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Baby Sleep Techniques

Sleep is a natural biological rhythm but sleeping well is a skill that takes time to develop. Sleep habits develop from birth and are a combined result of nature (genes and developmental milestones) and nurture (parental guidance and support).

Infant sleep ‘training’ techniques are used to help babies get to sleep or stay asleep. Working out what technique to choose can be difficult because all sleep ‘training’ techniques can work. However, some only work in specific circumstances and some suit babies and parents more than others.

Consider your baby’s age, temperament, ‘goodness-of-fit’ with your temperament, health, and the environment in which he lives before you choose a suitable technique.

Newborn

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Until 4-months of age your newborn has immature sleep/ wake rhythms, he needs frequent feeds, and has reduced mental capacity, which makes him unable to respond to all techniques.

Types of techniques

Sleep ‘training’ techniques are divided into two groups. The first techniques developed were based on extinction. These include: (a) cry it out, (b) controlled crying, (c) camping out, and (d) the chair method (works best with toddlers older than 16-months). The more recent techniques are cue-based techniques. These include: (a) responsive settling and (b) hands on settling.

All babies and situations are different. Cue-based techniques are gentler than extinction techniques but that’s not to say extinction techniques are wrong. In fact, in some situations with strong-willed infants extinction gets results quicker and is less frustrating for everyone. Conversely, extinction may not work if your baby needs more touch and reassurance to calm and sleep. Some babies self-soothe and re-settle overnight easier than others who need support or sleep-props to enter sleep and resettle overnight.

Different situations different techniques

Controlled-crying/ comforting (intermittent comforting) is not used for babies less than 4-months of age. It emphasises control (not crying), responding to the intensity and distress of cries. This technique needs a plan outlined by your child health professional. It won’t work if done randomly. The technique is tough going so make sure you have support from your partner and significant others. Ensure bub is healthy, there are no distractions in the cot, and all commitments can be put on-hold for 4-days. Work on both day and night sleeps. This technique works quickly when used for the right baby at the right age with the right emotional commitment but can backfire and cause added stress and insecurity, for all concerned, if it’s not the appropriate choice.

Camping-out (sleep alongside bubs cot) is a good technique if you don’t want to leave the room and bub wants you close. You often don’t need to do anything it’s your mere presence that helps your baby feel secure enough to drift off to sleep. As your baby gets older and more confident with sleep (around 16-months) this technique becomes the chair method and you can slowly move out of the room.

Responsive-settling tunes in to infant cries. It takes focused listening and being close to give comfort and support when needed. Sometimes it will be a cuddle and other times a shhh pat in the cot to help your baby drift off to sleep.

Hands-on-settling involves your comforting touch at all times. It could involve stroking the forehead or applying gentle pressure over the chest and legs with or without a rocking action. Both these gentle techniques work well but can be irritating when used for babies that don’t enjoy constant touch or when you are anxious.

It takes time

It takes your baby about 20-minutes of light sleep to fall into deep sleep. Get to know your baby and how you can help him settle and sleep. Give her time to form a habit (4-days to 3-weeks depending on age and circumstance). Consult your child health professional for personalised advice if you and your baby are strugglin to get sleep.

References:

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/controlled_comforting.html https://www.tresillian.org.au/

http://www.karitane.com.au/

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems

http://www.ngala.com.au

http://psychology.org.au/inpsych/2014/April/Blunden/

Baby’s Ear Ache

Earaches are painful and distressing.

When and where ear pain occurs

Ear pain can occur when your baby is teething, flying in a plane, swimming, or after an illness. Pain can come from the outer or middle ear. Most children have had an ear infection before the age of three but infection is not always the cause.

Structure of the ear supports infection

Babies are at risk of ear infection because the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the throat and nose, is short and straight. This shape makes it easier for bacteria from infections in the nose and throat to travel up into the middle ear.

Infection results in swelling of the Eustachian tube. Swelling causes fluid to become trapped in the middle ear creating a wet, dark, warm environment, perfect for growing bacteria and viruses. Trapped thick infected fluid builds up in the middle ear causing the eardrum to bulge. This condition called Acute Otitis Media is discovered when the doctor looks into the ear canal with an instrument called an Otoscope. If the immune system is strong, inflammation and infection will clear and pressure will be relieved before the eardrum perforates.

Ear infections are not directly contagious but can follow viral or bacterial illness. Regular hand washing is the best defence against the spread of germs. Fever is nature’s way of fighting bacteria so don’t be too quick to give medications to reduce fever; let fever do its work first. Giving fluids, rest, cuddles, and pain relief may be all your baby needs to recover. Even when the drum perforates, fluid drains and it heals quickly on its own.

Glue ear and grommets

If thick fluid doesn’t drain and is constantly in the middle ear it is referred to as Glue ear, a condition, which stops the ear functioning as it should[i] and results in hearing loss and subsequent behaviour and language problems.[ii] To avoid this happening, some babies will be prescribed a course of antibiotics to help clear the infection. Your GP may suggest seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist who may recommend an operation to insert an artificial tube (Grommet) through the eardrum. This tiny tube allows air and fluid to flow freely through the ear. Grommets usually remain in place for about six to 12-months if they don’t fall out earlier.

Hearing loss

If your baby suffers more than three or four ear infections a year, a hearing test (by an audiologist) will rule out any hearing loss that can hinder language development.

In-flight sucking

In-flight earaches occur during take-off and landing due to changes in air pressure within the middle ear. Try reducing your baby’s ear pain by getting her to suck on a dummy, breast or bottle when taking-off and landing. The increased swallowing action may help equalise the air pressure in the Eustachian tube. Medications containing pseudoephedrine (decongestants) that dry inner ear secretions appear to have little effect on inflight ear pain.

Learn how to clean ears: Caring for newborn sensitive bits

 

 

References:

[i] http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=303&id=1855#2

[ii] http://www.babycenter.com/0_ear-infections-in-babies_83.bc#articlesection1

[iv] http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/ear_infections.html/context/645

[v] http://healthychild.org/five-natural-remedies-for-ear-infections/

[vi]http://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Ear_infections_and_Otitis_media/

 

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Gagging is not Choking

Staying on mush

Many parents today hold off moving their infants onto textured food, a delay that may cause fussy eating and slowed speech development. Many parents hold back as they fear their babies will choke while others only use processed foods from jars, squeeze packets and tins where the food is always soft for legal reasons.

Learning from the mouth

During the first year of life babies learn many things through feelings in the mouth such as the texture, temperature and taste of foods. Until four to six months of age (after this food can be introduced) babies only swallow liquid. Apart from the temperature and the occasional different taste, nothing much changes but swallowing becomes totally different when food is involved. There are different tastes, textures and temperatures to explore and become familiar with. Some babies are sensitive to these changes while others are not.

Swallowing

Soft, pureed or chewed food passes over the tongue touching the gag reflex at the back of the throat on its way down to the stomach. Suitably prepared food, softened and mushed by you if your baby is too young to do this in her mouth, slides down the oesophagus into the stomach and on into the intestines for further digestion.

This process of swallowing often involves gagging when the food is new and can involve choking if food items are too hard. However, it is important to realise that gagging is not choking.

Choking

Choking occurs when a substance gets lodged in the small oesophageal tube and encroaches into the trachea (airway) lying alongside it.

Food matter can partially obstruct this airway alongside the oesophagus or it can completely obstruct the tube. This will depend on the size and the firmness of the lodged substance. Sitting upright makes it easier for food matter to go down.

Clearly, you never offer your baby foods that could get lodged in this tube. Foods to avoid are hard substances like peanuts, raw carrot, apple, and hard biscuits that don’t soften with saliva.

Gagging

Gagging, on the other hand, is when your baby is getting used to different textures. Once the food starts to descend down the oesophagus your baby may regurgitate it up from the back of their throat but often swallow it again. Again, it is important for babies to be in an upright position to aid this process. Gagging is necessary for babies to understand how to chew and swallow different textures. Giving babies soft foods that are age appropriate will usually not cause choking but may often cause this temporary discomfort of gagging during the chewing and swallowing process.

Always sit with babies as you offer them solid foods. Avoid displaying panic reactions in front of them if they do gag. Instead, smile and be encouraging, knowing that they are capable of regurgitating and re-swallowing. A shock reaction from you can cause babies to panic and suddenly inhale the food they have in their mouth.

Enjoy the experience of eating

Help babies enjoy the experience of eating by providing a non-rushed, non-distracted atmosphere. Sit in front of them face-to-face with an encouraging smile and keep a ‘sippy cup’ of water handy.

 

This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, private child health consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Ten Tips for When the Next Baby Comes Along

By Jan Murray

If you have recently had baby number two and things are getting a little tense between you and your toddler put yourself in their shoes for a moment…

You are the center of attention and all your needs have been met at the time you usually demanded them.

Cuddles when you need them, sitting on a knee to have stories anytime and food as requested, then all of a sudden your mummy goes away for a few days and life just isn’t the same. She brings back a little bundle that cries night and day and demands her instant attention.

Your mummy seems tired and she doesn’t spend time with you like she used to. She gets cranky at things that normally didn’t matter and you have to try really hard to get her to notice you and give you the attention you were used to.

This can be a difficult time for all the family but there are a few things that can be done to help this situation be less stressful. These include:

  • Try to avoid making any changes in your toddler’s life either two months before or two months after a new baby arrives. This could include things like toilet training, changing into a bed, starting day care and moving house.
  • Introduce your toddler to visitors as the big brother or sister not the baby as their little baby. This makes your toddler feel important.
  • Use a toddler feeding bag. This is a small collection of your toddler’s popular food choices (not junk), favourite books that they can look at alone or with you, puzzles that are age appropriate, a new toy from the baby, easy to use drink bottle of water and a short dance or music DVD. Have all these items in an easy to open bag or box that your toddler brings out only at baby’s feed time, then puts it away when feed time is finished.
  • Have your toddler fetch and carry things for you; it makes him feel important and a valuable member of the family team.
  • Don’t push your toddler away from being with you and the baby. Instead, help him to be involved and show him the behaviour that you expect. Just telling your toddler to be gentle and not poke the baby’s eyes will not be enough. Show him how and where is acceptable to touch the baby such as stroking her head or feet.
  • Read books together about families.
  • Give your toddler attention when the baby is up not only when she is asleep.
  • Keep your toddler’s life as routine as it was before the baby was born. If you don’t have a routine, it will be a good time for you to establish one.  Routines eBook has routines for babies and toddlers.
  • Give extra cuddles and make eye contact down at your toddler’s level as much as possible.
  • Understand that your toddler’s world has changed and for a while he may regress for a short time with more night waking, toilet accidents (if previously toilet trained), and food refusal. Hang in there and keep your cool while encouraging acceptable behaviour, it will pass.
  • COVERS_3D_BEINGATODDLER__50844_zoomThis article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

 

Moving your Toddler from a Cot to a Bed

By Jan Murray

You can help your toddler make the transition from a cot to a bed when you are ready and/or your toddler shows signs that he is ready.

You may find this transition easiest to manage after he turns two years old. However, some toddlers are ready earlier than this though.

Below are some signs that indicate that it is time for your toddler to move out of the cot:

  • climbcotClimbs or falls head first out of the cot
  • Thrashes around in the cot and appears unable to get comfortable
  • Asks for a “big bed”
  • When she is toilet trained by day and then starts to call out at night to use the toilet
  • A new baby is on it’s way and the cot will be needed. Make sure this transition happens 2 months before the new arrival.

Suggestions that can help your toddler move out of a cot and into a big bed

  • Make the changes when there are no other big changes happening in his life
  • If another baby is on the way, make the changes at least two months before or after the arrival
  • Your toddler or older child may like to help you chose the sheets
  • Idea One: Take away the cot surrounds and place the cot mattress on the floor in the same spot for a few days or a week before changing into the bed
  • Idea Two: Bring the big bed into the same room as the cot, leaving the cot assembled and start day naps and reading books on the new bed for a week before sleeping in it
  • Have a calm and comforting pre bedtime ritual established well before making the transition
  • Have some of the prebedtime ritual on the big bed such as reading and chatting
  • Tuck your toddler in and ensure he knows you expect him to stay in bed
  • If he gets out of bed, take his hand and walk him back to bed calmly and confidently, with no eye contact or conversation. Continue walking him back in this manner until he stays there. Do this consistently for three weeks before a new habit is established.

This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Reflect on Your Parenting

This will touch you heart, especially if you have been short with your toddlers or preschoolers today.

‘I ran into a stranger as he passed by,vegemite
“Oh excuse me please” was my reply.

He said, “Please excuse me too;
I wasn’t watching for you.”

We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way and we said goodbye.

But at home a different story is told,
How we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day, cooking the evening meal,
My son stood beside me very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
“Move out of the way,” I said with a frown.

He walked away, his little heart broken.
I didn’t realize how harshly I’d spoken.

While I lay awake in bed,
God’s still small voice came to me and said,

“While dealing with a stranger,
common courtesy you use,
but the family you love, you seem to abuse.

Go and look on the kitchen floor,
You’ll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.

He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise,
you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.”

By this time, I felt very small,
And now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by his bed;
“Wake up, little one, wake up,” I said.

“Are these the flowers you picked for me?”
He smiled, “I found ‘em, out by the tree.

I picked ‘em because they’re pretty like you.
I knew you’d like ‘em, especially the blue.”

I said, “Son, I’m very sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn’t have yelled at you that way.”
He said, “Oh, Mom, that’s okay.
I love you anyway.”

I said, “Son, I love you too,
and I do like the flowers, especially the blue.”

Do you need some help to live on ‘Planet Toddler’?

This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Do you Know First Aid?

Jan Murray

I can recall in ONE DAY I had to administer first aid to three boys at my home – they were friends over playing with my children.

Two boys (one of them mine) stepped on a rusty nail that was lying face up in a piece of
wooden paling in the back yard (should have been cleared away but wasn’t) and one split his head when he fell off the bike and hit his head on the side of the rock wall. He had a helmet on but it doesn’t protect the forehead from a jutting out stone!

Most parents will face the responsibility of administering first aid
at some point to their own or to children who are visiting.

Gaining a first aid certificate or first aid skills will give you the calmness and confidence
you need to act quickly.

First aid prevents an injury or situation becoming worse.

It is reassuring for you to know how to act quickly in situations such as:
– Choking (partially or completely)
– Bites by a spider, bee, snake, tick or wasp
– Febrile convulsion
– Near drowning incident (more common than you would like to know and mostly in backyard pools)
– Falls and breaks a limb
– Burns with steam, flame, sun or chemicals (ingested or superficially to the skin).

First Aid courses available around Australia

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Words of Encouragement Help Children Grow with Self-Confidence

By Jan Murray

Your children need your words and actions of encouragement.

From a very young age children want and need to feel worthwhile and valued. Children need to be accepted and encouraged while they grow and discover their own direction in life. Therefore, raise your children to see that they are a worthwhile participant in life and that they can achieve?

You can do this by offering your child words of encouragement and show them actions of acceptance, rather than giving constant correction and criticism.

From birth, a baby can sense when an adult accepts them:

  • Through a calming voice and regular eye contact a baby’s soul is nurtured.
  • With a gentle cuddle and an affirming hug a baby’s heart is soothed.

You can reach the heart and soul of your child by giving positive acknowledgement when they do something right. Ensure they feel encouraged when you are in their presence as their heart is not won through criticism but acceptance and believing in who they are.

Praise a child’s behaviour rather than always picking up on the things that they do wrong. When anyone is encouraged rather than corrected it makes them try harder the next time.

Here are some phrases you might like to use when you praise your child’s behaviour. If you include their name (………) in the sentence it will make an even greater positive impact.

“That’s it; you’ve got it ……”

“You’re doing a good job getting the pegs out of the basket ………..”

“You’re learning fast………”

“Way to go, high five…….!”

“Keep on trying …….., you will get there”

“…….., now that’s what I call a fine job of packing away the blocks”

“Wow, good remembering to shut the door………”

“You make painting look easy………….”

“Now you’ve figured it out; great page turning ……….”

“……..you’re getting better with cleaning your teeth everyday”

Talk to your child about how to manage their feelings. Explain to them that it is ok to feel a certain way and then help them do something that will make them feel better. (For example: Feeling SAD: “it’s ok to feel sad, Sam. When I feel sad I look at a colourful book and that makes me feel happy. Come on, let’s find one and look at it together”)

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Food Effects Baby and Toddler Sleep

By Jan Murray

Food can have a significant calming effect on a body or an energizing effect. When you have children who do not sleep well, it is useful to understand what type of food fuels energy and what food fuels the release of sleep inducing hormones serotonin and melatonin.

The effect foods have on the body begins to occur about 30 minutes after they are eaten therefore it is beneficial to give a young child an appropriate snack or drink 30 minutes before you expect them to be asleep. This does not mean holding off their dinner but rather giving them a little something extra as well.

Red meat, sausages, ham, simple carbohydrates such as white rice, potatoes and white bread, butter and sugary foods (including fruit) are best given earlier in the day to avoid the increased energy effect. Brown rice and wholegrain bread are even better choices for helping a child sustain their energy levels.

Foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan are suitable for a child’s evening meal and pre bedtime snack because they promote sleep and control hunger. Here is a list of some dinner or evening snack suggestions for your child.

  1. Wholegrain cereal with warm milk
  2. Natural yoghurt and sliced apple
  3. Wholegrain rice cake spread with avocado
  4. Melted hard cheese on wholegrain toast
  5. Cashew or peanut butter spread on a dry wholegrain and oat wheat-bix
  6. Cottage cheese and tuna with avocado
  7. Eggs and wholegrain toast fingers
  8. Rice pudding made with brown rice

These foods not only encourage calmness and sleep but they are easily digested allowing the body to be resting rather than digesting a heavier meal overnight.

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.

Separation Anxiety

By Jan Murray

If you’re like most parents, you will have experienced a time when your baby was a ‘Velcro baby’. She’d hold on tight and wouldn’t let go when you tried to put her down or if you took one step away she’d cry and reach out for you in a desperate attempt to go with you. Even going to the bathroom or having a shower proved difficult to do without your baby dissolving into a flood of distressed tears. Sound familiar? You probably also found that these acts of insecurity were heightened when she was unwell, teething, tired or hungry.

But don’t panic—it’s all a normal developmental stage that occurs around seven to nine months of age, usually at a time when most babies start to crawl. Your baby is developing what is known as ‘object permanence’, where just because something is out of sight and out of hearing doesn’t mean it no longer exists. The new skill of crawling takes her away from her place of security, which is her primary carer (usually mum). The passion to explore, plus her leap in brain development, makes her feel unsure whether she can get back to you or that you will come back to her when you leave. How you handle this period of separation anxiety will have a strong influence on how well your baby learns to separate.

To help your baby adjust, don’t always rescue her and pick her up and take her with you. Instead, help her feel comfortable with separating. Come back to her and play for a few more minutes before going again. As you leave the room, let her see that you feel confident saying goodbye. Talk to her in an upbeat tone as you leave, assuring her that she’s ok and that you’ll be coming back to her. This is the same when leaving her at day care or grandmas. Give her time to feel comfortable in the company of a new carer before you leave. It will help her to separate with a minimum of distress. Avoid sneaking away, always say goodbye otherwise an unexpected disappearance can leave your baby wondering when and if you will return, which builds mistrust and feelings of insecurity.

Temperament has a major impact on how she copes with this stage of her development. You may have already noticed one of the three temperaments[i] (easy, difficult, and slow-to-warm) in babies that you know, and recognised the different ways they handle change.

The harmony of the home environment and whether dad works away for extended periods, also impacts on her ability to separate

‘Object permanence’ isn’t completely established until two years old, which means your toddler may go through this stage of separation anxiety again at around 15 to 18 months old. At this age your toddler’s inquisitive nature and spirit reaches a new level that often causes the clingy behaviour and distress of separating from significant carers to reoccur. This is because her brain development has taken another leap and her understanding of the world has changed. At this age your toddler has an amazing grasp of language and can understand what you say, even if she can’t say it back yet. For this reason, talk to her, tell her what is happening, where you are going, and when you will be back. Wave goodbye and eventually she’ll associate going away with coming back.[ii]

Keep her life stable and help her through this period of insecurity and uncertainly. Have a regular routine, feed her healthy food and encourage good day and night sleep patterns. Stay calm yourself knowing this time will pass. The more secure and relaxed you feel the better she will feel in the situation.

Bub can also experience separation anxiety at bedtime, as this is a period of long separation. Avoid cry-it-out strategies to encourage sleep during these times as this will only cause more distress. My ‘Putting them to Sleep[iii] eBook has alternative bedtime strategies for you to try. Again, temperament and the family environment are factors that interfere with her ability to manage separating, leaving her to cling for longer.

While separation anxiety can prove difficult for you and your child, try to accept that it’s a normal stage of brain maturity and infant development, and remain patient, encouraging and reassuring. Be sensitive to individual temperament and needs. Try not to push her away too soon or hold on too tight for too long, as this can hinder the developmental process of independence and self-assurance. Avoid comparing your baby with others of the same age as every child and every environment is different and as always seek professional help if you feel that separation is an ongoing problem.

References:

[i] Peterson, 2004 referred to in (Burton, 2011, Psychology)

[ii] http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=141&id=1848

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. Jan publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children.