The Baby Blues
Â Â Â By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care
I remember when I was lying in my hospital bed after the birth of my fourth child, Coleton. I had endured a full day of labor and a difficult delivery (who says the fourth one comes easily?), and I was tired beyond explanation. After the relief of seeing my precious new child came an uncontrollable feeling to close my eyes and sleep. As my husband cradled newborn Coleton, I drifted off; my parting thoughts were, â€œI canâ€™t do this. I donâ€™t have the energy. How will I ever take care of a baby?â€ Luckily for me, a few hours of sleep, a supportive family, and lucky genes were all it took to feel normal again. But as many as 80% of new mothers experience a case of the baby blues that lasts for weeks after the birth of their baby. This isnâ€™t something new mothers can control Â¾ thereâ€™s no place for blame. The most wonderful and committed mothers, even experienced mothers of more than one child, can get the baby blues.
What are baby blues?
Your babyâ€™s birth has set into motion great changes in your body and in your life, and your emotions are reacting in a normal way. Dramatic hormonal shifts occur when a body goes from pregnant to not pregnant in a manner of minutes. Add to this your new title (Mommy!) and the responsibilities that go with it, and your blues are perfectly understandable. Youâ€™re not alone; this emotional letdown during the first few weeks is common after birth. Just remember that your state of mind has a physical origin and is exacerbated by challenging circumstances Â¾ and you and your body will adjust to both soon.
How do I know if I have the baby blues?
Every woman who experiences the baby blues (also called postpartum blues) does so in a different way. The most common symptoms include:
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Sadness or feelings of loss
- Stress and tension
- Impatience or a short temper
- Bouts of crying or tearfulness
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble sleeping or excessive tiredness
- Not wanting to get dressed, go out, or clean up the house
Could it be more than just the baby blues?
If youâ€™re not sure whether you have the blues ask your doctor or midwife, and donâ€™t feel embarrassed: This is a question that health care providers hear often and with good reason. If youâ€™re feeling these symptoms to a degree that disrupts your normal level of function, if your baby is more than a few weeks old, or if you have additional symptoms Â¾ particularly feelings of resentment or rejection toward your baby or even a temptation to harm him Â¾ you may have more than the blues, you may have postpartum depression. This is a serious illness that requires immediate treatment. Please call a doctor or professional today. If you canâ€™t make the call, then please talk to your partner, your mother or father, a sibling or friend and ask them to arrange for help. Do this for yourself and for your baby. If you canâ€™t talk about it, hand this page it to someone close to you. Itâ€™s that important. You do not have to feel this way, and safe treatment is available, even if youâ€™re breastfeeding.
How can I get rid of the blues?
While typical baby blues are fairly brief and usually disappear on their own, you can do a few things to help yourself feel better and get through the next few emotional days or weeks:
Â· Give yourself time. Grant yourself permission to take the time you need to become a mother. Pregnancy lasts nine months, the adoption process can take even longer, and your babyâ€™s actual birth is only a moment Â¾ but becoming a mother takes time. Motherhood is an immense responsibility. In my opinion, it is the most overwhelming, meaningful, incredible, transforming experience of a lifetime. No wonder it produces such emotional and physical change!
No other event of this magnitude would ever be taken lightly, so donâ€™t feel guilty for treating this time in your life as the very big deal it is. Remind yourself that itâ€™s okay (and necessary) to focus on this new aspect of your life and make it your number-one priority. Tending to a newborn properly takes time Â¾ all the time in his world. So, instead of feeling guilty or conflicted about your new focus, put your heart into getting to know this new little person. The world can wait for a few weeks.
Consider as objectively as you can just what you have accomplished: You have formed a new, entire person inside your own body and brought him forth; you have been party to a miracle. Or, if you’ve adopted,Â you’veÂ chosenÂ to invite a miracle into your life and became an instant mother. You deserve a break and some space in which to just exist with your amazing little one, unfettered by outside concerns.
Â· Talk to someone who understands. Talk to a sibling, relative or friend with young children about what you are feeling. Someone who has experienced the baby blues can help you realize that they are temporary, and everything will be fine. A confidante can also serve as a checkpoint who can encourage you to seek help if he or she perceives that you need it.
Â· Reach out and get out.Â Simply getting out (if you are physically able and okayed for this by your health care provider) and connecting with people at large can go a long way toward reorienting your perspective. Four walls can close in very quickly, so change the scenery and head to the mall, the park, the library, a coffeehouse Â¾ whatever place you enjoy. Youâ€™ll feel a sense of pride as strangers ooh and ahh over your little one, and your baby will enjoy the stimulation, too.
Â· Join a support group. Joining a support group, either in person or online, can help you sort through your feelings about new motherhood. Take care to choose a group that aligns with your core beliefs about parenting a baby. As an example, if you are committed to breastfeeding, but most other members of the group are bottlefeeding, this may not be the best place for you, since your breastfeeding issues wonâ€™t be understood and you wonâ€™t find many helpful ideas among this group. If you have multiples, a premature baby, or a baby with special needs, for example, seek out a group for parents with babies like yours. And within those parameters, look for a group with your same overall parenting beliefs. Just because you all have twin babies doesnâ€™t mean you will all choose to parent them in the same way, so try to find like-minded new friends.
Â· Tell Daddy what he can do to help. Itâ€™s very important that your spouse or partner be there for you right now. He may want to help you, but he may be unsure of how. Here are a few things that he can do for you Â¾ show him this list to help him help you:
- Understand. Itâ€™s critical that your spouse or partner feel that you understand that she is going through a hormonally driven depression that she cannot control Â¾ and that she is not â€œjust being grumpy.â€ Tell her you know this is normal, and that sheâ€™ll be feeling better soon. Simply looking over this list and using some of the ideas will tell her a lot about your commitment to (and belief in) her.
- Let her talk about her feelings. Knowing she can talk to you about her feelings without being judged or criticized will help her feel much better.
- Tend to the baby. Taking care of your baby so Mommy can sleep or take a shower can give her a breath of fresh air. Have her nurse the baby and then you can take him for a walk (using a sling will keep Baby happy) or go on an outing. A benefit for you is that most babies love to be out and about and will enjoy this special time with you.
- Step in to protect her. If sheâ€™s overwhelmed with visitors, kindly explain to company that she needs a lot of rest. Help her with whatever household duties usually fall to her (or get someone to help her) and do what you can to stay on top of yours. Worry about the houseâ€™s cleanliness or laundry upkeep will do her no good whatsoever. If relatives offer to take the baby for a few hours, or to help with the house, take them up on it.
- Tell her sheâ€™s beautiful. Most woman feel depressed about the way they look after childbirth Â¾ because most still look four months pregnant! After changing so greatly to accommodate a babyâ€™s development, a womanâ€™s body takes months to regain any semblance of normalcy. Be patient with both her body and her feelings about it. Tell her what an amazing thing sheâ€™s accomplished. Any compliments that acknowledge her unique beauty are sure to be greatly appreciated!
- Tell her you love the baby. Donâ€™t be bashful about gushing over the baby. Mommy loves to hear that youâ€™re enraptured with this new little member of your family.
- Be affectionate, but be patient about sex. With all that sheâ€™s struggling with physically and emotionally, weeks may pass before sheâ€™s ready for sex (even if sheâ€™s had an OK after her checkup.) That doesnâ€™t mean she doesnâ€™t love you or need you Â¾ she just needs a little time to get back to the physical aspects of your sexual relationship.
- Tell her you love her. Even when she isnâ€™t feeling down, she needs to hear this Â¾ and right now itâ€™s more important for her health and well-being than ever.
- Get support for you, too. Â Becoming a father is a giant step in your life. Open up to a friend about how it feels to be a Dad, and do things that you enjoy, too. Taking care of yourself will help you take care of your new family.
Accept help from others. Â Family and friends are often happy to help if you just ask. When people say, â€œLet me know if I can do anythingâ€ they usually mean it. So, go ahead and ask kindly for what you want, whether itâ€™s watching your baby so that you can nap, taking your older child to the park, helping you make a meal, or doing some laundry.
Get some sleep. Right now, sleeplessness will enhance your feelings of depression. So, take every opportunity to get some shuteye. Nap when the baby sleeps, go to bed early, and sleep in later in the morning if you can. If you are co-sleeping, take advantage of this special time when you donâ€™t have to get up out of bed to tend to your baby. And if your babyâ€™s sleep patterns are distressing to you then reach out to an experienced parent for help, or check out my book The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night.
Donâ€™t fret about perfection right now. Household duties are not your top priority now Â¾ in fact, nothing aside from getting to know your baby is. Remember that people are coming to see your baby, not your house, so enjoy sharing your baby with visitors without worrying about a little clutter or dust. Simplify, prioritize, and delegate routine tasks, errands, and obligations.
Enjoy your job. If you work outside the home, then view your time at your job as an opportunity to refresh and prepare yourself to enjoy your baby fully when you are at home. Go ahead Â¾ talk about your baby and share pictures with your co-workers. Chances are, theyâ€™ll love to hear about your new little one. This is a nice and appropriate way of indulging your natural instincts to focus on your baby when you canâ€™t be with her.
Get into exercising. With your health care providerâ€™s approval, start exercising with short walks or swims. Exercise will help you feel better in many ways both physical and emotional. Even if you didnâ€™t exercise before you had your baby, this is a great time to start. Studies prove that regular exercise helps combat depression, and it will help you regain your pre-baby body much more quickly.
Eat healthful foods. When the body isnâ€™t properly nourished, spirits can flag Â¾ particularly when the stress of recovery makes more nutritional demands. If you are breastfeeding, a nourishing diet is important for both you and your baby. Healthful foods, eaten in frequent meals, can provide the nutrition you need to combat the baby blues and give you the energy you need to handle your new role. And donâ€™t forget to drink water and other healthy fluids, especially if youâ€™re nursing! Dehydration can cause fatigue and headaches.
Take care of yourself. Parenting a new baby is an enormous responsibility, but things will fall into place for you and everything will seem easier given time. During this adjustment phase, try to do a few things for yourself. Simple joys like reading a book, painting your nails, going out to lunch with a friend or other ways in which you nourish your spirit can help you feel happier.
Love yourself. You are amazing: Youâ€™ve become mother to a beautiful new baby. Youâ€™ve played a starring role in the production of an incredible miracle. Be proud of what youâ€™ve accomplished, and take the time to know and enjoy the strong, capable, multifaceted person you are becoming.
This article is a copyrighted excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Solving Naptime Problems
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution
Napping is an important element of your childâ€™s healthy mental and physical growth. A daily nap refreshes a child so that she can maintain her energy, focus, and ability to learn for the rest of the day. Some studies even show that children who nap every day are more flexible and adaptable, have longer attention spans and are less fussy than those who donâ€™t nap.
How can you tell if your child needs a nap?
Here are some of the signs that your child needs a daily nap:
- Wakes up in a good mood, but gets whiny and cranky as the day progresses
- Has more patience early in the day, but is easily aggravated later on
- Cries more easily in the afternoon and evening than earlier in the day
- Has an afternoon or early evening slump, but gets a second wind afterwards
- Yawns, rubs eyes, or fusses while getting ready for bed
- Often falls asleep in the car or when watching a movie
How much naptime does your child need?
Children differ in their sleep needs, some needing more or less than shown here Â¾ but what follows is a general guide that applies to most of them. Even if your childâ€™s sleep hours add up to the right amount, his or her behavior tells you more than any chart possibly could. When in doubt â€“ always try for a nap, since even a period of quiet time can help a child feel more refreshed.
Average hours of daytime and nighttime sleep
Number of naps
Total length of naptime hours
Nighttime sleep hours**
Total of nighttime and naptime sleep
5 â€“ 6
10 â€“ 11
3 â€“ 4
10 - 11
14 â€“ 15
2 Â½ - 4
11 - 12
2 â€“ 3
11 Â½ â€“12
13 Â½ â€“14
2 â€“ 3
11 Â¼ -12
13 â€“ 14
13 â€“ 13 Â½
2 Â½ years
1 Â½ -2
13 â€“ 13 Â½
11 â€“11 Â½
12 â€“ 13
11 â€“ 12Â Â½
11 â€“ 12
*Newborns sleep 16-18 hours daily, spread over 6-7 sleep periods. Â ** These averages donâ€™t signify unbroken stretches of sleep.
Â© Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers (McGraw-Hill)
When should your child nap?
The timing of your childâ€™s naps is important since a nap that occurs too late in the day will prevent your child from being tired at bedtime. Generally, the best nap times are:
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â If your child takes two naps: midmorning (around 9:00 to 11:00) and early afternoon (around 12:00 to 2:30)
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â If your child takes one nap: early afternoon (around 12:00 to 2:30); after lunch
If your child tends towards short naps, donâ€™t give in and assume that itâ€™s all the nap time that she needs. Try some of these tips for increasing the length of naps:
- Give your child lunch or a snack a half hour before nap.
Â· Â Â Â Keep the sleeping room dark.
Â· Â Â Â Play soothing music or white noise during the entire nap.
Â· Â Â Â Make certain that discomfort from teething, allergies, asthma, ear infection or other health issues arenâ€™t preventing your child from taking a good nap. If you suspect any of these, schedule a visit to your health care professional.
Watch for signs of tiredness
Tired children fall asleep easily. If he isnâ€™t tired heâ€™ll resist sleep, but if you miss his signals, he can become overtired and be unable to fall asleep when you finally do put him to bed. Your child may demonstrate one or more of these signs that tell you he is tired and ready to nap - now:
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â losing interest in playtime
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â rubbing his eyes
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â looking glazed or unfocused
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â becoming whiny, cranky or fussy
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â losing patience with toys, activities or playmates
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â having tantrums
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â yawning
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â lying down or slumping in his seat
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â caressing a lovey or blanket
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â asking for a pacifier, bottle or to nurse
The nap routine
Once you have created a nap schedule that works with your childâ€™s daily periods of tiredness, follow a simple but specific nap routine. Your child will be most comfortable if there is a pattern to his day. He may come to predict when his naptime approaches and willingly cooperate with you.
Nap routines change
Childrenâ€™s sleep needs change over time, so remember that the routine that you set up today wonâ€™t be the same one youâ€™re using a year from now. Be adaptable!
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002Â http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth
Pregnant in America
You are invited to a special screening of Pregnant In America this
Friday, September 28th in Portland, OR
Pregnant in America examines the betrayal of humanity's greatest
gift -- birth -- by the greed of U.S. corporations. Hospitals,
insurance companies and other members of the health care industry
have all pushed aside the best care of our infants and mothers to
play the power game of raking in huge profits.
There will be Q&A after the movie with Pregnant in America's
director, Steve Buonaugurio and experts from the movie.
This special screening is on Friday, September 28th at 7:00pm in
Portland, OR in the Portland Convention Center as part of the Gentle
Birth World Congress.
Click here to access your ticket.
Simply print out the ticket and bring it with you.
Seating is limited, so be sure to arrive early to get your seat. See
How to Have a Happy Marriage When Youâ€™re Busy Being Parents
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Kid Cooperation, Perfect Parenting and Hidden Messages
Is your marriage everything you ever hoped it could be? Or has it been pushed down your list of priorities since having children? Letâ€™s face it, parenthood is a full-time job, and it dramatically changes your marriage relationship. But marriage is the foundation upon which your entire family is structured. If your marriage is strong, your whole family will be strong; your life will be more peaceful, youâ€™ll be a better parent, and youâ€™ll, quite simply, have more fun in your life.
Make a commitment
To create or maintain a strong marriage you will have to take the first critical step: You must be willing to put time, effort and thought into nurturing your marriage. The ideas that follow will help you follow through on this commitment and will put new life and meaning into your marriage. A wonderful thing may happen. You may fall in love with your spouse all over again. In addition, your children will greatly benefit from your stronger relationship. Children feel secure when they know that Mom and Dad love each otherâ€”particularly in todayâ€™s world, where 50 percent of marriages end in divorce; half of your childrenâ€™s friends have gone, or are going through a divorce; or maybe itâ€™s your kids who have survived a divorce and are now living in a new family arrangement.Â Your children need daily proof that their family life is stable and predictable. When you make a commitment to your marriage, your children will feel the difference. No, they wonâ€™t suffer from neglect! Theyâ€™ll blossom when your marriageâ€”and their homelifeâ€”is thriving.
The surprising secret is that this doesnâ€™t have to take any extra time in your already busy schedule. Just a change in attitude plus a committed focus can yield a stronger, happier marriage.
So hereâ€™s my challenge to you. Read the following suggestions and apply them in your marriage for the next 30 days. Then evaluate your marriage. I guarantee youâ€™ll both be happier.
Look for the good, overlook the bad
You married this person for many good reasons. Your partner has many wonderful qualities. Your first step in adding sizzle to your marriage is to look for the good and overlook the bad.
Make it a habit to ignore the little annoying things â€” dirty socks on the floor, a day-old coffee cup on the counter, worn out flannel pajamas, an inelegant burp at the dinner table â€” and choose instead to search for those things that make you smile: the way he rolls on the floor with the baby; the fact that she made your favorite cookies, the peace in knowing someone so well that you can wear your worn out flannels or burp at the table.
Give two compliments every day
Now that youâ€™ve committed to seeing the good in your partner, itâ€™s time to say it! This is a golden key to your mateâ€™s heart. Our world is so full of negative input, and we so rarely get compliments from other people. When we do get a compliment, it not only makes us feel great about ourselves, it actually makes us feel great about the person giving the compliment! Think about it! When your honey says, â€œYouâ€™re the best. Iâ€™m so glad I married you.â€ It not only makes you feel loved, it makes you feel more loving.
Compliments are easy to give, take such a little bit of time, and theyâ€™re free. Compliments are powerful; you just have to make the effort to say them. Anything works: â€œDinner was great, you make my favorite sauce.â€ â€œThanks for picking up the cleaning. It was very thoughtful, you saved me a trip.â€ â€œThat sweater looks great on you.â€
That may sound funny to you, but think about it. How many times do you see — or experience — partners treating each other in impolite, harsh ways that theyâ€™d never even treat a friend? Sometimes we take our partners for granted and unintentionally display rudeness. As the saying goes, if you have a choice between being right and being nice, just choose to be nice. Or to put this in the wise words of Bambiâ€™s friend Thumper, the bunny rabbit â€“ â€œIf you canâ€™t say somethinâ€™ nice donâ€™t say nothinâ€™ at all.â€
Pick your battles
How often have you heard this advice about parenting? This is great advice for child-rearingâ€”and itâ€™s great advice to follow in your marriage as well. In any human relationship there will be disagreement and conflict. The key here is to decide which issues are worth pursuing and which are better off ignored. By doing this, youâ€™ll find much less negative energy between you.
From now on, anytime you feel annoyed, take a minute to examine the issue at hand, and ask yourself a few questions. â€œHow important is this?â€ â€œIs this worth picking a fight over?â€ â€œWhat would be the benefit of choosing this battle versus letting it go?â€
The 60 second cuddle
You can often identify a newly married couple just by how much they touch each other â€” holding hands, sitting close, touching arms, kissing â€” just as you can spot an â€œoldly-marriedâ€ couple by how little they touch. Mothers, in particular, often have less need for physical contact with their partners because their babies and young children provide so much opportunity for touch and cuddling that dayâ€™s end finds them â€œtouched fulfilledâ€.
So hereâ€™s a simple reminder: make the effort to touch your spouse more often. A pat, a hug, a kiss, a shoulder massage â€“ the good feeling it produces for both of you far outweighs the effort.
Hereâ€™s the deal: Whenever youâ€™ve been apart make it a rule that you will take just 60 seconds to cuddle, touch and connect. This can be addictive! If you follow this advice soon youâ€™ll find yourselves touching each other more often, and increasing the romantic aspect of your relationship.
Spend more time talking to and listening to your partner.
I donâ€™t mean, â€œRemember to pick up Jimmyâ€™s soccer uniform.â€ Or â€œI have a PTA meeting tonight.â€ Rather, get into the habit of sharing your thoughts about what you read in the paper, what you watch on TV, your hopes, your dreams, your concerns. Take a special interest in those things that your spouse is interested in and ask questions. And then listen to the answers.
Spend time with your spouse
It can be very difficult for your marriage to thrive if you spend all your time being â€œMommyâ€ and â€œDaddyâ€. You need to spend regular time as â€œHusbandâ€ and â€œWifeâ€. This doesnâ€™t mean you have to take a two-week vacation in Hawaii. (Although that might be nice, too!) Just take small daily snippets of time when you can enjoy uninterrupted conversation, or even just quiet companionship, without a baby on your hip, a child tugging your shirtsleeve or a teenager begging for the car keys. A daily morning walk around the block or a shared cup of tea after all the children are in bed might work wonders to re-connect you to each other. And yes, itâ€™s quite fine to talk about your children when youâ€™re spending your time together, because, after all, your children are one of the most important connections you have in your relationship.
When you and your spouse regularly connect in a way that nurtures your relationship, you may find a renewed love between you, as well as a refreshed vigor that will allow you to be a better, more loving parent. You owe it to yourself â€” and to your kids â€” to nurture your relationship.
So take my challenge and use these ideas for the next 30 days. And watch your marriage take on a whole new glow.
Parts of this article are excerpted with permission from books by Elizabeth Pantley:
Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging and Pleading Hidden Messages: What Our Words and Actions are Really Telling Our Children,
New Harbinger Publications, Inc. and by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary
Listen to my interview!
You can go listen to my interview about Supermom’s No-Lice products over at Heal Yourself Talk Radio. I’m really happy with how it turned out. Let me know what you think.
Car Seat Crying
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Some babies fall asleep almost before youâ€™re out of the driveway, but others wonâ€™t spend five happy minutes in their car seats. Usually, this is because your baby is used to more freedom of movement and more physical attention than you can provide when sheâ€™s belted into her seat.
Hearing your baby cry while you areÂ trying to drive is challenging. EvenÂ though itâ€™s difficult to deal with, remember that you and your babyâ€™s safety are most important. Parents sometimes take a crying baby out of the car seat, which is extremely dangerous and makes it even more difficult for the baby to get used to riding in the car seat. Some parents make poor driving decisions when their babies are crying, which puts everyone in the car at risk. Either pull over and calm your baby down, or focus on your driving. Donâ€™t try to do both.
The good news is that a few new ideas and a little time and maturity will help your baby become a happy traveler. (I know, because three of my babies were car-seat-haters!)
The trip to car seat happiness
Any one (or more) of the following strategies may help solve your car seat
dilemma. If the first one you try fails, choose another one, then another; eventually, youâ€™ll hit upon the right solution for your baby.
Make sure that your baby is healthy.
If car seat crying is something new, and your baby has been particularly fussy at home, too, your baby may have an ear infection or other illness. A visit to the doctor is in order.
Bring the car seat in the house and let your baby sit and play in it.
Once it becomes more familiar in the house, she may be happier to sit there in the car.
Keep a special box of soft, safe car toys that youâ€™ll use only in the car. If these are interesting enough, they may hold her attention. (Avoid hard toys because they could cause injury in a quick stop.)
Tape or hang toys for viewing.
You can do this on the back of the seat that your baby is facing or string an array of lightweight toys from the ceiling using heavy tape and yarn. Place them just at armâ€™s reach so that your baby can bat at them from her seat. (Donâ€™t use hard toys that could hurt your baby if they come loose in a quick stop.)
Make a car mobile.
Link a long row of plastic baby chains from one side of the backseat to the other. Clip soft, lightweight new toys onto the chain for each trip. Make sure they are secure and keep on eye on these so that they donâ€™t become loose while you are driving.
Hang a made-for-baby poster on the back of the seat that faces your baby.
These are usually black, white, red and bold primary colors; some even have pockets so you can change the pictures. (Remember to do this, since changing the scenery is very helpful.)
Experiment with different types of music in the car.
Some babies enjoy lullabies or music tapes made especially for young children; others surprise you by calming down as soon as you play one of your favorites. Some babies enjoy hearing Mom or Dad sing, more than anything else! (For some reason, a rousing chorus of â€œRudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeerâ€ has always been a good choice for us, even out of season!)
Try â€œwhite noiseâ€ in the car.
You can purchase CDs of soothing nature sounds or you can make a recording of your vacuum cleaner!
Practice with short, pleasant trips when your baby is in a good mood.
It helps if someone can sit near her and keep her entertained. A few good experiences may help set a new pattern.
Try a pacifier or teething toy.
When your baby has something to suck or chew on he may be happier. Just make sure it doesnâ€™t present a choking hazard, and keep to small, soft toys.
Hang a mirror.
That way your baby can see you (and you can see your baby) while you are driving. Baby stores offer specialty mirrors made especially for this purpose. When in her seat, she may think that youâ€™re not there, and just seeing your face will help her feel better.
Put up a sunshade in the window.
This can be helpful if you suspect that sunshine in your babyâ€™s face may be a problem. Use the window-stick-on types, and avoid any with hard pieces that could become dislodged in a quick stop.
Try to consolidate trips.
Trip-chaining is effective, especially if you avoid being in the car for long periods of time, and you donâ€™t have many ins-and-outs.
Make sure your baby hasnâ€™t outgrown her car seat.
If her legs are confined, or her belts are too tight, she my find her seat to be uncomfortable.
Try opening a window.
Fresh air and a nice breeze can be soothing.
If all else fails . . . take the bus!
This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)Â
Wonderful Sounds for Sleep
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of the No-Cry Sleep Solution
The environment that your baby enjoyed for nine long months in the womb was not one of absolute quiet. There was a constant symphony of sound — your heartbeat and fluids rushing in and out of the placenta. (Remember those sounds from when you listened to your babyâ€™s heartbeat with the Doppler stethoscope?) Research indicates that â€œwhite noiseâ€ sounds or soft bedtime music helps many babies to relax and fall asleep more easily. This is most certainly because these sounds create an environment more familiar to your baby than a very quiet room.
Many people enjoy using soothing music as their babyâ€™s sleep sound. If you do, choose bedtime music carefully. Some music (including jazz and much classical music) is too complex and stimulating. For music to be soothing to your baby, pick simple, repetitive, predictable music, like traditional lullabies. Tapes created especially for putting babies to sleep are great choices. Pick something that you will enjoy listening to night after night, too. (Using a tape player with an automatic repeat function is helpful for keeping the music going as long as you need it to play.)
There are widely available, and very lovely, “nature sounds” tapes that work nicely, too, as well those small sound-generating or white-noise devices and clocks you may have seen in stores. The sounds on these — raindrops, a bubbling brook or running water — often are similar to those sounds your baby heard in utero. A ticking clock or a bubbling fish tank also make wonderful white-noise options.
â€œI went out today and bought a small aquarium and the humming noise does seem to relax Chloe and help her to sleep. I didnâ€™t buy any fish though. Who has time to take care of fish when youâ€™re half asleep all day?â€
Tanya, mother of 13-month-old Chloe
You can find some suitable tapes and CDs made especially for babies or those made for adults to listen to when they want to relax. Whatever you choose,Â listen to it first and ask yourself: Does this relax me? Would it make me feel sleepy if I listened to it in bed?
If you must put your baby to sleep in a noisy, active house full of people, keeping the tape running (auto rewind) will help mask baby-waking noises like dishes clanking, people talking, siblings giggling, TV, dogs barking, etc. This can also help transition your sleeping baby from a noisy daytime house to which heâ€™s become accustomed subconsciously to one of absolute nighttime quiet.
Once your baby is familiar with his calming noise, or music, you can use these to help your baby fall back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Simply sooth him by playing the music (very quietly) during the calming and falling-asleep time. If he wakes and cries, repeat this process.
If your baby gets used to his sleep time sounds you can take advantage of this and take the tape with you if you will be away from home for naptime or bedtime. The familiarity of these sounds will help your baby sleep in an unfamiliar environment.
Eventually your baby will rely on this technique less and less to fall and stay asleep. Donâ€™t feel you must rush the process; there is no harm in your baby falling asleep to these gentle sounds. When you are ready to wean him of these you can help this process along by reducing the volume by a small amount every night until you finally donâ€™t turn the music or sounds on at all.
Babies enjoy these peaceful sounds, and they are just one more piece in the puzzle that helps you to help your baby sleep â€“ gently, without any crying at all.
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002
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What is Preventing Your Baby from Sleeping Through the Night?
Thursday September 20th 2007, 6:46 am
Filed under: Parenting
By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution
Hereâ€™s something that may really surprise you: As much as we may want our babies to sleep through the night, our own subconscious emotions sometimes hold us back from encouraging change in our babiesâ€™ sleeping habits. You yourself may be the very obstacle preventing a change in a routine that disrupts your life. So let’s figure out if anything is standing in your way.
Examine Your Own Needs and Goals
Todayâ€™s society leads us to believe that â€œnormal babiesâ€ sleep through the night from about two months; my research indicates that this is more the exception than the rule. The number of families in your boat could fill a fleet of cruise ships.
â€œAt our last day-care parent meeting, one father brought up the fact that his two-year-old daughter wasnâ€™t sleeping through the night. I discovered that out of 24 toddlers only six stayed asleep all night long.â€ â€¦Robin, mother of thirteen-month-old Alicia
You must figure out where your own problem lies. Is it in your babyâ€™s routine, in your management of it, or simply in the minds of others? If you can honestly say you want to change your babyâ€™s sleep habits because they are truly disruptive to you and your family, then youâ€™re ready to make changes. But if you feel coerced into changing Babyâ€™s patterns because Great Grandma Beulah or your friend from playgroup says thatâ€™s the way it should be, itâ€™s time for a long, hard think.
Certainly, if your little one is waking you up every hour or two, you donâ€™t have to think long on the question, â€œIs this disruptive to me?â€ It obviously is. However, if your baby is waking up only once or twice a night, itâ€™s important that you determine exactly how much this pattern is disturbing to you, and decide on a realistic goal. Be honest in assessing the situation’s effect on your life. Begin today by contemplating these questions:
- Am I content with the way things are, or am I becoming resentful, angry, or frustrated?
- Is my babyâ€™s nighttime routine negatively affecting my marriage, job, or relationships with my other children?
- Is my baby happy, healthy, and seemingly well rested?
- Am I happy, healthy, and well rested?
Once you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of not only what is happening with regard to your babyâ€™s sleep, but also how motivated you are to make a change.
Reluctance to Let Go of Those Nighttime Moments
A good, long, honest look into your heart may truly surprise you. You may find you actually relish those quiet night wakings when no one else is around. I remember in the middle of one night, I lay nursing Coleton by the light of the moon. The house was perfectly, peacefully quiet. As I gently stroked his downy hair and soft baby skin, I marveled at this tiny being beside meâ€”and the thought hit me, â€œI love this! I love these silent moments that we share in the night.â€ It was then that I realized that even though I struggled through my babyâ€™s hourly nighttime wakings, I needed to want to make a change in our night waking habits before I would see any changes in his sleeping patterns.
You may need to take a look at your own feelings. And if you find youâ€™re truly ready to make a change, youâ€™ll need to give yourself permission to let go of this stage of your babyâ€™s life and move on to a different phase in your relationship. There will be lots of time to hug, cuddle, and love your little one, but you must truly feel ready to move those moments out of your sleeping time and into the light of day.
Worry About Your Babyâ€™s Safety
We parents worry about our babies, and we should! With every night waking, as we have been tending to our childâ€™s nightly needs, we have also been reassured that our baby is doing fine â€” every hour or two all night long. We get used to these checks; they provide continual reassurance of Babyâ€™s safety.
â€œThe first time my baby slept five straight hours, I woke up in a cold sweat. I nearly fell
out of bed and ran down the hall. I was so sure that something was horribly wrong. I nearly wept when I found her sleeping peacefully.â€ â€¦Azza, mother of seven-month-old Laila
Co-sleeping parents are not exempt from these fears. Even if you are sleeping right next to your baby, youâ€™ll find that you have become used to checking on her frequently through the night. Even when sheâ€™s sleeping longer stretches, you arenâ€™t sleeping, because youâ€™re still on security duty.
These are very normal worries, rooted in your natural instincts to protect your baby. Therefore, for you to allow your baby to sleep for longer stretches, youâ€™ll need to find ways to feel confident that your baby is safeâ€”all night long.
Once you reassure yourself that your baby is safe while you sleep, youâ€™ll have taken that first step toward helping her sleep all night.
Belief That Things Will Change on Their Own
You may hope, pray, and wish that one fine night, your baby will magically begin to sleep through the night. Maybe youâ€™re crossing your fingers that heâ€™ll just â€œoutgrowâ€ this stage, and you wonâ€™t have to do anything different at all. Itâ€™s a very rare night-waking baby who suddenly decides to sleep through the night all on his own. Granted, this may happen to youâ€”but your baby may be two, three or four years old when it does! Decide now whether you have the patience to wait that long, or if you are ready to gently move the process along.
Too Fatigued to Work Toward Change
Change requires effort, and effort requires energy. In an exhausted state, we may find it easier just to keep things as they are than try something different. In other words, when Baby wakes for the fifth time that night, and I’m desperate for sleep, it’s so much easier just to resort to the easiest way to get him back to sleep (rock, nurse, or replace the pacifier) than it is to try something different.
Only a parent who is truly sleep deprived can understand what Iâ€™m saying here. Others may calmly advise, â€œWell if things arenâ€™t working for you, just change what youâ€™re doing.â€ However, every night waking puts you in that foggy state where the only thing you crave is going back to sleepâ€”plans and ideas seem like too much effort.
If you are to help your baby sleep all night, you will have to force yourself to make some changes and follow your plan, even in the middle of the night, even if itâ€™s the tenth time your baby has called out for you.
So, after reading this section and youâ€™re sure you and your baby are ready, itâ€™s time for you to make a commitment to change. That is the first important step to helping your baby sleep through the night.
This article is a copyrighted excerpt from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002
Newborn Babies and Sleep
By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution
Congratulations on the birth of your new baby. This is a glorious time in your life â€“ and a sleepless time too. Newborns have very different sleep needs than older babies. This article will help you understand your babyâ€™s developing sleep patterns, and will help you have reasonable expectations for sleep.
Read, Learn, and Beware of Bad Advice
Absolutely everyone has an opinion about how you should handle sleep issues with your new baby. The danger to a new parent is that these tidbits of misguided advice (no matter how well-intentioned) can truly have a negative effect on our parenting skills and, by extension, our babiesâ€™ developmentâ€¦if we are not aware of the facts. The more knowledge you have the less likely that other people will make you doubt your parenting decisions.
When you have your facts straight, and when you have a parenting plan, you will be able to respond with confidence to those who are well-meaning but offering contrary or incorrect advice. So, your first step is to get smart! Know what you are doing, and know why you are doing it. Read books and magazines, attend classes or support groups â€“ it all helps.
The Biology of Newborn Sleep
During the early months of your baby’s life, he sleeps when he is tired, itâ€™s that simple. You can do little to force a new baby to sleep when he doesnâ€™t want to sleep, and conversely, you can do little to wake him up when he is sleeping soundly.
Newborn babies have very tiny tummies. They grow rapidly, their diet is liquid, and it digests quickly. Although it would be nice to lay your little bundle down at bedtime and not hear from him until morning, this is not a realistic goal for a tiny baby. Newborns need to be fed every two to four hours â€” and sometimes more.
Sleeping â€œthrough the nightâ€
You may believe that babies should start “sleeping through the night” soon after birth. For a new baby, a five-hour stretch is a full night. Many (but not all) babies can sleep uninterrupted from midnight to 5 a.m. (Not that they always do.) This may be a far cry from what you may have thought “sleeping through the night” meant!
What’s more, some sleep-through-the-nighters will suddenly begin waking more frequently, and itâ€™s often a full year or even two until your baby will settle into an all-night, every night sleep pattern.
Falling Asleep at the Breast or Bottle
It is natural for a newborn to fall asleep while sucking at the breast, a bottle, or a pacifier. When a baby always falls asleep this way, he learns to associate sucking with falling asleep; over time, he cannot fall asleep any other way. This is probably the most natural, pleasant sleep association a baby can have. However, a large percentage of parents who are struggling with older babies who cannot fall asleep or stay asleep are fighting this powerful association.
Therefore, if you want your baby to be able to fall asleep without your help, it is essential that you sometimes let your newborn baby suck until he is sleepy, but not totally asleep. When you can, remove the breast, bottle, or pacifier from his mouth, and let him finish falling asleep without it. If you do this often enough, he will learn how to fall asleep without sucking.
Waking for Night Feedings
Many pediatricians recommend that parents shouldn’t let a newborn sleep longer than four hours without feeding, and the majority of babies wake far more frequently than that. No matter what, your baby will wake up during the night. The key is to learn when you should pick her up for a feeding and when you can let her go back to sleep on her own.
Hereâ€™s a tip that is important for you to know. Babies make many sleeping sounds, from grunts to whimpers to outright cries, and these noises donâ€™t always signal awakening. These are what I call sleeping noises, and your baby is asleep during these episodes.
Learn to differentiate between sleeping sounds and awake sounds. If she is awake and hungry, youâ€™ll want to feed her as quickly as possible so sheâ€™ll go back to sleep easily. But if sheâ€™s asleep â€“ let her sleep!
Help Your Baby Distinguish Day from Night
A newborn sleeps sixteen to eighteen hours per day, and this sleep is distributed evenly over six to seven sleep periods. You can help your baby distinguish between night sleep and day sleep, and thus help him sleep longer periods at night.
Have your baby take his daytime naps in a lit room where he can hear the noises of the day. Make nighttime sleep dark and quiet, except for white noise (a background hum). You can also help your baby differentiate day from night by using a nightly bath and a change into pajamas to signal the difference between the two.
Watch for Signs of Tiredness
Get familiar with your baby’s sleepy signals and put her down to sleep as soon as she seems tired. A baby who is encouraged to stay awake when her body is craving sleep is an unhappy baby. Over time, this pattern develops into sleep deprivation, which complicates developing sleep maturity. Learn to read your babyâ€™s sleepy signs — such as quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, and fussing — and put her to bed when that window of opportunity presents itself.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Itâ€™s a fact that your baby will be waking you up, so you may as well make yourself as comfortable as possible. Relax about night wakings right now. Being frustrated about having to get up wonâ€™t change a thing. The situation will improve day by day; and before you know it, your newborn wonâ€™t be so little anymore â€” sheâ€™ll be walking and talking and getting into everything in sightâ€¦during the day, and sleeping peacefully all night long.
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002 http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of the No-Cry Sleep Solution and Gentle Baby Care
Question: Our first-born is showing extreme jealousy towards the new baby. Heâ€™s obviously mad at us for disrupting the predictable flow of his life with this new challenger for our attention. How can we smooth things out?
Think about it: Before the baby entered your family, your toddler was told heâ€™d have a wonderful little brother to play with, and how much fun it would be. Then the little brother is born and your toddler is thinking, â€œAre you kidding me? This squirming, red-faced baby that takes up all your time and attention is supposed to be FUN?â€ He then â€œplaysâ€ with the baby in the only ways he knows how. He plays catch. You yell at him for throwing toys at the baby. He plays hide-and-seek. You yell at him to get the blanket off the baby. He gives the kid a hug, and you admonish him to be more careful. Is it any wonder that your toddler is confused?
Teach: Your first goal is to protect the baby. Your second, to teach your older child how to interact with his new sibling in proper ways. You can teach your toddler how to play with the baby in the same way you teach him anything else. Talk to him, demonstrate, guide and encourage. Until you feel confident that youâ€™ve achieved your second goal, however, do not leave the children alone together. Yes, I know. It isnâ€™t convenient. But it is necessary, maybe even critical.
Hover: Whenever the children are together, â€œhoverâ€ close by. If you see your child about to get rough, pick up the baby and distract the older sibling with a song, a toy, an activity or a snack. This action protects the baby while helping you avoid a constant string of â€œNos,â€ which may actually encourage the aggressive behavior.
Teach soft touches: Teach the older sibling how to give the baby a back rub. Tell how this kind of touching calms the baby, and praise the older child for a job well done. This lesson teaches the child how to be physical with the baby in a positive way.
Act quickly: Every time you see your child hit, or act roughly with the baby, act quickly. You might firmly announce, â€œNo hitting, time out.â€ Place the child in a time-out chair with the statement, â€œYou can get up when you can use your hands in the right way.â€ Allow him to get right up if he wants â€“ as long as he is careful and gentle with the baby. This isnâ€™t punishment, after all. Itâ€™s just helping him learn that rough actions arenâ€™t going to be permitted.
Demonstrate: Children learn what they live. Your older child will be watching as you handle the baby and learning from your actions. You are your childâ€™s most important teacher. You are demonstrating in everything you do, and your child will learn most from watching you.
Praise: Whenever you see the older child touching the baby gently, make a positive comment. Make a big fuss about the important â€œolder brother.â€ Hug and kiss your older child and tell him how proud you are.
Watch your words: Donâ€™t blame everything on the baby. â€œWe canâ€™t go to the park; the babyâ€™s sleeping.â€ â€œBe quiet, youâ€™ll wake the baby.â€ â€œAfter I change the baby Iâ€™ll help you.â€ At this point, your child would just as soon sell the baby! Instead, use alternate reasons. â€œMy hands are busy now.â€ â€œWeâ€™ll go after lunch.â€ â€œIâ€™ll help you in three minutes.â€
Be supportive: Acknowledge your childâ€™s unspoken feelings, such as â€œThings sure have changed with the new baby here. Itâ€™s going to take us all some time to get used to this.â€ Keep your comments mild and general. Donâ€™t say, â€œI bet you hate the new baby.â€ Instead, say, â€œIt must be hard to have Mommy spending so much time with the baby.â€ or â€œI bet you wish we could go to the park now, and not have to wait for the baby to wake up.â€ When your child knows that you understand her feelings, sheâ€™ll have less need to act up to get your attention.
Give extra love: Increase your little demonstrations of love for your child. Say extra I love yous, increase your daily dose of hugs, and find time to read a book or play a game. Temporary regressions or behavior problems are normal, and can be eased with an extra dose of time and attention.
Get â€˜em involved: Teach the older sibling how to be helpful with the baby or how to entertain the baby. Let the older sibling open the baby gifts and use the camera to take pictures of the baby. Teach him how to put the babyâ€™s socks on. Let him sprinkle the powder. Praise and encourage whenever possible.
Making each feel special: Avoid comparing siblings, even about seemingly innocent topics such as birth weight, when each first crawled or walked, or who had more hair! Children can interpret these comments as criticisms.
Take a deep breath and be calm. This is a time of adjustment for everyone in the family. Reduce outside activities, relax your housekeeping standards, and focus on your current priority, adjusting to your new family size.
Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999
Handling Unwanted Advice
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
â€œHelp! Iâ€™m getting so frustrated with the endless stream of advice I get from my mother-in-law and brother! No matter what I do, Iâ€™m doing it wrong. I love them both, but how do I get them to stop dispensing all this unwanted advice?â€
Just as your baby is an important part of your life, he is also important to others. People who care about your baby are bonded to you and your child in a special way that invites their counsel. Knowing this may give you a reason to handle the interference gently, in a way that leaves everyoneâ€™s feelings intact.
Regardless of the advice, it is your baby, and in the end, you will raise your child the way that you think best. So itâ€™s rarely worth creating a war over a well-meaning personâ€™s comments. You can respond to unwanted advice in a variety of ways:
Itâ€™s natural to be defensive if you feel that someone is judging you; but chances are you are not being criticized; rather, the other person is sharing what they feel to be valuable insight. Try to listen - you may just learn something valuable.
If you know that there is no convincing the other person to change her mind, simply smile, nod, and make a non-committal response, such as, â€œInteresting!â€ Then go about your own business…your way.
You might find one part of the advice that you agree with. If you can, provide wholehearted agreement on that topic.
Pick your battles
If your mother-in-law insists that Baby wear a hat on your walk to the park, go ahead and pop one on his head. This wonâ€™t have any long-term effects except that of placating her. However, donâ€™t capitulate on issues that are important to you or the health or well-being of your child.
Steer clear of the topic
If your brother is pressuring you to let your baby cry to sleep, but you would never do that, then donâ€™t complain to him about your baby getting you up five times the night before. If he brings up the topic, then distraction is definitely in order, such as, â€œWould you like a cup of coffee?â€
Knowledge is power; protect yourself and your sanity by reading up on your parenting choices. Rely on the confidence that you are doing your best for your baby.
Educate the other person
If your â€œteacherâ€ is imparting information that you know to be outdated or wrong, share what youâ€™ve learned on the topic. You may be able to open the other personâ€™s mind. Refer to a study, book, or report that you have read.
Quote a doctor
Many people accept a point of view if a professional has validated it. If your own pediatrician agrees with your position, say, â€œMy doctor said to wait until sheâ€™s at least six months before starting solids.â€ If your own doctor doesnâ€™t back your view on that issue, then refer to another doctor - perhaps the author of a baby care book.
You can avoid confrontation with an elusive response. For example, if your sister asks if youâ€™ve started potty training yet (but you are many months away from even starting the process), you can answer with, â€œWeâ€™re moving in that direction.â€
Ask for advice!
Your friendly counselor is possibly an expert on a few issues that you can agree on. Search out these points and invite guidance. Sheâ€™ll be happy that she is helping you, and youâ€™ll be happy you have a way to avoid a showdown about topics that you donâ€™t agree on.
Memorize a standard response
Hereâ€™s a comment that can be said in response to almost any piece of advice: â€œThis may not be the right way for you, but itâ€™s the right way for me.â€
Try being honest about your feelings. Pick a time free of distractions and choose your words carefully, such as, â€œI know how much you love Harry, and Iâ€™m glad you spend so much time with him. I know you think youâ€™re helping me when you give me advice about this, but Iâ€™m comfortable with my own approach, and Iâ€™d really appreciate if youâ€™d understand that.â€
Find a mediator
If the situation is putting a strain on your relationship with the advice-giver, you may want to ask another person to step in for you.
Search out like-minded friends
Join a support group or on-line club with people who share your parenting philosophies. Talking with others who are raising their babies in a way that is similar to your own can give you the strength to face people who donâ€™t understand your viewpoints.
This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Stop the Diaper Changing Battles
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Babies are little bundles of energy! They donâ€™t want to lie still to have their diapers changed. They cry, fuss, or even crawl away. A simple issue can turn into a major tug-of-war between parent and baby.
Diaper changing as a ritual
The position of parent and baby during a diaper change is perfect for creating a bonding experience between you. You are leaning over your baby, and your face is at the perfect arms-length distance for engaging eye contact and communication. Whatâ€™s more, this golden opportunity presents itself many times during each day; no matter how busy you both get, you have a few moments of quiet connection. Itâ€™s too valuable a ritual to treat it as simply maintenance.
Learning about your baby
Diapering offers a perfect opportunity for you to truly absorb your babyâ€™s cues and signals. Youâ€™ll learn how his little body works, what tickles him, what causes those tiny goose bumps. As you lift, move, and touch your baby, your hands will learn the map of his body and whatâ€™s normal for him. This is important because it will enable you to easily decipher any physical changes that need attention.
Regular diaper changes create rhythm in your babyâ€™s world and afford the sense that the world is safe and dependable. They are regular and consistent episodes in days that may not always be predictable. Your loving touches teach your baby that he is valued, and your gentle care teaches him that he is respected.
A learning experience for your baby
Your baby does a lot of learning during diaper changes. Itâ€™s one of the few times that she actually sees her own body without clothes, when she can feel her complete movements without a wad of diaper between her legs. Diaper-off time is a great chance for her to stretch her limbs and learn how they move.
During changing time, your baby is also a captive audience to your voice, so she can focus on what you are saying and how you are saying it â€” an important component of her language learning process. Likewise, for a precious few minutes, you are her captive audience, so you can focus on what sheâ€™s saying and how she is saying it â€” crucial to the growth of your relationship.
What your baby thinks and feels
Many active babies could not care less if their diapers are clean. Theyâ€™re too busy to concern themselves with such trivial issues. It may be important to you, but itâ€™s not a priority for your child.
Diaper rash or uncomfortable diapers (wrong size or bad fit) can make him dread diaper changes, so check these first. Once youâ€™re sure all the practical issues are covered, make a few adjustments in this unavoidable process to make it more enjoyable.
Take a deep breath
Given the number of diapers you have to change, itâ€™s possible that what used to be a pleasant experience for you has gotten to be routine, or even worse, a hassle. When parents approach diaper changing in a brisk, no-nonsense way, it isnâ€™t any fun for Baby. Try to reconnect with the bonding experience that diaper changing can be — a moment of calm in a busy day when you share one-on-one time with your baby.
Have some fun
This is a great time to sing songs, blow tummy raspberries, or do some tickle and play. A little fun might take the dread out of diaper changes for both of you. A game that stays fresh for a long time is â€œhide the diaper.â€ Put a new diaper on your head, on your shoulder, or tucked in your shirt and ask, â€œWhereâ€™s the diaper? I canâ€™t find it!â€ A fun twist is to give the diaper a name and a silly voice, and use it as a puppet. Let the diaper call your child to the changing station and have it talk to him as you change it. (If you get tired of making Mister Diaper talk, just remember what it was like before you tried the idea.)
Keep a flashlight with your changing supplies and let your baby play with it while you change him. Some kidsâ€™ flashlights have a button to change the color of the light, or shape of the ray. Call this his â€œdiaper flashlightâ€ and put it away when the change is complete. You may find a different type of special toy that appeals to your little one, or even a basket of small interesting toys. If you reserve these only for diaper time, they can retain their novelty for a long time.
Try a stand-up diaper
If your babyâ€™s diaper is just wet (not messy), try letting her stand up while you do a quick change. If youâ€™re using cloth diapers, have one leg pre-pinned so that you can slide it on like pants, or opt for pre-fitted diapers that donâ€™t require pins.
Time to potty train?
If your child is old enough and seems ready for the next step, consider potty training.
This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)Â
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