Archives for May 2011

3 Reasons to Avoid Bottles at Bedtime

If your baby is being bottle-fed, it is tempting to give him a bottle of milk, formula, or juice and let him fall asleep while drinking it, but unfortunately, this is far from being a healthy habit! What could possibly be wrong with such an easy and soothing way to fall asleep?

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Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

When babies fall asleep sucking on a bottle of milk or juice, the liquid tends to pool in baby’s mouth, as swallowing and saliva production decrease. Then the sugars in the mouth are converted to acids, which wear down tooth enamel.  The process is gradual, but this type of severe tooth decary begins to be noticeable on the front four teeth around 12-18 months. In severe cases, the teeth turn into brown stumps that are totally decayed.

Maybe you’re wondering: Is this so terrible, since these are “just” baby teeth that will be replaced by adult teeth later on? Dr. Green warns that baby bottle decay can distort the spacing of permanent teeth. Furthermore, these baby teeth are the only ones your child will have during the years when much of his personality and self-image are formed. It is far kinder to help your baby find alternate ways to fall asleep, rather than risk tooth decay.

Some dentists caution against night-nursing, saying breastmilk can cause cavities in the same way that other calorie-containing liquids can. However, studies have shown that night-nursers don’t have any more cavities than children who are already weaned. In fact, breast milk prohibits acid and bacterial growth in the mouth. Furthermore, breastmilk does not generally pool in the mouth since it requires active sucking (and swallowing) to draw the milk out. Night-time nursing is vital, especially for small babies, and should be continued as long as possible.

Bottle Feeding and Ear Infections

Bottles should not be giving to a baby who is lying down flat on his back, as he would be at bedtime. When bottle-feeding in the lying-down position, formula may travel from the back of the baby’s throat up through the eustachian tube into the middle ear, causing ear infections (Dr. Sears). Hold your baby in a partially upright position during bottle-feeding. This helps prevent formula from dripping into the eustachian tubes (March of Dimes).

Furthermore, the vacuum created inside the bottle as the baby sucks can also cause problems in the ear. According to Dr. Brown: Negative pressure generated in the mouth is transmitted up the tube and into the middle ear where, as a result, fluid can build up. The increased fluid can cause hearing difficulties and infections. Interestingly, none of this occurs with breast feeding, which does not create any kind of vacuum and which actually creates positive pressure within the ear. Breastmilk also contains antibodies that help protect a baby from many infections, including those that can cause ear infections.

Bottle-Feeding and Obesity

In a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers analyzed thousands of children, identifying those that were still using a bottle at age 2 as their primary drink container, and/or were put to bed with a bottle with a calorie-containing beverage (milk, formula, juice, etc).

The results show that infants who were bottled fed with calorie-containing beverages until the age of 2 showed a greater propensity toward obesity as they got older. About 23% of prolonged bottle users were obese by age 5.

This may be because bottle-feeding encourages the child to consume too many calories. “A 24-month-old girl of average weight and height who is put to bed with an 8-ounce bottle of whole milk would receive approximately 12% of her daily caloric needs from that bottle,” Rachel Gooze explains.

The authors suggest that pediatricians and other health professionals work with parents to find acceptable solutions for stopping bottle use at the child’s first birthday. Beginning by cutting out night-time bottles is an important first step. (Journal of Pediatrics)

Tips to Stop Night-time Bottle Feeding

  • One idea is to reduce the amount of milk, formula, or juice your baby is consuming at bedtime. You want to get to the point where she can fall asleep without drinking a bottle at all. Gradually reduce  the amount of milk or formula by 30ml per night until there are no more feeds. Depending on baby’s age, you can replace bottle feedings with some other comforting ritual, such as rocking, patting, singing, or reading stories.
  • Another way to reduce the amount of milk/juice your baby is drinking at night is to gradually dilute the feeds with water until your baby is just drinking water. And this may be so boring that he’ stop asking for it altogether!

The Breastfeeding-Cosleeping-Postpartum Depression Connection

These days, it’s rare to find anyone who’s gonna argue with you that breastfeeding is best for baby, whenever possible.  What they don’t realize is that breastfeeding is best for MOM, too.  And there are still plenty of people with their fists up, ready to knock down any mention of co-sleeping, despite all the benefits that co-sleeping moms and babies report (that is, I’m sure the babies would report, if they could speak!)!

So I was intrigued to read Nancy Mohrbacher‘s blog entry, Formula Supplements Put Mothers at Risk, which explains a number of reasons that breasfeeding and cosleeping are best for mom as well as baby.

Many moms are mistakenly informed that if they bottle feed and let someone else help with night feedings, they will sleep better and longer. Some people also believe that if mom sleeps separate from her baby, she will sleep better, undisturbed.  They conclude that a well-rested mother will be better equipped to hand the stresses of the post-partum period, thus relieving symptoms of postpartum depression.

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Not so, says a new study!

This study, which will appear in the June issue of the journal Clinical Lactation, surveyed 6410 mothers during the first year after birth.  Although all new mothers experience fatigue, it found that exclusively breastfeeding mothers not only slept significantly more hours during the night than other mothers but also reported significantly more energy during the day, a better mood, better overall health, and a greater sense of well-being.  Another surprising finding was that there was no statistically significant difference in any of these areas between the mixed-feed and the exclusively formula-feeding groups. (From Formula Supplements Put Mothers at Risk)

So while we all want to make sure new mothers, especially those at-risk for PPD, are happy and well-rested, strategies that separate and supplement newborns are misguided.  Instead of making mom’s life easier, they actually put her at greater risk of poor sleeping, poor health, and depression.

These benefits are in addition to many others! Breast milk builds your baby’s immune system, improves his brain function and raises IQ, reduces mom’s risk of cancers and other health conditions, helps her loose her pregnancy weight faster, and provides emotional comfort and bonding for both mothers and babies… among others!

Read more on the benefits of breastfeeding at nancymohrbacher.com.

Beware of Teething Gels for Babies!

WebMD reported this month about an FDA warning about teething medication, saying that the main ingredient, benzocaine, is linked to a rare but serious disease.  Benzocaine is the main ingredient in over-the-counter liquids and gels used to reduce teething pain in babies and young children.

The warning is about a rare but possibly life-threatening condition called methemoglobinemia, which greatly reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream.  Most cases occur in children aged 2 or younger who were treated with teething gel.

The products are used to treat pain caused by teething, canker sores, mouth and gum irritation.  Brand-name liquids and gels that contain Benzocaine include:

  • Anbesol
  • Hurricaine
  • Orajel
  • Baby Orajel
  • Orabase
  • Other store brands
  • Some lozenges and spray solutions, as well

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Warning signs and symptoms:

  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, and nail beds
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • confusion and lightheaded
  • headache
  • rapid heart rate

These symptoms appear within minutes to hours of using the medication. Children under two years old should NOT be given products containing benzocaine, unless they are under the supervision of a health care professional.  Adults should follow recommendations on the product label, and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms show up. Use sparingly. Store out of reach of children.

Teething Relief

Instead of using teething gels, here are some ideas to give your child some relief, especially if the pain is keeping him/her up at night.

  • Give baby something cold to suck on, such as a chilled teething ring, cold spoon, Popsicle, or other frozen treat
  • Gently rub baby’s gums with a finger
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen– these are both safe and effective pain relievers to help your baby, and you, get some sleep. Click on these for dosing.

Am I Pregnant? 10 Early Signs

In the first few days and weeks of pregnancy, you might not know if you’re pregnant, but your body does! Pay attention for these early pregnancy indicators, even before you head to the doctor or the pharmacy for a pregnancy test!

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1. Missed menstrual period. Stress and other things can cause you to miss a period, but this is usually a main indication that you may be pregnant!

2. Slight spotting. It is possible that instead of a full-on period, you’re just spotting a bit. Bleeding at the time of implantation or in the early months of pregnancy can be confused with menstruation.

3. Fatigue – Suddenly feeling tired even though you had a full night’s sleep? Dozing off at work?  When you become pregnant, your body needs huge amounts of energy to adapt and nourish this new life.

4. Nausea –  It might be the flu– or it might be morning sickness!  If you’re feeling queasy or horribly nauseous,  vomiting or have dry heaves you may be experiencing Morning Sickness!

5. Aversions to strong smells. Anything at all might make you nauseous, even your own cooking! You could call it a baby-protective mechanism, since things like coffee, alcohol, and cigarette smoke, all things that you should avoid during pregnancy, seem to make you ill.

6. Food cravings. The pickles-and-ice cream jokes are getting old, but once you become pregnant you may crave foods that you hardly ate before. Your tastes may change from sweet to salty or vice versa.

7. Breast changes. Similar to premenstrual sensations, but often more dramatic:  tingling, tenderness, fullness; the areola begins to darken, and tiny glands on the areola enlarge.

8. Cramps. Also similar to the pelvic cramps you feel during menstruation. (Note that a sharp one-sided pain is not normal and your doctor should be notified.)

9. Frequent urination. In the beginning of pregnancy, it’s the hormones that cause you to urinate more often. Later on, there’s the additional pressure on the bladder from your enlarging uterus!

10. Constipation. Pregnancy hormones slow the action of your intestines. The slowing of your intestines plus their competition with the expanding uterus for room to work may leave you feeling constipated.

Get more information on what to expect during the FIRST MONTH at Dr. Sears.com!

Fun DIY Birth Announcements!

Congratulations on your new baby! We know you are itching to share the good news with just about everyone you know! One popular way of welcoming the sweet, new addition is to send out a card with the details of your little angel: Name, date of birth, and any other information you’d like to share. Although you’ve got plenty of things to do, making your own birth announcements might be a fun and relaxing break from the never-ending feeding, burping, diapering, and rocking!

To get started, pay a visit to your local craft store and get some cute paper, envelopes, and embellishments such as ribbon, stamps, glitter, etc. When you get home, play around on the computer with regular printer paper until you have the text, fonts, and centering exactly as you like it. Print one on your special paper to make sure it looks right, and then print the rest! To include a picture, make color copies or have a photo shop print out wallet size pictures for you. Here’s one cute DIY announcement, compliments of do it yourself invitations.com:

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If you like a theme, you can check out Parents.com to see what some real parents came up with, including a baseball card theme, nature theme, and vintage theme!

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Martha Stewart has some cute ideas, of course, with instructions and templates to help you out! I love the idea of just including one photo and letting it do all the talking!

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If you kind of want to DIY, Shutterfly.com has a lovely selection of over 50 birth announcement cards at affordable prices. You upload your own photos, and choose your own layout and design.

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Rubber stamps are just great for DIY projects!  Here are some absolutely adorable ideas from Impress Rubber Stamps:

Baby Blocks baby ideas

Stork Ribbon Card baby ideas

Just Arrived baby ideas

Baby Train baby ideas

Your Beautiful Baby-Making Body

As your entire body seems to expand to accommodate and nurture your growing baby, it’s important to banish any feelings of resentment over the extra weight gain. Some women naturally rejoice in their new status as a mommy-to-be, while others find it difficult to do in today’s body-obsessed culture.

It’s important to be positive when viewing your new figure, appreciating not only your enhanced bra size and glowing skin, but also your wider hips, fuller face, and stretch marks.

Purge your vocabulary of words like “fat” and “huge.” Embrace words such as soft, womanly, voluptuous, curvy, nurturing, fertile, radiant, miraculous. You have been chosen to receive a tremendous gift, a new life, and your very own body is a partner in the creation of this baby.

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“Pregnant women become spiritually and physically attractive,” writes Frederick Wirth, MD, author of Prenatal Parenting: The Complete Psychological and Spiritual Guide to Loving Your Unborn Child. “There’s a serene radiance of fertility and ripeness.” That’s a wonderful way to think about the beauty and wonder of your body changing in response to your baby developing inside you. Believe in that and nurture yourself during this time. The way you act, feel and think as an expectant mother actually has a profound impact on your baby. (Lamaze.org)

You may not be thrilled with the weight gain, but keep in mind that your body is working toward a very high purpose.  Your body is doing exactly what it was made to do!  Take care to nurture yourself physically by eating wisely, drinking lots of water, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Charge yourself emotionally by reading magazines, web sites and books that help you build confidence rather than cause you to worry. Spend time with good friends and family, and make time for yourself as well. Nourish yourself spiritually by believing in yourself and recognizing that you are a partner with God in bringing a new, precious soul into the world.

Picture to yourself the moment when you will hold your newborn baby in your arms, and know that it is all worth it.

Read more at Lamaze.org

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