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Effects of Watching TV on Babies and Children?

by Jan

Television is my pet hate – just ask my kids”. I have been a television Nazi since day one because it is a serious issue in a child’s development. In my opinion when it comes to television, turn it off, pretend it is broken, whatever; just be in control of it while you can and while your children are forming behaviour habits. It is not just my opinion there is much research around in all areas of development to justify my hate.

Brain research suggests that watching television under two years old is pushing your child into tasks the brain is not developmentally ready to take on. (John Medina – developmental biologist) Television is an all-pervasive and highly influential element in the lives of most Australian babies and children today. Children of different ages watch and understand television in different ways, depending on the length of their attention span, the ways in which they process information, the amount of mental effort they invest, their own life experiences and parental input.

There are a variety of studies that show television viewing before the age of three may have adverse effects on subsequent cognitive development and neural programming for the future. In fact, 90% of the brain’s neural pathways are laid down by three years old. After this, they are added to and built on.

Babies discover the ways of their mother from listening and intuitively picking up on her specific movements and sounds. Having the constant background noise and flashes of the television may inhibit this vital connection.

Learn more about your toddler

Under two years old television is a negative influence in a variety of ways. This is seen regularly in babies and toddlers with eating and sleeping issues. Some situations that occur with regular television watching include:

  • the inability to settle and sleep
  • a low energy output
  • their lack of muscle strength
  • the flattened head shape of a baby who is propped regularly in front of the television
  • their lack of enjoyment and involvement in the developing process of eating
  • the reduced eye contact and interaction that parents have with their babies

Encourage no television watching for children under two years old; instead focus on interacting with them and helping them to discover life skills that stay with them into the future.

Preschoolers (three to five year olds), actively search for meaning in television content but are also attracted to vivid production features, such as rapid character movement, rapid changes of scenery and intense or unexpected sights and sounds. With this preference for cartoons, preschoolers are being exposed to a large number of violent acts in their viewing day leading to the increased risk of violent behaviour and poor sleeping patterns. Aim to limit preschool television to no more than one hour of non violent or educational shows per day.

Up until seven years old children are active participants, initiators and experimenters of what life has to offer. In other words, they learn through play. The cognitive growth and formulation of answers to their many questions occur as they interact using all their senses (sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell) with the world around them. Babies and children need to be given opportunities to participate, initiate and experiment with a variety of materials to enhance this growth. If they are watching television be mindful of what is shown on the screen as children do not understand the difference between fact and fantasy until they are seven years old. Logical reasoning does not develop until later. Three to seven year olds think in images and pictures therefore characters may come alive in their vivid imagination during the quiet of the night. Turning the television off two hours prior to bed and encouraging happy and relaxing books and play as a family, can help reduce the incidence of nightmares and night terrors.

There is increasing evidence to support television viewing is associated with obesity (effecting one in four children) in the areas of:

  • snacking on poor nutritive foods
  • decreased awareness of the amount of food consumed
  • demands of poor food choices from advertising
  • lack of physical activity
  • unmotivated energies

It is also associated with anger, nightmares and increasing brain wave activity, making it difficult for babies and children to settle and sleep well. Poor sleep then produces overtiredness and further behaviour challenges.

Suggested television viewing for optimum growth and development of babies and children:

  • no television viewing under two years old (even in the background)
  • half an hour of television viewing for toddlers (12 months to three years)
  • limit viewing to a maximum of an hour a day for preschoolers (three to five years)
  • no snacking while watching television
  • no watching television while eating meals
  • discuss the shows that are watched and suggest role play ideas and activities

This article may seem tough but your child’s future depends on it.

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.

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

  • climbcotClimbs or falls 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 pre-bedtime ritual on the big bed such as reading and chatting
  • Tuck your toddler in bed firmly 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. More information here Putting Them to Sleep

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. 

Plagiocephalie Or Flat Head Area in a Baby

Plagiocephalie or flattened head area can develop in babies after birth. This occurs from  applying constant pressure on one part of their head.

The first 6 – 8 weeks of babies life is the most important time to avoid a flattened head area (Plagiocephalie) developing. This is because the bones in a newborn’s head are thin and flexible and the head is soft and easy to mould.

Four reasons why flat areas may occur in a baby’s head:

1. Lying in one position for long periods of time.

2. By always turning the head to the same side when lying on their back (favouring looking out a window to the light).

3. Always sitting in a propped up position. May occur in babies who suffer from reflux pain.

4. Birth trauma resulting in neck pain – leaving a baby to favour a pain free position.

Discover eight important steps to facilitate a baby developing muscle balance and therefore decreasing the risk of developing a flattened head area.

1. Alternate the head position when putting them down to sleep.

2. Alternate laying baby at different ends of the cot when putting him to bed.

3. A period of tummy time during every play time.

4. Change the position of the toys when babies are on the floor so they move their head to different angles.

5. Vary holding and carrying positions.

6. Changing the side that a baby carry sling is worn on.

7. When picking babies up, approach them from different sides of the body.

8. Visit a baby accredited chiropractor or physiotherapist to assess baby’s head alignment, especially after a long or difficult birth, forceps assisted birth or birth by caesarean section. Babies who do not feed well from a particular side, hate tummy time or suffer from considerable wind, may have an alignment issue requiring attention.

Seek professional help EARLY if you see baby’s head becoming flattened in areas or the head constantly tilts to one side or he favours facing a certain direction.

A physiotherapist may advise a cranial helmet be worn for a period of time if a baby’s head remains flat beyond five to six months.

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Jan Murray has been committed to studying and working as a Registered Nurse, Midwife and Child Health Nurse for over 25 years. Jan is a mother of 5, Child Health Consultant who co-founded and directs Settle Petal. Jan provides information and support for parents to develop their knowledge base and confidence. Receive your FREE Routine at http://myoptinpage.com/?pid=2151223 to unlock a secret to helping babies settle, sleep and grow.

Nappy Rash

napkin-thrush-s

By Jan Murray

Leaving a nappy on your baby for long periods of time is a common cause of nappy rash but not the only cause. Some babies get nappy rash no matter how well they are cared for, while others do not get nappy rash at all. Your baby may get nappy rash when he has a cold, when he is teething or when he is suffering from an illnesses or food intolerance. Signs of nappy rash include:

  • Inflamed skin: the skin around the genital area and anus looks red and moist
  • Blistering: the skin may blister and peel, leaving raw patches that can develop into ulcers
  • Spreading: the rash can spread onto the tummy and further onto the buttocks
  • Ulcers: small ulcers can sometimes form on healthy skin near the area of the rash.

A secondary bacterial or fungal infection is commonly the cause of nappy rash that spreads or fails to heal by airing, bathing and applying barrier creams or ointments. The damaged skin is often uncomfortable, itchy or sore. When your baby has nappy rash he may have unsettled sleep due to pain and irritation.

Some causes of nappy rash include:

  • Chemicals in urine become ammonia and burn the skin when in direct contact for too long
  • Thrush (Candida) – grows in a warm, moist environment. This type of nappy rash spreads in red patches and does not go away with barrier creams
  • Chemicals in nappy soaking solutions, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, cleansing wipes, scented soaps and lotions and certain brands of disposable nappies can irritate baby’s skin
  • Anti-fungal medicated creams applied too thick can burn
  • Plastic pants keep your baby’s clothes clean and dry, but most prevent airflow. Clothes do not get wet and your baby is often left in a wet or dirty nappy for long periods. The skin remains wet and urine changes into ammonia that burns. The area becomes warm leaving it susceptible to thrush
  • Rough nappies, sand or dirt can rub and chafe baby’s sensitive skin
  • Bowel movements are more acidic when your baby is teething – burning delicate skin
  • Certain foods eaten or ingested through breast milk can burn such as hot curry
  • When your baby has frequent diarrhoea
  • If your baby has little nappy-free time and lots of soiled nappies
  • If your baby has started solids and is not tolerating certain foods – commonly dairy or wheat.

For more information Mum, Baby & Toddler – together we learn

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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

Ever had a ‘Velcro baby’ where she’d hold tight and not let you go? You’d step away and 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 without your baby dissolving into a flood of distressed tears. You probably found that these acts of insecurity were heightened when she was unwell, teething, tired or hungry.

It’s normal behaviour at certain ages

But don’t panic—it’s a normal stage of developmental that occurs around seven to nine months of age. It’s a time when most babies start to crawl.

Handling a new stage of development

Your baby is developing ‘object permanence’ where just because something is out of sight and out of hearing doesn’t mean it no longer exists. Coupled with the new skill of crawling she takes herself away from her place of security, 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 mum or that mum will come back to her. How you handle this period of separation anxiety will have a strong influence on how well your baby learns to separate.

Help baby adjust

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.

Baby’s temperament

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.

Home environment

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

Separation anxiety returns

‘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.

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. ‘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.

Push away or hold on tight

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.

Baby Sleep Techniques

By Jan Murray

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 some 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 milk 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 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, environments and situations are different. Cue-based techniques are more gentle 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.

Different situations different techniques

Controlled-crying/ comforting (intermittent comforting) is not used for babies less than 6-months of age and needs a plan outlined by your child health professional. It won’t work if it is done randomly. The technique is tough going so make sure you have support around you. Ensure bub is healthy, there are no distractions in the cot, and all outside commitments are 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 struggling 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

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

Is it Really Teething?

By Jan Murray

By the time your baby turns two years old she’ll have a mouthful of beautiful pearly white teeth. For some infants these eruptions arrive with considerable discomfort while for others they appear without any give-away signs or symptoms at all. There is no way of telling who will suffer specific symptoms and who won’t. However, there seems to be a genetic link of ear infections with teething, largely due to the shape and slope of the Eustachian tube.

Most baby teeth break through at around 6 to 10months of age. However, it is not unusual to see first teeth appear as early as 4months of age. Very occasionally, babies are born with a tooth but these are generally loosely embedded and need removing.

While it is obvious that teeth appear at different ages, there is inconsistency between health professionals as to what signs and symptoms are directly associated with teething and what comforting remedies are safe and useful to use. Over the years of working with many babies and first-hand experience of raising five of my own children, I have definitely seen teething related signs and symptoms but whether these have been due to other causes has not always been clear.

For this reason, each episode of suspected teething symptoms should be given individual attention with the diagnoses of ‘teething’ as only one of many possibilities.

tooth

It is very common to hear parents use excessive gnawing and drooling as a sign that their baby is teething. However, this increased drooling and oral exploration naturally occurs as part of infant development around 4months of age and lasts until about 9 to 10months of age; the period in which teeth tend to erupt.

Increased saliva (drool) is produced to aid digestion but babies’ mechanical process of swallowing is not sufficiently developed resulting in the overflow of excess drool. Babies’ increased oral motor ability improves by 9months and drooling is consequently reduced. But whether drool is part of teething or not, saliva does have properties that cool and lubricate the gums bringing comfort for many babies who are teething. Moisturising the face with suitable non-fragrant creams can prevent cheek, chin and neck rashes developing from exposure to excess saliva. Gnawing and biting down on anything gives counter-pressure and pain relief to erupting teeth so make sure you provide cold washers and hard toys to bite on.

Large amounts of saliva contain increased amounts of enzymes necessary for digestion, which may upset your baby’s digestive system. This can cause her bowel actions to be loose and offensive, and she’ll often refuse to eat. Her poo can be quite acidic making her bottom sore and red, which can turn fungal if not given regular nappy free time and her skin not protected with a natural barrier cream.

With a disrupted digestive system, ear aches and painful gums just before teeth erupt, your baby can feel miserable, irritable, and insecure making her clingy. Giving her extra cuddles during this time can go a long way in providing the comfort and reassurance she needs. Cuddle comforts should come before using any of the increasing varieties of natural and pharmaceutical remedies on the market for teething relief. However, if you do choose to use teething remedies, use only with professional instruction and avoid using any on a long term basis.

Your baby’s unsettled days often lead to unsettled nights but rarely is teething the cause of poor sleep if your baby is happy and content during the day. Teething pain is generally not causing night waking but it can prevent him from going back to sleep after waking for other reasons. Hunger or the reliance on props such as dummies, feeding, and rocking to settle to sleep are common reasons for night waking from 6months.

A clear nasal discharge is another common symptom often associated with cutting teeth. Nevertheless, it is also important to consider other possible childhood illnesses because from 6months of age the maternal antibodies provided from birth have reduced in your baby’s system, lowering her immune levels, leaving her more susceptible to illness in general.

When teething, gums can be inflamed and swollen or bluish from an underlying haematoma. Hence, a low grade fever is not uncommon with teething as fever is the body’s reaction to all inflammation. Fever lasts about 24 hours and occurs just as teeth push through the gum. A higher fever (above 40°C) or a lower fever lasting for longer than three days requires further professional assessment. Suspected teething or not, always be alert to any deterioration in behaviour, low urine output and lethargy, and seek medical assistance immediately.

Teething often gets the blame for disruptive behaviours but don’t use teething as an excuse and forget to consider other causes for night waking, fever, digestive issues, biting, and irritable behaviour. Seek advice from your child health professional if any ‘teething symptoms’ persist for weeks with no teeth to show for the abnormal symptoms and irritable behaviour.

References:

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/3/471.full.pdf+html

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/105/4/747

http://smartpediatricadvice.com/teething

http://www.moderndentistrymedia.com/sept_oct2010/tsang.pdf

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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.

Infant Misshapen Head

By Jan Murray

1309742948plagio

No doubt you have noticed uneven head shapes on babies. But while their head shape is largely genetic, how you position your baby when she is sleeping, resting or laying around during the early weeks and months can have an effect. This is because infant heads have several bones with pliable connections that expand as the brain grows. Couple this mouldable softness with the fact that she spends a lot of time laying on her back and it leaves her at risk of developing plagiocephalie.

Flat spots can occur in various parts of the head depending on the area baby tends to favour, which is why you may hear it called ‘positional’ plagiocephalie. A flat head shape will not interfere with brain growth but if severe enough and left untreated it may result in uneven skull growth and other associated problems such as orthodontic and visual issues later in life.

To reduce long term effects of misshapen heads it is a good idea to have your baby checked regularly by a child health professional, particularly during the first three months when heads are easily flattened from external pressure but are also easily managed back into the correct shape. Early corrective and preventative measures are best, as between 6 and 12 months of age treatment is much more difficult and after 12 months the opportunity for correction is minimal.

Your little one can sometimes find moving their head into certain positions difficult. This may be due to pain or discomfort as a result of a forceps assisted birth or from torticollis—a congenital shortening and tightening of muscles on one side of the neck. Both these conditions will improve with time but during the healing process bub risks a flat area developing on the head. In either of these conditions your baby may also be unsettled with neck pain when she stretches out her neck during tummy time or when she positions herself to feed from a particular breast.

Occasionally, an asymmetrical head shape is caused by the early closure of cranial sutures, the area that allows the skull to expand. This is an uncommon condition known as craniosynostosis, which requires corrective surgery and is picked up at regular child health checks.

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Being aware of how flat areas form is important for knowing how to prevent or correct a flat head. For example, your baby may adopt the same position every time she is put down because her eyes are drawn to a stream of light coming through a crack in the door or through the curtains. She will also stretch her head in the direction where she can see you, the television or other siblings playing. If your baby is always placed in the same side of a side-by-side stroller or fed from the same side when feeding from a bottle this may also lead to the formation of a flattened area. Even constantly having her propped up in a rocker or bouncer in an attempt to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux can result in the skull becoming flattened at the back.

Once an area on the head begins to flatten it becomes a comfortable spot to naturally rest her head but there are some things that you can do to help prevent this happening.

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Start soon after birth by placing your baby at alternative ends of the cot or bassinette to sleep, while still placing her feet close to the end. Make supervised tummy time a regular part of each wake period during the day. Increase the length of time on her tummy as she and gets older and gains neck strength. Side lying is also good while bub is awake and being watched. Don’t always cradle her the same way. Instead, while safe in your arms, let her see the world from different angles (using a sling can be helpful here too). Be conscious of her feeding positions. If you are feeding from only one breast, a mix of under-arm feeds (also known as football hold) and across-your-lap feeds is a good idea. If you are bottle feeding change the arm you feed from each feed.

Some additional devices or a rolled cloth can be helpful in some situations to restrict her head turning to the flat spot. In severe cases of flat head syndrome in an older baby (usually 5 – 8 months old), a customised corrective helmet may be required. This is a decision made by your child health professional. But rest assured, even if a helmet is necessary it is only temporary. Your baby may not like it at first but as a teenager with a beautiful head shape and no orthodontic issues—she will thank you.

plagiohelmet

References:

Deformational_Plagiocephaly.pdf

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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.

Teething

By Jan Murray

Teething gets the blame for many things but is it really justified? Here are a few things to think about when it comes to teething.

When babies feed well, sleep well and happily play without any problems during the day, teething is unlikely to be the cause for a disturbed night sleep.

If babies or toddlers are in a habit of waking at night, teething discomfort can make it harder for them to settle back to sleep but is generally not the cause of the waking.

Babies go through a developmental change around three to four months old. They begin to drool, put their fingers in their mouth or even try to shove their whole fist in. While drooling moistens the mouth ready for teething it is not necessarily a sign that teeth are imminent. Babies that dribble copious amounts of saliva often cut teeth with ease and with less associated pain.

When to expect teeth

It is not uncommon for baby teeth to start showing at four months old but more often they poke through around seven to nine months old. Occasionally teeth don’t appear until after twelve months old and although rare, some bubs are born with a tooth.

In some babies, the first sign of a tooth is when they bite down on a finger when playing or a nipple while feeding. Other babies suffer ear infections and are miserable for a few days before a tooth erupts.

Baby teeth usually erupt in pairs – one appearing a few days after the other.

teeth-chart

This chart shows a sequence that baby teeth are expected to appear, but it is not uncommon for teeth to show up in a different order. The first teeth predicted to appear are the two lower central incisors (cutting teeth) followed by the two upper central incisors. Next are the four incisors either side. If bub has followed this sequence they will be proudly showing off eight pearly white pegs by twelve months old. The four back molars (chewing teeth) are next to appear and may cause a little more pain and discomfort coming through than earlier teeth. The four canines (pointy teeth) are next, followed by the other four back molars, often referred to as two year old molars. That makes a mouthful of twenty teeth by the time they are around two years old.

Baby teeth are eventually pushed out by adult teeth growing up. It’s possible for second teeth to come through decayed if baby teeth are not looked after.

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Picture from www.healthtap.com

Signs and symptoms

The following signs and symptoms suggest that teeth are on the way. Babies are a little more grizzly and clingy and may have a clear nasal discharge and dark pink puffy gums. Some babies experience ear infections while others have a slight fever just as teeth erupt. Drooling, as mentioned earlier, is associated with a developmental phase that is happening while bub is teething. Dry red cheeks may be present but not necessarily a symptom of teething.  Smelly, poo and an angry red nappy rash may be present. Babies and toddlers may be off solid food but there is no need to worry as the enjoyment of eating will return. Babies and toddlers may experience all, some or none of these signs and symptoms of teething.

Give comfort

When babies are teething you can help them feel more comfortable by giving them cold drinks and foods – use a feeding net if they are too young to handle solid food. Reduce the risk of biting you and their play mates by giving them something to chomp on like a large cold chicken bone, lamb bone, a cold solid teething ring, wooden toy or a slightly dampened washer that has been cooled in the freezer. There are natural remedies such as amber necklaces, topical gels, oils, powders and mixtures that work systemically to reduce fever, pain and induce calm. Make sure you get professional instruction for how and where to use these products. If your littlie is having a particularly bad day and won’t be comforted by these suggested measures, administer an anti- inflammatory or analgesic medication recommended by your local pharmacist.

Provide babies and toddlers with a healthy diet and a balanced and settled day. This will help reduce the poor behaviour that teething often gets the blame for.

All children are different when it comes to what helps when teething so keep positive while you try to find a remedy that works best for your child.

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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. 

Ten Tips for When the Next Baby Comes Along

By Jan Murray

After baby number two arrives things may get a little tense between you and your toddler. Put yourself in your toddler’s shoes for a moment…

You’re the center of attention and all your needs are met the moment you demand 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 may cry 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’s a few things you can try to help make life a little less stressful:

  • 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 from a cot 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.
  • Ensure child safe areas for your toddler to roam in when you are breastfeeding.
  • 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 at your toddler’s eye level.
  • 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.
  • 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.