Struggling with baby colic – change your baby bottles

colicy babyEvery parent who ever experienced their baby having colic knows this horror. For the last couple of weeks we had almost sleepless nights because our daughter was crying 4-6 hours a night. I thought that this is impossible but it seems that when a baby is in pain she just would not go to sleep. According to our pediatrician the most possible reason behind this was colic. I’ve heard a lot about colicy babies and read a lot about this condition but up till now we were unaffected. Unfortunately about three weeks ago my daughter got really colicy.

First reaction

I initially thought that she might got allergic to something and started to eliminate various foods from my diet. After substantially reducing the pool of foodstuffs I eat we came to a conclusion that it had to be something else. We went to see our doctor.

What to do?

Once we discovered it was probably the colic we started doing soothing massages and paid particular attention to her being burped after each feeding. We were also advised to change bottles. The Tommee Tippee bottles we used until than were great but might have not efficiently prevent air bubble swallowing.

What bottles to use for colicy babies?

It seems like there are several great bottles on the market that can substantially reduce occurrence of colic. They have special air vents that minimize creation of vacuum inside the bottle. By far the most advanced anti-colic system can be found in Dr Brown’s bottles. They feature a special straw like system inside a bottle that transport the air from the outside to the inside of the bottle and thus equalize air pressure. You can find more about Dr Brown bottles in here: Top 10 Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies. You can also find some useful tips about choosing a right nipple for babies who are majorly breastfed.

Did it help?

There are no clear reasons why a baby may develop colic nor 100% sure remedies. We did our best to help her (and ourselves) and eventually got things under control. About two days after we switched to dr Brown’s bottles her symptoms significantly lessened. This might or might not be a coincidence but we decided to stay with these bottles, at least for now.

We still have occasional 1 hour crying session in the middle of the night probably caused by colic but it’s much better now. As colic usually affect babies up to 6 months old we stay positive and hope that her and ours sleepless and painful nights are soon over.

Feeding on demand

The topic of feeding frequency was bothering me long before Gina was born. I often wondered how much and how often should I feed her. And if there are any clear guidelines. It seems that not only me was having this kind of thoughts. Most moms wonder if it is better to adhere to a schedule or just go along with what nature dictates. I chose the latter and was back up by our pediatrician.

When to feed your newborn?

According to my pediatrician it is best to feed your baby whenever she requires it. In fact some studies show that babies that are fed according to strict schedules are more prone to slower physical development and slower weight gains. You also have to remember that babies who drink only breast milk can digest it faster than formula milk as it contains most natural ingredients. It is therefore recommended to feed breastfed babies more frequently. If a newborn is asleep for longer than 4 hours you should wake her up for feeding. This is a common mistake made by mothers that are just fond of their baby sleep. When a baby awakens from long sleep she is usually starving and such situation is usually not pleasant for both the little one and the mother.

How did I know it’s time?

There are certain signals your baby send that would indicate that she is hungry. The loud scream is the last one of them and it usually indicate starving. According to our doctor you should try to avoid such state. Signals that are quite clear include:

  • agitation,
  • sticking fingers into mouth,
  • sucking on a fist,
  • rooting for breast.

How do I know it good for her?

The best indication that my daughter was getting right amount of food was the weight gain. A perfect weight gain for a newborn is around one ounce per day. Older babies usually gain weight slowlier.

Reasons your baby is crying and and ways to help them

There is probably nothing more frustrating for new parents to see their baby crying. During the first days due to lack of experience some people even panic because of this. Over time you become more familiar with your baby behavior, needs and ways to care for her. Knowing the reasons of your baby cry may help you to act more accordingly and reduce or eliminate the discomfort they feel. There are several reasons why babies cry and they can be put in order according to their frequency.

Most frequent reasons causing babies to cry

There are three most frequent reasons that babies cry, they may be:

  1. hungry,
  2. tired,
  3. wet.
newborn_stomach_size
Size of a newborn’s stomach. Image from: hmhb-hawaii.org

The most common reason is obviously the feeling of hunger. Due to the size of their stomach newborns have to eat every two hours. Therefore every two hours they will communicate that it’s time for feeding, and because the only way they can communicate is by crying they will do just that.
Crying of being tired is the second most common reason. Babies, and especially newborns, have to sleep for most part of their life. It is as crucial for their development as food. However infants in most cases can’t just go to sleep and have to be actively put to sleep by parents. If they are awake for too long they will let you know that they need their sleep and they will not hesitate to do it quite loudly.
Being wet is the third most common reason babies cry. This is rather obvious no one would like to sit in their urine or poop.

Less frequent reasons

There are also other reasons your baby may cry and they fall into one of the two categories:

  • frustration,
  • illness.

For the baby everything around is new and exciting. The environment can actually be even too exciting and the baby will experience too much stimuli. This over-stimulation often cause discomfort and frustration thus cry. Another reason for being frustrated is inability to control their own body. Especially newborns have tendency to move around their limbs without any control over them. This provide additional stimulation and may cause frustration.

When your child is ill they experience discomfort or pain and they announce it they only way they can. In most cases they cry sounds different and you will know straight away that something may be wrong. If after eliminating other reasons you think your baby may be ill do not hesitate and seek professional help.

It is important to remember that when your baby is crying it is very unlikely they experience some excruciating pain. Almost certainly they are trying to communicate some of their needs and because cry is the only way of communication they have in their repertoire they are using it. Some parents claim that over time they learned to differentiate between the hunger cry, being wet cry and being tired cry as they are supposedly sound different.

When the birthday comes – tips for successful party

An image of Children having a partyLast week we briefly visited my sister during her son’s birthday party. I was impressed how she organized and held a party for twenty five-year-olds. I have to admit I was impressed. I decided to take some notes for the future. Below are my thoughts on how I envisage my future parties and the ideas I’m going to steal from my sister. I hope I would be able to make is as stress and hassle free as she did.

  1. Have everything planned in advance. This may sound trivial but if you think you can make up a game for 20 kids on a spot you are mistaken. If you plan some coloring games make sure you have all printed out in advance. MAKE SPARE COPIES. Some kids will lose or brake theirs and you have to handle the situation. Do not count on making something in the morning the same day – you will need this time for last preparations.
  2. Prepare a detailed agenda. Kids must be occupied at all times. Remember that the attention span of a 5-year-old is quite short so instead of 45 minute activities prepare something for 15 minutes.
  3. Keep food simple and serve “kids” meals. Ask parents in advance about any allergies. Do not give them too much choice – they will not be able to choose.
  4. Arrange a set time for pick up. Ask parents to come for the kids at the same time. Some kids will feel uncomfortable when they see a friend with his parents and his/hers are not there yet.

How much should my baby sleep?

This seems to be one of the most common questions new parents ask. It actually depends od two factors: your baby’s age and their individual needs. Sometimes they sleep less sometimes they sleep more – in both cases parents becomes worried. Sleep is important for your baby but it is highly unlikely that they are not getting enough of it. Irregular naps are nothing uncommon, especially among newborns. They don’t really have a day/night pattern yet and they also don’t do days and nights. You just have to get used to it.

Amount of sleep babies need in their first year

Here is a rough guide of how much sleep does a baby need depending on their age:

  • newborns up to one month – 16-20 hours a day;
  • three month old – 15 hours;
  • six month old – 14 hours;
  • one year old – 13-14 hours;

The distribution of sleep during the day changes dramatically with age. Newborns usually sleep in three hour intervals with breaks for feeding only. This changes after couple of weeks and the sleep periods extends up tp 5 hours. The sleep is nonetheless still very irregular and there is no clear day and night cycle. The pattern of sleeping at night and spending more time in the real world starts to develop around third month. At this age a baby will spend 10 hours sleeping at night and about 5 hours sleeping during the day. The time of night sleep will increase over time and the time of day naps will decrease. When a baby is six month they usually sleep 11 hours at night and 3 during the day. When they reach the age of 12 months they will usually sleep 12 hours during the night and only 2 during the day.

Day/night sleep pattern

moon
Photo by Richard Orr, source Flickr.com, CC-BY-2.0.

Newborns no not have any sleep pattern and they wake up at random, usually when they become hungry. At the age of three months some sleeping patterns become to form. You can promote formation of this patterns and help your baby to sleep better. The easiest way to do it is to put your baby to sleep day by day at the same time. They may not initially cooperate but after some time this will become natural. Babies love routine, they need routine to feel safe. By promoting development of a healthy day/night sleep pattern by your child you are making them develop properly.

Teach your baby how to sleep

This applies to babies 6 month old and older. At this age they should already have developed a day and night sleep pattern and it’s time to learn how to fall asleep by themselves. This may seem natural and instinctive but falling asleep is a process that we all have to learn. It takes some time for the baby to learn how to just fall asleep. You actually can not do much to help but you can do much not to disturb this learning process. When your child wakes up at night and your are immediately holding them in your hand even though everything is OK you are not actually making much good.

How did your baby sleep when they were 1, 3, 6 month old?

Is your baby the Happiest Baby on the Block?

The Happiest Baby on the Block book coverI’ve recently read a book by dr Harvey Karp titled “The Happiest Baby on the Block”. I was drawn to this book when I saw a review that mentioned something about some magical automatic “off-switch” for their baby’s crying. That would be handy wouldn’t it? I really hoped someone has invented some way of soothing babies efficiently. It really sounded tempting to learn about some psychological tricks which can make your life as a mother so much easier. I finished dr Karp’s book few days ago. I have to admit I was impressed. This guy is just brilliant and the tricks really work.

Best tips for making your baby happy

The book starts with rather long introduction followed by chapters describing the psychology of an infant and how his brain works. For less patient readers this part of the book may be too long nonetheless it is very interesting. More practical tricks are well hidden and this is something I didn’t like about this book. I made my own bookmarks and notes but they should be clearly marked, especially for those that want to go back and read something again.

One of the most important pieces of advice that I found in the book is the use of white noise. I was able to apply this straight away and saw amazing results. The idea is to use some electronic device to generate a uniform noise that is similar to the sounds in mothers womb. Alternatively you can use a recording of the white noise. My daughter went to sleep almost instantly.

Another great idea of dr Karp is to sway your baby up and down as opposed to side to side. It take some practice and can be tiring initially but once you get used to it you’ll be fine (maybe except sore muscles in the first few days). This technique also imitates the natural movements of the baby in the womb when you walk. The baby feels secure and easily go to sleep.

The author also suggest combining this methods to multiply the effect. I tried using white noise when swing the baby up and down and also incorporated another trick from the book – rhythmical patting on baby’s back. This is now our only strategy to put her to sleep and it always works.

The magical switch really exist you just have to learn how to use it. I was quite skeptical when I reached for this book but it really provides excellent information and easily applicable tricks. Another thing is that you have to read this book from cover to cover to find all the info. I highly recommend dr Karp’s book to anyone having problems with putting their baby to sleep.

Your thoughts

Have you read “The Happiest Baby on the Block”? What are your thought about the book and which trick were the most useful in your case?

Protect your baby from passive smoking

no smokingI recently read an article about an effect that passive smoking have on children and have to say that I’m worried. The data is just shocking. I didn’t know that if you don’t smoke yourself you can still be affected so badly. What I also learned is that there is no risk-free level of exposure to cigarette smoke. Even faintest amount of smoke cause harm. There is thousands of different chemicals in cigarette smoke and couple of hundred of them are harmful to humans. There are number of studies support the claim that even passive smoking is bad for your health. In babies it can cause serious diseases and even increase the possibility of sudden death.

The most common health problems in children associated with passive smoking are:

  • asthma attacks;
  • infection of respiratory tract;
  • infections of ear;
  • slower development of lungs;
  • sudden infant death syndrome.

in adults there are more studies and second hand smoking have been confirmed to cause:

  • coronary heart diseases;
  • strokes;
  • cancer.

There is an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome in women that were inhaling cigarette smoke during pregnancy even if it was just passive smoking. Additionally it was found that the smoke affects infants brains and cause difficulty breathing.

What can you do to protect your baby?

  1. If you go out with your baby make sure the places you are in are for non smokers only. There are still states where smoking in public is allowed so be aware.
  2. Do not allow anyone to smoke inside a car when your baby is there.
  3. Do not allow anyone to smoke in your home.
  4. If you visit someone let them know about your “non-smoking around my baby” policy.

More information about the impact of passive smoking can be found here:

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/

Get organized before you start breastfeeding

I was afraid, is not scared of breastfeeding. As an owner of quite small breasts I wasn’t sure if I can produce enough milk. I didn’t want to my baby to starve. On the other hand all the benefits of breastfeeding are so tempting that I wanted to give it a try. I was well prepared both with knowledge and equipment. I knew how it should look like and how it may look like. I was prepared for some minor complications and I had a formula milk at hand should something had gone wrong. Among the products I bought in advance were special nursing bras, lactation pump, bottles for milk, formula milk and bra pads. The nursing bras were a bless for me. They seem to be just a fancy toy but believe me when you sleep two hours a day even the smallest help is well appreciated. It was excellent idea to have everything prepared in advance as once the baby is at home you somehow have no time for anything. Some of the stuff I bought were unused (gave it to my sister) but I can’t image what would happened if I forgot something.breastfeeding mom

The first few weeks of breastfeeding went quite smoothly. I was getting just enough milk to feed my daughter. Didn’t pump the milk as there was just not enough. About week five a had a two day period when I just didn’t produce any milk. I quickly switched to formula milk. Fortunately Amelia was old enough to start drinking from the bottle. I used a special slow flow bottle and probably thanks to this there was no problem to get her back to breastfeeding. I was afraid that if she try the bottle once she wouldn’t want to go back to breastfeeding. Probably the slow flow bottle made the trick. They are designed in the way to imitate the flow of milk in a breast.

I have to say that the key element is successful start of breastfeeding your baby is organization. The better organized you are the easier it will go. You have to ready for such eventualities as periodical lack of milk or sore nipples. You have to have a ready solutions for such situations before they appear.

How to cut baby’s nails wihout loosing sanity?

baby nails cuttingI have decided to publicly share my challenges victories and failures in my motherhood endeavors. Maybe some solutions I came up with or found in the web become useful for you. I thought that after reading few books I will be well prepared for any situation. I was so wrong.

Today I realized that it’s a long journey ahead of me and in fact despite having some theoretical knowledge I need to quickly gain some experience. In most books cutting baby’s nails is described as an easy manual task. It obviously wasn’t that easy for me. I waited till the second month as advised in most books and online articles. But these sources say nothing what to do if the baby doesn’t want to cooperate. Amelia is scared of the process of cutting her nails. Obviously at her age any common sense explanations are pointless. I tried to show her that I cut my nails and I’m fine but this doesn’t work either. When she sees scissors she starts crying and that is pretty much the any of any nail cutting.

My solution

The only solution I came up with is to cut them while she’s asleep. Sometimes it wakes her up but it’s the only solution I have at the moment. Maybe when she is older I’ll try introducing some games.