Baby (and mother) Friendly Hospital Initiative

The Baby-Friendly hospital initiative was created in 1991, and now spans across many countries. If you’re expecting a child, and aim to have a more humanistic, breastfeeding friendly experience look up what, if any hospitals in your area are Baby-Friendly. Unfortunately the U.S., is lacking in these hospitals, especially in low-income marginalized communities.

Baby-Friendly hospitals must follow a 10 step program, ensuring best practices in terms of breastfeeding initiation and support. Among other practices here are a few most important steps taken to support the mother and baby Mothers are encouraged to do Skin-to-Skin, placing baby immediately after birth, or as soon as possible on mothers chest. Pacifiers and other soothers are not to be used. Formula is not provided, or encouraged unless specifically requested by the mother. And mothers and babies are encouraged to room-in together, so as to assure breastfeeding on demand.

The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

To help in the implementation of the initiative, different tools and materials were developed, field-tested and provided, including a course for maternity staff, a self-appraisal tool and an external assessment tool. Additional tools were developed afterwards, such as monitoring and reassessment tools. Since its launching BFHI has grown, with more than 152 countries around the world implementing the initiative. The initiative has measurable and proven impact, increasing the likelihood of babies being exclusively breastfed for the first six months. -WHO site

Advertisements

Butt Rash?

There’s almost nothing sadder than a baby with horrible diaper rash-they cry, they scream, and they stiffen up like a board when you try to, ever-so-gentily, wipe their bottom.

Unknown-1Best Solutions:  I personally like to let baby/toddler lay or walk around the house Winnie the Pooh style, that is diaperless. Obviously the risk factor is you might end up with poop or pee on the ground, or on you.  To avoid this take baby or toddler to the toilet directly after feedings, you can kind of use the elimination communication practice.  I recommend throwing on clothes you don’t care much about. If you have carpeting or rugs try to keep them out of those rooms, hardwood or tile will be much easier to clean!  If your baby isn’t crawling or walking, and you want to lay her down, put down a clean, old blanket or towel so she can get some comfy floor time. Besides for the possible accidents, the diaperless method works the best, especially for the more severe rashes.

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste:  This stuff works pretty well, it weirds me out, just a little, because it’s so thick, but it works! You can also do a combination of the paste and naked bottom.

Prevention:  The best way to prevent a rash is by frequently changing your little one’s diaper. Many parent’s I know comment that their children get the most rashes when they spend a full day with grandparents.  I’m definitely not dissing the G-parents, but remember that it’s ok to remind them to change diapers, they might forget because it’s been a long time since they had to do it.  Just casually, not bitterly, remind your parents or in-laws to change them.  You can even blame it on yourself, “I find myself forgetting to change his diaper every 2 hours or so, time just flies and then all of the sudden his diaper is full and his bum it bright red!”

The Giving Tree: A+

GivingTree-1The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein is one of my all-time favorite books for children. Why do I love it so much?  Because The Giving Tree provides lessons in emotional education in a beautiful, and simple way.  I also love that the pictures are in black and white, which allows some room for creative imagination.

Interactive Experience:  Ask your child to find the boy.  Throughout the book the “boy” is often hidden in the branches, finding him is a fun interactive way to make them apart of the reading experience.

Books Books Books

stack_of_books2293x500In general, I’m not huge on reading parenting books. I think people rely too much on them and forget that they are human beings who have natural instincts for these things.  I’ve looked over and read, what I consider to be a fair amount of parenting books, (yes, sometimes reading parenting books for my employers is part of my job) there are a few problems I find with most parenting books.

1.  Most parenting books consist of long monologues with little information.

2.  It’s nearly impossible to know what books to get, because there are hundreds out there, all claiming to be experts on the same topic.

3.  Most parenting books consist of long monologues with little information… OH, I already said this?

I might take for granted that I know what I know about child rearing, safety, developmental stages, etc. because of all my years of experience, (I should also thank my mom for her amazing educated advice) but I do realize some people go into parenting with no experience, thus making it a little scarier and overwhelming.

It would be hard at this point to trace back all the moments when I learned all of the valuable information I take for granted now, such as, that babies have “sleep signals” to cue us for bedtime, that biting babies nails when they’re infants is easier than using finger nail clippers, that letting your baby run around without a diaper for a few hours is the best way to get rid of a rash…. you get the point.  At some point I did learn all of this, there was a moment when it all clicked, and I learned this through experience, not from a book.

All of this being said: For people with little to no experience, and without a ‘model’ parent for which to ask questions I realize it can be comforting, and informative to read a book….or twelve.  My personal opinion is that we (Americans) over-read on parenting.  So far a few books I would recommend are listed below, keep in mind these books for the most part fit into my “parenting” style, or they are simply information based.

Baby and Toddler 411 by Denise Fields and Ari Brown: These are 2 different books.  The books have factual information about your child’s developmental stages they also have products like car seats, discussed and rated. I rarely look at this for developmental stages but I have referenced it when choosing important products, like car seats and high chairs for my bosses. I like the books because they are simple and to the point, you don’t have to read 12 pages to find the one sentence of actually useful information you wanted about diaper rashes.

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman:  A great book about an American woman in Paris, and her discovery, and conversion into French parenting.  When I read this book I was shocked by how similar my “parenting style” is to the French parenting style.  The book helped me to feel more confident in my choices and gave me some more useful tips on sleep and eating.  A great book for someone who is unsure of what parenting style they want to go with!

Baby-led weening by Gill Rapley and Tracey MurkettFor those who are interested in, or want to know more about baby-led weening.

Follow Through.

mom-debateIt’s easy to come up with, and devise a parenting style within the confines of your home, it can be much harder to maintain that same style when confronted with the outside, judgmental world. 

It can be hard to follow through on your own parenting style, when others around you are collectively doing something else.  It’s hard when strangers look at you like you’re crazy for implementing some parenting technique, whether it’s enforcing a rule, or letting your child play on the playground with other kids while you’re on a bench watching.

At playgrounds I often have an inner, self-encouraging mantra running, telling myself not to jump into the sandbox, or pointlessly follow ‘my’ kid around on the actual playground. I have to do this because all around me I feel parents judging me for not following their lead of over-parenting (yes, I too judge their over-parenting.)  While I love, and will happily play with the girl I watch, I think that she should play at the playground with other kids, not with me.

The other day, while I was out with the girl I nanny, who is now 22-months, I encountered this stranger-judgment.  I had two choices, 1. stray from my “parenting style” so as not to be judged, or 2. Maintain my style, and possibly be wrongly judged for it.  I chose the latter. While we were walking she (we’ll call her Turtle) decided to set her water bottle on the ground, walk away from it and then demand that I pick it up. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Turtle, can you please pick up your water?

Turtle: No, you pick it up. I need you to pick it up.

Me: Turtle, I’m not going to pick it up.  If you don’t want to carry it, bring it to me and I’ll put it in the bag. But you need to pick it up.

At this moment a stranger glared at me and went to pick up the water bottle, I intercepted saying…

Me, to stranger:  No, thank you, but I want her to pick up the water bottle.

Stranger: [Disgusted face]

Unknown

Me:  Turtle, you can take your time, but we aren’t going to walk any further until you pick up your water.

2 minutes later….

Turtle picks up her water and brings it to me.

Me: Thank you.

Turtle: You’re welcome.

The moral of the story is, yes, it was hard for me to have this stranger judge me, knowing she probably thinks I’m a terrible, mean, evil caregiver, but I have a specific “parenting” style and so, to maintain consistency, I let the stranger judge me.  Plus, I know I’m not a mean, terrible of evil-caregiver, which helps.

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

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.