Diapers: How to find a perfect fit for your baby

Diapers are some of the most expensive item you will have to pay for while raising a baby, costing well over KES50,000.

(This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on July 31, 2016)

Do you know that your child might use more than 2500 diapers in the first year alone? Diapers are some of the most expensive item you will have to pay for while raising a baby, costing well over KES50,000. Considering this, and that your child will spend years in diapers, and as such it is quite an important decision to get the right size and fit.   

Diapers come in different sizes based on weight. But the problem is those weight ranges overlap. For example, Huggies Newborn size 2 is for 4-6 kgs while size 3 is for 5-9 kgs. Therefore, it is up to you to pay attention to how a diaper fits your baby to decide which size to buy.  

You will know a diaper is fitting well when

  • it fits snugly around the waist and legs

It is time to move to the next size when

  • There are blowouts (over spill from the diaper),which is never fun,from the waistband and around the leg
  • The diaper is sagging or there is a gap when you run your fingers around the edges
  • When you see red marks around your baby’s belly or thighs

Tips when buying a diaper for the first time

  • try to avoid buying in bulk until you find the diaper that works for you and the baby
  • When friends and family come visiting the new baby and parents, it is wise to let them know what size your baby wears.

Blowouts will happen for other reasons, so always carry a spare change of clothes for your baby.

FACT: Ever wondered what is inside a diaper?

The absorbent core of a diaper contains Super Absorbent Polymer. SAP also called slush powder are polymers that can absorb and retain extremely large amounts of a liquid relative to their own mass. SAP powder (which looks like a very fine white sand) is sprinkled into the middle of the absorbent core layers of a diaper.

Infant Reflux

Infant reflux is a condition that causes the baby to spit up milk. This happens when the milk flows back to the esophagus, which connects the mouth with the stomach, and then comes out through the mouth(sometimes even the nose).

This first appeared on The Standard Newspaper on August 7, 2016.

What is it?

Infant reflux is a condition that  causes the baby to spit up milk. This happens when the milk flows back to the esophagus, which connects the mouth with the stomach, and then comes out through the mouth(sometimes even the nose).  When the milk does not make it to the mouth or the baby swallows it back, it is called silent reflux. Infant reflux is the equivalent of heartburn in adults. It is normal for babies 2-4 months old to spit up at least once a day because of their undeveloped system but it becomes a problem when the spit up comes up with the acid that is used to break down the milk upsetting the esophagus and of course the baby. The spitting up usually happens after feeding but sometimes can happen a few hours later.

A child with serious reflux shows

  • Irritation after being fed (even after burping)
  • Spitting up quite a large amount after every feeding accompanied with hiccups and/or cough
  • Arching back

Most babies will outgrow reflux as their digestive system matures but for the mild reflux your child might have, these are some of the things you can do.

  • In the case of exclusively breastfed babies, when the breast is full and the milk is flowing fast the baby’s digestive system is overwhelmed hence, reflux.  You can try feeding for shorter period of time frequently which also works for bottle fed babies.
  • Once you have fed your baby, try burping right away and holding the baby in the upright position for 15-30 minutes
  • Recline the baby cot to 30 degrees to have the head in a higher position than the rest of the body
  • Avoid dairy products as the baby can be lactose intolerant

If your baby frequently spits out almost everything and is not gaining weight, it is time to visit the doctor.

When to call your pediatrician

It is natural to worry about your baby. I personally think the doctors would be taken aback if we are casual about everything. But that does not mean we should call them every time we think there is a problem.

This first appeared in The Standard Newspaper on August 14,2016.

First time mothers must be a nightmare to doctors. We keep calling for silly reasons…

‘Daktari! Her tongue is peeking out all the time!’

‘She is breathing heavily.’

‘Daktari, she has not pooped since lunch time.’

It is natural to worry about your baby. I personally think the doctors would be taken aback if we are casual about everything. But that does not mean we should call them every time we think there is a problem. It is a delicate balance between care and responsibility. Here are a few reasons that should not be subjected to this dilemma though – if you notice them, you should call the doctor right away.

Fever- if your baby is hot and has a high temperature(at least 38 degrees Celsius), it is cause for alarm especially for children below 3 months old. Fever usually implies that the body is fighting an infection. Note that fever after immunization is normal which can be treated with a painkiller but talk with your doctor before giving any medication.

Difficulty breathing – This is something you have to keenly look at for sometime because babies tend to breathe in a different way. They have been known to stop breathing for a few seconds. Look out for signs like laboured chest movement,flaring nostrils and rapid breathing. If your notice any of these or a combination, call the doctor immediately.

Not feeding or Vomiting – the average newborns feed every two to three hours. So, if your baby is refusing to feed and has less than 4 wet nappies in a 12 hour span, it is time to call the doctor.

Redness around the Umbilical cord – your baby’s umbilical cord stump takes up to 15 days to fall off and it is important that you keep the area clean and dry. You should always keep an eye whenever you change their diaper, for redness, excessive bleeding or yellow discharge.

Diarrhea or constipation – diarrhea in babies is loose or very watery stool. The color might be yellow or green. Persistent diarrhea or constipation(hard, pebble like stool), which is accompanied by bright red blood or mucus, calls for an immediate action.

Remember that a mother knows her baby more than anyone else, so even if things seem normal with your baby but your inner voice says otherwise, trust your gut and call the doctor.

Keeping baby busy

Babies look so smart and wise and make you wonder what they are thinking about. They look at you like they know all your secrets. Then they remind you that they might know everything when they poop on themselves.

Babies look so smart and wise and make you wonder what they are thinking about. They look at you like they know all  your secrets. Then they remind you that they might know everything when they poop on themselves. All they do is eat, sleep, poop, coo. Repeat. Life can be a repetition of that cycle for months to come. So what can you do with your newborn besides staring at them?

Play

Playing with your baby helps create a special bond from an early age while helping them develop their different skills. You can plan for varied activities which involve visuals. Babies who are less than three months old can only see black and white colors from short distance away but they are stimulated by different patterns and shapes. Print out pictures on card boards which you can show them as you make silly faces or funny voices. Repetition is the key. Their span of attention is very limited so be creative and look for signs of interest.

Massage

It is better to do this after bath time especially before bedtime because it is soothing and relaxing. Use a mild baby oil to gently massage your baby starting from the legs upwards. Your baby might need time to get used to it but once they do, it will be a ritual they enjoy.

Sing and Dance

Sing and dance with your baby. Your baby is already used to your voice and the swaying moves from the time they spent in the womb. Soothing melodies or soft dancing music will do as long as you enjoy it and the level of the sound is moderate. In the meantime you can use this opportunity to exercise as well.

Don’t feel like you have to keep your baby entertained or busy the whole time they are awake because they also need time to rest and learn about their surroundings in their own way.

Vitamin D

Lack of Vitamin D will cause rickets, which weakens the bones and make them bowed in the process of trying to support the body.

This first appeared in The Standard on 18 September 2016

Vitamin D is one of  the most important vitamins a child must get adequately. It helps the body  absorb calcium and phosphorous, which is needed to strengthen the bones. It also helps avoid autoimmune diseases. While different foods serve as a source for different vitamins, Vitamin D’s most important source is sunlight. Lack of Vitamin D will cause rickets, which weakens the bones and make them bowed in the process of trying to support the body.

FACT

Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin at all, but is a steroid hormone that the body produces using UVB rays from the sun.

The question, how long should I sun bathe my baby in a day to produce sufficient vitamin D is based on how you do it and how long you do it. Darker skins take longer to produce vitamin D and hence should bask in the sun for a bit longer than light skins. The time of the day the baby is basking in the sun also affects the smooth skin your baby has. There is no definite guideline on how to do it but most health experts agree on the following recommendation.

“To make enough vitamin D, a baby in a diaper needs a total of only 30 minutes of sunlight a week-less than five minutes a day. Fully clothed and without a hat, a baby would need two hours of sunlight a week, or about 20 minutes a day. Medium to darker skin tones need a little more time in the sun.” (http://homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/baby-and-vitamin-d)

Can I substitute sunbathing with foods that contain Vitamin D?

Foods like salmon fish, fortified formula milk and egg yolk contain Vitamin D but not in an adequate amount  Breastfeeding mothers can increase their intake of Vitamin D rich foods but even that does not guarantee that your baby will get enough. Hence sunbathing remains to be the most important source of Vitamin D.