Posts Tagged "parenting"

Are you ready to sleep-train your baby?

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016

Any way you do it, sleep-training your baby is going to be a lot of work. It’s going to involve some crying, and less sleep for a while. It’s going to require that you be clear, and sure, and consistent. Here is a quiz to help you decide if you are ready. Yes No ❑ ❑ Is your baby over 6 months old? ❑ ❑ Are you (or your partner or both) suffering from depression? ❑ ❑ Are you (or your partner or both) suffering from extreme sleep deprivation? ❑ ❑ Have you (or your partner or both) become angry or frustrated when dealing with your baby at night? ❑ ❑ Does you baby wake more than 4 times between 7pm and 5am? ❑ ❑ Does your baby take more than 10-15 minutes to fall asleep after waking at night? ❑ ❑ Do you have a separate room and crib for your baby to sleep in? ❑ ❑ Do you have a partner or another adult to help and support you through sleep training? ❑ ❑ Are you prepared to get LESS sleep for a week or so while you implement a sleep plan? ❑ ❑ Are you prepared to be VERY consistent about bedtimes and routines for the next six weeks or so? If you answer yes to 6 or more of theses questions, it may be a good time for you to start sleep-training your baby. Even if you answer yes to ALL the questions, it does not mean that you SHOULD sleep-train your baby. Sleep training is only one way to help parents get more sleep (see my post on how to get more sleep this week). Sleep training is only one way to help babies develop culturally-appropriate sleep patterns. All babies do not need sleep training! Do not feel pressured to sleep train because… … Someone told you their baby slept through the night at this age. … Your friend’s baby sleeps longer than your baby does. … Your baby takes short naps … Your baby is 6 months old. … You don’t want to develop bad habits … You feel that your baby should be on a schedule … You are worried about how your baby is going to sleep when you go back to work four months from now (that’s a long time from...

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Grunting Babies

Posted by on Jun 22, 2015

Why do babies grunt at night? Well, let’s eliminate the serious reasons first. 1. Baby might not be getting enough air. This is not very common. It can happen to a very new baby or to a baby who has a cold or croup. In this case the grunting would go along with a blue colour in the skin, pauses in breathing, flaring of the nostrils, the chest muscles drawing in sharply with the breath. If your baby shows these symptoms, please call 911 or go to Emergency. 2. Reflux. Some babies have immature sphincters at the top of their stomach and acid from the stomach can pass back into the throat and cause burning pain. Try propping the head of your baby’s crib or bassinet up a little, and/or hold baby upright for awhile after feeds. Babies with reflux are pretty miserable. Please make an appointment with your doctor to diagnose the reflux and prescribe treatment. 3. Baby’s gut is moving. This is the most common cause of grunting. Almost every parent in our Baby Group reports that their baby grunts, especially in the very early morning (4-6am). Babies (and the rest of us) sleep more lightly in the early morning and as their bodies get ready for daytime activity, their gut starts to move and they notice it and start to grunt and squirm and raise and lower their legs (some babies slap their legs down on to the mattress) and fart.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby has “too much gas” or is “colicky” or that you should change your diet or give pro-biotics. This is part of how some babies behave. Parents notice that these babies are not unhappy. They are not crying. They do not seem to be in pain. They are just making noises and being restless. They may be awake, or their eyes may be closed.  If the parent picks the baby up and holds the baby on the parent’s chest, the baby often falls into a deep, quiet sleep. This is because it is easier for a baby to fall into deep sleep on top of another human. If this allows you to get another hour or two of sleep, there is no harm in it. It won’t “set up bad habits.” The early-morning grunting usually stops around 3-4 months. You can change your early-morning habits then. Is it okay to ignore a baby who is grunting, but not unhappy? Yes! Parents of second or third or fourth babies learn that babies grunt and it doesn’t always mean they need us. Parent of first babies are  a little more anxious and are tuned in to every squeak and rustle. I don’t think this helps the parents or the babies. If you leave your content (not unhappy, not crying or whining) little grunting baby alone, you may be providing the baby with an opportunity to learn how to go back to sleep without help from you. Also, if you stay lying down, and train your...

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Talking to Babies – Part 2

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014

The best evidence there is that we should talk to babies, is that babies LOVE to be talked to. Tell a baby a story with an animated face and voice, and the baby will stare, in rapt attention – for as long as her little brain can handle it. Then she’ll turn her face away – to take a rest from the hard work of listening. A minute later, she’ll turn back toward you to see if you’ve got anymore to say. One mother told me how her baby hated having his diaper changed. So she decided to explain to him why she had to do it and what she was doing every step of the way. She found that the baby cried much less and seemed to listen to her explanation and accept it. Now I am not suggesting that the baby thought something like this: “Hmm. Mom makes a good case for this diaper-changing business. I guess I’ll go along with her to avoid getting diaper rash which I know can get darned unpleasant!” Of course not! But I do think the baby thought something like this: “Hmm! Mom is talking about something. I wonder what it is? She seems to feel pretty strongly about it. I wish I could understand what she was saying, but I’ve got a hunch that if I keep listening, someday I’ll figure it out.” And while baby is listening and trying to understand, Mom can quickly change that diaper. One night when my eldest son, Daniel, was seven or eight months old, he was teething and had swollen puffy gums. He was miserable – drooling and crying and rubbing his face on my shoulder. I tried to nurse him and soothe him and cuddle him and sing to him. I rubbed his gums with my finger and gave him a cold cloth to chew on. Nothing worked. Finally I got out the Tylenol and tried to give him a dose. He clenched his jaw shut and would not let me put the dropper in his mouth. He would have nothing to do with the sticky artificial-strawberry-flavoured medicine. I struggled with him briefly and then gave up. I took him out into the dark living room (leaving my husband to go back to sleep). I walked up and down and started to talk. I talked about his teeth buds growing in his gums and how extra blood was being sent there by his body to make nice strong teeth so that he could chew crunchy nuts and yummy steak. I talked about how the extra blood caused pain for him. About the Tylenol that would take away the pain. About the nice scientist in her white coat in the lab with the bunsen burner and the test tubes who invented the Tylenol so little boys could have medicine to make their gums feel better and so they could go to sleep and let their Mommies go to sleep too. I talked to...

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Talking to Babies – Part 1

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014

Written by: Eva Bild A new mother is trying to put a horrible prickly sweater on a baby before taking him outside in the cold weather. The baby is howling and the mother is distressed. I start to explain to the baby about how cold it is outside and how the lovely sweater his grandmother knit for him will keep him warm. The mother looks puzzled: “He won’t understand that, will he?” Well, no, he probably won’t but it’s still worthwhile to talk to him about it. When we talk to babies, we feel a little foolish. We laugh, embarrassed, when someone catches us at it. If we talk to our baby before other adults, we often do it archly, really meaning to communicate with the adults present: Dad: Come on, baby, let’s go and change your diaper and let Mom here get herself ready to feed you as soon as we get back. Mum: (when baby has been brought back to her for feeding) oh yes, baby, here you are nice and clean, isn’t Daddy a nice daddy to change your diaper for you? Our culture does not encourage us to believe that babies understand or feel anything. We are told that babies aren’t smiling “they just have gas”. We are told babies aren’t sad when they cry, they are just “exercising their lungs.” Until the 1970’s surgery was commonly performed on infants without anaesthesia, because it was believed they couldn’t feel pain. Mothers have said things to me like “I think she recognizes me, but she can’t, can she?” I remember one new father holding his newborn daughter who was staring with clear fascination at her father’s face. “When will she be able to see?” asked the father. Our culture teaches so strongly that babies are incompetent that we can’t even believe the evidence before us. I wonder if so many babies used to die in infancy that it just wasn’t worth it to get too attached to them, to see them as real humans. It was easier to stay a little aloof until we were sure they would survive. So, to protect our own feelings, we developed these beliefs about babies not really being present and aware. And yet babies start listening to us and learning from us very early on. There is good evidence that newborns can recognize their parents’ voices and music they have heard in utero. Our babies are born ready to tune in to our voices and to start learning language. They are hard-wired to watch our faces, especially our eyes and our mouths. They are born with a sense of how to take turns. Play the “I’ll stick my tongue out – now it’s your turn “ game with a two-week-old, and you’ll find a creature who has an innate sense of how to have a conversation. As soon as you stop sticking you tongue out, she’ll take her turn. If you wait too long to take your next turn, she’ll...

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How to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby

Posted by on Feb 10, 2014

Let me start with a disclaimer. Not all babies need to have bottles. Babies who are doing well at the breast, and whose mothers are available and happy to provide the breast whenever the baby needs it, these babies do not need bottles. Not all mothers want to or need to spend time away from their babies. And some babies are peaceful and happy between feeds and can go 2-3 hours in the cuddly arms of the other parent or a grandparent while mom goes for a swim or a walk, or sings in her choir. But some babies and mothers need bottles. Some mothers need time away from their babies, for their physical, emotional, financial or professional health. These babies need bottles. And the mothers, having followed the best advice from breastfeeding experts which is to offer only the breast for the first six weeks, sometimes find themselves at 6, or 8 or 12 weeks, trying to get a very breast-imprinted and irritated baby to take a bottle. When babies are very new, in the first 4-6 weeks, they will suck on almost anything. A bottle nipple, or a breast, or a finger, or a pacifier, are all relatively easy for them to learn to use. But by 6-8 weeks, babies move on to using their mouths more for exploring and gumming and chewing. So when an 8-week-old baby is presented with a bottle nipple, that behaves in no way like a breast, the baby gets frustrated. Here is this thing in her mouth, it smells like milk, she can taste a little milk leaking out, but she can’t get it to work! Often, parents are given the advice to try the bottle with the baby when she is hungry, and that makes her even more irritated. And then Dad is holding her in his arms, in a position similar to the one in which she gets the breast, and instead she gets this hard rubbery thing which doesn’t work! So the baby howls, and the Dad or Other-Mother or Grandmother or Aunt feels very rejected indeed. So much for bonding with the baby by giving her a bottle! Very often, parents will try many, many different sorts of bottle and nipples, trying for the one which the baby will “like.”  They often ask me what nipple I recommend. My hunch is that no matter what nipples they try, no matter what the order they try them in, the baby will finally take the sixth or seventh one they try. It’s not that they have finally found the right nipple, but that the baby got some practice. So based on my basic knowledge of how to teach skills to children, and on some ideas I have gathered from clever, patient parents who have done this recently, here is the method I suggest. These instructions are intended for the Dad or other parent  – not the breastfeeding mom. This is a skill the baby needs to learn to do with...

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