Category Archives: Parenting

Is Your Baby Safe?

Wondering what you can do to keep your baby safe?

Start by following these six safety tips. (These tips are recommended by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). The JPMA sponsors Baby Safety Month each September.):

  1. Direct supervision is a sure-fire way to prevent injury: Watch, listen and stay near your child.
    • Baby with book & mom by her side
      Join your child on the floor to play and make some great memories!

      This first rule may seem like common sense, but it is easy to get distracted in today’s busy world. It may not seem like a big deal to step away for a few moments to answer a phone call. But those few seconds are all it can take for tragedy to strike.

    • It is very important to stay with your child and supervise him or her while he/she is bathing and playing.
    • Even better than simply supervising your baby as he or she plays, join him or her and make some great memories!
  1. Choose and use age and developmentally appropriate products.
    • Our world is filled with electronic gadgets, but these may not always be the best choice for your child. WebMD, in an article regarding choosing the right toys, warns against falling for the latest noisy and flashy toys. While these toys may claim to be educational, electronics can shorten a child’s already short attention span. These gadgets can also limit children in learning to play creatively and think independently.
    • Toddler with blocks
      Simple toys, such as blocks, encourage creative play. Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash.

      Simple toys are often best. Think about toys that have been around for years, such as blocks or shape sorting toys.

    • Remember what your child is learning or “working on” at their age when choosing toys. For instance, children ages zero to six months are working on hand-eye coordination. At this stage, toys that encourage reaching, grasping, or swiping are good choices.
    • Of course, safety is paramount, so be sure toys you choose are also safe for your child’s age.
  1. Read and follow all manufacturers’ instructions, recommendations for use and warning labels.
    • Instruction manuals are not extra padding in the box! They are important documents that you need to read and adhere to for your child’s safety.
    • Did you know that thousands of children are injured each year in their high chairs? It may seem pretty straight forward how to use a high chair, but many parents are not aware of certain risks outlined in the manual and how to properly use the high chair to prevent these risks.
    • Always read the manual and warning labels! (Find out more from The Center for Injury Research and Policy).
    • Looking to use a second-hand product? Check to see if you can get the manual (or find it online). Also be sure to check for recalls on second-hand toys and baby items.
  1. Register your products and establish a direct line of communication with the manufacturer.
    • When you open the box for your baby’s new crib or car seat or any new product, check for a little registration card that’s probably included. These cards are very important pieces of paper.
    • By registering your purchase, and sending the card in to the manufacturer, you’ll find out if there is a recall or other safety issue.
    • If children are injured or even killed related to a flaw in a car seat, you’ll want to know as soon as possible to protect your child. Registering your child’s products could prevent harm to him or her.
  1. Frequently inspect products for missing hardware and for loose threads, screws and strings, as well as for holes and tears.
    • Children love to yank and pull at toys and try to get things apart. A toy that was safe when it was new, may now pose a choking hazard if the child can yank a piece off that has started to separate.
    • Toys that have loose and dangling threads or strings can also pose a choking or strangulation hazard. (Think about the fraying sweater that Teddy Bear is wearing.)
    • Be vigilant and if you see anything that could potentially pose a risk, pitch it. 
  1. Monitor your child’s growth and development and discontinue use when needed.
    • Make sure that your child’s toy stash changes and evolves with your child. You will want your child’s development to be encouraged by his or her toys. Toys that encouraged grasping and reaching in early infancy will no longer hold your baby’s attention a few months later.
    • At eight to 18 months, children like to experiment with shape and size. This is the time to give them those shape sorters or stacking rings.

Remember: Most injuries can be prevented!

Be sure to follow these six safety tips to keep your baby safe and developing as you desire.

Baby Safety Month 2018
Most injuries can be prevented. Follow these six safety tips to keep your baby safe.

The theme for this year’s Baby Safety Month “Choose and Use,” reminds parents like you to choose baby and child products carefully. Choose them according to your child’s ages and developmental stages. Be sure to use all toys and baby products appropriately. And then supervise your child even when you think he or she is fine. And take some time on the floor to play with your little darling.

Find out more about keeping your child safe.

Surprising Ways Breastfeeding Benefits Mom & Baby

World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week raised awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and advocates for support of all mothers and their children in breastfeeding.

We are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-7, 2018. This celebration is to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding. It is also to advocate for support of all mothers and their children in breastfeeding.

This annual celebration began in 1992 and is observed in over 120 countries. It is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. Many other organizations partner with them. Some of these include the World Health Organization, UNICEF and La Leche League International. This week also commemorates the “Innocenti Declaration” on the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.

Why is breastfeeding so important that there are declarations written about it?

It is well known that breastfeeding provides good nutrition to infants, but there is so much more to it. Here are a few of the amazing physical benefits of breastfeeding:

These numbers are quite startling. Yet they only touch on physical benefits of breastfeeding. You may think these things are only important in less developed countries. Maybe these benefits of breastfeeding don’t really apply to you.

Breastfeeding illustration
There are tremendous advantages for baby and mother to breastfeeding. Some benefits last well beyond infancy.

But did you know that research indicates that breastfeeding does so much more? For example, breastfeeding also promotes neurological, social, and psychological development. A study at Brown University indicated that breastfeeding improves brain development in infants. Using MRI, they saw more growth in areas of the brain associated with cognition, language, and emotional function in children who were breastfed.

Breastmilk changes to meet your baby’s needs. It has remarkable immune-boosting components and can even help your baby sleep.

  • Breastmilk changes as your baby grows.
  • It changes during growth spurts and illnesses.
  • If the mother is exposed to a virus, she will produce antibodies that get passed on to the baby to protect him/her.
  • Breastmilk changes during a single feeding. It does this to provide a balance of fat and other nutrients.
  • It even changes from day to night to help baby sleep.

There is no substitute for the amazing adaptability of breastmilk!

There are advantages for baby and mother to breastfeeding. Some benefits last well beyond infancy. Here are a couple quick lists of how breastfeeding is good for baby and for you.

Benefits of breastfeeding for baby:

  • Breastmilk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It is more easily digested than infant formula.
  • Breastmilk helps your baby fight off viruses and bacteria.
  • Breastfeeding lowers your babys’ risk of having asthma or allergies.
  • Babies who are exclusively breastfed have fewer ear infections, colds and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer trips to the doctor.
  • Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood.
  • The AAP says it plays a role in the prevention of SIDS.

Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother:

  • Breastfeeding burns extra calories so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster.
  • It lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer and may lower your risk of osteoporosis.
  • It saves you time and money since you don’t have to buy and prepare formula and bottles.
  • Breastfeeding moms miss less work time because their infants are healthier.
Breastfeeding mother with baby
For mothers who wish to breastfeed, there is help and support available. You can take on this adventure.

You may recognize the amazing benefits of breastfeeding. But the decision to breastfeed can be daunting. If your mother or sisters did not breastfeed, you may not have built in support for breastfeeding. If your friends or family aren’t encouraging toward this choice, it can be hard. It may be easy to switch to formula when things get difficult.  If you’ll be working, you may wonder how you can succeed at breastfeeding with this added challenge. (See tips for breastfeeding while working.)

There is a big demand for support for moms who may struggle with breastfeeding. Lack of support when issues arise can be prevalent in the U.S. and other western societies. There can still be a lot of misunderstanding about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can be an especially difficult decision if you have not seen it modeled or do not feel supported in that choice.

I had challenges trying to breastfeed my children – and had trouble finding support. When I ran into issues with my oldest child, I was told to just give her formula and not bother. I felt rather defeated and gave her formula. With my second child, I was hospitalized for a brief time when he was two months old. Again I was told to give him formula. The option to pump breastmilk was never mentioned to me. Again, I felt defeated. I felt like I had let myself and my child down.

With my third child, I was determined to breastfeed. We started out strong. But we ran into some troublesome issues when she began to cluster feed. I didn’t know what was going on. She started feeding closer and closer together at certain times of the day. This time, I was given some support and we made it over these hurdles. I breastfed her until she weaned herself at 13 months.

Moms may come up against frustrating surprises in their breastfeeding journeys. At these times, support is crucial. If you’re looking for support with breastfeeding in Madison, Wisconsin, there are people who can help you. Please contact me, Dane County Public Health or the local La Leche League chapter.

Breastfeeding your child is a very personal decision for each family. There are many factors that come into play when making such an important choice. Substitutes do not have all the ingredients and properties of breastmilk. But in situations where breastmilk is not an option, formula still provides the means to raise happy children.

However, for mothers who wish to breastfeed, there is help and support available. You can take on this adventure. And you can have the support and knowledge you need to meet your breastfeeding goals.

How Do You “Wear” a Baby?

Babywearing thru generations
Babywearing has been handed down through generations in many cultures. But in Western culture, it fell out of practice many generations ago. Photo by Journey Yang on Unsplash.

Ever since babies have been born, babies have been worn. Mom or dad or another caregiver carries the baby close to his/her body using a long piece of fabric or a structured carrier. Babywearing has been handed down through generations in many cultures. But in Western culture, it fell out of practice many generations ago. Recently, babywearing has become more common in our mainstream society.

One reason for this comeback is that many benefits are now known about babywearing.

Did you know?

  • Babies who are worn cry less
  • Babies who are worn can have greater speech development because they are surrounded by conversation
  • Babies who are worn are more “organized” emotionally and can cope with stress and stimulation positively
  • Babies who are worn become more confident and independent as they grow older
Unsafe babywearing in a movie
While cute, the way in which this baby is being worn could wreak havoc on the baby’s back and hips.

Unfortunately, many depictions of babywearing in the United States show unsafe ways to tote a tot. For example, the movie The Pacifier is famous for one of the main characters wearing a sweet baby boy on his chest. While cute, the way in which this baby is being worn could wreak havoc on the baby’s back and hips. This position has the baby’s legs dangling straight down. It can cause baby to arch his back into an unnatural posture. It can also pull his hips into dislocation or cause a condition called hip dysplasia.

Unsafe babywearing in a commercial
Commercials and TV shows often depict unsafe ways to wear baby.

Other examples of unsafe babywearing include paparazzi snapshots of celebrities wearing their babies. Commercials and TV shows often also depict unsafe ways to wear baby.

We have not had this tradition handed down to us by our grandparents. We have not seen it modeled in our family and community since our infancy. So it’s no surprise that mistakes like this are being made as we attempt to revive this wonderful way of soothing our babies.

Here are a few key pointers in safe babywearing so that mistakes are less likely to happen.

  • This baby is kissable.
    Baby should be kissable. Photo by Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash.

    Baby should be kissable. Baby should be high enough that the wearer can just bend his or her face down and be able to kiss the top of baby’s head.

    • Following this rule also ensures that baby’s face is in view.
    • Having baby’s face in view prevents breathing issues. It keeps baby’s face uncovered and keeps baby’s chin from being pressed down onto his chest.
  • Baby’s legs should be in an “M” position and should not dangle straight down. In the womb, babies are used to their legs being folded up close to their bodies. This remains a comfortable and ergonomic position for newborns to continue. Older babies still need their legs to be bent while being worn to protect their hip joints and their spines.
    • When a baby’s legs are hanging straight down, or “dangling,” it can pull his hips and spine into an unsafe position. For this reason, it is not recommended that babies face forward while on the wearers front. Worn this way, baby’s legs tend to dangle straight down.
    • It is much safer to wear baby chest to chest with the carrier spread all the way across their bottom and knee to knee. This way, baby is in a sitting type position with his knees slightly higher than his bottom. Newborn babies can have their legs inside the carrier in the fetal position.
  • Baby is held in nice and snug and supported. You want to make sure you’ve eliminated fall risks. Baby being nice and tight to your body will ease your mind about the possibility of her falling out of the carrier.
    • Also, consider your baby’s head, neck, and back strength. If she needs the support, make sure the fabric covers and supports those areas. Babies or toddlers who can sit unassisted will need less coverage on their back and shoulders than those without that strength yet.
    • This rule also helps to save the wearer’s back! Having baby tight to your body and nice and supported stops you from having to adjust your center of gravity to keep her balanced!
  • Common Sense. It may seem silly to mention this, but this is one of the most important guidelines to follow when babywearing!
    • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your carrier. Educate yourself on the art of babywearing.
    • Ask other families with experience or a doula who is knowledgeable about babywearing. Take a class (if offered in your area) or search for reputable sources online. Looking for other families or help with babywearing in Madison, Wisconsin? Check out Babywearing International of Madison or contact me at First Care Clinic.
    • Always use your own gut as a guide. If something feels “off” to you when you strap on that baby, then something likely is off. If you feel like you are having to hold your own body in an unnatural way, then baby probably is not as snug and secure as he should be. If you feel that baby is uncomfortable in her position she may need to be readjusted. (Note: Most babies will protest being put into their carriers. They will soon settle down once properly adjusted and rocked or soothed for a few minutes.) Put those parenting instincts to good use!
A dad wearing baby safely
Learn more about the tradition of babywearing. It’s very beneficial for both baby and caregiver! Photo by Steven Cleghorn on Unsplash.

This article will get you started on your way to safe babywearing. It is not a complete and comprehensive guide! Please go out there and learn more about the tradition of babywearing. It is a wonderful, ancient practice that is not only practical, but very beneficial for both baby and caregiver!

For more information visit:

Babywearing International

Hipdysplasia.org

Or call or text me. I’d love to help you get started with wearing your baby.