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Archive for Baby Behaviour

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 in-flight 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

It is important for parents to understand the difference between a baby gagging on food and choking on food… gagging is normal infant development whereas choking can be harmful.

Learning from the mouth

During the first year of life babies learn many things through the mouth such as texture, temperature and taste. Until four to six months of age (after this age food can be introduced) babies only swallow liquid. Apart from the temperature and different tastes in milk nothing much changes. 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 (mechanically or in the mouth) slides down the oesophagus into the stomach and intestines for further digestion.

This process of swallowing often involves gagging when the food is new. Choking occurs when food items are too hard or large. Gagging is not the same as choking.

Choking

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

Food matter can partially obstruct the trachea or completely obstruct the tube. This depends on the size and firmness of the lodged substance. Sitting upright helps food matter slide down.

Clearly, you never offer babies food that could get lodged in this tube such as peanuts, raw carrot, apple, and hard biscuits that don’t soften with saliva.

Gagging

Gagging is when babies are getting use to different textures. Once food starts to descend down the oesophagus babies may regurgitate it up from the back of their throat but often swallow it 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 often causes gagging during the chewing and swallowing process.

Always sit with babies when offering them solid food. Avoid showing 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 in 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.

Staying on mush

Many parents hold off moving their infants onto textured food. This can lead to fussy eating and slowed speech development. Parents may fear choking or only use processed foods from jars, squeeze packets and tins (kept soft for legal reasons).

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.

Words of Encouragement Help Children Grow with Self-Confidence

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.

Acceptance

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.

Words of Encouragement

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.

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.

Signs Baby is Ready for Solid Food

By Jan Murray

It’s recommended that solid food not be given to babies under 17 weeks of age as studies have shown they are not developmentally ready to tolerate solids at this age.

If your baby is hungry and not gaining weight before the age of 17 weeks you can increase their weight by providing extra breast feeds or introduce an additional bottle of Infant Formula. Seek professional guidance for the appropriate Infant Formula to use for your baby.

Sometime after babies’ reach 17-weeks of age they will begin to show signs that indicate they are ready to start eating solid food.

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Signs to start solid food include:

  • The ‘tongue thrust’ present in younger babies is gone. This reflex has allowed for sucking, but is now ready for the next stage of chewing and swallowing
  • Baby is able to sit in a semi-controlled, upright position. Not being able to sit or hold his back reasonably straight will prevent him focusing on eating
  • Baby’s weight gain has slowed down
  • Baby is waking at erratic times overnight when previously he had been sleeping through
  • Baby is constantly dissatisfied when being breastfed. They are constantly pulling off and on the nipple and feeding is becoming less enjoyable
  • Baby is wanting to breastfeed more regularly during the day instead of spacing it out to every four hours
  • Baby is watching you eat with greater interest and could even be trying to take the spoon or food from your hand.

If you see any or some of these signs start your baby on some soft and sloppy foods.

Start your baby on soft solids once a day during their awake-time after a milk feed. This is best offered after the mid morning feed when your baby is alert and less tired. Add another solid feed mid-afternoon when your baby looks ready and willing for more.

Milk is still important for your baby’s nutrition so avoid introducing too much food too quickly. Introduce a third meal within a few weeks.

More information on solids with recipes here

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Quantity

This can vary depending on:

  • Individual metabolism
  • Energy requirements, especially if they are sick or very active
  • Interest in food
  • Whether they are eating in a stressed or rushed atmosphere.

Bon Appetit!!

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.

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.

Baby Wearing

By Jan Murray

dad-session-walking

Wearing a baby in a sling or another form of carrier is an ancient art used to transport babies and has been practiced around the world since the beginning of mankind. However, it is thought that the invention of wheeled baby carriages in America in the 1830s decreased the need for carrying babies in the western world. In 1992 Dr William Sears coined the phrase ‘attachment parenting’ suggesting babies stayed close to their carer at all times. This parenting strategy brought back the practice of baby wearing that continues to be a growing trend in Australia today.

There are several ways to wear your baby. These can be on the front, back, or hip; either in the form of a sling, which goes over one shoulder or a carrier, which goes over two shoulders. Whatever method you choose your child can be worn for as long as it is mutually enjoyable and safe.There are several ways to wear your baby. These can be on the front, back, or hip; either in the form of a sling, which goes over one shoulder or a carrier, which goes over two shoulders. Whatever method you choose your child can be worn for as long as it is mutually enjoyable and safe.

Slings are made of a variety of materials and are secured with rings, buckles, ties or knots. Slings form a pouch that little ones lie in or older ones sit in. Carriers include fabric wraps, soft padded and framed varieties. Some designs have neck and hip-to-knee support, which are suitable for newborns. Other carriers are better suited to older babies that can weight-bare and sit unsupported such as the back frame.

It is important to choose a sling or carrier carefully. It needs to be comfortable for you to wear and suitable and safe to use for your child’s age and weight. It is also important for you to be able to put the device on yourself and to be able to place your baby safely inside. Carefully consider carriers that position your baby facing outward as a baby in this position is unable to rest her head when she is tired, escape from overstimulation, and her hips are pinned in a poor position for normal development.

Like any skill, baby-wearing takes practice to master and your baby takes time to feel comfortable. However, baby-wearing is not always the answer. When babies have reflux, slings that keep the body in a curled position puts pressure on the tummy, which increases reflux discomfort but the same curled position can bring relief to babies with wind pain. Babies diagnosed with true colic probably won’t calm with baby-wearing but wearing these unsettled babies and going for a walk or getting chores done may reduce anxiety for their carer. It’s important NOT to swaddle your baby before placing her in a sling or carrier as she can overheat.

When babies are carried around continually during the day they frequently feed on demand and can develop short napping habits, which becomes tiresome and frustrating for many parents. Baby wearing can also produce poor self-settling patterns and increase night waking because parents are needed to settle babies back to sleep. Prolonged night feeding patterns can also increase the risk of ongoing dental caries in your baby.

If baby wearing is not something you want to practice constantly it can be done intermittently. This is especially handy if your baby was born premature and needs more contact time, is unsettled and won’t sleep in a cot, bassinette or stroller or you have other children who need your attention.

Intermittent baby-wearing can be beneficial in two ways. It includes close contact and reduces crying and your baby gains neurological and muscle development along with independence by spending time on the floor with stimulating play activities rather than always being carried.  Baby-wearing is great for dads or other carers who have limited time with babies as close physical contact can produce quicker bonding.

Baby-wearing like co-sleeping is a personal choice and it is important to remember that whatever method of caring for your baby you choose it does not make you a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ parent, it is what works for you and your baby that’s important. However, there are disadvantages and advantages for both carer and child and it is important to consider your own situation and the safety and comfort of you and your baby when making your choice.

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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.

References:

http://www.parentingscience.com/infant-crying.html

  1. Solkoff, N, et al. (1969). Effects of handling on the subsequent development of premature infants. Developmental Psychology, 1(6). 765-768.

https://www.isisonline.org.uk/about/

Baby Tummy Pain

By Jan Murray

newborn

Crying and fussing is a normal part of infant development but it can be a significant source of stress for many parents. In fact, it is estimated that one in six families with children consult a health professional seeking answers to their infants crying.[i] Emotional and physical chaos within families’ often results from parents trying to work out what bubs discomfort is caused from and what will give them relief. Parents desperate[ii] to soothe distressed infants try many things but it makes it easier to narrow down the cause of unsettled behaviour before trying to fix it. In some cases, inconsolable crying results in Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)[iii] from the overwhelming feelings of desperation, anxiety, guilt, and helplessness, which can happen quicker than you think so seek professional help early.

Tummy pain is often the first thing parents think of when trying to work out why their baby is crying. However, the stomach (tummy) is only one of three main areas of the digestive tract. The others are the oesophagus (swallowing tube) and the small and large intestine (bowel), and when you recognise what symptoms are in what part it can help you work out what your baby’s problem is. Also, taking notice of when the pain and discomfort occurs in relation to her feeding can also help narrow down the cause.

Colic is a common term used to label unexplainable uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy and thriving infant. Crying usually lasts a couple of hours and the legs alternate between curling up and stiffening out with back arching. It’s normal for your baby less than eight weeks of age to experience a few hours of this type of crying every day. True colic is quite rare as there is usually an explainable cause—some common causes are overfeeding, trapped air and gas, intolerance to foods in breast milk or elements in infant formula, over-stimulation, intolerance to foods, and constipation. More rare causes are gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), bacterial infections, obstruction or poisoning.

It is common for stomach contents to rise and escape through an immature valve at the top of the stomach but not all vomit produces pain. Your baby may experience burning pain in the oesophagus from regurgitated stomach contents containing gastric acid. Pain in this area can also result from inflammation caused by food intolerances and allergies. Babies with oesophageal pain are usually unsettled during the day, not wanting to lie flat, look sad and puzzled, and make swallowing attempts even when not being fed. These babies may experience pain at or after feed times. It is important to seek professional assessment for these symptoms as reflux pain can be complex.

newborn

Pain occurring further down in the tummy can be caused from trapped pockets of air or gas. Poor feeding techniques can lead to gulping in air that may cause abdominal bloating—a hard drum-like distended stomach. Gas is a natural by-product of food digestion but it can also get trapped and cause bloating. In some cases an immature gut, over-tiredness and over-stimulation prevents gases escaping and results in tummy discomfort.[iv] The tenser your baby becomes the harder it is for her to expel air either by burping or popping-off. Birth trauma can also cause tummy pain due to disturbed nerve connections as outlined by chiropractor Eric Slead[v], “shoulder subluxations often interfere with normal function of the Vagus nerve. One main function is the regulation of chemical levels and interference causes stomach pains and nutrient imbalance”.

As babies get older, introducing new foods or foods they unable to digest may cause tummy pain. Like oesophageal pain, tummy pain from food occurs soon after feeds but some food intolerances take time to accumulate and pain is delayed. Even if the act of breastfeeding is comforting for babies with tummy pain, overfeeding can cause ongoing discomfort, especially if milk is the cause of discomfort.

The bowel’s peristaltic action causes bowel pain to come in intermittent waves. Therefore, bowel pain often occurs at random times and just before a pop-off of wind. After the wind escapes, the crying stops as suddenly as it started. Constipation (dry, hard pellets) can also cause tummy pain. As well as the hard mass causing discomfort in the bowel, a natural gas by-product is produced, which can cause pain if it becomes trapped. Pain can also occur while trying to pass the hard mass. Breastfed babies very rarely get constipated until they start solid food so introduce cooled boiled water at the same time as solids.

Appropriate medications may give your baby relief when she is suffering reflux pain, wind or gas pain, or constipation but only when the medication targets the correct area. For this reason it is important to seek professional guidance before you give your baby off-the-shelf medications for suspected tummy pain. Natural soothing measures such as warm baths, regular massages, upright burping positions, tummy time, calm environment, correct feeding positions, and slow teats are best to try first.

massage

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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.

Lucas, A. & St James–Roberts, I (1998). Crying, fussing and colic behaviour in breast- and bottle-fed infants. Early Human Development, 53(1), 9-18. doi: 10.1016/S0378-3782(98)00032-2

[ii] http://www.researchgate.net/publication/23497880 Getting the word out advice on crying and colic in popular parenting magazines

[iii] http://synapse.org.au/get-the-facts/shaken-baby-syndrome-fact-sheet.aspx

[iv] http://tummycalm.com/infant-gas.html

[v] http://www.premierchiropractic.com.au

Spring is in the Air

By Guest blogger Kylie Lannan

walking

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. 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.

Follow Jan on facebook, twitter, linkedin and youtube