Taking care of your nursing breasts

Your breasts are the only source of food for the first six months, if you plan to exclusively breastfeed. Even more work for our breasts if you decide to keep on breastfeeding for a year or two. Here are some tips to help you take good care of them and prevent the common problems of breastfeeding.

This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on 01 Jan 2017

Your breasts are the only source of food for the first six months, if you plan to exclusively breastfeed. Even more work for our breasts if you decide to keep on breastfeeding for a year or two. Here are some tips to help you take good care of them and prevent the common problems of breastfeeding.

  • Clean them daily with warm water and towel.
  • Apply your breast milk and let it air dry after feeding to avoid cracked nipple.
  • If you use disposable breast pads, remove them when they get wet. If using reusable pads, keep the pads and your bras clean if they have leakage as this will prevent infection.
  • Try to either breastfeed or express the milk when your breasts are full to avoid engorgement. Puting cabbage leaves on your swollen breasts is a common home remedy to relieve the pain that comes from breast engorgement.
  • Avoid tight bras or clothes as it may cause discomfort and even more serious problem such as blocked ducts.
  • If you feel hard and painful lumps on your breast, that is most likely a blocked milk duct. But if it is accompanied by fever and flu like symptoms and/or your breasts are inflamed, that is most likely a breast infection, otherwise known as mastitis. It is advisable to seek medical attention when problems occur but you can relieve the pain by massaging the affected breast gently. Both problems are caused when the breast milk is not drained adequately. Therefore, avoid feeding from one breast only or wrong latching and encourage frequent feeding to avoid these problems.

Should my Child Watch TV?

This is a question many parents ask yet the answers available are conflicting. One answer is that children tailored programs on TV help in early brain development while the other answer most medical professionals give is that it is absolutely unnecessary for infants and toddlers to watch TV as it has adverse effect on their brain development.

This is a question many parents ask yet the answers available are conflicting. One answer is that children tailored programs on TV help in early brain development while the other answer most medical professionals give is that it is absolutely unnecessary for infants and toddlers to watch TV as it has adverse effect on their brain development. They believe that research has shown that watching TV delays language development and causes sleep interruption and lack of attention among other things.

Many parents let their children watch Tv because it either gives them a break to do things in the house or the children seem to enjoy it. But research shows that their brain is not capable of processing the images they see in the tv until the are at least 18 months old, hence the cause for the problems.

 

Whichever answer resonates with you, it is obvious that children learn better from you. Hence, keep screen time as minimum as possible and if they are watching, let them watch (of course a child content) with you.

For furhter information please visit www.healthychildren.org

Learning how to bottle feed

Some babies take the bottle without any struggle but oftentimes bottle training a breastfed baby can be challenging. Especially if you are bound by time and have to report back to the office in a given time.

This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on 25 December 2016

Some babies take the bottle without any struggle but oftentimes bottle training a breastfed baby can be challenging. Especially if you are bound by time and have to report back to the office in a given time.  But even if you are not a working mother it is useful to train your baby so you may be able to do your own things without them going hungry or the dad can experience the joy of feeding. Follow these tips to help you with the transition.

Get good quality nipples – for a baby who is accustomed to the breast, the nipple is an alien to the mouth. Get a nipple that is very close to the natural feel of the breast as well as one that has a slow flow so the baby will not be overwhelmed with gushes of milk. Be careful not to confuse them with different nipples and bottles at once.

Use your own breast milk – To introduce the bottle and formula at once can be quite tasking. Try expressing your breast milk and use that during bottle training. Some mothers opt to applying the breast milk on the nipple.

Have someone else feed – your baby is smart enough to know your smell and associate it with breast milk. They also know they way you hold them for breastfeeding hence they might refuse to take the bottle when it is you. Ask your partner to try bottle feeding, it can be a bonding moment for them.

Choose the right time – choose a time when your baby is not hungry or fussy. If you are reporting back to the office, start training at least three weeks before to avoid the stress at the last minute.

Don’t give up quickly – most children take time to get used to the bottle so do not give up quickly. If they completely refuse to take the bottle, give them a break and try again later. But if they decide to keep it in the mouth, let them play with it and sooner or later they will start suckling. Babies can feel your frustration so, give yourself some time and start again.

Even after applying these tips some babies might refuse the bottle. In that case you have the option of using a cup and spoon. It can be messy affair but it is necessary. Not every baby is up to the bottle so do not feel as if you have not done the right thing.

Breast milk + Formula

Fewer wet diapers in a day, losing weight or not gaining enough weight and full breasts after a feeding session are indicators that your child is not getting enough milk. In such a case, you might be advised to supplement your milk with formula milk, which can be unexpected and confusing.

This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on 29 January 2017

Some mothers do not have enough breast milk to satisfy their baby’s need for different reasons. This can either be from the first days following delivery or a few weeks into exclusive breastfeeding. Fewer wet diapers in a day, losing weight or not gaining enough weight and full breasts after a feeding session are indicators that your child is not getting enough milk. In such a case, you might be advised to supplement your milk with formula milk, which can be unexpected and confusing. Here are some tips to help you.

Choose the formula wisely –  from cow milk protein based formula to soy based formula, iron fortified to lactose free, hypoallergenic to anti-reflux… the choices available on the market can be overwhelming but manageable with the right information. You need to find one that will meet your child’s need or that will not cause an allergic reaction based on your experience. If, for example, your child had an allergic reaction while you were exclusively breastfeeding and taking dairy, cow’s milk formula will most likely not work for you. Yet, some children might refuse to take formula. Have patience and consult with your doctor.

Breast feed/breast milk first – start with breastfeeding or breast milk(if you have previously expressed milk)  and top up with the formula milk if the child is still hungry. Though formula milk is designed to copy breast milk, it lacks some antibodies and nutrients. Therefore, the breast milk is still important to meet the nutritional needs your child has.

Express regularly – since breast milk supply is determined by demand, the more you supplement with formula, the more the supply goes low.  Hence, it is important to express milk regularly to stimulate milk production and maybe catch up with your child’s need in the future.

Try to hold off from bottle feeding for at least the first month if possible. That will help your child develop her breastfeeding skills before moving to the bottle,avoiding nipple confusion.

 

The ABC’s of reading

Have you noticed how most of our homes are organized around our TVs? The comfortable seats, the fluffy carpets, the table all placed with the TV as the focal point.

(This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on 29 January 2017)

Have you noticed how most of our homes are organized around our TVs? The comfortable seats, the fluffy carpets, the table all placed with the TV as the focal point. The entertaining content audio visuals have, also make our children addicts of TV. It should thus not be a surprise when our children would rather spend majority of their time in front of the TV than reading books. If you have been looking for tips to help you create a reading culture in your child, here you go.

Read together – starting from the first days after the hospital, dedicate a reading time for about 10-15 minutes. Even though your child is too young to understand what you are reading, you can start building the culture. Since it is about bonding and comforting your baby with your voice during the first few weeks, you can read aloud your own books As they grow, you can start involving them by asking questions and making sounds together.

Choose age appropriate books – for the first 6 months, children are fascinated with contrasting images – hence choose interactive books with interesting big images. Then you can move to books with one or two words or phrases they can repeat after you. When they are old enough to choose books, respect their choices.

Make it fun – be creative in creating fun ways of reading. Change your voice and make silly faces or accompany reading time with games that go along with the book you are reading.

Set an example – children learn more from what they see you doing. Therefore, let them see you reading regularly and when they are old enough to understand, talk about what you are reading and ask for their opinion.

Bed time rituals that are a must try

There is no rule to when you can start but it is better to start early to avoid introducing a pattern at a later age, which might be a bit difficult.

(This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on )

As a first time mother, one thing I am eagerly waiting for is for my daughter to start sleeping through the night or to have at least five or six hours of uninterrupted sleep. I believe establishing a bedtime ritual will help in the process of achieving that goal.

Bed time ritual/routine is simply a few activities you do with your child before putting them down to sleep for the night everyday.  It helps your child to get accustomed to a pattern, which will help in calming them down and sleeping in an easy way irrespective of the day and place. It also helps parents to spend quality time with their children and create bonding.

When can you start?

There is no rule to when you can start but it is better to start early to avoid introducing a pattern at a later age, which might be a bit difficult.

 

What can you do?

The idea is to keep it simple, consistent and interesting for both you and your child. You can start by changing them into their pajamas and diapers and giving the last feeding before bed.

  • Bathing/massaging – it has a calming effect and hence helps to have a good sleep.
  • Bedtime story – this will help your child develop language skills and learn new things  through reading
  • Singing a song/lullaby – singing songs to your child can be soothing and calming
  • Playing a simple game – it can be as simple as clapping or peekaboo. Do something together to bond.

You can experiment with a few different routines to see which ones they enjoy. Avoid establishing an elaborate ritual as younger children might not like it and you might not be able to be consistent. A simple act like rubbing the back and snuggling can be enough for some children.

 

DOs and DON’Ts of cooking food for baby

When your child shows signs of chewing or moving the food around the mouth, that is your cue to move to textured food.

(This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on 5 February 2017)

Do clean the utensils and foods thoroughly –  Children are more prone to bacteria. Therefore, preparing their food requires great care. Wash your hands and the utensils thoroughly before cooking.

Do pay attention to nutrition – plan to prepare one food from different food groups in a day – vitamins, protein, starch,etc  to make meals nutritious. Shorter cooking time will also help in maintaining the nutrients in a food.

Do offer textured food – don’t get stuck on blended food. When your child shows signs of chewing or moving the food around the mouth, that is your cue to move to textured food. You can start by mashing with a fork. They will train their throats and finally join you in the table.

Don’t warm food in the microwave – warming baby food in the microwave, can make some spots hotter and hence dangerous. Instead use hot water or a bottle warmer.

Don’t go overboard – as much as it is good to get their taste buds exercise with different foods, don’t overwhelm them with so many varieties at once. Try not to mix more than three kinds of food at once.

Don’t force them to eat foods they don’t like – Forcing them to eat or saying ‘One last bite!’ 5 times might make them dislike meal time. If you notice resistance, don’t force it but try again  later. It is also good to taste the food before feeding. If you don’t like the taste, neither will they do.

TIP – Give your child a spoon to hold on to while you are feeding. It will help in keeping their hands busy instead of wrestling with your hands. Once they get the gist of it, they can start to scoop some food and feed themselves. But make sure they won’t hurt themselves with it.

Bonding with baby – For Fathers

If the baby is bottle fed, fathers can take up that by holding them close to themselves like a mother would while breastfeeding.

(This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on )

 

I take pity on new fathers. The committed fathers. They are usually very much involved and invested with the pregnancy journey. From counting baby kicks to massaging your swollen feet, from recording baby’s heartbeat at the doctor’s visit to throwing out his favorite cologne because all of a sudden you don’t like it anymore. But once the baby arrives, she/he starts running the show. All the excitement of the new baby, visitors, mother in law staying over,….usually pushes them to the corner to be forgotten for a while.

Fortunately, there are a couple of things fathers can do to help them bond with the baby and make them part of the everyday routine.

Feeding/burping

If the baby is bottle fed, fathers can take up that by holding them close to themselves like a mother would while breastfeeding. For breastfed babies, fathers can either bottle feed the expressed milk or take on the burping challenge. Your baby will get used to your smell in the process.

Diaper changing

This might not always be pleasing especially changing a soiled diaper but this can also serve as a bonding activity while giving mommy a break.

Bathing together

You can bathe the baby together. You will need help in the first few days anyway.

Playing

Fathers can be very playful and keep the baby engaged by making silly faces and noises. Keeping eye contact and smiling to the baby can help create that bond.

Massaging

It can relax both the baby and father. The gentle stroking of the baby’s body with hands will create some of that skin to skin contact while soothing the baby.

Bonding with the baby is not something that comes in a day. You will not know when it will happen but it will  come with time and dedication and it will  be intense.

 

Baby Led Weaning

It is a way of introducing solid foods to children by offering finger foods to them instead of spoon feeding. It gives the child the freedom of choosing what to eat rather than the parent deciding what to feed.

(This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on January 15, 2017)

What is it?

It is a  way of introducing solid foods to children by offering finger foods to them instead of spoon feeding. It gives the child the freedom of choosing what to eat rather than the parent deciding what to feed. The child is simply given variety of foods to nibble on keeping in mind safety and nutrition.

Advantages

The child gets to experiment with different tastes and decide on the quantity of food she/he will take. Researches have shown that this will help in preventing picky eating habit and weight related issues in the future. Baby lead weaning also helps the child to develop the skills of using hands, hand-eye coordination and chewing.

Disadvantages

If you can get used to the mess your child will create, there is a risk of choking if you don’t take precaution while preparing the solid foods. There is also the problem of less digestion, which means you have to still top up with breast milk/formula.

If you are going with child led weaning, consider these points.

  • Prepare the food in strips so the child can grab and eat (finger foods). It is also advisable to give them spoons for non finger foods like cereals.
  • Always have a bottle of water nearby.
  • Always have someone around during feeding time.
  • Offer variety of foods but start with soft fruits and vegetables
  • You can opt to mix spoon feeding and baby led weaning to make sure they are getting enough solid foods

 

Taking care of baby’s dry skin

Most babies are prone to different skin conditions and dry skin is among the most common ones. It is simply cracked, flaky and usually itchy skin which can be very irritating to your child as well as yourself.

(This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on January 15, 2017)

Most babies are prone to different skin conditions and dry skin is among the most common ones. It is simply cracked, flaky and usually itchy skin which can be very irritating to your child as well as yourself. It is usually caused by dry and cold weather and becomes even more tricky when your child has sensitive skin. Fortunately, there are some simple tips you can follow to prevent and treat dry skin at home.

  • Use mild skin moisturizer – apply a mild moisturizer of your choice right after bath time while the skin is still damp and several times throughout the day. (A mixture of shea butter, coconut oil, lavender/almond oil worked for my baby’s dry skin.)
  • Short baths – keep bath time short, despite your child’s love of splashing water. Long baths tend to dry out the natural moisture the skin has.
  • Bundle them up – dress your child in warm clothes, hand mittens and hats during cold weather.
  • Keep them hydrated – applying and re-applying moisturizer is useless if a baby is dehydrated. If your child is above six months old, you can offer water and juice to keep them hydrated. Breastmilk should be enough for younger children unless your doctor advises otherwise.
  • Use gentle detergents – avoid using perfumed cloth detergents as they may contribute to skin dryness.
  • Humidify the house – you can easily boil aromatic leaves or oils in water at a corner to keep the air moist. This will avoid the dry air and keep our child’s skin moisturized.

Consult your doctor if the dryness persists despite following these tips.