Congratulations! You may be pregnant or maybe you just had a baby (and lucky you if you actually have time to read this)! There’s no feeling more incredible than when you’ve just had a baby. So why don’t you feel wonderful all the time?
Tip 1 - How to handle the stress?
Well, even the best events in life have stress attached to them. Having a baby is exciting for everyone. You’ve been flooded with company practically from the moment of delivery. If you’re a first-time mother, hospitals don’t give you very much help or advice; they send you home with this new little creature with an array of demands that you have to try to interpret. And new babies don’t sleep much. At least not long enough to allow you to get some much needed rest.
Add to that the hormonal changes in your own body, and you have a formula that’s guaranteed to be stressful. Sometimes you think you’ll never get a full night’s sleep again. Until the baby settles into a routine, you probably won’t!
To get through those first few weeks and months, here are a few tips to help you get at least a little more sleep.
First of all, don’t try to be a supermom. When the baby goes down for a nap, take a small nap yourself. The laundry can wait and so can the dishes. You don’t need to have a perfect house. There will be time for all that; give yourself a break whenever you get the opportunity.
If you have a good friend or relative to help out, by all means take advantage of that for an afternoon. Grandma would probably jump at the chance to have the baby all to herself for a few hours!
When you put the baby to bed for the night, take some time to decompress and relax so you have a better chance of falling asleep. Take a bath scented with lavender; put on some soft music and baby yourself a little. Sometimes it’s hard even without a new baby to fall asleep right away. There’s a lot to get used to!
Tip 2 - Your typical day and night
Bringing home a new baby brings with it an exhausting array of new responsibilities and challenges. Is there such a thing as a typical day and night for new parents? Probably not!
Remember, the baby has just gone through an enormous change too, so part of the process when you first bring him home is his transition from the womb to the outside world. Keep the baby close to you, keep him wrapped and warm. If you’re breastfeeding, this will take some time for both of you to adjust to as well.
If you’re new baby is formula fed, he’ll need to feed every 3 to 5 hours. If you’re breastfeeding, he’ll need to feed more frequently. Sometimes you will feel that all you do all day and night is breastfeed. You will probably feel much more empathy with cows! And there will be a lot of diapers to change, especially until you get familiar with his schedule. His diaper will probably need to be changed shortly after feeding, about once an hour in the very beginning. Be sure to check frequently.
Until the umbilical cord has fallen off, you’ll want to keep to sponge baths every few days, but you will want to wash the baby’s bottom every day. You can wipe the baby’s hands, face, neck and bottom every day with a soft washcloth with warm water. When the baby’s ready for full baths, in a few weeks, every day is a good idea to prevent diaper rashes. But keep in mind that too much bathing can dry out his sensitive skin. So see what works for your baby.
Those little finger and toenails will grow quickly, and they’ll need to be trimmed regularly so the baby doesn’t scratch himself. The baby’s nails can be long, even at birth and attached high on the nail bed. You’ll need to gently press the fingerpad away from the nail and clip it with a baby nail clipper. You might want to do this when the baby’s sleeping to ensure that he doesn’t jerk those little fingers and toes away!
Get used to being busy 24/7 during the first month, at least. You will be feeding and changing diapers around the clock so get as much help as you can so you can have some peace too.
Tip 3 - Cope with new schedule
There will be days when you bring the new baby home that you think you’ll never get to sleep again. In the meantime, try to get some rest and sleep whenever you can. The baby won’t be sleeping through the night for several weeks, perhaps months. While she’s adjusting to the schedule of night and day, you won’t be able to sleep through the night until she does.
Until she’s sleeping through the night, try to sleep when she sleeps. Many new mothers try to do everything at once, and start cleaning or doing the laundry once the baby goes down for a nap. You’ll only make yourself more tired if you try to be supermom.
If you can get some help in those first weeks with the cleaning and laundry, by all means, do so. If you can have a friend or relative in to watch the baby for an afternoon while you catch some much-needed sleep, try to take advantage of that whenever you can.
When you’ve been so busy all day with new baby chores and everything else you have to do to maintain a household, and possibly take care of older siblings as well, it can be hard to wind down just because everyone else is asleep.
Make some routines to help yourself unwind at night. Take a warm bath – not too hot, hot water can be stimulating – and play some relaxing music. Even if you’re not breastfeeding, avoid caffeine throughout the day and especially at night. Drink water or decaffeinated or herbal tea. If foods that have a lot of preservatives or sodium can make you jumpy, try to avoid those as much as possible. Try to eat very natural foods, such as salads, green vegetables, fruits, and warm healthy soups.
As soon as you’re able, try to get out and walk for a little bit each day. The fresh air and moderate exercise will help you and your baby feel relaxed and can help you get to sleep at night.
Tip 4 - Preventing SIDS
It’s the most frightening, bewildering and heartbreaking thing that can happen with a newborn. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It’s defined as when as when a baby dies in the first year of life from no apparent cause. The causes still aren’t fully known, but in SIDS deaths, the baby’s recovery mechanisms if deprived of oxygen aren’t developed and he’s not able to rouse himself if his breathing becomes obstructed, such as when he’s sleeping face down.
There’s no way to predict whether a baby is at risk for SIDS, although the occurrence of SIDS deaths has decreased in the last 10 years. Creating a safe sleep environment for the baby is one way to help prevent SIDS.
For the first year of life, babies should be put to sleep on their backs. If put to sleep on their sides, they should be positioned with one arm forward to keep them from rolling over on their stomachs. Soft foam wedges can be purchased for just this purpose.
Avoid loose, fluffy bedding and make sure your baby’s face isn’t obstructed. Be careful not to overheat your baby by over-wrapping him or dressing him in too many layers.
Don’t smoke and don’t allow anyone else to smoke around the baby. Make sure he has a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib.
There are monitoring systems that can alert you if the baby stops breathing. There are some indications when you might want to consider this:
- If the baby has had any life-threatening episodes, such as turning blue, or an episode requiring mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- If the baby had older siblings who died of SIDS.
- If the baby was premature
Make sure to keep all well-baby appointments to make sure his lungs are fully developed and to maintain all immunizations.
Tip 5 - Proper breastfeeding
New parents want to give their babies the very best. When it comes to nutrition, the best first food for babies is breast milk. Experts recommend that babies be breast-fed for six to 12 months. The only acceptable alternative to breast milk is infant formula. Solid foods can be introduced when the baby is 4 to 6 months old, but a baby should drink breast milk or formula, not cow's milk, for a full year. Cow's milk contains a different type of protein than breast milk. This is good for calves, but human infants can have difficulty digesting it. Bottle-fed infants tend to be fatter than breast-fed infants, but not necessarily healthier.
Human milk contains at least 100 ingredients not found in formula. No babies are allergic to their mother's milk, although they may have a reaction to something the mother eats. If she eliminates it from her diet, the problem resolves itself.
Sucking at the breast promotes good jaw development as well. It's harder work to get milk out of a breast than a bottle, and the exercise strengthens the jaws and encourages the growth of straight, healthy teeth. The baby at the breast also can control the flow of milk by sucking and stopping. With a bottle, the baby must constantly suck or react to the pressure of the nipple placed in the mouth.
Initially, a breast-fed baby will need to be fed 8-12 times in a 24-hour period, especially since both baby and mother are getting used to the process. Breast milk is more quickly digested than formula, which is another reason why more frequent feeding is necessary. Another reason for the constant suckling at the breast is to stimulate the mammary glands to produce more milk for the baby’s growing appetite. But the extra time spent feeding the baby that first year is well worth it as breast milk passes along the mother’s immunities and delivers the highest-quality nutrition for a developing baby.
Tip 6 - Breastfeeding sleep
Besides being the optimal source of nutrition for your baby in her first year, nursing has obvious psychological benefits for both mother and baby. At birth, infants see only 12 to 15 inches, the distance between a nursing baby and its mother's face. Studies have found that infants as young as 1 week prefer the smell of their own mother's milk.
Many psychologists believe the nursing baby enjoys a sense of security from the warmth and presence of the mother, especially when there's skin-to-skin contact during feeding. Parents of bottle-fed babies may be tempted to prop bottles in the baby's mouth, with no human contact during feeding. But a nursing mother must cuddle her infant closely many times during the day. Nursing becomes more than a way to feed a baby; it's a source of warmth and comfort.
When the baby is being fed and nurtured in this way, it’s natural for her to fall asleep quickly. When you know how much she can consume in one feeding, try to gently nudge her awake if she falls asleep too soon. You can easily rouse her with a little tickle of the feet. Otherwise, she’ll get hungry sooner and you’ll be feeding her more often.
Breast-feeding is good for new mothers as well as for their babies. There are no bottles to sterilize and no formula to buy, measure and mix. It may be easier for a nursing mother to lose the pounds of pregnancy as well, since nursing uses up extra calories. Lactation also stimulates the uterus to contract back to its original size.
A nursing mother is forced to get needed rest. She must sit down, put her feet up, and relax every few hours to nurse. Nursing at night is easy as well. No one has to stumble to the refrigerator for a bottle and warm it while the baby cries. If she's lying down, a mother can doze while she nurses.
Tip 7 - Co-sleeping
While western culture discourages it, studies have shown that co-sleeping with a breastfeeding infant promotes bonding, regulates the mother and baby's sleep patterns, plays a role in helping the mother to become more responsive to her baby's cues, and gives both the mother and baby needed rest. The co-sleeping environment also assists mothers in the continuation of breastfeeding on demand, an important step in maintaining the mother's milk supply.
There are many ways of co-sleeping. Some mothers keep their babies in bed with them all the time. Other mothers set up the crib or bassinet in the mother's room; their babies are brought to the mother's bed when they wake. Other mothers sleep with their babies on a mattress in the baby's room.
This is a personal decision for every mother. If you decide to co-sleep with your infant, there are some guidelines for doing it effectively and safely.
Parents should not sleep with their babies if they are smokers or have ingested alcohol or drugs. Do not co-sleep if you drink alcohol or medications that make you sleepy, take drugs, or smoke. Co-sleep only on beds, not on couches or recliners. Bedding should be tight fitting to the mattress and the mattress should be tight fitting to the headboard of the bed. There should not be any loose pillows or soft blankets near the baby's face. There should not be any space between the bed and adjoining wall where the baby could roll and become trapped. And of course, the baby should not be placed on its stomach.
There are as many options as there are parents and babies. As babies grow and changes their sleep patterns, families often respond by changing sleeping spaces. The only right choice is what works to give the whole family as much rest as possible.
Tip 8 - Formula
If you’re new mother, you already know that breastfeeding is best for your baby. But not everyone can successfully breastfeed. What’s important is that your baby gets the nourishment he needs to develop and thrive. If your baby isn’t thriving on breast milk, then you need to switch to formula. There are many different options to choose from.
The brand you choose isn’t important. All formulas are prepared according to FDA regulations which specify minimum and, in some cases, maximum nutrient level requirements for infant formulas, based on recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. These regulations and the Infant Formula Act help to make sure that all infant formulas are nutritionally complete and safe for your baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not endorse or recommend that your infant drink any specific brand of formula if you choose not to breastfeed, except they do say that low iron formula should not be used.
Baby formulas mostly differ in the type of sugar and protein that they have. Regular iron fortified infant formulas, such as Similac Advance, Enfamil Lipil, and Nestle Good Start Supreme are made with lactose and cow's milk based proteins. Most infants who are not breastfeeding exclusively should be given a cow's milk based iron fortified formula.
Soy formulas are made with soy protein and are lactose free. They are good for children who don't tolerate lactose or milk proteins.
Elemental formulas are also lactose free and are made with hydrolysate proteins, which are easy to digest for infants with protein allergies. If you have a family history of food allergies or formula intolerances, you might choose to start your baby off with a soy or elemental formula if you do not want to breastfeed.
Tip 9 - Bottle types
There are three types of baby bottles are available: glass, plastic and plastic with disposable plastic liners. Glass bottles are very durable but they are a little heavier to use and they are breakable. Plastic bottles are also very sturdy and are more lightweight. Bottles with liners are convenient since the liners don't need to be sterilized but they can also be expensive to use. Some plastic bottles are shaped at an angle to minimize the amount of air the baby takes in her stomach when feeding.
You can choose several styles of nipples in either rubber or silicone. You should buy new nipples every three months. As your baby gets older, buy nipples with larger holes.
Most babies are content with formula that is at room temperature. If your baby prefers warmed-up formula, heat the bottle (with the formula already in it) by running it under hot water from the faucet. This way you can ensure the liquid is not too hot and you can frequently check the temperature by shaking some formula on your wrist. Don't microwave formula because the liquid heats unevenly. Even though the bottle may be cool to your touch, the liquid inside could be burning hot and scald your baby’s throat.
Feeding time is usually an enjoyable experience for the person feeding the baby and the baby. Cuddling with your baby is important and feeding time is the perfect opportunity to get in some skin-to-skin contact. When your baby is about halfway finished drinking the formula in the bottle, take a break and burp her to release any gas that may be accumulating in her tummy.
A general rule of thumb is to burp your baby after every 2 ounces eaten. If you forget to do this, your baby will wake up from her restful sleep crying due to the need to burp.
Tip 10 - Moving to the nursery
When you bring your new baby home, you probably will have the urge to keep him near you at all times, especially when you (try to!) go to sleep for the night. It makes sense to have a crib or cradle in your bedroom at first, since it will minimize the distance you have to walk to handle nighttime feedings.
You can try moving the baby into his nursery for naps right from the beginning, to try to minimize any trauma or anxiety by moving him into a strange room with new smells and sights when he’s a little older. Sit with him in a rocker or glider and rock him to sleep at first, then move him into his crib.
Later, you can put him in his crib and if he’s fussy or can’t get to sleep, try sitting near the crib for a few nights until he falls asleep. Then move the chair further away for another week or so. Finally, position the chair near the door, so the baby gets used to falling asleep without being right next to you.
It will be hard in the beginning, but if you’re consistent, eventually, you’ll get your baby to the point where he can fall asleep in his own room. Start to establish a nighttime routine, so your baby knows what to expect. A nice, warm bath, followed by changing into soft clean pajamas is a good start. Even a very young baby can be read to at bedtime. You can also sing to him and just talk to him. The sound of your voice is what matters so he feels safe and secure enough to fall asleep. By starting these simple routines early, hopefully you’ll avoid trouble later on trying to move the baby into his nursery and getting him to sleep at a normal time.
Tip 11 - Nursery decor
There’s nothing more wonderful than planning the nursery for your new baby. If you’ve decided to find out the gender of your baby, you can have the room all ready for him or her when you come home from the hospital.
What kinds of things do you need to create a safe haven and optimal sleep environment?
The trend for awhile was to have bright, stimulating colors in the nursery or mobiles in black and white to help the baby’s eyes develop. This faded from popularity pretty quickly as parents found out all that trendy stuff wasn’t conducive to sleep!
Make sure your crib conforms to all the guidelines for safety and that you have a good, firm mattress. Keep to softer pastel colors – blues, greens, pinks and yellows. Any color you like is good, although some, like blues and greens, are more restful.
Make sure the bedding and the entire room is clean and fresh. Until your baby is at least a year old, a quilt or comforter should be for decoration only. You can buy specially made quilt clips to hang it on a wall. Your baby’s bed needs to be unobstructed by blankets, pillows or sheets, so that her face is clear at all times and there’s no danger of obstructing her breathing. You might want to have a small foam wedge that’s positioned to keep the baby from rolling on her stomach. You should also keep stuffed animals or other toys out of the crib until the baby’s older. In addition, you may want to purchase a baby monitor to hear your baby throughout the night. These days, some monitors actually show your baby on a screen or video, amazing!
Make the room a pleasant one. If you use a scent, like lavender, keep it light. Nothing overpowering. Keep it as dust-free as possible to avoid sneezing and stuffy noses. The nursery should feel like a safe and cozy place that your baby associates with restfulness and security.
Tip 12 - Nursery setup
The most important part of any nursery is the crib. You want to make it safe and cozy. No matter what type of crib you get, make sure it conforms to all safety guidelines and standards. Make sure the crib mattress fits snugly against the rails, so the baby can’t get wedged between them. You also want to be sure the crib sheet fits snug and tight, nothing loose or bunched up.
Until the baby is at least a year old, you don’t want to use sheets or blankets. A comforter or quilt should be for decoration only in that first year. Make sure the baby’s sleepwear is clean and soft and appropriate for her age and for the weather. You don’t want them too warm or too light, as babies can’t regulate their own body temperatures at first.
The only crib accessory that you want inside the crib when the baby’s sleeping is perhaps a small, foam wedge that you can use to keep the baby from rolling on her stomach. Sleeping on her back or on her side is the position many experts recommend at first.
The sheets should always be fresh and clean; use unscented detergent in case your baby’s sensitive to fragrances.
Keep the room dust-free and the space underneath the crib clutter-free, so it won’t accumulate dust. If your baby’s sensitive to dust, you don’t want to trigger a bout of sneezing and a runny nose at bedtime or naptime.
Make the room and bed sheeting colors soft and restful. Too much color and contrast will stimulate the baby’s vision and keep her alert, just when you want her to wind down for bedtime or a nap. The baby’s room and crib should be soft and inviting places to be. She has busy days – there’s so much to learn and do! The crib needs to be a place that’s calm and restful for her.
Tip 13 - Nursery feng shui
You’ve probably heard of feng shui, the Chinese system for arrangement and placement of furniture in a room. It’s often used in businesses and homes as a way to create positive energy in your environment. Even if you’ve never used feng shui in your own space, why not consider it for your baby’s room? Feng shui is now making its way into the nursery, and for good reason, too. Feng Shui proposes that by arranging and aligning the room correctly, energy will flow better in the room. Positive energy flow will create an environment to thrive for people of any age, especially a baby.
To maximize the energy in baby's room, there are several important factors to consider, such as room location, safety, colors, and furniture arrangement. Using feng shui in the nursery will help to make babies less fussy, who will feel more comfortable in their surroundings, and who will be healthy and flourish. What does it take to accomplish this? Following some basic considerations will help both baby and parents create a room that makes them both happy.
First of all, put the baby’s room in a good location. A new baby should have a bedroom that is not over a garage or has an empty space below. The bedroom also shouldn't be located where there is excessive noise that might keep the baby from sleeping, such as close to a living room where the TV is on, or close to a noisy street or neighbor.
The bed should not be against a window or be directly in line with the door. Make sure the baby does not sleep or is placed against a slanted wall. Avoid placing the baby against a wall that is shared with a bathroom, toilet, storage, or utility-type room. Create good, but soft energy and movement, with mobiles hung close to a window to move gently in the breeze and keep soft music playing in the room.
The baby’s nursery should always be clutter free. Nothing at all should be underneath the crib. Few things should line the walls, keep it minimal. Each night, the dirty diapers should be taken out so a clean, fresh smell circulates. A small air filter can be placed to ensure clean crisp air 24/7.
Tip 14 - Music for babies
You’ve probably seen videos and CDs for babies. There are some theories that classical music can make your baby smarter, and exposing your baby to music is part of what we do to introduce them to all the sights and sounds of their world.
Music can definitely help calm your baby down and put him in a restful state at bedtime or nap time. What are some good choices for a baby?
Almost anything you love or use for relaxation is good for a baby too. There are good collections of Mozart or Bach for bedtime. The music of Enya can be very soothing as well. Georgia Kelly’s harp music is also relaxing and peaceful.
When your baby’s awake, there are lots of nursery rhymes or music from kids’ movies that can stimulate his senses. We’ve known kids who respond to minimalist Phillip Glass’s music; it’s simple and rhythmic and when they get older, they’ll dance with it. Spirituals and soft gospel music are also good choices to help the baby get to sleep.
White noise, in the form of a fan (not directed right at the baby), or from sound machines that simulate the sound of an ocean or rain can be restful as well, and can block out noise from the home. You don’t need to create an artificially silent environment for the baby, however, since that can make it harder for them to get to sleep when the home’s rhythms and noises get back to normal.
This is a great time for you to explore classical music as well, if it’s not already part of your life. The same music that’s helping your baby get to sleep can help soothe your own nerves and provide a wonderful time of bonding and restfulness for you and your baby together.
Tip 15 - Bathing
Bath time is a special time of bonding with a baby and her parents. It’s a time to play gently, talk and sing. Get everything you will need ready before you start! The list includes water (of course), washcloth, alcohol pads, bath towel (with hood if you have one), clean diaper, any items you routinely use during a diaper change (for little circumcised boys this would include Vaseline and gauze squares), and fresh clothes. Use a special baby wash and baby shampoo, preferably natural ones with calendula oils; regular soaps and shampoos can be too harsh or drying. Babies lose body heat very quickly, so make sure the room is warm -- 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
Gently cradle your baby's head in one hand and use the other hand to remove her clothing. Gently wash her with a soft, warm washcloth, and dry her off with a towel. If you like, you can wash one area at a time and put a fresh item of clothing on as soon as an area is washed and dried. This is not necessary unless you are in a chilly room.
It’s a good idea to start with the "less dirty" areas first, i.e. leave the diaper area until last, so you’re not washing the baby in dirty water. As you go, be sure to gently wash behind her ears; the crevices in her neck, elbows, and knees; and in between her fingers and toes. It's a good idea to wash a newborn's hair near the end of bath time. This will help prevent him or her from losing too much body heat. Most newborns don't have much hair, so it is easy to sponge it with water much the same way you do the rest of the body. Almost all babies dislike getting their eyes wet. If you tip the head back just a bit and work your way from the front to the back, you can avoid getting water in your baby's eyes.
Tip 16 - Trial and error
Every mother, whether a first-time mom or an experienced one, has to make those decisions about what’s best for her baby. You can start out with books by “experts” and of course friends and relatives always have advice for a new mother and baby.
These are a way to start, but if what you’re doing doesn’t work, then you have to try something new. Try different things at bedtime to see what works for you and your baby. She’s unique and not like any other baby, after all!
You can try different types of foods at night, or the timing of her last feeding. Are her pajamas soft and not scratchy? Be sure to use special detergents made just for baby clothes, especially in the beginning. Can you hang her clothes and bedding outside in the sunshine to dry? Who doesn’t feel all cozy and comfy when going to sleep in bedding that’s been dried outside? Just make sure no critters get into the bedding or clothes.
Do you have a ritual at night? Maybe it starts with a nice bath and then a feeding while holding her close to you. Nothing feels more wonderful than holding a baby right out of the bath when they have that wonderful baby smell. It’s just important to make this a pleasant and relaxing time for both of you, especially when your baby’s very young, in the first months of her life.
If it takes a long time for your baby to wind down, then you might need to start your rituals early in the day. If you’ve been playing with her beforehand, then it might take a little longer to get her to sleep. Again, those rituals of bath, feeding, talking and singing in a quiet, darkened room will soon signal bed time for your baby (and hopefully for you too!)
Tip 17 - Sleep requirements
As a new mother, you probably will wonder whether your baby is sleeping enough, or sleeping too much. There are guidelines of what to expect, but of course these can vary from baby to baby. Even if you’ve had children before, each baby will be different.
Newborn babies usually sleep about 16-17 hours in a 24-hour period. Most babies will not sleep through the night until they’re at least 3 months old. There are several reasons why. First of all, their stomachs are very small and they’ll get hungry faster, especially if you’re breastfeeding your baby. Breast milk is much more easily digested than formula, and your baby will need to feed more often, especially in the beginning.
Babies also have shorter sleep cycles than adults do and have shorter dream cycles. In general, though, a newborn baby should sleep about 8 or nine hours during the day and 8 hours or so at night. These won’t be in 8-hour cycles, of course. In the beginning, those sleep times will be very short.
As the baby gets older, up to about 2 years of age, she’ll still be sleeping 13-14 hours, but the amount of daytime sleep will diminish month-by-month. By age 2, your baby should be sleeping through the night with a 2-hour nap during the day. Again, this will vary by child. Your baby might need a slightly longer nap or two short naps. At this age though, try to discourage naps too late in the afternoon, as this can make it harder to get them to sleep a few hours later at bed time.
Once a baby begins to regularly sleep through the night, parents are often dismayed when he/she begins to awaken in the night again. This typically happens at about 6 months of age and is often a normal part of development called separation anxiety, when a baby does not understand that separations are temporary.
Tip 18 - Sleep issues 4-7 months
Your baby should start sleeping through the night at about 3 months. But babies are learning and observing all the time, and your baby could soon start to associate sleep time with time that mommy isn’t there. It’s called separation anxiety and it’s a normal part of development for many babies. But it can be especially trying for parents, as babies can be particularly strong-willed, especially about bedtime!
You may be introducing some baby foods at this time, and this can help your baby feel sleepy. Remember to introduce new patterns gently and slowly. If the baby isn’t going to sleep or keeps waking up and crying for you, then she needs to learn to self-comfort, but not all at once. Ease her into the habit of sleeping alone.
Don’t change your rituals at bedtime. You can still start out with a warm bath and feeding. Rocking and snuggling, singing or reading – these are all bonding times for mother and baby. If the baby doesn’t fall asleep right away, try putting her in her crib with the rocker or glider right next to the crib, singing or reading to her. You can stand at the crib and rub or pat her back.
In a week or two, move the chair a short distance away from the crib, so the baby can see you. You can talk or read or sing. If she cries for more than 10 or 15 minutes, then get up and comfort her, but put her back down in the crib and go back to your chair.
In another week or two, move the farther away, towards the door. Even these minor changes could be hard for your baby, but be patient. This is a time when you can fold her laundry and put it away, talking to her, so she’s aware of your presence, but your attention isn’t focused entirely on her. This way she can get used to the idea of separation gradually.
Tip 19 - Sleep issues 8-12 months
At the ages of 8-12 months, your baby will begin to need less sleep during the day and should be regularly sleeping through the night. But there’s also much more activity and stimulation during the day – babies are eating up the world at this stage, they’re learning so much.
If you’re feeding him baby food during the day, and decreasing bottles, make the last bottle feeding at nighttime. You can also have a bottle in the night to soothe him if he wakes up. Babies are teething at this time as well, and that can cause them to wake up in discomfort. You may be weaning the baby from breastfeeding, and that can be a difficult transition as well.
There are different schools of thought on handling babies who are a challenge to get to sleep. Some recommend letting the baby cry it out, but this is hard on the parents, especially on mom who may have been comforting and bonding with the baby all day long. It can see cruel to just let the baby cry himself to sleep. He’s just a little guy, after all.
Take extra care at this time to make sure the nursery is conducive to sleeping. Make sure his diaper is clean and his sheets are clean and soft. If he’s teething, use a topical pain treatment that’s safe for the baby. You can also invest in some homeopathic tablets that ease teething naturally. Make sure his nose is clear and not stuffy. If you use a foam wedge to keep the baby from sleeping on his stomach, sleep with a spare one night and then put that in his bed so that your scent is close to him at night.
Make sure the room isn’t too cold or too hot; keep a humidifier in the room to maintain a good moisture balance, especially in the winter when rooms can dry out. Your baby just might be stubborn about sleeping, but try to figure out if there are physical problems that you can alleviate first.
Tip 20 - Sleep issues 1-2 years old
As your baby gets older and turns into a toddler, they’ll start to need less sleep during the day, but about 11 hours or so at night. You’ll be transitioning to fewer naps and even a cranky tired baby can have difficulty getting to sleep.
If your child will to go to bed only if you're around, he's forming bad habit that will be hard to break later. The best lesson you can teach him is how to soothe himself to sleep. Follow a nightly bedtime ritual (bath, books, and bed, for example) so he knows what's expected of him and what to expect at night. You can tell him that if he stays in bed you'll come back in five minutes to check on him. Let him know that he's safe and that you'll be nearby.
Toddlers are great negotiators, and they're no different when it comes to bedtime. And because they so enjoy the time they spend with you, they'll do what they can to prolong the time they have with you. Your child may take his time doing his usual nightly routine, ask repeatedly for a glass of water, or keep requesting that you come to his room because he needs something. If you suspect he's stalling, don't let him. Tell him it's time for bed and that he can finish working on his art project the next day or find the stuffed bunny the following morning. Make the nighttime routine more “business like” when you kiss your baby and tuck him/her in. Don’t wait around for your baby to fuss. Just leave and close the door and wait about ten minutes before you go back in the room.
Sometimes it’s just a battle for control. Your toddler wants to control his environment as much as possible. You can’t force him to fall asleep. Try reverse psychology and tell him he doesn’t have to go to sleep, but can play in his crib. Eventually, he’ll fall asleep on his own.
Tip 21 - Sleep methods
There are many different methods from the “experts” on dealing with sleep problems in your developing baby and child. Again, do what works best for you and what you feel comfortable with.
The Ferber method involves letting the baby cry herself to sleep, on the theory that if you’re firm about bed time, she’ll learn to comfort herself to sleep. This doesn’t mean just plunking the baby down in her crib and walking away. It differs from what you may already be doing in that it encourages you to put the baby in her crib while she’s still awake, so she gets used to falling asleep without you. But this might also mean letting her cry it out for a few weeks. This can be stressful for everyone in the household.
Another method is the controlled crying method. Again, this involves your usual bedtime rituals of a bath, perhaps a snack and a story, rocking and cuddling. Put your baby in her crib and kiss her goodnight. If she starts to cry, wait 10 to 15 minutes before going in to comfort her. Try to resist picking her up, just shush her quietly and pat her on the back. Some experts suggest not talking, as this can reinforce the waking and crying behavior. You want to reassure your baby that you’re there, but you still want to encourage sleeping.
After the first half hour of crying, increase the intervals before you check on the baby by a few minutes each time, up to about 15 to 20 minutes between checking. This can take some time, and can be trying on your nerves, but in time, your baby will learn that you’re not going away and that you’re nearby. This teaches your baby self-comforting, but also gives her the confidence and security that you’re there for her.
Tip 22 - Naptime
A new baby needs a lot of sleep and when they’re not sleeping, they can be hungry or need a diaper change. It’s a little hard to know in the beginning what’s making your baby cry or if he’s tired. But as you both begin to settle into your routines, you’ll begin to notice the cues that your baby needs to nap. You want to make sure he gets in good naps during the day and at appropriate times so that you won’t have as much trouble getting him to sleep at night.
Even a very small baby will rub his eyes when he gets tired. He’ll yawn; perhaps he’ll get fussy. As children get a little older, their activity levels may pick up as they get tired and try to avoid sleep.
Try to keep to regular nap times during the day. If you’re baby is napping 3 times a day, then a mid-morning, early afternoon and late-afternoon nap is appropriate for a baby with a 7:30 or 8 PM bed time.
Often babies get tired towards dinner time, and then parents are faced with a dilemma. Do you let the baby sleep and risk not getting to sleep at bedtime? Or you do you try to keep him awake through dinner and perhaps put him to bed a little bit earlier?
Most parents will opt for trying to keep the baby awake a little longer in favor of keeping to a regular bed time. But if it’s been a busy day for the little guy, let him have a very short nap and then wake him up gently for dinner or a feeding and some light play before putting him to bed for the night.
Remember to make rituals for naps as well as bed time so your baby gets used to sleeping at regular times.
Tip 23 - Nighttime help
There’s only so much one person (or two) can do to get a baby to go to sleep. There are things you can use other than your own shoulder to help lull your baby to sleep.
A baby swing can be a good idea and leave your hands free. Set the swing at a slow and gentle rock; you don’t want this to be an exciting or stimulating experience. You want to make it relaxing so your baby can fall asleep.
A glider or rocker is restful for both of you. And a good pillow support, like a Boppy® pillow is good for late-night breast feeding. It’s a nice U-shaped pillow that provides good support for your baby, as well as for your back.
If you’re on a budget, some parents swear by putting their baby in a baby seat and putting it on top of a dryer. If you do this, be sure to put the dryer on air only – you don’t want to overheat him.
A motorized cradle or bassinette can also be soothing for a baby. As a last resort, you can always bundle the baby into his car seat and drive around the neighborhood until he falls asleep. Many experts don’t recommend artificial aids like this however, as it’s impossible to sustain it and you won’t get the baby used to sleeping on his own.
There are also many ambient noise machines on the market that can also help mask household noises and provide a soothing environment for the baby (and for many adults). You can usually set them for a variety of noises, like rainfall, windchimes or ocean sounds. You can also leave the TV on quietly in another room so the baby doesn’t feel completely isolated in his room.
Tip 24 - Daylight exposure
Remember your baby is used to a dark, quiet environment in the womb. She’s not used to the usual cues of nighttime sleeping. Nighttime, at first, is what she’s used to asleep or awake.
One method of getting your baby used to sleeping at night, or in the dark, is to be sure she’s exposed to lots of sunlight during the day. When it’s time to nap or time to go to sleep at night, part of your ritual can be dimming the lights, simulating dusk and nighttime, even if it’s an afternoon nap. This way, she’ll get used to day and night cycles and learn that nighttime and darkness are for sleeping.
There are clocks called dawn simulators that will gradually dim into total darkness over a period of about half an hour. This can be a way to gradually dim the light in the baby’s room. You can start while you’re still rocking her to sleep. When you start putting her in her crib when she’s still awake, you can set the clock to start to dim when you leave the room, or leave part way through the cycle. This way you’re not just flipping out the light and leaving her alone in the dark.
You can do this for nap times too. The clocks will cycle on slowly in the morning as well; you want to be sure that you mute the actual alarm sound, though, so you don’t wake the baby up with a shock.
If you combine any of these devices with your usual routines, you’ll help teach your babies the cues for going to sleep at nap time and at night. These are gentle methods that many parents prefer to just letting the baby cry it out.
Tip 25 - Avoid Stimulating Your Baby during Night-time Feedings
As your newborn baby grows, it is slowly acclimating to sleeping at night and being awake during the day. Also, as baby's stomach is growing and holding more breast milk or formula, it will be able to go for longer periods between feedings at night. At approximately three months of age your baby will likely sleep about 15 hours out of each 24-hour period, and two thirds of that sleep will take place during the night. Most babies will have settled into a daily sleep routine of two or three sleep periods during the day, followed by "sleeping through the night" for 6 to 7 hours after a late-night feeding.
You can help adjust your baby's body clock toward sleeping at night by avoiding stimulation during nighttime feedings and diaper changes. The act of breastfeeding itself provides frequent eye and voice contact, so try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play or talk with your baby. This will reinforce the message that nighttime is for sleeping. Keeping the door closed to keep out well-meaning but vocal older children, spouses and pet will also keep reduce stimulating your infant. Avoid the use of musical mobiles or toys as a way to lull your infant back to sleep after night-time feedings. This will also help to reinforce that nighttime is for sleeping.
And, as with adults, overly tired infants often have more trouble sleeping than those who've had an appropriate amount of sleep during the day. So, keeping your baby up thinking that he or she will sleep better at night may not work. You may find that when your infant sleeps at regular intervals during the day, it will be easier to put them back down to sleep after night-time feedings.
Tip 26 - Common Misuses of Pacifiers
Experts have voiced valid concerns regarding the use (and abuse) of pacifiers. Not only can pacifiers cause ‘nipple confusion’ in an infant, it is also associated with premature weaning. A newborn infant is driven to suck on anything placed in their mouths, including a finger or artificial nipple. In an ill, small, jaundiced or easygoing baby, this drive to suck may become a substitute for feedings, since the urge to suck is being satisfied. Some babies might be satisfied with the simple act of sucking, and if a weary mom or dad decides to try the pacifier in an attempt to get baby to sleep for a longer period of time or go further between feedings, it can result in such problems as poor weight gain, and in the nursing mom, mastitis, engorgement, a decrease in milk supply, or plugged lactation ducts. Pacifiers and artificial nipples are specially designed so they automatically stimulate the spot in the back of the baby’s mouth, between the hard palate and soft palate that stimulates the sucking reflex. This might create a ‘lazy baby’ who will have trouble drawing mom’s nipple into his mouth far enough back to that same sucking reflex is stimulated during feeding time. The pacifier’s shape can even cause changes in the arch of the soft bony roof of the mouth, molding it high and narrow around the shape of the pacifier.
It is very important to avoid two common, yet very harmful, practices when using pacifiers. First, do not tie the pacifier to a string so that it’s readily available within baby’s reach should the urge strike. This is especially dangerous once baby becomes mobile and learning to crawl and roll, and could pose a strangulation hazard. Secondly, do not dip the pacifier tip in honey or something equally sweet, as this could introduce cavities in baby’s teeth. Generally speaking, infants and toddlers do not receive regular dental checkups like older children and adults, so therefore if a cavity should develop as a result of such a practice, it could result in severe harm and pain in baby’s mouth and teeth.
And finally, be aware of the overuse or misuse of a pacifier. If your baby isn’t fussy or upset, a pacifier is obviously not needed. Be aware of how you are feeling as a parent when you are offering a pacifier to your baby. Is it really to pacify baby? Or is it more to pacify you?
Tip 27 – Background Noise for Bedtime
A fussy or crying baby can make for a fussy and often frustrated parent. There are many reasons a baby could be fussy or unable to sleep, including illness, colic, or something as simple as either too much noise or too little noise. Before altering your baby’s sleeping environment, take a moment to evaluate just why your baby has been fussy or upset at bedtime. Things like changes in the weather, a neighbor’s new puppy continually barking, a loud car stereo blaring, or a bright street light can all contribute to changing a baby’s otherwise familiar and comfortable sleeping environment. If after evaluating, you discover that there has been an environmental change that has occurred, but are out of your control, you might consider creating some ‘white noise’ in your baby’s environment to help drown out these unpleasant and loud sleep disruptors.
Noises that are repetitive and almost monotonous sounding are known as ‘white noise’ – noise that is occurring constantly, and, as a result, we’ve ‘tuned it out.’ There are many items in our house that create white noise that we might not even realize – our air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, or fans all create white noise as they operate. Other things such as running water, an analog clock with a ticking second hand, or a fish aquarium also create white noise. These noises might actually help ‘drown out’ the disruptive external noises that are keeping your baby, and thereby you, from a good night’s sleep.
Another option might be to run a favorite lullaby on continuous play in your baby’s room. There are many options out there for newborns and toddlers alike in the music department of your favorite store. You could even put together a special mix just from mommy and daddy on your personal computer. Better yet, put together a recording of mommy and daddy’s soft, soothing and gentle voices, and baby will be back in dreamland before you know it – and so will you!
Tip 28 – Swaddling your Baby is Sweet
The practice of baby-swaddling dates back centuries and is still common in many cultures. Swaddling involves wrapping a baby securely from shoulders to feet with a small blanket. American Indians and people from the Middle East use bands and more sophisticated swaddling techniques, but more traditional swaddling techniques are still practiced in such countries as Turkey, Afghanistan and Albania.
Not only can swaddling be a great way to calm and sooth a fussy infant, it’s also been shown to lower the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). At the age of three months, when the risk for SIDS is greatest, traditional American swaddling techniques allow a baby to escape. It allows the baby to stay in a more stable position while sleeping, thereby lowering the SIDS risk. In addition, swaddling has been shown to help babies sleep longer and more restfully by preventing the sudden movements that can cause them to wake up, thereby improving mom and dad’s sleep quality and quantity also. Babies who are swaddled are said to feel secure, similar to how they felt while in utero. It can also assist in temperature regulation, keeping baby nice and toasty warm while sleeping.
A couple of additional perks to swaddling come during waking hours, too. A swaddled baby is easy to carry and hold ¾ an adorable, compact little package. It can also help baby focus on breast or bottle feeding by keeping little hands out of the way.
Swaddling usually works best from newborn to approximately four months, but if baby is used to being swaddled, and then it might be utilized even longer. Babies just being introduced to swaddling may require an adjustment period. Modified swaddling, such as leaving arms free while swaddling the rest of baby’s body, might be needed when first introducing the practice to your baby. The blanket should always feel snug but not tight. Take special care to ensure baby’s circulation is not compromised in any way or that baby is not uncomfortable. Ask a nurse, physician, midwife or other knowledgeable healthcare practitioner to demonstrate the correct technique for swaddling your baby.
Tip 29 – Teething Can Really Bite
Teething is the process during which an infant’s teeth start to sequentially grow in. Teething can start as early as three months or as late, in some cases, as twelve months. It can take up to several years for all 20 deciduous (more commonly referred to as ‘baby’ or ‘milk’) teeth to emerge. Since the teeth literally cut through or erupt through the soft, fleshy gums of the infant, it’s sometimes referred to as "cutting teeth".
Signs of teething may include irritability, loss of appetite, chewing and gnawing on objects, swollen or bruised gums, excessive salivation, a raised temperature, and sometimes even earaches and diaper rash. Teething symptoms will usually start to rear their ugly head approximately six months into your baby's development.
During this process, you’ll discover your baby loves to chew – on just about anything and everything they can get their little hands on! This can be dangerous if the baby is allowed to chew on objects which are small enough to be swallowed or which could break while being chewed, creating a choking risk. Teething rings and other toys are often designed with textures that massage a baby’s tender gums.
In cases where the infant is in obvious pain, some doctors recommend the use of anti-inflammatory or child-safe pain-relief treatments containing benzocaine, such as Baby Orajel. Some infants gain relief from chewing on cold objects such as a cool washcloth or a specially-designed teething ring that can be frozen. You might also want to massage baby’s gums with a clean finger. Your baby might find it uncomfortable initially, but will probably find it comforting after a few gentle rubs.
Pediatric dentists suggest brushing baby’s teeth as soon as they begin to appear, and not to wait for all teeth to come in before introducing an oral hygiene routine. However, the use of toothpaste during this process is generally discouraged.
Tip 30 - Ferberizing your Fussy Baby to Sleep
Richard Ferber is director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children's Hospital in Boston who believes in a “progressive” approach to helping your child fall – and stay – asleep.
Ferber has developed a forward-thinking plan of action to instill consistent and regular sleep patterns in your child. Briefly, he suggests that after a warm, loving pre-bedtime routine such as singing, rocking, or reading a book, you put your child to bed while she's still awake. According to Ferber, putting your child to bed while still awake is crucial to successfully teaching her to go to sleep on her own.
Once you put her in bed, leave the room. If she cries, don’t check on her until after a specified amount of time has passed. Once you do return to her room, soothe her with your voice but don't pick her up, rock her, or feed her. Gradually increase the length of time that passes between checks. After about one week, your infant will learn that crying earns nothing more than a brief check from you, and isn't worth the effort. She'll learn to fall asleep on her own, without your help.
Ferber says that there are a number of things that may interfere with your child's sleep. Before you "Ferberize," you should make sure that feeding habits, pain, stress, or medications are not causing or contributing to your baby's sleep problems.
Ferber recommends using his method if your baby is 6 months or older. Like most sleep experts, he says that by the time most normal, full-term infants are 3 months old, they no longer need a nighttime feeding. And at 6 months, none do.
Ferber’s method can be modified if you feel it’s too rigid. Stretch out Ferber's seven-day program over 14 days so that you increase the wait between checks every other night rather than every night.
Tip 31 – Several Steps to a Sweet Slumber
Dr. William Sears, father of eight and a practicing pediatrician for over 30 years, has developed a comprehensive checklist for parents so they can get their baby on a solid sleep schedule that will enable them to sleep for longer periods of time, thereby allowing mom and dad more restful nights as well.
Initially, he advises parents to develop a realistic attitude about nighttime parenting, and to develop a long-term plan that will teach your baby a restful attitude about sleep. He reminds parents that no single approach will work with all babies, and that it’s very important to keep an open mind and remain flexible during this process. If your baby’s sleep plan just isn’t working, then drop it.
Also be flexible in the method which you use in order to lull your baby to sleep. Don’t rely on just rocking or just nursing in order to entice your infant to sleep, but get them used to several different routines that can be associated with sleep time. In addition, consistent bedtimes and rituals are key to a successful transition to sleep, and help your little one stay asleep longer. Any changes in their sleep time routine can be a stressful and confusing thing, thereby causing everyone to lose sleep as a result.
It’s also imperative to teach your baby that daytime is for playing and eating, and that nighttime is for sleeping. Sometimes older babies and toddlers are so busy playing during the day that they forget to eat enough, which can result in hunger pangs at night, so be sure to feed your baby sufficiently through the course of the day.
And don’t forget to create an environment that’s conducive to sleeping, eliminating as much noise and light from the room as possible. Some soft soothing music can help drown out outside noises and help baby sleep more soundly.
Tip 32 – The No Cry Sleep Solution for Babies and their Parents
Parenting educator Elizabeth Pantley is president of Better Beginnings, Inc., a family resource and education company. Elizabeth frequently speaks to parents in schools, hospitals, and parent groups, and her presentations are received with enthusiasm and praise. Her newest book, The No Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep through the Night offers a variety of sleep-inducing tips parents can use to develop an individual sleep program for their baby. Pantley’s methods are a gentler and more welcome option for those sleep-deprived parents who just can’t bear to let their child cry it out on their own, and find that approach too unfeeling or uncaring for their baby.
Probably the most important step to the overall success of developing a working solution is documenting the child’s sleeping and waking patterns each night on a “sleep chart.” This can be a difficult task for a sleep-deprived parent in the middle of the night, but is a crucial step and must be completed diligently. Pantley herself states her “solution” is certainly no overnight cure, or a one-size-fits-all method, but a gradual progression for educating your child to fall and stay asleep without constant intervention and assistance from the parent.
The successful program requires dedication and consistency from the parent. It could take a month or longer for your child to make the full transition to sleeping through the night, but one that will save a parent many sleepless nights in the long run. After the month is over, everyone who’s participated in the process will benefit from a more restful night, and the baby will learn how to sleep independently without the need for continual, repetitive comforting.
Tip 33 – The Four Ancient Principles to a Happy Baby
Dr. Harvey Karp is a nationally renowned pediatrician and child development specialist. He is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine. Over the past 20 years, he has taught thousands of parents his secrets for making children happy.
When he began to study medicine in the 1970’s, he was dismayed that a sophisticated, medical system didn't have one good solution for babies with colic, a terribly disturbing but common malady. He read everything possible about colic, and was determined to discover whatever clues possible to clarify why so many children and their parents were overwhelmed by this mysterious condition.
He first learned there are fundamental differences between the brain of a 3-month-old baby and that of a newborn. During the first few months of life, babies make massive developmental leaps. These disparities, he theorized, account for the huge gap between how parents in our society expect new babies to look, and act, and their true behavior and nature.
His second pivotal discovery came when he learned the colicky screaming that troubled so many of his patients and their parents was nonexistent in the babies of several cultures across the globe. He decided to investigate further to find out exactly why that was the case. He realized that, in many ways, the peoples living in primitive cultures are ignorant and backward. Though, in some areas their wisdom is great and our culture is actually the “primitive.” By combining past trusted information with modern techniques and research as well as his own observations from his years of practice in the medical field, he theorized four ancient principles – the missing “fourth” trimester, the “calming” reflex, the five “S’s” and the cuddle cure – are crucial to fully comprehending babies and developing the ability to comfort them and help them develop healthy and restful sleeping patterns early in life.
Tip 34 – What to Expect Your First Year as a Parent
America's bestselling guide to caring for a baby is now better than ever since authors Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee Hathaway, B.S.N. have released their two-years-in-the-making, cover-to-cover, line-by-line revision and update of the 6.9-million-copy “What to Expect the First Year,” considered the parent’s bible for taking care of a newborn through their first year of life.
This daughter/mother/sister team has included the most recent developments in pediatric medicine. Every question and answer has been revisited, and in response to letters from readers, dozens of new questions and answers have been added. The book is more reader-friendly than ever, with updated cultural references, and the new material brings more in-depth coverage to issues such as newborn screening, home births and the resulting at-home newborn care, vitamins and vaccines, milk allergies, causes of colic, sleep problems, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), returning to work, dealing with siblings, weaning, sippy cups, the expanded role of the father, and much more. Chapters focus on month-by-month development, and there are additional chapters that focus on other broader subjects, such as health issues, special needs children, and postpartum recovery. The authors also ingeniously include comprehensive information on developmental milestones. Information empowers a new parent, the authors surmise, and though too much information or conflicting information can cause confusion and frustration, having a reference book such as theirs to consult whenever the need arises alleviates insecurity and worry.
The authors encourage parents to utilize their most valuable resource – their instincts – and learn to trust in them, and remind readers that there is no such thing as a “perfect parent” and that we will all continue to make mistakes through our journey as parents. The trick is to learn from them, thereby coming ever closer to the ideal of the perfect parent.
Tip 35 – Attachment Parenting Tools
Attachment parenting (AP), a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears, is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, a strong emotional bond with parents during childhood, also known as a secure attachment, is a precursor of secure, empathic relationships in adulthood.
Attachment parenting describes a parenting approach rooted in attachment theory. Attachment theory proposes that the infant has a tendency to seek closeness to another person and feel secure when that person is present. In attachment theory, children attach to their parents because they are social beings, not just because they need other people to satisfy drives and attachment is part of normal child development.
Dr. Sears’ attachment tools, also known as the seven B’s, is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents. The B’s include birth bonding, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, bedding close to baby, belief in the language value of your baby’s cry, beware of baby trainers and balance.
Dr. Sears reminds the parents of his patients that AP is a starter style, and that there could be medical, environmental, or family circumstances that could prevent parents from practicing each of the seven B’s, and that they are to be a tool to get parents off on the right start. It’s not to be considered a strict set of rules, but encourages responsive parents by recognizing their baby’s cues and level of needs.
He again emphasizes the phrase “tool” over “steps.” A tool can be individually chosen based on its usefulness, whereas a step implies that each must be used in a correct order to get the job done. He encourages parents to stick with what’s working and adjust those tools that aren’t. This process will help parents design their own parenting style unique to them that helps baby and parents plug into one another.
Tip 36 – The Benefits of Baby Massage
Many cultures have used massage as part of baby care for centuries, and research shows it can have many benefits. Not only does massage enable you to learn about and respond to your baby's body language. But it is also a wonderful way to make your baby feel safe and secure by showing that he or she is loved and cared for. There are no hard and fast rules for baby massage, other than to ensure you are doing it safely. Your baby and you will discover together what works best for you both. Please bear in mind that massage is something you do with your infant, not to your infant. It is strongly suggested you seek guidance and education on massage techniques from a qualified baby massage therapist, midwife, or other healthcare professional to ensure you are doing it safely. A ten minute massage, two or three times a week assists in strengthening the parent-infant relationship, babies love it and it can assist in alleviating baby ailments too.
In today’s society, parents have heavy workloads and both their jobs and at home which can directly affect quality time spent with children. Infant massage, an age old tradition, is simple, free, can be administered almost anywhere and has a host of emotional and physical benefits for both parents and baby. A child with a strong sense of attachment is more likely to grow up confident, assured and happy. The parent-infant attachment is rooted in the very early months of life, so by its very definition infant massage has a deep effect on the emotional well-being of the infant and can be used to attain a sense of security for the growing child. The emotional benefits of infant massage, such as quality, one-to-one loving touch, can also be experienced by fathers.
Tip 37 – Baby Massage and its Connection to Sleeping and Thinking
The task of developing a regular and restful sleep pattern for a new baby is often an exercise in frustration and confusion for many parents. Research has shown that hospitalized infants grow more rapidly when correctly massaged. This is due in large part to the fact that massaged babies actually spent more time being quiet and calm, yet alert, and that when they did sleep, it was deep and very restful. This resulted in a more structured sleep pattern, as well as longer sleeping periods at night.
Doing a massage right after getting home from work will help a parent reconnect with baby after a hard day, and will help both baby and parent relax and unwind. Once you and the baby have developed a routine you will have a skill that will calm and quiet your upset child. There will be times when this is just what is needed; not food, not a fresh diaper, but soothing, relaxing touch that a parent can give their little one. Even when circumstances cause a change in their routine or environment, a daily massage can be the hub of your baby’s nighttime routine and the element that helps them prepare to fall into a deep, restful, restorative sleep. In addition, learning to relax in our busy world is a skill parents need to nurture for themselves as well as for their children. Studies indicate that the positive effects of practicing infant massage are just as profound on the parent’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being as they are for baby.
Infant massage has also been shown to positively benefit those infants with eating, gastrointestinal, bonding, attachment, weight gain, overall development challenges, which can also affect a baby’s overall sleeping patterns. Massage also helps infants learn about their body and stimulates brain function, and the interaction between parent and child during the massage can stimulate the child’s mental faculties as well, resulting in increased mental capacity.
Tip 38 – Healthy Bedtime Routines for a Happy Child
Bedtime routines and rituals are very important for most children in establishing positive sleep patterns and in developing a sense of security and stability. Your child will benefit from a set bedtime. Pick a time for bed that is reasonable for your child and which you can consistently provide.
Establish a bedtime routine that can provide predictability and a comforting, familiar pattern. Even an understandable and structured visual pattern can assist this process and can provide reminders and consistency for the whole family.
A good bedtime routine will help teach a child to calm down, relax and get ready to sleep. However, not every technique works for every child. For example, if bathing is stimulating or frightening for your child, it’s probably a better idea to do it at another time of day rather than right before you want your child to calm down and go to sleep. Incorporate activities that you know have a calming effect on your child into their bedtime preparatory routine. Keep the routine short and sweet. It should realistically only consist of four to six steps that can be completed in a reasonable time frame, not drawn out into hours on end each night.
Reading a favorite book each night, brushing teeth, having a glass of water, and saying a goodnight prayer can all be calming, soothing activities for a young child to perform each night routinely. Hugging and kissing family members is usually also an integral part of the process, of course!
There are those nights or times when circumstances prevent your child from getting to bed at their usual time. Be sure not to shortchange the process when this happens, but keep in mind that each step can be shortened significantly in order to prevent long frustrations at a time when everyone is tired.
Tip 39 – Room Temperature Can Help Reduce the Risk of SIDS
Parents no longer have to lose sleep over Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) thanks to the latest research findings, and they can take a proactive role in reducing both the worry and risk involved for their infant. SIDS appears to result from a combination of various factors including breathing difficulties, underdevelopment of baby’s cardio-respiratory control functions, dangerous sleeping habits, and various medical conditions. Dr. William Sears, father of eight and a practicing pediatrician for over 30 years, suggests that the following SIDS risk lowering steps can help parents can reduce the risk and create a nurturing, safe, and comfortable environment for their little one, both pre-natally and post-natally.
The first step, according to Dr. Sears, is giving your baby a healthy womb environment. Although the SIDS risk in premature babies is higher, the good news is that over 99 percent of premature infants don't die of SIDS and that mothers-to-be can take pre-emptive steps to lessen their baby’s risk to SIDS with smart prenatal choices. He advises getting good prenatal care, feeding yourself properly with lots of high-nutrition foods, and giving your baby a drug-free and smoke-free womb are three great ways to decrease the risk.
He also advises keeping your baby comfortably warm, but not too warm. Over-bundling, and consequently overheating, has been shown to increase the risk of SIDS. Overheating may disrupt the normal neurological control of sleep and breathing. The respiratory control center in the brain is affected by abnormal changes in temperature, and SIDS researchers believe that overheating may cause respiratory control centers in some babies to fail.
Make sure your baby’s head is uncovered, and put your baby to sleep on his side or back. When baby sleeps on her stomach, or prone, with her cheek and abdominal organs against the bedding, these prime areas of heat release are covered, thus conserving heat. Also, never bundle a sick baby, as babies who are sick tend to have fevers, and bundling only increases body temperature. Keep the room temperature where your baby sleeps around 68 degrees, unless you have a preterm or newborn weighing less than eight pounds; then you might want to increase the temperature by a few degrees. As a general guide, dress and cover your infant in as much, or as little, clothing and blankets as you would put on yourself. Then, let your hands be a thermostat. Babies who are overheated tend to be more restless as well.
Tip 40 – Smoking Significantly Increases Baby’s SIDS Risk and Makes for a Restless Night
Experts found babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were born with smaller airways - making them more vulnerable to breathing problems after birth. These breathing problems can put your baby at increased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Smoking has been linked to various health problems in babies, including prematurity and low birth weight. Mothers who smoke are at increased risk of having a stillbirth, miscarriage or premature infant. Smoking while pregnant will lower the amount of oxygen available to you and your growing baby and increase your baby's heart rate. These health factors also contribute to raising the SIDS risk for your infant, and in your child’s decreased ability to breathe correctly or take in enough oxygen for a restful, restorative sleep at night.
Babies born to mothers who smoke are significantly lighter and shorter than those born to non smokers. Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke before birth or in the home are far more likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses and infections, which can also contribute to a decrease in quality of nighttime sleep for your baby.
The more cigarettes you or your baby’s caregiver smoke per day, the greater your baby's chances of developing these and other health problems. Studies show that a baby's risk of SIDS rises with each additional smoker in the household, with the number of cigarettes smoked a day, and with the length of exposure to cigarette smoke.
So give your baby and yourself the best chance at a restful night’s sleep and keep your home and your baby’s sleeping environment smoke-free. Your baby will thank you and you’ll sleep better knowing your baby’s risk for SIDS is greatly diminished and that your baby is breathing clean air with each breath he takes at night.
Tip 41 – How to Treat Your Baby’s Cold
Your baby’s cold can be just as hard on you as it is on her. But you can help ease your baby’s discomfort and keep the infection from worsening by ensuring she gets sufficient rest and liquids, which would include breast milk or formula if she’s less than four months old. Older babies can have a little water, and by six months she can begin drinking juices.
To relieve congestion, try squeezing some over-the-counter saline solution drops into each nostril, then suctioning with a rubber bulb syringe after a few moments to remove the mucus and liquid. This works well about fifteen minutes prior to a feeding if it’s difficult for your baby to breathe nasally while nursing. A bit of petroleum jelly to the outside of your baby’s nostrils can help reduce irritation.
Sitting with you in a steamy bathroom while the hot water’s on in the shower for about 15 minutes, or using a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to increase the moisture in your baby’s room should also help provide some relief for her. A warm bath could also work, and might provide her some additional comfort.
Sleeping at a slight incline may also help relieve postnasal drip. However, don’t use pillows in her crib to accomplish this; the risk of suffocation is too great. Try placing a couple of rolled up towels between the crib springs and mattress, or you might also want to try allowing her to sleep in her car seat in a slightly upright position.
Be sure to contact your pediatrician at the first sign of any illness in an infant less than three months old, especially in instances of a fever of 100.4 degrees or if she has a cough. Your pediatrician can give you guidelines about what constitutes a fever in older infants. If baby’s symptoms don’t improve within five to seven days, her cough worsens, she’s wheezing or gasping (possible pneumonia or respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV), or tugs at her ear (possible ear infection), your pediatrician should also be notified immediately.
Tip 42 – Caring for your Baby after Vaccinations
Nobody likes getting shots when they go to the doctor. But as a parent, it can be even more difficult when it’s time for your baby to receive one. Sometimes a baby will have a mild reaction to a vaccination, and might have trouble sleeping as a result. You can help decrease your baby’s discomfort by making sure he’s comfortable and well-rested when visiting the doctor’s office and you can use home treatments to help relieve some of the more common minor reactions to vaccinations.
If your child develops a slight fever, try giving him acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). This can help reduce a fever and alleviate any pain felt in the location of the shot. Remember to never give aspirin to your baby because of the risk of Reye’s Syndrome. The injection site might also become red and swollen. A cool compress or ice pack applied to the site for approximately 10 to 20 minutes can also provide relief. A mild skin rash might develop 7 to 14 days following the injection, particularly with the chickenpox or measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Though this type of rash can last for several days, it usually disappears on its own without treatment.
You might find your baby is more fretful and restless and refuse to eat following a vaccination. If you can keep the commotion down at home, and cuddle and hold your child when he needs it, it will help him feel more comfortable and relaxed when it comes to bedtime. Also make sure he has plenty of liquids. Keeping the house and the room baby sleeps in at a comfortable temperature will also help, as he’s more likely to be fussy and restless if he’s too warm. Try to keep in mind that if your baby does become a bit restless in the night that the discomfort is only temporary, and he’s most likely to get right back on track with his sleeping and eating schedule soon.
Tip 43 – How to Comfort Your Child Following a Nightmare
Nightmares and night terrors can be equally frightening for both child and parent, especially when they start happening frequently. Nightmares occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep. They might vary in length, but the child will usually remember what the nightmare was about. Night terrors, on the other hand, happen about an hour or two after the child has gone to sleep, and can last anywhere from a few moments to an hour. They happen during the non-REM part of sleep, and even though his eyes are wide open, the child is asleep the entire time. When he awakens though, he’ll have no memory of it.
But there are things you can do before your child goes to sleep and after he awakens from one of these to help calm and comfort him. Ensure that the period before bedtime is a calm, quiet and relaxing time for everyone. Babies find the voices of their parents very soothing, so talk quietly to your child before he goes to sleep, perhaps by softly singing a lullaby or telling a short story. This will also help after the child wakes. It’s important for mom and dad to remain calm. If you’re tense, your baby will sense that and it will make it even more difficult to get him settled down again. Be sure your can clearly hear your child if he cries out in the night. Baby monitors work great for this reason. It’s important to get to your little one as soon as possible in order to comfort and reassure him. If you should hear him cry out, don’t wake him if he hasn’t woken up on his own. Stay with him to make sure he goes back to sleep peacefully, or wait for him to wake up. Don’t let him sleep with you after a nightmare, either. This may end up having a negative effect and giving the impression he should be afraid of his own room and bed. If it becomes habit, it could become a difficult one to break.
Tip 44 – Consistent Naptimes are Key to Quality Nighttime Sleep, Too
Research has shown that the quality and length of your baby’s naps affects his nighttime sleep. If he naps too late in the day, it will most certainly affect his nighttime sleeping. It’s important to tune into your baby’s biological clock and learn when his natural naptime is so his nighttime sleeping schedule is on the right track as well. It’s also imperative to get your baby down for a nap as soon as you see his “sleepy signals.” He will become overtired if you wait too long, and unable to go to sleep as a result.
Consistency is the key. Know when to get him down for a nap, and then get him down for a nap each and every time you see the signals. Those signals might include quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, rubbing eyes, fussing, yawning, or decreasing activity. Waiting too long might find your baby getting his ‘second wind’ and making it difficult if not impossible for him to lay down for his nap. When you respond to the signals right away, you not only eliminate the later possibility of having an increasingly crabby child later in the day or evening, but you eliminate the frustration for yourself of having to deal with such a fussy child. Once you’ve studied your child’s biological clock and watched for the signals carefully and consistently for a week or so, it should be a breeze to develop a solid napping schedule that will be easy for you both to follow.
Developing a consistent nap routine is equally important. Just as you have a routine prior to bedtime, you should also have one for naptime. This routine should be different from your nighttime routine though, although it can have similar elements, such as quiet music. Follow the routine faithfully every day, unless your child has been especially active such as a family outing or another activity outside the daily routine. And once your baby learns the nap routine, he’ll learn the cues that tell him when naptime is nearing, making naptime easier on you as well.
Tip 45 – Using a Baby Sling Can Make Life with Baby Simple
The use of baby slings, or “baby wearing” as it’s sometimes called, is very common in many cultures around the world. More parents in the United States are learning about baby wearing from attachment parenting books and websites, and are realizing the benefits are numerous. The sling a comfortable and simple way of carrying your little one, and can be used for infants and toddlers alike. It’s simple to be discreet when breastfeeding if you’re using a sling and it is much friendlier to mom and dad’s skeletons than backpacks and simple arm toting.
Evidence has also shown that babies in slings are less susceptible becoming colicky, and are less likely to spit up excessively. Slings have also been shown to lower mortality rate in premature infants, and that the natural movement and stimulation provided by being in a sling promotes neurological development.
One of the greatest benefits of baby wearing is that either mom or dad can more easily complete daily tasks around the house.
Lastly, babies who are nurtured in a sling realize they are safe, secure and loved, and the sling assists in continuing the bonding process. Parents who use a sling are usually more tuned in to their baby’s needs, and the baby finds comfort in the sling environment which simulates the pressure, motion and warmth sensations they experienced before birth in the womb. It can also reduce fussiness and crying, and can help lull your little one to sleep. They’re more likely to sleep longer and more comfortably while in a sling as well. It can also help reduce the level of stress hormones in your baby. All of these result in a more restful night’s sleep for both baby and parents.
Tip 46 – Sleep talking and sleepwalking in children
Sleepwalking and sleep talking are members of a group of sleep disorders called parasomnias. Though it’s not known just exactly why children walk and talk in their sleep neither are considered to be serious disorders, and are not result of any physical or psychological problem. Both occur during a child’s deep sleep, approximately one to three hours after falling asleep.
Sleep talking occurs more often than sleep walking in children, though they often do occur together. Parasomnias tend to run in families, and children may experience one, two, or all three types.
Of course, the main concern parents have for their sleepwalking child is their safety. A sleepwalking child does not have the judgment capabilities he normally does during waking hours, which makes the likelihood of injury when sleepwalking great. It may be difficult for parents to protect their sleep-walking children, since they don't make much noise, which makes it difficult for parents to tell when their children are sleepwalking. The best way to protect their children is to be prepared. Parents should completely evaluate their child’s room for any potential hazards. Bunk beds or any bed that’s high off the floor is probably not a good idea for a sleepwalker. Toys, shoes, and any other objects on the floor should be picked up and put away prior to bedtime. Bedroom doors should be shut and windows should be locked, which will help ensure the child stays in his room and does not wander around the house. Alarm systems for doors, windows and even the sleepwalker’s bed might also be considered by parents. Sleepwalking usually stops by the child’s adolescence, and as long as safety precautions are taken, should not be a great cause of concern.
Sleep talking is much more common parasomnia. Children who talk in their sleep may speak very clearly and be easily understood, while others may mumble, make noises or be incoherent. If children are speaking loudly and seem upset, it might be a good idea for parents to go to their children and comfort them without waking them. If they're simply talking, it's best just to leave them alone. The episode will probably end within a short period of time.
Tip 47 – Taming a Tough Toddler at Bedtime
Putting your toddler to bed can sometimes be an exercise in frustration. If you have experienced this, you might want to consider one of the following techniques to make bedtime a peaceful time.
Be consistent about bed times and waking times. Your toddler is more likely to respond positively if he’s used to a specified schedule. The earlier your child’s routine is established, the easier it is to put them to bed without incident.
Make the activities the same every night, and make the time before bed quiet and peaceful. Whether a parent tells the child a story, provides a bedtime snack, puts in a short video, or plays quiet games before putting the child in bed, consistency is the key.
Try not to lie in bed with your toddler until he falls asleep. This might actually have the opposite effect, and might encourage your child to stay awake, and ask for drinks of water and more bedtime stories. An alternative might be telling your toddler you’re going to complete a chore and that you’ll come back in and check on them in a few moments. It’s most likely that the child will fall asleep while waiting for mom or dad to return. You might also want to talk about your child’s day with them. Keep your tone soft and quiet, and try not to excite your child in the process. Turning this into a nighttime story with your child as the main character is a fun option as well.
As the child grows older, if a consistent bedtime is maintained the task will become easier. The most important issue is consistency and repetition. If the child can expect the same thing every night, and these customary tasks are pleasant, bedtime can become a delightful family ritual. If however, your child is continually resisting sleep, talk with your child’s pediatrician, as their might be a medical problem at the root of it.
Tip 48 – Relaxation Techniques for Toddler’s Bedtime
Though it may seem like your toddler does nothing but play all day, he’s working very hard and by no means is his life stress-free. As he’s learning to walk, talk, and climb, he’s pushing himself to the limits of his physical strength and mental learning. He's also falling down, bumping, surprising, and hurting himself over and over again each day. And since your toddler doesn't yet know how to roll with the punches or ease up on himself, he's constantly frustrated and angered by failure. All this activity is bound to make for an exhausted toddler.
If you find his favorite activities or routine tasks are frustrating him, he’s most likely overtired and in need of restorative and restful sleep. Physical exhaustion, excitement, and tension build up until he no longer knows he's tired. Then it is up to you as a parent to help him figure out how to stop and rest. You can help make the transition from busy, active, energetic day to tranquil, quiet and peaceful night by easing him into sleep with quiet activities in the evening after dinner. Coloring a picture, sitting down and watching a favorite, but quiet, video, reading books, singing, quiet play at bath time, or singing lullabies together helps your toddler disconnect and start winding down. If this is done within the framework of a consistent bedtime routine, your toddler will come to associate these activities with bedtime and find them comforting and he’ll be able to easily recognize when bedtime occurs.
It’s also important to relax with your toddler. If he sees you busy in the kitchen cleaning, outside gardening, or doing other busy activities in the evenings, he’ll be likely to want to do the same, making the bedtime routine frustrating for everyone involved.
Tip 49 – Moving from the Bottle to the Sippy Cup
Most children, by the time they are about 9 months old, have the motor skills needed to drink from a cup. If you think your baby’s ready to make the move from bottle to sippy cup, try filling a sippy cup with water and let your child try and drink from it. Don’t expect perfection with the first tries. He’ll probably drool, spit and dribble a bit, which will probably delight him! But within a few weeks and lots of practice, he’ll be willing to take all his drinks from the sippy cup. He’ll most likely be a sippy cup pro by the time he’s about 14 months old.
If you start the transition from bottle to sippy cup early, you’ll save yourself frustration – the longer a baby stays on the bottle, the tougher it is to get him to kick it. If the bottle is a security object for your baby, choose one with a special favorite animal or character to help increase his willingness to try and use it.
“Bottle rot” is common concern for parents of children who drink from bottles. A child's teeth are susceptible to decay if he’s always drinking a sugared drink from it — formula, milk, or juice. Natural bacteria in his mouth feed on these sugars and attack the teeth for 20 minutes every time he takes a drink. What that boils down to is this: if he's taking sips from a bottle every few minutes for an hour, his teeth are exposed to the sugars for at least 80 minutes. Over time, that causes tooth decay, or ‘bottle rot.’ If he falls asleep, tooth-decay causing sugars can pool in his mouth for hours. Children are less likely to nurse drinks for long periods of time if they're offered in sippy cups.
The best way to avoid bottle rot is to give your child his drink and have him finish it within about 20 minutes. Then use a toothbrush or washcloth to wipe his teeth clean. Never put a baby in his crib with a bottle or sippy cup.
Finally, consistently emphasize what a ‘big boy’ he is by drinking from the sippy cup instead of his bottle, and he’ll reach for his sippy cup more and more each day.
Tip 50 – Your Personal Parenting Style and Your Child’s Sleep
Good mothers and fathers come in many styles. Each one of us has different strengths, interests, and values that make us great parent. Don’t let yourself become discouraged or disappointed when others ‘give you advice’ that doesn’t seem to mesh with who you are. Maybe you’re not a roll around on the floor kind of parent with your child. Maybe you’ve decided to hang back and let your little one explore. That’s great! As long as it works for you and your child, nobody should be able to convince you that your method is incorrect or wrong. Once you recognize and embrace your own personal parenting style, you can stop trying to live up to everyone else's expectations and get on with the business of enjoying being a parent.
It’s important to keep in mind too, that these well-meaning advice givers don’t know your child as well as you. They aren’t there with your child night and day, watching him grow, learn, explore, play, eat, and sleep. Only you know what’s best for your child, and you know what works best in your household and for your lifestyle. As with anything, figuring things out along the way will involve trial and error.
So when you receive yet another unsolicited piece of advice regarding your child’s napping or nighttime sleeping habits, keep both your and your child’s personal style in mind. You’ve done the legwork, you’ve experimented, and you’ve learned together what works and what doesn’t work. The cues should come from your instincts regarding your child and from your child directly. There’s no such thing as a hard-and-fast rule for sleep habits among children other than it is needed! As your child grows, his cues may change, but as long as you stay in tune with him, his sleep habits shouldn’t have to suffer as a result. And neither should yours.