Archives for September 2013

How to Know Your Baby Feels Full

babyfullNew parents often worry whether or not their baby is eating enough and if they are still hungry after feeding. After all, your baby is growing so quickly, who’s to say that she doesn’t need more milk today than she did yesterday? It’s not like she can communicate her needs verbally, so you have to be able to read her non-verbal cues.

When it comes to formula, a good rule of thumb is to feed your baby two and a half ounces of formula per pound of weight. So, if your baby weights 10 pounds, she should have 25 ounces of formula per day. Of course, your baby may want a little more or a little less, but this is a good rule of thumb. Once you know how much your baby typically needs, it makes knowing whether she is consuming enough much easier. Because you can see the milk disappearing out of the bottle, you can feel fairly certain of how much food has gotten into your little one.

With breastfed babies, knowing if they have gotten enough milk can be a bit trickier. Babies should nurse every two or three hours, or eight to 12 times per day. On average, breastfed babies take in about 25 ounces of milk per day, but this number can vary slightly. Therefore, if you want to be completely sure your baby is taking in enough sustenance, you can try pumping so that you can measure the milk and see how much your baby is actually eating. Remember though, when it comes to breastfeeding, you really cannot over-feed your baby. So, if your baby wants more milk or wishes to eat after just one hour instead of two, go ahead and feed her.

With all that being said, before you start calculating weights and ounces or shopping for a new breast pump, you can look for other signs that will indicate that your baby has gotten enough to eat. Interestingly enough, your infant’s behavior can be the best signifier of her full belly. Here are some tell-tale signs that your bundle of joy is feeling satisfied.

  • Your Baby Appears Content –You can’t argue with a smiling, cooing infant. If your baby seems gratified, chances are she’s feeling happy and fulfilled. When your baby is hungry or uncomfortable, she will let you know it in no uncertain terms. Therefore, if you find your baby is quiet and shows no signs of distress, you know her tummy is filled.
  • Count the Diaper Changes – A baby that is eating enough will wet six to eight diapers per day and have regular bowel movements. Breastfed babies can have up to 10 bowel movements a day during the first couple of months, while bottle fed babies will have about six. As the baby gets older, she can have as little as one bowel movement every other day. As long as it is regular, you are usually okay.
  • Sleeps Well – One of the most common worries parents have is that their baby has not gotten enough to eat because they fell asleep during a feeding. It does happen fairly often that a baby dozes off after just a few sips of milk, however, this baby will usually not sleep for long. She will typically awaken shortly after dozing off, crying to eat more. Assuming your baby has had some full feedings throughout the day, if she falls into a restful sleep, she is usually full.
  • Awake and Alert – Just as with adults, if your baby is hungry she will not be able to concentrate very well. If your baby seems dazed or inattentive, she may still be hungry. On the contrary, if she is very focused on a toy or seems fascinated by her hand, she is almost certainly well fed.
  • You’re Turned Down – Babies know how to say “when” If you try to feed a baby that’s already full, she’ll typically reject your offering by turning her head away or pushing the nipple out of her mouth with her tongue.
  • Gaining Weight –The best way to know your baby is eating enough is by her weight gain. If she is growing and gaining weight as she should, then you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your baby is full most of the time. If, on the other hand, your baby is underweight and frequently falls asleep during feedings or sleeps through mealtimes, try changing her diaper or giving her a bath in order to wake her up and then try feeding her again once she is alert.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you are truly not sure if your baby is eating enough and thriving, you should seek the help of your pediatrician. If your baby is lethargic, not wetting diapers or nurses endlessly and still seems hungry and distressed, get help right away.

6 Strategies for Becoming a Morning Person

morningpersonYou’ve heard it before, even to the point of it becoming annoying. It’s something bears repeating though, because it’s got a lot of wisdom: “The early bird catches the worm.”

To some, that means nothing more than “first come, first serve.” While that is indeed true, it doesn’t begin to cover all of it. “Morning people” continually prove to be more productive, more focused and seem to enjoy a higher sense of well-being. Night owls, on the other hand, often struggle with sluggishness and drowsiness. That makes a day of work difficult — especially if your day of work consists of caring for children. When you’re tired, you’re never able to perform at your highest level.

While science tends to support the notion that morning people “catch the worm,” it also proves that you can change your habits, pull a complete turnaround and come to love getting up in the morning. Your circadian rhythm (also known as your internal body clock) is a system of routine, one that is easy to alter. Here are some strategies to guide you:

Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing It

When most people resolve to change this or that about themselves, they often lose perspective and forget why they decided to make that change in the first place. In doing so, they lose motivation. Visions of success fade from their mind, and their inspiration fades.

Don’t fall into this trap. Continually remind yourself why you are making the effort to alter your sleeping habits. Maybe you finally want to be able to keep up with your three-year-old’s schedule. Maybe you want to be able to have a more positive morning experience with your spouse or children, especially on the weekends. Maybe you just want to be able to come home from work without feeling sluggish. Whatever it is, visualize the benefits and let them pull you toward success.

Set Clear Goals

The professional world often talks about S.M.A.R.T. goals — those goals that are specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, results-oriented and time-bound. In other words, it’s not enough to say “I want to be a morning person.” You need to set a specific goal, measure your progress and give yourself a deadline to be successful.

People often fail to accomplish goals because they lose focus. Organization, with clearly defined goals and sub-goals, can help fix this. Again, it’s all about perspective.

So don’t just tell yourself, “I want to get up earlier.” Go about it gently, and divide the process week-by-week: “For the first week, I’ll get up at 8. Second week, 7:30. And for the third week, I’ll get up at 7.”

Congratulate Yourself

Parents might find it easy to heap praise on children, but tougher to save some for themselves. After all, no one is there to tell you how capable you are of completing any goal you set for yourself.

Well, if no one else will, then do it yourself! That’s right. Before you go to bed, remind yourself that you can do anything. You got this! Talk yourself up and give yourself plenty of encouragement. Your goal is to renew your motivation and keep it strong long enough for you to succeed.

Reward Yourself

This one is simple. Since you’re waking up early, you’re going to have more time in the day, and you’re also going to notice a change in your entire schedule. As you develop your new sleeping habits and as you progress toward your new life, don’t forget to reward yourself. Maybe that means using your extra time in the morning to pursue a personal hobby, like working out; maybe it means putting a dollar in a jar every day you wake up early and then buying yourself something when you reach your goal. Do whatever you consider a reward — as long as it isn’t going back to bed. This reward will help pull you out from under the covers, and it’s something to look forward to in the long run.

Get a Good Breakfast

Two of the most important aspects of altering your sleep schedule are diet and exercise. An efficient and healthy diet ups your energy in the morning. When you wake up, your body has to go through a “warm up” period. Your metabolism and blood sugar are low, so it’s a good idea to boost the re-energizing process as much as you can. Kick off your morning with something simple but energy-friendly, like Greek yogurt filled with blueberries and granola. There are dozens of tasty options, though, and it’s all about finding what works for you. This is your chance to kick off your morning the right way. Plus, a good breakfast is something to look forward to, and another reason to hop out of bed.

Don’t Forget to Exercise

A great way to raise your energy levels, give you a regular reason to get out of bed and improve you health is to start incorporating an exercise regimen into your morning routine. This might sound torturous to some (especially bleary-eyed parents who already feel short on rest), but if you stick with it, you might learn that nothing gives a person more energy. It is the best boost to that warming-up phase. More importantly, it boosts energy and floods the brain with dopamine, which relieves stress. Extra energy and stress relief? What more could you ask for?

Typical Immunization Schedule for the First Year

immunizationsDuring your baby’s first year, the pediatrician’s office can begin to feel like a second home. It seems that even if your baby is perfectly healthy all the time, you still have to be there quite often for well visits. During these check-ups, parents are often told their babies will be receiving shots. Typically, pediatricians hand the parents some literature on the vaccines scheduled to be given at the beginning of the visit and send a nurse in at the end to administer them. This does not allow much time to go over the paperwork and obtain a good understanding of the shots or the diseases they’re meant to prevent. It also does not allow much room to mentally prepare for the baby’s inoculations and the cries that will surely follow.

In order to feel better prepared and to ensure you are on track with your baby’s shots, here is a typical immunization schedule for your baby’s first year.

  • Birth – The first immunization is generally given at the time of birth, and this first shot contains the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis is a serious illness that affects the liver and can be fatal if contracted. This vaccine contains thimerosal, also known as mercury. Your baby will eventually need another dose at one or two months of age.
  • Two Months – This well visit usually contains a high number of vaccines being administered. Sometimes, doctors will combine more than one vaccine into one shot in order to reduce the number of injections. At this age, you can expect your child to receive the second dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. Additionally, the first dose of the rotavirus vaccine will be administered. Rotavirus is an illness that most people refer to as a stomach flu that causes of severe diarrhea. While not usually fatal, rotavirus is more dangerous to infants and the elderly. Next, the first dose of the Hib to prevent haemophilus influenzae, a disease that typically affects children under the age of five that can cause meningitis, pneumonia and infections of the blood, bones and joints, is given. This injection contains trace amounts of formaldehyde. An initial dose of DTaP for Diphtheria and Tetanus is also administered. Diphtheria is an upper respiratory infection that can be deadly, while tetanus is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system. This vaccine contains aluminum hydroxide and thimerosal. IPV is given for Polio, a disease that can cause paralysis and even death. This vaccine also contains trace amounts of formaldehyde. Finally, an initial dose of PCV13 for pneumococcal will be given. Pneumococcal is known as the number one preventable cause of death in infants and children under five, according to the World Health Network. This disease can cause pneumonia, infection of the blood (bacteremia/sepsis), middle-ear infection (otitis media) and bacterial meningitis.
  • Four Months – At four months, your baby will receive the second doses for all the first dose shots she was given at two months. These include rotavirus, diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP), haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and polio.
  • Six Months: –Yet a third round of immunizations is given when your baby is six months old. Your child’s doctor will probably also suggest an annual flu shot. If you opt for her to receive the flu vaccine, it is often split into two shots because it is the first time the child is receiving it. You can usually request this shot in the thimerosal-free version, which has much less mercury in it than the regular vaccine. So again, your child will be receiving Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV13 and IPV.
  • One Year: When your baby turns a year old, she will be due for the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), Var (Varicella or chickenpox), PCV and Hib vaccines. Measles, mumps and rubella were once quite common childhood illnesses, and all three can lead to serious and potentially fatal complications. Chickenpox, also known as varicella, was also very common until fairly recently. While most recovered fully, this disease could occasionally lead to severe skin infections, scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death. The varicella vaccine contains aluminum.

Now that you have a brief overview of what vaccines you can expect to be given to your baby during her first year, you can prepare by doing further research into the vaccine, its ingredients and the disease it protects against. You can also write down any questions you have for your doctor before heading into the appointment. Don’t ever feel bad about asking questions or obtaining second opinions when you visit a medical professional; after all, your child’s health and wellbeing are at stake. Ultimately, your child’s well-being is in your hands, and obtaining objective information on your child’s health is one of the best things you can do as a parent.

How to Dress for Your Baby Bump

maternitywearBeing pregnant brings many challenges to a woman’s life. Moms-to-be have to deal with more than just a baby bump. During pregnancy, the body changes in a variety of ways. The belly grows, the breasts enlarge, joints loosen and feet become larger. All of these changes can make choosing clothing seem like a daunting task.

Fashion vs. Comfort

Fortunately for today’s expectant mothers, switching to maternity clothing no longer means being relegated to frumpy loose dresses, baggy shirts and sweat pants. Just about any fashion statement that can be made on a regular day can also be made during pregnancy. Maternity wear can be hip, formal, casual or businesslike depending on the types and styles of clothing chosen. It’s possible to find maternity clothes in all styles that are just as flattering as the outfits that many women already have in their closets.

Balancing personal style with comfort isn’t as hard as it may seem. Many non-maternity outfits can be worn during the early stages of pregnancy and still look great. Comfortable tank tops, T-shirts, sweaters and button-down shirts are all options for days when Mom needs a relaxed look. “Relaxed” is an acceptable fashion statement as well, as long as the clothes fit well and flatter the body. Even with a growing baby bump, a good pair of jeans and a classic t-shirt can make for an attractive casual outfit.

Shopping Tips

Because maternity clothes are temporary, most women don’t want to invest too much money in buying a whole new wardrobe. That’s where thrift stores and consignment shops can come in handy. Women often give away or sell their old maternity wear, and a bargain shop can be a great place to snag deals on designer styles. Making pre-pregnancy clothes last longer is another way to save money. Inexpensive support bands for growing bellies make favorite jeans and trousers wearable for a few extra months.

The main thing that any mom-to-be should remember when shopping for pregnancy clothes is that style is personal. Sticking with the colors and designs that already look good is a surefire way to be fashionable with or without a baby bump. Black, white and other neutral colors are all fine, but women shouldn’t be afraid of trying bright colors and patterns as well. Outfits that are all one color can be very flattering, especially if the fabric is a little bit form-fitting. These outfits accentuate the growing baby bump and show that pregnancy can be beautiful.

Pregnancy Fashion Must-Haves

Keeping a few go-to items in the closet makes it easier to choose outfits through all phases of pregnancy. Expectant moms can rely on these items for both fashion and comfort:

• Comfortable t-shirts. Having at least one tee in a favorite style ensures that there will always be a shirt that goes with everything.

• Men’s button-down shirts. Whether bought new or borrowed from a significant other, these shirts are an essential part of casual pregnancy style.

• Tunic-style wrap sweater. Tunics are flattering on any body shape. Choosing a wrap-around style gives pregnant women room to grow without sacrificing fashion.

• A good pair of jeans, perfect for everyday wear.

• Stretch pants. Provided they’re stylish and flattering, these comfy pants look fabulous throughout all stages of pregnancy.

• Dresses and skirts that emphasize the legs. Elongating the body helps to balance out its changing proportions.

• Fun accessories. Necklaces, bracelets, belts and even handbags let Mom show off her personality and help her to feel sexy every day.

What Not to Wear

Dressing during pregnancy means considering fashion “don’ts” as well. One of the biggest mistakes that many pregnant women make is buying clothing that doesn’t fit anywhere but around the belly. Baggy clothes make the rest of the body look bigger, which can make the wearer self-conscious. The trick is to avoid anything that looks like a bag or sack. Instead, focus on choosing clothing that’s flattering but still offers room for the body to grow during each trimester. Don’t buy uncomfortable clothing just because it looks good. Discomfort shows and will detract from the overall impact of an otherwise attractive outfit.

As far as sweats are concerned, there’s nothing wrong with having a good set on hand. Though wearing them out in public is still a big fashion no-no, it’s important to be able to be comfortable around the house, whether resting or performing daily tasks.

Stepping Out in Style

The bottom line when dressing for a baby bump is to focus on personal style. Being pregnant is a whole new experience that’s meant to be enjoyed. A good, comfortable wardrobe that embraces a woman’s changing body and allows her to relax takes the stress out of baby bump fashion and makes it easier to enjoy what each day brings.