Tag Archives: health

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.

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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/