12 things no one ever tells you about babies

Summary:

My baby’s head looks strange You envisioned a picture-perfect Gerber baby — round, rosy, and oh-so-cute. If your newborn’s head looks a little strange and cone-shaped at first, that’s because he probably spent hours wedged in your pelvis. Openings in the skull allow it to mold its shape to fit through the birth canal. “This […]


My baby’s head looks strange

You envisioned a picture-perfect Gerber baby — round, rosy, and oh-so-cute. If your newborn’s head looks a little strange and cone-shaped at first, that’s because he probably spent hours wedged in your pelvis. Openings in the skull allow it to mold its shape to fit through the birth canal. “This protects against skull fractures or brain injury during a vaginal delivery,” says Anne Hansen, M.D., a neonatologist at Children’s Hospital Boston and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Other imperfections add to your baby’s temporary troll-like appearance. If he slid out on his nose, his nostrils may be a bit squashed. Fluids accumulated under his skin may make his eyes look swollen. And he may even have a few small bruises on his face and scalp if forceps or a vacuum extractor was used to deliver him. Your baby is a work of beauty in progress. Be patient, and he’ll soon become the angel you imagined.

My baby’s so jumpy

After spending months curled up in a bag of water inside a cozy, snug womb, your newborn now has all the space in the world to move, with no restrictions on her limbs. She hasn’t quite figured out how to control her body in this new medium, so a small wave of her arm becomes a wide jerky swing. Babies are also born with the Moro, or startle, reflex: When your infant senses she’s falling or is startled, she’ll suddenly throw out her arms, open her hands, draw her head back, and then quickly bring her arms back in. This reflex disappears by 3 months. A still-developing neurological system also sends more electrical impulses to muscles than necessary, which can cause your baby’s chin to quiver or legs to tremble. As things become more organized over the first couple of weeks, she’ll tend to shake less. Most quivers are nothing to worry about, but see a doctor if your baby’s shaking is rhythmic or if a trembling limb doesn’t stop when you touch it.

My boy’s so big down there

Before your husband takes credit for your newborn son’s huge testicles, he should know that neither genetics nor super-powered male hormones played any part in their size. The swelling is actually a result of pressure exerted on your baby during birth, as well as by fluids trapped in tissue. Also, all new babies still have Mom’s hormones circulating in their body. In boys, these hormones enlarge the testicles; in girls, they cause the labia to swell. Genital swelling subsides over the first couple of days.

My baby’s always hungry

In the first weeks, it might feel as if you’re feeding your infant around the clock. Her frequent demands are nature’s way of increasing your milk supply to meet her growing appetite. Breast-fed babies also tend to eat more frequently, because breast milk is more quickly digested and more completely absorbed than formula.

The reason for the feeding frenzy, of course, is that your little one has a lot of growing to do. She’ll double her birth weight in six months, which requires a huge caloric intake. Expect your baby to be particularly ravenous during growth spurts; the first typically occurs between 4 and 6 weeks of age. Just be careful that you don’t misinterpret her cues as hunger when all she may want is comfort or closeness, says ob-gyn Glade Curtis, M.D., author of Your Baby’s First Year Week by Week (Fisher Books, 2000). If she has eaten within the last two or three hours, try holding and swaddling her to see if that calms her down.


My baby’s hands and feet are cold

Before you crank up the thermostat or wrap your little one in another blanket, feel his torso. If it’s warm and pink, your baby isn’t chilled. Because his circulatory system is still developing, blood is shunted more often to vital organs and systems, where it’s needed most. His hands and feet are the last body parts to get a good blood supply. It can take up to three months for his circulation to adapt completely to life outside the womb. In the meantime, it’s common for his tiny fingers and toes to feel chilly and look pale. As your baby becomes more mobile and active, his circulation will improve.

My baby has blood in her diaper

The same maternal hormones that cause swollen testicles and labia are also responsible for the bloody vaginal discharge that newborn girls sometimes have. Don’t worry if you see a small smudge of blood or bit of staining on your baby’s diaper in the first weeks of life. This mini menstrual period usually lasts only a few days, Dr. Curtis says. Sometimes, what looks like blood may actually be concentrated urine, which can look quite dark in the folds of a diaper. Bright red blood, however, is unusual and warrants medical attention.

My baby has a blister on his lips

Many newborns develop a nursing tubercle or blister from vigorous sucking on a bottle or breast. In some cases, the blister is present at birth because of thumb-sucking in the womb. A sucking callus causes no discomfort to your baby. In fact, the overgrowth of skin stiffens the lip and may make grasping the nipple easier. The callus will disappear on its own in a few months, or it might come and go from day to day.

My baby’s poop looks like diarrhea

Breast-fed babies have seedy, mustard-yellow stools that are liquid and unformed, while bottle-fed infants tend to have slightly more solid bowel movements with a brownish color and the consistency of soft ice cream. Some babies poop a dozen times a day, while others pass stools just a few times a week. As long as your child is gaining weight and has no abdominal pain or bloating, her pooping frequency is fine.

It can be hard to distinguish normal bowel movements from diarrhea, particularly if you’re nursing. Breast-fed babies commonly poop after every feeding. (It’s called the gastro-colic reflex: Whenever milk goes into the stomach, something comes out the other end.) And their stools are naturally looser. Your best bet is to become familiar with what’s usual for your baby. If the frequency, volume, or consistency changes dramatically, see your doctor.

My baby sneezes all the time

Newborns sneeze a lot, but not because they’re cold or sick. It’s simply how they clear their nasal and respiratory passages of congestion and airborne particles. Sneezing also helps reopen a temporarily closed nostril. “When a mom nurses and her baby is pressed up against her, his nose might be flattened or one nostril pushed shut,” Dr. Curtis says. “After feeding, the baby will take a breath or sneeze to open his nose again.”

My baby’s skin is flaky

While your baby was bathing in a lagoon of amniotic fluid, his skin was nicely protected from the watery environment by a coating of white, waxy material called vernix. But once he’s exposed to the air and the vernix is rubbed away, the upper layer of his skin dries out and begins to peel. Your child’s entire body may peel (although it’s most noticeable on the hands and feet). Don’t try to pick off the flakes — you might remove skin that’s not ready to be shed. Moisturizers aren’t necessary either. The flaking usually lasts one to two weeks.

My baby’s breathing strangely

Like many new parents, you probably spend a good part of each night bent over the side of your little one’s crib, checking to make sure she’s still breathing. And you’ve probably been freaked out a few times watching her irregular breaths. But it’s actually normal for infants to take slight pauses and then go through periods of rapid breathing. “Occasionally catching or skipping a breath is part of the development of the diaphragm [the muscle that enables breathing] and neurological system,” Dr. Curtis says. A pause of up to 20 seconds is considered normal. By the time she’s about 6 weeks old, your baby should develop a more regular pattern of breathing.

You worry about SIDS, of course, and you’re wise to be vigilant. Put your baby to sleep on her back, keep all soft bedding and toys out of her crib, and don’t smoke. If your baby ever stops breathing for longer than 20 seconds (a sign of apnea) or turns blue or limp, seek medical attention.

My baby’s cries all sound the same

You’ve heard how moms are supposed to know instinctively whether their baby’s hungry, tired, or in need of a diaper change just from the sound of his cry. But if you’re still not fluent in your baby’s first language, don’t worry. “Over time, you’ll recognize the loud shrieking of the pain cry and the more subdued whimpering of fatigue,” Dr. Hansen says. The hunger cry usually falls somewhere in between, although some babies can sound pretty desperate (and loud) when they want to be fed right away. But in the early days, it doesn’t really matter why your little one cries (sometimes he’ll howl for no reason at all). You’ll still react with the same loving attention each time — and that’s all your baby really wants or needs.

All content, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

What Parents Should Know About NICU Care

Summary:

Two days past her due date, Jennifer Pileggi finally went into labor. After several hours, the baby monitor showed that each time the 32-year-old from Orlando, Florida, had a strong contraction, her baby’s heart rate dropped. Worried, the doctor recommended a Cesarean section. Pileggi was relieved when Anson was born the next day and seemed […]

Two days past her due date, Jennifer Pileggi finally went into labor. After several hours, the baby monitor showed that each time the 32-year-old from Orlando, Florida, had a strong contraction, her baby’s heart rate dropped. Worried, the doctor recommended a Cesarean section. Pileggi was relieved when Anson was born the next day and seemed perfectly healthy, weighing 7 pounds 13 ounces. But soon a nurse noticed the baby seemed to be breathing too rapidly and took him for further evaluation. Within two hours, Anson had landed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU, pronounced “nick-you”). “I was shocked,” says Pileggi. “Nothing seemed wrong with him.” Anson had retained fluid in his lungs, a condition called transient tachypnea of the newborn, or TTN. When Pileggi next saw her newborn, he was hooked up to monitors and had an IV in his hand and an oxygen tube in his nose to help him breathe. After two nights he was released back to his mom’s room, and the family left the hospital together.

No pregnant woman expects her baby to wind up in the NICU, but every year 10 to 15 percent of babies born in the United States (roughly half a million) do for reasons including prematurity (born before 37 weeks gestation), heart problems, birth defects, breathing irregularities and infections, among others. One in eight babies born in the United States are preterm, making that the number-one reason babies are admitted to the NICU; of those, 98 percent survive. If you’re an expectant parent, it’s good to know what goes on in these special hospital units — just in case.

Not All NICUs are Created Equal

Whether yours is a high-risk pregnancy or not, it’s a good idea to learn where the nearest NICU is located and what level of care it provides. Each is rated level I to III, depending on the health problems the hospital can treat and the availability of specialized equipment. For instance, only NICUs rated level III are equipped to care for babies born before 32 weeks or those born with serious health issues.

High-Tech TLC

The NICU’s tubes, ventilators, IVs, incubators and high-tech monitoring equipment may look scary, but they’re part of what makes the NICU the safest place for a sick or premature baby. The NICU’s incubators (unlike the regular nursery bassinets) regulate their body temperatures for them. A (nasogastric) tube delivers breast milk or formula directly into baby’s stomach via the nostrils. Immature lungs and respiratory complications are a common reason for NICU admission, so babies may also require oxygen hoods, a clear plastic box that fits over the baby’s head and supplies oxygen. IV needles provide fluids to keep babies hydrated and deliver medication. Monitors taped to the baby’s skin keep track of vital signs. Of course, if there’s any kind of emergency, help is available instantly; the NICU nurses and doctors are experts in treating the tiniest patients, plus nurses are often assigned to only one baby for close monitoring, though they may care for up to four babies.

The Parents’ Role

Brand-new moms and dads with babies in the NICU often feel helpless, but their role in their baby’s care is vital. Bonding, holding and breastfeeding are as important as the medical care infants receive. You may not have the chance to hold your baby right away because he needs immediate medical attention. But once he’s safely ensconced in an incubator, you’ll probably be able to touch him gently, while wearing latex gloves. Each time you enter the NICU, you’ll scrub as if preparing for surgery and wear a disposable hospital gown on top of your street clothes to prevent passing germs on to your baby. You may also be asked to wear a mask.

Make it a habit to be at the NICU for feeding times if you can. Breastfeeding is encouraged. “Nursing [including feeding baby breast milk] helps to mature premature babies’ digestive system and their lungs and helps with brain development,” says Brenda Jennings R.N., a NICU lactation consultant at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women in Memphis, Tennessee. “Breastfed babies tend to grow better and go home sooner.” Even if you can’t breastfeed, you can take over feeding the baby for the nurse and bond with your infant. Keep in mind, though, that there are certain times of day the NICU is off-limits, usually when doctors are doing their rounds and during shift changes. Remember, the nurses are in charge and can be your lifeline to your baby. Adrienne Fulk, mom of baby Hunter who spent 22 days in the NICU, says, “Being on [nurses’] good side counted for a lot, whether it meant giving Hunter the incubator near the window or letting us hold him despite complicated wires/catheters. In addition to providing small favors, they were a wealth of information, not only in terms of explaining complicated medical terminology but also to handle and care for a newborn. In a way, we were lucky to have such amazing training on diapering, bathing, swaddling and nursing a newborn.” Today, Hunter is a vivacious, happy and healthy 2-year-old.

What Else Can You Do?

  • Pump: If your baby is too weak to nurse, you can express breast milk with a pump, which will be fed to him via a feeding tube.
  • Cuddle: When baby is strong enough to be held outside his incubator, place him skin-to-skin on mom’s or dad’s chest. The proven benefits for a preemie or sick baby of this “kangaroo care” include warmth, stability of heartbeat and breathing, increased time spent in deep sleep and quiet alert states, less crying, better weight gain and increased breastfeeding.
  • Go cloth: Laundering tiny cloth diapers is a chore that can help you feel involved in your baby’s care. Happy Heinys makes special preemie-size diapers.
  • Be there (even when you’re not): Tape a picture of your family to baby’s incubator — it’s a sweet way to “be there” all the time. Plus, it lets new shifts of hospital personnel know who you are when you visit. Make sure your cell phone numbers are clearly visible and taped to his bed — it can help ensure immediate calls in case of emergencies or treatment changes.
  • Linger: Bring a blanket, a few one-piece bodysuits and a small stuffed animal from home so he can learn your smell and hopefully be comforted by it.
  • Take care of yourself: Accept help, take naps at the hospital and go out for fresh air and meals.

Going Home

While it may seem like you’re waiting forever, eventually you’ll be able to take your baby home. Before you do, the NICU staff will make sure you know how to take care of your baby, particularly if she still has special needs. You may be required to learn infant CPR (important for all new parents), how to administer medication or how to operate monitors or any other special equipment. Many hospitals let parents spend a night or two in the unit in a special room where the NICU nurses can watch you care for your baby and answer any questions. Then, eventually, you’ll go home as a family, your baby will grow and the NICU will be just a memory.

New Mommy Survival Guide

Summary:

No matter how many moms you talk to before you give birth, you won’t truly know what the first few weeks of motherhood really are like until you go through them. Sure, you know you will need standard supplies for Baby, like diapers, burp rags and bodysuits, but what about you? What will you need […]


No matter how many moms you talk to before you give birth, you won’t truly know what the first few weeks of motherhood really are like until you go through them. Sure, you know you will need standard supplies for Baby, like diapers, burp rags and bodysuits, but what about you? What will you need to survive the 24-hour grind of regular feedings, endless diaper changes and lack of sleep? We have compiled a list of what we think are mommy must-dos and must-haves for the first few weeks of motherhood.

Before Baby Arrives

Meal prep

Make meals ahead of time and freeze them, so you can easily pull them out and heat them when you’re hungry. Lasagna, chili or casseroles freeze really well. You don’t have to cook for hours. Just make a double batch of whatever you happen to be cooking and put half of it away for a future meal. It’s also a good idea to make sure your pantry is well-stocked with simple things you can make if all of a sudden your days become nights and nights become days because baby doesn’t sleep. Great things to have on hand, especially when you’re sleep-deprived, are dried pasta, soup, cereal and crackers.

Stockpile supplies

Before having a baby, if you need anything like food, clothing or toiletries, you can just run to the store whenever you feel like it to restock. Not anymore! After baby arrives, if you want to go out, you need to take the baby with you. Because it’s silly to spend a half hour or more getting a baby dressed and stocking the diaper bag just to buy one thing from the store, it’s a really good idea to stock up on items you may need. Here are some things you will not want to run out of:

  • Formula and bottles: Obviously you’ll need formula if you’re not nursing, but you may need it to supplement even if you are.
  • Diapers: You’re going to go through 8 to 12 per day at first.
  • Wipes: Because something always needs wiped!
  • Household paper products, like paper towels, tissues and toilet paper: Again, because something always needs to be wiped.
  • Laundry detergent: You’ll be doing A LOT of laundry.
  • Extra crib or bassinet sheets and blankets: So you can stretch out time between laundry loads.
  • Baby bodysuits or one-piece outfits: They are the easiest to open and close through all those diaper changes.
  • Acetaminophen: It helps with the aches and pains of recovery, and it’s safe to take while nursing.
  • Heavy-duty feminine napkins: This is not a fun topic, but trust us, you will need a supply that will last several weeks.
  • Stain remover: To keep baby’s spit-up marks from turning all your clothes into a polka-dot theme.
  • Nursing pads: Your breasts will likely leak a bit between feedings, especially if it’s close to feeding time and you hear a crying baby! Even if you’re not nursing, your body will still produce milk for your little one at first and your supply will take a while to dry up.
  • Stool softener: Even though you’ll be leaking elsewhere, the one place you will want to may elude you. Be aware that some pain medications can make this problem worse. Ask your doctor which stool softeners are safe to take while nursing, and for heaven’s sake, listen to the nurse when she tells you not to push when you go to the bathroom. You don’t want to deal with hemorrhoids on top of everything else!
  • Antibiotic cream, like Neosporin: This helps with healing, especially if you have a C-section. It works wonders healing the incision.
  • Protein or meal bars: These are good for easy snacking because some days you’ll even be too tired to consume the frozen meals you prepped ahead of time.
  • Mouthwash: You may not have the time or energy to brush the protein bar breath away.
  • Cotton swabs: These work to snag the ever-elusive baby booger that hides just out of reach of your adult-sized hands. Just be careful not to stick it too far in.
  • Two kinds of diaper-rash ointments: Regular diaper-rash ointments work well for daily diaper changings, but when the diaper rash overpowers them, stronger ointments, such as Triple Paste, work shockingly fast to clear up Baby’s bum. Sometimes even overnight!
  • Antibacterial gel: You’ll learn quickly that not every public place has a changing station, and you will have to change diapers in weird places without areas to wash your hands right away.

When Baby Gets Home
Let someone else feed the baby once in a while

The reality is newborns eat every 3 to 4 hours, and delegating some feedings can give you some uninterrupted rest. Granted, this is easier if you’re using formula. Whoever happens to be around, Dad or a visiting relative, can feed the baby while you do something else (most likely sleep!). If you’re nursing, you can pump some breast milk into a bottle or save it for later by freezing it, although experts advise waiting a few weeks while mom and baby are getting into the rhythm of breastfeeding before introducing a bottle to avoid nipple confusion and to encourage milk production. Nursing moms may find that it’s simplest to nurse rather than pump—the milk is always ready and always at the right temperature, with no stressful pumping or bottles to wash—and others can pitch in in other ways.
Ask for help when you need it

In a perfect world, every mom would have a baby nurse waiting for her when she came home from the hospital. The reality is, most of us are on our own with a new baby, especially if Dad has to go back to work right away. If you feel overwhelmed caring for a newborn, reach out to a friend or relative for help. If you’re feeling particularly sleep-deprived or can’t remember the last time you bathed, taking a break to take a nap or a shower should help even the most nervous new mom relax so she can savor her time with her little one.

New Study Shows Premature Babies Need "Adult Talk"

Summary:

A new study suggests that premature babies have better language skills by 18 months of age if they’re exposed to more adult talk very early in life. For decades it’s been known that older children suffer speech and language delays when their exposure to adult speech is limited. Researchers decided to see if the same […]


A new study suggests that premature babies have better language skills by 18 months of age if they’re exposed to more adult talk very early in life.

For decades it’s been known that older children suffer speech and language delays when their exposure to adult speech is limited. Researchers decided to see if the same thing applied to preterm infants, who often have speech delays as toddlers.

In the study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, lead author Dr. Betty Vohr of Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I., explains that infants in neonatal intensive care units are regularly exposed to the sounds of monitors and machines but not direct adult speech.

She and her team studied 36 preterm babies weighing just over 2 pounds in the NICU at Women & Infants Hospital. Researchers recorded the sounds in the NICU for 16 hours by outfitting the babies with vests that recorded and analyzed conversations and nearby background noises. Recordings were made when the babies were 32 weeks “postmenstrual age,” which corresponds to 32 weeks of pregnancy, and again at 36 weeks. When the babies were tested at 7 and 18 months after birth, researchers found that babies exposed to just 100 additional words per hour in early life demonstrated a measurable increase in language skills.

According to a press release from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the publisher of the journal Pediatrics, “Every increase by 100 adult words per hour during the recording at age 32 weeks resulted in a 2-point increase in language composite scores at 18 months and a 0.5-point increase in expressive communication scores.”

“Parents should be encouraged to talk to their preterm babies while in the NICU to avoid risk of language delay,” the AAP recommends.

Adding an additional 100 words an hour is actually pretty simple. Singing songs, repeating nursery rhymes, describing how your day was, discussing plans for the future, and even talking about the weather can easily get that number up. Family and friends can make soothing recordings for the baby to listen to in the NICU.

Dr. Vohr said earlier research also found that premature babies respond audibly to their mothers’ presence. “Our earlier study identified that extremely premature infants vocalize (make sounds) eight weeks before their mother’s due date and vocalize more when their mothers are present in the NICU than when they are cared for by NICU staff,” she said.

She reiterated that researchers have long known that premature babies need close contact to thrive.

“Our study demonstrates the powerful impact of parents visiting and talking to their infants in the NICU on their developmental outcomes,” Vohr says.

Obviously, parents can have a difficult time spending all of their time at the NICU, especially if they have older children to care for. But with the discovery many years ago of the benefits of “kangaroo care” (skin-to-skin contact with newborns) and now this study, parents of preemies should make every effort to be present as much as possible.

The Colic Survival Guide

Summary:

Her newborn daughter was the perfect baby — for a week and a half. Then the screaming started. “She just cried nonstop, hours upon hours, pretty much all day,” Jenn Borst of Danbury, Connecticut, recalls with a shudder. “There was barely anything that would soothe her.” The wailing became a way of life for Borst, […]


Her newborn daughter was the perfect baby — for a week and a half. Then the screaming started. “She just cried nonstop, hours upon hours, pretty much all day,” Jenn Borst of Danbury, Connecticut, recalls with a shudder. “There was barely anything that would soothe her.” The wailing became a way of life for Borst, her husband and even her in-laws, who moved in temporarily to help. They took turns holding, rocking and soothing little Sydney around the clock. “The worst time was from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. We used to go in 15-minute shifts because she would just scream,” Borst says.

A pediatrician diagnosed Sydney with colic at 6 weeks. Colic is inconsolable crying that typically lasts more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, for more than three weeks in an otherwise healthy baby. Having a name for the crying made it more bearable, Borst says, but it didn’t stop the tears. In fact, the doctor told them the only real cure was time. Most babies outgrow colic around 12 to 16 weeks. In Sydney’s case, the symptoms didn’t go away until she was about 7 months old. “You have that helpless feeling,” Borst says. “You think something’s hurting, but you never really know.”Experts aren’t sure exactly what causes colic — or how to cure it. The condition affects one in five babies, usually starting when they’re 2 to 4 weeks old. Some experts think the crying may be related to intestinal pain or an immature nervous system. Other theories include food sensitivities or allergies, and hypersensitivity to outside stimulation.

Desperate parents try just about anything to stop the tears. But what works for one baby may have little effect on another. Jessica Johnson of Beacon, New York, tried soothing her colicky daughter with long walks in the stroller, car rides and gripe water. “It all just came down to me holding, rocking and patting her back for hours,” she says.

What’s a distraught mama to do? Don’t give up, says Bryan Vartabedian M.D., author of Colic Solved and father of a once-colicky kid. In some instances, colic may actually be caused by acid reflux, a milk allergy or another treatable condition, he says. “I always tell parents to first rule out the really obvious problems that can make a baby cry — hunger or sleepiness,” he says.

The Infant Behavior, Cry and Sleep Clinic in Rhode Island tackles colic by pairing its tiny patients with a team of pediatricians and mental health professionals. Over multiple visits, families get customized treatment plans to address babies’ sleep, feeding and schedule problems — as well as an outlet for parents’ frustrations. Families treated at the clinic say so far, so good. A recent study found that babies treated there stopped crying at a faster rate and had a more rapid decline in the amount of crying per day than colicky babies who only visited pediatricians for routine checkups.If you’ve got a super fussy baby, chances are he’s not the only one crying. “The number one feeling I remember when she wouldn’t stop crying is how helpless I felt. At times I would cry with her,” Johnson admits. Feeling overwhelmed? Take a deep breath and try these:

Call in reinforcements: Family and friends will want to help, so don’t be afraid to ask. If someone can relieve you for even just an hour a day, that breather will decrease your stress.

See a doctor: Ask your ob-gyn for a referral to a therapist. Moms suffering from postpartum depression may benefit from a prescription antidepressant, and many are safe while breastfeeding.

Read up: Getting more info can give you peace of mind. Try: The Fussy Baby Book by Babytalk contributing editor William Sears M.D. or Colic Solved by Bryan Vartabedian M.D.Dealing with a crybaby? Don’t lose hope. “The idea that colic is normal and you just have to suck it up is simply not true,” says Colic Clinic founder Barry Lester Ph.D. Try these expert strategies for a colicky little one:

1. Switch up the menu. “Up to one in three babies with colic actually suffers with milk protein allergy,” says Dr. Vartabedian. If you’re nursing, cut out dairy from your diet for a few weeks to see if that helps. If baby’s bottle-fed, talk to your doc about switching formulas.

2. Help the food stay down. Almost all babies spit up, but spitting up paired with difficulty feeding may indicate acid reflux. Ease his discomfort by burping him frequently and keeping him upright 20 minutes after feedings.

3. Fix the flow. “A baby who’s working harder to get more food … is going to swallow a lot of air,” says Dr. Vartabedian. In a breastfed baby, check her latch. In a bottle-fed babe, talk with her doc to see if a faster-flow nipple might help.

4. Start the night right. Colicky babies may benefit from soothing bedtime routines, says Jean Twomey Ph.D., a clinical social worker and assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior and pediatrics at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School. Dim the lights, play gentle music and rock her.

5. Boost good bacteria. Some doctors think imbalances in intestinal bacteria may make baby irritable. Giving a probiotic through drops or formula may ease tears. “There are a number of studies showing that L. reuteri has a significant impact on crying,” says Dr. Vartabedian.

6. Put the paci to work. Offer a pacifier if she needs soothing when it’s not mealtime. During the day, feed her every two to three hours.

7. Call in backup so you can get some Z’s. Once parents start sleeping better, the improvement in their emotional state and energy level is amazing. “It’s hard to overestimate the role that sleep has on a parent’s mental health,” says Twomey.

8. Step away. If nothing is working, put your baby in a safe place, such as her crib, and take a five- to 10-minute breather.

Preemie Development

Summary:

When I ballooned with pre-eclampsia 31 weeks into my second pregnancy, I thought my ob-gyn might prescribe daily periods of bed rest. Instead, he shocked me by saying: “We have to get that baby out — soon!”I panicked. We hadn’t moved our 2-year-old, Mathilda, out of her crib yet. We hadn’t discussed names or bought […]


When I ballooned with pre-eclampsia 31 weeks into my second pregnancy, I thought my ob-gyn might prescribe daily periods of bed rest. Instead, he shocked me by saying: “We have to get that baby out — soon!”I panicked. We hadn’t moved our 2-year-old, Mathilda, out of her crib yet. We hadn’t discussed names or bought baby clothes. Damn it, I was in the middle of several writing assignments — I wasn’t ready to have a baby!

Ready or not, my son AJ was delivered, via C-section, the next afternoon. He weighed in at just 3 pounds 6 ounces and fit neatly into my husband Tony’s hand. Not that we got to hold him at first. He was whisked away (after one hearty, reassuring cry) to receive oxygen. After a lengthy assessment, he was snuggled into the incubator that would be his home for the next five weeks.

Those surreal days were filled with emotional highs and lows as we got used to life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Some days, I spent more time with my hospital-grade breast pump than I did with my son. When AJ finally came home, three weeks before his due date and still half the size of a “normal” newborn, I couldn’t cuddle him enough.My story is hardly unusual — one in eight babies is born prematurely (before 37 weeks completed gestation) in the United States each year, says the March of Dimes.

Although the rate dipped slightly in 2010 (to just under 12 percent of all births), preterm birth is a serious health problem. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and preemies are at risk for long-lasting health concerns, including breathing and vision problems, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. Generally, the earlier the baby is born, the greater the chance of serious health problems.

The good news? Preemies are fighters, and modern medical technology can keep incredibly tiny babies alive. The survival rate for infants born at 26 weeks is now 80 percent; at 32 and 33 weeks, 98 percent; and between 34 and 36 weeks, 99 percent. A recent report on a study following two of the smallest preemies on record — born weighing less than 10 ounces each — found that both children have experienced normal motor and language development at 3 years old as well as hit developmental milestones at appropriate age levels.

I’m Having a Preemie — What Now? If you go into labor or need a C-section early, you may be transferred to the nearest hospital that can accommodate your needs. (Hospital nurseries offer different levels of care: Level I nurseries are for healthy, full-term babies; level II for babies born at 32 weeks and older; level III are for the smallest, youngest preemies, with specially trained medical staff and high-tech equipment.) If you know you’re going to deliver early, Scott Berns M.D., senior vice president at the March of Dimes, recommends visiting the NICU beforehand. “It can feel intimidating,” he says. In the NICU, babies are in enclosed incubators, often with feeding tubes, IV lines and heart rate and oxygen monitors attached to their tiny bodies. Visitors are limited, and they must scrub in upon entering the unit.

“There are 30 to 50 beds in some NICUs filled at one time; you’re seeing other families come and go, and it can be very stressful,” says Kelli Kelley, executive director of Hand to Hold (handtohold.org), a support organization for parents of preemies. Once you deliver, don’t be afraid to quiz the doctors and nurses about unfamiliar equipment, terms and procedures, says Burbank, California, dad Steven Worley, who has been through the NICU experience twice — with Maggie, now 5, and Sam, now 3. “You really need to educate yourself on what it means to have a premature baby,” he says. “It’s OK to ask, ‘Can you explain exactly what that means?’”

Why Me? There’s no single cause of preterm birth. Risk factors include smoking, obesity, chronic medical conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure) and having had a previous preemie. Medical reasons include pre-eclampsia, infection and placental abruption. Women carrying multiples (who compete for space and nutrients and become stressed) are also much more likely to give birth early. However, a large percentage of babies are born early for no known reason. “You can do everything right and still have a baby born too soon,” says Dr. Berns. “Almost half the time, we don’t know why it happens.”

Bonding, Interrupted It’s a tricky business with preemies — usually, you can’t even hold your baby at first. Parents often feel shock, numbness and disappointment. “You have this image in your head about how the perfect birth and bonding should be,” says Beth Maclin of Hazel Crest, Illinois, whose son Carter was born at 29 weeks. “The worst thing about having a preemie was the feeling of the rug being pulled out from under you. You feel so helpless.” Still, there are ways to get to know your newborn.

Get Parent to Parent Support go to Preemies Today.

HOLD HIM CLOSE As soon as you (and dad) are allowed, hold baby with his bare chest against yours. It’s called kangaroo care, and numerous studies have shown preemies who have skin-to-skin contact gain weight faster, have a more stable heart rate, are able to nurse and go home sooner.

BREAST IS BEST Breastfeed if you can; pump if you can’t. Every drop of your breast milk is lifesaving to a preemie — plus, you’ll feel a real sense of purpose. You can rent a hospital-grade pump — its motor can handle the demands of pumping around the clock.

CHAT HER UP Sit close and talk, sing or read to your baby; she’ll find the familiar sound of your voice comforting. Ask staffers if you can leave an inexpensive digital voice recorder so they can play a recording of you talking or singing lullabies to your infant when you’re not there.

MAKE IT HOMEY Make your little corner of the NICU more pleasant — and positive — for you and your baby by bringing in family photos, a special blanket or a couple of stuffed animals to place around the area. Bonus: Your scent on a cloth or toy will comfort baby when you’re not around.

TAKE CARE OF YOU You can easily get burned out by spending too much time at the hospital. “It’s OK to take a day off from the NICU,” says April Kinker of Hammond, Indiana, whose daughter Sophia was born at 24 weeks. “You’ve just been through a traumatic event and have to take care of yourself as well.” Eat healthful foods, catch up on sleep and try stress-reducing tactics (meditation, long baths, aromatherapy) when you’re home.

BE THERE Take part in your baby’s care as often as you’re allowed. “Get to the NICU at feeding time, diaper-changing time and temperature-taking time,” says New Yorker Dunica Charles, whose daughter Dahliah was born weighing 2 pounds 2 ounces. “It not only frees up the nurses, it helps you feel useful.”

BIG BROTHER Some NICUs across the country offer password-protected Webcam access to babies through Nicview (nicview.net). If your hospital offers this service, you can watch baby on any mobile device when you can’t be at his side.

“NEST” IF POSSIBLE Before we ventured home with AJ, I stayed overnight at the hospital in a private room set aside for preemies and moms. (It was an option at our hospital; at some, it’s mandatory.) Nurses were available, but I took care of him by myself — a real confidence-booster.

Safe Baby Swaddling Tips

Summary:

Wrapping your wee one like a tiny burrito can soothe cries and help induce sleep, but it may not be the safest solution. Why? Because it’s actually quite common for newborns to have hip instability (thanks to mom’s hormones that relax ligaments). Tight swaddling around the hips can exacerbate the condition or even lead to […]


Wrapping your wee one like a tiny burrito can soothe cries and help induce sleep, but it may not be the safest solution. Why? Because it’s actually quite common for newborns to have hip instability (thanks to mom’s hormones that relax ligaments). Tight swaddling around the hips can exacerbate the condition or even lead to hip dysplasia, where the hips are no longer centered in the socket.

“Hip dysplasia is actually the most common abnormality in newborns,” says Charles Price M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and director of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. “Babies have tight muscles around the hips thanks to being cross-legged in the womb for so long, so it takes time for them to naturally stretch out.” When a baby’s legs are stretched straight and pressed together with a tight swaddle it can force hips to move out of the socket, preventing proper development of the hip joint. “The best way to wrap a baby is to make sure there is plenty of room for the legs to move freely,” Dr. Price says.

Baby Massage Techniques

Summary:

Nila Aye We’ve simplified baby massage into six simple strokes. Perform each one slowly, for about a minute, using moderate pressure applied with the pads of your fingers, not the entire palm of your hand. Keep your baby cozy by turning up the heat in the room and using a soft towel to cover her […]

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  • Nila Aye

    We’ve simplified baby massage into six simple strokes. Perform each one slowly, for about a minute, using moderate pressure applied with the pads of your fingers, not the entire palm of your hand. Keep your baby cozy by turning up the heat in the room and using a soft towel to cover her exposed skin.

    Before you get started, make sure you have the following gear nearby:

    • A comfortable flat surface covered by a blanket or a mat
    • A small amount of baby oil (olive oil works well, too)
    • Tissues or paper towels to wipe up excess oil
    • A soft towel or blanket to cover your baby
    • A pacifier, if it’s calming for your little one
    • Low lights
    • Soft music
    • Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...