Parenting with Love

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 know 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.

Gentle Potty Training

Sooner or later, the day will arrive. Your little one is suddenly not so little anymore and it’s time to move on from nappies! Rather than seeing this as the end of an era, it helps to see this stage as an exciting step forward in your child’s journey. Lots of parents are actually relieved to be able to move on from the ‘grind’ of changing and tending to nappies and so potty training can be a welcome progression for many families. The problem here can be that sometimes children can be rushed into moving on from nappies before they are ready, or parents can grow frustrated at a seeming lack of progress if potty training isn’t grasped straight away. So how do you know when your child is ready to move on to using the potty or toilet, and how can you make the transition as easy and as gentle as can be? Hopefully our guide will help you.

Is the time right?

There really is very little point in starting potty training before your little one is ready, both physically and emotionally. The reason for this is simple. If your child is not ready, they will not understand what it is you want them to do. A child needs to recognise when they need the toilet, and they need to be able to verbalise that need too. Not only that, but your child will also need to be able to recognise when they are wet, and all of this comes with maturity, which occurs at different ages depending on the child. Just because a parent is ready for potty training, doesn’t mean a child is too. So if you have a suspicion that your child is just not quite ready, it might be worth holding off for a while longer- to save the frustration and potential upset if nothing else. The golden ‘rule’ here, is to let your child tell you when the time is right.

There are signs to look out for if you think your child may be close to getting ready for potty training:
● Nappies may be dry in the morning and after naps
● Bowel movements may only occur during the day
● Your child is aware of needing the toilet, and of ‘performing’
● Your child is aware of having a wet or soiled nappy, and may even ask you to change it for them
● Your child tells you they need to use the toilet
● Your child refuses to wear nappies, or asks to wear knickers/ underpants
● Your child shows an interest in using the potty or toilet, and an interest in other family members using the toilet
If you can tick most or all of these boxes, then it looks as though the time is right for your child to start potty training. If you’re not sure, wait until the signs are clearer. This will save you a lot of work in the long run, and there is nothing wrong with a toddler who is three years old and wearing a nappy. It is considered that most children will potty train at any time between the ages of 24 months and 3 years of age, but some children will be older; night time training can take longer still. Any variation on this is fine!

Making a start on potty training

If the time is right and you are both ready to go, then you don’t want to miss your window of opportunity. It’s also important to remember that you are playing by your toddler’s rules here. The last thing you want is to make using the potty or toilet a chore, or to frighten your child in some way. Gently does it.

Give your child as much control over the situation as you possibly can. Take them with you to choose new underwear, a new potty or a toilet training seat. Ask them which they prefer to use- a potty or a toilet, or both? There is no harm in going straight for the toilet (that way eliminates the transition from the potty) as long as you are taking your child’s lead.

Make using the toilet normal. Let your child explore the bathroom (with your supervision) and help them to understand the process of using the toilet with books and simple explanations of what happens to our body when we need the toilet. Explain that all the water we drink and food we eat has to come out and make sure your child understands that it is all completely normal. Lots of parents allow their child to accompany them or older siblings to the toilet so that there is no mystery at all involved; this is fine to do. Talk to your child as much as possible, and answer all of the questions that they may have. Some parents also introduce a potty long before their child is ready for it, just by leaving it around the house to be investigated. This way the potty is not seen as a strange object when the time comes to use it.

Think before you speak. Remember that all of this is new to your child, and that they are looking to you for guidance. Help your child to grow and to explore by praising their efforts, but be specific. Instead of ‘well done’, tell your child that you know they must feel proud for being able to use the toilet. Generic praise is much less effective in the long run, so consider your words carefully.

Forget the bribes. Lots of parents will be tempted to reward children for using the potty or toilet, but this can cause more problems than it is worth. Some children may even hold back from using the potty if there is no reward forthcoming, and all of your hard work on normalising the whole process will have been a waste of time. Instead of rewards (whether they be stickers, high fives or sweets), try to play down the whole thing if possible. Allow your child to recognise the sensations that occur when they use the toilet, and help them to feel proud of their achievements, but make sure that they know this is all their own hard work (and you know it is nothing to do with any potential prize they might be given in return). Rewarding performances on the potty can’t be kept up forever, and can actually cause regressions if said rewards are withdrawn, so stick to guiding your child gently to appreciate what they have achieved instead.

Practical tips

Once your child feels safe and secure enough to use the toilet or potty and has some degree of success with it all, there is no turning back. Try to stick to underwear during the day and reserve nappies for sleep time only. This will help to reduce confusion for your child.

It’s also a good idea to carry around spare clothing wherever you go, in case of the odd accident. This is inevitable in the early days and is really nothing to be concerned about. Like anything, using the toilet instead of a nappy takes practise and some children will pick it up quicker than others.

Don’t let your own emotions get in the way here- it may be frustrating to have to change wet clothes, but if your child has made good progress any negativity from you can cause upset, embarrassment or even fear. The last thing you want to do is to cause a regression because you lost your cool.

If you’re at home, let your child wear just knickers on their bottom half so that quick dashes to the loo are as easy as possible. Lots of parents leave potty training to the summer months for this very reason.

Combating Colic

If having a new baby means sleepless nights coupled with seemingly unending screaming for hours on end, chances are high that your little one could be suffering from colic. And it’s safe to say that colic in babies can be a very distressing time for you and your little one. Looking after a newborn is hard enough, as you work hard to get to know them (and they you) and to decipher their cries so that you can meet their needs. But having your baby scream and cry for hours at a time can be very hard to deal with, and upsetting for all concerned too. Please rest assured that you are not alone, and that there are indeed natural remedies you can try to help your baby with colic.

How do you know it’s colic?

Colic usually occurs between the ages of around three weeks to three months of age, and usually takes place in the late afternoon, evening or at night. Classic symptoms of colic include baby being hard to comfort (when through the day you are able to easily comfort and settle them) and appearing to be in pain or discomfort. Of course, the continuous crying is often the most telling of symptoms, and the one that has most parents tearing their hair out in an attempt to soothe.

What causes colic?

There are theories that suggest colic is caused by air bubbles trapped in the baby’s immature digestive system, which cause baby pain and discomfort. Some doctors will recommend keeping baby upright after feeds and ensuring you wind baby thoroughly to try and relieve trapped wind. Some parents will tell you that very little seems to comfort them at all.

How can I tell if my baby has colic?

If any of the above has you nodding your head in grim recognition, then you may want to check the following symptoms too:
● excessive crying that usually starts at the same time every day
● crying begins when baby is a few weeks old and lasts for a few months
● baby is otherwise very healthy
● baby pulls their legs up to the chest, tightens abdomen muscles and clenches their fists. Babies face may also appear red and contorted in pain.

Be aware that while all babies cry- that’s how they communicate, after all- excessive crying is not usual and is worth investigating. If you are sure that baby is clean, warm, fed and rested but still crying a lot them there is a very good chance colic is to blame.

Colic can be a frightening time for new parents, particularly if you’re unable to soothe baby. Seeing your child in pain is not a pleasant experience, and feeling helpless can lead to frustration and upset. But it’s worth mentioning here that colic is not caused by you having done anything wrong. And it does help to talk to other parents who are going through similar- it’s estimated that colic affects nearly 25% of all babies in the UK, so you are not alone, even if it feels otherwise.

Natural remedies for Colic

Many parents will turn to medicine for help with colic, but there are natural ways that you can help your little one too. Here are some top tips and natural remedies to help ease the symptoms:

● Homeopathy. Such remedies have been used for over two centuries, and with very good reason too. They work. For colic, Magnesia Phosphorica (Mag Phos) is most commonly recommended because it has a soothing effect on cramps. One tablet dissolved in milk and given to baby straight after a feed can offer huge relief from pain and discomfort, and for babies that are breastfed mother can take two tablets three times a day (after meals) so ensure that the remedy is passed to baby through the milk.
● Diet. A mother’s breastfeeding diet is essential in helping to ease baby’s symptoms of colic, and is often the first thing we think of in such cases. Although there really isn’t a known list of foods that should be eliminated from the mother’s diet, there are some foods that are commonly known to aggravate colic and should therefore be avoided. These include dairy, eggs, nuts, soya, caffeine and gluten. Spicy foods are also thought to be best avoided and some women swear that too many carbohydrates such as bread and pasta can also make baby a little more unsettled too. Drinking chamomile tea is a wonderful way to ease symptoms of colic, as it is passed through to baby through the milk and is known for its soothing properties.
● Herbal tea. Studies have found that herbal teas containing chamomile, fennel and lemon balm can significantly reduce symptoms of colic and it’s easy to make a similar version with chamomile and fennel yourself at home. Place half a teaspoon of the herbs in one cup on boiling water. Cover and steep for five to ten minutes, then strain. Once cool you can give baby a few teaspoons. Additionally, breastfeeding mothers can drink the tea and pass the benefits on to baby through the milk.
● Babywearing. Studies have long since shown that babies who are carried upright and close to a parent tend to cry less. Babywearing means carrying baby for long periods of time throughout the day, and it is this that reaps the benefits, rather than short periods of carrying baby to soothe them. Babywearing parents tend to carry their infants for several hours a day, before baby begins to cry and fuss. There is a theory that babies with colic display these symptoms due to disorganised biorhythms that were once regulated by the mother’s body during pregnancy. Once on the outside, these biorhythms are disrupted, but babywearing allows for a reconnection to occur. Babywearing helps to emulate conditions in the womb by providing warmth and security and many believe that it can be hugely beneficial for babies suffering with colic.
● Avoid over stimulation. Some babies cannot cope with too much going on around them and find that excessive noise, lights and action leads to feelings of being unable to relax and unwind. Make sure that you provide lots of calm space for your baby to feel secure and confident during the day, and at night.
● See a chiropractor. Many parents believe that misalignment suffered during labour and birth can cause symptoms of colic, and a chiropractor is able to help with this. Make sure that your chiropractor has worked with infants before, as adjustments should only be very slight. None the less, treatment can help to ease pain and discomfort and make colic less likely too.
● Baby massage. We are huge advocates of baby massage, and truly believe that this is one wonderful way that you can help baby yourself at home. Baby massage can help to keep the digestive system working well and there are no expensive requirements either. Baby aromatherapy. Colic can be treated quite effectively by blending aromatherapy with baby massage oil. Add one teaspoon of organic sunflower oil to one drop of dill essential oil. Blend together and warm in the palm of your hand before applying to baby’s tummy during massage. Dill is well known for its abilities to ease indigestion and gastric upsets.

Postnatal tips for dads

Throughout pregnancy and on into the postnatal period, much of the family focus is on mother and baby. And rightly so- being pregnant and giving birth is a huge experience for a woman to go through, and with the physical exertion of giving birth, not to mention the abundance of hormones, the early weeks and months with a new baby can be filed with an immense pressure for mums. But what about dad? Your partner is likely to have been there with you every step of the way, but too often his needs are not considered when a new baby comes along. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips to help support and guide new dads through this time. Please let us know in the comments if you have any more postnatal tips for dads.

Dads need nurturing too

After the mammoth event that is pregnancy and birth, everyone deserves a little TLC and dads are no different. Pregnancy can be strange for dads as they are not directly involved with the growing bump, plus the labour and birth process is very much woman centered too. So it’s normal for dads to feel a little like they need to do more in the early days. Again, this can be difficult if mum is breastfeeding. It’s also important to remember that while mum is recovering from it all, dad may need to do the same.

New research has found that 38% of dads are concerned about their own mental health, and there are calls now to increase support for new dads. It is normal to feel a little ‘let down’ after all the anticipation of pregnancy and birth. Sleep deprivation doesn’t help either. So how can we nurture dads a little more, and ensure that they are able to fully support mum and enjoy life with their newborn baby?

● Strive to find a new routine. This is something that dad can get stuck into once baby arrives, and it will help you both to feel a little more ‘on top’ of the chaos that a new baby brings. Sometimes it helps dads to feel a little more part of the proceedings if they are able to take on new roles within the family- maybe doing the grocery, preparing baby’s bath at the end of the day, or giving the occasional bottle? Find a new routine that allows dad to get hands on with baby so that he can begin the bonding process too.
● Prepare for the sleepless nights. Sleep deprivation really is hard, and it can play havoc with your emotions whether you’re chock full of postnatal hormones or not. And for dad, returning to work on very little sleep can be really hard. Especially when you are also striving to be there for mum and take on extra duties at home. So get prepared. Go to bed a little earlier, and clear the next few weekends so that you can have some quality time doing very little. Take it in turns to sleep in.
● Support your partner as much as you can. Remember that she has been through a lot, and having a new baby to care for too is going to take some getting used to. There are tasks that dad can take on such bathing, washing, shopping, taking care of the older kids etc. Doing this will help the household to run a lot more smoothly and will help mum to recover a lot more quickly too.

Open up to your partner

Lots of dads feel that they are not ‘supposed’ to talk about how they feel. This is normal. But relationships are two way streets, and it’s important to acknowledge dad’s s feelings too. Take the time to talk to each other about how you’re feeling, and the things you’d like help with. Find new ways to work together to be stronger and more united with baby. Your family is so different now, but that’s not to say you cannot enjoy the new challenges life is now bringing!

Be kind to each other

Take the time to regularly praise each other, and to appreciate what each of you brings to the family. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. And be kind to each other. Having a new baby is enormous, and not many of us come out the other side completely unscathed. But having a new baby is also one of the most amazing things you will do together, so cherish this time- and each other.

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.

The Beauty of Baby Wearing

‘Babywearing’, the term given to carrying your baby close to your body in a wrap or carrier, is an age old practice that has been passed down through generations and across different continents. Each different country has traditionally had its own different type of carrier unique to their own climate, and in many cultures today babywearing is a way of life; it is a necessity for many parents who need to carry on with physical work so after babies are born. So in this age of cars, public transport, prams and various other modes of transport, why would we continue to carry our babies in our modern culture? We can just as easily strap them into a buggy and stroll down to the park, can’t we? Yes, we can. But babywearing is about so much more than making life a little easier when you need to take baby along for the ride. Allow us to share with you the true beauty of babywearing.

An easy life

Starting with the most obvious, carrying your baby means that you can have an easier life. Rather than spending hours rocking a crying baby, you can simply pop them into a carrier and go about your business instead. Yes. You can wash up with a baby strapped to your chest. You can brush your teeth, you can walk the school run, you can hop on and off the bus with ease. Babywearing means that you can take your baby with you wherever you go, and not need to worry about folding and unfolding heavy prams and pushchairs. It means that you can have two arms free to do the grocery shopping. It means no more frantic face washes in the morning while the baby cries in the car seat by your feet.

Babywearing makes for an easy life, but this is only the beginning. It is a fringe benefit, if you like- just another reason to love it so.

Close enough to kiss.

When you wear your baby on your chest, you need to make sure that he/ she is close enough to kiss. This is for safety reasons (please see this article, from the babywearing magazine Close enough to Kiss, for the TICKS list and more information) and is important to remember. Beyond that, having your baby this close is essential for many other reasons.

● Bonding. Wearing your baby close to you, so that you can smell the top of his/ her head, and kiss the soft skin whenever you like is an act so intimate and so precious that it is little wonder babywearing has been attributed to strengthening the bond between parent and child.
● The fourth trimester. The first three months of a baby’s life is often referred to as such, because many believe that a newborn baby is not quite ready for the outside world after just nine months gestation. Replicating as many conditions of the womb as possible can help to soothe and settle your baby immensely, and babywearing is known to help. Babies love to be held closely, wrapped tightly next to a warm body. Not only that, but being able to hear your heartbeat helps to calm an unsettled baby too.
● Post Natal Depression. If you’re suffering following the birth of your baby, you may find that babywearing helps to alleviate some of the symptoms, because it can help to increase a mother’s self confidence in her ability to care for her baby. On top of that, babies that are carried are likely to cry less and more likely to sleep, thus reducing mother’s stress further.

Health benefits

It’s not just emotional. Although the reasons already stated do seem to be more than enough reasons to babywear! There have also been lots of studies done into the health benefits of babywearing and we’d like to share them with you.

Colic, reflux and wind. These common conditions can be the bane of some baby’s lives! Being held upright in a baby carrier can help to relieve symptoms and, of course, being close to you will help to calm upset babies too. If your baby is close to you in a sling or carrier, you are more likely to be aware of discomfort or pain that is being experienced too, making you more of a responsive parent as a result.

Physical development. Any warnings you’ve heard about babies that are carried being late walkers and unable to control gross motor skills are nonsense. Studies have found that babywearing actually promotes and aids physical development, because baby is more in tune with the parent’s own physical movements. Bending, stretching, walking and other movements are stimulating baby, and helping to regulate his/ her own movements too. In addition, premature or low weight babies have been known to gain in strength and weight from babywearing, simply due to the way that being carried allows baby to control bodily functions and movements.

Ear infections can be prevented through babywearing. Yes, really. And babywearing also helps to regulate baby’s temperature too. Studies have found that thermal synchronicity can occur through carrying baby. This means that if baby is too cold, mum’s own body temperature rises to compensate. A flexed position on mother’s chest is also much better at conserving heat than a horizontal position.

Breathing is regulated when a baby is carried close to a parent’s chest. This is fabulous news if baby has an irregular breathing pattern; by being close to and listening to a parent’s breathing pattern, baby will copy this pattern and therefore regulate his/ her own breathing.

Stress reactions are also improved with babywearing. Your baby’s responses to certain situations are more controlled, simply because you are there.

Your physical health also benefits from babywearing. Think about all the walking, bending, stretching and lifting you’ll be doing with a small baby attached to you. You’re more likely to walk to the shops too, rather than pop baby into a car seat for a drive.

Your baby’s emotions

Emotionally, babywearing is superb for new parents. And for babies? Even more so. Your baby is more likely to cry less and to feel more confident (that his/ her needs are going to be met quickly) and secure. Babies that are carried have also been shown to be more aware and vitally stimulated than babies who are not. In everything that you do, your baby is at your height and eye level, experiencing it all with you. And as baby relies on the senses so heavily, it’s easy to see why this would be so beneficial. Studies have also shown that babies who are carried develop other skills more quickly too- speaking, listening and general communication is improved, and the ability to learn fast is enhanced.

If you need more reasons why you should be babywearing, or if you’d like to try it out before you invest, do take a look here to find your local sling library. These facilities are excellent places to meet like-minded parents, and to chat to experts that can help you to perfect your carry.

Soothing baby reflux

Pregnancy is a wonderful time. Despite the intense fatigue, the sickness, and the aches and pains (not to mention all the other ailments and symptoms that can come about due to a growing baby), there is something magical about realising that you have helped to create an entire life, and that life is growing steadily within you. Pregnancy is also a time of planning, of dreaming, and of hoping that plans and dreams come together in the end to give you the perfect child in a perfect situation.

It’s not always the case though. You may hope for snuggling cuddles and long, leisurely walks, you may look forward to just sitting and watching your baby sleep, but what you probably won’t expect is not being able to do any of these things due to infant reflux. That’s what happened to me when my daughter was born – I had hoped for something so different for her, but my poor little girl was in pain what seemed like all of the time.

Infant reflux leaves you with a baby who is screaming in pain as their stomachs battle with the issues that are plaguing them. This means a baby who cannot settle, with whom you cannot spend quality, parent/child bonding time, and for whom you can do little to help. Over the counter medicines are so mild as to barely touch the problem. Prescribed medicines can cause horrible side effects. So what can be done? Perhaps it is time to turn to natural remedies to aid your baby’s well being. Stop feeling helpless and start the process towards health and happiness.

What Is Infant Reflux?

Infant reflux (or gastroesophageal reflux disease) means that your child has an underdeveloped oesophageal sphincter. Although the symptoms are often mistaken for the less serious (although still painful and uncomfortable) colic at first, having infant reflux means that the valve that opens to allow food to pass from the mouth to the stomach doesn’t close as it should once the food is swallowed. This means that anything eaten or drunk (including milk) can come back up the windpipe, and when it does it brings stomach acid with it. Obviously, this excessive acid is incredibly painful.

Signs and symptoms most commonly include your child arching their back after feeding, and crying due to the pain. Sleep will be disturbed (yours and theirs), and they may vomit more than a child without infant reflux would. As well as this, you may notice them gagging or choking (which in itself is an awful thing to witness in your infant), and they may get the hiccoughs frequently. Eventually, the pain and discomfort may lead to a refusal to eat (and therefore weight loss) and crying during a feed.

Natural Remedies That Can Help

As a parent, saving your child from pain becomes a lifelong mission, and I was (and am) no exception. And since none of the medicines we tried seemed to be helping at all, I decided I needed to look elsewhere to help her. In my quest, I found that there were plenty of other routes that can be taken when it comes to infant reflux.

• Homeopathic remedies have been used for over two centuries, and with good reason; they work. For reflux, Nat Phos 6x works wonders. Just one tablet dissolved in milk and given straight after a feed offers a huge relief from the pain and suffering that reflux brings. For babies who are breastfed, it is possible for the mother to take two of the tablets three times a day (after meals). The goodness is then passed straight to the baby through the mother’s milk.

• Diet when breastfeeding is another way to help ease the problems of infant reflux. Although there is no proven list of foodstuff that should be cut out of a child’s mother’s diet with regards to reflux, it is good to remember that a baby’s digestive system is tiny and delicate, and therefore can’t cope with items that an adult’s can. These things could include dairy, eggs, nuts, soya, caffeine, gluten, and anything spicy, as well as too many carbs. Drinking more chamomile tea may also help as the benefits are passed through your milk and can ease a sore tummy.

• Keep your baby’s head elevated whilst feeding. This will help aid the milk to get to her stomach rather than getting caught in her oesophagus. But it’s not just at mealtimes that reflux can occur, so also keep their head up during nappy changing, bath time, and playtime if possible.

• Little and often is the key to many things in life, and infant reflux doesn’t seem to be any different. It could be that too much milk at once can set off the symptoms of reflux, so smaller meals at more frequent intervals could settle it back down again. Burping after every feed is also helpful and can ease the pain your child may be feeling.

• Jewellery helps too. Not just any jewellery though; Hazelwood reflux jewellery helps to ease the excess acid build up that comes from reflux.

• Have you ever heard of baby wearing? Perhaps you have, but by a different name. Baby wearing is the practice of using a carrier or sling. It’s a wonderful way of bonding with your infant, but it also keeps them upright for longer than they might usually be (with no pressure of their stomachs), thus keeping the symptoms of reflux to a minimum.

• A chiropractor may well be able to help your baby’s reflux. Some babies suffer misalignment due to the birthing process, and this can lead to issues with their pallet and cranium, which means that reflux is more likely. A skilled chiropractor can ensure that this is fixed, and that reflux is less likely. Do make sure that the chiropractor you choose has worked with infants before, as the adjustments should only be very slight.

• Leading on from what a chiropractor can do for your child is what you can do at home; baby massage. Baby massage works to keep the digestive system working well and as it should do, even maturing it to be able to cope with different food types at an early age. There is no expensive or complicated equipment required; all you need is baby oil (organic if possible) with perhaps an added drop of lavender or chamomile.

Trying these alternative methods of calming a child’s infant reflux symptoms is not only a relief to the suffering baby, but a relief to the parents as well.

Baby Yoga: tips for beginners

There are those who advocate time to yourself when you’ve had a baby. Resume your activities and spend time away from baby as soon as you feel comfortable. Take up that class you’ve always wanted to while you’re on maternity leave. Make the most of your babysitters when they offer to watch baby. And there are those who advocate brining baby along with you, no matter what you’re doing. For some new mums, the latter is the only option when it comes to getting stuff done, and these days there are plenty mum and baby groups you can go along too, so the second option starts to become slightly more realistic all round. One such activity is yoga. If this is something you enjoyed during pregnancy or before you were expecting, once your doctor deems you fit enough, its something that you can resume quite easily postnatally. And yes, baby can come too. Here’s a quick guide baby yoga: tips for beginners.

What is baby yoga?

Baby yoga is actually very different to the yoga that you may have been practising as an adult. It’s more of an activity which encourages interaction and communication between parent and child. It incorporates movement and relaxation into a relaxed, informal and playful situation, drawing on many principles of baby massage. The power of touch is, once again, a key feature and an essential part of encouraging that bonding process between baby and child.

Experts believe that baby yoga helps parents to become attuned to their baby’s needs and more able to calm them as and when it’s needed- by providing a sense of security and wellbeing essential to normal emotional development. Likewise, parents who practise baby yoga with their infants are also more able to recognise when baby needs stimulation and many believe their relationship with baby is strengthened thanks to baby yoga too.

Baby yoga incorporates the following:

• Gentle body strokes
• Specially adapted yoga moves
• Postnatal yoga moves for mum
• Playful moves with songs and rhymes
• Parent and baby relaxation
• Developmental practises- holding head up, rolling over etc

How to get started

You don’t need to know much about yoga itself to get started, but it helps to know the basic principles behind it all. Yoga is all about exercise, relaxation, breathing and meditation. Now why would you not want to pass on those principles to your baby? Here are some tips for getting started.

• Speak to your health visitor or local children’s centre for details on a class locally
• Go along to a class and speak to the instructor before you commit to classes. Ask if you can watch part of a class, or if there is any information you can take away
• Research online

Once you have your class, or you feel you want to try at home, make sure that you time it right with baby. As with baby massage, you don’t need any specialist equipment as such (a mat is useful) , but you do want to make sure that baby is happy, alert and open to new experiences. So if she is tired or unwell, postpone your session for now.

Outside of your class, there are basic baby yoga poses that you can practise at home. Here are three easy moves you can do with baby:

Downward dog

One of our favourite poses! Lie baby gently on your mat and whilst in downward dog position, gently lean down to kiss her, bending your elbows wide. This is great for core strength for you, and interaction for baby. As you exhale, return to dog pose and repeat as many times as you’re able. What a fun game!

‘Flying’

A favourite game! Lie on the floor, on your mat, and position baby securely on your shins. Gently bounce her, as if she is flying. When you’re feeling braver, start to straighten out your legs, and bounce baby up and down. You can sing a song to her as she flies.

Handstands

Your baby is going to love this! Having spent most of her time in the womb upside down, what’s not to love about a headstand? Headstands bring more blood to the brain and sends signals to the nervous system that tell the body to calm down and relax. This helps to fight fear and anxiety and instills confidence, strength and coordination too.

Make sure your baby can see you, and that you are in a safe space. Use a mat for cushioning and a wall for extra safety and support. Sit with your knees bent, with baby lying back on you. Hold on to her ankles and allow her lie back. For older babies, lie her down on the mat and lift her legs. Lots of praise is essential here, and make it fun too. Simple rhymes and lots of smiles will reassure and help her enjoy the headstand even more.

Three top tips for making the most of baby led weaning

As your baby grows older, more and more exciting experiences await you both! One such experience is weaning. The end of your breastfeeding journey may seem like such a long way away, and it probably is. But from the age of around six months or so, your baby will start to explore new tastes and textures that are so vastly different from milk. This is where the fun starts! These days, baby led weaning is often recommended for babies over the age of six months, because it is a valuable way to teach your baby about those new tastes and textures without limiting her need for exploration and sense of adventure. Here are our three top tips for making the most of baby led weaning. Enjoy!

What is baby led weaning?

Put simply, baby led weaning is allowing your baby to lead the way when it comes to weaning from milk onto food. Babies who are allowed to lead the way will do so by feeding themselves, and choosing the foods that they want to eat at mealtimes. Recent studies have shown that by allowing your baby to explore and taste new foods in her own time and at her own pace has huge benefits, such as:

● a reduction in obesity
● a reduction in fussiness around food
● a reduced risk of choking (baby learns very quickly that food needs to be broken down, in contrast to babies who are weaned onto pureed foods)
● improved speech development
● improved motor skills

So when you present your baby with a selection of foods and allow her to pick them up, taste them, play with them and finally eat them, you are assisting her in more ways than one!

Baby led weaning can be messy. It can also be lots of fun. But for some parents, the idea of allowing baby to choose at mealtimes can seem a little strange. The best advice for this is to just go with the flow, as much as you can. You may want to compromise a little and offer some pureed foods too. That’s up to you. However you decide to manage it, hopefully these tips will help:

Don’t be afraid of gagging

Chances are, as baby learns how to chew and to break down food in her mouth, she is going to gag now and then. This is when food hits the back of the throat, and is not the same as choking. Gagging is a normal reflex that we all have, and for babies it’s important because it helps to teach them how to eat. Your baby will make a noise when she gags, but it will not bother her. She will move the food and she will continue to eat.

Choking is different, because if your baby is choking she will not make a noise because her airway is blocked. Your baby will become frightened and you will know the difference when this happens. There is no real way to prevent choking during baby led weaning, but there are precautions you can take. Make sure that food is cut into bite size pieces, and make sure that you fully supervise feeding times. Baby should be sitting up during mealtimes and not leaning back in anyway. It’s also a great idea to enrol on a baby first aid course so that if choking occurs you will know what to do.

Don’t be afraid of the mess

Babies use their senses to explore and to learn about the world around them, and playing with food is a totally natural progression of this. Let her investigate her food by poking it, prodding it and smashing it in her fist. It will not hurt! Take the following precautions if the mess really bothers you:

● Pop a waterproof mat (or an old shower curtain) down on the floor to catch fallen food.
● Invest in some sensible bibs- long sleeve ones are fantastic
● Invest in a high chair that is easily cleaned

Make sure the time is right

The World Health Organisation recommends that weaning takes place at around 6 months of age as it is deemed by this age milk alone is not enough to sustain your baby. But all babies are different, and some may not be ready at this time. It’s important to remember that when you first introduce solid food to babies, it is really just for taste and texture, rather than nutrition. So until 12 months of age, milk is still really important, and where baby will get most of her nourishment from. It’s important to time it right, so look for these signs that baby is ready:

● baby can sit up in a chair, unaided
● baby can hold her head up
● baby can chew
● baby is not tired, or too hungry- offer milk first, and view solid foods as an exploration rather than a meal, at first.
● baby is interested in food

Are you ready? It’s an exciting time, but it’s not without it’s stress too. Take each day as it comes, and don’t expect too much from your baby. If you are relaxed and happy at mealtimes, she will pick up on this and is more likely to grow into a happy eater. Good luck… and have fun!

The Benefits of Baby Massage

Human beings have five incredible senses; sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. We use these fantastically important senses every single day of our lives, and that includes the day we are born. Although newborns can’t see too well until their eyes become fully focused (at around 6 to 8 months), their hearing isn’t fully developed (until around one month old), and their taste buds only encounter milk until weaning begins, their other senses are already helping them to understand the world around them, which is essential for healthy growth and development.

Their other senses being smell and touch. And smell, although useful, will only account for a small percentage of a child’s ability to learn.

It is, perhaps, touch then that has the most profound impact on a child from the very start. When adults interact with a small child, they often automatically reach out to touch or stroke the baby, and certainly when holding the child they are stimulating the situation with the sense of touch. As soon as a baby is born, they are handed to their mother for skin to skin bonding. This isn’t just about holding a gorgeous newborn; this is about comfort and love and for your child to learn who is there to protect them from the start.

So baby massage, with its emphasis on gentle touching and soothing, is the next logical step for any parent who wishes to add another element to their child’s daily routine. An element that has many benefits other than simply being a pleasant thing to do (although that is certainly the case!).

Is Baby Massage Right for You and Your Baby?

There is nothing quite like the touch of another human being. A hug, a caress, a massage. Just being held is a wonderful experience that lowers blood pressure and makes both parties feel happy and secure. Babies may not understand everything that is going on around them, but they do understand the people who love them when they make literal contact with them. Sometimes that is all they need to know.

Amazingly, a newborn can soon distinguish between which parent is actually cuddling them, and their response is different depending on whether it is Mummy or Daddy.

And of course, baby massage allows for uninterrupted quiet time with your baby, which, in these busy days can sometimes be overlooked.

Although baby massage has been proven to strengthen the bond between the parent and child, will give your child confidence, calmness, and peace, and will even help your baby sleep well (and for longer), there are other fantastic reasons for getting involved in baby massage. These include easing the pain of wind, colic, or reflux, soothing eczema, and other skin complaints, and, for you, helping with symptoms of postnatal depression.

How To Start

You do not need any professional qualifications in order to begin soothing and relaxing your child, although it can be a slightly daunting idea at first. There are specific baby massage classes that are often run by local parent and child groups, and these can be very useful in giving you the confidence to get started. But don’t worry, there is no ‘one way’ to massage your baby. Do what seems right for you.

To start, you need to be in the right frame of mind. You need to be relaxed. You need to be calm. You need to be in a quiet, darkened space with no distractions and no chance of being disturbed (otherwise all your good work will be undone in seconds!). Make sure the television is off, your phone is elsewhere, and you are not playing any loud music. The idea is to keep the massage room in dim light. Speak in whispers if possible. Before you bring your baby into the room, make sure everything is ready, including a blanket or towel for them to lie on (a towel is good if you are using oils, as it can be washed easily), a fresh nappy, and warm clothes or another blanket for cuddling up in after the massage.

The Etiquette

Although it may feel strange at first, it is good to talk to your baby about what you are planning to do – as time goes by, they will associate the sound of your words (and eventually the words themselves) as the start of their massage time, and they will automatically become more relaxed and receptive. Before you touch each part of their body, say that you are going to do so (“I’m now going to touch your arm”, for example), and ask whether it is all right. You are building trust by doing this, even though your baby won’t be able to speak back to you to begin with. Since that is the case, it is essential that you watch your baby as you begin to massage them; if their reaction is not good, stop immediately. And never massage a poorly baby.

The Benefits

Massage is not simply a purely physical thing; it is emotional too, and it causes an attachment through touch. Massaging your child benefits you as it brings you closer to your baby, and it benefits the baby since it makes them more relaxed and content. Just enjoy the moment, and don’t worry about what is next on the agenda, or the washing up, or where you have to be at a certain time, or any of the other dozen things on today’s to do list. They are for later. Keep massage time purely as a moment of serenity for you and your baby, and enjoy it.

Massage increases blood flow, which in turn increases the number of endorphins that are present within the body. Endorphins are mood enhancing hormones that make us feel happy and puts us in a good mood. Not only that, but massage soothes pain and can ease constipation, wind, colic, and reflux. It improves oxygen flow which eases muscles and joints. And as a bonus, massage boosts the immune system too! With all these health benefits, baby massage is a wonderful way to keep your child fit and well in a way that will also strengthen the bond between you.

So why wait? Even if your child is older than newborn, introducing massage is still a great idea, and one that will become a fun, enjoyable part of your daily routine. If you need any advice or support, please do get in touch www.mummaloveorganics.com – we’re always happy to help.