do not leach any harmful chemicals into your baby’s food. One example of a #5 plastic bottle is the Medela baby bottle.
Another alternative is glass or stainless steel bottles.

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From ‘Jennifer’ To ‘Jennafur’ – The Search For A Unique Baby Name

How many times have you heard an expectant Mom or Dad say something like “we’re trying to come up with a unique baby name – you know, something a little different…”

Many expectant parents, when they’re trying to choose a baby name, start at that very point. But where does “a little different” end, and disaster begin? With Abbygale? Cayllinn? Machenzie? Kal-El? Pilot Inspektor? Little Bigfoot?

You get the picture. Taken to its extreme, which it often is, the search for a “unique baby name” is a slippery road that can end with a name that the teacher can’t spell, friends can’t pronounce, and no-one can understand. When baby gets bigger, he or she is not going to be pleased, being the only kid in the class named after a remote Siberian village, or a brand of shaving cream, or whatever Mom and Dad seized on in desperation some five or six years previously.

What exactly do parents mean by “a unique baby name?” The dictionary defines “unique” as: “the only one, or the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics.” In order to be truly unique, a name would have to be the only one of its kind, which leads you to the Moxie Crimefighters (Penn Jillette’s daughter’s name) and the ‘Jennafurs’ of the world. But what most people probably mean, when they say “unique,” is that they’re actually looking for a baby name that is individualistic, a bit different, somewhat unusual, and memorable.

If you really want to make up a baby name, thereby ensuring its uniqueness, there are a number of simple strategies. The most popular method is to use alternative spelling, turning ‘Kaylee’ into ‘Kayleigh’ for example. But in your search for the truly unique, don’t fall into the trap of turning ‘Jennifer’ into ‘Jennafur,’ or some such abomination. A recent news story noted that in 2006, according to statistics from a leading baby names website, there were at least 45 variations of the name Mackenzie, including such strange variants as ‘Machenzie’ and ‘Mackynzi’.

Another trick is to use unique punctuation, turning ‘Maxwell’ into the odd name ‘Max-Well’. Then there is the anagram method, turning a name like ‘James’ into ‘Smeja.’ And finally there is the method that makes traditionalists see red — the combination method, by which parents named Mary and Donald will name their boy or girl ‘Mardon.’ Get it?

The point is, anyone can mangle any word in the dictionary into something else, and call it a name. And sure, it will be ‘unique.’ But will it be desirable? Not if you’re named Gnataleigh. Is there another way to come up with a name that is unusual and individual? There is. Probably the surest method is to look through baby names lists for names that do have some heritage, some history, but have not been used in recent years, and try to find an unusual name that fits your personal tastes and desires.

Baby name websites and baby name books are rich sources of unusual, often forgotten, yet ‘real’ names – names that often have fascinating and beautiful origins and meanings. Here are just a few of the lists or categories you could look at: biblical names, floral names, Victorian names, place names, Royal names, Shakespearean names, mythology names, sports figures names, ethnic names, top names from the 1920s (or any decade you like), early film star names, and so forth. There are literally hundreds of categories of names, and each one can be a good starting place to find an unusual, meaningful name.

The trend towards “made-up” names has really picked up steam in recent years. Judging by the 45 variations on Mackenzie alone, it seems to be getting to the logical conclusion, where you’ll need to come up with some really strange variations to stay “unique.” If you do go down this road, try to avoid being Mackenzie variant number 46.

If you still end up stumped, you can always do what a Michigan couple did a couple of years ago – they named their son ‘Version 2.0.’ There’s no question it’s a unique name.
About The Author:
Neil Street is co-publisher of Baby Names Garden, at http://www.babynamesgarden.com, a website dedicated to helping parents choose the perfect baby name. His work on unique baby names can be found at http://www.babynamesgarden.com/uniquebabynames.aspx

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Sleep Sacks for a Safer Sleep

SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants who are one month to one year old. Despite years of research and studies, SIDS is still unpredictable and largely unpreventable. However, research into the causes of SIDS has led doctors to recommend steps parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS.

In a typical situation parents check on their sleeping baby to find him or her dead. It goes without saying that this is possibly the worse tragedy parents can face and it can impact their lives forever.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the incidence of SIDS is greatest in infants younger than 6 months of age and increases during cold weather. Potential risk factors include:
smoking, drinking, or drug use during pregnancy
poor prenatal care
premature birth or low birth-weight
mothers younger than 20
smoke exposure following birth
baby sleeping on their stomach

Unfortunately, all SIDS deaths are not preventable. However, there are things that can be done to reduce the risk of SIDS. Thankfully the number of deaths from SIDS is dropping as parents follow these recommendations.

Perhaps the most widely recognized recommendation is that infants sleep on their backs. Infants who sleep on their stomachs and sides have a higher rate of SIDS than infants who sleep on their backs. Heavy covers are also associated with the risk for SIDS. Therefore, there should be nothing in the bed but the baby — no quilts, comforters, blankets, pillows, bumper pads or toys.

What is a Sleep Sack?
The sleep sack is a wearable blanket that replaces loose blankets and top sheets in the crib for a safer sleep. It also encourages baby to sleep on its back. It is a well-known fact that babies should be put to sleep on their backs, but not so well known are the potential dangers of loose bedding going over baby’s head and overheating by using too much bedding. The sleep sack will keep baby’s head uncovered, therefore reducing the risk of suffocation. With no loose covers in the bed, the risk for SIDS is reduced.

Baby sleep sacks have been safely used in Europe for over 20 years. Clinical studies in Holland have concluded that baby sleep sacks are potentially the safest form of bedding for babies, provided that baby is placed in the correct size sack and is wearing suitable sleepwear. Therefore, baby can sleep safely at a pleasant and constant temperature throughout the night.

What should baby wear underneath the Sleep Sack?
This will depend on the type of Sleep Sack (flannel or quilted) and the temperature of baby’s bedroom. Health professionals recommend that baby sleeps in a room that is approximately 18°C (65°F). If the nursery is warmer or colder, simply adjust the level of clothing baby is wearing, i.e. short sleeved or long sleeved bodysuit, pajamas. (In the same way as you would adjust your own nightclothes).

Visit the SIDS Canada website for more information.

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Bath Time with Baby

Those first few days home with a newborn can be a scary time for any parent. You question everything and wonder if you are really capable of this job of parenting. There isn’t much that is scarier than those first few baths. Wet hands, slippery baby, hard floor and an anxious new mom. But, bath time doesn’t have to be scary and it will probably come to be one of baby’s favorite times of the day. Here are some tips to help you relax and enjoy this special time with your new little one.

*Make sure your water heater is set at 120F degrees so that baby (or you) don’t get scalded by burning water. Babies have very delicate skin and it can burn very quickly. Invest in a bathtub thermometer so that you can easily check the water temperature before putting your baby in the water. Even with a thermometer, the water may be too hot, so we recommend sticking the inside of your wrist into the water to better test. You will quickly find that your wrist has many uses, from testing formula temperature to testing the temperature on your toddler’s forehead!!

*Air temperature is also important during bath time. If it is summer and you have the air conditioning on, it’s a good idea to turn it off for a few minutes to let the air warm up. You don’t want baby to get too cold during his bath. After baby is dried and dressed you can turn it back on. If it is in the winter, make sure the room is warm. You may wish to turn the heat up a few degrees until bath time is over.

*Buy a pair of bath gloves. Bath gloves are terry cloth gloves that will help you hold on to a slippery newborn while washing them. No need for an additional washcloth with these gloves. Just put the soap on and wash.

*Wash baby quickly. If you have a baby boy, make sure that you clean all areas of his penis. For a girl, get in all the crevices. This too, can be scary for a new parent but don’t worry it will become more natural. Make sure to keep a washcloth over a little boy’s penis so you don’t get your own shower while bathing him.

*As baby gets bigger and moves to a tub, make sure that you have a bathmat. You don’t want baby to move and slip.

*NEVER turn your back on your baby while giving a bath. Have all supplies within your reach around the tub before the bath starts. If you are taking pictures of baby’s bath time, make sure your camera is there and ready. Hold onto baby until you get ready to actually snap the picture then move hand quickly and replace. An even better idea for this is to have someone else with you to take the pictures for you.

*After the bath is over, quickly wrap baby in a towel, covering his head. If your baby is still a newborn, you will need to clean the cord and circumcision as recommended by the hospital or doctor. This is also a great time for an infant massage or for applying lotion to baby. Some parents enjoy cuddling with their baby while he is wrapped in a towel, but this usually is not recommended for a newborn as they need their body temperature regulated more and need to be dressed more quickly. In the near future, this may become part of your routine.

*Most of all enjoy this time. As baby gets older, splash and play with them in the water. It’s a great learning experience for them.

List of recommended bath supplies:
Following is a list of recommended bath supplies. You may modify the list to suit your needs, but make sure you have all you need with you before baby’s bath so you do not have to leave baby for even a second because you forgot something.
*Baby shampoo
*Baby soap
*Washcloth or terry cloth bath gloves
*Infant bathtub (such as the Daphne Bath Seat or Tummy Tub)
*Bathtub seat (for baby’s who can sit on their own)
*Hooded towels
*Bathtub thermometer
*Baby lotion or oil
*Cotton balls/q-tips (for circumcision and umbilical cord care)
*Alcohol (for circumcision and umbilical cord care)

about the author: Kelly Milano is a SAHM mom to 4. Her and her husband live in Michigan, where he is a home inspector and she owns two websites. www.friendsandfamilies.com and www.shopNswap.net

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Choosing a Baby Carrier

By Elizabeth Pantley

Most parents find a baby carrier to be invaluable during the first year of their baby’s life. There are many types and styles to choose from. The different types of baby carriers fall into three main categories: slings, front packs and backpacks.

Slings
These are made of fabric and are available in a wide variety of styles. They “sling” sash-style over your shoulder to hold baby in front of you. Slings offer many benefits to both baby and parent.

Here are some of the most commonly cited by experienced sling-users:
A sling is perfect for the newborn months, when Baby needs to be held often in your arms, as opposed to being pushed at arm’s length in a stroller.
A sling is an excellent way to carry your baby around the house because it keeps your baby happy while leaving your two arms free to go about your daily tasks.
Sling carriers are multi-purpose. You can use them to carry your baby, to create privacy for breastfeeding, and to cover your sleeping baby. Some feature a tail that can double as a blanket or coverup.
Putting your baby into (and getting him back out of) a sling is a breeze. You can even get a sleeping baby in and out of one of these soft carriers without waking her.
You can carry your baby in a variety of positions.
Slings are small, lightweight and easy to transport.
Slings are wonderful to use when a stroller would be inconvenient, such as up stairs, through large crowds or narrow aisle ways, or over rough terrain – or when you’ll be going in and out of the car frequently.
Slings put your baby at the height of people’s faces instead of at their knees.
You can use a sling right up through toddlerhood, when little legs get tired of walking.

An important note about baby slings: They can be confusing to use at first, and your baby can slide out of the bottom if not positioned correctly. Try to find an experienced sling-user, a how-to video, or a knowledgeable sales clerk to help you master the art of baby slinging. Your local La Leche League leader may be able to offer pointers, too.
Slings are very much worth the effort. I bought a sling when my second baby, Vanessa, was born. I couldn’t figure it out, so I left it in the closet. When my third baby, David, was born, I attended a mother-baby class, learned how to use my sling and was immediately hooked! I used slings extensively with my third and fourth babies and found them to be a marvelous baby care tool.

PARENT TIP
“I put my newborn in the sling so I could sit in bed at night with my toddler and read books. It kept us all together, my hands free and gave reading time to BOTH boys!”
Amy, mother of AJ (4) and Ryder (2)

Front packs
Front pack carriers are similar to slings in use but are more complex in their structure. They have a seat that attaches to the front of you with straps that crisscross behind you; these straps secure the carrier to your body.

Here’s what you need to know about front packs:
The benefits of front packs are similar to many of those of slings, such as their light weight and portability, and the fact that you can carry your baby while keeping your arms and hands free.
Some allow you to choose between carrying your baby facing inward toward you or outward, facing the world – which is often fun for older babies.
Settling the baby into and out of the carrier require more steps than a sling does.
Moving a sleeping baby into or out of the carrier is difficult, unless the seat unbuckles separately from the harness.
Front packs are better suited to a baby who is strong enough to hold his head upright.

Backpacks
A back carrier is similar to a camping backpack. It has a seat for your baby that attaches to your back with a frame and straps that cross over your shoulders.

A few things to know about backpacks:
They’re perfect for an older baby who loves to look around and be carried high on your shoulders.
Many backpacks have pouches for holding supplies.
Some models have a canopy for inclement weather or sun protection.
Getting a backpack off (and putting it on) are typically two-person tasks.
Backpacks are best for an older baby who can sit up well.
They’re great for an all-day trip, such as hiking, shopping or visiting an amusement park

How do you decide which carrier to use?
No single baby carrier is perfect for all parents. Every parent has different needs, preferences and proportions. Many people actually begin with one type of carrier and move on to another when their babies get older.
First, think about how you plan to use a carrier. Will you use it primarily at home, instead of a stroller while away from home, or both? Do you already have a stroller, or must your carrier fill all your baby-carrying needs? Defining its purpose will help you choose which carrier is best for you. Read the information (or talk to other parents who own a similar carrier) to learn which purposes it serves best and to determine if it matches your needs.
The very best way to decide? Try carriers on either at the store or with a friend who owns one. Actually putting your baby in the carrier will give you the best idea as to fit, but if you are shopping without your baby (or don’t have your baby yet!) try using a stuffed animal from the toy department.

PARENT TIP
“A baby carrier can help new adoptive parents to decline politely those who want to hold your baby while he still needs exclusive Mommy or Daddy contact. The carrier can be especially helpful in difficult situations such as visits to your child’s orphanage or former foster parents.”*
Laurel, mother of 16-month-old Crystal
* This is also an excellent idea for parents who blanch at the thought of their tiny newborn being passed around the room from person to person!

Points to consider when purchasing a carrier:
Comfort. Does the carrier feel good to you?
Fit for your baby. Does it seem to suit your baby well?
Fit for you. Does it fit your size and body type? Can you carry the baby without strain?
Safety. Will the baby be secure and well supported?
Features. Does it meet your needs?
Usability. Can you easily get your baby in and out of the carrier? How about putting it on and taking it off? Keep in mind that some models require practice.
Construction. Does the fabric suit your wardrobe, climate and needs (i.e., lightweight for summer, weatherproof for outdoor use)?
Care. Is it machine-washable or easy to wipe clean?
Flexibility. Can you carry your baby in various positions?
Adjustability. Can it be tightened or adjusted to fit you when you are at home in indoor clothing or outside wearing a coat? Can you adjust it easily for use by others?
Adaptability. Will it work for your baby now as well as six months from now?
Appearance. Do you like the style? Will you enjoy wearing it?

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

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Why Modern Moms Are Going Back to the Basics – The Evolution of the Cloth Diaper

by Tiffany Washko

Having a baby is one of the most exciting times of your life. It is also one of the most stressful. So many decisions have to be made about nearly every aspect of your baby’s comfort, safety, and happiness. You spend hours pouring over pregnancy and child rearing books, picking out the perfect crib, finding the most adorable and comfortable clothing, and envisioning the safest and most peaceful birth for your baby as possible. No doubt somewhere in your planning you have thought about how many diapers you will need for your new little one and perhaps you have even purchased some in advance. If you are like the majority of parents out there, then you have automatically decided upon disposable diapers without ever giving it a second thought.

Stop right there! There is an alternative; consider using cloth diapers.

Cloth diapering today is not what it used to be. When many parents think of cloth diapers they think of flat diapers that need to be folded in several, origami-like folds and fastened with diaper pins before they are covered with plastic pull on pants. Generally they also think that the clean-up involved with using cloth diapers would be tedious and messy. Cloth diapers have been stereotyped and it seems as though many parents have missed the total evolution of the cloth diaper that has occurred over the past decade or so. I know, because I was one of them.
My own personal decision to use cloth actually came with my second child. With my first child I used disposable diapers, as most do, and thought nothing of it. When I became pregnant a second time I joined a pregnancy discussion group online and in one particular discussion I saw a signature line that contained a link to a work at home mother that sold handcrafted cloth diapers. It was an “Ahaaa” moment for me. I had no idea how far cloth diapers had come. I had dismissed all previous thoughts about using cloth diapers with an exaggerated “Ewwww!” I didn’t want to clean messy diapers and I didn’t want to stick my baby with safety pins. But these diapers were fitted, they had Velcro-like closures, and they were CUTE. I search far and wide for adorable clothing for my babies so how could I resist adorable diapers?

New choices in materials and high tech fabrics are causing an increasing number of parents to reconsider whether disposable diapers are the best choice. We have options now that provide us with cloth diapers that are elasticized so that they are fitted and snug, waterproof many instances, and manageable with Velcro-like closures or snaps, making them just as easy and convenient to use as disposables. It is not just their functionality and convenience that has been affected by this evolution either. Cloth diapers available today are infinitely more attractive. They are available in a variety of different colors, prints, and textures. Cloth diapers made from silk and cashmere are not uncommon. This is a big selling point for many parents because there is nothing cute about a disposable diaper. Quite simply, cloth diapers are convenient, cost effective, healthier for our children, and better for the environment. I feel as though the real question parents should be asking themselves is why use disposables?

As a general rule, it is almost always cheaper to reuse than to buy new every time. This is no different with cloth diapers. Most parents go through 6 to 8 thousand diapers per child, from birth to about age three. If we take an average of what those diapers cost, that equates to between 2000 and 3000 dollars per baby. Once those children are potty trained those diapers are gone. They can’t be re-used. So a significant chunk of our hard earned money has gone to buying, what is essentially, garbage. In comparison, enough cloth diapers to last for three years will usually cost between 3 to 8 hundred dollars. At minimum that is about a 1200 dollar savings. But wait, consider too, that those cloth diapers may last for one or more successive children and your savings doubles and even triples.

What should also be of serious concern to all parents are the toxic chemicals present in disposable diapers. Dioxin, which in various forms has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, skin diseases, and genetic damage, is a by-product of the paper-bleaching process used in manufacturing disposable diapers, and trace quantities may exist in the diapers themselves. Dioxin is listed by the EPA as the most toxic of cancer related chemicals. Disposable diapers also contain sodium polyacrylate. If you have ever seen the gel-like, super absorbent crystals in a disposable diaper then you have seen this substance first hand. Sodium polyacrylate is the same substance that was removed from tampons because of its link to toxic shock syndrome. No studies have been done on the long-term effects of this chemical being in contact with a baby’s reproductive organs 24 hours a day for upwards of two years. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are free of the many chemicals contained in disposable diapers.

Then there are the environmental reasons for using cloth. According to the Sustainability Institute eighty percent of the diaperings in this nation are done with disposables. That comes to 18 BILLION diapers a year, just in the US. They require thousands of tons of plastic and hundreds of thousands of trees to manufacture. After a few hours of active service these materials are trucked away, primarily to landfills, where they sit, entombed or mummified, undegraded for several hundred years. The idea of a “disposable” diaper is a myth. The ramifications of that myth will stay with us for centuries to come. They are the 3rd largest single product in the waste stream behind newspapers and beverage containers. The urine and faeces in disposable diapers enter landfills untreated, possibly contaminating the ground water supply. When you consider the unnecessary depletion of our valuable forests, the huge volume of garbage created, the toxic air and water pollution and the potential health risks to children, it is very difficult to comprehend how washing and reusing cloth diapers could ever be considered an inconvenience. No, they are a rewarding investment all around; a financial investment, an investment in our children’s health, and an investment in our planet.
Tiffany Washko is president of Jelly Bean Diapers, http://www.jellybeandiapers.com. After working several years in corporate healthcare marketing and public relations, she took time away to be a mother. This new pursuit lead her to a new passion, helping new moms make the decision to return to the basics and use cloth diapers.

 

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Should We Have Another Baby?

Deciding whether to expand your family by one more — whether this would be your second child or your sixth — is one of the most significant decisions you will make in your lifetime. There is no crystal ball to show the consequences of your decision in the future. A great number of variables come into play here, and the answer to the question, “How many children?” is vastly different for every family.

The questions to ask yourself
The key to making this decision is to ask the right questions, and to take the time to search your soul and figure out the answers. There are no “right” answers here, because we are all very different human beings.

Why do I want another child?
Reasons may run the gamut from wanting a sibling for your child, to simply loving to raise children. Consider what you know of yourself, your view of family life, your own upbringing & the countless reasons of the heart. If it’s the amazing experiences of pregnancy and childbirth you miss, remember that your commitment only begins with these and continues long after the baby’s arrival. If you’re considering another child due to pressure from your parents, in-laws, other relations or friends, tune their voices out for a bit and listen only to those of yourself and your mate. This decision must come from the two people who know your situation best, and who will have to live the day-to-day realities of another child.

How will another baby change our economic position? Are we willing to make that change? You’ll note that the question is not, “Can we afford another baby?” The issue runs deeper than that, because many families are more than willing to make the necessary financial compromises. You need to be realistic: Adding a child does add expenses. But “economics” addresses resources beyond the strictly financial. You also need to consider your time, your patience, and your attention & all essentials that will have to be divvied up among more than one child. Most people find that there’s plenty to go around because of one related, easily renewable resource: love.

How will life change, and are we ready for that change?
Since you already have a baby, you know how much time a new baby demands in his first few years. A second (or third or ninth) is no different and will tug at your hours along with his siblings. While you shouldn’t base a major life decision on the next 24 months, you do need to remember that one year follows another: each year builds on the one previous. So make a realistic assessment of how this will change your lives both now and in the future that follows.

How will a new baby affect the lives of your other children?
Babies have an effect on the whole house, not just mom and dad. How a new sibling will affect the child you do have isn’t a reason to have (or not have) more children, but the unique characteristics of the child you already have should factor in to your decision.

Are you and your partner on the same page?
The two of you must discuss your thoughts about another baby and come to an agreement, one way or the other, that both can be happy with.

Is this a question of when? Perhaps you know that you want another child, but you’re not certain if now is the right time. Here are some points to consider:

  • The impact of pregnancy. Studies demonstrate that waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies gives you the best odds for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and baby. This isn’t a guarantee, of course, and many women who have babies 10 months apart have normal pregnancies and healthy babies. Generally speaking, however, ample time between pregnancies gives your body a chance to recover fully.
  • §The waiting time for adoption. Depending on the situation under which you adopt, a long period may elapse between when you first make your decision and when your new baby actually joins your family.
  • The age gap issue. How far apart in age should your children be? No perfect answer there either… I’ve experienced both sides of the issue: My first three children are all two years apart, and then there was an eight-year gap before my fourth child arrived. I can clearly see that both situations have advantages. The bottom line is that the personalities of your children and your family patterns will have more to do with their short- and long-term relationships than anything as simple as the number of months or years that separate their birthdays.
  • The biological clock and fertility issues. In today’s world, many couples are starting their families later in life. If pregnancy is your route to your next baby, you’ll certainly want to investigate the factors involved in conception. While women can have babies in their forties (my son Coleton arrived when I was 41), fertility rates drop dramatically after the age of 35. Achieving pregnancy (and finally meeting that new family addition) may take longer than you expect.

What’s in your heart?
If you’ve thoroughly examined all the issues involved in adding another baby to your family, and your heart and soul continue to have an empty spot that craves another child (or conversely, the doubt and fear are overwhelming), then perhaps you already have your answer.

 

This article is a copyrighted excerpt from Gentle Toddler Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2006)

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Why Babies Cry

Babies cry — it’s just a fact of life with a baby! And while it can be frustrating for parents, it’s the only real way that your baby can communicate with you for the first few months of life. So, just why do babies cry?

Dirty or Wet Diaper?
While not all babies mind a wet or dirty diaper, most do, and a clean diaper will stop the crying.

Hunger?
Possibly the most common reason for crying. Is your baby hungry? Even if it seems like they just ate, bebies sometimes feed more frequently than others.

Looking for a Cuddle?
Most babies like to be cuddled. Sometimes all that they need is someone to hold them. I am a firm believer that you can not spoil a baby by holding them too much.

Temperature?
Your baby may be to hot — or too cold. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby much as you are dressed, and maybe one layer more (ie: a little undershirt).

Stress?
Sometimes adults feel “I can’t take it anymore” and need a break. Well, babies are no different. Sometimes a change of scene into a quiet place will calm your baby.

Just Fussy?
Many babies just have times where they will fuss and are not easily soothed. This can range from a few minutes of hard-to-console crying to full-blown colic. Colic is usually defined as inconsolable crying for at least three hours per day, three days per week or more.

Sick?
Other than the crying, is your baby acting differently? Is the cry different than usual (weak or sickly sounding?) Does he or she feel like they have a fever? If you are unsure, call your doctor or the hospital. My philosophy is it’s better to check with them and have nothing be wrong than it is to have your baby get very sick because you were worried about needlessly calling the doctor and wait to call.

Ok, you’ve done all these things and your baby is still crying! Now what?

Swaddling
Wrap and hold your baby close. If you have trouble swaddling a baby as I did, a swaddle blanket is a great thing to have. Mind you, some babies find swaddling or cuddling too constrictive and will respond better to other forms of comfort.

Rhythm and Sound
Babies are used to the sound of your heartbeat and all the other swooshing and swishing sounds that were heard while in your womb. There are things available that will mimic these sounds but I found the vacuum cleaner also worked well! Many times my son would fall asleep in his Baby Bjorn while I was vaccuming! If you had a bola ball during your pregnancy, wear it now too! It may help soothe your baby wonderfully.

Movement
Sometimes just carrying your baby around the house will be enough to calm the crying. Rocking chairs, car rides, or baby swings are also good things to try. A great way to carry your baby for extended periods of time is with a carrier or sling. Sometimes a bit of a gentle bounce in your set can help too.

Sucking
Babies also like to suck. Nurse your baby or offer a pacifier or one of your fingers to suck on. There were times I felt like a human pacifier, but if nursing was what would calm my son, then that’s what I did.

Rubbing
Rubbing your baby’s back or tummy can be very soothing. Try this while sitting, lying down, or walking around with your baby.

Remember, crying in itself will not hurt your baby. If you have tried everything and are feeling very frustrated, sometimes it is a good idea to call someone to come and help you out. If there isn’t anyone to take over for you for a time and you are at the end of your rope, calmly place the baby in a safe place such as their crib or on a mat on the floor and leave the room for a few minutes. Take some time out for yourself. Whatever you do, never ever shake your baby.

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Using Music To Calm Your Baby

Music is a wonderful way for you to calm and soothe your baby, especially during the first year. How many times have your heard parents say that there was nothing that they could do with their crying, fussing baby until they tried music. This is because music does indeed soothe the savage beast, or in this case, the baby.

There are certain distinct sounds that have been proven to calm even fussy babies: the sounds of nature, white noise, and music. Even if your baby isn’t fussing or crying you may want to use music as often as you can to encourage that feeling of calm and peacefulness. All it takes is a few minutes every day and before you know it your baby will be looking forward to hearing that certain song emanating from the CD player.

There is nothing complicated or mysterious about introducing your baby to music from day one. You don?t need to search for the perfect song or a certain type of music. All you have to do is start by having your baby listen to your favorite songs and music. If jazz is on the top of your list, let your baby listen to the sounds of John Coltrane as he sits in his baby seat watching you in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter if you play the schmaltzy songs of the eighties or some wicked African beat, your baby is going to listen and his mood is going to be altered by any musical sound that he hears.

Besides the music that you yourself can introduce your baby to, there are hundreds of CDs on the market today that are filled with baby songs and lullabies. At the end of the day you may want to play a CD of quiet baby songs that have a slower beat. There are so many CDs for you to choose from that you will have a hard time making up your mind. Choose something that interests you. Many baby CDs will have lullabies and faster beat songs on the same CD.

Playing music has other benefits besides soothing your fussy, crying baby.
These benefits include:

– Babies are introduced to musical sounds.
– Music enhances your baby’s behavior and cognitive skills.
– Relieves stress for the entire family.
– Will stimulate curiosity and an interest in music.

Take time to find a variety of music CDs for your baby to listen to. You’ll soon notice which music your baby is most drawn to and can use that music when he is particularly fussy or is crying.

Emanuele Accenti is the author of the best-selling Ebook “Babies First Year – What Every Parents Need To Know” – and offers a free newsletter for new parents at http://www.babies1styear.com

 

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The Importance of Routines

At 8:30 p.m. at the Osborne family house in Burlington, Vermont, an exemplary bedtime process is underway. The three children are upstairs changing into their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and settling into their beds to read. There is remarkably little protest or variation. “Bedtime is the one area where our routine has not wavered,” says mom Eleanor. “Since the boys were toddlers, we’ve been doing the same thing, and now it’s automatic. This is usually the calmest period our day.”

Regular schedules provide the day with a framework that orders a young child’s world. Although predictability can be tedious for adults, children thrive on sameness and repetition. “Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident,” says Dr. Peter Gorski, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachussetts.

Routines begin from the first days of life, says Susan Newman, a social psychologist in New Jersey, affecting the relationship between parent and child, setting the stage for rocky or smooth sailing as your child gets older. Babies, especially, need regular sleep and meal schedules and even routines leading up to those activities (a story every day before nap- or bedtime, for example).

As she gets older, when a child knows what is going to happen and who is going to be there, it allows her to think and feel more boldly and freely, Gorski adds. When a child does not know what to expect, his internal alarms go off. Ultimately, parents benefit as well: “Knowing what is expected cuts down on parenting struggles,” says Jodi Mindell, child psychologist and author of Sleeping through the Night (HarperCollins).

Tips for Implementing Routines
Plan regular mealtimes: “It is so valuable to the developing spirit of children to have one meal together each day as a family,” Gorski says. Sitting together at the dinner table gives children the opportunity to share their day’s experience and get support for whatever they’re feeling. The emphasis is on togetherness, so if your children need to eat earlier, at least give them dessert while you eat your meal. This is also an ideal time to introduce routines that give children responsibility, such as setting or clearing the table. Older children can be pre-dinner helpers and washer-uppers.

Wind down before bed: Consistent nightly rituals are soothing and take the battle out of bedtime. But after an exhausting day, it’s tempting to skip the preliminaries when bedtime finally approaches. Don’t, stresses Mindell: “About 20 to 30 minutes of calm, soothing, and consistent activities get children ready.” Find what works best for your child—some children are revved up by a bath or fidgety when listening to a story. Yours may prefer doing a puzzle together or listening to music. For older children, bedtime is an ideal time for conversation. My 12-year-old son likes me to sit on his bed and talk for a few minutes before he goes to sleep.

In general, make the room conducive for sleep. Set aside a time each week for room cleanup (another important routine!), when your child puts away toys and books and you change the linens.

Be consistent but flexible: Routines are essential, but allow some room for flexibility. Although the Osborne family thought their bedtime routine was a blessing, there have been some problems recently. “I was completely rigid about my oldest son’s bedtime, and he is now incapable of veering from that routine. If we are out later than his bedtime, he becomes upset,” Eleanor says.

Unexpected events, like surprise guests or errands that cannot be postponed, may result in a nap in the car seat or a skipped meal. But if we react with frustration when this happens, our kids will, too. Try to prepare your child ahead of time for the change and reassure them that things will return to normal tomorrow.

Liza Asher is a mother of four and writes on parenting issues for national magazines. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey. Copyright © 1999-2004 ClubMom, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Taking a Road Trip with Your Baby

To Grandmother’s house we go! And you’ll be in the car for five whole hours – how can you make the trip enjoyable with a baby along?

Learn about it
There’s no question: Marathon car trips with a baby on board take a good amount of planning and organization. But it can be done – and yes, it can even be fun!

Planning the trip
In the hustle that precedes a trip, it can be easy to let things happen, instead of make things happen. Be proactive in making your trip decisions. Contemplating these questions, and coming up with the right answers, can help make your trip more successful:

  • Does your baby sleep well in the car? If yes, plan your travel time to coincide with a nap or bedtime so your baby can sleep through part of the journey. If not, plan to leave immediately after a nap or upon waking in the morning. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your baby will behave differently than usual in the car just because it’s a special occasion.
  • Is it necessary to make the trip all at once, or can you break it up with stops along the way? The longer your baby is strapped in the carseat, the more likely he’ll become fussy. Planning a few breaks can keep everyone in a better frame of mind.
  • When estimating an arrival time, have you factored in plenty of extra time for unplanned surprises? A diaper explosion that requires a complete change of clothes or a baby whose inconsolable crying requires an unexpected 20-minute stop are just two of the things that can easily happen.
  • Do you have everything you need to make the trip pleasant?
    Items like:
    -Window shades to protect your baby from the sun and create a darker, nap-inducing atmosphere.
    -A cooler for cold drinks; a bottle warmer if needed.
    -Plenty of toys that are new or forgotten favorites saved just for the trip.
    -Baby-friendly music on tape or CD.
    -A rear-view baby mirror to keep on eye on baby (unless a second person will be sitting with your little one)
    -Books to read to your baby.

Preparing the car
Take plenty of time to get the car ready for your trip. If two adults are traveling, consider yourself lucky and arrange for one person to sit in the backseat next to the baby. If you are traveling alone with your little one, you’ll need to be more creative in setting up the car, and you’ll need to plan for more frequent stops along the way.

Here are a few tips for making the car a traveling entertainment center for your baby:

  • Use ribbon or yarn and safety pins or tape to hang an array of lightweight toys from the ceiling of the car to hang over your baby. An alternative is to string a line from one side of the car to the other with an array of toys attached by ribbons. Bring along an assortment of new toys that can be exchanged when you stop the car for a rest. Just be sure to use small toys and keep them out of the driver’s line of view.
  • Tape brightly colored pictures of toys on the back of the seat that your baby will be facing.
  • If no one will be sitting next to your baby and your child is old enough to reach for toys, set up an upside-down box next to the car seat with a shallow box or a tray with ledges on top of it. Fill this with toys that your baby can reach for by himself. You might also shop around for a baby activity center that attaches directly to the carseat.
  • If you plan to have someone sitting next to baby, then provide that person with a gigantic box of toys with which to entertain the little one – distraction works wonders to keep a baby happy in the car. One of the best activities for long car rides is book reading. Check your library’s early reading section; it typically features a large collection of baby-pleasing titles in paperback that are easier to tote along than board books.
  • Bring along an assortment of snacks and drinks for your older baby who’s regularly eating solids, and remember to bring food for yourself, too. Even if you plan to stop for meals, you may decide to drive on through if your baby is sleeping or content – saving the stops for fussy times.
  • Bring books on tape or quiet music for the adults for times when your baby is sleeping. The voice on tape may help keep your baby relaxed, and it will be something you can enjoy.
  • If you’ll be traveling in the dark, bring along a battery-operated nightlight or flashlight.
  • Car travel checklist
    Well-stocked diaper bag
    Baby’s blanket
    Carseat pillow or head support
    Window shades (sun screens)
    Change of clothes for your baby
    Enormous box of toys and books
    Music or books on tape or CDs
    Baby food, snacks, and drinks for your baby
    Sipper cups
    Snacks and drinks for the adults
    Cooler
    Wet washcloths in bags, or moist towelettes
    Empty plastic bags for leftovers and trash
    Bottle warmer
    Cell phone
    Baby’s regular sleep music or white noise (if needed, bring extra batteries)
    First aid kit/prescriptions/medications
    Jumper cables
    Money/wallet/purse/ID
    Medical and insurance information/emergency phone numbers
    Maps/driving directions
    Baby carrier/sling/stroller
    Camera and film
    Suitcases

During the journey
If you’ve carefully planned your trip and prepared your vehicle, you’ve already started out on the right foot. Now keep these things in mind as you make your way down the road:

  • Be flexible. When traveling with a baby, even the best-laid plans can be disrupted. Try to stay relaxed, accept changes, and go with the flow.
  • Stop when you need to. Trying to push “just a little farther” with a crying baby in the car can be dangerous, as you’re distracted and nervous. Take the time to stop and calm your baby.
  • Put safety first. Make sure that you keep your baby in his carseat. Many nursing mothers breastfeed their babies during trips. This can be dangerous in a moving car, even if you are both securely belted: You can’t foresee an accident, and your body could slam forcefully into your baby. Instead, pull over and nurse your baby while he’s still in his carseat. That way, when he falls asleep, you won’t wake him up moving him back into his seat.
  • Remember: Never, ever leave your baby alone in the car – not even for a minute.

On the way home
You may be so relieved that you lived through your trip that you sort of forget the other trip ahead of you: the trip home. You’ll need to organize the trip home as well as you did the trip out. A few days in advance, make certain that all your supplies are refilled and ready to go. Think about the best time to leave, and plan accordingly. In addition, think about what you learned on the trip to your destination that might make the trip home even easier. Is there something you wish you would have had but didn’t? Something you felt you could have done differently? Did you find yourself saying, “I wish we would have…”? Now’s the time to make any adjustments to your original travel plan so that your trip back home is pleasant and relaxed.

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

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First Week Home with Baby

The first week of your baby’s life brings big adjustments for both of you. You are adjusting to being a mother and caring for your baby and your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb. It is a time of great joy — and possibly immense fear! Although you’ve been preparing for the birth of your baby for months, now he is here and depending on you for everything which can seem overwhelming. Don’t expect too much of yourself during these first days! If anyone offers you help — take it!

During your baby’s first few weeks of life, he will be concentrating on getting to know you and his surroundings. Your baby needs to be handled so that life outside the womb seems as little different as possible to life inside the womb. Your baby’s needs, while they may seem overwhelming to you, are really simple: food, warmth and comfort from cuddling. Wrap him snugly and warmly, hold him closely, handle him slowly, and feed him when he’s hungry. Your baby will have the routing and sucking reflexes as well as tongue thrust. These are needed to get nourishment from the breast or bottle. You can also use this time to bond with your baby with lots of skin to skin contact.

Whether you decide to breast or bottle feed, feeding in the first few weeks is not an effortless process. Try to have early feeding sessions in a quiet setting with as few distractions as possible. Make sure you are in a comfortable position as it takes new babies a while to eat and you don’t want to end up stiff and sore. Cuddle and caress your baby as feeding time is a wonderful opportunity to show your baby how much he is loved.

If you are breastfeeding, be patient while you and your baby are getting the hang of it! The benefits of breastfeeding are many and in order for it to be successful, it is important to start out right. Keep in mind though it may take several weeks until you both feel comfortable and get a feeding schedule down.

Most new moms feel and experience:

  • Exhaustion!
  • Bloody vaginal discharge for the first week or so
  • Discomfort or pain in the perineal area if you had a vaginal delivery
  • Incision pain or numbness if you had a cesarean delivery
  • Abdominal cramping (afterpains) as the uterus contracts
  • Elation or depression or swings between both
  • Breast discomfort or engorgement
  • Fears about your adequacy as a mother
  • Profuse sweating after the first couple of days

Although it may be tempting to try to be a ‘supermom’, now is not the time. The best advice that I received as an new mom was to accept the help of others, eat regular meals and sleep when the baby sleeps. Now it’s my turn to pass that advice on to you.

Newborn Babies and Sleep

By Elizabeth Pantley

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby. This is a glorious time in your life. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, you will find this a time of recovery, adjustment, sometimes confusion and frustration, but – most wonderfully – of falling in love.

Babies younger than four months old have very different sleep needs than older babies. This article will help you understand your newborn baby’s developing sleep patterns, and will help you develop reasonable expectations when it comes to your baby and sleep.

Read, Learn, and Beware of Bad Advice
babyAbsolutely everyone has an opinion about how you should handle sleep issues with your new baby. The danger to a new parent is that these tidbits of misguided advice (no matter how well-intentioned) can truly have a negative effect on our parenting skills and, by extension, our babies’ development…if we are not aware of the facts. The more knowledge you have the less likely that other people will make you doubt your parenting decisions.

When you have your facts straight, and when you have a parenting plan, you will be able to respond with confidence to those who are well-meaning but offering contrary or incorrect advice. So, your first step is to get smart! Know what you are doing, and know why you are doing it. Read books and magazines, attend classes or support groups – it all helps.

The Biology of Newborn Sleep
During the early months of your baby’s life, he sleeps when he is tired, it’s really that simple. You can do very little to force a new baby to sleep when he doesn’t want to sleep, and conversely, you can do little to wake him up when he is sleeping soundly.

A very important point to understand about newborn babies is that they have very, very tiny tummies. New babies grow rapidly, their diet is liquid, and it digests quickly. Formula digests quickly and breast milk digests even more rapidly. Although it would be nice to lay your little bundle down at a predetermined bedtime and not hear a peep from him until morning, even the most naïve among us know that this is not a realistic goal for a tiny baby. Newborns need to be fed every two to four hours – and sometimes more.

During those early months, your baby will have tremendous growth spurts that affect not only daytime, but also nighttime feeding as well, sometimes pushing that two- to four-hour schedule to a one- to two-hour schedule around the clock.

Sleeping “through the night”
You have probably heard that babies should start “sleeping through the night” at about two to four months of age. What you must understand is that, for a new baby, a five-hour stretch is a full night. Many (but nowhere near all) babies at this age can sleep uninterrupted from midnight to 5 a.m. (Not that they always do.) A far cry from what you may have thought “sleeping through the night” meant!

What’s more, while the scientific definition of “sleeping through the night” is five hours, most of us wouldn’t consider that anywhere near a full night’s sleep for ourselves. Also, some of these sleep-through-the-nighters will suddenly begin waking more frequently, and it’s often a full year or even two until your little one will settle into a mature, all-night, every night sleep pattern.

Falling Asleep at the Breast or Bottle
It is very natural for a newborn to fall asleep while sucking at the breast, a bottle, or a pacifier. When a baby always falls asleep this way, he learns to associate sucking with falling asleep; over time, he cannot fall asleep any other way. I have heard a number of sleep experts refer to this as a “negative sleep association.” I certainly disagree, and so would my baby. It is probably the most positive, natural, pleasant sleep association a baby can have. However, a large percentage of parents who are struggling with older babies who cannot fall asleep or stay asleep are fighting this natural and powerful sucking-to-sleep association.

Therefore, if you want your baby to be able to fall asleep without your help, it is essential that you sometimes let your newborn baby suck until he is sleepy, but not totally asleep. When you can, remove the breast, bottle, or pacifier from his mouth and let him finish falling asleep without something in his mouth. When you do this, your baby may resist, root, and fuss to regain the nipple. It’s perfectly okay to give him back the breast, bottle, or pacifier and start over a few minutes later. If you do this often enough, he will eventually learn how to fall asleep without sucking.

Waking for Night Feedings
Many pediatricians recommend that parents shouldn’t let a newborn sleep longer than three or four hours without feeding, and the vast majority of babies wake far more frequently than that. (There are a few exceptional babies who can go longer.) No matter what, your baby will wake up during the night. The key is to learn when you should pick her up for a night feeding and when you can let her go back to sleep on her own.

This is a time when you need to focus your instincts and intuition. This is when you should try very hard to learn how to read your baby’s signals. Here’s a tip that is critically important for you to know. Babies make many sleeping sounds, from grunts to whimpers to outright cries, and these noises don’t always signal awakening. These are what I call sleeping noises, and your baby is nearly or even totally asleep during these episodes. I remember when my first baby, Angela, was a newborn. Her cry awakened me many times, yet she was asleep in my arms before I even made it from cradle to rocking chair. She was making sleeping noises. In my desire to respond to my baby’s every cry, I actually taught her to wake up more often!

You need to listen and watch your baby carefully. Learn to differentiate between these sleeping sounds and awake and hungry sounds. If she is awake and hungry, you’ll want to feed her as quickly as possible. If you respond immediately when she is hungry, she will most likely go back to sleep quickly. But, if you let her cry escalate, she will wake herself up totally, and it will be harder and take longer for her to go back to sleep. Not to mention that you will then be wide awake, too!

Help Your Baby Distinguish Day from Night
A newborn baby sleeps about sixteen to eighteen hours per day, and this sleep is distributed evenly over six to seven brief sleep periods. You can help your baby distinguish between nighttime sleep and daytime sleep, and thus help him sleep longer periods at night.

Begin by having your baby take his daytime naps in a lit room where he can hear the noises of the day, perhaps a bassinet or cradle located in the main area of your home. Make nighttime sleep dark and quiet. You can also help your baby differentiate day naps from night sleep by using a nightly bath and a change into sleeping pajamas to signal the difference between the two.

Watch for Signs of Tiredness
One way to encourage good sleep is to get familiar with your baby’s sleepy signals and put her down to sleep as soon as she seems tired. A baby cannot put herself to sleep, nor can she understand her own sleepy signs. Yet a baby who is encouraged to stay awake when her body is craving sleep is typically an unhappy baby. Over time, this pattern develops into sleep deprivation, which further complicates your baby’s developing sleep maturity. Learn to read your baby’s sleepy signs — such as quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, and fussing — and put her to bed when that window of opportunity presents itself.

Make Yourself Comfortable
I’ve yet to hear a parent tell me that she or he loves getting up throughout the night to tend to a baby’s needs. As much as we adore our little bundles, it’s tough when you’re woken up over and over again, night after night. Since it’s a fact that your baby will be waking you up, you may as well make yourself as comfortable as possible. The first step is to learn to relax about night wakings right now. Being stressed or frustrated about having to get up won’t change a thing. The situation will improve day by day; and before you know it, your little newborn won’t be so little anymore – she’ll be walking and talking and getting into everything in sight…during the day, and sleeping peacefully all night long.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No Cry Sleep Solution Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002 Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth

Early Bedtime Means Better Baby Sleep

By Elizabeth Pantley

In their efforts to encourage their baby to sleep better, one approach that many parents use is to put their baby to bed later in the evening. They think, “If he’s “really tired” he’ll sleep better, right?” Wrong! This often backfires because Baby becomes overtired, and chronically sleep-deprived.

In the majority of cases, a baby’s biological clock is preset for an early bedtime. When parents work with that time, a baby falls asleep more easily and stays asleep more peacefully. Most babies are primed to go to sleep for the night as early as 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. I often hear about how babies and toddlers have a “melt down” period at the end of the day, when they get fussy, whiny and out of sorts. I suspect that it’s simply a sign of over-tired children longing for sleep.

Early to bed, early to rise?
For babies, early to bed does not mean early to rise! Most babies sleep longer with an earlier bedtime. Many parents are afraid to put their baby to bed so early, thinking that they will then face a 5 a.m. wake up call. But keeping your little one up too late backfires, and more often, a late night is the one followed by that early morning awakening.

My youngest child, two-year-old Coleton used to go to bed at 9:30, the time when my three older children went to bed, because it was convenient for me. At that time in the evening, it would take him a long time to get settled. I never connected his inability to settle with his late bedtime. When I started putting him to bed at 7:00, he fell asleep much more quickly and slept more soundly.

What About Working Parents?
If you are a working parent, and your evening with your little one begins at 6:30 or 7:00, you may find yourself torn between keeping your baby up for some playtime and getting him right to bed. You may find, though, that when your baby goes to sleep earlier, and sleeps better, he awakens in a pleasant mood, eager to play. Because you have gotten a good night’s sleep, you can consider getting up earlier in the morning and saving some time before work to play with your baby, as an alternative to that late-evening play session. You’ll both enjoy that special morning time. Later, when your baby is consistently sleeping all night, every night, you can move bedtime a little later and judge whether the difference affects your baby’s sleep.

Finding Your Baby’s Best Bedtime
It can take some experimentation to find your baby’s best bedtime. If you have been putting your baby to bed too late in the evening, you can approach this adjustment in one of two different ways:

Adjust your baby’s bedtime to be earlier by fifteen to thirty minutes every two or three nights. Pay attention to how easily your baby falls asleep as well as his awakening time and mood to gauge the effectiveness of the changes until you settle on his best bedtime, or
Beginning at around 6:30 p.m., watch your baby closely. As soon as he exhibits any signs of tiredness (fussing, losing interest in toys, looking glazed, yawning) put him right to bed, even if his previous bedtime has been 11:00 p.m. When you do this, keep your home quiet and the baby’s room dark so that it resembles his usual environment in the middle of the night. If this bedtime is substantially earlier than usual, your baby may think he’s going down for a nap and awaken after a short snooze. If he does this, respond very quickly so that he doesn’t fully awaken. Follow your usual method for helping him fall back to sleep, such as rocking or nursing; keep the room dark and quiet as you do during the middle of the night.
Here’s what Tammy, mother of seven-month-old Brooklyn had to say about changing her baby’s bedtime, “I had been waiting until 10:00 to put Brooklyn to bed because that’s when I go to sleep. But your suggestion made so much sense that last night I put her down at 8:00. I loved having the evening to spend with my husband. We haven’t spent that much time alone together in months! And the baby actually had a better night’s sleep. I’m happy that all our needs can be met in such a pleasant way.”

It may take a week or more of adjustment to settle into a new bedtime, but once you do, you’ll find that both you and your baby are happier.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No Cry Sleep Solution Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002 Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth

What is Preventing Your Baby from Sleeping Through the Night?

By Elizabeth Pantley

Here’s something that may really surprise you: As much as we may want our babies to sleep through the night, our own subconscious emotions sometimes hold us back from encouraging change in our babies’ sleeping habits. You yourself may be the very obstacle preventing a change in a routine that disrupts your life. So let’s figure out if anything is standing in your way.

Examine Your Own Needs and Goals
Today’s society leads us to believe that “normal babies” sleep through the night from about two months; my research indicates that this is more the exception than the rule. The number of families in your boat could fill a fleet of cruise ships.

“At our last day-care parent meeting, one father brought up the fact that his two-year-old daughter wasn’t sleeping through the night. I discovered that out of 24 toddlers only six stayed asleep all night long.” …Robin, mother of thirteen-month-old Alicia

You must figure out where your own problem lies. Is it in your baby’s routine, in your management of it, or simply in the minds of others? If you can honestly say you want to change your baby’s sleep habits because they are truly disruptive to you and your family, then you’re ready to make changes. But if you feel coerced into changing Baby’s patterns because Great Grandma Beulah or your friend from playgroup says that’s the way it should be, it’s time for a long, hard think.

Certainly, if your little one is waking you up every hour or two, you don’t have to think long on the question, “Is this disruptive to me?” It obviously is. However, if your baby is waking up only once or twice a night, it’s important that you determine exactly how much this pattern is disturbing to you, and decide on a realistic goal. Be honest in assessing the situation’s effect on your life. Begin today by contemplating these questions:

  • Am I content with the way things are, or am I becoming resentful, angry, or frustrated?
  • Is my baby’s nighttime routine negatively affecting my marriage, job, or relationships with my other children?
  • Is my baby happy, healthy, and seemingly well rested?
  • Am I happy, healthy, and well rested?

Once you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of not only what is happening with regard to your baby’s sleep, but also how motivated you are to make a change.

Reluctance to Let Go of Those Nighttime Moments
A good, long, honest look into your heart may truly surprise you. You may find you actually relish those quiet night wakings when no one else is around. I remember in the middle of one night, I lay nursing Coleton by the light of the moon. The house was perfectly, peacefully quiet. As I gently stroked his downy hair and soft baby skin, I marveled at this tiny being beside me-and the thought hit me, “I love this! I love these silent moments that we share in the night.” It was then that I realized that even though I struggled through my baby’s hourly nighttime wakings, I needed to want to make a change in our night waking habits before I would see any changes in his sleeping patterns.

You may need to take a look at your own feelings. And if you find you’re truly ready to make a change, you’ll need to give yourself permission to let go of this stage of your baby’s life and move on to a different phase in your relationship. There will be lots of time to hug, cuddle, and love your little one, but you must truly feel ready to move those moments out of your sleeping time and into the light of day.

Worry About Your Baby’s Safety
We parents worry about our babies, and we should! With every night waking, as we have been tending to our child’s nightly needs, we have also been reassured that our baby is doing fine – every hour or two all night long. We get used to these checks; they provide continual reassurance of Baby’s safety.

“The first time my baby slept five straight hours, I woke up in a cold sweat. I nearly fell out of bed and ran down the hall. I was so sure that something was horribly wrong. I nearly wept when I found her sleeping peacefully.” …Azza, mother of seven-month-old Laila

Co-sleeping parents are not exempt from these fears. Even if you are sleeping right next to your baby, you’ll find that you have become used to checking on her frequently through the night. Even when she’s sleeping longer stretches, you aren’t sleeping, because you’re still on security duty. These are very normal worries, rooted in your natural instincts to protect your baby. Therefore, for you to allow your baby to sleep for longer stretches, you’ll need to find ways to feel confident that your baby is safe-all night long. Once you reassure yourself that your baby is safe while you sleep, you’ll have taken that first step toward helping her sleep all night.

Belief That Things Will Change on Their Own
You may hope, pray, and wish that one fine night, your baby will magically begin to sleep through the night. Maybe you’re crossing your fingers that he’ll just “outgrow” this stage, and you won’t have to do anything different at all. It’s a very rare night-waking baby who suddenly decides to sleep through the night all on his own. Granted, this may happen to you-but your baby may be two, three or four years old when it does! Decide now whether you have the patience to wait that long, or if you are ready to gently move the process along.

Too Fatigued to Work Toward Change
Change requires effort, and effort requires energy. In an exhausted state, we may find it easier just to keep things as they are than try something different. In other words, when Baby wakes for the fifth time that night, and I’m desperate for sleep, it’s so much easier just to resort to the easiest way to get him back to sleep (rock, nurse, or replace the pacifier) than it is to try something different. Only a parent who is truly sleep deprived can understand what I’m saying here. Others may calmly advise, “Well if things aren’t working for you, just change what you’re doing.” However, every night waking puts you in that foggy state where the only thing you crave is going back to sleep-plans and ideas seem like too much effort.

If you are to help your baby sleep all night, you will have to force yourself to make some changes and follow your plan, even in the middle of the night, even if it’s the tenth time your baby has called out for you. So, after reading this section and you’re sure you and your baby are ready, it’s time for you to make a commitment to change. That is the first important step to helping your baby sleep through the night.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No Cry Sleep Solution Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002 Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth

Is Mothering Wearing You Out?

By Margaret Paul, Ph.D

I always wanted to have children and I was completely thrilled when I had my first child. Nothing, however, prepares a mother for what it’s like to be responsible for a child 24/7.

Before my son was born, I had time – time to read, to be creative, to spend time with friends, to take long baths, to spend time with my husband, to breathe.Suddenly there was no time for me. And, of course, after two more children, having any time for me became even more challenging.

That’s when I started getting sick. Not sick in the way you could name it – just sick in the way of being fatigued all the time. As much as I loved being a mother as well as continuing my practice as a psychotherapist, I was wearing out. Something had to change.

The real problem was in knowing how to take care of my children and myself, instead of just taking care of my children. I had been brought up to be a caretaker, which meant that everyone’s needs came before mine. That was really what was wearing me out. Not only that, but putting their needs before mine was creating children with entitlement issues – the more I put myself aside for them, the more they demanded and felt entitled to my time and attention.

Unfortunately, I didn’t discover this problem until my children were adolescents. By that time I was headed for serious illness. My immune system was shutting down and various doctors said I that if I didn’t change my lifestyle, I would end up with cancer or something equally serious.

It’s not easy to start to attend to yourself when you’ve always put others’ needs before your own. Yet for me it felt like a life-and-death situation. I had always been afraid that if I said “no” to my husband and children, I would discover that they really didn’t care about me. I was afraid to find out that they wouldn’t support me in learning to take care of myself. Yet I finally reached the point where I was willing to lose them rather than continue to lose myself and my health.

It was at this point that I began to develop a strong spiritual connection, and Spirit eventually guided me toward a self-healing process which we now call Inner Bonding. (For a free Inner Bonding course, see www.innerbonding.com). It was through practicing the six steps of this powerful process that I was able to start taking care of myself while I was working and taking care of my family, and my health gradually returned.

I had always had enormous compassion for others but generally lacked compassion for myself. My challenge was to turn my eyes inward to my own feelings and needs instead of always being tuned in just to others’ feelings and needs. I needed to learn to treat myself as well as I treated others. I needed to learn to stand up for myself when my family demanded that I take care of them to the detriment of myself. I needed to learn to have the courage to withstand their anger when I didn’t do just what they wanted me to do. I needed to learn to stand in my truth regarding what was loving to myself and others instead of trying to control their love with my compliance. It’s been a long and sometimes painful road, but one with great rewards.

In a session with Renee, one of my clients, she told me that she was struggling with this same issue. She was exhausted most of the time, and often felt depressed. She told me of a recent incident that had happened with her nine-year old daughter, Sarah. Renee had told Sarah that she wanted to watch a particular TV program at 8:00 that night, so Renee wanted to make sure that Sarah didn’t need anything from her after 8:00. When 8:00 came around after Renee had been spending time with Sarah, Renee said she was going to watch her TV program. Sarah said, “Mom, so the TV program is more important than I am.” Renee got confused by this, bought into the guilt, and gave into Sarah, thereby enabling Sarah’s already strong entitlement issues. Then Renee felt even more exhausted and depressed.

What Renee needed to say to Sarah was, “Honey, it is you who is being selfish in not caring about what is important to me and just wanting me to do what you want. I need you to care about me like I care about you.” Then she needed to watch her program, thus taking care of herself and at the same time role-modeling personal responsibility rather than enabling Sarah’s entitlement issue by giving herself up.

Learning to take care of ourselves is essential for our own health and the health of our family.

 

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?”, “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By My Kids?”, “Healing Your Aloneness”,”Inner Bonding”, and “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God?” Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com or mailto:margaret@innerbonding.com

breastfeeding1

Breastfeeding Myths

1. Many women do not produce enough milk.

Not true! The vast majority of women produce more than enough milk. Indeed, an overabundance of milk is common. Most babies that gain too slowly, or lose weight, do so not because the mother does not have enough milk, but because the baby does not get the milk that the mother has. The usual reason that the baby does not get the milk that is available is that he is poorly latched onto the breast. This is why it is so important that the mother be shown, on the first day, how to latch a baby on properly, by someone who knows what they are doing.

2. It is normal for breastfeeding to hurt.

Not true! Though some tenderness during the first few days is relatively common, this should be a temporary situation which lasts only a few days and should never be so bad that the mother dreads nursing. Any pain that is more than mild is abnormal and is almost always due to the baby latching on poorly. Any nipple pain that is not getting better by day 3 or 4 or lasts beyond 5 or 6 days should not be ignored. A new onset of pain when things have been going well for a while may be due to a yeast infection of the nipples. Limiting feeding time does not prevent soreness.

3. There is no (not enough) milk during the first 3 or 4 days after birth.

Not true! It often seems like that because the baby is not latched on properly and therefore is unable to get the milk. Once the mother’s milk is abundant, a baby can latch on poorly and still may get plenty of milk. However, during the first few days, the baby who is latched on poorly cannot get milk. This accounts for “but he’s been on the breast for 2 hours and is still hungry when I take him off”. By not latching on well, the baby is unable to get the mother’s first milk, called colostrum. Anyone who suggests you pump your milk to know how much colostrum there is, does not understand breastfeeding, and should be politely ignored.

4. A baby should be on the breast 20 (10, 15, 7.6) minutes on each side.

Not true! However, a distinction needs to be made between “being on the breast” and “breastfeeding”. If a baby is actually drinking for most of 15-20 minutes on the first side, he may not want to take the second side at all. If he drinks only a minute on the first side, and then nibbles or sleeps, and does the same on the other, no amount of time will be enough. The baby will breastfeed better and longer if he is latched on properly. He can also be helped to breastfeed longer if the mother compresses the breast to keep the flow of milk going, once he no longer swallows on his own. Thus it is obvious that the rule of thumb that “the baby gets 90% of the milk in the breast in the first 10 minutes” is equally hopelessly wrong.

5. A breastfeeding baby needs extra water in hot weather.

Not true! Breastmilk contains all the water a baby needs.

6. Breastfeeding babies need extra vitamin D.

Not true! Except in extraordinary circumstances (for example, if the mother herself was vitamin D deficient during the pregnancy). The baby stores vitamin D during the pregnancy, and a little outside exposure, on a regular basis, gives the baby all the vitamin D he needs.

7. A mother should wash her nipples each time before feeding the baby.

Not true! Formula feeding requires careful attention to cleanliness because formula not only does not protect the baby against infection, but also is actually a good breeding ground for bacteria and can also be easily contaminated. On the other hand, breastmilk protects the baby against infection. Washing nipples before each feeding makes breastfeeding unnecessarily complicated and washes away protective oils from the nipple.

8. Pumping is a good way of knowing how much milk the mother has.

Not true! How much milk can be pumped depends on many factors, including the mother’s stress level. The baby who nurses well can get much more milk than his mother can pump. Pumping only tells you have much you can pump.

9. Breastmilk does not contain enough iron for the baby’s needs.

Not true! Breastmilk contains just enough iron for the baby’s needs. If the baby is full term he will get enough iron from breastmilk to last him at least the first 6 months. Formulas contain too much iron, but this quantity may be necessary to ensure the baby absorbs enough to prevent iron deficiency. The iron in formula is poorly absorbed, and most of it, the baby poops out. Generally, there is no need to add other foods to breastmilk before about 6 months of age.

10. It is easier to bottle feed than to breastfeed.

Not true! Or, this should not be true. However, breastfeeding is made difficult because women often do not receive the help they should to get started properly. A poor start can indeed make breastfeeding difficult. But a poor start can also be overcome. Breastfeeding is often more difficult at first, due to a poor start, but usually becomes easier later.

11. Breastfeeding ties the mother down.

Not true! But it depends how you look at it. A baby can be nursed anywhere, anytime, and thus breastfeeding is liberating for the mother. No need to drag around bottles or formula. No need to worry about where to warm up the milk. No need to worry about sterility. No need to worry about how your baby is, because he is with you.

12. There is no way to know how much breastmilk the baby is getting.

Not true! There is no easy way to measure how much the baby is getting, but this does not mean that you cannot know if the baby is getting enough. The best way to know is that the baby actually drinks at the breast for several minutes at each feeding (open–pause–close type of suck). Other ways also help show that the baby is getting plenty.

13. Modern formulas are almost the same as breastmilk.

Not true! The same claim was made in 1900 and before. Modern formulas are only superficially similar to breastmilk. Every correction of a deficiency in formulas is advertised as an advance. Fundamentally formulas are inexact copies based on outdated and incomplete knowledge of what breastmilk is. Formulas contain no antibodies, no living cells, no enzymes, no hormones. They contain much more aluminum, manganese, cadmium and iron than breastmilk. They contain significantly more protein than breastmilk. The proteins and fats are fundamentally different from those in breastmilk. Formulas do not vary from the beginning of the feed to the end of the feed, or from day 1 to day 7 to day 30, or from woman to woman, or from baby to baby. Your breastmilk is made as required to suit your baby. Formulas are made to suit every baby, and thus no baby. Formulas succeed only at making babies grow well, usually, but there is more to breastfeeding than getting the baby to grow quickly.

14. If the mother has an infection she should stop breastfeeding.

Not true! With very, very few exceptions, the mother’s continuing to breastfeed will protect the baby. By the time the mother has fever (or cough, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, etc) she has already given the baby the infection, since she has been infectious for several days before she even knew she was sick. The baby’s best protection against getting the infection is for the mother to continue breastfeeding. If the baby does get sick, he will be less sick if the mother continues breastfeeding. Besides, maybe it was the baby who gave the infection to the mother, but the baby did not show signs of illness because he was breastfeeding. Also, breast infections, including breast abscess, though painful, are not reasons to stop breastfeeding. Indeed, the infection is likely to settle more quickly if the mother continues breastfeeding on the affected side.

15. If the baby has diarrhea or vomiting, the mother should stop breastfeeding.

Not true! The best medicine for a baby’s gut infection is breastfeeding. Stop other foods for a short time, but continue breastfeeding. Breastmilk is the only fluid your baby requires when he has diarrhea and/or vomiting, except under exceptional circumstances. The push to use “oral rehydrating solutions” is mainly a push by the formula manufacturers (who also make oral rehydrating solutions) to make even more money. The baby is comforted by the breastfeeding, and the mother is comforted by the baby’s breastfeeding.

16. If the mother is taking medicine she should not breastfeed.

Not true! There are very very few medicines that a mother cannot take safely while breastfeeding. A very small amount of most medicines appears in the milk, but usually in such small quantities that there is no concern. If a medicine is truly of concern, there are usually equally effective, alternative medicines that are safe. The loss of benefit of breastfeeding for both the mother and the baby must be taken into account when weighing if breastfeeding should be continued.

 

newman@globalserve.net Handout #11. Some Breastfeeding Myths.
Revised January 2000 Written by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
May be copied and distributed without further permission

Dealing with Unwanted Parenting Advice

By Elizabeth Pantley
Author of Gentle Baby Care

“Help! I’m getting so frustrated with the endless stream of advice I get from my mother-in-law and brother! No matter what I do, I’m doing it wrong. I love them both, but how do I get them to stop dispensing all this unwanted advice?”

Just as your baby is an important part of your life, he is also important to others. People who care about your baby are bonded to you and your child in a special way that invites their counsel. Knowing this may give you a reason to handle the interference gently, in a way that leaves everyone’s feelings intact.

Regardless of the advice, it is your baby, and in the end, you will raise your child the way that you think best. So it’s rarely worth creating a war over a well-meaning person’s comments. You can respond to unwanted advice in a variety of ways:

Listen first
It’s natural to be defensive if you feel that someone is judging you; but chances are you are not being criticized; rather, the other person is sharing what they feel to be valuable insight. Try to listen – you may just learn something valuable.

Disregard
If you know that there is no convincing the other person to change her mind, simply smile, nod, and make a non-committal response, such as, “Interesting!” Then go about your own business…your way.

Agree
You might find one part of the advice that you agree with. If you can, provide wholehearted agreement on that topic.

Pick your battles
If your mother-in-law insists that Baby wear a hat on your walk to the park, go ahead and pop one on his head. This won’t have any long-term effects except that of placating her. However, don’t capitulate on issues that are important to you or the health or well-being of your child.

Steer clear of the topic
If your brother is pressuring you to let your baby cry to sleep, but you would never do that, then don’t complain to him about your baby getting you up five times the night before. If he brings up the topic, then distraction is definitely in order, such as, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

Educate yourself
Knowledge is power; protect yourself and your sanity by reading up on your parenting choices. Rely on the confidence that you are doing your best for your baby.

Educate the other person
If your “teacher” is imparting information that you know to be outdated or wrong, share what you’ve learned on the topic. You may be able to open the other person’s mind. Refer to a study, book, or report that you have read.

Quote a doctor
Many people accept a point of view if a professional has validated it. If your own pediatrician agrees with your position, say, “My doctor said to wait until she’s at least six months before starting solids.” If your own doctor doesn’t back your view on that issue, then refer to another doctor – perhaps the author of a baby care book.

Be vague
You can avoid confrontation with an elusive response. For example, if your sister asks if you’ve started potty training yet (but you are many months away from even starting the process), you can answer with, “We’re moving in that direction.”

Ask for advice!
Your friendly counselor is possibly an expert on a few issues that you can agree on. Search out these points and invite guidance. She’ll be happy that she is helping you, and you’ll be happy you have a way to avoid a showdown about topics that you don’t agree on.

Memorize a standard response
Here’s a comment that can be said in response to almost any piece of advice: “This may not be the right way for you, but it’s the right way for me.”

Be honest
Try being honest about your feelings. Pick a time free of distractions and choose your words carefully, such as, “I know how much you love Harry, and I’m glad you spend so much time with him. I know you think you’re helping me when you give me advice about this, but I’m comfortable with my own approach, and I’d really appreciate if you’d understand that.”

Find a mediator
If the situation is putting a strain on your relationship with the advice-giver, you may want to ask another person to step in for you.

Search out like-minded friends
Join a support group or on-line club with people who share your parenting philosophies. Talking with others who are raising their babies in a way that is similar to your own can give you the strength to face people who don’t understand your viewpoints.

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Reprinted with permission.

Going Visiting With Your Baby

By Elizabeth Pantley
Author of Gentle Baby Care

Babies love new places! There’s so much to investigate and new things to touch. But many people aren’t too happy to have your little one crawling or toddling freely about the house exploring everything in sight. While you think its adorable that Baby found the Tupperware, your host may not think it’s cute that her tidy cabinet has been rearranged by sticky baby hands. If your host has a big heart she’ll let you know that your baby’s exploring is okay. But even then, you run the risk of your baby breaking or losing something.

Bring toys!
The best thing you can do is bring along a bag of toys to seize your child’s attention. You can purchase new items, or dig through your baby’s toy box to put together a collection of forgotten favorites. Avoid bringing loud toys that may annoy others, and bring toys that will hold your baby’s attention for a long time.

Bring your own supplies
Think about things that keep your baby happy at home or in the car, and bring these with you, such as your sling, a favorite blanket, a Boppy pillow, or a special lovey. If you are prepared, then your baby will be more content.

Safety issues
Visits with a mobile baby are tricky, especially if you’re at a home that isn’t childproof. If you want to avoid physically shadowing your baby around the house, bring a few safety tools, such as outlet plugs and a folding baby gate to section off stairways. When you arrive, assess the area and ask if chemicals, medications, or fragile vases can be put away during your visit. Remember that you’re certain to miss some hazards, so keep a close eye on Baby during your entire visit.

Food and eating
Whether your baby is new to solid food or has been eating it for a while, bring along a few favorites. If you don’t bring snacks with you, your baby may not touch the dinner that’s served and may cry for her favorite crackers. In any case, don’t feel you must push your baby to try something new to the point of a temper tantrum. Politely requesting something simple like toast or cheese is perfectly okay and will be welcomed more than a loud and tense test of parent/child wills.

What if you’re breastfeeding and your baby is hungry?
Do what comes naturally: Feed him! Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed a baby. If your hosts aren’t used to seeing a mother breastfeed, then you’re doing our world a favor by introducing one more person to the beauty of baby feeding.

Be thoughtful about other’s sensitivities
This doesn’t mean you need to hide, but your efforts to be discreet are a courtesy for those around you and may help others feel more comfortable about seeing you breastfeeding your baby. Using a sling, blanket or nursing shirt are easy ways to accomplish this.

Changing Diapers
Bring a changing pad; this will protect the surface you’re using. If you don’t have a pad, ask for a towel. Ask where your host prefers that you change the baby, or suggest a location: “Do you mind if I lay the towel on your bed to change the baby?” Bring along (or ask to use) plastic bags to store messy diapers. Make sure that they are sealed so that they don’t create odors. If you use disposables, put used diapers in a sealed bag and offer to take them out to the trash. People don’t like stinky diapers in their bathroom trash.

Sleeping and napping
If your little one sleeps in a cradle or crib you may want to bring along a portable crib. If you don’t have one, or if you co-sleep at home, this is a time when “anything goes.” If your baby will sleep in your arms, then go ahead and enjoy an in-arms nap. If your baby is flexible, put a blanket on the floor and set up a sleeping nest. Don’t leave Baby alone, since the area probably isn’t childproof. A great nap solution is to bring your car seat into the house and strap your baby in securely, or fashion a bed from a large box or an empty dresser drawer. Keep your baby close by or check on her frequently.

For co-sleepers, your first order of business is to create a safe sleeping place. Inspect the furniture placement in the bedroom. If you know that pushing the bed against the wall would make the situation safer for your baby, then politely explain to your host. Let her know that you’ll move it back before you leave (and then remember to do so).

Be prepared for anything
Life with a baby is filled with surprises. Take a deep breath, and do your best to keep your baby content….and if things don’t go as well as you’d hoped, remind yourself that “This too shall pass.”

Show your appreciation
If you’ve had an overnight stay, if your host is helpful, or if you made special requests during your stay, remember to send a thank you note that expresses your appreciation.

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Reprinted with permission.

Stop the Diaper Changing Battles

By Elizabeth Pantley
Author of Gentle Baby Care

Babies are little bundles of energy! They don’t want to lie still to have their diapers changed. They cry, fuss, or even crawl away. A simple issue can turn into a major tug-of-war between parent and baby.

Diaper changing as a ritual
The position of parent and baby during a diaper change is perfect for creating a bonding experience between you. You are leaning over your baby, and your face is at the perfect arms-length distance for engaging eye contact and communication. What’s more, this golden opportunity presents itself many times during each day; no matter how busy you both get, you have a few moments of quiet connection. It’s too valuable a ritual to treat it as simply maintenance.

Learning about your baby
Diapering offers a perfect opportunity for you to truly absorb your baby’s cues and signals. You’ll learn how his little body works, what tickles him, what causes those tiny goose bumps. As you lift, move, and touch your baby, your hands will learn the map of his body and what’s normal for him. This is important because it will enable you to easily decipher any physical changes that need attention.

Developing trust
Regular diaper changes create rhythm in your baby’s world and afford the sense that the world is safe and dependable. They are regular and consistent episodes in days that may not always be predictable. Your loving touches teach your baby that he is valued, and your gentle care teaches him that he is respected.

A learning experience for your baby
Your baby does a lot of learning during diaper changes. It’s one of the few times that she actually sees her own body without clothes, when she can feel her complete movements without a wad of diaper between her legs. Diaper-off time is a great chance for her to stretch her limbs and learn how they move.

During changing time, your baby is also a captive audience to your voice, so she can focus on what you are saying and how you are saying it – an important component of her language learning process. Likewise, for a precious few minutes, you are her captive audience, so you can focus on what she’s saying and how she is saying it – crucial to the growth of your relationship.

What your baby thinks and feels
Many active babies could not care less if their diapers are clean. They’re too busy to concern themselves with such trivial issues. It may be important to you, but it’s not a priority for your child.

Diaper rash or uncomfortable diapers (wrong size or bad fit) can make him dread diaper changes, so check these first. Once you’re sure all the practical issues are covered, make a few adjustments in this unavoidable process to make it more enjoyable.

Take a deep breath
Given the number of diapers you have to change, it’s possible that what used to be a pleasant experience for you has gotten to be routine, or even worse, a hassle. When parents approach diaper changing in a brisk, no-nonsense way, it isn’t any fun for Baby. Try to reconnect with the bonding experience that diaper changing can be — a moment of calm in a busy day when you share one-on-one time with your baby.

Have some fun
This is a great time to sing songs, blow tummy raspberries, or do some tickle and play. A little fun might take the dread out of diaper changes for both of you. A game that stays fresh for a long time is “hide the diaper.” Put a new diaper on your head, on your shoulder, or tucked in your shirt and ask, “Where’s the diaper? I can’t find it!” A fun twist is to give the diaper a name and a silly voice, and use it as a puppet. Let the diaper call your child to the changing station and have it talk to him as you change it. (If you get tired of making Mister Diaper talk, just remember what it was like before you tried the idea.)

Use distraction
Keep a flashlight with your changing supplies and let your baby play with it while you change him. Some kids’ flashlights have a button to change the color of the light, or shape of the ray. Call this his “diaper flashlight” and put it away when the change is complete. You may find a different type of special toy that appeals to your little one, or even a basket of small interesting toys. If you reserve these only for diaper time, they can retain their novelty for a long time.

Try a stand-up diaper
If your baby’s diaper is just wet (not messy), try letting her stand up while you do a quick change. If you’re using cloth diapers, have one leg pre-pinned so that you can slide it on like pants, or opt for pre-fitted diapers that don’t require pins.

Time to potty train?
If your child is old enough and seems ready for the next step, consider potty training.

 This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003) 

Reprinted with permission.

Just What Exactly Is Postpartum Depression?

By Sara Duggan

Hello my name is Sara and I am the proud Mommie of 2 beautiful boys. I enjoy my job very much. I can say that now with much confidence, but there was a time that I couldn’t. There was a time that I despised being a Mommie. I can remember that just the touch of my children sent me into a rage. This made me feel very sad and empty. Although I had these negative feelings, somewhere deep inside of me I still wanted, with all my heart to be the Mommie I was meant to be to my two little boys. I didn’t know what was going on with me. I read up on Postpartum Depression prior to the birth of my boys but what I was going through did not match up to what I had read.

I thought I would be a little flighty, weepy, and sad, but I also thought that it would go away soon after it came. Another thing I didn’t know is that Postpartum Depression can happen anytime within the first year after the birth of your child. (I didn’t experience postpartum depression with my second child until about 3months postpartum.)

Many people, like myself, think they know what postpartum depression is but, unless you have lived it, you will never know. Most women experience the “baby blues” which is crying and a little mood swings. They usually occur anywhere between 3 days to 2 weeks after she has the baby. It soon subsides and she starts to feel like herself again.

Postpartum Depression is something completely different. It is like a deep hole that you sink into and can’t get out of. It is feeling like you are unworthy to be a mom or to be alive. It is feeling like everything you say and do is wrong. It is not being able to care for your hygiene needs or the needs of your baby. It is not being able to get out of bed in the morning; the afternoon, the evening, and pretty soon, you’re just not getting out of bed. It is thinking that your children/husband/partner will be better off without you in their life. It is wishing you did not have this baby to care for. It is feeling like running away. It is angry outbursts and loving caresses. It is not wanting to hold the baby, hear the baby, or love the baby.

Sometimes it is intense fear of going outside, paranoia, or fearing someone is trying to take your child away from you. It could also be overly obsessing over the cleanliness and health of you and your child, to the point where you do not feed or care for the both of you properly.

Sometimes someone may look like a “together” Mommie, doing all the “things” she is supposed to be doing, but on the inside she is a wreck about to explode. All of these and more go on inside the head of a Mommie experiencing Postpartum Depression. More than likely, she is not aware of these feelings or does not completely understand what is going on inside of her. Is it normal? Should she tell someone? What if they think she is crazy? Or worse, What if they think she is a bad Mommie and take her baby away?

It is wise to note that PPD can happen anywhere from 3 days after the baby is born to 1 year postpartum. A mom can do well for the first 5 or 6 months postpartum and fall into a deep depression. Also, if you have had PPD with previous pregnancies, there is a chance that you will have it in subsequent pregnancies. Make sure you let your care provider know if you have had PPD in the past and they can curtail the symptoms before they cause deep depression. There are medications available today that are safe to take while breastfeeding. So don’t let that keep you from taking care of you. After all, if you take care of you, you’ll be able to care for your baby!

Although this is a dark place, with help, the time you are in the “hole” is lessened with medication and talk therapy things can and will get better. PPD affects a lot more women than most are willing to admit. It is very normal. It is a sickness and needs to be treated right away at the first signs. For a preliminary test to see if you are risk for Postpartum Depression, visithttp://postpartumstress.com/ppd_risk__assessment_during.html

It is also helpful for husbands/partners to read the questions because sometimes it is they who recognize the signs first. Contact your doctor or therapist when you feel these symptoms. Sometimes all you need is talk therapy and a support group. Other times medicine may be necessary to get your hormones to balance out. For help online go to http://www.ppdsupportpage.com

Another illness likely to appear after the birth of the baby is Postpartum Psychosis. This is a very dangerous disorder. It can occur from 3 days to about 2 weeks postpartum. Its symptoms include paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU GET THE MOTHER TO A DOCTOR OR AN EMERGENCY ROOM. This is nothing to take lightly. She could harm herself or others, including her children.

Having said all this, I would like to add, that PPD is very treatable. The sooner it is noticed and treated the sooner the mom will feel better. You can get past it. You can see the light at the end of the “hole” and you can get out. I am an example of this.

One more thing before I close, most women, about 80%, have baby blues and they go away within 2 – 3 weeks. Some even experience a heightened time of awareness and clearness. They feel Good and Happy with Mommiehood.

Something that you may want to keep in mind when preparing for the birth of your child is a Postpartum Doula. What is a Postpartum Doula you may be asking? Well, it is someone specially trained to support, encourage, and educate the Mommie during her postpartum period. You can check out the National association of Postpartum Care Services NAPCS for recommended certified doulas.

A postpartum doula will provide the Mommie with physical support, emotional support and household support. Unlike the Baby nurse, who is there for the babies needs, a Postpartum Doula is there for the Mommie. However, Postpartum Doula’s do not diagnose medical conditions for the Mommie or the baby, but they will refer them to a healthcare provider. Postpartum Doula’s do not take over the care of the baby, but assists the Mommie, in learning to care for her and her baby’s needs.

To better understand the differences between the “baby blues”, “Postpartum Depression” and Postpartum Psychosis, visithttp://www.geocities.com/mommie_care/defineppd.html where you will find my Definition of Terms.

Sara Duggan is the proud Mommie of Noah and Jonah. She is the wife of Terrence, her best friend. She owns MommieCare, a place for Mommies to turn to when they need information or products to enable them be the BEST they can be. She is a Volunteer Doula and plans on opening a Volunteer Postpartum Doula Practice in the Near Future. For more information click here

Grow a Successful Child

by Colleen Langenfeld

As parents, we all want to grow happy, healthy children. Unfortunately, parenting does not come with a guarantee, but there are some practical guidelines we can follow that will point our children in the right direction. Here are the suggestions our family has used in our continuing goal of raising six confident, competent adults (four children and two parents!).

We’re in this for the long haul.

As a parent, we are given a long-time perspective just by giving birth. The future stretches out l-o-n-g and fearful in front of us. But kids have no such perspective. Teaching them about cause and effect, in other words, consequences, can help them understand that their thoughts, words and actions, big and small, have meaning and future impact.

We’re in this together.

Children are astonishingly selfish, but often not intentionally so. It’s just the human condition. Part of parenting is to provide them with opportunities to be around others who are different than they are. Encouraging them (and participating with them) to help others will show them that we all must get along with each other and it’s not necessary for us all to be the same. The ability to make and maintain friendships is not just fun, it’s vital.

Stability.

Everyone needs stability…not to be confused with a rut! Stability means you can generally count on the people and situations around you, while understanding that life doesn’t hand out guarantees. Stability usually comes from the parents, who can only provide as much stability as they currently have themselves. In other words, if your marriage is on shaky ground, it’s going to be very difficult to provide the stability your children need. That is why it’s often said that the best thing a man can do for his kids is to love their mother. And vice versa.

Life is hard.

This is a fact and our children need to hear it from us first. However, it’s a difficult fact and if we as adults are struggling with this reality, we’re going to find it impossible to share it with our kids. The funny thing is, though, that children can often receive difficult facts easier than we can. All of our children are bright and observant in their own ways, so the truth is that they already know a lot about how life works; they just need help articulating and integrating it. That’s where we come in as parents. Provide your children with fascinating stories of inspiring people who have overcome great obstacles and made a difference in our world. After all, it’s easy to FEEL life is bad; the challenge is to DECIDE that life is good!

Control.

Once we get hold of the truth that life is difficult, the issue of control takes on new meaning. How much control do we really have over our lives? What does that control look like? Often, these are personal questions to be wrestled with, but psychiatrists generally tell us that an internal locus of control is necessary for healthy mental and emotional development. That means that we need to believe we are able to exert a certain amount of control over our lives. This leads us to….

Tools.

As parents, we can introduce a variety of tools to our children as they grow. We exercise control over our lives and build a bright future for ourselves to the extent that we believe such a thing is possible. A strong grounding in the tools available to do that will take our children a long way. Goal-setting, life planning, self-discipline, high expectations, and spiritual development are all effective tools that require practice and guidance to be the life-long habits that will benefit our children the most.

The Five R’s.

We all know about the importance of academics in our children’s future. Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic (math) along with other academics will give our children a strong foundation for the future. However, if we stop there we’ve only developed part of a human being. Respect and responsibility go hand in hand with academics to raise a child who is not only smart, but also able to work productively and happily with the people around him and honestly like himself, too.

Balance.

Ideally, life shouldn’t be too hard or too easy. Ideally. As parents, we can sometimes structure the microcosm of our homes to fill out those places our children need to work on. Appropriate challenges are vital to growing in maturity, but the overwhelmed child stops growing and quits. As long as your children know you are watching over them constantly and that you genuinely care for them, they will usually handle life’s jostling amazingly well. Teach them to study hard, work hard, play hard and rest hard. Raising our children will always have its share of frustrating obstacles and exhilarating peaks. It’s the one job that we cannot go back and do over, so the stakes are high. And the rewards…fantastic!

Colleen Langenfeld delivers deals, tips and creative resources to working moms who want the most out of their homes, families and careers at http://www.paintedgold.com . Sign up for our free newsletter and get an online Creativity Toolkit as our gift to you!