When you're a new mother unfamiliar with the trenches of parenting, there's something comforting about going online and finding out you're not alone. There are a few questions that can be found at least once a week in every parenting forum. We decided to get the best minds together and answer them once and for all.
My baby is constantly asking to be held, he never sleeps and I'm so tired… what can I do?
The subject of sleep or lack of sleep is one of the biggest concerns for new parents. The desperate need to find a magic solution to get baby to sleep more has fed many industries. But your baby could not care less – she continues to follow her natural sleep pattern.
Don’t worry, your baby won't get used to being held constantly, she was born used to it. In the womb your baby was constantly close, cuddled and surrounded; when you moved, your baby moved. So it’s only natural that she'll look for the same conditions outside the uterus and will need a lot of touching and movement to feel secure in this new environment.
When your baby is ready (at around six months old) you can start teaching her new behaviors. But in the early months of life it's important to fulfill her needs as much as you possibly can so she will have a positive take on the world and view it as a safe place.
Just a bit of information on normal baby sleep patterns: babies sleep in cycles of one to three hours. They wake up often to eat because their stomach is small and empties quickly.
Try to find times during the day when you can rest with your baby. Breastfeeding while lying down has given lots of moms some valuable sleep. Get as much help as you can with other tasks like housework and focus on your baby and yourself. Also remember that babies need help falling asleep so you can try to actively put your baby to sleep by walking, rocking bouncing on a physic ball, breastfeeding and patting.
Help! Gassy baby! My poor little one is suffering and twisting, how can I help?
Your baby is squirming and bringing his legs close to his stomach, you can hear sounds coming from the diaper area and he is crying and seems uncomfortable. He is probably suffering from gas. Babies who breastfeed and babies who eat formula differ from each other, and the causes of gas and the solutions are different for the two groups.
If your baby is fully breastfed and has gas, look for these other symptoms: slimy, foamy or green poo, baby throws his head back during breastfeeding and there is a struggle at the breast, frequent spit-ups and very leaky breasts. If you’ve noticed any of these you might have an oversupply of breast milk; read more about oversupply and how to deal with it.
When a breastfed baby has gas it's important to make sure you are giving her enough time on each breast so she gets to the richer, fatty milk the comes after a few minutes (also known as hind milk). Gas can also be caused by switching breasts too fast, resulting in the baby getting a lot of watery sugary milk that comes in the first few minutes of a feed (fore milk). Let him feed from one side until he unlatches himself and then offer the other side (one side might be enough). A great breastfeeding position you might want to try is the horizontal position where your baby is laying stomach to stomach with you . This position helps with stomach aches and gas.
If you tried all that and your baby is still suffering you should try to think about your diet and see if there are any foods that might be causing your baby gas. The first suspect is surprisingly not a vegetable (the honor of broccoli and cauliflower is finally restored) – it’s cow’s milk. Try to cut back on anything containing cow's milk protein (even chocolate…) and see how baby reacts after three weeks. Each baby might be sensitive to different foods and so you might have to go through a process of elimination.
If your bottle-fed baby is gassy, check how long it takes to empty a bottle. If your baby is sucking it down in five minutes you might be over feeding. Try to take as long as possible to finish each bottle by keeping it at a 90 degree angle for as long as possible and taking breaks often so baby has time to digest and get a feeling of fullness before the bottle is empty.
Any position to hold the baby where you apply gentle pressure to the stomach is good. Need some ideas? Try “tiger on tree” baby’s stomach is in your palm and his head is resting on your arm near your elbow. You can also gently massage the baby's stomach. Also you can try the "I love you massage": use your fingers to write the letters ILU on the baby's abdomen, you can do this with a bit of almond oil to help your finger move smoothly.
It's almost time for me to go back to work and I'm worried sick! What should I be looking for in a day care so I can choose the best one for my baby?
Many studies have been written about this subject and they all say the same thing: The most important thing about a daycare arrangement is not the quality of the toys or the décor, not even how clean it is. The most important thing about daycare is the staff and specifically staff-to-children ratio. The absolute minimum is 1:5 but the more staff there is the better.
When you are looking at a daycare framework pay special attention to the key staff members – the teacher or class leader is the spirit of the place to which you’re intrusting your child, so it’s important that you connect with this person and feel they are in the same mind-frame as you.
Ask the lead staff members these important questions and make sure you like the answers:
1. How do you feel about babies crying? How do you calm a crying baby? If the answer to this is they need to cry a bit to get used to not being held all the time or get used to playing on the mat then it's safe to say that this person will be less responsive to your child's needs.
2. What is your approach to hand or bottle feeding? Make sure that all bottles are given while the baby is held by a staff member and there is no "bottle propping" (when the baby is in a half-prone position and the bottle is propped up by a towel or pillow. This practice is very dangerous). Make sure that you share the same beliefs about solid foods (what kinds are healthy, when and how they should be introduced)
3. Do you feel comfortable calling me if you’re unable to calm my child or to tell me about something out of the ordinary that has happened? Make sure that the caregiver doesn’t feel that calling the parents, means bothering them or indicates a failure on the part of the staff member.
If you have any doubt about the daycare you’re probably right, trust your gut feeling, move on and look for a more suitable arrangement.
The right age to start daycare depends on many things, among them your job status, financial ability and family structure. Under one year of age, studies show the best arrangement is one adult per child (a nanny) but one nanny for two children is also better than a group setting. Social needs ("they need to be with kids their age”) can wait.
If you can’t provide one–on-one care, look for the best group setting for your baby that will answer all her needs in the best way. You will know what the best setting is for your child so make sure you don’t ignore your instincts and you’lll find a great care setting.
Asking “for a friend”: is this pregnancy test positive?
First things first: we all know you're the friend…just saying…
And now, pregnancy tests can tell if you're pregnant by detecting the presence of the hormone beta-HCG in your urine. When the test finds the hormone the appropriate area in the test will show a line or a plus sign. Even if the lines are faint it usually means the test has detected the hormone, at levels high enough to show on a home test this hormone definitely means you're pregnant. You can confirm by taking a blood test.
Now that you know that you're going to be joining the bump club, I'm happy to give you the best tip I have for moms to be: go to a breastfeeding class before you give birth, you won't believe how much there is to learn and how helpful this knowledge will be when you're breastfeeding your baby for the first time. If you know a little bit about the sleep patterns of a new baby, how to get a good latch, different positions to breastfeed comfortably, and how to make the most of the first hour after birth you'll be able to avoid common mistakes and start your breastfeeding journey on the right foot.
And of course we can't talk about moms’ questions without the picture of the suspicious poo: this is a picture of my sons diaper why is his poo this color? Should I be worried?
So first of all… eww! Next time describe your diaper contents and don’t show it to all of Facebook over breakfast.
But anyway, here are a few warning signs to notice in poo: foamy or slimy poo can be the sign of a virus, green poo can be a sign of short breastfeeding sessions or switching sides too soon. If you find hard or bloody poo in your baby's diaper it could mean constipation or fissure (tiny laceration on rectum). black or scant poos are a sign of dehydration. Diarrhea could also mean a virus. If you see a suspicious poo save it and show it to your pediatrician.