Archives for August 2012

How to Ease Teething Pain Without Medicine

Teething is a necessary, albeit painful, rite of passage for your baby. Sprouting her new teeth is hard work, and can leave her irritable, feverish and with difficulty sleeping as those teeth cut through her delicate little gums and break the surface. Because so many parents today are hesitant to use any over-the-counter medications unless they’re absolutely necessary, there’s quite an interest in more natural, chemical-free ways of soothing the screams and the pain that accompany teething. While each baby is different and will respond to each solution with varying degrees of relief, here are some of the ways that you might be able to cut the pain of cutting teeth without reaching for medication.

  • Keep Gums Cool – One of the most cost-effective methods of drug-free relief of teething symptoms is wring a wet washcloth out very well, leaving it only damp, then place it in the freezer. Letting Baby chew on the frozen (or very chilled) cloth not only helps to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation; it also satisfies their innate need to chew, in order to speed the process of the teeth surfacing. The softness of the washcloth versus the sometimes rigid and uncomfortable plastic of a frozen teething aid might be just what your little one needs; remember, all babies are different and will like and dislike different things. Be careful that you supervise her at all times to prevent any chance of choking, and let her gnaw to her heart’s content.
  • Choose Teething Rings Carefully – Older teething rings may freeze into very hard and uncomfortable rings, contain the potentially dangerous chemical Bisphenal A, also known as BPA and may not be compliant with all modern safety standards. Teething rings that are hand-me-downs might save money, but they could present a hazard. The problem of freezing teething rings to boost Baby’s level of relief has been addressed in recent years, with newer offerings hitting the market every day that are designed to be placed in the freezer without losing their pliability.
  • Rub Her Gums – The first-ever teething aid was Mom’s finger, and things haven’t changed so much that they can’t be used in a pinch to massage a teething baby’s sensitive, inflamed gums. Be sure to wash your hands, however; using gel hand sanitizers can expose your baby to chemicals, dyes and fragrances that should never been ingested. Good, old-fashioned soap and water is best.
  • Soothing and Comforting – Sometimes a baby that’s irritable and uncomfortable from the effects of teething just needs to be held, cuddled and soothed to sleep. During particularly rough bouts of teething, it may be necessary to spend more time than usual loving on your little one to get her calmed and feeling secure enough to sleep despite her discomfort.
  • Clove Oil – Many all-natural moms rave about the soothing power of clove oil for teething gums, but it’s important to remember that, in its pure form, clove oil is very strong and can increase Baby’s discomfort. Dilute the oil with food-grade carrier oil and test it out yourself before applying it to her gums via massage, and keep in mind that her gums are far more sensitive than your own. If the mixture feels uncomfortable, is accompanied by a very strong taste or is otherwise unpleasant for you, it’s a safe bet that the same will hold true for your baby a few times over. It’s always a good idea to speak with your child’s healthcare provider before using homeopathic remedies.
  • Teething Biscuits – Traditional teething biscuits tend to be laden with sugars and preservatives that you probably don’t want your little one ingesting, but there are a wide variety of low sugar or sugar-free, organic offerings on the market as well.  
  • Cold Spoons – The American Dental Association recommends that teething babies be given a chilled spoon to suck on, to ease their discomfort without presenting a serious choking risk. It’s still important, however, that you supervise her at all times as she gnaws away on the flatware.

Benzocaine and other numbing agents sold over-the-counter and marketed as teething relief ointments do numb your baby’s gums and reduce her pain, but they can also numb the rest of her mouth and her throat. That numbness can greatly increase her chances of gagging or choking, another reason why these remedies should be avoided whenever possible. Also, the drooling that often accompanies teething can cause your baby’s skin to become irritated, so be sure to keep her face, neck and torso as clean, dry and saliva-free as possible to prevent a rash that increases her discomfort even further.

10 Ways to Tell Your Kids a Baby is On the Way

Generally speaking the arrival of a new baby is something most people look forward to. It’s a time of excitement and change, and of course, a new beginning as an expanded family. All kinds of hopes and dreams, along with new possibilities, come wrapped up with this new little human being as far as the parents are concerned. The other children in the family, however, may or may not see it that way. Will the new baby be a blessing or an interloper? Telling your kids a new brother or sister is coming may take some finessing. Check out these suggestions for ideas on how to break the news.

  1. “Guess what?!!” – Breaking the news with excitement and a tone of expectation may get things off to a good start especially if you’ve talked about the possibility with the kids before, and they seemed pretty positive about the prospect.
  2. “How would you like a little brother or sister?” – This question is great for the child who has been asking to be a big brother or sister. Kids who really want to assume the position of older sibling have no problem accepting the possibility of it actually happening. On the other hand, kids who are happy with the way things are may give you a negative response to the question. You’d better use a different suggestion for that child.
  3. “You are going to be a big brother/sister!” – Some kids will really like that change in status. If it is a child who has older siblings already, this could be seen as an opportunity to join the league of the older brethren – at least in theory.
  4. “We want you to be happy for us.” – There are those occasions when the kids you need to tell are old enough to be parents themselves. They may have a hard time accepting the fact that their new brother or sister is going to be younger than their own kids. Acknowledge their concerns and realize that they probably have some stereotypes and ideas that they will need to deal with and overcome. It may take time for them to accept the situation.
  5. “Things are going to change around here in ___ months.” Matter of fact and to the point. If you already have a large family, letting the kids know when the baby is due may be all that you have to do.
  6. Call a family meeting – Get everyone together and just let them know what’s happening. No doubt there will be mixed emotions to deal with, but at least you will have told everyone at once and you get talk to all the kids about their feelings and reservations if there are any.
  7. Tell them early on – Many couples wait until after the first trimester before making the news of an expected new baby public information. Some mothers prefer to tell their kids at the outset because of nausea and fatigue that can occur in the early months. Whenever you decide to spill the beans, make sure your kids are the first to know, otherwise they may feel left out or as if they are no longer important.
  8. Tell them later – It may be best to tell younger kids (3 years and under) about the baby later in your pregnancy since they won’t really understand what is happening anyway. The idea of a baby growing in Mommy’s tummy can be a bit weird and maybe even scary for a little kid to handle, so you will want to break the news in an appropriate manner for their age.
  9. Have a family celebration – If you are the type that loves a reason to party, then party on! There are all kinds of things you can do to make this a real celebration; from having a surprise party when the kids get home from school, to a dinner party at their favorite restaurant. A new baby is cause for celebration!
  10. Just tell them – In some situations it’s probably easiest to just let the kids know that you are pregnant and you can forgo all the formalities or planning what to tell them.

 

Depending on your family size, the ages of the kids and how you like to do things, you will need to find a way that suits you, when you tell your kids about the pregnancy.

How to Make Your Own Baby Food with a Blender

As concerns about genetically modified produce and dangerous farming practices escalate, and controversy surrounding Monsanto become more common, the number of parents committed to – or at least considering the practice of – making their own baby food is also on the rise. There are also parents who would love to provide their baby with organically grown, preservative- and additive-free foods, but are under the misconception that the process is a long and laborious one. In fact, making baby food from locally or organically grown fruits and vegetables is surprisingly simple.

The Price Factor

Any parent who’s seen the expensive systems advertised for making and storing baby food at home could easily be fooled into thinking that the process is not only a difficult or time-consuming one, but also an incredibly pricey option. The truth is, those systems are only more convenient than the tools you already have in your kitchen, if that, and they are by no means necessary to create fresh, nutritious food of verifiable origins for your bundle of joy. With nothing more than a pot, a knife, a cutting board, fresh produce, and a blender, you can be on the path to becoming an in-demand chef for the smaller set. Because saving money by making healthful food for your baby rather than paying more for processed jarred food is one of the many selling points of taking on the task, spending a small fortune on an entire system with all the bells and whistles is unnecessary.

Storage

Buying a fully-stocked homemade baby food system brings a set of storage containers to the party, but there are several storage options at your disposal that will work just as well in conjunction with the blender you already have. Rather than purchasing a space-hogging, pricey system, take advantage of the variety of storage solutions available to you for a fraction of the cost.

For frozen foods, simply prepare an item in accordance with your chosen recipe, and allow it to cool. Spoon the pureed food into ice cube trays and freeze them until they’re solid, then pop the cubes out and into carefully labeled freezer bags. Foods can then be defrosted in just the amount you need, eliminating waste and allowing you to make food in large batches when you have free time, rather than scrambling to make baby food every day. Small storage bowls are widely and readily available in the market today, and are also suitable for baby food storage. Just be sure that any plastic containers you purchase are BPA free in order to avoid any potential health risks.

Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Blender

Because small batches of food tend to be pushed to the sides of a blender carafe and missed by the blades, your blender is most effective as a method of pureeing baby food when you’re working with a fairly substantial amount of food. This small drawback is eliminated, however, by setting aside an afternoon to make and freeze enough food for a few weeks. Properly stored in airtight freezer containers, your baby food will have a shelf life of up to three months.

Blenders are also great at liquefying solid foods, which means that it’s important to keep a close eye on food that’s being pureed in a blender, lest it become a very thin soup. Always use the pulse button for maximum control over the texture and consistency of the food; using even a low continuous setting could turn your perfectly prepared produce into something more akin to a juice if you’re distracted from the running blender for a moment. With children in the house, there’s constant potential for distraction, so use the pulse button and watch carefully. Remember to scrape down the sides of the blender carafe regularly as well to ensure a uniform texture with few lumps.

Immersion or Stick Blenders

Parents that are lucky enough to have an immersion or stick blender in their kitchen are in an even better position to make their own baby food with less hassle. Rather than transferring cooked food to a blender carafe to puree and then moving it to containers for storage, food can be blended in the cooking vessel and dished straight into storage containers for easy clean-up. Just be sure to avoid scraping the sides or bottom of a non-stick pot with an immersion blender that doesn’t feature housing or guards to prevent flakes of Teflon from ending up in your baby’s carefully prepared, all-natural organic baby food.

10 iPhone Applications for Moms on Bed rest

Nothing frees up your time like being told you have to stay on bed rest for the remainder of your pregnancy, and if you don’t have enough distractions you can quickly find yourself bored out of your mind. Of course you can play your favorite games like Words with Friends or Wheel of Fortune, but after a while even those will lose their luster, and you’ll need something else to occupy your hours. Here are 10 iPhone applications that will help take up some time and answer any questions you may have regarding concerns about the baby that may pop into your head while you are lying in bed.  There’s an app for everything from saving for college to listening to the baby’s heartbeat; there are also a few others to help you get through this time a little easier, like an application to help with the grocery shopping and one for finding the best deals on baby gear.

  1. CollegeSave This application allows you to do the calculations to determine how much per month you will need to save in order to pay for your child’s college tuition.  If you start early then you will have the advantage of compounding interest and you won’t have to put as much away each month versus starting when your child is 10.
  2. Soundhound Ever been bored and start humming a song and wish you knew what the song was?  With this application you can hum a few bars and it will use its vast library of over a million tunes to identify the song.  Want to come up with a bunch of lullabies for your baby?  This application can help with that.
  3. WootWatch Just because you’re stuck in bed doesn’t mean that you don’t still like to find a great deal.  WootWatch keeps track of various sites and sends you an alert if a new deal has been posted so you can be the first one to capitalize on the savings.
  4. iPregnancy  Want to know what’s going on inside your body at this very moment?  iPregnancy tells you how big the baby should be, what’s going on physically with the baby, keeps track of appointments and has a great baby name function to help you figure out what you are going to name your little peanut when the time comes.
  5. ZipList  You may be on bed rest, but the rest of the family still needs to eat.  Don’t feel like you have to rely on your partner to handle everything with this application.  Now you can look up recipes, create a grocery list, sort the items on the list by aisle in the store, and then text everything to someone else to run to the store for you.  If your family runs out of anything they can scan the barcode using this application and it will automatically be added to the list.
  6. Parenting Ages and Stages A useful application that will help answer all of your burning pregnancy and parenting questions while on bed rest. It will also be a great tool over the coming years as you raise your new bundle of joy.
  7. Baby Time Pregnancy Contraction Timer This great application is a tool for you to keep track of your contractions and their intensity.  The application will analyze the data and let you know what phase of labor you’re in.  The timer will continue to work even if your phone rings and you answer a call.  Other applications don’t have this feature.
  8. Prenatal Smart Knowing what to eat and what not to eat while you are pregnant can be confusing.  This application gives you foods that are healthy and will let you know which ones to avoid.
  9. Baby Motion An especially smart application, Baby Motion allows you to tap the screen every time you feel the baby move.  Thus keeping track of how many times the baby has moved in an hour.  You can text or e-mail this information to your doctor or to yourself so you will have it when you go to your next appointment.
  10. My Baby’s Beat With this application you can actually use the microphone on your iPhone to hear your baby’s heart beat and your own.  You can record the heart beat and e-mail it to your family and friends.  This application also lets you store numerous recordings so that you can compare the heart beat at different stages of the pregnancy.  This application works best during the last trimester.

After Baby is born: BabyTimer  This application allows you to keep track of the number of wet and dirty diapers your baby has each day.  It also keeps track of feedings so that you can report all of this information back to your pediatrician.

How to Organize Breast Milk

Nursing mothers who choose to continue breastfeeding after returning to work or mothers who prefer to pump for controversy-free on-the-go feeding often find themselves faced with the daunting task of storing and organizing their expressed breast milk in a way that ensures both freshness and convenience. Organization systems must also be simple enough for a childcare provider to make sense of while you’re out of the home so that they can be sure to feed your baby the earliest milk first. Because the World Health Organization recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives, and fed solid foods to supplement breast milk until the age of one year, it’s of vital importance to your baby’s health that breastfeeding not be abandoned simply because an organization and storage system isn’t achieved. To keep providing your baby with the best possible nourishment for her growing body, take some of these organization and storage tips under consideration.

  • Label Everything – Whether you choose to freeze large amounts of expressed breast milk or store bottles in the refrigerator, make sure that every container is labeled with the date and time that it was pumped. For children that attend daycare outside of your home in an environment with other breastfed babies, be sure that her first and last names are also on the bag for ease of identification. Clearly indicating that a particular container belongs to your child is one of the best ways of ensuring that the breast milk isn’t discarded due to confusion and your baby fed formula in your absence.
  • Use Proper Storage Containers – Freezing your breast milk is a perfectly acceptable method of storage, but it’s important to use the right containers and methods for the job. Traditional freezer bags may be more likely to leak than those designed specifically for breast milk storage, so springing for the more expensive but more reliable bags may be of more value in the long run. Letting the bags lie flat in your freezer until they’re solid also makes defrosting quicker and easier, as well as creating a flat labeling surface that’s more easily read. Freezing your breast milk in bottles also works, but be sure to leave enough space at the top to accommodate expansion as the liquid freezes. Milk intended for refrigeration should be stored in two to four ounce containers, as they shouldn’t be mixed or saved for later feedings, and larger containers may lead to more waste.
  • First In, First Out – Allowing bags of breast milk to freeze on a flat surface not only makes the labels easier to read, it also creates a shape that’s simple to organize in the freezer. Using a small plastic bin, put bags in order by date and sort them upright, similar to books on a shelf. Turn the container so that the oldest milk is facing the front, making sure that the first bag grabbed is the oldest to facilitate a “first in, first out” system. Sort bottles in freezers and refrigerators similar to the method grocery stores use for cow’s milk, with the newest containers in the back and the oldest pushed to the front. This rotation makes it easy for you or a childcare provider to know which container should be used first, eliminating waste and confusion.
  • Know Storage Guidelines – Part of keeping your breast milk system organized and functional is knowing exactly how long milk can be frozen or refrigerated before it should be discarded. Ideally, refrigerated milk should be kept no longer than 72 hours, but can be stored for up to eight days if collected carefully, according to La Leche League International. Frozen milk has an ideal shelf life of six months, but is acceptable for use up to one year after being pumped. The first tenet of organization is to cut clutter, so make sure that you periodically check your stash for any milk that should be thrown away, both to free space and to prevent the inadvertent feeding of less-than-fresh milk to your baby.
  • Ice Cube Trays – Pouring expressed breast milk into ice cube trays, then emptying trays into freezer-safe bags is a great way to store large amounts of breast milk in small enough increments that you can take only what you need, minimizing waste while consolidating large batches. Be sure to keep the cubes from each day in their own individual bags to prevent date mix-ups.

Part of making sure that your organization system is effective is to maintain it every day; no system works if it’s abandoned. With a bit of discipline and dedication you can keep your baby’s most valuable source of nutrition sorted and well-stocked.

Baby Crib Safety: Before and After You Buy

For many expecting parents, visions of pastel, color-coordinated nurseries dance alongside mounds of fluffy pillows and luxurious baby bedding. Unfortunately, these bedding sets are almost always more stylish than safe, and in some cases they can be downright dangerous. There are some guidelines that new parents should adhere to when choosing a crib and bedding for their upcoming bundle of joy, making sure that certain requirements are met and dangers avoided before Baby’s first slumber in her new nursery.

  • Avoid SIDS by Eschewing Soft Bedding – The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that new parents eschew all crib bedding apart from a fitted sheet for the first twelve months of their baby’s life. Opting for wearable blankets rather than loose blankets and placing babies on their backs to sleep with no pillows or plush toys can prevent the risk of suffocation. If you do choose to use a blanket in your infant’s crib, the Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests positioning your baby so that her feet are touching the bottom rails of her crib, tucking the blanket in at the bottom and sides of the mattress, and only pulling the blanket up to her chest. Keep in mind that babies can overheat much more easily than adults, and you should use only lightweight blankets to ensure that she stays warm.
  • Make Sure Your Mattress Fits Tightly in the Crib – Your baby’s crib mattress should be firm, not soft, to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and suffocation. It should also fit tightly into the crib to prevent suffocation or entrapment between the mattress and the crib’s sides. Ideally, you should be able to fit no more than two fingers between the side of the mattress and the frame of the crib. The surface of the mattress shouldn’t conform to an adult hand when pressed into the mattress, and it should snap back into place as soon as the hand is removed.
  • Forgo the Antiques – The ornate, antique crib used by three generations of your family might be a beautiful piece of furniture, and every child that used it may have survived their infancy, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a safe choice. In addition to the unlikelihood of slats and bars being properly spaced on very old cribs, they may also feature drop sides, which have been banned, and even a layer or two of lead-based paint. Let good sense trump sentimentality, and choose a new crib that adheres to modern safety standards.
  • If You Do Choose Decorative Bedding, Play it Smart – If you simply can’t bear the idea of skipping the magazine layout-worthy crib bedding to show off Baby’s nursery to the fullest, be smart about your decision and make sure that the fitted sheet is snug, thin, and breathable. When it’s time to put your baby down, be sure to pull every pillow, stuffed toy, comforter and any other soft objects out of the crib first. Parents determined to have a nursery ready for photographs as well as a lowered risk of their baby suffering from SIDS, suffocation, or injury are forced to compromise in just such a manner, but can have the best of both worlds by playing it safe and smart.
  • Do Your Homework About Crib Bumpers – The city of Chicago has banned the sale of crib bumpers altogether, with advocacy groups across the country crying out for similar bans on a national level. Parents are largely divided into two camps these days: pro-bumper and anti-bumper. If you fall into the former, be sure to research the subject thoroughly and apprise yourself of all the risks before tying those bumpers onto Baby’s crib; namely, the risk of suffocation and the impediment of air flow in the crucial area at your baby’s face level on all four sides of her crib. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that bumpers are safe once the threat of SIDS has largely passed; older babies and young toddlers have been known to use bumpers as a means of climbing out of their cribs, leading to messy falls and giving them access to dangerous situations. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have given crib bumpers a thumbs-down, so it might be wise to think twice before springing for those adorable but potentially-deadly accessories.
  • Do a Recall Check – Before purchasing nursery furniture or bedding, make sure that you check for any recalls; repeat these checks regularly after you’ve made your purchase as well to ensure that safety hazards haven’t been discovered since the last time you looked. The Consumer Product Safety Commission website is a great resource for recall information.

In addition to making sure that you’ve chosen furniture and bedding that adhere to the standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Juvenile Product Manufactures Association, parents should also take care to place cribs away from windows, and to secure blind cords and curtain ties to prevent strangulation.

How to Properly Handle and Store Breast Milk

The World Health Organization asserts that “breast milk is the ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants,” encouraging new mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life. When new moms work outside of the home, however, many opt to pump and store their breast milk so that nannies and other childcare providers can continue providing their child with the most nutritious possible food source during this crucial time. These nannies are then tasked with the responsibility of properly handling the bottled breast milk, and understanding the best methods for storage.

Breast Milk Storage Information for Nursing Mothers

The La Leche League International, a leading breastfeeding advocacy group, suggests that breast milk be stored in two to four ounce amounts in order to minimize waste by either freezing or refrigeration. While frozen milk remains fresh for up to six months in a deep freezer, refrigerated milk used within eight days retains more of its original anti-infective properties.

Human breast milk that has been pumped can be stored at room temperature for up to six hours safely, but mothers are advised to refrigerate or chill their milk as soon as possible after pumping. Containers made of glass or hard plastic free from bisphenol A (BPA) with tight-fitting tops are ideal for storage after being washed in hot, soapy water and allowed to air dry after being thoroughly rinsed. There are also specially-designed freezer bags commercially available, though traditional food-storage bags aren’t recommended due to the possibility of rupture or leakage. Containers designated for freezer storage should not be filled to the brim, as the milk will expand as it solidifies.

Containers of pumped milk should be dated in order to facilitate use of older milk first, with the child’s name also included on the label if the pumped breast milk is intended for use in a daycare setting.

Preparation and Handling Information for Childcare Providers

Before handling stored breast milk to prepare a bottle, nannies and childcare providers should carefully and thoroughly wash their hands to prevent contamination. Frozen milk may be thawed either in the refrigerator or by immersing the container in warm water; using a microwave to either thaw or heat the breast milk is strongly discouraged. This method can both destroy valuable nutrient content and create hot spots in the bottle that can scald the delicate tissues of an infant’s mouth. Bottles microwaved for too long may also explode under intense heat, wasting the milk and creating quite a mess.

Once breast milk has been thawed, it should never be re-frozen. Bottles that a baby doesn’t finish should be discarded, rather than saved; the risk of contamination is very real, despite the antibiotic nature of expressed human breast milk. For this reason, nursing mothers are urged to store milk in two to four ounce containers to minimize waste. Frozen milk should be kept near the back of the freezer, because the temperature tends to be the most constant in this area.

Human breast milk can vary in color and consistency depending on the nursing mother’s diet, so color isn’t typically an indicator of freshness. The Mayo Clinic also reports that breast milk that has been frozen and later thawed may have a different consistency, color, and odor than freshly pumped milk. Additionally, breast milk can often separate into two distinct layers of milk and cream; this separation is also not an indication that milk isn’t fresh. To reincorporate the milk and cream, simply shake the storage container gently or swirl it carefully until it’s combined again.

Breast milk can be warmed for feeding by placing the bottle in a bowl of warm water, or in a pan of water that has been heated but is not sitting on the stove. Nannies and childcare providers should test the temperature of milk before feeding it to their small charges to prevent burns and scalds due to overheated bottles. Commercially-available bottle warmers may also be effective tools, though microwave ovens are, once again, strongly discouraged.

Nannies that support their nursing employers are providing more than childcare services; they’re also providing much-needed encouragement during a trying time in a new mother’s life. By helping her to make the transition back to work as seamless as possible and helping her to maintain a routine of breastfeeding despite the demands of her career, nannies can ensure that their charges receive the best possible source of infant nutrition and their employers are reassured and happy.