Archives for December 2010

10 Tips to Help Baby Sleep at Night

As any new parent will agree, getting enough sleep is top priority. Meaning, getting baby to sleep better is top priority. But first, it’s important to remember that babies have different sleep cycles and different sleep needs than adults. Night-waking is inevitable for many months, and even has developmental benefits. But there are ways to make sleep more attractive for your baby, so that gradually he’ll start sleeping longer stretches.

1. Cool it down

Cooling your room down a bit, to around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, may help baby sleep better. If you can’t adjust the temperature, just open the window or turn on the fan. If you want to shorten daytime naps, use this trick in reverse– just keep the room a little warmer. (But never put baby in an overheated room!)

2. Adjust the lights

Babies don’t know they should sleep through the night. Train your child’s internal body clock by dimming the lights towards bedtime, even if he’s not yet ready to sleep. This sends the signal that it’s time to slow down and prepare for sleep. Using the same principle, bring your baby out into the bright sunshine when she wakes up in the morning, and keep your baby’s room brightly lit in the daytime, even during naptime.

3. Use white noise

Is utter silence the only thing that keep baby asleep? Must you speak in whisper, turn off phone ringers, and tiptoe around once baby’s asleep? Actually, the sounds a baby is used to are womb sounds– the swoosh of fluids, digestive sounds, and even your voice, so a silent house can be disturbing. Instead, try playing soothing sounds, such as a nature music CD, a fan, or a TV turned to static. The bonus is, that if there are any sudden loud noises, your baby is less likely to be jolted awake!

4. Fill that tummy

Many babies naturally tend to cluster-feed toward the end of the day. This means that they want to eat more often. For example, if he tends to ask for milk every three hours, start feeding him every two hours after 5 p.m. Just don’t rush your baby to begin solids, thinking that this will fill his tummy better and cause him to sleep longer at night. The “stuffing baby at bedtime” syndrome does not work, and may backfire.

5. Try a massage

It would work for me, so why not baby? Studies show that babies fall asleep faster after a gentle massage. Just pour a little organic, baby-safe oil into your hands, rub palms together to warm it up, and slowly stroke his chest, limbs and back. Use moderate pressure, and try to maintain eye contact—not only is this a great sleep trick, it’s a wonderful way to build your parent-child bond.

6. Swaddle

Have you ever seen a newborn suddenly fling his arms and legs out,  startling himself awake?  Swaddling your baby makes him feel safe and snug, and helps him sleep better.

7. Resist the urge to play

Do pick up your baby when he starts to cry in the middle of the night. It’s a crucial stage for building his sense of safety and trust, knowing that when he calls for help, his needs are met. But here’s the secret: don’t make eye contact. Baby gets excited when he sees his mother’s face- his blood pressure and his heart rate increases. So comfort him but resist his efforts to play.

8. Avoid unnecessary wakings

Newborns will wake up at night to fill their tiny tummies. But well-meaning parents often wake them up unnecessarily. For example, it’s okay to skip diaper changes at night as long as your child is just wet and doesn’t have a rash. If it makes you feel better, use extra-absorbent diapers and a protective layer of cream. There’s also no great need to burp baby after feedings, since babies tend to drink more slowly and peacefully at night, thereby ingesting less air.

9. Get a swing

Babies love movement, and it does help to lull them back to sleep. But instead of rocking your baby to and fro all night long, get a baby swing to do the work for you. Many baby swings also have a “vibrate” function that is calming for colicky babies.

10. Keep baby close

Even if you use a baby monitor, having your little one sleeping down the hall creates difficulties in quick soothing. It’s best to have baby as close as possible, so that the moment he starts to fuss you can calm him down and everyone can get back to sleep. A bassinet by your bed, co-sleeper, or even having baby in bed with you are great for nighttime parenting. For the nursing mother, baby can easily latch on and everyone drifts off back to sleep, barely even waking at all!

reference 10 secrets to get baby to sleep through the night

image credit

New Year’s Alcohol Consumption Related to SIDS death

Are you going to be drinking this New Year’s? Who will be caring for your baby?

A Sept 2010 SIDS study, led by sociologist David Phillips of the University of California, San Diego, is the first large-scale US study to look at a possible link between SIDS and alcohol.  129,090 SIDS cases we examined, from 1973 to 2006.  The study finds that the largest spikes in alcohol consumption and in SIDS (33%) occur on New Year’s.  Alcohol consumption and SIDS also increase significantly on weekends, and children of alcohol-consuming mothers are much more likely to die from SIDS than are children of non-alcohol-consuming mothers. They conclude by suggesting that caretakers and authorities should be informed that alcohol impairs parental capacity and might be a risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome.

image: 5 recipes for life

What exactly is the connection between alcohol and SIDS?  “We know that when people are under the influence of alcohol their judgments are impaired and they are not as good at performing tasks. This would include care-taking,” Phillips said.

So please, be careful. If you’ve had a few drinks, be extra careful. It is always important to follow safety guidelines for SIDS prevention. Put your baby on his back to sleep. Don’t put any stuffed toys or pillows near a sleeping baby. Be sure not to over-bundle your baby. Don’t smoke. Breastfeed if possible. Read more safety precautions here.

Via inhabitots

Taking the Struggle out of Bedtime

I know that I, personally, have moments of dread as bedtime approaches. The kids are inevitably in the midst of an exciting game that they can’t tear away from. Or they are suddenly hungry, even though they just ate dinner (or didn’t eat because they “weren’t hungry”). They don’t want to brush teeth and they won’t stay in bed, and the whole bedtime situation is the last thing you want to deal with at the end of a tiring day.

So let’s take a moment to rethink bedtime, in terms of our children. “Children,” says Rivka Zahava (Making the Most out of Bedtime), “Usually view bedtime as a time to unwind, hear a good story and be treated to the caress of their parents. As adults, many of our warmest memories are the times we sat in pajamas, conversing with mom or dad when there are no stimuli from friends and nothing on the schedule to rush out the door for.”

This is good quality time that should be maximized. It’s perfect for talking over their day (and yours) and developing a deeper relationship with them. During this dialogue, you have an opportunity to instill values that are important to you, in a positive, engaging manner.

kid and dog in bed

feature image via Dotty Parker

Here are some satisfying ways to enrich the the closing of each day.

Stories: Kids love a good story. Better yet, books about feelings, sharing, and people you admire are a good way to instill a message. (A good book is worth a thousand lectures!)  Making up your own stories, or telling tales of your childhood, are often welcomed enthusiastically.

Click here for some of Rivka Zahava favorite children’s boks.

Picture Albums: Children are fascinated by their parent’s childhood, and love looking at old pictures and hearing the stories behind them. Your 7th birthday party, your first bike, a party at your grandparent’s house. You can use pictures to discuss challenges you had when you were little and how you dealt with them, like pointing out the picture at your softball game in which you are sulking. Talk about what was hard for you back then and how you learned to overcome it. Or didn’t!

Songs: Lullabies are a sweet and soothing way to end the day. Your children will never forget the songs you sing them on their bed, so try choosing something a bit more meaningful than “Rock-a-by baby”.  Or pick songs that your kids enjoy– my son loves “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”!

Say your prayers: You know what they say… the family that prays together stays together. The repetition of a familiar prayer lends sweetness and comfort, even if they are too young to understand the meaning of the words. But tucking them into bed with a kiss and then whispering a meaningful prayer together will make them feel warm and cozy inside.  Encourage them to talk to God themselves, voicing their hopes for the next day or the troubles that are bothering them.

Reflect on the day: By age 3 or 4 kids can already enjoy reviewing their day together. Keep it positive and save discipline for another time. Tell them how proud you are for the nice things they’ve done that day. Let your child drift off with a positive self image and happy to face the coming day.

Read the whole article, and more, on

Pregnancy: What to do When You’re Banished to Bed

At times, pregnancy complications can confine you to your bed for days, weeks, even months. Around 20 percent of pregnant women are confined to a week or more in bed at some time during their pregnancy. Being ordered to bed often comes as a shock to the woman and those who rely on her, including family members and employers. Often many things, including household moves and big work projects need to be put on hold while you retreat to bed. Your health and the safety of your baby take center stage.

In the first half of pregnancy, complications necessitating bed rest include unexplained bleeding and the threat of an impending miscarriage. In the second half of pregnancy, the most common reason for bed rest is the threat of preterm labor. Other reasons for prescribed bed rest later in pregnancy are high blood pressure, preeclampsia, incompetent cervix, premature rupture of membranes, and chronic heart disease.

Doctors prescribe bed rest for a number of reasons.  Bed rest decreases the pressure of baby on the cervix, thus reducing the likelihood of premature cervical stretching and contractions. Rest increases blood flow to the placenta, and thus improves the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to baby. Rest is likely to reduce a mother’s high blood pressure.

While the first few days of  doctor-mandated R&R might be welcomed eagerly, most women find all that resting to be… tiring. Not to mention tedious, frustrating, and boring. There are so many other things you want or need to be doing! Focusing on the importance of  taking care of yourself will make your confinement easier and maybe even enjoyable. Here are 9 ways that Dr. Sears recommended you make the best of bed rest.

1. Know exactly what you may and may not do. Be sure you understand what your healthcare provider means by bed rest. There’s nothing worse than spending half the morning wondering if you can take a shower. You can pretty much figure that bed rest means refraining from the more “active” activities that go on in bed – no sex, no orgasm. But check to be sure you know whether your doctor recommends total bed rest, which means sponge baths in bed and bedpans, or whether you get the luxury of bathroom privileges and an occasional walk to the kitchen. Ask if you can slowly walk up and down stairs, or if you are confined to one floor. Bear in mind that most doctors over prescribe the degree of bed rest, realizing that most human beings do not easily adapt to such drastic changes in lifestyle and will occasionally cheat. Find out if your doctor thinks mental stress is a problem. Can you deal with office work over the phone? While you won’t want jumping children using your bed as a trampoline, can they stay in the room with you for much of the day?

2. Set up a comfortable nest. If you have to stay in bed you might as well create a bed you like to stay in. Have your bed placed near or facing a window so you have fresh air and a view. Put anything you’ll need within arms’ reach on a table next to your bed. Use a cordless phone or one with a long cord if the phone jack isn’t near your bed. Keep address books, phone books, your journal and all kinds of reading material on an adjacent table. Move the television or the stereo into the bedroom. Buy or rent a small refrigerator for your bedside snacks. Be kind to your recumbent body. Place a foam egg-crate contoured pad on top of your mattress.

3. Think positively. Rather than dwell on what you’re missing, think about what you are enjoying. Even if you find yourself feeling bored and depressed, these feelings will eventually subside, and you will have happy days again. Focus on what you are doing for your baby, and on the benefits to you of resting and relaxing. The good thing about the emotions of pregnancy is that downs are usually followed by ups.

4. Realize your feelings are normal. With so much time to just sit and think, your emotions are likely to run wild. You may worry about the baby’s health and survival, fret about how your husband and kids are coping, be bored with too little to do, feel anxious about things you should be doing, and dislike feeling dependent. You may feel angry and disappointed about the course of your pregnancy. You grow impatient, as the days get longer. You’ll probably feel tempted to cheat. Each day in bed will bring on new emotions to work through, yet continuing to focus on the goal of your pregnancy will overcome these anxieties and keep you in bed as long as you need to stay there.

5. Seek your mate’s help. This may be the first time in your life that your mate waits on you and seems to get very little in return – except, of course, that you are growing his baby. Prolonged bed rest during pregnancy can bring couples together or tear them apart. Abstaining from sex and curtailing the activities that you usually do together doesn’t help a marriage that may already be stressed. Expect stress on your marriage for these reasons and because your husband is now holding down two jobs: taking care of you, and bringing home the bacon. Yet, if you are creative, a lot of bedside romance can take place: candlelight dinners followed by a video movie, breakfast in bed, and daily massages that promote circulation, and feel so good. Being cared for by a sensitive mate can add a new depth to your relationship. And for a spouse turned waiter, masseur, entertainer, and cook, this could be the first time in his life that he has had to put someone else’s needs ahead of his own – good preparation for becoming a father.

6. Keep fit while in bed. With your doctor’s okay, you could do some exercises in bed, such as leg lifts, calf stretches, and upper arm exercises with light weights. Exercising helps promote circulation, as well as keeping your muscles (including your heart) in shape.

7. Pamper yourself. Staying in bed does not mean denying yourself all the pleasures of life. Hire a massage therapist (or ask a friend) to give you a head to toe massage at least once a week. See if your hairdresser will come to your bedside.

8. Bond with your baby. Many women on prolonged bed rest face a dilemma: though this would seem an ideal time to contemplate the miracle of pregnancy and to really bond with the baby, the usual reason for being on prolonged bed rest is the very real possibility of losing the baby. So some women find that even though they have plenty of time to think about and plan for the baby, they have difficulty doing so because of their fear of losing the baby. Remember that the vast majority of women who are confined to bed go on to deliver babies who survive and thrive. And the few who don’t, never regret loving the little person who was briefly part of their lives.

9. Get support. Ask your practitioner to give you the phone numbers of other mothers similarly confined to bed. Sometimes you can talk each other through a particularly dull day. Or contact a support group called Sidelines (714-497-2265), which maintains a national hotline of volunteers who offer support and match you with other bedridden moms-to-be. This group is the brainchild of a California mother who was confined to bed during her high-risk pregnancies and figured out a way to use her free time for the good of other women in her circumstances. Ask these experienced bedresters for practical suggestions on what helped them cope. Mothers who have laid in bed for six straight weeks or more will give you ideas on how to pass the time.

Contractions: Are These the Real Thing?

During the third trimester, some women experience “false” contractions called Braxton-Hicks contractions. This is a normal occurrence, and like real labor contractions, they may increase in frequency and intensity, making you worry that you are going into premature labor. But unlike true labor, these contractions don’t grow consistently longer, stronger, and closer together.

image from Women Health Tips

How to tell if it’s preterm labor: True labor contractions show a definite pattern. Employ the 1-5-1 formula: if your contractions last at least one minute, are five minutes (or less) apart, and continue for at least one hour you are, most likely, in labor. (This would mean you should alert your health-care provider immediately.) Braxton-Hicks contractions come and go and don’t settle into a regular pattern. Don’t forget to practice relaxing and breathing with these trial-run contractions. (Dr. Sears)

If you are within a few weeks of your due date, but the Braxton Hicks contractions are making you uncomfortable, try these measures:

  • Change your activity or position. If you’ve been sitting or laying down, try walking around. If you’re been  moving a lot, resting may provide relief. (On the other hand, true labor contractions will progress regardless of what you do.)
  • Take a warm bath to help your body relax.
  • Drink water; these contractions are sometimes brought on by dehydration.
  • Relaxation exercises and slow, deep breathing may help you cope with the discomfort.

Should I call the doctor?

If you haven’t reached 37 weeks yet, and are having more than four contractions in an hour, or contractions are becoming more frequent, rhythmic, or painful, call your caregiver immediately.  In this case, it’s better to play it safe and don’t try to make the diagnosis yourself. Preterm labor is not something to take chances with. Other possible signs of preterm labor:

  • Abdominal pain, menstrual-like cramping, or more than four contractions in an hour (even if they don’t hurt)
  • Any vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • An increase in vaginal discharge or a change in the type of discharge — if it becomes watery, mucusy, or bloody (even if it’s only pink or blood-tinged)
  • Increased pelvic pressure (a feeling that your baby’s pushing down)
  • Low back pain, especially if it’s a new problem for you

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