How to hold a Breastfeeding baby for caregivers and spouses

Holding a breastfeeding infant can be a challenge for anyone other than the breastfeeding mom. We want to hold babies close to our bodies partially because instinct tells us this is right, and also because of typical media images.  Baby books, TV shows and movies all show us the two typical ways to hold babies.  One hold makes baby happy (cradle hold) and one sad (out, away from body.) The latter hold is always performed by the unknowing, un-maternal/paternal adult holding a baby straight out, arms fully extended away from their body, and the baby hovering in the air hysterical.

But, what if a less dramatic version of the out-and-away hold is actually better, less upsetting and confusing for the baby?

The reason the cradle, hug-baby-in, hold doesn’t always work for breastfeeding infants is simply because they associate that hold, the closeness of it with breastfeeding. So, instead of the baby becoming calm, she may instead begin to root images-1(beginning signs she wants to eat) and unless you’re also giving bottles you can’t soothe her in the way she wants.  Instead a modified football hold might be best. [Elbow at your side, baby laying longways on your arm, and arm extended out.]

images

 

Signs baby is rooting and therefore likely to become upset with the non-breastfeeding adult:

-Trying to lick or suck on your arm, chest, neck…anywhere.

-Burrowing into your chest, arm.

-Baby rubs hand on your chest/breast.

-Crying when diaper is dry, and has recently slept.

Sometimes infants are perfectly content in the cradle position, but usually only for a limited time. I try to hold b.f. infants in the modified football hold, very high up on my shoulder, and on my legs, while sitting.

Next time you have a fussy infant, and you see any of the rooting signs try changing your hold, so that the baby is away from your chest. If the baby has recently eaten, you’ll find she will likely immidiately be calmed once away from your chest.

Talking Back

images….I don’t mean the dreaded talk back you’ll soon get from your teenage kids.  I’m referring to the talk back I practice with babies and toddlers in order to stimulate language and social skills. I was recently asked by a mom what I recommend to influence unprompted responses from toddlers.  An example, of what I consider a prompted, pushed response would be:

Adult: “What color is the flower?….you know what it is, what is it?…..Please tell me what color the flower is.”

Versus:

unprompted: Adult: ” I like the colors of these flowers.” Child: “I like the pink one.”

Getting to this point, in my opinion happens with consistent talk back, from the adult, from the very beginning. Some parent’s find “talk back” annoying and an aspect of overparenting, but I think it’s a very useful tool in getting babies and toddlers to learn how to say words, and to show them we understand and care about what they have to say.  Hopefully this talk back leads them to feel socially valued and thus more willing to speak unprompted.

Questions:

When your child is learning to talk, make sure to create conversation and ask them questions. Try not to solely ask, what-animal-is-that-questions, ask them free-response questions about their day, where right and wrong don’t necessarily come into play.

Repeat:

When your baby/toddler is first learning how to talk, and or learning new words, repeat what he said back, this will show him a few things:  1. That you understood him. 2. That you care what he says. 3. That you are listening.

Repetition is a great way for children to learn new information. Repeating words and sentences back also insures that you understood what your child is saying, and is a chance for you to annunciate the words correctly for your child to hear and learn.

Toys Toys Toys

UnknownDo you depend too heavily on made for baby/toddler toys? It’s easy to use solely store-bought toys, especially when given to you for free at baby showers, but maybe it’s time to step back, and look in your house and outside for the stimulation your kids need.

You really don’t have to stock up on a ton of baby-deemed toys (other than books) to get your child’s interest, house-ware can be just as stimulating, if not more so.  From my many years of experience with infant-3 years I’ve found that they are most stimulated, and interested in real-world, purposeful objects around the house.  Bookshelves and the books in them become a mecca for defining fine motor skills, i.e., taking the books out and putting them back.

For infants and toddlers, gaining physical control of their bodies is a huge educational feat, from rolling over and reaching for objects, to fine motor-skills, like holding a crayon, so I try to make sure activities and toys influence them physically. Reaching for a stuffed animal or textured, colorful towel is good for their motor skills. As they get older, and more physically capable, putting objects inside each other serves a similar purpose.  You can buy blocked/stackable toys, but you can also use different sized tupperware or boxes to create the same effect.

What I look for in a toy or house-hold made toy is that it serves 1 of the 5 senses, touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight.  Most store bought toys easily include touch and sight, when hearing is involved the sounds emanating from said toy are usually arbitrary.  Music around your house would be much for influential, for tonal patterns, beats and rhythm, and, lets face it, far more enjoyable for the adults.  My point is, infants and toddlers need to be stimulated, consistently with objects, things and people that influence their 5 senses, and most of the time you can find these things in your house.

When we depend solely on store-bought toys we can easily forget about 2 senses which are typically excluded, smell and taste. It also becomes easy to assume that “educational” toys are doing the education, so we don’t have to. But this isn’t true, as parents and caregivers we need to consistently talk about what they are doing, seeing, touching, hearing, smelling and tasting.  It’s fun to think about all of the educational resources around us at all times that we, as adults take for granted, but will thoroughly intrigue and stimulate our babies.

Touch/physical:  Textured objects, this can be anything, cloth, wood, plants/flowers, rocks, paper, etc. When your baby starts to eat solids this is an amazing time for them to explore textures, and amazingly it includes all 5 senses! Hearing? Yes, if you consider the noise of squishing their food, or smacking a spoon against their plate, and adults talking about the food your baby is eating. Everything I listed can be easily found in house, or outside, i.e, plants, flowers, rocks.

Taste: Taste is something store-bought toys do not have (I don’t think….) As I said above, food is a great educational source, because it stimulates all senses.  When your baby is eating, talk about the food, what the food is, the texture and the taste.

Smell: Flowers, soap, food: Smell is also something typically excluded from store-bought toys, so we have to go in house or outside for these resources.

Hearing/Language: Music, books, drumming on objects in the house…really anything, toy or otherwise can stimulate language, all we have to do as adults is talk about what they are seeing, i.e., colors, animals, numbers, etc.

Sight: Everything!! You don’t need to buy colorful toys (you can, but you don’t need to) everything in your house and outside when coupled with some kind dialogue can stimulate sight awareness.

Some store-bought toys I do like: BOOKS!! Puzzles and blocks, and art supplies.

Examples of toys I find useless: Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Poppity Pop Musical Dino,

Related articles

Quote

Tattling vs. Telling

What Kids Want Us to Know

As a mother, I find several behaviors very annoying. Fortunately for me, my kids are too old for my least favorites. Whining is at the top of the list; I am especially annoyed when the first request is made in a whiny voice. [Kids, if you have to whine, please at least wait until your parents have said no.] Hmm, perhaps I should write a post about that.

Today’s post is about number two on the list: tattling. According to Merriam-Webster, tattle means “to tell a parent, teacher, etc., about something bad or wrong that another child has done.” I add to that definition, “in order to get the child into trouble.” All teachers and all parents with more than one child know too well how much children enjoy tattling. Mom, Cathy took my car! That’s ’cause he was touching my juice box! Well, she called me stupid! Only because…

View original post 1,233 more words

Cloth Diapers: Discussed

cloth-diapers-works-snaps-new-300x209

Disposable diapers, on the national level, have been a topic of discussion for some time because of their negative environmental footprint.  This environmental awareness has also led to a social pointing-of-fingers at playgroups and parenting sites.  The people who cloth diaper their babies are the best, and the people who don’t just don’t care about the environment, right?   Well, it’s not that simple, you know that.

While there are a lot of people who choose disposables for pure/mythical convenience, i.e., no extra laundry (true) and, no mess (myth!) A lot of people do not have the convenience of being environmentally friendly.

The choice between cloth or disposable diapers, could easily be described as a “white person problem.”  While the process of cloth diapering might be thought of as more time-consuming, and inconvenient, there certainly is a convenience, in being able to make this personal, and financial decision.  In order to successfully use cloth diapers you need:

$$$

Financial Costs:  While the accumulated, total cost of cloth diapers is less, the immediate, out of pocket cost, is more than purchasing a one-month supply of disposables.  This can be a huge factor for people of lower income choosing disposables over cloth; it’s a difference between say an immediate, one-time cost of $300-500 for cloth, versus a continual monthly cost of $70-100 for disposables.  The latter is a lot easier to swing for people on a month-to-month paycheck.

*I feel a rebuttal coming on:  Making you’re own cloth diapers out of shirts, towels and other cloth:  This is a great alternative, but it is time consuming, and for someone working 50-70 hour weeks this might not make personal sense.

Access to, or funds for washing machine/diaper service: This is an extra cost, and if you live in an apartment, or public housing you will likely not have a personal washing machine, and most laundromats will not let you wash diapers in their facility.

*If you have the time, you can wash diapers at home by boiling water on the stove, again another time and personal cost.

Stay-at-home parent/caregiver:  Did you know that day-cares only accept disposable diapers?  So, if you’re of lower income, and are unable to be a stay-at-home parent or provide in-home care for your baby you will likely send your baby to day-care, meaning you must use disposables.

All of this being said, I think cloth diapers are great, and I plan on using them when I have children, because I have the convenience of making this decision both personally and financially.   It’s important to be aware of the social and financial costs for people, and why that might lead to a parent not making an environmentally friendly diapering decision, so let’s not point fingers.

Below I’ve linked to some websites, which debunk, and sometimes confirm some myths of cloth diapering, such as (inconvenience and mess) and other sites that discuss the why’s and how-to’s of cloth diapering.  For more information and testimonials on cloth diapering, check out some of the sites below:

The Diaper Bank: 

“The vast majority of licensed day care centers do not accept cloth diapers, and require parents and caregivers to provide a steady supply of disposable diapers.”

The Eco Friendly Family:

What about those that only have access to community laundry facilities? It can be done!  Many families do use cloth with limited access to washing machines.  I recommend going with a simpler diaper like prefolds and/or a hybrid system like Flip.  The covers can be wiped out or hand washed easily and the durable inserts may handle being washed just once a week better than more complex diapering systems.”

Real Diaper Association:

“For cloth diapering, each family will probably need about 6 dozen diapers10.  The cost of cloth diapering can vary considerably, from as low as $300 for a basic set-up of prefolds and covers11, to $1000 or more for organic cotton fitted diapers and wool covers…. This means the cost of cloth diapering is about one tenth the cost of disposables12, and you can spend even less by using found objects (old towels & T-shirts).”

Healthychildren.org:

“…. A number of scientific studies have found that both cloth and disposable diapers have environmental effects, including raw material and energy usage, air and water pollution, and waste disposal. Disposable diapers add 1 to 2 percent to municipal solid waste, while cloth diapers use more energy and water in laundering and contribute to air and water pollution.”

Babble: 

If you’re going the cloth diaper route, this site rates some brands.

Eating, Right?

imagesFirst, lets get rid of the myth that babies and children won’t like vegetables. Okay, good.  Some tastes and textures might not immediately suit your child’s undeveloped palate, but with consistent attempts, they will, more often than not, learn to like and even love the bitterness of kale and the gooeyness of tomatoes’ innards (my personal feat 19 years ago.)

We shouldn’t assume or prepare for picky eaters.

Lets avoid saying things like “this is something new, but lets try it anyway.” And lets not stand by biting our nails, preparing for a food fight (not the fun kind.)  Our children’s reluctance to eat vegetables will arise from these verbal and physical cues, so sit back, relax and assume your kid will love veggies and fruit. And if you’re a person who doesn’t like broccoli or avocado, try hiding it for the sake of your child’s nutrition.

We shouldn’t give into our kids’ food related demands.

What we spend time making for our kid should be the food they eat.  I’m not saying they need to finish every last bite; to the contrary, they don’t even have to eat it, we simply should not make them mac and cheese after we’ve spent any amount of time creating a well-balanced meal.

If I provide a well-rounded meal of, quinoa and tofu, with sides of, spinach, tomatoes, cheese and blueberries that will be the only food provided at that given meal.  If the toddler demands a peanut butter sandwich I will not make it, and neither should you. I don’t refuse her cries for a peanut butter sandwich out of pure power of authority.  I refuse her demands for two reasons. First, because I spent time making her a meal that is nutritious. Second, because this is a teaching moment.  She will learn to like, and try, other foods if that is what she is given.  She will not learn to try, and like, other foods if I make her a peanut butter sandwich every time she asks for it.

That being said…

While I won’t make a whole new meal, I do ask the child I watch if she would like anything in particular, or I offer her a few options she can choose from. If she asks for something specific, I’ll often incorporate it into the meal, unless she wants ice cream and cupcakes.  Doing this makes her a part of the food preparation process, and allows her to make decisions, within certain guidelines.

Well-rounded meals should include:

Veggies: raw/steamed/roasted veggies. I recommend giving veggies plain, without butter or salt.  While we might think raw veggies taste plain, to our baby’s undeveloped/uncorrupted palate, raw veggies offer an array of exotic tastes and textures that don’t need to be enhanced.  Once they can appreciate and enjoy raw veggies then you can incorporate butter, oils, and sauces.

Fruits: (With no added sugars.)

Grains: Preferably whole grains such as, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa (actually a seed,) etc.

Protein: Meat, soy, beans, fish, (avocado!)

Making mealtime more enjoyable.

This task can be difficult for no reason other than our own impatience.  Prepare yourself for the time-consuming mess this process will be, but it can also be really fun for you and your baby! When you’re first introducing your baby to food (other than breast-milk/formula) there are a few fundamental things I recommend to help in creating a stress free environment.

Getting Started:

  1. 1.Don’t worry about the mess! It’s going to be messy, it’s just something we have to accept and once you do so, you can (calmly) let your baby explore and touch his food.  *This isn’t an all things goes scenario; Don’t let them: throw food, or put feet on the table.  As they get older table manners can become more extensive.
  2. Things you can do to limit some of the mess:  Strip your baby down to their diaper, this way you wont have to spend 20 minutes scrubbing out the inevitable food splatter.  I recommend getting rubber/wipe down bibs such as, baby bjorn bib.
  3. Try to sit down and eat with your baby.  Watching you eat will interest and motivate them to copy your eating habits. And yes, you too should eat some vegetables, if for no other reason than to set a good example.
  4. Give them time.  Make sure you have at least 40 minutes open to let them “try” to eat.  As adults we often eat too quickly, squeezing in the “annoying” yet necessary task. These are unhealthy habits for us, so lets not pass it onto our kids.  The process will be much more enjoyable if you can forget about the clock and let your baby explore and maybe eat the food.
  5. Don’t spoon-feed them!  Let your baby do it on his own, using his hands at first and eventually graduating to utensils. I got this tip from Baby-led Weaning and it proved to be very helpful in making the eating process more successful and enjoyable. When we spoon-feed our babies we do it at our pace, too fast for our little ones.  When we rush them, we also frustrate them and ourselves. Let them have a (literal) hands-on experience with their food.
  6. They might not eat, that’s okay. Don’t force them to eat, they might just look and touch their food the first few times.  Eventually they will want to try their food, so don’t panic if they don’t eat right away.  It’s a new experience for them.

Some things from Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

1. Course your child’s meals out: You can either use this method all the time or    specifically if you’re having trouble getting your toddler to try something new.  Whatever food your kid might be resisting (veggies, fruits, or other), try bringing this food out first, and alone. If that food is the only option your toddler will be much more likely to try it, after they eat all of it (or at least try it,) bring the next course out.

2. Cool it on snack time(s):  Stick with: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner.  Not: Breakfast, Snack, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner. I’ve always disliked the amount we (Americans) depend on snack-times to occupy and settle our children. Having multiple snack times a day, it seems to me, could create a breeding ground for future food dependency.

Why:  Besides the possibility of later food dependency, the immediate outcomes of an all day snacking habit can be that they won’t eat well during their actual mealtimes, because they aren’t hungry! They are also much more likely to act out during mealtime because they are not focused on their meal …because they are not hungry! If your kid isn’t focused or eating well at mealtimes, assess how much you’re letting them snack during the day, and what they are snacking on.

How to not snack in the U.S.: Druckerman recognizes that in the U.S. it is difficult to break the snacking routine, because your kids will constantly be around others who are snacking, and also sharing their food.  I’ve set out on outings without snacks, on purpose, so that the child I watch will be hungry and interested in eating during mealtime.  My plan often fails because the other parents and nannies we are out with have abundant, ready to share, snacks.  So, I’ve devised a system.  I bring light snacks such as, raisins, oranges, grapes and apples, broccoli.  These fruits and veggies obviously count as snacks, but they are not loaded with filling carbs, like most other snacks parents and nannies bring.

 

 

Ear Safety

UnknownParents and nannies have different methods of occupying an upset baby.  Some talk to them, sing to them, or ask them to practice some new skill. (My personal favorite.) And others simply put earbuds (headphones) in their little ones ears, to keep them silent, occupied and…. possible deaf.

Years ago, I had to explain to a first time mother not to put q-tips in her infant’s ear. One year ago, I saw an infant, who couldn’t have been more than 3 weeks old at a blaring concert.  And now, with the accessibility and abundance of smart phones, I see babies listening to music via the mini-speakers shoved in their ears daily.

Parents and nannies seem prepared for various safety issues via experience, books, doctor’s advice, etc., but ear safety has proved to be widely overlooked.  The instances above have been replicated, especially the q-tip example, by literally all of my employers. It’s not that they don’t care, ear safety just isn’t thought about the same as real, possible cause-of-death scenarios, such as, drowning, falling or chocking.

If you look around any train, or on the street you will likely see adults and teens with earbuds in, listening so loudly to music you yourself, ten feet away, can make out the lyrics to _____ . This is our music and sound culture, i.e. loud is better, so of course parents and caregivers forget their child’s ear sensitivity, we disregard our own daily.

Why it’s important:

Ears are sensitive and incredibly important, not only for hearing and speech, but motor functions as well, like balance.  For infants, toddlers and kids the ear is at a much higher risk of damage because it has just developed, like the rest of their bodies and minds.  When we put too-small objects, such as q-tips into babies ears (and our own) we risk damaging the inner ear, which could cause hearing, speech, and motor function damage.  The same goes for too-loud noises, such as music from speakers or headphones/earbuds.  Setting the volume low does not necessarily insure that it will stay low, especially with our phone savvy babies.

Things not to do:

  • Don’t put music/TV up too loud around babies.
  • Don’t put earbuds in your baby’s ears or any headphones for that matter.  The volume may adjust and become much too loud.
  • Don’t let your baby put her/his fingers in their ears.
  • Don’t put q-tips in your baby’s ear.

Cleaning your baby’s Ears:

If you want to clean your baby’s ear, simply use a washcloth or tissue, and lightly clean the outer part of the ear.

Character Matters

Tall Nanny, Small Nanny, Slow Nanny, Fast Nanny: How many different nannies you meet! 

How to choose a nanny:  This is the topic of conversation in Park Slope. Speaking with parents on this subject has led me to believe a lot of parents go into the process of finding a nanny, with, well, not much of a process at all.  This shocks me because Park Slope parents are notorious for being overbearing in every other aspect of child rearing. Parents spend hours, weeks, maybe months, carefully choreographing their 5 month-old’s weekly class schedule (dance, music, art, etc.)  Yet, not much thought seems to go into the person who will spend 40+ hours a week with their child.

Of course parents think and care about who watches their children, but without a clear structure, or rubric to choose a nanny they become overwhelmed, the process becomes something akin to shopping in a grocery store: pick one important “no” ingredient i.e. high fructose corn syrup, and ignore the rest.

Looking back about a year and a half ago, before I got my current job, I put myself on SitterCity, a website designed for nannies and parents.  I remember the submissions by parents including such things as “flexible hours, experience,” but then the requirements often leaped to language… “Must be fluent in…” most popular being Spanish, but because I’m in New York, more obscure languages such as, Hungarian, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Russian enter into the mix. After hours, wage, language, and maybe education, that’s about it in terms of job requirements.  The process is similar to any other job someone may get (Cook, Lawyer, Waitress, etc.,) unbiased to personal character.  The problem with this is that being a nanny is not like any other job, your character does matter, or it should.

I think choosing the right nanny should, ideally, include elements of character (values, lifestyle, religion, etc.,) The key is for parents to decide, even loosely, what’s important to them, both as an employer and parent (monetary vs. character).  This part can be difficult because it takes time to decide what is important to you in someone’s character, should their values, religion/non-religion, match yours or do you want variation?

The truth is, if you have a full time nanny that nanny is going to have a pretty significant impact on your child, in more ways then you can see.  It can be small things or big things, maybe you’re an atheist but your nanny is a god-loving woman or man and is preaching the Bible all day.  Maybe you don’t want you’re child to be a racist, because, who wants their child to be a racist? But, guess what, your nanny is a racist. Maybe you’re healthy, but your nanny eats all day and is extremely over weight? This is not only a safety issue: what your nanny is physically capable of in terms of protecting your child from harm, it also becomes a character issue: will your child also learn to over eat, or use food for comfort? All of these things matter, your children will learn from the behaviors of the person near them, meaning parents, and also caregivers.  So be critical of their character, because unlike other jobs their personality and character matter.

So, what would this look like? Below is a loose list of what is most important to me, and my partner, that is, if we were in the market for a nanny.  You’ll notice that business (salary, sick days, paid vacation, etc.) is the last item, this is in an ideal situation where financial constraints do not apply, where I can choose my child’s nanny based on her character and experience, not on her low rates.

  1. Character matters: I would want my child’s nanny to have similar values as my partner and I.
  2. Experience.
  3. Parenting: I absolutely would want my child’s nanny to have a similar parenting style as my partner and I.
  4. Dietary:  I would want my child around someone who is healthy; carnivore, vegetarian, vegan: I don’t care. But I do care if they eat all day, and go to McDonalds with my kid.
  5. In Shape: I don’t mean a muscle builder, just someone healthily mobile. If my child runs into the street can my nanny run after him?
  6. Doesn’t watch TV on the job
  7.  *Business:  This includes salary, time off, paid vacation, sick days, Health Insurance, etc.             *And, yes, these should all be included for a full-time nanny position.

What this means:  I want my kids to have a consistent upbringing. For others this might be different, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it is important to think about, and figure out, what is most important to you as parents.  Obviously money comes into play for most, which may limit your options, or may not because low and high salaries do not necessary correlate to the dedication/character of the nanny. A lot of nannies don’t know what they’re worth (please don’t take advantage of that,) and some nannies think they’re worth way more than they are.

When you’re getting ready to hire a nanny think about what you want: make a list of character traits you want your nanny to have, and a list of more business end things: experience, flexibility, job duties and pay. When it comes time to open your pocket book remember that this person, the person of your choosing, who ideally matches your criteria is spending 40+ hours a week with your child. The nanny you choose will play a significant role in building your child’s character, emotional capacity, education, etc., so pick your nanny wisely and pay accordingly. And if you’re not sure you can afford certain rates, consider your life style.  Maybe it’s worth it to give up some extra luxuries, like a fancy car or cable TV in order to ensure your child has a proper upbringing.

Splinters

When your baby or toddler gets a splinter, first, don’t panic. It’s just a splinter. Second, deal with it, don’t let the splinter stick around.  Don’t force it out with tweezers, or dig at it with a needle the way you might with yourself.

Instead of digging around in your child’s skin with tweezers use a warm washcloth to ease the splinter out.  Tweezers can push the splinter and bacteria deeper in, and cause unnecessary pain.

Press a warm and clean washcloth over the skin where the splinter is, and try to hold the cloth there for 5 minutes if possible.  Repeat this multiple times in the day until the splinter emerges.  If your child gets frustrated from this, take a break.

Bath-time is a great opportunity to sneak this in; your child will be distracted and also isolated to the tub, making it easier for you.  If it isn’t bath-time, just plop your kid in anyway, they’ll enjoy just playing in the tub.