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Archive for Newborn Care

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.

frost

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.

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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.

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.

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.

positionalplagio

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.