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Infant Misshapen Head

By Jan Murray

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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.

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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.

Spring is in the Air

By Guest blogger Kylie Lannan

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Spring has arrived and with it comes some terrific opportunities for your child’s development as well as expanding their experience of the outdoors.

It is my favorite time of year here in Brisbane. It is a great time to get out and about; exploring parks, beaches and many places in between. However, often with this outdoor fun come some hazards that we as parents must be diligent about. In particular we must be constantly alert near water around the home and in public places. Babies and young children are inquisitive by nature and this can put them in danger or result in a tragic accident.

On the flip side I feel that this need for alert puts fear in parents, which at times drives us to be overprotective of our children. How expectations on parents have changed when comparing to the way my parents allowed me to play and explore as a young child. I remember playing with friends down at the local creek, going to visit the horses in a local orchard and playing hide and seek around the neighborhood. Very different to suburban living in 2014 where there are so many more dangers both real and perceived. It is such a balancing act for parents today to find that middle ground which allows their children to explore and keep them safe at the same time.

Spring also means children’s tender skin is exposed to the harsh Australian sun. On one hand we need sunlight for good health however sunburn is painful and harmful to children’s delicate skin. Research has linked childhood sun exposure to developing skin cancer later in life so precautions must be taken to minimize skin exposure. A safe environment requires that parents be diligent and to follow the Cancer Council of Australia’s message of “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide.” Hat, sunscreen, shirt, shade and slide on sunglasses are the actions we need to take to protect our skin from the harsh sun.

An enormous amount of development both physical and emotional occurs when children can “run free” outside. By allowing children to play independently allows them to take safe risks. Children need to be allowed and in fact encouraged to take educated or safe risks such as climbing a tree. It is important for their development and confidence however it does go against a parent’s instinct to protect their child. As long as children are taking these risks in a safe environment they will feel well supported if it doesn’t work out. It will help them get back up and have another go but of course it usually means there will be some scrapes along the way. By always helping and protecting our children we are inhibiting their ability to gaining resilience. This is what helps all of us get up and have another go when things don’t work out the first time. This is a vital life skill that we all need.

The outdoors can be an overwhelming place for some children and they may need the help of parents to navigate their way. However try not to “do” for them just guide them; let them climb trees, jump from rocks or dig in the dirt. It is all part of their learning and developing. Have fun with them and enjoy being outdoors this spring.

Happy Parenting

Kylie (Settle Petal consultant – Brisbane)

This article was endorsed 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. 

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Play Ideas in the First 12 Months

By Jan Murray

Play helps children learn and develop. During the early years infants use all their senses to explore the environment. They intently look, smell, taste, hear and feel everything they can in order to make sense of their world. Children’s’ genetic makeup combined with opportunities to explore, shapes who they become.

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Physical development begins at the head and works downwards. Infants first gain strength and control of their head and neck, followed by the hands and arms. Then the spine and trunk strengthen in order to assist them to sit and swivel. Next, the legs strengthen, which helps them crawl, stand and eventually walk. Exposing infants to games and toys that match their physical abilities and mental alertness encourages mastery of one area in readiness for the next.

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An infant’s first year can be divided into five developmental stages:

  1. For the first six weeks there is no need for toys. Infants are more concerned with who is caring for them. Newborns delight in familiar voices and heartbeats so cuddle up close, read and sing to them. Newborns are comforted by touch and rhythmical movements so carry, sway, rock, give tummy time on your chest, across your lap or on a soft mat on the floor. Newborn vision is limited to about 20cm so get close to get their attention.
  2. From six weeks to four months you’ll notice infants looking at you intently. They often have a puzzled frown as they closely observe objects and faces. Black and white patterns and hanging mobiles hold their attention and they grip thin toys when placed in their grasp but won’t have very good control so may drop objects or hit them self in the head. Their refection in the mirror is fascinating. Tummy time continues to be important but is not always enjoyed so use various distractions and persevere.
  3. From four to six months most infants are not mobile although many have mastered rolling over. They reach out for and hold toys with better coordination and enjoy feeling textured fabrics and surfaces with their hands and feet. Many infants are nearly sitting but avoid leaving them in ‘sitting aids’ for too long as their spine and hips are not developed enough for this until they can sit naturally. Mimicking sounds and ‘talking’ to your baby is a game they love and so is exploring the taste of different foods.
  4. From six to nine months infants are rolling over and have mastered sitting up. Seeing the world from this angle provides more ‘play’ opportunities. Stacking blocks and cups make colourful fun. Sit them in the highchair while you cook and hand them safe kitchen implements and foods to explore. Sit them on a rug, in a washing basket or in a stroller while you hang the washing on the line. Hand them some wet washing and coloured pegs to examine. Infants begin to understand ‘object permanence’, where just because they can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. For this reason, introduce games like ‘peek–a–boo’ and hiding objects under something nearby and encouraging them to look for it.
  5. From nine to twelve months life starts to get even more interesting. Most infants are now on the move, crawling, cruising around furniture or walking. Introduce toys they can stand at. Tables with nobs to push twist and pop are entertaining. Discovering finger food is a great game but be prepared for mess before manners. Hazards are a big problem at this stage because they are very quick and very inquisitive. If you have older children, be aware of very small bits on their toys. If they are walking they love pushing things around. Pulling and throwing objects are also popular.

To be able to coordinate and learn well infants need adequate sleep.

Play is exciting and it’s how children learn about their world. Help them get involved and provide consistent boundaries to show them how far they can go. Keep them safe and stimulated to foster their inquisitive spirit and enjoy their limitless enthusiasm.

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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. 

Managing Twins in the Early Months

By Jan Murray

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Finding out you are having more than one baby at the same time creates all sorts of emotions, questions and physical changes for both you and your partner. But take heart, many parents have enjoyed the journey and have thrived amidst the chaos.

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Once you are all home from hospital, there is no one way to do things when parenting multiples. Every baby, every parent and every family environment is individual and you do what is best for your family at the time. However, there are some basic tips and techniques that can help with the unique challenges you face. For example, if your babies are different weights or one has a health concern and the other doesn’t, you would usually need to feed them at different times or in different ways for a while. If your babies have different temperaments that require different settling techniques, you will learn what technique works best. Managing these issues in the early days is easier with an extra pair of hands but if you don’t have anyone to help, make it easy for yourself by using gadgets such as swings, a light stroller for moving the babies around in the house, dummies and rockers. Carry slings are a wonderful investment, even with twins. Wear an unsettled twin or when two adults are available, use two slings and go for a walk.

Low birth-weight babies (as multiples often are) may have difficulty regulating their temperature and have minimal subcutaneous fat layers to keep them warm. Therefore, ensure rooms are warm (around 24°C) and that you have plenty of suits and bedding made of natural fibres. Synthetic materials trap in heat and can cause overheating.

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Buy plenty of nappies! Your babies will need nappy changes every two to five hours. You could be looking at a hundred to a hundred and twenty nappies per week or 5,000-6,000 per year. In fact, why not put in a request for packs of nappies or reusable nappy pants and liners (in a variety of sizes) for your baby shower?

Large swaddling wraps of 100 per cent cotton are an excellent tool for establishing good sleeping patterns during the early months. Your babies will generally be happy sleeping together in the same cot or ‘co-sleeper attachment’ until around four months old but you can have them in separate bassinettes from day one if you choose. Have them sleep in your bedroom, or close by, in the early months as you will be up several times feeding overnight. Avoid the babies developing cranial flat spots by changing what side of each other they sleep on or sit on when in the stroller.

When breastfeeding, you may need to support and position babies on a pillow while they are small. A pillow will also take the strain off your wrists, arms, back, and shoulders. It is usually easier to master the art of breastfeeding one baby at a time before trying tandem feeding, which is where both babies feed at the same time. A couch, bed or floor provides the most space for this type of feeding. Some babies swap breasts and some stay on the same side. With multiples it is best to seek professional lactation advice during the early days of feeding as good attachment and feeding comfort is vital for the ongoing success of breastfeeding.

Bathing twins in the same bath is impossible to perform safely on your own. If you are bathing them alone, the easiest and safest spot would be on the floor or a large dining room table or kitchen bench (before they can roll),and have all the bathing items at your fingertips. You could bath babies one after the other at the same time each day or every few days. You could also bath one baby at a time after different feeds each day or on alternate days. Your personal hygiene is also important but some days you may not get a shower and actually end up staying in your pj’s all day! Other days you’ll get organised and grab a shower before your partner goes to work or during the babies’ first morning sleep.

You are your babies’ first and most important teacher but don’t worry if you feel you don’t have time. Attending to their needs with your gentle touch, warm smile and soothing voice says a lot but if it all becomes too difficult, seek professional advice from your GP. Your babies need you to be healthy.

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The first months home from hospital are going to be tough. Parenting multiples can be an overwhelming responsibility so there will probably be crying from you as well as your babies. Join the local Multiple Birth Association for support and accept any offers of help. Don’t just say thanks for the offer. Pin offers of help down to a time and action something straight away. Employ help if you can and give yourself time to adapt.

For more information ‘Twins & More’

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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.

Changes in Baby Sleep Patterns

By Jan Murray

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When parents ask whether your baby sleeps through the night, the answer you give can feel like a rite of passage for being a ‘good’ parent! However, don’t worry because it is normal for babies to wake overnight for many years. The issue is really more about what babies rely on to get back to sleep. Sleeping through means when your baby wakes he doesn’t need any help to get back to sleep, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t wake up. There are a variety of factors that prevent babies and toddlers sleeping through the night. Many are learned behaviours, which could have been prevented and can be fixed.

Newborns that are jaundice (yellow discolouration of the skin) or weigh less than 3000gms need to be fed about four hourly overnight.  There are also medical conditions and metabolic disorders that require babies to have regular milk feeds overnight.

Adults can easily achieve and function well on six to eight hours of unbroken sleep a night (before children!). A newborn requires around 16 – 17 hours sleep in a 24 hour period, which needs to be broken up with milk feeds. As babies get older, the amount of sleep they require for good health and development slowly decreases and the spacing of feeds increases.

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The natural day/night sleeping pattern takes a couple of months to develop. Parents can help this process by focusing on feeding newborns at regular three to four hourly intervals during the day. Feed and sleep babies in the daylight for the first six weeks but after this they often appreciate dimmer lighting to settle to sleep. Pull the blinds or curtains while sleeping but make sure you raise them when they are ready to get up. Feed during the night with soft lighting and minimal stimulation. To keep them secure and comfortable swaddle for sleeping—it encourages sleep by preventing the startle reflex (throwing arms out) disturbing them. This reflex disappears around three to four months old making it easier to transition out of a wrap and into a baby sleeping bag.

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By eight to ten weeks old, babies are able to sleep longer stretches at night of four to six hours and shorter naps of one to two hours during the day. Night sleep between 6.30pm and 6.30am is still broken with the need for milk feeds two or three times until six to eight months old. By this age, babies are able to sleep much longer (10 -12 hours straight) with two day sleeps (one in the morning and one in the early afternoon). This pattern of sleep is not impossible for most babies but there can be several reasons why this is not happening for some.

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Photo Supplied by www.sunshinecoastnewbornphotographer.com

One reason why many older babies continue to wake and get milk feeds overnight (more than they require) is because they have been programmed from birth to have milk feeds to go off to sleep. Continuing to feed whenever babies wake overnight becomes an expectation even if they are not hungry. One way to avoid this happening is to help babies to fall asleep naturally during the early months and as they get older avoid rushing in when they wake overnight. Set up positive sleeping cues early and allow babies the opportunity to self-regulate good sleeping patterns without the dependence on milk feeds.

From four months old neurological development causes babies to wake and chatter—they are not asking for anyone and it’s usually not hunger. If they know how to settle, they will go back to sleep when they are ready. If babies wake erratically it could be a sign that they need more nutrients during the day. This can be fixed either by increasing breast milk, adding some infant formula feeds or introducing solids. Seek advice from your child health professional for the best option for your baby.

From nine months old poor sleeping patterns can become worse. Babies who enjoy feeding during the night usually can’t eat much during the day, which then hinders a good night sleep. Poor sleep then reduces their energy levels needed for physical activities, which further reduces the need for eating. This lack of activity makes babies less physically tired, reducing the need for sleep and the lack of ‘fuel’ can make babies drowsy and in need of a quick nap.

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They may be teething but teething doesn’t usually cause night waking but it can prevent babies going back to sleep if they wake.

Parenting styles, family environments and settling techniques vary. Consider the best options for your family to function well and ensure babies and toddlers get a good night sleep for their optimal development.

A ‘Suggested Daily Routines’ eBook is available to help sort out night and day patterns of sleep.

Read this different perspective from the babies side! Awake Training for Parents

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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.

Cleaning Newborn Sensitive Bits

By Jan Murray

Your newborn is tougher than you think but there are a few sensitive areas that need to be handled with a little more care. These include the ears, eyes, nose, umbilical stump, and genitals.

Cleaning the ears

Earwax is formed in the outer ear canal and travels towards the outer ear edges with jaw movement. Ear wax is assists in natural ear cleaning and lubrication and protects the inner ear from bacteria, fungi, water and insects. Problems of infection and impacted earwax arise if wax builds up in the inner ear canal. Therefore, clean the ears using a moistened cotton wool ball or soft wipe only around the outer ear folds and behind the ear; NEVER put a cotton bud or other narrow implement inside the ear canal as it can perforate the ear drum and push wax further in.

Cleaning the eyes

Clean the eyes using cotton wool balls or soft wipes moistened in clean water. Using a clean moistened piece for each eye, wipe the eye area from the nose edge to the outside. At times you may notice the eyes weeping and stuck together. This is referred to as ‘sticky eye’ and is not an uncommon or harmful condition and is usually due to blocked tear ducts that more often than not resolve themselves.

Cleaning sticky eyes

Eyes can remain sticky for several weeks and often months despite regular cleansing. It is important to keep the eyes cleansed. If you are breastfeeding, squirt a little milk into bubs eyes. This helps cleanse and protect the eye from infection. To help release the blocked tear duct, firmly massage the inner canthus area (inner end) of the effected eye. Always clear the eyes of built up matter before nursing and seek professional advice if the eye becomes red or discharge increases.

Clearing the nose and sneezing

Your newborn starts life as a nose breather. Therefore, it is important to keep the nose clear. He cannot blow his nose or cough effectively so he sneezes regularly to clear his air passages. Keep his nasal secretions moist to assist clearing. Do this by regular feeding and squirt a little water or normal saline up the nose. A humidifier may help keep air moist. When nasal secretions are moist, use a little rubber bulb purchased from a pharmacy or twist the end of a tissue and gently grip any matter at the base of the nose. NEVER push cotton buds (or anything for that matter) up into the nasal space.

Cleaning the umbilical stump

The umbilical cord changes in appearance and odour until the point of separation (7-10 days). It becomes darker, dryer and maybe a little offensive. Clean with a cotton tip applicator dipped in normal saline or cool boiled water and a little added sea-salt if gets contaminated with poo. When the area is inflammation, cleanse and protect the skin with a natural barrier cream. Continue to air and keep dry and seek professional advice if the area continues to weep or bleed for longer than a week after the dried cord stump has fallen off.

Cleaning boy bits

When wiping baby boy genital bits don’t forget to gently lift up the scrotum and wipe underneath. Change his diaper every three to four hours as urine or poop left in contact with skin for too long forms an acid that burns. Never pull back the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis as this can do harm. A daily bathe will keep this area clean and don’t stop self-discovery, it’s normal.

Cleaning girl privates

Baby girls’ vaginal area is delicate so avoid wiping deep into the inner vaginal folds. The white substance you’ll see is natural and stays to give added cleaning and protection. Gently hold the vaginal folds apart and wipe downwards with a soft diaper liner or cotton wool ball soaked in warm water. Avoid using treated cleansing wipes as these often aggravate delicate skin and mucosa and disrupt the natural PH balance. Change her diaper every three to four hours as urine or poop left in contact with her skin for too long forms an acid that burns. Always wipe the vaginal area in a downward direction to avoid wiping faecal matter into the short urethra. A discharge of blood streaked mucous may appear in the first six weeks. This is a pseudo-menstruation so just gently wipe it away, it’s normal.

Video Clip on how to bath a newborn . . .

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This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance.

Introducing Egg

By Jan Murray

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The introduction of egg has recently changed.

Babies used to be given cooked egg yolk at around 8 months and cooked egg white around 11 months. From research (references through link) it is now suggested that cooked egg be given (in small amounts) to babies before 6 months of age.

Egg is best give to babies initially in very small amounts (little fingernail size) then increase as tolerated. Eggs are potentially allergic but a reaction doesn’t necessarily mean allergy, it could mean a sensitivity or intolerance to the amount given at the time. Often there are other factors (environmental or social) that add stress to the body making food intolerance levels lower.

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This 6 month old baby was enjoying fruit and vegetables and lentils and had no known family history of allergy to egg. His parents ate eggs with no allergic reactions and he was breast fed.  This rash occurred within a few hours after he was given two teaspoons of scrabbled egg mid-morning. It resolved next day and didn’t worry him in any other way. He’ll have another try in a week or two in a smaller quantity.

Research has shown there is possibly a ‘window of opportunity’ between 4 – 7 months for foods to be introduced with further suggestion that withholding foods could increase allergic response.

It is recommended that babies be introduced to solid foods while they have the immune protection of breast milk.

More advice on infant feeding in ‘taste it’

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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.

Summer with a Newborn

By Jan Murray

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The Australian summer can bring extremely hot weather that lasts for months. The heat can be humid with rain or dry with wind and no rain. Whatever kind of summer you experience the effects of hot temperatures can be stressful for you and dangerous for newborns. Keeping cool yourself helps babies feel relaxed and comfortable; try cooling down with frequent quick showers and regular cold drinks.

Newborns are unable to regulate their body temperature like adults do, which leaves them at risk of overheating and dehydrating. Babies can become too hot internally when lost liquids are not adequately replaced. Newborns lose fluids regularly from weeing, pooing, vomiting and perspiring and the lack of liquid causes little bodies to dehydrate and overheat. When dehydration is severe the risk of heatstroke and SIDS is increased. Keep an eye on the bottom end. Newborns need to have at least six wet nappies in a twenty-four hour period—less than six is an indication that babies are becoming dry. Newborns may poo after every feed or only every few days or so. Poo should not be hard pebbles as this is constipation and a sign of not enough fluid. Offer babies extra liquid at regular intervals during the day. Either extra short breast feeds or if using infant formula give cooled boiled water between milk feeds.

Humid, hot, and airless environments cause fungal infections to thrive. Keep a check on places such as the nappy area, under baby’s chin, between creases and folds, as well as your nipple area. You can reduce the risk of thrush developing by regularly exposing these areas to air and keeping them clean and dry; if you are breastfeeding, eating yoghurt and reducing your yeast and sugar intake can also help. When reddened areas won’t go away with these measures seek professional advice.

Skin-to-skin contact is important for newborn development but it can make you both hot and sticky. When breast feeding on steamy days, if you place a wet cloth under your arm or around the back of your neck, and a small cotton cloth between you and your baby it can make feeding a little more comfortable.

Water is cooling. Ensure babies have a sponge down with a wet cloth, bath or shower at least daily. Wet your hand or a washer with lukewarm water and regularly wipe over bubs head on really hot days. If infant skin is dry, add a little natural oil to the bath water or moisturise the skin after a bath.

While feeling hot can make anyone irritable, the heat can also make it particularly difficult for newborns to settle and go to sleep. But don’t worry, there are some things that you can do to help keep them cool. Increase airflow in the cot by using a firm cotton mattress and remove any waterproof protectors, as these hold in heat. Spread a towel over the mattress under the sheet to absorb perspiration and be sure to remove any unnecessary bedding, toys and bumpers from the cot. Use natural cotton or bamboo fabric for clothes and bedding as synthetic materials trap heat and can cause babies to overheat.

For additional cooling, if you don’t have the luxury of air-conditioning, drape wet towels and a dish of water in front of an oscillating fan. Dress babies in only a nappy and light cotton wrap to sleep. When regulating an air-conditioner, take into account their fat layers, prematurity and general health, and set temperature to around 24°C. At this heat, babies would need a loose sleep-suit and swaddling wrap and perhaps another cotton blanket over the top. If bub is too hot his head will be sweaty as this is where newborns loose heat. Because babies loose heat from the head, place their feet at the end of the cot, which allows air flow around the head—this is also in line with SIDS safe sleeping recommendations.

If your house is hot, escape in an air-conditioned car or to an air-conditioned shopping centre or library for a break. When going for a walk, avoid going between 10am and 3pm as this is when the sun is most harmful. Avoid having babies in a stroller for too long as these tend to be hot and airless. This also applies to the car restraint when the car is stopped. These contraptions can heat up very quickly and cause body temperatures to rapidly rise, which can put babies at risk of a febrile convulsion. It is also important to use UV protectors on windows and over strollers to stop the sun’s strong rays from burning delicate skin.

Enjoy summertime with your newborn but remain alert to the hazards of heat. Seek professional help if your baby has less than six wet nappies in a twenty-four hour period, has dark circles under dry eyes, hot dry skin, sunken fontanels (soft spot on his head) a dry mouth and tongue or is floppy and difficult to arouse.

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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.

Keeping Baby Warm

By Jan Murray

When night air becomes colder the ambient temperature in your child’s room can drop quite significantly at around 3am.

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If your baby is waking around that time, make sure she is warm enough.

Sleeping bags made from natural fibres are great for warmth once your baby is out of a wrap. Unnatural fibres such as polyester can trap heat, making it difficult for your baby to regulate her body temperature.

Helping Babies and Toddlers Sleep
A thermostatically controlled heater can be useful during the cold winter months but be careful not to overheat your baby’s room and don’t leave a heater switched on all night. Episodes of SIDS are more common in winter as a result of overheating.

Avoid sleeping babies and toddlers with electric blankets on, hot water bottles or heated wheat-bags. Your baby cannot always escape from a bed, throw off bedding, or get out of a cot to cool down. A baby that becomes too hot is at an increased risk of SIDS. Keep a window a tiny bit open for fresh air.

It is advisable to keep bedroom temperature below 24°C (75.2°F) but observing how hot your baby looks and feels is a better indicator of acceptable room temperature than a monitor. Feel down onto your baby’s chest as hands and feet are usually cold. Look to see that her head is not sweating or her face is not flushed. Babies regulate their temperature through their head. Make sure their face is uncovered, while lying on their back to sleep.

Avoid sleeping your baby between two adults. Babies can become smothered by adult doonas and can overheat between two hot bodies.

Learn more about babies Mum, Baby & Toddler

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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.