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Archive for Safe Environment

Co-sleeping with Your Baby

By Jan Murray

In many cultures it is normal practice for parents’ to co-sleep and bed share with their children. However, for families in western cultures such as Australia the act of co-sleeping and bed sharing with babies can be a complex issue, which often leads to controversial discussions. Forming close bonds of attachment doesn’t just happen in bed; there are many other factors involved. In the early years connecting with your baby is more about fulfilling his individual needs that are based on genetics and the environment in which he lives.

It’s true that co-sleeping brings comfort and sleep to many babies and their parents. Sleeping close can increase baby-parent connections, improve breast milk supply, and make breastfeeding easier. However, it doesn’t work like that for all babies and all parents. In fact, some babies are happier and more settled sleeping in their own space. Babies may be active, noisy sleepers that keep their parents awake.

In recent years co-sleeping and bed sharing have become a contemporary parenting practice. For families who have one parent working away for weeks at a time or where both parents work away from home for long hours, co-sleeping may be the best chance your baby has for spending time with his busy parents. Babies have developmental needs and busy parents often need to be creative with how to meet those needs.

If you do choose to co-sleep with your baby, follow safe sleeping guidelines and relax and enjoy the experience. Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUDI) of which Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is included has been linked to co-sleeping but it is not usually a cause unless safe sleeping practices have not been followed. Research findings show some babies are more vulnerable to SIDS than others. Therefore, following safe sleeping practices is a wise decision in case your baby is one of the vulnerable ones.

When co-sleeping, avoid the risk of your baby suffocating. Share a hard bed surface such as the floor or a firm mattress and avoid soft surfaces such as a mattress with a soft woollen underlay, waterbed, sofa, lounge or beanbag. Don’t risk sleeping with your baby if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or if you are obese. Sleep your baby on the outside edge of the bed rather than between you and your partner as when he is snuggled between you his head can easily be covered by blankets or he can overheat. Avoid using heavy doonas and quilts. Instead, use breathable cotton blankets just as you would if he were in his own cot. Unfortunately, being at the edge of the bed increases the risk of injuries from falling out of bed. Use a bed-rail and avoid pushing the bed up against the wall as babies have suffocated after becoming wedged between the mattress and wall. A ‘bedside attachment’ or ‘snuggle bed’ are great options for a safe sleeping space within the parental bed. There is an increased risk of SIDS in babies born premature, small for gestational age or that are less than four months old. Therefore, in these circumstances it is best to avoid co-sleeping.

Despite the talk of co-sleeping increasing the risk of SIDS, it has also been found to reduce the risk of SIDS. When mum and bub snuggle close together they become more in tune with each others breathing patterns.

Sleeping apart is considered a separating experience and for some babies this can be very difficult. Genetic factors, temperament, and environmental issues may increase your baby’s anxiety levels, making the thought of sleeping separately stressful. Co-sleeping in this situation can provide much needed calming relief to a baby during the early years of development.

When following safe sleeping guidelines, co-sleeping is only a problem if it is a problem for you or your baby. If sleeping close in the early years works for your family delight in the experience of sharing a bed surface together. But if it doesn’t work for you or your bub enjoy the fact that you both have your own space to enjoy sleeping in. But because sleep is vitally important for everyone it is recommended that you seek professional help if neither sleeping option encourages sleep.

This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, 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.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/ep05102183.pdf

http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/co-sleeping-yes-no-sometimes

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

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. 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.

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.