How to Give a Bottle

images-1Giving a breastfed baby a bottle can excruciatingly painful for both you and the baby.  Here are some tips, for bottle feeding either formula or breastmilk.

1.  The bottle does matter. You decide on glass or plastic.  The important part of finding a good bottle is finding one that doesn’t leak! Leaking bottles are ineffective, messy and wasteful of good pumped milk.  Dr. Brown’s bottle are my favorite, I’ve tried a variety of other bottles including, Evenflo, Avent, Playtex, etc., Playtex bottles are the worst, they leak horribly.

2. Size Matters, kind of: If the bottle you’re getting comes with different nipple sizes make sure to get the appropriate one for your baby. Infants should have a size one, this part refers to the hole of the nipple, and how easily the milk will flow out.

Unknown

Flow can also be most effectively regulated by the adult giving the bottle.  Consider the base and actual protruding nipple size.  You might want to try to match the bottle nipple to that of the mothers nipple.  If the baby is used to a small nipple from mom, a huge nipple from the bottle will likely gag your baby.

3. Baby Position: Baby can be in varying positions but most commonly in the cradle hold.  The difference being that the baby should be seated up a little more rather than lying in the traditional cradle hold.  With bottle babies naturally take in more air, its best for them to be more upright.

For the first few feedings it might be best to turn the baby away from your chest, just slightly so she doesn’t try to root, which will only frustrate her.

Try: Cradle hold, baby upright at 45 degree angle, and slightly turned away from the chest.

4. Don’t shove the bottle in her mouth.  Tickle your babies lips with the nipple of the bottle, and when she opens her mouth only put part of the nipple in. She will suck in the rest of the nipple when she is ready-let her guide herself, she knows what she’s doing!

5. Bottle Angle.  Contrary to popular belief, avoid turning the bottle straight down so the milk fills up the whole nipple. This causes milk to poor out of the nipple which is likely to frustrate your baby because she is getting more than she can swallow. Keep the bottle basically horizontal (depending on how full it is) so that only half of the nipple fills with milk. This way your baby has to work a little for the milk she gets. This is especially important if your baby is also breastfeeding because getting milk from the breast can be more work for her than getting it from a free flowing silicone nipple.It’s important to keep her sucking consistent so she doesn’t lose her sucking technique and doesn’t begin to prefer bottle over breast (unlikely scenario). The horizontal angle also helps to prevents milk from pouring out of her mouth and from her gagging.

 

Advertisements

Cloth Wipes

Unknown2Cloth Wipes:  If you’re using cloth diapers, you really might as well us cloth wipes.  While you can buy cloth wipes, you can also easily make them…if you have a sewing machine and the time to cut the squares and make some stitches.  Unfortunately, I can’t speak to certain cloth wipe brands but here are some that have been recommended to me, Softbums organic bamboo wipes and Tender Bottoms.

thumbnail.asp

How to use:  You can use the cloth wipes dry or wet.  Dry: you’ll spray your baby’s butt with either water or some kind of baby butt solution (there are a lot of solutions you can buy, or make yourself.)  Wet: you’ll have a wipe solution, or water in a bowl, which you will put the dry wipe into.  Some of the sites I’ve linked to recommend having a wipe warmer, however this product seems unnecessary to me.

Video

How-to: Making Cloth Diapers

Here is a how-to video on making cloth diapers, I thought this would be appropriate considering my last post.  You can find your own pattern online, but I’ll also provide you with some links.

images

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.

 

 

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.

Crying Babies and Screaming Adults

We’ve all been at playgroups when the inevitable screams of a parent/caregiver demanding their irritable-tantrum-raged toddler to “Stop! You’re being so bad! We’re going home!” resound over the screams of the toddler, demanding the question: Who’s having the tantrum, the child, or the adult?

The thing that makes, or breaks, a public tantrum is the parent/caregiver’s reaction to the crying child. Does the adult keep his/her composure, or, out of embarrassment and frustration, loose it as well?  The reason a crying child can be unbearable isn’t because of the child, it’s because of the screaming adult accompanying the child.  Screaming attempts to “Stop!” your child from being upset only fuels the fire, that is your screaming child.

Like adults, children have bad days; unlike adults they haven’t yet learned to control their emotions, leading them to display, publicly, just how upset they are with slight signs of frustration, or massive tantrums.  Sometimes a child can be calmed down with an easy fix of a clean diaper, meal, a nap or a calm conversation. Other times, there isn’t a ‘thing’ to be fixed. They’re just in a funk and there isn’t much a parent or caregiver can do to stop it. I’m not saying we should accept crankiness, nor am I saying we should praise our children when they aren’t fussy.  What I think is important is that we (adults) maintain our composure, even while our children are completely loosing it.

We can try to help them calm down, by figuring out if they are hungry, sleepy, or need a new diaper but after those things are checked off, there isn’t much we can do other than talk to them calmly and explain the situation at hand to them.

At the beginning of any given day I discuss with ‘my’ toddler what the day will entail, whether it’s a fun play-date or a not so-fun doctor appointment.  I believe, (as I’ve stated in other posts) that preparing our babies/toddlers for the days activities and involving them makes it less likely a tantrum will occur.

If a tantrum does occur in public I try not to leave right away, or at all.  I try to figure out if there is something I can do, by talking calmly and understandingly to the child. Giving the toddler time to adjust to the new environment and people is key.  She may just need 15 minutes to realize that she’s safe where she is.  Running out because she’s crying, or wont leave my side, will not teach her independence or patience, because I’m not allowing her time to adjust.

Most everyone can excuse and empathize with a screaming child; the same does not go for an angry, screaming adult.

If you’re out in public and your baby/toddler starts to scream or cry remain calm and remind yourself that everyone with kids has been here.  Try to figure out what’s upsetting your child, if there’s something you can do to make it better, do it, but if they’re just in a funk, leave them alone.  Talk to your child calmly and reassuringly. This will go a long way in calming both of you down and will relax the people around you.

I cannot count the times that saying something like “I understand how you’re feeling, take your time” or “I understand you’re upset right now, but we are around other people, so lets try to be a little quiet” has led to a calm child.  When I say these things it calms me down and it also works to calm down the toddler.

Children want to be acknowledged in their frustration, saying things like the above can completely turn a mood around.

So if talking to your child calmly and reassuringly works so well…(sometimes,) why don’t people use this tactic more? My guess is, people think it’s just too simple, we have it in our minds, our way of thinking, that we must talk them out of their frustration with negative reinforcement, “Stop!…We’re going home!…” when most of the time a calm and understanding tone will do the trick.

Leave when necessary, but don’t chastise your child for it (unless they are hitting, or pushing.) Use your judgment, but you don’t have to run out of a playgroup because your child is upset, give them some time to adjust to the new environment and people.

If you’re at a ceremony of some kind you should leave, know your audience.  If there are tons of kids, and it’s a kid event, stick around.  If you’re at an adult gathering, head outside for a bit until your child calms down.

Things you can do to avoid and calm public tantrums:

  • Prepare them for the day, talk about the new class, play-date or activity for the day.  If they know what’s coming and are excited, its less likely they’ll be overwhelmed upon arrival.
  • Try to figure out what’s wrong and help them if it’s something “fixable”.
  • Reassure them, e.g. “Everything is ok, we are going to play here for a bit and then we can leave.”
  • Be understanding, e.g. “I understand you’re frustrated…”

What’s Up Dogs?

I was recently asked by first time parents of a toddler how I, “deal with their [children’s] dog obsession?” I assumed (correctly) the question related to safety rather than the weaning off of dogs. Not all dogs love to be touched, poked and sat on by children.  So, here is what I do when that inevitable dog obsession takes over our little people.

As I’ve repeated in most of my posts, explain everything early, dealing with dog obsessions is no different.  Teach your kids early, meaning in the first few months of their life, how and how not to touch living things.

Before the obsession begins, I always show babies/toddlers how and how not to touch dogs, you can show this by using books, stuffed animals and real dogs.  I show babies to touch gently, by lightly stroking or patting an image, stuffed animal or real dog.  Most parents and caregivers have witnessed their baby/toddler smack, throw or be rough in some other way with stuffed animals.  I use these opportunities to correct, show and explain how “we touch animals.”

Like most things children learn behavior from watching the adults in their life and then copying that behavior themselves. Because I am cautious, I always approach the dog first. The steps involved are as follows:

  1. Ask the owner if the dog is okay with being petted and with small children.
  2. After a positive response from the owner I put my hand to the dogs nose, giving him time to give me his okay.
  3. I then pet the dog.
  4. After I say it’s okay, I tell her to repeat what she saw me do.

The toddler I watch knows how to approach a dog and how to pet the dog. She knows this from watching me and from practicing being gentle at home with her books and stuffed animals. She knows to ask me first (I assess by first asking the owner and then going to the dog myself), with my approval she knows to put her hand to the dogs nose and after a few “okay” sniffs she knows to, again, wait my approval and then go in for the nice gentle petting I’ve shown her.  She knows to do all of this from watching me and listening to my endless explanations of why some dogs don’t like to be touched, even gently.  And when a dog doesn’t want to be touched, or I say “No,” because the dog is barking at her stroller, she understands with abundant disappointment…that is, until the next dog appears.

Stay Calm

Parents, nannies, and friends often wonder at my “ability” to stay calm and patient when dealing with children, especially toddlers.  I’m commonly asked shyly, sometimes bitterly, by parents and nannies how I remain so calm when “They walk so slow…Ask the same question over and over…Have a tantrum.”

My ability to remain calm and patient isn’t because I have a super power calm/patient gene. To the contrary, I’m quite impatient in daily life, when dealing with adults.  I am calm and patient with children because I consciously decide that being calm, patient and taking the time to listen and explain is the best way to teach kids these behaviors.

First off, let me say I too get frustrated.  Even after my conscious, educated decision that this “is the best way of parenting and co-parenting.”  I have moments when I too would like to move at a reasonable pace. I think, perhaps we will make it one full block without 5-10, stoop-stops, pebble- stops, adjustments of exactly what she wants to carry as we walk-stops.

During these moments of frustration, I remind myself that we are moving so slowly, that I need to repeat exactly why we have to leave the sandbox, not because I’m dealing with a fall-over, incoherent drunk, but a small child, who does deserve patience and explanations as she learns how to walk and talk and everything else.  I remind myself how wonderful it is that she takes everything in, and then I too can look at the scenery and smell the flowers with her—because when do we do this as adults in New York City?

Remember that letting your child walk allows him to practice new skills, gives him independence and even tuckers him out for a later nap.  This isn’t an anything goes experience, if you actually have to be somewhere explain to your baby/toddler why you must carry him or put him in the stroller.

Here are some tips to get you through the slow walks, and repetitive conversations:

Every day, multiple times a day, remind yourself that everything is going to take two-times as long, and that is okay.

I learned long ago to never stress about time when dealing with toddlers (an attribute I do not maintain in my adult, daily life: I am known as extremely, and maybe annoyingly punctual.)  If you, like myself, have always been a punctual, quick paced person, the slow movements of your life with a toddler will be a more difficult transition.

Assess if you actually have to be somewhere, or if you’re just ready to leave.

When you are asking your toddler to move faster because you “have to go!” assess what exactly you need to leave for.  We are in the habit, especially as New Yorkers, of going places, doing things.  Because of this on-the-go-mentality, we often assume after being somewhere for 20 minutes that we “MUST” leave, but maybe that isn’t true. If you don’t actually have to be somewhere, like a playdate, or doctor appointment let your toddler walk. He has just learned this amazing new thing, so be patient and take your time.  Remember that when you are calm and patient, you are simultaneously teaching him calmness and patience.

Getting ready to go:

So, you do have to be somewhere.  Allot two-four times the amount of time to get yourself, and baby/toddler ready.

My ease with children and the reason I don’t stress about time is because I allot a significant, literally two to four times, more time to get myself and baby ready, and the same goes for getting to the place.  If we are going on foot to a play-date, doctor appointment, class, etc., I decide beforehand whether we are going to take the stroller, or just walk.  I try as much as I can to allow enough time for her to walk, at least part of the way.   A walk that would take me 10 minutes, I decide will take me, and toddler 40 minutes and I leave the house accordingly (Yes, I know I tacked on 30 minutes for a one way trip-this gives us leeway, so I’m not stressed.)

Get everything you can get ready while baby/toddler naps.

I always get her diaper bag stocked with the things I’ll need, or might need.  If we’re out for the day this means any of the below:

-Water/milk bottles.

-Diapers.

-Wet whips.

-Bib.

-Extra cloth bib, for other cleanups.

-Change of clothes.

-A book or 2.

-Food (If you’re out for lunch or dinner.)

-Blanket.

-Hat.

-Sunscreen.

-Bathing suit.

-Sweater.

*Have yourself ready too!

Prepare them for the activity.

While you’re getting your baby/toddler ready to go, explain what you guys are doing (As I describe in my previous post “Baby Talk.”)  Prepare them for the activity, this will help them understand they are apart of it and can also be a motivator for them to move more quickly.

Ask them to keep walking with you and explain why.

If we are in a time-crunch, I’ll ask her nicely to “come along,” and I’ll explain to her why we need to move faster, with information that will likely excite her. “We have to get home to see Mama and Dada…We have a playdate with (name of good friend).” Filling them in on the details is always helpful, especially if what you’re doing is fun.

If you need them to move faster, be fun and make a game out of it!

Another nanny, and mother, I know sings a cute song while marching, the kids love it and always happily follow along.

Remember that like everyone, toddlers are going to be less likely to be motivated by an irritated tone. Stay calm and relaxed. Speak to them kindly, not only for their benefit, but for yours as well.  If you speak in a calm voice with some excitement about what you are doing, it will motivate them, and also, amazingly, make you excited and will rid you of your irritation.