Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Helping baby sleep through the night

Baby sleep: Helping baby sleep through the night

Tired of being awake at all hours with your baby? Use these simple tips to help your baby sleep through the night.

If you haven't had a good night's sleep since your baby was born, you're not alone.  Sleepless nights are a rite of passage for most new parents — but don't despair.  You can help your baby sleep all night.  Honestly!

Developing a rhythm

Newborns sleep 16 or more hours a day, but often in stretches of just a few hours at a time.  Although the pattern might be erratic at first, a more consistent sleep schedule will emerge as your baby matures and can go longer between feedings.

By age 3 months, many babies sleep at least five hours at a time. By age 6 months, nighttime stretches of nine to 12 hours are possible. 

Baby sleep: Helping baby sleep through the night

Encouraging good sleep habits

For the first few months, middle-of-the-night feedings are sure to disrupt sleep for parents and babies alike — but it's never too soon to help your baby become a good sleeper. Consider these tips:
  • Encourage activity during the day. When your baby is awake, engage him or her by talking, singing and playing.  Stimulation during the day can help promote better sleep at night.

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine. Try relaxing favorites such as bathing, cuddling, singing, playing quiet music or reading.  Soon your baby will associate these activities with sleep.

  • Put your baby to bed drowsy, but awake. This will help your baby associate bed with the process of falling asleep.  Remember to place your baby to sleep on his or her back, and clear the crib or bassinet of blankets and other soft items.

  • Give your baby time to settle down. Your baby might fuss or cry before finding a comfortable position and falling asleep.   If the crying doesn't stop, speak to your baby calmly and stroke his or her back.  Your reassuring presence might be all your baby needs to fall asleep.

  • Consider a pacifier. If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier might do the trick. In fact, research suggests that using a pacifier during sleep helps reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

  • Expect frequent stirring at night. Babies often wriggle, squirm and twitch in their sleep.  They can be noisy, too.  Unless you suspect that your baby is hungry or uncomfortable, it's OK to wait a few minutes to see if he or she falls back asleep.

  • Keep nighttime care low-key. When your baby needs care or feeding during the night, use dim lights, a soft voice and calm movements.  This will tell your baby that it's time to sleep — not play.

  • Don't 'bed share' during sleep. This can make it harder for your baby to fall asleep on his or her own.  Bed sharing might also increase your baby's risk of SIDS.  If you'd like to keep your baby close, consider placing your baby's bed in your bedroom.

  • Respect your baby's preferences. If your baby is a night owl or an early bird, you might want to adjust routines and schedules based on these natural patterns.


Keeping it in perspective

Getting your baby to sleep through the night is a worthy goal, but it's not a measure of your parenting skills.  Take time to understand your baby's habits and ways of communicating so that you can help him or her become a better sleeper.  If you continue to have concerns, consult your baby's doctor for additional suggestions.

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What is BPA?

What is BPA? Should I be worried about it? 
What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA?

Answer from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.   

In particular, BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins.  Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles, and baby bottles and cups.  They may also be used in toys and other consumer goods.  Epoxy resins can be used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, baby formula cans, bottle tops and water supply lines.  Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA.  And certain thermal paper products, such as cash register receipts, may contain BPA.  

Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA or into your body when you handle products made with BPA.  BPA remains controversial, and research studies are continuing.  The American Chemistry Council, an association that represents plastics manufacturers, contends that BPA poses no risk to human health.  

But the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services says it has "some concern" about the possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.  This level of concern is midway on its five-level scale, which ranges from serious to negligible.  The Food and Drug Administration now shares this level of concern and is taking steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply by finding alternatives to BPA in food containers.  

In the meantime, if you're concerned about BPA, you can take steps to minimize your exposure by: 

  • Seeking out BPA-free products.  This may not always be easy to do, of course.  Some manufacturers label their products as BPA-free.  If a product isn't labeled, keep in mind that most aluminum cans or bottles have linings that contain BPA, while steel bottles or cans don't. Polycarbonate plastic is generally hard, clear, lightweight plastic.  It often has the No. 7 recycling symbol on the bottom.  

  • Microwave cautiously.  The National Toxicology Program advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics, although the American Chemistry Council says this is safe.  The plastics can break down over time, possibly causing BPA to leach into food.  

  • Wash safely.  The National Toxicology Program advises against washing polycarbonate plastics in the dishwasher using harsh detergents, although the American Chemistry Council says this is safe. 

  • Use alternatives.  Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers. 

  • Cut back on cans.  Reduce your use of canned foods since many cans are lined with BPA-containing resin.

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Massage For Your Baby

A delightful baby massage is a wonderful way to bond with your newborn baby and spend quality time together.  An infant massage is another beautiful way to express your love.  More and more studies now show that a loving baby massage with a baby massage oil may help support a healthy immune system, relieve colic and even enhance an infant's intellectual development and motor skills.  A gentle baby massage and a few minutes of quiet time can improve sleeping through the night better.  That means sweet dreams for everyone! 

Since skin is the largest organ in the body, touch is extremely important. The following preparation and useful techniques can assist you in giving your precious baby an infant massage spa experience!

How to Begin
You will need: 2 soft towels, a clean diaper, baby massage oil & baby shampoo for your infant massage.  

Baby your little baby!  Begin the baby massage when you and your baby are in a relaxed, calm state.  The best time for an infant massage is usually before your baby’s bath, at least a half hour after the baby has eaten.  Sit comfortably on the floor with the soles of your feet together and form a diamond shape with your legs.  Be sure to select an infant massage location without drafts and make sure the room temperature is a warm 78 degrees.  Then drape a soft towel over your lap.  Undress your baby, just leaving on a clean diaper and rest your baby on the towel over your legs so your baby will feel comfortable and secure.  

Cradle your baby’s head with your feet.  Then put some baby massage oil on your clean hands and rub them together so they will be soft and warm before you start your baby massage.  Your baby will not be happy if he or she receives a baby massage from cold hands!  Then using massage oil for baby, begin with long gentle strokes from your baby's head to his or her toes.  

If you find that your baby responds well to the infant massage, proceed to gently massage your baby’s body section by section.  If your baby does not cooperate, simply massage him or her at another time.

While you massage your baby you may want to softly talk, hum, sing and/or play healing meditation music during the baby massage.  To further bond with your baby, give your little one eye to eye contact during the baby massage.

Baby Massage Tips:
  • Make your infant massage strokes gentle but not ticklish.

  • With soft and gentle touches the baby massage flows from the head to the toes. Tenderly begin the infant massage on the head and then move to the face, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, stomach and down to the legs, feet and toes.

  • Follow your baby's mood signals about when to stop the baby massage.  If the baby wants to change position let him or her do so.  A baby massage can comfortably last anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on his or her mood.

  • When you gently massage your baby’s body parts, you may want to cover the areas of the baby’s body that are not being massaged with a second towel to avoid baby from getting a chill.  Run your fingertips lightly over the body using circular motion. Avoid massaging your infant’s navel area, if the cord hasn't completely healed, avoid pressure on the spinal cord and avoid the genitalia area.

  • You can hold under your baby’s knees and gently press the knees up toward his or her tummy during the infant massage.  This position can help your baby to expel gas. Massage the scalp in small circles with your fingertips as if you were shampooing.

  • Following the massage, wash your baby’s hair with a natural baby shampoo.  This may require two washes to remove all the oil.

  • Make it a good habit to give your baby a baby massage as part of your baby’s pre-bath schedule.  After the infant massage, caress your baby and then give your baby a warm bath.

Sensitive Skin Baby

Your baby’s skin is highly sensitive.  Before using any baby clothes or baby linens for the very first time, make sure to wash the baby items in a hypoallergenic soap formulated for babies. In addition, use only natural,& organic baby products designed for babies when you bathe your little one.  Products for adults are usually too harsh for your baby’s delicate skin. 

It is not necessary to give your newborn a bath every day.  Just be sure to wash and keep your baby clean.  Wipe your baby’s face and head gently with a soft, wet washcloth or use dampened cotton balls.  Make sure to get into all the skin creases, especially where dribbled milk and spit up can collect for good skincare.  Also, wash your baby’s bottom well for proper skincare with each diaper change to avoid diaper rash. 

When it is time to dress your baby, choose loose-fitting, soft garments.  Baby's clothes can be layered for warmth.  Be sensitive to your baby’s environment and make sure to peel off or add a layer or two when in a warm or cold car, store or restaurant.  If you find your baby has little pimples along skin folds, especially on the neck, back, shoulders, chest or diaper area, he or she may have prickly heat, which can be remedied by avoiding heat and humidity.  Give your baby cool baths and dress him or her in light, loose-fitting baby clothes.  It is healthy and recommended to take your infant outdoors to get fresh air.  Simply dress your child appropriately.  You may need to protect your baby from the sun and from insect bites.  While the sun is an important natural source of vitamin D, it can also do damage to your child’s skin.  Shield your baby from direct sunlight by keeping the stroller hood up.  

Once your baby is six months old, get in the habit of using sunscreen on your child year round, even on overcast days.  Choose a hypoallergenic, PABA-free sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.  When applying sunscreen, avoid your baby’s eyes and keep it off your baby’s fingers as your child might rub his or her eyes.  Also, avoid or limit exposure to the sun between 10am and 4pm.  To keep bugs away from your little one, use an all natural insect repellent.

 Some Ingredients to Avoid for Sensitive Skin Baby:
  • Bisphenol-A (Bis-fen-ol) - Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone-mimicking chemical used in polycarbonate plastic resins, epoxy resins, and other products.  It is most commonly used in baby bottles or any type of hard shatterproof plastic containers.  It is also found in the lining of canned goods, plastic wrap and other household plastics.  Bisphenol has estrogenic properties which, in animal tests has shown to cause a bevy of health problems such as an increase in prostate and breast cancer, uro-genital abnormalities in male babies, a decline in semen quality in men, early onset of puberty in girls, metabolic disorders including insulin-resistant (Type 2) diabetes and obesity and neurobehavioral problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Research is showing that when plastic containers, mostly those used to hold liquids and foods, are leeching Bisphenol into the foods and liquids they are holding. Heating food and liquids with these plastics is shown to increase the leeching of this contaminate. 

  • Phthalates (pronounced THA-lates) are a common class of chemicals used in many household products and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic to improve flexibility, and in cosmetics to bind fragrance to the product. Different types of phthalates include diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP), di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), and many others. Global phthalate production is estimated at 11 billion pounds per year. It is thought that of the adverse health effects of phthalates include: Early puberty in girls, Premature delivery, Impaired sperm quality and sperm damage in men, Genital defects and reduced testosterone production in boys, Genital defects and testicular cancer. (Source: Environmental California)

  • Parabens - Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.  Parabens are effective preservatives in many types of formulas.  These compounds, and their salts, are used primarily for their bacteriocidal and fungicidal properties.  They can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants, topical/parenteral pharmaceuticals and toothpaste.  They are also used as food additives.  Animal experiments have shown that parabens have weak estrogenic activity therefore sending up a flag with researchers.  In one controversial study parabens were found in breast tumors.  This study has fueled the belief that parabens in underarm deodorants or other cosmetics migrated into the breast tissue and contributed to the development of the tumors.  The cosmetic industry holds steady that parabens are safe for general population use, but its hormone mimicking properties have proven enough of a “what if” that consumers are opting now for paraben-free products and cosmetics.

  • 1,4 Dioxane - Possible carcinogen. 1,4-Dioxane is primarily used in solvent applications for manufacturing; however, it is also found in fumigants and automotive coolant.  Additionally, the chemical is also used as a foaming agent and appears as an accidental byproduct of the ethoxylation process in cosmetics manufacturing.  It may contaminate cosmetics and personal care products such as deodorants, shampoos, toothpastes and mouthwashes.  1,4-dioxane is a known eye and respiratory tract irritant.  It is suspected of causing damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.  Dioxane is classified by the IARC as a Group 2B carcinogen: possibly carcinogenic to humans due to the fact that it is a known carcinogen in animals.

  • Propylene Glycol - Propylene glycol is a thickening/filling agent derived from glycerin and is in everything from store bought hair dyes to many of your natural deodorants. Propylene glycol has been determined as “generally safe for use” by the FDA for both food and cosmetic use, yet it raises your risk of cancer, carries toxins that affect reproduction, is a known allergen and eye irritant and can also be toxic to your immune system.

  • PEG’s - (also known as Polyethylene Glycol) - Polyethylene glycol is a family of synthetic chemicals that function in cosmetic formulations as surfactants, cleansing agents, emulsifiers, skin conditioners, and humectants. PEG’s are thought to increase cancer risks, including women’s risk of breast cancer. PEG compounds often contain small amounts of ethylene oxide.  According to experimental results reported on in the National Toxicology Program’s Eighth Annual Report on Carcinogens, ethylene oxide increases the incidences of uterine and breast cancers and of leukemia and brain cancer.  PEG compounds are routinely contaminated with the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. Source: Aubrey Organics Article.

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) - PVC is one of the most widely used plastics, making up everything from shower curtains, water pipes, electrical wire, signs and toys.  It is said that PVC can release numerous toxins during its lifetime and breakdown including mercury, dioxins, and phthalates.  Not to mention, this and other plastic are filling up landfills at an alarming and bulky rate.  Recently, some large chain stores including target and Wal-Mart have vowed to reduce the use of PVC in packaging and urge their suppliers to do the same.

  • Oxybenzone - Used significantly in sunscreens. Associated with photoallergic reactions.  This chemical absorbs through the skin in significant amounts.  It contaminates the bodies of 97% of Americans according to Centers for Disease Control research.  Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor which can affect the nervous system, has been linked to cancer in some laboratory studies, and creates free-radicals when exposed to the sun which are harmful.

Healthy Baby Skin Care

When it comes to diaper rash, parents would be wise to use baby skin care products free of artificial colors, synthetic fragrances and petrochemicals, which are themselves irritants.  

Look for pure baby skin care products for diaper rash with natural healing essential oils such as Calendula and Chamomile.  Baby friendly healing herbs to look for in diaper rash cream and diaper rash ointment include:-

  • Calendula: Calendula provides anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activities and stimulates cellular regeneration of healthy skin.

  • Chamomile: Chamomile inhibits the release of histamine and decreases the inflammatory response. It stimulates cellular regeneration of healthy skin.

  • Rose Hip: Rose Hip contains high levels of vitamin C and bioflavonoids which strengthen blood vessel walls, increasing vascular resistance and integrity and thus improving skin circulation.

Baby Skin Care Research

A current report in Clinical Pediatrics reveals that more than seventy-five percent of newborns suffer rashes within the first few months of birth.  Researchers suspect that contributing factors include the very products that promise to help babies' skin.  They note in their research, "Newborn skin is relatively more permeable to topically applied agents than adult skin.  Therefore, the risk of systemic toxicity is much greater in newborns." If parents stop to read labels of supermarket and drug store baby skin care products, they will find that:-

Your diaper rash cream may contain ingredients likely to be contaminated with formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, and possibly even nitrosamines, all of which are cancer-causing, highly irritating or both.  Baby talc-based powders contain tiny particles that irritate the skin and may contain perfumes, a leading cause of allergy and irritation.  Parents would be wise to avoid baby powders containing talc for treating diaper rash. Although baby powders are most frequently applied to diaper rash, there can be better ways. 

Also, most pediatricians specializing in natural skin care warn parents to avoid petroleum jelly for diaper rash, which traps moisture against the skin and is also a common allergen.

Common Skin Rashes in Newborns
  • Dry, peeling skin is often due to a baby being born a little late. The underlying skin is perfectly normal, soft, and moist.

  • Pink pimples ("neonatal acne") are often caused by exposure in the womb to maternal hormones. No treatment is needed, just time. They can last for weeks or even months on baby's skin.

  • Erythema toxicum is another common newborn rash that looks like mosquito bites or hives. Its cause is unknown, and it resolves without treatment after a few days or weeks.

  • Little white bumps on the nose and face ("milia") are caused by blocked oil glands. When baby's oil glands enlarge and open up in a few days or weeks, the white bumps disappear.

  • Salmon patches (called a "stork bite" at the back of the neck or an "angel's kiss" between the eyes) are simple nests of blood vessels (probably caused by maternal hormones) that fade on their own after a few weeks or months. Occasionally stork bites may not go away.

  • Jaundice is a yellow coloration to your baby's skin and eyes. It is caused by an excess of bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells).  If the bilirubin level becomes sufficiently high, blue or white lights may be focused on the baby's skin to lower the level, because excess bilirubin can sometimes pose a health hazard.

  • Mongolian spots are very common in any part of the body of dark-skinned babies. They are flat, gray-blue in color (almost looking like a bruise), and can be small or large. They are caused by some pigment that didn't make it to the top layer when baby's skin was being formed. They are harmless and usually fade away by school age.

Helpful Hints for Your Baby Skin Care Routine

You need to do more than give your baby a bath if you want to practise proper baby skin care.  Keeping your child’s skin healthy and clean means caring for every inch of him/her. 

Laundry, sun exposure and erupting skin conditions are all things that you need to stay on top of. It is important to remember that a baby’s skin is way more sensitive than an adult’s skin. Your baby needs your watchful eyes and care to make sure that skin conditions are stopped before they start. The good news is that caring for your baby’s skin is not very complex. You should be able to put together a quality routine early on in your baby’s life. 

 Here are a few hints to give you some help. Believe it or not, your newborn and young infant does not need to have a bath every night. Most young infants and newborns stay fairly clean. This is mostly because babies can’t get around on their own and depend on their parents to get them from place to place. This means that parents can keep an eye out for things that will get the baby dirty or that could harm the baby’s skin. A newborn pretty much only needs to be given a bath twice or three times a week as long as you keep the baby’s face clean. 

When babies learn to crawl and walk, however, you need to give them baths more frequent. When you buy your baby new clothes, bedding or toys make sure to wash them in hypoallergenic and gentle detergent before letting them come into contact with the baby’s skin. This wash cycle is important because it rids the items of things that might harm or irritate your son or daughter’s skin. 

Many adults do this all of their lives. Do you wash your new sheets, towels and clothes before you use them for the first time? Be careful around your baby’s umbilical cord stump. Rubbing it, pulling on it and playing with it are bad ideas. Swab the stump with rubbing alcohol a few times a day. Leave it alone the rest of the time. Fore go giving your infant a “real” bath until his or her umbilical cord stump falls off. Folding down the top edge of your baby’s diaper is the best way to keep the diaper from accidentally irritating the umbilical cord stump. The stump area is sensitive and is easy to infect which is why a high level of care is important.   Talk to your pediatricians about the best way to care for the stump and the spot it leaves behind after it falls off. 

The number one element of skin care is keeping it clean. There are a lot of products on the market that claims to do this or that but healthy skin for your baby isn’t a complicated matter. All of our grown-up skin products do not help a baby keep their luxurious skin. Don’t use your baby as a lab mouse with these products because they aren’t made for babies. All it takes is a little research and intuition to get the right routine going. Remember, there is no need to overcomplicated something that is not complicated to begin.