Author Archives: KP

Introducing Your Baby to Solid Food

baby eatingBabies can begin to eat solid foods between four and six months. Until that time, breast milk or formula will provide all the nutrition your baby needs.

You will know that you can start to introduce solid food when your baby is able to sit up well and hold up his or her head. Your baby should also stop trying to push food out with his or her tongue. Your baby may also begin to make chewing motions and seem hungry even after eight to 10 feedings per day of breast milk or formula. Your baby will probably begin to show interest in foods that you are eating. Most babies are ready to try solid foods when they have doubled their birth weight and are at least four months old.

When introducing solid foods, you should first give your baby breast milk or formula. Then give the baby pureed solid food, such as sweet potatoes, squash, applesauce, bananas, peaches, or pears, or a small amount of single-grain cereal mixed with enough breast milk or formula to make it semi-liquid. Use a soft-tipped plastic spoon, and begin with a small amount of food on the tip of the spoon. Do not add cereal to your baby’s bottle, because he or she may not realize that food is meant to be eaten with a spoon while sitting up. After your baby gets used to eating pureed or semi-liquid foods, you can progress to strained or mashed food, and then to small pieces of finger foods.

Introduce new foods one at a time, and wait at least three days to see if your baby has an allergic reaction before introducing a different food. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include diarrhea, vomiting, swelling in the face, wheezing, or a rash. Your pediatrician may recommend that you wait to introduce foods that have a greater likelihood of causing an allergic reaction, such as soy, dairy, eggs, wheat, fish, and nuts.

You do not need to introduce foods in any particular order. If your baby doesn’t seem interested in a particular food, wait a week and try again.

Begin feeding your baby solid food once a day, and give him or her time to get used to the spoon and swallowing food. You can gradually increase the amount of solid food and mix less breast milk or formula with the cereal. Feed your baby solid food once a day at first, then twice a day at six or seven months, and then three times a day at eight months. If your baby leans back in the chair, turns his or her head away from the food, plays with the spoon, or refuses to open his or her mouth, your baby has had enough to eat.

If you are feeding your baby jars of baby food, put some in a bowl and feed your baby from that. If you put the spoon in your baby’s mouth and dip it back in the jar, you will not be able to use the leftover food later. Throw away any jars of unused baby food within two days of opening them.

You can start feeding your baby in a car seat or bouncy seat and switch to a high chair when your baby is able to sit up on his or her own.

Your baby’s stools may smell different and become firmer after you introduce solid food. If your baby becomes constipated, avoid rice cereal, bananas, and applesauce and give other fruits and vegetables and oatmeal or barley cereal instead. You can also offer your baby two to four ounces of water in a sippy cup.

You should still give your baby breast milk or formula until one year of age. Solid food cannot replace all of the vitamins, iron, and protein in breast milk or formula.

Does Your Baby Have Colic?

pediatricianIf your baby cries a lot and you can’t figure out the cause, it could be colic. Colic is defined as uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy, well-fed baby for more than three hours in a row on three or more days per week for three or more weeks.

Colic usually begins when a baby is two to three weeks old, or two to three weeks after the due date, if the baby was premature. Babies with colic frequently cry in the late afternoon or evening. The crying usually is at its worst around six weeks, improves considerably between three and four months, and ends by five months.

Colic is common in babies regardless of whether they are first-born or later-born, male or female, and fed breast milk or formula. There may be multiple causes.

Your baby could have colic because his or her digestive system is immature or sensitive and is having trouble breaking down the proteins in breast milk or formula. Crying and screaming can also cause your baby to swallow air, which can contribute to gassiness. If you notice that your baby’s crying gets worse after a feeding or before a bowel movement, it could be a result of digestive problems.

Some experts believe babies can become colicky due to overstimulation. They can be overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds, and sensations around them and cry as a result. Try to reduce the amount of stimulation around your baby. Some babies respond well to hearing music or background noise, such as a running dryer or vacuum.

If you breastfeed your baby, he or she may develop colic because of something in your diet. Dairy products are one of the most likely causes. Try cutting back on milk, cheese, and yogurt for two weeks to see if the crying lessens. Other possible causes from your diet might be spicy food, wheat products, nuts, strawberries, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), garlic, caffeine, and alcohol. Try avoiding all of these foods for a few days. If your baby cries less, you will know that one of them was causing the crying. Reintroduce the foods one at a time every few days. If your baby starts crying again, you will know which food was the cause and can avoid it in the future.

Formula generally does not cause colic, but your pediatrician may suggest that you switch to a formula that does not contain cow’s milk protein. Colic is also more common in the babies of women who smoked during or after pregnancy.

If you think your baby might have colic, schedule a visit with your pediatrician. He or she can rule out other possible causes, such as an intestinal or urinary infection, and help you decide how to deal with it. If your baby experiences fever, vomiting, or bloody stools, call your pediatrician right away. These are not signs of colic.

If your baby’s crying is wearing you out, take a break and spend some time doing something you enjoy. Ask a family member or friend to take care of the baby for a while so you can regroup. Don’t hesitate to discuss your problems with your pediatrician. He or she can help you find a solution.

Should You Give Your Baby a Pacifier?

Many parents have heard conflicting advice on whether or not they should let their baby suck on a pacifier. Pediatricians say there are pros and cons.
A pacifier can be an effective way to calm a crying baby. Babies soothe themselves through their suck reflex. Some babies do not get enough time with a bottle or breastfeeding and may benefit from sucking on a pacifier. It is also easier to get a child to stop sucking on a pacifier than to stop sucking on a thumb.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents let a baby fall asleep with a pacifier for the first year to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It is helpful to have the baby suck on the pacifier while falling asleep, but there is no additional benefit after the baby has already fallen asleep.

There are potential downsides to allowing your baby to suck on a pacifier. If a pacifier is introduced too early, a baby who is just learning to nurse may become confused. You should wait to introduce a pacifier until after your baby has gotten used to nursing, which typically takes a few weeks. Parents also sometimes offer their baby a pacifier when the baby is really hungry.

baby pacifierA study has found that children who use pacifiers are more likely to develop ear infections. Researchers believe this may be due to a change in pressure between the middle ear and the upper throat.

Babies who suck on a pacifier too much can develop misaligned teeth if the mouth becomes fixed in an unnatural position. Talking with a pacifier in the mouth can also lead to speech problems.

If you decide to give your baby a pacifier, check the label to be sure it is the right size for your child’s age. Select a pacifier with a symmetrical nipple and a shield that is wider than your baby’s mouth and has air holes. Choose a bisphenol A-free plastic pacifier. Studies have shown that some plastics can disrupt infants’ endocrine systems.

You should never put a pacifier on a cord around your baby’s neck or crib because the baby could be strangled. You should not allow children to share a pacifier. Do not dip the pacifier in anything sweet, especially not honey, before giving it to your baby. If the pacifier falls on the floor, rinse it well, or better, clean it with soap and water.

Pediatricians are divided on when is the appropriate time to wean a child off a pacifier, with some suggesting nine to 12 months and others saying by three years.

When you decide that it is time for the pacifier to go, tell your child in advance so that he or she is prepared. You can gradually wean your child off the pacifier by limiting its use to certain rooms or times and by not putting it back in your baby’s mouth if it falls out at night. You can cut the pacifier, show your child that it is damaged, and throw it away together. Never give a damaged pacifier to your child. Many children naturally lose interest in a pacifier around six to 12 months of age. Once you have decided that your child should give up the pacifier, be consistent and do not give in if your child asks for it.

Should You Co-Sleep with Your Baby?

co-sleepingCo-sleeping, or the practice of parents sharing a bed with their infant, is controversial in the United States. Some parents and doctors believe it is beneficial, while others believe it poses safety risks.

Advocates of co-sleeping believe it promotes breastfeeding by making it more convenient and makes it easier for a nursing mother to attune her sleep cycle to her baby’s. It can also help infants to fall asleep more quickly, especially in their first few months of life and when they wake up in the middle of the night. Co-sleeping can help babies to sleep more during the night because they wake up more often and feed for shorter periods of time, which can allow them to get more total sleep. Co-sleeping can help parents who are away from their infants during the day feel a sense of closeness to them. Some researchers believe it can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) because babies and parents wake up more frequently.

Opponents of co-sleeping say it poses a risk of suffocation and strangulation. Parents, caregivers, or siblings can roll onto or against the baby while sleeping. Some researchers believe co-sleeping can contribute to SIDS, but the research is unclear and ongoing. Co-sleeping with a parent who smokes may increase the risk of SIDS. A baby can suffocate if it becomes trapped between a mattress and headboard, wall, or other object. It can also suffocate from being face-down on a waterbed, regular mattress, pillow, blanket, or quilt. Infants can be strangled if they get their heads caught in spaces in a bed frame.

Co-sleeping can also make it difficult for parents to get a good night’s sleep. An infant who co-sleeps may have trouble falling asleep at naptime or when the baby needs to go to sleep before the parent is ready.

If you choose to co-sleep, always place your baby on its back with its head uncovered. Be sure that your headboard and footboard do not have spaces where your baby’s head could get caught and that your mattress fits snugly in the frame to prevent the infant from getting trapped between the mattress and the frame. Never allow your baby to sleep in an adult bed alone. Do not let the baby sleep on a soft surface, such as a soft mattress, sofa, or waterbed. Do not use pillows, comforters, quilts, or other soft or plush items. Use a sleeper instead of blankets. Do not drink alcohol or take medication or drugs that could prevent you from waking up or cause you to roll over onto the infant. Keep your bed away from draperies or blinds so that your baby will not be strangled by cords.

If you want to keep your baby close to you but not in your bed, you can place a bassinet, crib, or play yard in your bedroom. You can also use a device that looks like a bassinet or play yard with one side missing that attaches to your bed and will prevent you from rolling over onto your baby.

If you are co-sleeping, talk to your doctor about when to transition your baby to sleeping in a crib. Making the switch before six months of age is usually easier because the co-sleeping habit is not yet ingrained and other developmental issues, such as separation anxiety, have not yet emerged.

Choosing the Right Day Care for Your Child

Finding the best day care for your child can be a confusing, stressful process. Here are some expert tips to consider.

A high-quality day care should help children develop socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically so that they are ready for school when the time comes. Keep these aspects of development in mind when choosing a program.

Ask family and friends for recommendations, and research options in your area. Facilities accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children meet strict standards for quality. If you are looking for a home-based day care, look for a provider accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care. The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies provides lists of state-licensed facilities, inspection reports, state fact sheets, and information on day care and family child care regulations. There are no federal standards for day care centers, and licensing and regulations vary by state.

childrenChildren should be supervised at all times, and there should be low teacher-to-child ratios. There should be one teacher for every three to four infants or young toddlers, for every four to six older toddlers, or for every six to nine preschoolers to ensure that your child receives necessary one-on-one attention.

Classrooms should be well-organized and include a wide array of age-appropriate toys and materials. Staff should follow daily and weekly schedules that include a variety of activities, such as art, music, outdoor play, reading, and dramatic play.

Teachers’ education is also important. Teachers should have degrees in early childhood education and receive regular professional development to improve their skills.

Ask about the program’s policies on a wide variety of health and safety issues, including immunizations, hand washing, diaper changing, illnesses, injuries, and emergency procedures. All staff should have undergone a background check and should be certified in CPR and first aid. Be extra careful when looking at family child care providers, since they are less strictly regulated than child care centers.

Look for a licensed facility that asks for input from parents and staff to improve their program and offers teachers professional development. You and the staff should share the same core values and be able to communicate freely at all times to support the growth and progress of your child.

Chores Teach Children Responsibility and Teamwork

child cleaningChild development experts agree that having children perform household chores teaches teamwork and a strong work ethic. Everyone needs to feel needed, and chores are a great way to build your child’s sense of responsibility and self-worth, while decreasing the burden on you and your spouse.

What are some age-appropriate chores that your child can perform? The experts at WebMD have some suggestions:

Children two to three years old can put their toys away, feed pets, put their dirty clothes in the hamper, clean up spills, dust, and stack books and magazines. Four- and five-year-olds can make their beds, bring in the mail or newspaper, clear the table, water flowers, unload utensils from the dishwasher, and wash plastic dishes in the sink. A six- or seven-year-old can sort laundry, sweep the floor, set and clear the table, help make lunch, and clean his or her bedroom.

Make a list of all the chores that need to be done to enable your home to run smoothly. Allow children to choose which chores they want to do so they will be less likely to complain and try to avoid doing them. Children tend to respond well if they feel that they have choices.

Create a chores chart that lists each chore, whose responsibility it is, the deadline for getting it done, and a space to place a check mark when it has been completed. You can make two charts – one for daily chores and another for weekly ones.

Teach your child how to do chores gradually. Start out by showing the child how to do the chore step-by-step, then let your child help you. After that, allow the child to do the chore while you supervise, and finally allow him or her to do it alone, without supervision.

Make sure you set clear expectations and explain why it is necessary for the chore to be done, and set consequences if the chore is not done. Offer praise for a job well done, but don’t expect your child to do the chore perfectly right away. If the child falls short, offer suggestions for improvement, but don’t do the chore yourself. Most importantly, be consistent, and your family will be able to work together to get chores done so that you will be able to spend more quality time together.

Tips for Visiting a New Mother in the Hospital

visiting a new mom

When a friend or family member gives birth, it is a beautiful thing. Just like the new mom, you’ve been waiting nine months for the little one to enter the world. You may want to drive right over to the hospital when you see pictures of the baby on Facebook, but there are rules for doing that. Follow these tips to avoid a potentially awkward situation at the hospital.

1. Call ahead – Call first and see when the new mother would like to have visitors. The immediate family may want to spend some time alone with the baby and the new mom will be exhausted from the birthing process. Don’t show up unannounced and make your visit brief!

2. Don’t go if you’re sick – If you are not feeling well, don’t go visit the baby at the hospital. You don’t want to get the newborn sick too. Only pick up the baby if you are invited to do so and make sure you wash your hands first.new mother

3. Don’t give advice unless you are asked – Many people might think they are an expert on how to raise a baby and feel like they need to give their two cents to the new mother. Unless she asks you for advice, don’t offer it.

4. Focus on the mother – This is a special time for the new mom. Don’t focus your conversation on your birthing experience or try to “one up” her. Everyone’s birthing experience is a little different and most people don’t want to discuss specific details about the birth.

5. Names are personal – Even if the new baby’s name is North or Blanket, be gracious with your response to it. Naming a child is very personal and can mean a lot to the parents.

6. Respect the mother’s privacy – If the mother decides to breastfeed the baby while you are there, respectfully ask if they want you to leave the room during feeding time. If you are the new mom, it is always good manners to ask if your visitors mind if you feed your baby in front of them.

Baby Bath Time Tips

Baby Bath Time

When you have a newborn you have to carefully give them a bath. It is the parents’ job to make bathing a safe and enjoyable experience until their child is old enough to do it on their own. Bath time can be difficult sometimes, so here are a few tips that can help ensure it doesn’t turn into a disaster.

Tip #1 – Be Prepared

Make sure you have everything you need before you put your baby in the tub. The last thing you want is to find out is that you are missing something after you already started bathing your infant. After you have everything you need you can start running the water. Stay focused on your baby the whole time, this is important for keeping them calm and happy during the bath.

Tip #2 – Keep the Bathroom Warm

About an hour before bath time you should turn on the heat or place a space heater in the bathroom. This is especially important in the winter to keep the bathroom warm. By keeping the bathroom at a warm temperature your baby will be comfortable and won’t get the chills.

Tip #3 – Perfect Temperature for the Water

It is a good habit to run cold water into the bath first and then add hot water. This will ensure that the water is always cool first and not scalding hot. This will also help you avoid a rambunctious toddler from being burned when trying to climb into the tub early. Start with cold water and then warm it up with hot water.

Tip #4 – Bath Time Entertainment

Keeping your child entertained during bath time is important. Giving your baby a bath should be a fun bonding experience for you both. When bathing a newborn, just stirring the water or gently splashing will entertain them. Once your child gets older you can add colorful waterproof toys for them to play with. You don’t want your child to associate taking a bath as a negative activity, so keep it fun and never make it a punishment.

Tip #5 – Use Proper Products

A baby’s skin is soft and delicate, so it is important to use products that are pH balanced and dermatologist tested. The products you use should protect their delicate skin, not damage it. Try to find shampoo that won’t burn if it accidentally get in their eyes and soap that is safe to use with delicate skin.

Tech Gadgets that Help Keep your Newborn Safe

Every parent wants to keep their child safe at all times. Many parents with newborns can stress themselves out by constantly checking their baby’s crib to make sure they are still breathing. New tech gadgets are helping put new parents’ minds at ease by helping you keep your newborn safer than ever before.

Owlet Baby Monitor

Owlet Baby Monitor

This wearable “Smart Sock” slips onto your baby’s foot. It will not only track movement, but also measure information like heart rate, oxygen levels, and body temperature. All of the recorded information is transferred to your smart phone via Bluetooth so you can access your baby’s stats in real time form the comfort of your own bed.

Price – $199

Peeko Monitor

peeko baby monitor

This onesie that your baby wears to bed is in development right now. This wearable monitor measures activity level, sound, breathing, and much more. All of the information is sent to your smart phone and you can customize alerts so that you receive notifications about information you want to know.

Price – Unknown

BabySense Movement Monitor

This baby monitoring system only tracks your baby’s movements. It is a sensor-padded mat that your baby sleeps on top of. If there is a 20 second time period where there is no movement, the parents are alerted.

Price – $130

Oma+

oma+

This product by Levana is a small mobile monitor that clips onto the baby’s diaper to track movement. If Oma+ detects a lack of movement for 15 seconds, it gently vibrates to rouse the baby. If three consecutive vibrations should occur, Oma+ will sound an alarm to alert you. The unit is safe for newborns because it uses a low-voltage battery and no radiation or frequency waves.

Price – $170

SafeToSleep Breathing Monitor

This last safety device is a wireless mobile system that your baby sleeps on top of, similar to the BabySense. The SafeToSleep, however, is embedded with sensors that monitor your baby’s breathing, sleep cycles, and sleep time. It will also generate sleep reports so you can see an overview of your baby’s general sleep patterns. All of this information can be accessed by your smart phone.

Price – $329

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Ways to Keep your Kids Busy During the Summer

Ice Cube Painting

Summer is almost here and that means your kids are going to be home all day long. With school being out, you are going to have to come up with some ways to fill those seven hours for a few months. Take a look at some of these activities you can do with your kids to help pass the time during summer vacation this year.

1) Paint

Try a different and fun way to paint with your kids. Use sponges or frozen water with paint instead of your normal brushes to paint with. It might be a little messier, but your kids will be preoccupied for hours. Plus it’s fun!!!

2) Swimming

There is no better way to cool off in the summer heat than to take a dip in a pool. You should enroll your kids in swimming classes so they can learn how to fend for themselves in the water. Whether you go to the beach or a friend’s pool, your kids will have a blast. Just make sure you keep a close eye on them!

3) GardeningKids Gardening

Younger kids love the outdoors. There is a natural attraction between children and the earth, so use that to your advantage. Create a small garden with your kids that has different plants and vegetables. Give them the responsibility of watering them every day. Your garden doesn’t have to be perfect, just make it fun and let them explore the wonders of nature.

4) Family Field Day

If your kids are starting to get tired of going to the same playground or parks, take them to some local museums and historic attractions. There is nothing wrong with an educational day when school is out!

5) Read a Book

Many children are mesmerized by the internet, television, and video games these days. Try to get your kids excited about reading. Give them incentives for reading books during the summer. Reading is so important because the more they read they more they will know. If you can, try getting a Kindle to help connect the gap between books and technology.

6) Movie Night

It is always fun to take your kids to see a new movie at the theater. There are always plenty of new kids’ movies that come out in the summer that even you will enjoy. If you are on a budget watch some classic movies at home on the couch!

7) Car WashFamily Car Wash

Here is a great way to keep your vehicle clean and bond with your kids. Have everyone pitch in on a nice day to clean the family car. Have fun with it, if your clothes are soaking wet when you finish, you are doing it wrong!

8) Cook Together

Bake a cake, come up with your own recipes, or cook a meal together. Your kids will not only like learning how to cook different things, they will be more likely to eat it if they were a part of making it.

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