Archives for July 2013

5 Signs of Diaper Rash

babycryUnless you’re practicing elimination communication and are eschewing diapers altogether, there’s a good chance that your child will, at some point, contract a case of diaper rash. So many factors can contribute to the uncomfortable irritation that it’s not even always easy to pin down the culprit. Babies with sensitive skin can have a bad reaction to a particular brand of diapers or wipes, new laundry detergent or lotions and baby powders and oils. Introducing new foods when the time comes for a starter solid diet can also wreak havoc on their little bodies, making diaper rash more likely. If your baby has been prescribed antibiotics, they can also kill the beneficial bacteria in her intestinal tract, causing diaper rash as a result of a yeast infection. Other common causes include diapers that fit too tightly, which can rub and chafe Baby’s skin, and wearing a soiled diaper for a bit too long.

Recognizing the signs of a diaper rash isn’t always easy, but there are some symptoms that almost seem universal. These are five of the signs that your baby could be suffering from a diaper rash, and strong indicators that treatment is in order.

  • Bright Red or Swollen Skin – Swelling and redness are two of the most common and easily recognizable signs of a diaper rash. If you notice the skin that your baby’s diaper covers seems red, raised or swollen, you’re almost certainly looking at a mild case of diaper rash.
  • An Irritable Disposition – When your skin is irritated, it makes you uncomfortable. When your baby has a diaper rash, she’s dealing with skin irritation that she can’t relieve, and it will more than likely make her fussy and cause noticeable changes in her disposition. A baby who’s fussier than normal may be feeling the first tingles of a pesky rash, so keep your eyes peeled for any swelling, redness or other diaper rash red flags.
  • Obvious Discomfort – It’s not difficult to spot a baby that’s feeling uncomfortable. If your child is obviously not feeling her best and you’ve ruled out other culprits, it’s probably time to check her diaper. She could be suffering from a diaper rash that you haven’t yet noticed, and exhibiting signs of her discomfort by crying or acting fussy.
  • Dark Red Skin and Lesions – Yeast infections can occur in babies, especially if they’ve been prescribed antibiotics that deplete the beneficial bacteria charged with keeping yeast in her intestinal system in check. Lesions, dark red skin in her diaper area and even scaliness can be signs of a yeast infection. In addition, these infections can present themselves with slightly raised borders and clusters of “satellite” lesions that are slightly removed from the main area of irritation. They can also be spotted by their persistence, as yeast infections tend to hang around even after treatment has begun and can be difficult to manage at home.
  • A Strong Smell of Ammonia – Urine itself can cause a diaper rash commonly referred to as an ammonia rash, which will often present with the same symptoms as other types of diaper rash, and is accompanied by a strong odor of ammonia. When the naturally-occurring ammonia that forms during urine decomposition comes into contact with bacteria on Baby’s skin, the rash that can form is easily identified by the smell of ammonia during a diaper change.

In most cases, a diaper rash will clear up on its own, provided that the skin is kept as clean and dry as possible, but it may be necessary to consult your baby’s pediatrician if the rash is persistent or severe. She will likely prescribe mild hydrocortisone creams, antifungal creams or other topical treatments to help speed the healing process. It may also help to speed the healing process and prevent future rashes by allowing your baby to go without a diaper whenever possible.

25 Top Blogs for Parents of Newborn Twins

twinsThere is absolutely no difference between looking after newborn twins and a single baby – said no parent of twins, ever. The challenges are many, and they are multiplied by two. Nursing, naps and nurturing become the six “Ns,” rather than just three. Everything is doubled, including both the joy and the hard work. Managing twins is not going to be easy. Luckily for you, though, parenting twins is not a new thing. These 25 blogs will help you negotiate your way through the experience, and help you appreciate the double treasures that you’ve been blessed with.

Learning to Cope – Times Two

First of all, know that you can learn to cope with having newborn twins. As with any baby, it is all about establishing schedules that work for both you and your little ones. Never overestimate yourself, but don’t underestimate your abilities, either. Instead, look to strike a balance that allows you to enjoy the miracle of having newborn twins. Two times the cooing will bring you two times the joy, so treasure the early months with your little angels. To help you find your feet, there is some excellent professional advice and first-hand accounts on newborn twins in these five blogs.

Nursing Newborn Twins

Nursing will present you with one of your greatest challenges with your newborn twins. Don’t worry, though, it is possible to nurse your newborns the way that you want to, whether you choose to bottle or breastfeed them. Every baby is different, and twins are no exception to that rule, so it will take time to learn each of your baby’s nursing habits. These five blogs contain invaluable advice for parents of twins, and will help you get your nursing routine established from the get-go.

Additional Support and Groups

Any parent of twins will tell you that outside support can really relieve some of the pressure from coping with newborns. Whether that support comes in the form of family members, friends or an outside organization is up to you. The important thing is that you get the support that you need, and that you enjoy the time you spend with your twins. Asking for help does not mean you’re failing, it means you are doing everything you can to give your newborns the best life possible. In these five blogs you will find information on support networks and ways that family and friends can lend a helping hand.

Twin Personalities

When it comes to twins, personality is one of the most contentious subjects. Many studies have been conducted on twins of all ages, with varying results as to how closely siblings are tied in personality. Regardless, as the parent of twins, how each child’s personality develops is something that you will want to pay close attention to.  They may grow up as best friends, or they may fight like cats and dogs. Whatever the case, you can learn a lot from reading these five blogs from both parents of twins and psychology experts.

Twin Childcare

Finding childcare for your twins won’t be easy, either. Yes, there is a recurring theme here – everything is harder with twins. However, it is important to note that it isn’t impossible to find professional, affordable childcare for your twins. Some services even offer discounts for multiples. With that said, there are plenty of providers who will try to capitalize on the fact that you need childcare for twins. Other options include asking family members or friends to help you with childcare. These five blogs will help you navigate the childcare options available to you and your twins.

Great Infant Care Tips from the RIE Approach

babyplayingRIE, or Resources for Infant Educarers, was founded in 1978 by pediatric neurologist Tom Forrest, M.D and infant specialist and educator Magda Gerber. At its core, the RIE approach promotes that “from the day they are born, all infants are cared for with respect and are seen as unique individuals with surprising capacity to participate in relationships.” How do you put this unique approach into practice in your everyday life? Here are a few ideas for getting started.

Connect through regular caregiving tasks. Each day, parents and caregivers do a multitude of hands-on caregiving tasks, like feeding, diapering, bathing and dressing babies. Most of the time, parents and caregivers rush through these tasks or see them as chores that must be done. Magda Gerber recommends that adults slow down and engage the child in the task. Use these moments to connect with your baby and include your baby in the task itself. This approach is soothing to the baby and creates a feeling of security and respect for the child. Communicate with your child as you walk through each step of the caregiving task. Tell him what you’ll be doing, what will be happening and wait for him to take the information in and possibly respond.

Talk directly with your child. Often, people believe that babies simply don’t understand what’s going on around them. Gerber believed that babies were very aware of their surroundings and the actions of their caregivers. She suggests that adults don’t simply “do” to a child, but instead take the time to explain what is happening and why. Saying, “I’m going to change your diaper now so you’ll be more comfortable” before a diaper change prepares the child for what’s about to happen and creates an atmosphere of security and respect. RIE supporters know your baby doesn’t have the language capacity to fully understand your words. however your words are accompanied by a certain tone of voice, body language, eye contact and other nonverbal cues, and those are what your child is reading and responding to.

Create a safe play space for your child. Infants need to have a safe space where they can play and explore on their own without being interrupted by adults. Creating an enclosed space just for him is the best solution. That way you won’t have to worry about him rolling or scooting to a place that could be harmful to him. This safe place can start as a bassinet when your child is younger, then the space can grow as he grows. He can move to a playpen, then to a larger gated off play space as he gets older. This allows your child to play freely and safely without being told “NO” or being redirected away from unsuitable objects. It also allows you the peace of mind to get a cup of coffee or go to the bathroom without feeling guilty!

Allow for inner directed play. Adults often feel the need to entertain a baby. Toy companies produce toys designed to stimulate a baby, engage them in learning activities or just hold their attention with sounds and lights. Gerber didn’t believe any of that was necessary. We forget that, as adults, we’re used to the sights, sounds and smells of our everyday lives. But to babies, these are all new things to be explored. Babies don’t need us to decide what they should play with, what would be interesting to them or at what pace they should explore and learn. Babies are capable of deciding all of those things for themselves. Often, infant play seems boring to adults. In fact, it often doesn’t seem like play or fun at all. It can seem like the baby is just lying there not doing much of anything. We can’t imagine that the baby is getting anything out of watching a shadow dance across the wall, exploring the texture of a sock or simply twisting their bodies in different directions. However, all of those things are intriguing to infants. They’re exploring their world in a way and at a pace that’s comfortable to them. Your job as an adult is to provide a safe space with a few toys or objects. Then let your baby direct his own play. Once you get used to being an interested observer, you’ll see the many different ways your baby is engaging with his environment that you never noticed before.

The Resources for Infant Educarers is an approach that’s been embraced by many of today’s parents who want to raise their baby in an environment of respect from the very beginning.

21 of the Best Blogs Explaining Exercises that You Can Do to Reduce Back Pain

backpainAccording to Esther Gokhale, author of 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back, as many as 90% of American adults complain of back pain. This increase in people suffering from back pain is largely because more people are sitting in front of a computer all day instead of having active professions and hunching over cell phones at night while relaxing. In addition, poor posture and obesity also trigger back pain. These 21 blogs are full of tips to help improve back pain.

Lower Back

People who sit at a desk all day tend to suffer from a lot of lower back pain. To reduce this, invest in a good quality desk chair that can be adjusted to your height. Try to get up and move around for a few minutes every hour and to stretch, which will help alleviate tension in the lower back. For more tips take a look at these seven blog entries.

Upper Back

While upper back pain is less common than lower back pain, it’s still a problem that many people encounter. One common cause is spending a lot of time on the phone; this can cause a tightness in your shoulders and upper back, as well as a crick in your neck. Learn some simple upper back stretches that will help you get rid of some of your upper back pain by reading these seven blog articles.

Core

You use your core in almost all of the tasks you do, making it one of the most important muscle groups to train. Sciatica is a nerve in your lower back that, when pinched, can cause a lot of pain. By strengthening your core muscles you can reduce this pain and prevent other injuries.  Check out these seven blog posts to learn more about working out your core.

10 Things to Think About When Flying During Your Pregnancy

airplanesWhile it may be tempting at times to spend the entire nine months of your pregnancy cuddled somewhere comfortable, it’s just not always feasible. Life has a way of throwing you curveballs, and travel is sometimes a necessity, even for pregnant women. If you’re expecting your first child, your pregnancy also marks the last time that you’ll be able to travel without children in tow or worrying about childcare throughout your absence. During a healthy pregnancy that’s progressing normally, there are few contraindications regarding air travel. Still, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider before packing your bags and boarding the plane when you’re expecting.

  • Specific Guidelines Unique to Each Airline – While most airlines understand that pregnant women must travel from time to time just like their non-pregnant peers, there are no set industry standards when it comes to guidelines regarding flying during pregnancy. Each airline may differ a bit when it comes to their particular policies, so it’s wise to make sure that you familiarize yourself with those of your chosen airline before booking your tickets.
  • Seat Placement – A window seat will provide you with a great view, but it will also make getting up to stretch your legs a bit more difficult and present an obstacle that must be overcome in order to make it to the restroom. Consider an aisle seat, especially if you’re still dealing with nausea or are experiencing the requisite frequent need to urinate.
  • Dehydration – Low humidity in airplane cabins can contribute to dehydration in passengers that aren’t pregnant, and even more so to those that are. Before boarding your plane, make sure that you’re well hydrated and that you continue to hydrate throughout the flight. Of course, doing so is another reason why you might want to spring for an aisle seat for relative ease of restroom access.
  • Your Doctor’s Opinion – Before getting too far into your trip planning, it’s wise to discuss your plans with your obstetrician so that she can provide you with medically sound advice that’s pertinent to your unique situation.
  • A Precautionary Ob/Gyn Referral – Hopefully, you’ll make it through the entirety of your trip and return home with a clean bill of health, having had no need of an obstetrician while you were away. Still, it’s wise to check with your own doctor to ensure that you have a clean bill of health before traveling, and to secure a referral for an obstetrician in the area in which you will be visiting so that you have support in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Traveler’s Health Insurance – If you’re traveling out of state, your existing healthcare plan may not cover you while you’re out of network. It’s important to make sure that you’ll have insurance in the event that you need to seek medical help, even if it means obtaining a traveler’s policy for the duration of your trip.
  • Foot Swelling – Pregnant feet swell at the slightest provocation, and non-pregnant feet have been known to swell during air travel. The increased likelihood of uncomfortable swelling means that you’ll need to be prepared for such, especially since you’ll be walking through the terminal and airport security. Wear sensible, comfortable shoes while you’re in the air.
  • Your Socks – There are compression socks made specifically to help pregnant women control foot pain and swelling, and while you may never need them when you’re on the ground, they will almost certainly come in handy while you’re traveling by plane.
  • Leg Cramps – Leg cramps are a painful part of both air travel and pregnancy, so be sure that you’re flexing your legs and stretching as much as possible during the flight. If possible, get up and take a short walk around the plain to stave off those painful cramps while you’re flying.
  • How Far Along You Will Be During Travel – The ideal time for travel for most pregnant women is during the second trimester, when the worst of the morning sickness and risk for miscarriage has passed but before the third trimester has started and the birth of your child is nearing. If you’re planning a pleasure trip, it’s best to keep these things under consideration when you choose the date for your vacation.

What Parents Should Know About the Fourth Trimester

momnewbornIn order to accommodate the shift that allows human women to walk upright, their bodies have undergone a gradual evolutionary change that leaves their pelvises roughly 30% smaller than those of their homo erectus ancestors. The size of infants brains and the heads that house them have, in that time, gotten larger, according to studies conducted by paleoanthropologists at the University of Indiana. The resulting shift means that, in order to walk upright, women’s bodies simply cannot accommodate a fully-formed infant. This realization explains quite a bit about the complete lack of social understanding and high level of need exhibited by newborn infants, according to parenting and developmental experts like Dr. Harvey Karp. The theory of the fourth trimester posits that babies aren’t actually fully developed until sometime around four months of age. This phase of a newborn’s life is often referred to as “the fourth trimester” by developmental experts and pediatricians.

Even Full-Term Babies Aren’t Quite “Ready”

It goes without saying that an infant born prematurely is simply not as developed as her full-term peers. What often comes as a surprise to new parents, however, is that even perfectly healthy and robust full-term babies aren’t actually ready for the world, either. Your baby’s brain is not yet equipped to allow self-soothing or processing of outside stimuli when she’s less than four months old, which is why she seems so needy. The womb is the perfect environment for your baby. She’s fed on demand, so she’s never hungry. She’s lulled by the movements of Mom’s body and soothed by the sound of her heartbeat. Her temperature is perfectly regulated. When she’s born, she’s not only completely reliant upon her parents for soothing and sustenance, but also has a central nervous system and brain that aren’t fully matured. To put it plainly, even at full gestation, your baby isn’t “ready” at birth.

The Outside World is Scary and Overstimulating

The womb that your baby recently vacated wasn’t brightly lit. Instead, it was warm and all of the sounds that reached her were muffled by the body that contained her. Because she’s still developing in terms of her brain activity and central nervous system, she’s not only taken from that environment into one that’s full of constant stimulation, but she’s also not quite equipped to deal with that stimulation.

Feeding On Demand is Your New Best Friend

Dr. Harvey Karp, writer of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block series of parenting and childcare books, asserts that there’s no such thing as “spoiling” a newborn, and is an avid champion of feeding on demand. In fact, he believes that the phenomena of colic exists almost exclusively among Western babies that are expected to sleep in a separate room from their parents and eat on a schedule, versus cultures where babies spend all of their time within reach of a parent and are nursed in short bursts anywhere from 50 to 100 times each day. The inexplicable crying that most pediatricians diagnose as the mysterious “colic” may actually be the result of parenting tactics that keep babies removed from constant access to sustenance and contact.

You Can’t Cuddle Too Much

While old wives’ tales hold that cuddling a baby too much will spoil her, developmental experts like Dr. Karp resist such legends. Instead, he urges parents to help their babies through the fourth trimester by replicating the support and cradling offered by the uterus. Go ahead, cuddle your newborn to your heart’s content and hold her whenever you’d like. You can’t spoil her by holding her too much.

Moms Have Trouble During the Fourth Trimester, Too

The fourth trimester isn’t just a trying and confusing time for your baby. It’s also a scary and stressful time for Mom. Parenting brings with it major changes, not just to your lifestyle but also your body and emotions. Finding your new normal will take you a few months, too.