Attachment Parenting: Bonding with Baby

With a myriad of parenting choices available to us all, it can be difficult to establish which one will work best for you. Often it is a case of trial and error, and armed with all available information it is up to you as parents to decide what works best for you and your family.

An increasingly popular parenting choice for many new families is ‘attachment parenting’. This style of parenting focuses on the connection that can be built between a child and his parents and is often viewed as an excellent way to bring up children to be empathetic, secure and independent as well as enabling them to grow into understanding, caring and rounded adults.

What is Attachment Parenting?

The philosophy of attachment parenting revolves around giving you, as parents the tools that you need to provide a nurturing environment for your child in which their direct and indirect needs are understood and consistently responded to. It involves treating your child with respect, kindness and dignity so as to build a long lasting relationship – or attachment – rather than rejecting their needs, leaving a divide between you both.

  • Attachment parenting builds and strengthens an emotional connection between parent and child.
  • A child who feels secure will be more likely to become an independent and confident adult.
  • Parents’ should respond to their child in a physical, verbal and emotional way when they are sick, upset, scared, tired or worried.
  • Children who trust their parents when they are growing up will learn to trust others in their lives and have the confidence to explore their environment.

Attachment Parenting Practices

There are certain practices that are available to those parents who choose attachment parenting, but remember that this is not a check list that needs to be strictly adhered to. Attachment parenting is a lifestyle choice and as such has the ability to be moulded to your family’s specific situation. Some of the practices of attachment parenting include:

Breastfeeding: Recent statistics published by UNICEF show that in 2010, 81% of newborn babies were being breastfed. (http://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/about-baby-friendly/breastfeeding-in-the-uk/uk-breastfeeding-rates/) Breastfeeding is an excellent way of making an initial bond with your baby and taking the first steps to getting to know him. As he grows, you will be able to read his cues and body language and reinforce your bond. Breastfeeding not only provides your baby with every single nutrient he needs to grow and develop in his first few months, but also stimulates your body to produce oxytocin and prolactin (also known as the mothering hormone).

Baby-Wearing: Wearing or carrying your baby helps them to learn from you, gain confidence and be reassured. Evidence shows that carried babies are less likely to cry than non-carried babies, often reducing their crying by over 50%. (http://wrapsodybaby.com/babywearing-resources/baby-wearing-myths-vs-facts/). Baby-wearing also improves the sensitivity of you, as a parent. You get to know your baby very well and will really enjoy understanding their needs and wishes from a very early age.

Co-Sleeping: If you work during the day or do not get to spend as much time as you would like with your child then co-sleeping is an excellent way to reconnect with them. However, it is important to remember that the best sleeping arrangement is one that sees all the family getting the best night’s sleep. For babies, night time can be an unfamiliar and scary experience. Co-sleeping can help to relax and reassure them, helping them to sleep soundly. It is also beneficial to breastfeeding, as your baby has access to the breast whenever he needs it.

Understanding Your Baby’s Cry: Getting to know your baby means getting to know his cries. You will very soon realise that he has a different cry for each situation. Responding to those cries quickly and sensitively will help to build your relationship. Not only will your baby be comforted by you, you will learn to trust your mothering instincts when it comes to what your child wants or needs.

The Benefits of Attachment Parenting

It may be slightly overwhelming when reading through the practices of attachment parenting and wondering if it really is something that you can incorporate into your life, especially with all the stresses of bringing home your newborn. Thankfully, the benefits of this type of parenting will last a lifetime; so just remember that if you want it, you can achieve it and seeing your happy, content baby growing up to be an inquisitive and confident toddler and a respectful and independent child will reassure you that you made the right decision. For a little extra incentive, here are some of the advantages of attachment parenting:

  • Promoting independence: Attachment parenting will nurture your child’s mind. With the right tools, your child will develop a strong bond between you which will also help to provide a secure base upon which to explore the unfamiliar and gain confidence and independence.
  • Improving behaviour: An attached baby will cry less, be less fussy and less clingy. This all comes from how the baby feels and whether they feel valued and cared for. If your baby feels good then they will act and behave well; they will not need to ‘act up’ to get what they need, they will already have it.
  • Improving development: If your baby is not crying as much, then what are they doing in their ‘free time’? Well the answer is – they are learning. And with more time to learn, they are able to develop effectively and become more receptive to learning.

Follow Your Own Parenting Instincts

It is true that many parents begin to follow the principles of attachment parenting, not because they have researched and invested in it, but because they are just doing what comes naturally to them and their baby. The key to becoming a loving, caring and successful parent is to be relaxed, calm and receptive; so remember this throughout motherhood and your children will grow up to be happy and health members of the family.

 

Choosing birth preferences

During pregnancy, we are focused. On our body, our emotions and our health. And as our body changes, so do our emotions (sometimes on an hourly basis thanks to hormones!) and it’s likely that our health needs change somewhat too. Growing another human is a huge undertaking and one that must not be under-estimated. Give yourself credit for the amazing thing you are doing! But don’t forget that at the end of this pregnancy, comes the birth. Sounds silly, but many women focus on the day to day challenges of pregnancy, but when it comes to the birth not a lot of consideration is given to the logistics of it all. Then there are the women who give it a lot of thought indeed! It’s important to keep things in perspective, which is why writing a birth plan is often suggested. But instead of writing a plan that may not be kept, how about simply choosing your birth preferences instead?

Choose preferences, don’t plan

When we make plans, we often set ourselves up for failure if they go awry. And during pregnancy, labour and birth, nothing is set in stone. Childbirth cannot be predicted. We cannot know how labour will progress nor how baby will react. Unpredictable events cannot be planned for! So, writing a birth plan may seem like a sensible thing to do (and for many it is!) but it could be an idea instead to choose birth preferences that fit in with your expectations?

To be informed is essential, and if you are armed with all the knowledge of what is happening to your body, and what will happen during birth then you are in a better position all round. Knowledge is power, as they say, and being in the know will help you to feel more in control too. But remember that your baby does not know about your plans. No matter how well you have researched your ideal birth- you will still need to be flexible. So writing down your birth preferences makes a lot more sense than writing a plan, don’t you think? And when you do, you might find there is more that you can control than you originally thought…

Let go of the fear

It’s normal to feel fear and anxiety about birth. Television and films tell us that it is going to hurt, and depending on what book you read many of the experts agree. But it is up to you how you channel that pain. If you decide that you want to take pain relief when you’re in labour, research the different medicines that are available at your hospital. Make sure you know what each one does and what the side effects are, and write down your preferences. If you decide you will handle events differently, look into other ways to manage the pain and reduce fear and anxiety- hypnobirthing is excellent for this and we’ve already written a quick guide that you can refer to.

The most important thing is to release the fear, and you can do this by:

  • Read some birth stories. Fear of the unknown is destroyed if you know what is in store for you.
  • Talk about it. Let your partner and your midwife know how you are feeling, and ask questions too.

Make sure that you address your fears before you write your birth preferences and make sure that whatever it is that is causing anxiety is out in the open as soon as possible. The saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ really is true!

Create a positive birth environment

Another thing to consider when you write your preferences- where you are going to give birth. And how can you make it as positive as possible? Whether you opt to have your baby at home, a midwife led unit or in hospital, it has to be the right decision for you. And there are ways that you can make it a positive environment for you. Consider the following:

  • Lighting. Some women like to have candles to help create a calm and relaxing environment. Some hospitals can dim the lights for you and it’s worth knowing that bright lights can actually inhibit the progress of labour, so make it clear in your preferences how you want your lighting controlled.
  • Your sense of smell is very powerful and the aromas that you choose to have around you as you give birth are important too. Soft, pleasant and nurturing scents such as vanilla can help you to relax and are a lot nicer to smell than hospital antiseptic smells! Have some scented massage oil to hand and ask your partner to apply some when you need it.
  • Lots of women find listening to music during labour extremely relaxing, so if you have preferences make sure you bring your own music.
  • Food and drinks. During labour, you will need lots of energy to see you through your task in hand, so make a list of the types of food and drink you want- and the types you definitely don’!

When you write your birth preferences, discuss them with your partner so that you are both clear about the things you’d like to be in place when the day arrives- but remember that they are just preferences. Nobody knows what is going to happen, and if you are happy to remain flexible then you are more likely to retain control of the situation.

 

 

 

Happy Mummy = Happy Baby

The arrival of a new baby into your life will bring vast amounts of joy and happiness, but it is normal for new mums to feel confused and surprised by the physical, emotional and mental challenges that come from the novel responsibility of being a parent. This period of postnatal adjustment can extend for many months and is truly the biggest transition a woman will have to face. The change from woman to mother can leave many feeling overwhelmed, which is why it is essential that mothers feel supported during this time. Not only does this assist optimal recovery, having encouragement from those around her helps a new mother ease into motherhood more naturally.

However, strength and relief can also be found through natural therapies, which offer a way of balancing out hormones without using synthetic chemicals. The natural assistance that holistic therapies bring, allows mothers to not only nurture their babies but also ensures they feel nurtured too.

You have probably heard the phrase “a happy mummy equals a happy baby” before. This commonly used saying stems from the accepted truth that babies are sensitive to stress that occurs as a direct result of their own experiences or as a consequence of the emotions of those around them. From the parent’s perspective, if feelings of emotionally vulnerability or stress permeate daily life, then this can have an impact on the level of care they are able to provide their newborn. Parents that are consumed by stress and worry are not as attentive to a baby’s needs, which can result in the infant experiencing feelings of insecurity and isolation; feelings that can be detrimental to the mental and physical development of the child. If the parent’s lack of emotional wellbeing continues to go unchecked, this may produce long term effects when it comes to the emotional health of the child.

Complementary therapies can provide an array of advantages when treating physical, mental and emotional complaints. From boosting the immune system to relieving pain, improving sleep patterns to increasing energy levels and helping combat postnal depression, complementary therapies can help restore the body’s equilibrium naturally. When your body feels relaxed, it is more able to cope with everyday stresses and strains, and with sleep deprivation and hormone imbalances to contend with post-partum, complementary therapies can provide important tools for women to face the challenge of motherhood.

Recommended Holistic Therapies

Exercise

Getting back into shape after childbirth is a concern for many women. The effects of birth will permeate your physical self deeply, but light exercise and toning will ensure that you begin to recognize your pre-pregnancy body. Key areas that should be strengthened as soon as possible are the pelvic floor, back and stomach muscles, once approval had been given by your care-provider

Homeopathy

Homeopathy’s holistic approach towards medicine means that it encourages the body to heal itself. Non- toxic, and with an excellent safety track record, this natural treatment is particularly useful following labour, and can help you recover from hormonal balances. Homeopathic treatments also work well to address the common ailments a child faces within the first year of life, such as colic, cradle cap, constipation, and teething.

Try Yoga

Yoga classes are a great way of toning up while allowing you to bask in the deep relaxation the exercise provides. Yoga’s ability to supply relief to the shoulder and neck areas particularly affected by carrying a child, along with breathing techniques designed to lower anxiety, will also be a benefit for the months – even years – to come.

Postpartum Massage 

Massage therapy is one of the most beneficial therapies new mothers can undertake. Its ability to relax ensures that the task of motherhood will be met with a clearer head; after all, a mother who feels looked after herself is better able to look after her child. Not only does the practice promote feelings of well- being and emotional calm, it also has a wide range of physiological benefits. From draining excess fluids within the tissues and toning the abdominal muscles, to realigning the spine and pelvic structures, postpartum massage can speed up the process of your physical recovery in the most relaxing way possible.

Flower Essences 

Part of a progressive new field of alternative treatment, flower essences provide inner balance by using only the natural energies of plants. Designed to settle and soothe anxieties, they can help you to cope with pregnancy, labour and the relationship with your child after the birth. They come in the form of distilled plant preparations and use the key characteristics of the flower as a remedy for an emotional ailment.

Aromatherapy 

From the smell of baked bread to a lightly fragranced breeze, our sense of smell has long been known to trigger emotional responses – including the resurgence of memories from long-forgotten moments. This is because our sense of smell has its roots in the limbic system- the area of the brain also responsible for memory, as well as for the stimulation of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. when these two areas are triggered, they can release positive hormones, which is why aromatherapy is particularly useful for enhancing feelings of well-being and calm.

Whether you choose to disperse the scent of aromatherapy oils around the home, use them in combination with a relaxing massage, or add a few drops to your bath water, the therapeutic benefits of their natural fragrances cannot be disputed.

Self – care 

Although many parents claim that sleep is a thing that escapes them on a nightly basis, there is nothing more important when it comes to your physical recovery and spiritual rejuvenation. Emotional and physical stress will only be increased when attempting to provide care for an infant while depleted of energy. Traditionally, new mothers are advised that trivial matters such as housework, cooking and entertaining should be shelved during recovery – and this is advice that should be heeded. Minimize any extra exertions, and always attempt to sleep when your child is sleeping, especially during the first six weeks after the birth. Of equal importance is ensuring that you’re eating the right foods on your road to recovery. Eat healthily, making sure you’re taking in extra vitamins, minerals, and iron-rich foods, especially if you are breastfeeding. Keep hydration levels topped up at all times by drinking water regularly or enjoying herbal teas, which have the added benefit of enhancing a sense of well-being. Nuts, seeds, and meat, as well as plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, are essential foods that should be on every new mother’s shopping list.

 

 

Bathing a newborn baby

Babies don’t come with instruction manuals, unfortunately, and no matter how many parenting books we read, or how much advice we’re given from well-meaning friends and families, there can be times where it all seems a little daunting. Caring for a tiny, helpless human being can be overwhelming sometimes! Remember that we all feel that way now and then, whether this is your first baby or your third. And often it is the smaller tasks that can seem the most tricky when you’re tired and emotional. One such task is the newborn bath. It’s not always as easy as it looks, but there are steps you can take to make sure that it goes as smoothly as possible. Here is our very quick guide to bathing a newborn baby- we hope it helps!

How often to bathe?

There are mixed opinions on this. Officially, newborn babies do not need to be bathed every day, and its recommended that you wait until they are at least a few days old before giving them their first one. If you have your baby in hospital, the staff there might help you with the first bath, or you may prefer to wait until you get home. Either way, for the first week or so you can just ‘top and tail’ (we’ll explain more in a moment) before moving on to bathing. And then it is up to you, and your baby. Some families use bath time as an essential part of their bedtime routine so they bathe baby every day, some families prefer to alternate with every other day. If your baby loves the warm water and finds it soothing etc then there is no reason at all why you can’t make a bath part of your daily routine too. Remember that newborn babies do not get ‘dirty’ in the same way as toddlers so a daily bath is not a necessity if you don’t have time, or prefer to simply wash baby in between baths.

Top and Tail

So called because you are simply washing baby from top to tail, without the need for a bath. Here’s how to do it:

  • Prepare everything before you start. Make sure you have a warm towel and nappy changing items to hand, plus all you need to dress and feed baby afterwards.
  • Make sure the temperature of the room is warm so that baby doesn’t get cold.
  • Fill a bowl or sink with clean, warm water. Check the temperature to make sure that it isn’t too hot or too cold.
  • Undress baby and place her on a warm, dry towel. Some babies will protest at this point, so be as reassuring as you can- and work as quickly as you can without appearing rushed or frantic. Your baby will pick up on any urgency you project so keep calm and composed!
  • Topping: wash baby’s face gently with cotton wool dipped in the warm water. Start with the eyes, wiping once from the corner of the eye near the nose, outwards. Always use just one piece of cotton wool for one wipe, to prevent potentially spreading infections. Next, move on to the ears- wipe gently with cotton wool, and then around the outside of the ears. Don’t wipe inside the ears. Use new pieces of cotton wool to then clean baby’s face, neck creases and hands.
  • Tail: Baby’s genitals and bottom need to be thoroughly cleaned. Do this by using a very mild organic liquid soap in the water, and cotton wool.

It’s a good idea to top and tail baby daily if you aren’t bathing her daily, or just on the days in between. Baby’s bottom and genitals will need cleaning after every nappy change.

Bathing your baby

Again, it is up to you how often you bathe your baby and as long as you are both comfortable with it there is no reason why it can’t be daily. There is no need to wait for baby’s umbilical cord stump to dry and fall off; but you do need to let it dry properly after the bath. Here are some tips to make bath time easier:

  • Get everything prepared. Place a towel on the floor for baby to lie on as you undress her, and for afterwards. Have clothes, nappy changing items and everything you need for a feed to hand. It’s also a good idea to have a folded towel or a kneeler for you too.
  • Make sure the temperature of the room is warm.
  • Fill a baby bath with warm water and use your soothing and settling baby bedtime bath wash too if you like.
  • Ask someone to help you if you’re feeling nervous, especially at first. Babies can be wriggly and slippery when wet!
  • Undress your baby, and wrap her in the towel while you clean the face, as you would in a top and tail.
  • You will need two hands to lower baby into the bath. Place one arm around the shoulders and neck, holding baby’s outside arm with your hand. Then place your other hand under the bottom and lower her gently into the bath.
  • When baby is securely resting on the bottom of the bath, remove that hand and use if for washing.
  • Using your hands, scoop warm water onto your baby’s body slowly, ensuring that she is warm at all times.
  • When baby is ready (and it may only be a five minute affair at first) gently lift her out and wrap her in your towel. Don’t rub her dry, gently pat her body and hold her close until she is warm, dry and ready to be dressed.

Lots of babies enjoy a feed straight after the bath so now is the time for you to both sit back, relax and spend time together. Hopefully baby will be nicely relaxed, clean and happy. Good luck!

Breastmilk: nature’s original superfood

Did you know that breastmilk is a bit of a superfood? It’s true. While for some strange reason the world seemed to fall out of love with one of the most natural phenomenons in history, Mother Nature must have been shaking head in confusion. When breastmilk can be tailored perfectly to your own individual baby, based on her needs right now- why would you opt for anything else? Of course there are many, valid, reasons why you may choose not to breastfeed- personal, emotional and medical- and our intention is not to berate those decisions. We are not here to judge, simply to share the wonders of breastmilk: nature’s original superfood. Here are five reasons why we believe that to be true.

Breastmilk provides baby with all the antibodies and bacteria needed to support a healthy immune system.

When in utero, your baby is protected in a sterile environment, away from bacteria that could pose risks to her health and wellbeing. Once on the outside though, it’s a different story! And aside from wrapping your baby in cotton wool and banning all forms of human contact, you just cannot replicate this environment. And why would you want to? Babies need to be exposed to bacteria so that they can build their immune systems- and that’s where breastmilk comes in.

Studies now suggest that if your baby is breastfed for just the first week of life, your milk will provide enough friendly bacteria to give her immune system a super blast. And it’s thought that up to 80,000 babies’ lives could be saved each year if access to breastmilk in that week alone was possible. That’s pretty mindblowing! Further studies have found there to be up to 700 different strains of bacteria in breastmilk, which is enough to support baby’s biome and to provide long term health benefits too. Leading on to our next point…

Breastmilk helps to promote long term health…

for mother AND baby. A baby who is given breastmilk in infancy will build up her immune system to the point where she is able to fight common allergies. It also helps to protect against asthma, digestive issues and autoimmune diseases too. A breastfed baby will also be getting lots of essential fatty acids from the milk too, which means a boost in brain development, growth, and bile salt production. Experts agree that the nutritional value of breastmilk is second to none in the first six months of life.  And for mum?

Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop postnatal depression, as nursing triggers the release of oxytocin, the feel good hormone. This means that during breastfeeding, mums are more relaxed and nurturing instincts are also emphasised. Lots of mums report that they feel the bond with their baby is strengthened through breastfeeding too. Additionally, studies have found that women who breastfeed are more protected against breast and ovarian cancer. It’s thought that structural changes in the breast during at least one year of nursing, coupled with the fact that lactation suppresses oestrogen production in the body, can help to protect against breast cancer in particular.

Breastmilk is tailored perfectly to your baby’s needs.

So there is no need to go out and buy different types of milk depending on your baby’s age. Each time you nurse your baby, your body produces milk suitable for her needs- so the milk changes and adapts as required. What other food can do that? Breastmilk is the perfect combination of water, fat, protein, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins. It also contains hormones, and enzymes, essential fatty acids specific to your baby. It’s a little like a magic potion made specially for your baby.

It’s convenient (and free)

No other method of feeding is quite like breastfeeding. And what other superfood is available 24 hours a day and at no cost? Breastmilk is the ultimate in healthy fast food, and there is no denying the convenience of it all. Not all mothers find breastfeeding easy at first, but if you are able to work with a lactation consultant or similar, you should be able to establish a good feeding schedule that suits you and your baby quite easily. And it’s worth noting that breastmilk is always served at just the right temperature too- no preparation required!

It’s natural

In a world where we are surrounded by foods and products that have been chemically enhanced to taste, smell and look good, breastmilk is a welcome superfood. There are no added chemicals, preservatives, sugars or flavours. It’s easily digested, it has a natural laxative effect so that breastfed babies are rarely constipated, and it is all your baby needs in the first six month of life.

If you would like more information and/ or support with breastfeeding, here are some links that might help:

Find a breastfeedng network support group

National breastfeeding helpline

Association of breastfeeding mothers

Baby cafe– for local breastfeeding cafe groups in your area

Best Beginnings

La Leche League

Lactation Consultants of Great Britain

NCT

UK Association for milk banking– for information on milk donors

 

No Nasties

A healthy, safe skin-care routine for your child should revolve around one word: gentle. But did you know many skincare products made for babies and children contain irritating ingredients? A baby’s skin is 30% more delicate than an adult’s, leaving it sensitive and prone to irritation.

Chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulphate (sls), silicones, parabens and mineral oils are all commonly used in baby care products. These chemicals can be skin irritants and even disrupt the immune, reproductive and endocrine system. Your baby’s skin absorbs things easily, so anything that is applied to the skin such as baby wash, baby oil, creams and lotions are absorbed into their bloodstream.

It is slightly worrying that such ingredients, which may be in your baby’s bath wash, such as sodium lauryle sulphate, started life as an industrial garage floor cleaner due to its corrosive ability to remove grease. The journal of the American College of Toxicology in their final report on the safety assessment of SLS stated that the chemical has been seen to be a skin irritant in clinical studies all over the world. This is especially bad news for those with sensitive skin or those suffering from eczema and psoriasis, as the chemicals will strip the protective oils from the epidermis, leaving it raw and irritated (1,2).

SLS also has strong links with eye development. Researcher Keith Green Ph.D., ID, Sc. Of the medical College of Georgia carried out extensive research on SLS. Dr. Green states: ‘There is an immediate concern relating to the penetration of these chemicals into the eye and other tissues. This is especially important in infants…exposure to SLS results in accumulation in eye tissues, a process that could retard healing as well as potentially have long term effects’. He concludes that exposure to sodium lauryl sulfate can cause improper eye development in children, and that since it is absorbed systemically through the skin, it does not have to enter the eye directly.

Younger individuals are more susceptible to the effects of SLS (3,4). Worryingly, this chemical becomes harsher with increasing temperature (5). Most people prefer to wash in warm or hot water, which should be a grave concern for everybody, the baby care industry in particular.

Parabens or benzoates are also a concern when buying baby cosmetics. They are widely used in food and cosmetics to extend shelf life of the product. It has been claimed that these preservatives stimulate the creation of oestrogen, which disrupts the hormonal system. They have also been known to cause allergic reactions and skin rashes; evidence published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology indicates that parabens can also be detected in human breast tumors.

We here at Mumma Love Organics believe there is a question mark held over the safety of parabens and SLS in baby cosmetics. In parts of Europe parabens have already been banned in cosmetic products, for example, Denmark was the first country in the EU to ban products containing parabens for children under the age of 3 years.

At Mumma Love Organics we care what stays out of our products as much as we care what goes into making it. So no harsh ingredients will be found, just natural organic ingredients with natural preservative properties. This is supported by the Soil Association Organic Standard.

References

  1. ANDERSON C, SUNDBERG K, GROTH O. Animal model for assessment of skin irritancy. Contact Dermatitis 1986 Sept: 15 (3): 143-51.
    2. GIBSON WT, TEALL MR. Interactions of C12 surfactants with the skin: Changes in enzymes and visible and histological features of rat skin treated with sodium lauryl sulphate. Food Chem Toxicol 1983 Oct: 21 (5): 587-94.
    3. HERLOFSON BB, BARKVOLL P. Oral mucosal desquamation of pre- and post-menopausal women. A comparison of response to sodium lauryl sulphate in toothpastes. J Clin Periodontol 1996 Jun: 23 (6): 567-71.
    4. SCHWINDT DA, WILHELM KP, MILLER DL, MAILBACH HI. Cumulative irritation in older and younger skin: A comparison. Acta Derm Venereol 1998: 78 (4): 279-83.
    5. GOFFIN V, LETAWE C, PIERARD GE. Temperature-dependant effect of skin-cleaning products on human stratum corneum. J Toxicol 1996: 15 (2): 125-30.

Gentle sleep tips for toddlers

Does your toddler sleep through the night? Most do, but if your answer is a very firm ‘no’ then rest assured you’re not alone! Every child is different and they all reach certain milestones at different stages; your toddler might just need a little more persuasion than others about the joy of staying in bed at night time! That said, broken nights that drag on longer than two years can be incredibly draining and no doubt there have been days where you’ve felt you just cannot make it through to bedtime… We feel your pain. Here are some gentle sleep tips for toddlers that will hopefully help you and your toddler to get a better night’s sleep sooner rather than later.

Why the gentle approach?

 Toddlers can be fickle little things at the best of times, and by the age of around 18 months or so any habit that they’ve formed will no doubt be very well formed indeed! Translated as- you might not find it easy to persuade them to break their habit of waking. By taking a gentle approach, you can make small progressions towards that full night’s sleep without disturbing or upsetting your toddler, or yourself. Gentle sleep training relies on working with your child’s needs and emotions in at the forefront of your mind. You allow your toddler to lead the way and you gently teach them independent sleep habits to replace their old habits.

Understanding sleep issues

 Hopefully your toddler is able to talk to you and tell you why they’re waking at night times. Take some time to talk to them and ask them why, and explain why it’s a good idea for them to stay in bed to sleep at night times. It might be that your toddler reveals something that can be easily rectified- perhaps they’re missing a comforter or teddy bear, or perhaps it’s a fear of the dark preventing them from falling back to sleep when they wake.

Make sure your bedtime routine is calm

 A calm and peaceful bedtime routine will work wonders for your toddler’s night sleep. And consistency is key here. Try to do your routine at the same time each night, with everything in the same order so that your toddler knows what to expect and when.

What to do if your toddler struggles to fall asleep

 Sometimes it’s going to bed that poses the problem for toddlers. If you spend longer than you like putting your toddler to bed, and longer still traipsing up and down the stairs before they finally settle, then maybe these tips will help you:

  • Agree to a bedtime that suits the whole family (and not just your toddler!) and stick to it. Let your toddler have a say if they’re old enough, so that they feel an element of control.
  • Agree on a bedtime routine with your toddler, and stick to it so that there is no confusion as to when they’re expected to get into bed.
  • Make sure your toddler’s bedroom is dim, and at the right temperature for sleep.
  • If your toddler wants you to stay after the lights go out, this is fine for the first few nights. And if they call you after you’ve left the room, always make sure you go back into comfort them.
  • If your toddler needs to you to stay while they fall asleep, then make sure you stay until they are definitely asleep- they will check!
  • After a few nights, gradually reduce the length of time that you spend in the room, until your toddler is confident enough to fall asleep independently.

The aim here is to eventually put your toddler to bed, turn out the lights and go downstairs to put your feet up!

What to do if your toddler wakes in the night

If your toddler wakes through the night, the first thing you need to do is try and determine why. Is the room too hot, or too cold? Are they thirsty? Try to eliminate as many reasons as possible. Then repeat your gentle sleep training techniques as already described, until your toddler falls asleep again. It’s worth noting here that if your toddler wakes and asks to come into your bed with you, that’s fine to do- as long as you’re happy to bed share and you are able to do it safely. Read these guidelines to make sure you’re safe.

Remember that it’s important to stay positive with your toddler, and to celebrate every small achievement in this journey. They will develop better sleeping habits eventually, and while these days seem long we promise they will be relatively short-lived in the grand scheme of things. Good luck!

 

Your natural medicine cabinet

When it comes to the health of your little ones, it goes without saying that you want to do only the best for them. And while this does mean your family doctor is likely to be the most trusted source of advice and information, that doesn’t mean that you can’t remedy some ailments yourself at home. We love the idea of creating an all-natural medicine cabinet, and today’s post has lots of tips and information on how to create one yourself. Of course, please do always seek professional medical advice when your little one is not well; this post is not intended to be a replacement for medical attention. However, if you are interested in natural remedies, here is a quick guide to creating your natural medicine cabinet.

What is natural medicine?

Natural medicine is, put simply, a practice whereby herbs are used to treat ailments and illnesses in place of prescription medicines. It’s important to have a sound understanding of natural medicines, and if in doubt always seek professional advice. When you buy herbal treatments, check the label for the words Traditional Herbal Registration because this means that the product you’re using has been assessed against safety standards. It’s also worth noting that you should seek advice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and when using with children.

Top ten items for your natural medicine cabinet

If you are informed and ready to start, here are our top ten items to include in your natural medicine cabinet:

Vitamin C. surely the greatest weapon against coughs, colds and illnesses. Vitamin C can be found in lots of natural sources, but if you keep some powdered versions handy in your cabinet, you will be fully equipped as soon as the first signs of illness strike.

Peppermint essential oil. A wonderful resource to have in your medicine cabinet as it can be very effective in treating nausea, headaches and muscle aches. It’s also fantastic for reducing fevers when rubbed (diluted) onto children’s feet.

Chamomile for soothing, calming and relaxing. Great in teas, and wonderful in the bath. Chamomile can be used to treat minor skin conditions and can help babies to sleep too.

Lavender can be used in many ways, often in conjunction with chamomile, and is wonderful for calming and soothing too. Lavender essential oil can be used to treat wounds and relieve pain and is great for helping little ones to relax at bedtime too.

Eucalyptus essential oil is wonderful to use when your little ones have a cold as it is known to soothe the lungs and clear congestion. It also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Saline spray can help to unblock little noses and relieve congestion during cold season, and is suitable for the smallest of babies too.

Ginger is a must have for any natural medicine cabinet. Ginger capsules are wonderful for upset tummies and an effective treatment for heartburn, nausea, indigestion too. Ginger can also be beneficial for children suffering from travel sickness, and for easing symptoms of nausea during pregnancy.

Arnica is great for treating bruises and trauma to the body because it reduces healing time and soothes sore muscles right after an injury.

Coconut oil is one of life’s little miracles. There are SO many uses for this wonderful stuff and aside from tasting great when used in cooking, coconut oil can be used to moisturise skin, hair and nails- as well as treat nappy rash, minor skin conditions and chapped lips.

Raw organic honey- not only does it taste great, but its health benefits can be utilised in other ways too. Use to treat minor burns and grazes on the skin, or use it to moisturise minor skin conditions too. Honey and ginger in hot water is also great for relieving symptoms of nausea too.

Guide to using your natural medicine cabinet

Keen to get started with your natural medicine cabinet? Here are some tips to help you:

  • As with all other medications, keep your natural medicine cabinet out the reach of children, and make sure you check the contents regularly. Use with caution and always seek professional medical guidance when illnesses occur.
  • Stock up gradually. Your cabinet will probably never hold everything you want or need to treat ailments and illnesses, so don’t try to fill it all at once. Read up carefully as and when you need to treat a condition and make an informed choice each time you add a new natural remedy.
  • Slowly replace over the counter remedies with your natural choices, so that the expense of doing so is not a major blow. Often herbal remedies can be pricey, but they are more guaranteed to last longer and be more effective in the long run.
  • Read up on recipes that you can follow to make your own medicines.

 

Cloth nappies for beginners

When you first embark upon cloth nappies for your little one, it can seem a little daunting. There are whole communities out there dedicated towards educating parents about the benefits of reusable nappies, and often the terminology and types of nappies available can make your head swim! But don’t panic- here are some quick tips to help you, and a brief guide on cloth nappies for beginners.

Why choose cloth nappies?

Each year in the UK around 8 million nappies are thrown into landfill. Every year! And the plastic in those disposable nappies is thought to take hundreds of years to decompose. So when you think of the impact that disposable nappies are having on the environment, it doesn’t take much to convince some parents that the switch to reusable is a good idea. And although cloth nappies will mean an extra load in the washing machine, the impact that this will have on the environment is nowhere near the same.

Alongside the affects on the environment, cloth nappies can have an impact on your family budget too. It’s been estimated that the average UK family will spend up to £800 on nappies per child- that’s quite a lot of money! Using cloth nappies could bring this expense down considerably. You can buy a cloth nappy for around £10-20 (an initial expense, granted) and that nappy will last for as long as your child is in nappies. If you have around 10 nappies in total, you’re looking at spending no more than around £200- a huge contrast to £800!

Another major reason why lots of parents choose to opt for cloth nappies is the fact that they don’t contain any nasty chemicals. Disposable nappies contain different chemicals so that they can be absorbent, and if you’ve ever seen a nappy split open you’ll see what we mean. Those little ‘crystals’ work to absorb urine and to keep it away from the skin, but they do mean that your baby’s precious skin could be at risk from irritation. Cloth nappies do not need such chemicals and therefore are deemed to be kinder to skin.

How to start

If you’ve made the decision to go for cloth nappies, here’s a quick checklist to help you get started:

Research the different types of nappies available.

Not all cloth nappies are the same and everyone has their own preferences too. The types of nappies available are:

• All in ones – these are the closest you will get to a disposable nappy as the whole thing is sewn together in one piece.
• All in twos – are very similar to disposable too, and have lots in common with all in ones – the only difference is that they have inserts that snap in or lay in the nappy.
• Fitted/shaped nappies are shaped like a disposable nappy but they are not waterproof so you need a cover over the top.
• Flat – nappies that are not shaped and need a cover to be waterproof.
• Hybrid – these nappies have a waterproof outer (wrap/cover) and inserts that are laid into it.
• Pocket – are a type of waterproof cover with a pocket in it. An absorbent insert fits into the pocket and then the nappy goes on all in one piece.

If you can access a nappy library or similar, see if you can have a play with some of the nappies there before you buy- see if you like the look, if they seem ok to use, and if they are within your price range too. Lots of nappy brands will offer trial kits and some sites allow you to borrow nappies and return them when you’ve had a trial- both handy services to take advantage of.

Check the sizing

Not all cloth nappies are the same size, and some are better for younger babies, some better for older babies. Some nappies are one size, which means you can use them from newborn and adjust the sizing as on the nappy as your baby grows. These are the best value for money but they might not be right for your baby. Research as much as you can and read as many reviews as you can too. Each nappy type will have a range of sizes available so you might want to stock up on your favourite too.

Washing

It’s often the washing that puts parents off cloth nappies, but there really is no need! These days cloth nappies don’t need to be soaked before you wash them, so if you have a nappy bin with a lid you can store dirty nappies in there until it’s time to wash. You need to wash the nappies on a hot wash (around 60 degrees) and there is no need to use a specific nappy detergent, unless you want to. If using normal washing detergent, make sure to use just a quarter of the usual amount and no fabric conditioner. It’s a good idea to end each cycle with an extra rinse too.

If you have enough nappies, you will only be washing them once a week, so make sure you have somewhere to store them in between washes. Let them dry on the line or on an airer in the house- they should only take a few hours.