7 Ways To Help Your Child Adjust To A New Baby

On August 31, 2012, in Blog, by Bellybuds

By Susan Stiffelman
Original post here
Dear Susan,
My husband and I just had a baby boy, and our 4-year-old daughter is not adjusting well. She was happy that she was finally going to have a brother, but now she shows very little interest in him. She has been having tantrums, and tells me that she hates the new baby. I have reminded her that she wanted to be a big sister — but it isn’t helping. What can I do? Signed, Confused Mother of Two

Dear Confused Mother of Two,

You have probably heard this before, but just in case, here is an analogy that may help you understand what your daughter is going through. Imagine your husband coming home one day with another wife, lovingly draping his arm around her while telling you with great enthusiasm that this new wife will only add to the love and joy in your family. Chances are, you wouldn’t buy it. That was your husband, and you have no interest in sharing him.

Your newborn — however precious — occupies a lot of your time and attention. Right now your daughter is going through a significant loss; she needs time and help to come to terms with the sudden competition she has for access to you. Here’s what I suggest.

1. Be willing to hear her unhappy feelings. “I understand it’s hard, sweetheart.” “You wanted time with Mommy all by yourself.” “When the baby is fussy, he makes a lot of noise.” Don’t sugarcoat how life has changed in your household; if you acknowledge the hard parts, she won’t have to bury or repress her frustration, which is what is fueling her misbehavior.

2. Emphasize what hasn’t changed. A child’s world is full of new experiences; the arrival of a new sibling is one of the biggest ones, but every day, children encounter things they don’t understand or have never been through. Read your daughter her favorite book, sing your special song, and try to stick to whatever rituals you can as you navigate your own enormous adjustments (not to mention fatigue!).

3. Don’t try to push your daughter to cozy up to her brother. The less insistent you are that she fuss over him or act like a “good big sister,” the more room she’ll have to naturally fall in love with him.

4. Offer her the chance to be alone with you and her daddy — together, and one-on-one. Take her for a short walk or an errand without the baby so she remembers that she’s still your special girl.

5. Help her discover the benefits of being a big sister. While in theory your daughter might have been excited about the baby, she may find that having a younger sibling isn’t turning out to be quite as much fun as she imagined. Avoid telling her she needs to act her age or be a good role model for her little brother. Instead, tell others (within your daughter’s earshot) how helpful she was if she carried your diaper bag or handed you the baby powder, and how lucky her brother is to have her in his life.

6. If your daughter has a favorite friend, relative, or grandparent, enlist their support in offering her some extra time or special attention.

7. Encourage her tears. Your daughter may end up having a meltdown over something seemingly minor, like getting a red cup instead of a blue one. Rather than trying to explain why it doesn’t matter, use emotionally-charged moments to help her express the big feelings that have been activated by the arrival of her baby brother. Regardless of why she’s crying, having the chance to cry — and be comforted by you — will help her adjust.

Above all, be patient, and allow your daughter the time and loving support she needs to manage the many emotions that come with adjusting to the change in your family. As she discovers that her feelings can be tenderly accepted and understood, she’ll be able to recognize the sweetness and joy that have come with the arrival of her new sibling.

Yours in parenting support,

Parent Coach, Susan Stiffelman, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and credentialed teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in developmental psychology and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology. Her book, Parenting Without Power Struggles, is available on Amazon. Sign up to get Susan’s free parenting newsletter.


Sleeping Like a Baby

On August 30, 2012, in Blog, by Bellybuds

By Mirranda Reinhardt
Original post found here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about sleep this week and more specifically the ideas that we as parents have about our babies’ sleep schedules. You’ve heard the old phrase, “sleeping like a baby” right? My third baby is now a toddler and each of my children has further convinced me that whoever started using the phrase “sleeping like a baby” to try to conjure images of soft and peaceful slumber was flat out full of hogwash.

When I brought my first child home from the hospital I was surprised to find that there just wasn’t any truth in the old saying, at least not during the hours that most humans tend to sleep. My sweet little darling slept beautifully, but only during the day. Her days and nights were mixed up, so by the time she was waking up for a few hour stretch I was ready to crawl into bed. We’ve all been there haven’t we?

We finally got into a day/night routine and I became excited because I’d heard over and over how babies usually start sleeping through the night when they started solids or at the very least somewhere around the six month mark. In my sleep deprived stupor I was thrilled that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

The six month mark came, and the six month mark went. Along came twelve months, and so on. My gorgeous darling girl finally slept through the night on a consistent basis somewhere around eighteen months. My second child took even longer, sleeping through the night around age two. It was close to his fifth birthday before he was able to go several nights in a row without waking me. Not to be outdone by his older siblings, my third child is now two and a half and I can count the number of times he’s slept through the night on both hands.

In fact, the little guy is why sleep is on my mind this week. Last week he slept through the night- a whopping eight hours. A full night of sleep had only happened three times so far in 2012, so it was a pretty big deal. His schedule varies but it’s quite normal for him to wake up at least two or three times a night. However, and I say this in a whisper so as not to jinx myself; out of four nights this week he’s only woken up once. I was contemplating how amazing it is that I’m celebrating sleeping through the night at 2 ½ years old when I thought of how it really isn’t that uncommon.

I’ve talked to dozens of moms with little ones just like mine, babies who still don’t sleep through the night at a year, two or even three. When my first two children were babies everyone around me was talking about how great their babies were because they were sleeping ten hours straight through the night. I knew that my kids were great and amazing babies, but I didn’t realize that we weren’t alone in our sleep struggles. Lots of babies don’t sleep and plenty of moms understand exactly what I‘ve been through. If you have a baby like mine I’d love to give you some practical advice but I’m obviously not in a position to be doling out sage wisdom. I can tell you though that you aren’t alone and I promise you that it does get better. Keep responding to your baby in a loving manner and meet his needs the best way thaty ou can. Take care of yourself and grab extra sleep when you are able. It really won’t last forever, I’m happy to say that both of my big kids sleep quite nicely through the night; the jury is still out on the little guy.



How To Choose A Baby Name: 5 Unconventional Routes To Find A Great Name

On August 29, 2012, in Blog, by Bellybuds

By Pamela Redmond Satran
Original post here

In our best fantasies, here’s how we name our babies:

MOM-TO-BE: Darling, I just love the names Susannah and Henry, don’t you?

DAD-TO-BE: Oh, yes, dear. And I might also suggest Jane, after your mother, and John, after my dad.

MOM: What excellent ideas, sweetheart. So if it’s a girl, we’ll name her Susannah Jane, and a boy will be Henry John.

DAD: Perfect. Now why don’t you let me rub your feet?

In reality, discussions go more like this:

MOM: How about Susannah or Henry?

DAD: Blech. I hate those kind of frilly names; if we have a girl, I think we should name her something cool, like Harley or Parker. And if we have a boy, my mother says we have to name him after my father.

MOM: Your mother’s not naming our baby. And your taste in names sucks.

Usually, after nine months or possibly ten, the parents manage to arrive at a name they both can live with. Why does baby-naming inspire such deep feelings and strong arguments in a couple who may have an easy time getting along in so many other ways?

For one thing, choosing a name can tap into deep, previously-unexplored issues about family, tradition, gender, image, one’s very identity. It may be the first important test of control and compromise. And the problems around choosing a name can feel all the more disturbing because you think it’s supposed to be so easy and fun.

Lately, it seems I’ve encountered several parents who found unconventional routes to arriving at the right name. If your name discussions with your partner more closely resemble the second example above than the idealized first, you might want to try one of these avenues:

Take turns.
Assuming you plan to have more than one child, you can agree to take turns choosing names. How much power you give the other person to weigh in or veto your name ideas may vary, ranging from a kind of president-vice president arrangement to one of you wielding complete baby name power. Think of it this way: At least one of you will thoroughly love the name.

Divide by gender.
In some families, she names the boys and he names the girls or vice versa. This can work especially well if one or both of you have strong feelings about names for one gender but not the other.

Have one partner narrow down, the other choose.
Here’s how it works: You make a list of ten names you like. Your partner gets to pick one, whichever one he or she chooses. If your partner can’t pick one from your list, then he makes a list of ten, and you pick. Alternate until you find a name you both can live with, or until you give up and move to one of the other strategies.

Limit the choices to family names.
Rather than choosing from the enormous and ever-expanding universe of possible names, some couples agree they’re only going to pick names from their families. These might include first, middle, and last names, which can give you enough choices while keeping the discussions manageable.

Let someone else do it.
I met a woman recently, the mom of twins, who let her parents and in-laws each name one baby. It gave the grandparents an important and exciting way to be involved, and lightened the psychic load for her and her husband. In my husband’s big family, the older kids held a meeting to name the youngest. While turning over the decision runs counter to all conventional baby-naming wisdom, it might make sense if you trust someone else’s taste more than you trust yourself and your spouse to arrive at a happy resolution to the baby name issue.


Newborn ICUs Installing ‘Babycams’ To Connect Families To Babies

On August 28, 2012, in Blog, by Bellybuds

Original post here


NEW ORLEANS — Corey Harrington spent the first month of his life in intensive care 150 miles from home, but his parents could see him any time thanks to a webcam in the premature baby’s incubator in Little Rock, Ark.

They couldn’t be there because they had another young child to care for and the father had used up his leave during the final weeks of the complicated pregnancy. So instead, Brandi and Charles Ray Harrington of Bentonville, Ark., used the device to further a bonding process that doctors say is crucial.

The importance of feeling close to babies – for the babies as well as their parents – has transformed newborn intensive care units around the country. Instead of brief visiting hours, for instance, many allow parents 24-hour access. The next step in the process involves webcam technology that has had applications ranging from peering into eagles’ nests to linking soldiers in war zones with their loved ones back home.

Now parents, grandparents and friends can log in to babycams in hospitals around the U.S. and several countries. At least eight domestic hospitals have installed such systems, and several dozen others are testing trial setups.

Brandi Harrington said nurses at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital often put notes on camera. She read from some that were captured in screenshots: “I’m now 4 (pounds) 1 oz. Woohoo!”

“Be back soon. Pooping on my own. Gonna try to breathe on my own too. Taking the breathing tube out.”

The UAMS Medical Center in Little Rock was among the first to install webcams in neonatal intensive care units back in 2006, and it had to create its own system. Now, the chairman of the hospital’s OB-GYN department has passed on his software to a Pennsylvania hospital, while at least two companies are selling contracts for similar systems.

At UAMS and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, a speaker inside each incubator lets parents coo, talk and sing to their babies.

That’s not available through the 53 cameras recently installed at Ochsner Health System near New Orleans by Healthcare Observation Systems LLC of Louisville, Ky. Company owner Blake Rutherford says about 200 of the 600-plus NICUs caring for critically ill newborns have asked for information; he has installed six systems and has trial setups at about 40 other hospitals.

The systems aren’t used by doctors and nurses for clinical care in the U.S. The system made by Rutherford’s company doesn’t store any video. People watching a baby can take screenshot “photographs,” but the video is gone as soon as it’s transmitted, Rutherford said.

Parents use the U.S. systems for free, and they typically get a password – which they can share with family and friends – to log in to a secure server to watch their baby.

Developers of the systems say the systems could be adapted for use with different types of patients. For example, Rutherford said he’s been asked about setting up webcams for nursing home residents but hasn’t begun developing such a system.

Laura and David St. Martin can see little Emily Jane in person every day, even though their home in LaPlace, La., is only about a half-hour drive from Ochsner. She was born April 14 at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 3 ounces. Still, they check on her regularly, sometimes at night.

It can offer a huge sense of relief, said David St. Martin: “If you wake up at 2 in the morning you’re able to pull her up on the camera and see she’s all right.”

Sometimes nurses alert the St. Martins to events, such as when they took Emily Jane off a ventilator and substituted a nasal tube to an oxygen tank. “Right after they did that, Susie, her main nurse, called and said, `You need to look at the camera,’” Laura St. Martin recalled. “I was at work. I looked at the camera and said, `Oh, my god!’”

Doctors at the hospital in Little Rock say webcam monitoring of newborns in intensive care is more than a feel-good gimmick in an age of instant communication. Rather, they hope to reduce a number of problems that can occur when the babies go home by increasing bonding with parents.

Premature babies are more likely to be irritable or have physical or emotional problems, said Dr. Curtis Lowery, chairman of the OB-GYN department at UAMS. In turn, the tiny babies are more likely to be shaken or beaten – which doctors think can be avoided through greater bonding.

“If their parents haven’t bonded with them, they’ll have problems,” Lowery said.

A pilot study will compare bonding among parents who use the system frequently and those who use it less often. Another will see whether babies show a physical response, such as changed heart or breathing rates, to hearing their parents. Cameras are built into 21 of the hospital’s 64 incubators.

The sickest babies usually get the cameras, said nurse Sarah Rhoads, who also runs a telemedicine program for women who live in remote parts of the state and are undergoing high-risk pregnancies.

“They tend to put them on babies that are going to be here a longer period of time,” she said.

Lowery said the hospital pays about $9,000 per camera. “With a prototype you need to overbuild,” he said. “Now we’re talking about a more basic version that could be sold for a couple-thousand or less.”

“A lot of it’s about bonding and keeping families together, largely. If you live three hours away, four hours away, and your baby’s going to be here four months it’s hard to do that economically,” he said. “This is not the same as being there but it’s more like being there than talking to the nurse that’s seeing and watching the baby.”


Pregnancy, Exercise, and Weight: What to Expect

On August 27, 2012, in Blog, by Bellybuds

By Kelly Turner
Article originally posted here.

There is no single more important time to take care of your health than when you are pregnant. Not only are you responsible for your own health, but also the health and development of your growing baby. Everything you do during pregnancy affects your new little peanut, from what you to eat, to the amount of weight you gain, to the amount of physical activity you get. Pregnancy conjures up the mental image of sitting on the couch, eating pickles and ice cream and packing on the pounds, but in actuality there is a very specific amount of weight one should gain, and it tends to be less than most people think.  If you are:

  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5), you should gain 28-40 pounds
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9), you should gain 25-35 pounds
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) you should gain 15-25 pounds
  • Obese (BMI 30 or more) you should gain 11 to 20 pounds

Note that the heavier you are, the less weight you can safely gain. Most women are concerned with losing weight after the pregnancy, but in some rare cases, under medical supervision, when a women is very overweight, it is safe to actually lose weight during pregnancy.The less weight you gain during pregnancy, the less you have to lose once you have the baby. For most, exercise, combined with a healthy diet, is the perfect way to keep in line with the above weight gainrecommendations. Not only that, but exercise can make your pregnancy more comfortable by easing dreaded back pain and boosting sagging energy levels. More importantly, exercise can help reduce your risk of gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high blood pressure and postpartum depression.

Exercise can even make giving birth easier by increasing your stamina and muscle strength. Before you begin an exercise program, however, make sure you get the go ahead from your doctor. Although exercise during pregnancy is generally good for both mother and baby, you will need to take precautions, especially if you have certain medical conditions, like a history of preterm labor, poorly controlled diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or placenta previa, a condition that can cause excessive bleeding.While exercise has amazing benefits for moms-to-be, too much or too little can make a major impact. So what’s safe and what’s not? Your instincts may be to keep the baby as still as possible, but the womb is a safe place, so you have options. Yoga is considered one of the safest prenatal exercise programs because it prepares the muscles for the extremely physical act of labor. Walking is also a great option for pregnant beginners because it puts minimal stress on the joints. However, if you are in good shape, you can still handle more intense cardio activity, but high impact exercise should be avoided during the last trimester.“The best form of exercise for pregnant women is the one that feels the most comfortable to them,” says Angela Bekkala, ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist and twin toddler mama from HappyFitMama.com. “Some women can run their whole pregnancy. Others love the pool for its non-impact on the joints. Every woman is different.”

For most pregnant women, at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise is recommended on most days of the week, but shorter, less frequent workouts can still give you necessary health benefits.Resistance training is also safe, including weights, as long as you avoid going for any personal records. “Weights are safe for pregnant women to use,” advises Bekkala, “but keep them light. Make sure to use proper form to protect the back and do not hold your breath during the movements. Overhead lifting of weights is not recommended.”

You should also avoid exercises that involve lying flat on your back during the second and third trimester.Pregnancy is not a time to slack off from your workout routine—it’s time to really buckle down and focus on your health and the health of your new baby. While you may not be able to work out the way you are used to, or at the intensity you are used to, rest assured, even 30 minutes of walking a day is one of the best things you can do for your little bundle of joy and the quickest way back into those pre-pregnancy jeans


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