Saturday, March 27, 2004

Babies sleeping through the night 

Rich and I have been lucky because Isabella has slept solid 5 - 7 stretches (official definition of "sleeping through the night") since she was about 5 weeks old or so. Of course, she does wake up on occasion in the middle of the night, but generally she is a really good sleeper. She has a bitch of a time taking naps during the day, but I am still working on that...

The book that I think helped the most is Dr. Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child which I talk about in one of my blogs.

Some suggestions for helping baby sleep:

- make sure they nap well during the day; an overtired and overstimulated baby is very hard to wind down to sleep and doesn't sleep well

- for naps, look at the age, but for example a 4 month old baby shouldn't be awake for more than 1-2 hours between naps. they get tired fast. make sure they are getting the proper number of naps for their age. look out for tired signs and put them in bed before they get overtired.

- as they get older, an early bedtime is key for babies to become well rested because they have a biorhythm that automatically gets them up early in the morning; put her down to sleep around 7:30 every night

- be careful not to overstimulate baby when trying to get them to sleep. When you walk, go outside, play music, turn the mobile on, etc. you may be overstimulating the baby.

- as babies get older, be careful that they are learning that waking up and crying means attention from you. they may want to play/spent time with you especially if you have been at work all day. when he wakes up and cries, hold him but don't rock baby or give her more stimulation. (of course if she is hungry feed her)

- calm down when he cries; he picks up on your stress

- keep putting him back into the bed after he calms down. you can employ patting on the bottom and sssh'ing to help calm them once they're down in the crib. leave when they are settling down so they learn to self-soothe.

- put him on his side when he sleeps (prop him up with blankets - our baby always has Moro reflex and wakes herself up, so putting her on her side, back, or VERY tight swaddling really helps this)

- if its nighttime make the room dark and avoid all noise. make the atmosphere conducive to sleep. room darkening shades are key.

- if she is very young like a newborn, give her at most 5-8 mins of stimulation a day with one toy

- set up a bedtime routine to signal sleep. babies learn associations quickly.

- don't get them dependent on a prop like your breast to get them to sleep

Monday, March 15, 2004

Increasing your milk supply 

Breastfeeding is hard work. Not only do you have to feed the baby, but you have to make sure that you produce enough milk which is of high quality. This requires taking good care of yourself which is hard sometimes when you are so busy with a newborn baby. Here are some ideas I got from my Kaiser Mom's group:

First and foremost, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!! Eat enough protein and calories (>500), drink liquids (96 ozs), take a prenatal vitamin. There are foods used in different cultures for milk production, including Korean seaweed soup, green papaya, oats, barley, peas, beans and seeds, fruits. Some suggest 1-2 teaspoons nutritional yeast in milkshake or fruit smoothies.

Second, you should always make sure when you're nursing:
- supply and demand - the more baby nurses, the more you produce (some say try for 10-14 effective nursings or pumpings every 24 hours; watch for feeding cues & swallowing)
- good latch with baby's mouth wide open, lower lip flanged, lots of areola in baby's mouth
- lots of skin contact, holding/carrying time
- baby nurses until finished on one side before switching; if sleepy, try to wake up thorugh massage, uncover with blanket, talk, sing

Finally, when all else fails, here are some herbs you can take:

1) Fenugreek capsules - use 2-3 capsules (580 or 610 mg) 3 times per day. Allegedly increases milk in 24-72 hours. Most well-researched results. May cause maple syrup like odor in urine and sweet.

2) Mother's Milk Tea by Traditional Blends: Tea bags must be steeped for 10-15 minutes. Drink 2-3 cups daily.

3) More Milk Tinctures by Motherlove Herbal Company: Take 2-3 drops for every 10 lbs mother weights (about 1 dropperful for a 140 lb mom); every 2 hours on first day; can be taken every hour after that.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

The Chen family 

Do we look like a stereotypical Chinese family or what

Isabella gets Stranger Anxiety 

At about 2 1/2 months, Isabella is going through stranger anxiety where she only stops crying when her Mommy holds her. This became apparent right after Rich came back from his week long business trip, and cried whenever he held her. It sucked for me because it meant no break in baby care for me. Ugh. But according to Mommy groups I've been to, and my research it sounds like a normal developmental cycle. Here's what I learned about stranger anxiety:

Your newborn baby at birth is not able to differentiate who his parents are. He doesn't mind who is holding him as long as his needs are met. At 1 week, your baby starts to recognize his mother and this is his beginning to show preference for his parents to attend to his needs. He may not issue any protest at being handled by strangers initially. However, when he sees you and realizes that someone else unfamiliar is carrying him, he starts to cry. A newborn is able to smell his mother and prefers to be with her. The mother soothes away stranger anxiety. The baby's sense of security returns when his mum is carrying him.

When your baby is 3 months old, he loses his confidence with strangers. He will cry if he sees a new face. This is because he feels insecure and worried with a stranger. This is a normal developmental stage in babies. Sometimes, you can find your baby laughing in response to a stranger's smiles and cooing. However, she will immediately cry if that same stranger tries to carry her. Your baby feels threatened when her sense of security is invaded by a stranger's hold of her. Sometimes, it all depends on the individual's approach to the baby. Babies are frightened by loud noises. If the stranger is a man, your baby is likely to draw back in fear.

Parents can help the baby cope with his stranger anxiety. Whenever your baby cries at the sight of a stranger, do something to reassure him that everything's fine. Hold him and introduce him to the new face. He needs some time to get used to a new friend. When he is confident enough, he may even allow the new friend to hold his hand without bursting into tears.

A baby needs to gain confidence in handling meetings with strangers. When you help him face up to new faces, he will get used to making new friends. He will not cry with strangers anymore.

When your baby is 6 months old, he will again be upset if you leave him with someone like a babysitter. Although he knows the babysitter, his preference of caregiver is still his mother or father. He faces separation anxiety. However, he will learn that his mother will return for him after some time. Separation anxiety is common for even toddlers at Playskool.

At 9 months to 1 year old, your baby gains mobility and may even try to move away from strangers. Parents need to have patience and start the introduction and familiarization process to the baby to get him used to the new friend. Some babies adapt faster and get over stranger anxiety. Others take time to accept new faces. It is bets to go along with the baby's developmental stage and help him cope with new situations and new friends.

Your baby is going through one of her first emotional milestones — stranger anxiety. Children this age become very clingy and anxious around new and even familiar people and may cry if suddenly approached by a stranger. Your child may also be more anxious around new people when she's tired, hungry, or sick. Keep this in mind when you're around people she doesn't know, and try not to be upset or embarrassed when she cries in someone else's arms. To calm her down, take her back and hold her yourself. If you explain that your child is going through a normal phase, your friends will understand. Tell them that when they approach the baby, slow gentle movements will produce less anxiety than sudden ones. If your child refuses to be held by a friend or relative, try a slow desensitization process. First, work on having her be comfortable in your arms while the other person is around. Then, have the person talk and play with your child while you hold her. Then, hand him over to the other person for a short time and stay close. Finally, try to leave the room for a few minutes, and see how it goes. If your child bawls, try again. Go in and out of the room and eventually, your child will be secure in the knowledge that even though you're not around at the moment, you'll always return shortly.

You don't have to avoid being around strangers or introducing your child to new faces. She'll benefit from getting used to being around people other than her parents. She needs your patience and understanding to get through this very important stage of development.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Isabella gets a VCUG for her UTI 

Isabella got a urinary tract infection, or as Dr. Pham referred to it an "RIO Genitourinary Abnormality". She was discharged with some Cephalexin to kill the bacteria and then some Nitrofurantoin to sterilize the urine output before we could get the results of the Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG). She wound up getting a cystogram instead.

The reason they do this is they have to test whether she has urinary reflux, which is when the urine retracts back into the urethra, which might explain why she got the UTI. Here is some information I found about cystograms:

A nuclear cystogram can be obtained by instilling a radionuclide agent into the bladder and imaging with a gamma camera. Nuclear cystography is at least as sensitive for the detection of reflux as a standard VCUG and exposes the child to less radiation. However, grading of reflux is less precise, and associated bladder abnormalities cannot be detected with nuclear cystography. Therefore, a VCUG is preferred as the initial study in the evaluation of a child with a urinary tract infection. Nuclear cystography is used in follow-up of patients with vesicoureteral reflux who are on an observation protocol. Vesicoureteral reflux is present in one third of siblings of patients with reflux, and in two thirds of the children of patients with reflux. Nuclear cystography may be employed for screening these children as well.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Good kid shopping websites 

Here are some websites that are supposed to be good for families: - half price publisher's price or less - clearance section

Travel - outlets section - travel gear; bargains online section

Kids' Clothes and Shoes - outlet section - look Weds and Saturdays - brand name shoes - clearance

Stationery / Party favors

Sales/Comparison Shopping sites