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Life Passages Publishing presents – “The Childbirth Manual”

A simple title for a very useful book, focusing on holistic childbirth education, preparing for a homebirth, prenatal time, growth, nutrition, holistic health, exercises as well as sex during pregnancy, single moms, delivering alone, a guide to labor and delivery, and newborn care, just to name a few topics. It is a useable workbook, with even some pages for your other children to color!  There are a lot of colorful photographs and sensitive artwork through out the book depicting this life passage.

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Colic – Does Your Baby Have it? What Can You Do About It?

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care and The No-Cry Sleep Solution


The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night

 

You may have heard the term colic applied to any baby who cries a great deal. Not all crying babies have colic, but all colicky babies cry ¾ and they cry hard. They may stiffen their little bodies, or curl up as if in pain. They may cry so hard that they don’t seem like they even know you are there. When babies cry like this, they take in a lot of air, which creates gas and more pain, which makes them cry even more.

 

Researchers are still unsure of colic’s exact cause. Some experts believe that colic is related to the immaturity of a baby’s digestive system. Others theorize that a baby’s immature nervous system and inability to handle the constant sensory stimulation that surrounds her cause a breakdown by the end of the day, when colic most often occurs.

 

Dr. Harvey Karp, in his book The Happiest Baby on the Block (Bantam Books, 2002) introduced a new theory. He believes that babies are born three months too early, and that some babies find their new world too difficult to handle. They yearn for the comforting conditions that occurred in the womb.

 

Whatever the cause, and it may be a combination of all the theories; colic is among the most exasperating conditions that parents of new babies face. Colic occurs only to newborn babies, up to about four to five months of age. Symptoms include:

  • A regular period of nonstop, inconsolable crying, typically late in the day
  • Crying bouts that last one to three hours or more
  • A healthy and happy disposition at all other times of the day

 

Can colic be prevented?

Given that we aren’t sure what causes colic, we don’t know if it can be prevented. Even if you do everything “right” and take all the steps to discourage colic, it still may happen. If you think your baby has colic, talk with your pediatrician and take your baby in for a checkup to rule out any medical cause for your baby’s crying. If your baby is given a clean bill of health, then you’ll know colic is the culprit in the daily crying bouts.

 

Since colic occurs in newborns, parents often feel that they are doing something wrong to create the situation. Their vulnerability and lack of experience puts them in the position of questioning their own ability to take care of their baby. Hearing your baby cry with colic, and not knowing why it’s happening or what to do about it is painful for you; I know this because one of my four children suffered with colic. Although many years have passed since then (Angela is now 15), I remember it vividly. Hearing my baby cry night after night and not knowing how to help her was gut wrenching, heartbreaking, and frustrating. The most important piece of research I discovered was this: It’s not your fault. Any baby can have colic.

 

Things that may help your baby

Remember that nothing you do will eliminate colic completely until your baby’s system is mature and able to settle on its own. That said, experienced parents and professionals can offer ways to help your baby though this time ¾ ask around! I did, and from what I uncovered, I compiled the following suggestions for helping your baby feel better. Look for patterns to your baby’s crying; these can provide clues as to which suggestions are most likely to help. Stick with an idea for a few days to see if it helps. Watch for any signs of improvement (not necessarily complete quiet). If the particular course of action doesn’t seem to change anything, don’t get discouraged – just try something else:

 

  • If breastfeeding, feed on demand (cue feeding), for nutrition as well as comfort, as often as your baby needs a calming influence.
  • If breastfeeding, try avoiding foods that may cause gas in your baby. Eliminate one possible cause for a few days and see if it makes a difference. The most common baby tummy offenders are dairy products, caffeine, cabbage, broccoli and other gassy vegetables. But don’t assume the culprit, if there is one, will be obvious: I know one mother whose baby reacted loudly and consistently after any meal that included eggplant, asparagus or onions.
  • If bottlefeeding, offer more frequent but smaller meals; experiment with different formulas with your doctor’s approval.
  • If bottlefeeding, try different types of bottles and nipples that prevent air from entering your baby as he drinks, such as those with curved bottles or collapsible liners.
  • Hold your baby in a more upright position for feeding and directly afterwards.
  • Experiment with how often and when you burp your baby.
  • Offer meals in a quiet setting.
  • If baby likes a pacifier, offer him one.
  • Invest in a baby sling or carrier and use it during colicky periods.
  • If the weather’s too unpleasant for an outside stroll, bring your stroller in the house and walk your baby around.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Place a warm towel or wrapped water bottle on baby’s tummy (taking caution that the temperature is warm but not hot).
  • Hold your baby with her legs curled up toward her belly.
  • Massage your baby’s tummy, or give him a full massage.
  • Swaddle your baby in a warm blanket.
  • Lay your baby tummy down across your lap and massage or pat her back.
  • Hold your baby in a rocking chair, or put him in a swing.
  • Walk with Baby in a quiet, dark room while you hum or sing.
  • Try keeping your baby away from highly stimulating situations during the day when possible to prevent sensory overload, and understand that a particularly busy day may mean a fussier evening.
  • Lie on your back and lay your baby on top of your tummy down while massaging his back. (Transfer your baby to his bed if he falls asleep.)
  • Take Baby for a ride in the car.
  • Play soothing music or turn on white noise such as a vacuum cleaner or running water, or play a CD of nature sounds.
  • As a last resort, ask your doctor about medications available for colic and gas.

 

Tips for coping

As difficult as colic is for a baby, it is just as challenging for the parents. This can be especially hard for a mother who has other children to care for, who has returned to work, or who is suffering from the baby blues or postpartum depression. Even if everything else in life is perfect, colic is taxing. Here are a few things you can do to take some of the stress out of these colicky times:

 

  • Know that your baby will cry during his colicky time, and while you can do things to make your baby more comfortable, nothing you can do will totally stop the crying. This is not a result of anything you’ve done or not done.
  • Plan outings for the times of day when baby is usually happy, or if outings keep your baby happy, plan them for the colicky times.
  • Take advantage of another person’s offer to take a turn with the baby, even if it’s just so that you can take a quiet bath or shower.
  • Keep reminding yourself that this is only temporary; it will pass.
  • Avoid keeping a long to-do list right now; only do what’s most important.
  • Talk to other parents of colicky babies so you can share ideas and comfort each other.
  • If the crying is getting to you and making you tense or angry, put your baby in his crib, or give him to someone else to hold for a while so that you don’t accidentally shake or harm your baby. (Shaking a baby can cause permanent brain damage, so if you feel angry, and colic can do that to you, put your baby down.)
  • Know that babies do not suffer long-term harm from having colic.

 

When should I call the doctor?

Anytime you are concerned about your baby, call your doctor. That goes for anything concerning your precious little one. In the case of colic, be sure to make that call if you notice any of the following:

  • Your baby’s crying is accompanied by vomiting.
  • Your baby is not gaining weight.
  • The colicky behavior lasts longer than four months.
  • Your baby seems to be in pain.
  • Your baby has a fever.
  • Your baby doesn’t want to be held or handled.
  • The crying spree isn’t limited to one bout in the evening.
  • Your baby does not have regular bowel movements or wet diapers.
  • You notice other problems that don’t appear on the previous list of symptoms.
  • Your baby’s crying is making you angry or depressed.

 

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night

 

 

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Baby Tantrums

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

Learn about it

A baby’s first tantrum can take you by surprise. Your baby can really shock you by shrieking, stamping, hitting, or making his whole body go stiff. But don’t take it personally; baby tantrums aren’t about anything you’ve done wrong, and they aren’t really about temper, either – your baby isn’t old enough for that. The ways you’ll respond to your baby’s behavior when he is older are different than how you should respond now.

 

Why babies have tantrums and what you can do about it

A baby tantrum is an abrupt and sudden loss of emotional control. Various factors bring tantrums on, and if you can identify the trigger, then you can help him calm down ¾ and perhaps even avoid the tantrum in the first place. Here are the common reasons and ways to solve the problem:

 

Reason for tantrum Possible solution
Overtiredness Settle baby down to sleep; Provide quiet activity
Hunger Give baby a snack or something to drink
Frustration Help baby achieve his goal or remove the frustration; Use distraction
Fear/anxiety Hold and cuddle baby; Remove baby from difficult situation
Inability to communicate Try to figure out what he wants; Calmly encourage him to show you
Resisting change Allow a few minutes for baby to make adjustment
Over stimulation Move baby to a quiet place

 

How to prevent baby tantrums

Often, you can prevent a baby from losing control of his emotions if you prevent the situations that lead up to this. Here are some things to keep in mind:

 

  • When baby is tired, put him down for a nap or to sleep.
  • Feed your baby frequently. Babies have small tummies and need regular nourishment.
  • Give your baby toys that are geared to his age and ability level.
  • Warn your baby before changing activities (“One more swing, then we’re going home”).
  • Be patient when putting your baby in an unfamiliar environment or when introducing him to new people.
  • Help your baby learn new skills (such as climbing stairs or working puzzles).
  • Keep your expectations realistic; don’t expect more than your baby is capable of.
  • As much as possible, keep a regular and predictable schedule.
  • When your baby is overly emotional, keep yourself as calm as possible.
  • Use a soothing tone of voice and gentle touch to help your baby calm down. He can’t do it on his own, he needs your help.

 

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

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The Baby Blues

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

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, “I can’t do this. I don’t have the energy. How will I ever take care of a baby?”

 

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 isn’t something new mothers can control — there’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 baby’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. You’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 ¾ 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 you’re not sure whether you have the blues ask your doctor or midwife, and don’t feel embarrassed: This is a question that health care providers hear often and with good reason. If you’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 – particularly feelings of resentment or rejection toward your baby or even a temptation to harm him – 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 can’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 can’t talk about it, hand this page it to someone close to you. It’s that important. You do not have to feel this way, and safe treatment is available, even if you’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:

 

  • 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 baby’s actual birth is only a moment – 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 don’t feel guilty for treating this time in your life as the very big deal it is. Remind yourself that it’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 ¾ 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, you’ve chosen 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.

 

  • 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.

 

  • Reach out and get out. 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 ¾ whatever place you enjoy. You’ll feel a sense of pride as strangers ooh and ahh over your little one, and your baby will enjoy the stimulation, too.

 

  • 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 won’t be understood and you won’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 doesn’t mean you will all choose to parent them in the same way, so try to find like-minded new friends.

 

  • Tell Daddy what he can do to help. It’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 -show him this list to help him help you:
    • Understand. It’s critical that your spouse or partner feel that you understand that she is going through a hormonally driven depression that she cannot control ¾ and that she is not “just being grumpy.” Tell her you know this is normal, and that she’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 she’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 house’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 she’s beautiful. Most woman feel depressed about the way they look after childbirth ¾ because most still look four months pregnant! After changing so greatly to accommodate a baby’s development, a woman’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 she’s accomplished. Any compliments that acknowledge her unique beauty are sure to be greatly appreciated!
    • Tell her you love the baby. Don’t be bashful about gushing over the baby. Mommy loves to hear that you’re enraptured with this new little member of your family.
    • Be affectionate, but be patient about sex. With all that she’s struggling with physically and emotionally, weeks may pass before she’s ready for sex (even if she’s had an OK after her checkup.) That doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you or need you ¾ 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 isn’t feeling down, she needs to hear this ¾ and right now it’s more important for her health and well-being than ever.
    • Get support for you, too. 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. Family and friends are often happy to help if you just ask. When people say, “Let me know if I can do anything” they usually mean it. So, go ahead and ask kindly for what you want, whether it’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 don’t have to get up out of bed to tend to your baby. And if your baby’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.

 

Don’t fret about perfection right now. Household duties are not your top priority now ¾ 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 ¾ talk about your baby and share pictures with your co-workers. Chances are, they’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 can’t be with her.

 

Get into exercising. With your health care provider’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 didn’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 isn’t properly nourished, spirits can flag ¾ 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 don’t forget to drink water and other healthy fluids, especially if you’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: You’ve become mother to a beautiful new baby. You’ve played a starring role in the production of an incredible miracle. Be proud of what you’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)
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

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How to Calm Your Crying Baby

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

When we’re pregnant or awaiting adoption, we dream about our baby-to-be, we always envision those beautiful Hallmark card scenes: charming baby smiling up at peaceful mother’s face. We read books in advance of the big day about how care for a newborn ¾ how to bathe, feed and dress her — and then we feel somewhat prepared. However, a crying baby was never part of that idyllic vision, so this takes us by surprise. But the fact is, all babies cry at one time or another. Some babies cry more than others, but they all do cry. Understanding why babies cry can help you get through this phase and respond effectively to your crying baby  ¾ so can the list of ideas that follows.

 

Why does my baby cry?

Simply put, babies cry because they cannot talk. Babies are human beings, and they have needs and desires, just as we do, but they can’t express them. Even if they could talk, very often they wouldn’t understand why they feel the way they do, they wouldn’t understand themselves well enough to articulate their needs, so babies need someone to help them figure it all out. Their cries are the only way they can say, “Help me! Something isn’t right here!”

 

Different kinds of cries

As you get to know your baby, you’ll become the expert in understanding his cries in a way that no one else can. In their research, child development professionals have determined that certain types of cries mean certain things. In other words, babies don’t cry the same exact way every time. (Other child development experts, also known as mothers, have known that for millennia.)

 

Over time, you’ll recognize particular cries as if they were spoken words. In addition to these cry signals, you often can determine why your baby is crying by the situation surrounding the cry. Following are common reasons for Baby’s cry, and the clues that may tell you what’s up:

 

  • Hunger: If three or four hours have passed since his last feeding, if he has just woken up, or if he has just had a very full diaper and he begins to cry, he’s probably hungry. A feeding will most likely stop the crying.
  • Tiredness: Look for these signs: decreased activity, losing interest in people and toys, rubbing eyes, looking glazed, and the most obvious –yawning. If you notice any of these in your crying baby, she may just need to sleep. Time for bed!
  • Discomfort: If a baby is uncomfortable — too wet, hot, cold, squished — he’ll typically squirm or arch his back when he cries, as if trying to get away from the source of his discomfort. Try to figure out the source of his distress and solve his problem.
  • Pain: A cry of pain is sudden and shrill, just like when an adult or older child cries out when they get hurt. It may include long cries followed by a pause during which your baby appears to stop breathing. He then catches his breath and lets out another long cry. Time to check your baby’s temperature and undress him for a full-body examination.
  • Over-stimulation: If the room is noisy, people are trying to get your baby’s attention, rattles are rattling, music boxes are playing, and your baby suddenly closes her eyes and cries (or turns her head away), she may be trying to shut out all that’s going on around her and find some peace. It’s time for a quiet, dark room and some peaceful cuddles.
  • Illness: When your baby is sick, he may cry in a weak, moaning way. This is his way of saying, “I feel awful.” If your baby seems ill, look for any signs of sickness, take her temperature and call your healthcare provider.
  • Frustration. Your baby is just learning how to control her hands, arms, and feet. She may be trying to get her fingers into her mouth or to reach a particularly interesting toy, but her body isn’t cooperating. She cries out of frustration, because she can’t accomplish what she wants to do. All she needs is a little help.
  • Loneliness: If your baby falls asleep feeding and you place her in her crib, but she wakes soon afterward with a cry, she may be saying that she misses the warmth of your embrace and doesn’t like to be alone. A simple situation to resolve…
  • Worry or fear. Your baby suddenly finds himself in the arms of Great Aunt Matilda and can’t see you; his previously happy gurgles turn suddenly to crying. He’s trying to tell you that he’s scared: He doesn’t know this new person, and he wants Mommy or Daddy. Explain to Auntie that he needs a little time to warm up to someone new, and try letting the two of them get to know each other while Baby stays in your arms.
  • Boredom. Your baby has been sitting in his infant seat for 20 minutes while you talk and eat lunch with a friend. He’s not tired, hungry or uncomfortable, but he starts a whiny, fussy cry. He may be saying that he’s bored and needs something new to look at or touch. A new position for his seat or a toy to hold may help.
  • Colic. If your baby cries inconsolably for long periods every day, particularly at the same time each day, he may have colic. Researchers are still unsure of colic’s exact cause. Some experts believe that colic is related to the immaturity of a baby’s digestive system. Whatever the cause, and it may be a combination of all the theories; colic is among the most exasperating conditions that parents of new babies face. Colic occurs only to newborn babies, up to about four to five months of age.

 

Look for patterns to your baby’s crying; these can provide clues as to which suggestions are most likely to help. Then experiment with some of the ideas in this list and in the rest of this article.

  • If breastfeeding, feed on demand (cue feeding), for nutrition as well as comfort, as often as your baby needs a calming influence.
  • If breastfeeding, try avoiding foods that may cause gas in your baby, such as dairy products, caffeine, cabbage, broccoli and other gassy vegetables.
  • If bottlefeeding, offer more frequent but smaller meals; experiment with different formulas with your doctor or health care provider’s approval.
  • If bottlefeeding, try different types of bottles and nipples that prevent air from entering your baby as he drinks, such as those with curved bottles or collapsible liners.
  • Hold your baby in a more upright position for feeding and directly afterwards.
  • Experiment with how often and when you burp your baby.
  • Offer meals in a quiet setting.
  • If baby likes a pacifier, offer him one.
  • Invest in a baby sling or carrier and use it during colicky periods.
  • If the weather’s too unpleasant for an outside stroll, bring your stroller in the house and walk your baby around.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Hold your baby with her legs curled up toward her belly.
  • Massage your baby’s tummy, or give him a full massage.
  • Swaddle your baby in a warm blanket.
  • Lay your baby tummy down across your lap and massage or pat her back.
  • Hold your baby in a rocking chair, or put him in a swing.
  • Walk with Baby in a quiet, dark room while you hum or sing.
  • Try keeping your baby away from highly stimulating situations during the day when possible to prevent sensory overload.
  • Lie on your back and lay your baby on top of your tummy down while massaging his back. (Transfer your baby to his bed if he falls asleep.)
  • Take Baby for a ride in the car.
  • Play soothing music or turn on white noise such as a vacuum cleaner or running water.
  • As a last resort, ask your doctor or health care provider about medications available for colic and gas.

 

 

What about fussy crying?

There are plenty of times when you can’t tell if your baby’s crying is directly related to a fixable situation: hunger, a soiled diaper, or a longing to be held. That’s when parents get frustrated and nervous. That’s when you should take a deep breath and try some of the following cry-stoppers:

 

Hold your baby. No matter the reason for your baby’s cry, being held by a warm and comforting person offers a feeling of security and may calm his crying. Babies love to be held in arms, slings, front-pack carriers, and (when they get a little older) backpacks; physical contact is what they seek and what usually soothes them best.

 

Breastfeed your baby. Nursing your baby is as much for comfort as food. All four of my babies calmed easily when brought to the breast ¾ so much so that my husband has always called it “The Secret Weapon.” And my babies are very typical. Breastfeeding is an important and powerful tool for baby soothing.

 

Provide motion. Babies enjoy repetitive, rhythmic motion such as rocking, swinging, swaying, jiggling, dancing or a drive in the car. Many parents instinctually begin to sway with a fussy baby, and for a good reason: It works.

 

Turn on some white noise. The womb was a very noisy place. Remember the sounds you heard on the Doppler stethoscope? Not so long ago, your baby heard those 24 hours a day. Therefore, your baby sometimes can be calmed by “white noise” ¾ that is, noise that is continuous and uniform, such as that of a heartbeat, the rain, static between radio stations, and your vacuum cleaner. Some alarm clocks even have a white noise function.

 

Let music soothe your baby. Soft, peaceful music is a wonderful baby calmer. That’s why lullabies have been passed down through the ages. You don’t have to be a professional singer to provide your baby with a song; your baby loves to hear your voice. In addition to your own songs, babies usually love to hear any kind of music. Experiment with different types of tunes, since babies have their own favorites that can range from jazz to country to classical, and even rock and rap.

 

Swaddle your baby. During the first three or four months of life, many babies feel comforted if you can re-create the tightly contained sensation they enjoyed in the womb..

 

Massage your baby. Babies love to be touched and stroked, so a massage is a wonderful way to calm a fussy baby. A variation of massage is the baby pat; many babies love a gentle, rhythmic pat on their backs or bottoms.

 

Let your baby have something to suck on. The most natural pacifier is mother’s breast, but when that isn’t an option, a bottle, pacifier, Baby’s own fingers, a teething toy, or Daddy’s pinkie can work wonders as a means of comfort.

 

Distract your baby. Sometimes a new activity or change of scenery ¾ maybe a walk outside, or a dance with a song, or a splashy bath ¾ can be very helpful in turning a fussy baby into a happy one.

 

1) Reading your baby’s body language

Many times, you can avoid the crying altogether by responding right away to your baby’s earliest signals of need, such as fussing, stiffening her body, or rooting for the breast. As you get to know your baby and learn her signals, determining what she needs will become easier for you – even before she cries.

 

This article is a copyrighted excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

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Handling Unwanted Advice

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)


“Help! I’m getting so frustrated with the endless stream of advice I get from my mother-in-law and brother! No matter what I do, I’m doing it wrong. I love them both, but how do I get them to stop dispensing all this unwanted advice?”

 

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 everyone’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 it’s rarely worth creating a war over a well-meaning person’s comments. You can respond to unwanted advice in a variety of ways:

 

Listen first

It’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.

 

Disregard

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, “Interesting!” Then go about your own business…your way.

 

Agree

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 won’t have any long-term effects except that of placating her. However, don’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 don’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, “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

 

Educate yourself

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 “teacher” is imparting information that you know to be outdated or wrong, share what you’ve learned on the topic. You may be able to open the other person’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, “My doctor said to wait until she’s at least six months before starting solids.” If your own doctor doesn’t back your view on that issue, then refer to another doctor – perhaps the author of a baby care book.

 

Be vague

You can avoid confrontation with an elusive response. For example, if your sister asks if you’ve started potty training yet (but you are many months away from even starting the process), you can answer with, “We’re moving in that direction.”

 

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. She’ll be happy that she is helping you, and you’ll be happy you have a way to avoid a showdown about topics that you don’t agree on.

 

Memorize a standard response

Here’s a comment that can be said in response to almost any piece of advice: “This may not be the right way for you, but it’s the right way for me.”

 

Be honest

Try being honest about your feelings. Pick a time free of distractions and choose your words carefully, such as, “I know how much you love Harry, and I’m glad you spend so much time with him. I know you think you’re helping me when you give me advice about this, but I’m comfortable with my own approach, and I’d really appreciate if you’d understand that.”

 

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 don’t understand your viewpoints.

 

 

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

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Going Visiting With Your Baby

By Elizabeth Pantley,  Author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)


Babies love new places! There’s so much to investigate and new things to touch. But many people aren’t too happy to have your little one crawling or toddling freely about the house exploring everything in sight. While you think its adorable that Baby found the Tupperware, your host may not think it’s cute that her tidy cabinet has been rearranged by sticky baby hands. If your host has a big heart she’ll let you know that your baby’s exploring is okay. But even then, you run the risk of your baby breaking or losing something.

 

Bring toys!

The best thing you can do is bring along a bag of toys to seize your child’s attention. You can purchase new items, or dig through your baby’s toy box to put together a collection of forgotten favorites. Avoid bringing loud toys that may annoy others, and bring toys that will hold your baby’s attention for a long time.

 

Bring your own supplies

Think about things that keep your baby happy at home or in the car, and bring these with you, such as your sling, a favorite blanket, a Boppy pillow, or a special lovey. If you are prepared, then your baby will be more content.

 

Safety issues

Visits with a mobile baby are tricky, especially if you’re at a home that isn’t childproof. If you want to avoid physically shadowing your baby around the house, bring a few safety tools, such as outlet plugs and a folding baby gate to section off stairways. When you arrive, assess the area and ask if chemicals, medications, or fragile vases can be put away during your visit. Remember that you’re certain to miss some hazards, so keep a close eye on Baby during your entire visit.

 

Food and eating

Whether your baby is new to solid food or has been eating it for a while, bring along a few favorites. If you don’t bring snacks with you, your baby may not touch the dinner that’s served and may cry for her favorite crackers. In any case, don’t feel you must push your baby to try something new to the point of a temper tantrum. Politely requesting something simple like toast or cheese is perfectly okay and will be welcomed more than a loud and tense test of parent/child wills.

 

What if you’re breastfeeding and your baby is hungry?

Do what comes naturally: Feed him! Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed a baby. If your hosts aren’t used to seeing a mother breastfeed, then you’re doing our world a favor by introducing one more person to the beauty of baby feeding. Be thoughtful about other’s sensitivities. This doesn’t mean you need to hide, but your efforts to be discreet are a courtesy for those around you and may help others feel more comfortable about seeing you breastfeeding your baby. Using a sling, blanket or nursing shirt are easy ways to accomplish this.

 

Changing Diapers

Bring a changing pad; this will protect the surface you’re using. If you don’t have a pad, ask for a towel. Ask where your host prefers that you change the baby, or suggest a location: “Do you mind if I lay the towel on your bed to change the baby?”

 

Bring along (or ask to use) plastic bags to store messy diapers. Make sure that they are sealed so that they don’t create odors. If you use disposables, put used diapers in a sealed bag and offer to take them out to the trash. People don’t like stinky diapers in their bathroom trash.

 

Sleeping and napping

If your little one sleeps in a cradle or crib you may want to bring along a portable crib. If you don’t have one, or if you co-sleep at home, this is a time when “anything goes.” If your baby will sleep in your arms, then go ahead and enjoy an in-arms nap. If your baby is flexible, put a blanket on the floor and set up a sleeping nest. Don’t leave Baby alone, since the area probably isn’t childproof.

 

A great nap solution is to bring your car seat into the house and strap your baby in securely, or fashion a bed from a large box or an empty dresser drawer. Keep your baby close by or check on her frequently.

 

For co-sleepers, your first order of business is to create a safe sleeping place. Inspect the furniture placement in the bedroom. If you know that pushing the bed against the wall would make the situation safer for your baby, then politely explain to your host. Let her know that you’ll move it back before you leave (and then remember to do so).

 

Be prepared for anything

Life with a baby is filled with surprises. Take a deep breath, and do your best to keep your baby content….and if things don’t go as well as you’d hoped, remind yourself that “This too shall pass.”

 

Show your appreciation

If you’ve had an overnight stay, if your host is helpful, or if you made special requests during your stay, remember to send a thank you note that expresses your appreciation.

 

 

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

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Should Babies and Toddlers Watch Television

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care and Kid Cooperation
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

So much television programming is aimed at young children. Much of it appears to be educational: teaching the ABCs and life skills. When is it appropriate to introduce a baby to television, and what do parents need to know about this topic?

 

A great deal of research has been done on the effects of television on children’s lives. The first step in making the decision is to get the facts. Because nearly all of us have one or more TV sets in our home, and since most of us watch some TV nearly every day, we may not want to hear what research tells us, but these are things parents need to know.

 

  • Experts suspect that babies younger than two years old view TV as a confusing array of colors, images, and noises. They don’t understand much of the content. Since the average TV scene lasts five to eight seconds, your baby or toddler doesn’t have enough time to digest what’s happening.
  • Cartoons and many children’s shows are filled with images of violence. If you find this hard to believe, surf the TV on Saturday morning. The realism portrayed in today’s cartoons has moved light years beyond the Bugs Bunny type of violence. Many children’s shows almost are animated versions of adult action films. Research shows that exposure to this type of programming increases the risk of aggressive behavior and desensitizes children to violence.
  • Babies and toddlers have a very literal view of the world. They can’t yet tell the difference between real and pretend, and they interpret what they see on TV as true life. Research has demonstrated that many young children believe that TV characters actually live inside the TV set. This can confuse young children’s understanding of the world and get in the way of their learning what’s right or wrong. It can paint a picture of a frightening, unstable, and bewildering world – and your little one does not yet have the faculties to put what he sees into proper perspective.
  • Television watching can be addictive. The more that children watch, the more they want to watch. Even toddlers can become drawn to the set. Once addicted, turning off the TV can become a daily battle. Children who watch TV excessively often become passive and lose their natural creativity; they eventually have a hard time keeping themselves busy, and they lose valuable time that should be dedicated to “play” -the foundation of a healthy childhood and the primary way that very young children learn.
  • Parents sometimes unwittingly begin to use TV more and more as a way to keep their children happy and quiet. It takes a strong will and dedication to avoid the easy route provided by this free and easy – yet sometimes dangerous – babysitter.
  • Children experience unparalleled physical, mental, and emotional growth in the early years of life. Time spent watching television is time taken away from more healthful activities that nurture growth and development.
  • Children who watch a lot of television during their early years are at risk for childhood obesity, poor social development, and aggressive behavior. They often have trouble adjusting to preschool or kindergarten. According to a study by Yale Family Television Research, teachers characterized children who watched excessive television as less cooperative, less imaginative, less enthusiastic about learning, and less happy than those who watched little or no TV.
  • Due to all the above reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents not allow children under two to watch any television.

 

You may have noticed that all of these points demonstrate the negative aspects of letting babies and toddlers watch TV, and you’re wondering if there are any positives. There are a few, but I’ll be honest: I had to be very creative to come up with this list, since published research doesn’t demonstrate many good points for putting a young child in front of a television. But we need to be realistic and acknowledge that most of us aren’t going to put our TVs in the closet until all of our children start school. Here are some of the good points of television for children:

 

  • Quality children’s programming can teach your child basic academic skills, such as the ABCs, counting, addition, science fundamentals, basic language skills, manners, and even early reading skills.
  • Your child can view things she might not otherwise see in daily life: exotic animals, distant lands, musical instruments, historical places, and diverse lifestyles. Your child can learn about the world beyond her home and neighborhood.
  • Your child can learn basic social skills from watching wholesome programming: how to play with other children, how to use good manners.
  • Using extraordinarily careful selection and restraint, a little bit of television can provide a parent with much-needed down time, or time to catch up on tasks that need adult-only attention.

 

TV watching tips for parents of babies and young children


The following tips may help you minimize the negative and maximize the positive effects of television watching for your little one:

 

  • Hold off introducing television – even videos – to your baby as long as possible. If you wait until your child’s second birthday, you can consider yourself incredibly successful in starting your little one off well and with the kind of real-life interaction that is so important for his development. If you decide to allow TV before your child turns two, choose programming carefully, limit viewing time and skip days when possible. (Daily viewing easily becomes habit.) The less watching time, the better! Set a goal, such as no more than 30 minutes or an hour per day, or one favorite show, so that you’ll not be tempted to turn the TV on too frequently.
  • Watch programs yourself before you allow your baby or toddler to watch them. Just because a network markets a show to young children doesn’t mean it will reflect your own family’s morals and values. You will be amazed to discover that many programs aimed at children contain violence or topics that are inappropriate for your child. Don’t assume that your baby can pick out the moral message from a program that features violence or conflict on the way to an important lesson.
  • Pay attention to commercials – surprisingly, an excellent children’s show will sometimes feature commercials that depict the exact things you don’t want your little one to see!
  • Choose programs that are developmentally appropriate for your child. For you, this means shows that are slow, boring, and probably somewhat goofy. But choose programs from your child’s perspective, not your own.
  • Invest in a collection of appropriate and educational videos for your child so that you won’t be confined to network programming schedules when you are ready to let your little one watch something.
  • Watch along with your child when you can so that you can monitor your child’s reactions to what he’s seeing. Invite questions and discuss what you are watching so that you can understand your little one’s take. Point things out and talk about what is being taught to get the most of out of educational TV. You may even follow up with some lessons afterwards.
  • Avoid keeping the TV on when no one is actively watching. Many people do this and are used to the background noise the set generates, but your child will almost surely be exposed to programming that is inappropriate for her.
  • Make a conscious decision about how you will use television in your family; don’t watch it by accident or default.

 

This article is a copyrighted excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

 

 

 

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Stop the Diaper Changing Battles

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)


Babies are little bundles of energy! They don’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. What’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. It’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 baby’s cues and signals. You’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 what’s normal for him. This is important because it will enable you to easily decipher any physical changes that need attention.

 

Developing trust

Regular diaper changes create rhythm in your baby’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. It’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 — 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 she’s saying and how she is saying it — 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. They’re too busy to concern themselves with such trivial issues. It may be important to you, but it’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 you’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, it’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 isn’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 “hide the diaper.” Put a new diaper on your head, on your shoulder, or tucked in your shirt and ask, “Where’s the diaper? I can’t find it!” 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.)

 

Use distraction

Keep a flashlight with your changing supplies and let your baby play with it while you change him. Some kids’ flashlights have a button to change the color of the light, or shape of the ray. Call this his “diaper flashlight” 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 baby’s diaper is just wet (not messy), try letting her stand up while you do a quick change. If you’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 don’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)
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

 

 

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Car Seat Crying

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)


Some babies fall asleep almost before you’re out of the driveway, but others won’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 she’s belted into her seat.

 

Hearing your baby cry while you are trying to drive is challenging. Even though it’s difficult to deal with, remember that you and your baby’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. Don’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, you’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 you’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 arm’s reach so that your baby can bat at them from her seat. (Don’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 don’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 “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” has always been a good choice for us, even out of season!)

 

Try “white noise” 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 doesn’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 you’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 baby’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 don’t have many ins-and-outs.

 

Make sure your baby hasn’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)
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

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Choosing Toys for Babies

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

You may not be sure what kind of toys, or how many, your baby should have. It’s likely that you hear conflicting advice that runs from one extreme to another! It’s either: “Don’t give your baby toys ¾ he’ll be spoiled,” to “Give your baby lots of toys — they develop his brain.” So…which is it?

 

Both sides of this debate have valid points. A baby does indeed learn from the things she plays with, and the more things she has access to, the more she can learn. With this in mind, many parents spend a fortune buying toys; however, many toys hold a child’s attention for three or four days, only to be relegated to the bottom of the toybox or back of a shelf.

 

Babies learn about their world by using all five of their senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Toys engage and refine these senses by:

  • Helping your baby learn how to control his movements and body parts
  • Helping your baby figure out how things work
  • Showing your baby how he can control things in his world
  • Teaching your baby new ideas
  • Building your baby’s muscle control, coordination, and strength
  • Teaching your baby how to use his imagination
  • Showing your baby how to solve simple problems
  • Helping your baby learn how to play by himself
  • Setting the foundation for learning how to share and cooperate with others

 

Experts agree that babies need a variety of toys to enrich their lives and encourage learning. While your baby can learn from expensive store-bought toys, she can also learn from a crumpled piece of paper, a set of measuring spoons, an empty box, or a leaf. Everything is new and interesting to a baby, and if you open your eyes to the many wonders in our world, you’ll see that you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your baby happy, interested, and learning.

 

What “home-grown” toys are best?

As you view the whole world as a bottomless toybox, here are some tips to consider:

  • Search for items of different weights, materials, textures, flexibility, sizes, shapes, colors, and smells. (Most store-bought baby toys are primary-colored plastic; that’s why your metal keys on a leather key ring are so very appealing — they’re different!)
  • Babies are generalists. Your little one will apply what he learns from one object to any other that is similar. Therefore, don’t give him an old book or magazine to scribble in unless you want all of your books to be potential notepads. A sealed bottle may look fun, but your baby may then think he can play with your pill bottles.
  • Take a closer look at the things you consider “trash.” Some may be valuable toys! Empty boxes, egg cartons, and tin containers are just a few examples of everyday castoffs that, once cleaned, can provide endless hours of play.

PARENT TIP
“I made a great set of blocks for my daughter by collecting an assortment of empty boxes from regular household products and covering them with contact paper. They are colorful, light weight and man interesting shapes and sizes.”
Yu-ting, mother of  Shu-Lin (3 years old)

 

  • Your kitchen is overflowing with baby toys! Once your little one begins to crawl, it’s time to rearrange the kitchen. Put all your baby-safe items, such as plastic containers, pots and pans, potholders and canned goods, in your lower cabinets and let your baby know where his “toys” are. You’ll have to relax your housekeeping standards and deal with disorganized cabinets for a while, but the play potential is so fantastic that it’s worth it!
  • Young children love water play, and a bowl or pan of water along with spoons and cups of various sizes make a fabulous source of fun. You can put your baby in his high chair, sit him on the floor on a beach towel, or take him outside in a shady spot if the weather’s warm. I guarantee he’ll be soaked when he’s done, but that will be after a very long and happy play session.
  • Containers to fill and empty are lots of fun for a baby. You can safely fulfill your older baby’s desire to manipulate small things by filling a large bowl with a variety of colorful children’s cereals (nothing hard or ball-shaped) and supplying spoons, measuring cups, and other containers. Since you’re using cereal pieces, it’s okay if some end up in his mouth. Don’t try this with beads, seeds, macaroni, or other items that pose a choking hazard.

 

What store-bought toys are best?

A while ago, I went to the toy store to buy my youngest child, Coleton, a toy that my older three adored when they were babies. It was a simple pop-up toy for toddlers with various buttons, levers, and dials. I found a bewildering variety of this kind of toy, but to my dismay, every single one was electronic. They made sounds, they made music, they had blinking lights ¾ they just about played by themselves! I finally had to order the prized toy from a specialty catalog that carries “back to basics” toys. Sure, electronic toys can be exciting ¾ for a while ¾ but they can also stunt your baby’s developing ability to imagine and manipulate (and let’s face it: those repetitive electronic sounds can get annoying). If a toy does everything by itself, it loses its potential as a tool for developing creativity. Also, if your little one gets used to these toys, then simple pleasures like wooden blocks seem boring by comparison because he expects the blocks to play for him. And those simple toys are among the very best for baby playtime.

 

Look for these qualities as you shop for your baby:

  • Long-term play value: Will this hold your little one’s attention for more than a few weeks?
  • Durability: Will it hold up when sat on, thrown, jumped on, mouthed, or banged?
  • Solid simplicity: Babies don’t need complicated toys.
  • Challenge: Look for toys that teach but do not frustrate.
  • Appropriateness. Does it match your baby’s thinking, language, and motor skills?
  • Interest: Will it encourage your baby to think?
  • Stimulation: How does this toy foster creativity and imagination?
  • Interactiveness: Does it engage your child or just entertain him as he watches passively?
  • Versatility: Can your baby play with this in more than one way?
  • Washability: Well-loved toys tend to get very dirty!
  • Fit with your family value system: Does this toy reflect your family’s particular values? For example, is the toy friendly to the environment? Does it promote diversity? Are you comfortable with what the toy represents?
  • Novelty: Is this toy different from others your baby already has? You don’t want a toy box filled with 30 different kinds of rattles!
  • Fun appeal: Is it something that you will enjoy playing with, too? Toys that encourage you to play along with your baby are ideal.

 

Best toys for young babies:

  • Board books
  • Foot or hand puppets
  • Musical toys
  • Rattles
  • Small, lightweight, easy-to-grasp toys
  • Squeaky toys
  • Teething rings
  • Toys with high-contrast graphics, bright colors, or black-and-white patterns

 

Best toys for older babies:

  • Activity boxes (levers/buttons/dials/hinges)
  • Balls
  • Beginning puzzles (two or three large pieces; knobs are helpful)
  • Blocks
  • Cars and trucks
  • Chunky small people and accessories
  • Dolls and stuffed animals
  • Hammering toys
  • Large interlocking beads
  • Modeling dough
  • Musical toys
  • Nesting cups
  • Peg boards
  • Picture books
  • Plastic animals
  • Pop-up toys
  • Push or pull toys
  • Shape sorters
  • Stacking rings
  • Toy versions of everyday items (telephones, cooking utensils, doctor kits)
  • Toys you still remember from your childhood (The classics endure and are always a good bet!)
  • Washable crayons or markers and blank paper

 

Playtime

As you give you baby new things to play with, keep in mind that there is no right way to play with toys. For example, a puzzle is not always for “puzzling.” The pieces make great manipulative characters, can be sorted or put in boxes, and make interesting noises when banged together or against an empty pot. Children learn through play, so any toy they enjoy playing with is, by definition, educational.

 

Safety for all toys

Always consider well the safety aspects of anything your baby is going to play with. Here are a few ways to keep playtime safe:

  • Discard any plastic wrapping, plastic bags, packaging, or tags before giving a toy to a baby.
  • Always watch for choking hazards. Anything small enough to fit in your baby’s mouth has the potential for danger. Watch for pieces that may become loose from a larger object, too. Make sure that no small parts can be pulled off or chewed off the toy.
  • Check the paint or finish on the toy to make sure it is non-toxic, since babies put everything in their mouths.
  • Check toys for sharp points, rough edges, rust, and broken parts.
  • Always abide by the age rating on the package. No matter how smart your child is or how wonderful the toy, don’t second-guess the manufacturer, since age rankings often are given due to safety issues. If you choose to purchase a toy with an older age recommendation, make certain that the toy is used only when you are playing with your baby, and that it is stored where your baby can’t get to it without your supervision.
  • Remove rattles, squeeze toys, teethers, stuffed animals, and other small toys from the crib or bed when your baby goes to sleep for naps or bedtime. The exception here is a specialty made-for-baby toy that has been carefully created to be a safe sleeping lovey.
  • Avoid pull toys with long cords that could wind around your baby’s neck. Pull toys for babies should have either very short strings or rigid handles.
  • Make sure toys are properly assembled, with no loose parts.
  • Beware of excessively loud toys. Babies tend to hold things close to their faces, and you want to protect your baby’s sensitive ears.
  • Buy mobiles or crib toys from reputable manufacturers, and make sure that they attach to the crib without dangling strings. Remove mobiles and other crib toys once your baby can sit up.
  • Make sure that toys are never left on stairs, in doorways, or in walkways.
  • Your baby’s toybox should have a special safety lid (or no lid at all) to prevent it from slamming on your baby’s head or hands, or trapping your baby inside. There shouldn’t be any hinges that could pinch little fingers.
  • Never give a baby a balloon, Styrofoam, or plastic wrap as a toy; these present a serious choking hazard, since they cannot be expelled using the Heimlich maneuver.
  • If a toy is second-hand (whether purchased from a second-hand store or garage sale, or given to you by a friend or relative), give all of the above rules extra consideration. If you have any doubts, always err on the side of safety and discard the toy. Don’t let your baby play with a paint-finished toy that appears to be older than a few years ¾ the paint may be lead-based, which poses serious hazards to a baby who touches or mouths it.
  • Keep toys (and parts of toys) designed for older children out of the hands of babies. Your baby may like to play with toys belonging to an older sibling or friend, but these are geared, safety-wise, to older kids and are not safe for little ones to use without very close supervision.

 

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

 

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Separation Anxiety

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care


Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)


My baby is only happy when I’m within arm’s reach. If I dare to leave the room, she cries as if I’ve left the country! I can’t even so much as take a shower these days, let alone leave the house without her. My mother-in-law says it’s because I’ve spoiled her. Is she right? Have I made her so clingy?


Nothing you’ve done has “made” your baby develop separation anxiety. It’s a perfectly normal and important developmental adaptation. Nearly all children experience separation anxiety between the ages of seven and 18 months. Some have more intense reactions than others, and for some, the stage lasts longer than others, but almost all babies have it to some degree.

 

The development of separation anxiety demonstrates that your baby has formed a healthy, loving attachment to you. It is a beautiful sign that your baby associates pleasure, comfort, and security with your presence. It also indicates that your baby is developing intellectually (in other words, she’s smart!) She has learned that she can have an effect on her world when she makes her needs known, and she doesn’t have to passively accept a situation that makes her uncomfortable. She doesn’t know enough about the world yet to understand that when you leave her you’ll always come back. She also realizes that she is safest, happiest, and best cared for by you, so her reluctance to part makes perfect sense ¾ especially when viewed from a survival standpoint. Put another way: You are her source of nourishment, both physical and emotional; therefore, her attachment to you is her means of survival, and when she reaches a certain level of intellectual maturity, she realizes this.

 

This stage, like so many others in childhood, will pass. In time, your baby will learn that she can separate from you, that you will return, and that everything will be okay between those two points in time. Much of this learning is based on trust, which, just as for every human being young or old, takes time to build.

 

How do I know if my baby has separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is pretty easy to spot, and you’re probably reading this section because you’ve identified it in your baby. The following are behaviors typically demonstrated by a baby with normal separation anxiety:

  • Clinginess
  • Crying when a parent is out of sight
  • Strong preference for only one parent
  • Fear of strangers (Also see Stranger anxiety, page XX)
  • Waking at night crying for a parent
  • Easily comforted in a parent’s embrace

 

 

How you can help your baby with separation anxiety

  • Allow your baby to be a baby. It’s perfectly okay — even wonderful — for your baby to be so attached to you and for her to desire your constant companionship. Congratulations, Mommy or Daddy: It’s evidence that the bond you’ve worked so hard to create is holding. So politely ignore those who tell you otherwise.
  • Don’t worry about spoiling her with your love, since quite the opposite will happen. The more that you meet her attachment needs during babyhood, the more confident and secure she will grow up to be.
  • Minimize separations when possible. It’s perfectly acceptable for now ¾ better, in fact ¾ to avoid those situations that would have you separate from your baby. All too soon, your baby will move past this phase and on to the next developmental milestone.
  • Give your baby lessons in object permanence. As your baby learns that things continue to exist even when she can’t see them, she’ll feel better about letting you out of her sight. Games like peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek will help her understand this phenomenon.
  • Practice with quick, safe separations. Throughout the day, create situations of brief separation. When you go into another room, whistle, sing, or talk to your baby so she knows you’re still there, even though she can’t see you.
  • Don’t sneak away when you have to leave her. It may seem easier than dealing with a tearful goodbye, but it will just cause her constant worry that you’re going to disappear without warning at any given moment. The result? Even more clinginess, and diminished trust in your relationship.
  • Tell your baby what to expect. If you are going to the store and leaving her at home with Grandma, explain where you are going and tell her when you’ll be back. Eventually, she’ll come to understand your explanations.
  • Don’t rush the parting, but don’t prolong it, either. Give your baby ample time to process your leave-taking, but don’t drag it out and make it more painful for both of you.
  • Express a positive attitude when leaving her. If you’re off to work, or an evening out, leave with a smile. Your baby will absorb your emotions, so if you’re nervous about leaving her, she’ll be nervous as well. Your confidence will help alleviate her fears.
  • Leave your baby with familiar people. If you must leave your baby with a new caregiver, try to arrange a few visits when you’ll all be together before you leave the two of them alone for the first time.
  • Invite distractions. If you’re leaving your baby with a caregiver or relative, encourage that person to get your baby involved with playtime as you leave. Say a quick good-bye and let your baby be distracted by an interesting activity.
  • Allow your baby the separation that she initiates. If she crawls off to another room, don’t rush after her. Listen and peek, of course, to make sure that she’s safe, but let her know it’s fine for her to go off exploring on her own.
  • Encourage her relationship with a special toy, if she seems to have one. These are called transitional objects or lovies. They can be a comfort to her when she’s separated from you. Many babies adopt blankets or soft toys as loveys, holding them to ease any pain of separation. The lovey becomes a friend and represents security in the face of change.
  • Don’t take it personally. Many babies go through a stage of attaching themselves to one parent or the other. The other parent, as well as grandparents, siblings and friends can find this difficult to accept, but try to reassure them that it’s just a temporary and normal phase of development and with a little time and gentle patience it will pass.

 

Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

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Taking a Road Trip with Your Baby

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

To Grandmother’s house we go! And you’ll be in the car for five whole hours ¾ how can you make the trip enjoyable with a baby along?

 

Learn about it

There’s no question: Marathon car trips with a baby on board take a good amount of planning and organization. But it can be done ¾ and yes, it can even be fun!

 

Planning the trip

In the hustle that precedes a trip, it can be easy to let things happen, instead of make things happen. Be proactive in making your trip decisions. Contemplating these questions, and coming up with the right answers, can help make your trip more successful:

  • Does your baby sleep well in the car? If yes, plan your travel time to coincide with a nap or bedtime so your baby can sleep through part of the journey. If not, plan to leave immediately after a nap or upon waking in the morning. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your baby will behave differently than usual in the car just because it’s a special occasion.
  • Is it necessary to make the trip all at once, or can you break it up with stops along the way? The longer your baby is strapped in the carseat, the more likely he’ll become fussy. Planning a few breaks can keep everyone in a better frame of mind.
  • When estimating an arrival time, have you factored in plenty of extra time for unplanned surprises? A diaper explosion that requires a complete change of clothes or a baby whose inconsolable crying requires an unexpected 20-minute stop are just two of the things that can easily happen.
  • Do you have everything you need to make the trip pleasant? Items like:
      • Window shades to protect your baby from the sun and create a darker, nap-inducing atmosphere.
      • A cooler for cold drinks; a bottle warmer if needed.
      • Plenty of toys that are new or forgotten favorites saved just for the trip.
      • Baby-friendly music on tape or CD.
      • A rear-view baby mirror to keep on eye on baby (unless a second person will be sitting with your little one)
      • Books to read to your baby.

 

Preparing the car

Take plenty of time to get the car ready for your trip. If two adults are traveling, consider yourself lucky and arrange for one person to sit in the backseat next to the baby. If you are traveling alone with your little one, you’ll need to be more creative in setting up the car, and you’ll need to plan for more frequent stops along the way.

Here are a few tips for making the car a traveling entertainment center for your baby:

  • Use ribbon or yarn and safety pins or tape to hang an array of lightweight toys from the ceiling of the car to hang over your baby. An alternative is to string a line from one side of the car to the other with an array of toys attached by ribbons. Bring along an assortment of new toys that can be exchanged when you stop the car for a rest. Just be sure to use small toys and keep them out of the driver’s line of view.
  • Tape brightly colored pictures of toys on the back of the seat that your baby will be facing.
  • If no one will be sitting next to your baby and your child is old enough to reach for toys, set up an upside-down box next to the car seat with a shallow box or a tray with ledges on top of it. Fill this with toys that your baby can reach for by himself. You might also shop around for a baby activity center that attaches directly to the carseat.
  • If you plan to have someone sitting next to baby, then provide that person with a gigantic box of toys with which to entertain the little one ¾ distraction works wonders to keep a baby happy in the car. One of the best activities for long car rides is book reading. Check your library’s early reading section; it typically features a large collection of baby-pleasing titles in paperback that are easier to tote along than board books.
  • Bring along an assortment of snacks and drinks for your older baby who’s regularly eating solids, and remember to bring food for yourself, too. Even if you plan to stop for meals, you may decide to drive on through if your baby is sleeping or content ¾ saving the stops for fussy times.
  • Bring books on tape or quiet music for the adults for times when your baby is sleeping. The voice on tape may help keep your baby relaxed, and it will be something you can enjoy.
  • If you’ll be traveling in the dark, bring along a battery-operated nightlight or flashlight.

 

Car travel checklist

      • Well-stocked diaper bag
      • Baby’s blanket
      • Carseat pillow or head support
      • Window shades (sun screens)
      • Change of clothes for your baby
      • Enormous box of toys and books
      • Music or books on tape or CDs
      • Baby food, snacks, and drinks for your baby
      • Sipper cups
      • Snacks and drinks for the adults
      • Cooler
      • Wet washcloths in bags, or moist towelettes
      • Empty plastic bags for leftovers and trash
      • Bottle warmer
      • Cell phone
      • Baby’s regular sleep music or white noise (if needed, bring extra batteries)
      • First aid kit/prescriptions/medications
      • Jumper cables
      • Money/wallet/purse/ID
      • Medical and insurance information/emergency phone numbers
      • Maps/driving directions
      • Baby carrier/sling/stroller
      • Camera and film
      • Suitcases

 

During the journey

If you’ve carefully planned your trip and prepared your vehicle, you’ve already started out on the right foot. Now keep these things in mind as you make your way down the road:

  • Be flexible. When traveling with a baby, even the best-laid plans can be disrupted. Try to stay relaxed, accept changes, and go with the flow.
  • Stop when you need to. Trying to push “just a little farther” with a crying baby in the car can be dangerous, as you’re distracted and nervous. Take the time to stop and calm your baby.
  • Put safety first. Make sure that you keep your baby in his carseat. Many nursing mothers breastfeed their babies during trips. This can be dangerous in a moving car, even if you are both securely belted: You can’t foresee an accident, and your body could slam forcefully into your baby. Instead, pull over and nurse your baby while he’s still in his carseat. That way, when he falls asleep, you won’t wake him up moving him back into his seat.
  • Remember: Never, ever leave your baby alone in the car ¾ not even for a minute.

 

On the way home

You may be so relieved that you lived through your trip that you sort of forget the other trip ahead of you: the trip home. You’ll need to organize the trip home as well as you did the trip out. A few days in advance, make certain that all your supplies are refilled and ready to go. Think about the best time to leave, and plan accordingly. In addition, think about what you learned on the trip to your destination that might make the trip home even easier. Is there something you wish you would have had but didn’t? Something you felt you could have done differently? Did you find yourself saying, “I wish we would have…”? Now’s the time to make any adjustments to your original travel plan so that your trip back home is pleasant and relaxed.

 

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

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Choosing a Baby Carrier


By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)


Most parents find a baby carrier to be invaluable during the first year of their baby’s life. There are many types and styles to choose from. The different types of baby carriers fall into three main categories: slings, front packs and backpacks.

 

Slings

These are made of fabric and are available in a wide variety of styles. They “sling” sash-style over your shoulder to hold baby in front of you. Slings offer many benefits to both baby and parent. Here are some of the most commonly cited by experienced sling-users:

  • A sling is perfect for the newborn months, when Baby needs to be held often in your arms, as opposed to being pushed at arm’s length in a stroller.
  • A sling is an excellent way to carry your baby around the house because it keeps your baby happy while leaving your two arms free to go about your daily tasks.
  • Sling carriers are multi-purpose. You can use them to carry your baby, to create privacy for breastfeeding, and to cover your sleeping baby. Some feature a tail that can double as a blanket or coverup.
  • Putting your baby into (and getting him back out of) a sling is a breeze. You can even get a sleeping baby in and out of one of these soft carriers without waking her.
  • You can carry your baby in a variety of positions.
  • Slings are small, lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Slings are wonderful to use when a stroller would be inconvenient, such as up stairs, through large crowds or narrow aisle ways, or over rough terrain ¾ or when you’ll be going in and out of the car frequently.
  • Slings put your baby at the height of people’s faces instead of at their knees.
  • You can use a sling right up through toddlerhood, when little legs get tired of walking.

 

An important note about baby slings: They can be confusing to use at first, and your baby can slide out of the bottom if not positioned correctly. Try to find an experienced sling-user, a how-to video, or a knowledgeable sales clerk to help you master the art of baby slinging. Your local La Leche League leader may be able to offer pointers, too.

Slings are very much worth the effort. I bought a sling when my second baby, Vanessa, was born. I couldn’t figure it out, so I left it in the closet. When my third baby, David, was born, I attended a mother-baby class, learned how to use my sling ¾ and was immediately hooked! I used slings extensively with my third and fourth babies and found them to be a marvelous baby care tool.

 

PARENT TIP
“I put my newborn in the sling so I could sit in bed at night with my toddler and read books. It kept us all together, my hands free and gave reading time to BOTH boys!”
Amy, mother of AJ (4) and Ryder (2)

 

Front packs

Front pack carriers are similar to slings in use but are more complex in their structure. They have a seat that attaches to the front of you with straps that crisscross behind you; these straps secure the carrier to your body. Here’s what you need to know about front packs:

  • The benefits of front packs are similar to many of those of slings, such as their light weight and portability, and the fact that you can carry your baby while keeping your arms and hands free.
  • Some allow you to choose between carrying your baby facing inward toward you or outward, facing the world – which is often fun for older babies.
  • Settling the baby into and out of the carrier require more steps than a sling does.
  • Moving a sleeping baby into or out of the carrier is difficult, unless the seat unbuckles separately from the harness.
  • Front packs are better suited to a baby who is strong enough to hold his head upright.

 

Backpacks

A back carrier is similar to a camping backpack. It has a seat for your baby that attaches to your back with a frame and straps that cross over your shoulders. A few things to know about backpacks:

  • They’re perfect for an older baby who loves to look around and be carried high on your shoulders.
  • Many backpacks have pouches for holding supplies.
  • Some models have a canopy for inclement weather or sun protection.
  • Getting a backpack off (and putting it on) are typically two-person tasks.
  • Backpacks are best for an older baby who can sit up well.
  • They’re great for an all-day trip, such as hiking, shopping or visiting an amusement park

 

How do you decide which carrier to use?

No single baby carrier is perfect for all parents. Every parent has different needs, preferences and proportions. Many people actually begin with one type of carrier and move on to another when their babies get older.

 

First, think about how you plan to use a carrier. Will you use it primarily at home, instead of a stroller while away from home, or both? Do you already have a stroller, or must your carrier fill all your baby-carrying needs? Defining its purpose will help you choose which carrier is best for you. Read the package information (or talk to other parents who own a similar carrier) to learn which purposes it serves best and to determine if it matches your needs.

 

The very best way to decide? Try carriers on ¾ either at the store or with a friend who owns one. Actually putting your baby in the carrier will give you the best idea as to fit, but if you are shopping without your baby (or don’t have your baby yet!) try using a stuffed animal from the toy department.

 

PARENT TIP
“A baby carrier can help new adoptive parents to decline politely those who want to hold your baby while he still needs exclusive Mommy or Daddy contact. The carrier can be especially helpful in difficult situations such as visits to your child’s orphanage or former foster parents.”*
¾ Laurel, mother of 16-month-old Crystal
* This is also an excellent idea for parents who blanch at the thought of their tiny newborn being passed around the room from person to person!

Points to consider when purchasing a carrier:

    • Comfort. Does the carrier feel good to you?
    • Fit for your baby. Does it seem to suit your baby well?
    • Fit for you. Does it fit your size and body type? Can you carry the baby without strain?
    • Safety. Will the baby be secure and well supported?
    • Features. Does it meet your needs?
    • Usability. Can you easily get your baby in and out of the carrier? How about putting it on and taking it off? Keep in mind that some models require practice.
    • Construction. Does the fabric suit your wardrobe, climate and needs (i.e., lightweight for summer, weatherproof for outdoor use)?
    • Care. Is it machine-washable or easy to wipe clean?
    • Flexibility. Can you carry your baby in various positions?
    • Adjustability. Can it be tightened or adjusted to fit you when you are at home in indoor clothing or outside wearing a coat? Can you adjust it easily for use by others?
    • Adaptability. Will it work for your baby now as well as six months from now?
    • Appearance. Do you like the style? Will you enjoy wearing it?

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

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Airplane Travel with a Baby

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care and The No-Cry Sleep Solution

Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

 

Question

We’re about to take our first airplane trip with our one-year-old. We flew quite a bit before she was born, but now we’re not sure what to pack or how to make this trip successful.

Learn about it

Even if you racked up your share of frequent flyer miles before your baby was born, forget what you know of travel so far. Flying with a little one is a whole different story.

 

If you fear turning into one of those families we’ve all met aboard planes — those with squalling, unruly, squirming children who tend to bring out the same traits in their fellow passengers — take heart. My oldest child, Angela was just 14 days old when she took her first flight, and since then, I’ve taken many more trips with my four children. I know that you can travel with your little ones and enjoy the process. Forethought and preparation are the keys.

 

Planning the trip

The details of your trip often can mean the difference between success and disaster. Keep these ideas in mind as you plan:

  • Examine all aspects of the journey when you book your flights. Aim for direct flights so that you can avoid changing planes. If you have to make a change, avoid short layovers that give you too little time to get from gate to gate, and conversely avoid long layovers that require lots of idle time in airports.
  • When you make your reservations, give the agent the ages of all passengers. You may learn some important rules such as:
    • FAA regulations allow only one lap-child per adult. If you are traveling with two children, and only one adult, one child will require a seat of his own. (Not that you would want to travel with two children on your lap!)
    • Some airlines do not allow newborns to fly, check on age requirements.
    • Some airlines offer discounted prices for children’s tickets.
    • Most airplanes have only one extra oxygen mask in each row, which means you can only seat one lap-child in each row. If two adults are traveling with two children, consider sitting across the aisle from each other, or two behind two.
    • Some airlines count carseats or strollers as extra baggage.
  • If your child falls asleep easily and stays asleep, try scheduling travel for during your child’s nap or sleep times. If you have a finicky sleeper, on the other hand, avoid traveling during usual sleep times, as your baby may just stay fussy and awake.
  • Reserve your seats in advance to be sure your entire party sits together.
    • If you have an infant, ask for the bulkhead (front row) and request a bassinet.
    • Contrary to popular advice, I think it’s best to avoid the bulkhead with older babies and toddlers, because these seats offer neither under-seat space nor seat pocket, so you’ll have to store all your toys and supplies in the overhead compartment. Also, in the bulkhead, the food tray pops up from the armrest, effectively trapping you in your seat when your table is laden with food.
    • Don’t put your child in the aisle seat, as the food cart and passengers carrying luggage could injure your child.
  • Ask what special features your airline offers for families. Some companies offer children’s meals, bassinets, gate check for strollers, or early boarding privileges.
  • If you can afford to do so, buy a seat for your child and bring along his carseat. Your baby is used to being buckled into his carseat, and the familiarity may make it easier for him to sit still and even sleep. This only works though when your child is able to fit comfortably in the tight seat compartments. A toddler with long legs will be scrunched between his seat and the seat in front of him. The added benefit of bringing a car seat when you can, is the safety feature of having your child in a protective seat on the airplane. Make sure your carseat bears a sticker that says it’s FAA approved for air travel, so that it’s not turned away at the gate. You’ll need that seat anyway to get to and from the airport at home and at your destination. (Carseat rentals are typically expensive, and availability is often limited.)

 

  • Visit your baby’s pediatrician a week or two before your trip to be sure your little one isn’t harboring an ear infection or other illness. If possible, avoid exposing your child to other children the week before the flight so he’s less likely to catch one of those many kid-carried bugs.
  • If you will be visiting relatives at your destination, make a family photo album and “introduce” your baby to these new people via their pictures prior to the actual meeting.
  • If your baby will be taking any medication on the day of the trip (such as a decongestant or pain reliever), be sure to test it out before the day of travel to gauge any side effects.
  • Decide if you’ll need a stroller at your destination. If you don’t think you’ll need a conventional one, at least consider bringing a lightweight portable type for use in airports; this will give you a free hand as you tend to tasks such as luggage check-in and pickup, while keeping your child safe and close by. If you opt to take your regular stroller, you can usually check it at the gate or right at the door of the airplane.
  • Alternatively, a sling or soft-pack carrier can be very helpful if your child still likes to be carried and is light enough for you to carry this way for long walks through the airport.
  • Dress yourself and your child in comfortable layers of clothing. Airplanes are often cramped and hot, but sometimes too cold.
  • Use these checklists (and make lists of your own) to ensure that you don’t forget anything.

 

 

 

Packing your carry-on

The right carry-on bag can be a lifesaver. Make sure that your bag is easy to lift or roll, and that it falls within the airline’s size limitations. Pack an organized bag that carries:

 

  • Lots of diapers. Plan for an unexpected layover or delay.
  • A baby blanket, which is good for multiple uses.
  • A diaper-changing pad in case you end up changing your baby on the floor or on a dirty changing table.
  • Plenty of snacks. Often the only snacks on airplanes are peanuts, which are a major choking hazard for babies. Also, snacks are a great distraction for a bored or antsy child. Even if you’ve ordered a child’s meal, it might show up when your child is asleep or isn’t hungry, or your child may not like the menu. A few ideas for easy-to-tote snacks include:
    • Baby food
    • Dry cereal
    • Pretzels
    • Crackers
    • Bagels
    • Bread or rolls
    • Dried fruit
    • Lollipops
  • Drinks. Bring along favorites in a sippy cup, drink-box, or bottle. You may even want to pack these in a soft lunchbox cooler.
  • Infant pain reliever in case of ear pain or other discomfort. (But don’t try anything new; make sure it’s something your baby has tolerated well already.)
  • Lots of new toys, or old favorites that have been hidden for a few weeks. Avoid noisy toys that will annoy fellow passengers. Great travel toys include:
  • Crayons and a small pad or sticky notes
  • Stickers and sticker books (Sticker books have the advantage here; their stickers are reusable if stuck on their specially surfaced pages, whereas a sticker placed on paper is there for good — which is fine, too, but a sticker book prolongs the activity.)
  • Building toys like Legos TM or Duplos TM
  • Paperback books
  • Puppets
  • Tiny plastic animals, cars, or dolls
  • Playing cards (Go Fish or other games that feature interesting cards)
  • Tape or CD player with kid music or books on tape
  • Bib
  • Extra pacifiers, or your baby’s lovey, special blanket, or toy
  • A book, magazine, or activity for you when baby is sleeping or playing, should you be lucky enough for that to occur!
  • A small medical kit with bandages
  • Wet wipes for diaper changes and cleaning baby’s hands and face
  • Empty plastic bags for soiled diapers
  • If your baby uses a bottle, bring several. It’s usually easier to take along premeasured powdered formula and small bottles of water for mixing.
  • A complete change of clothes for baby and an extra shirt for you (spitup and spills happen).
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste for unexpected layovers.
  • If you’re traveling as two adults with two children, divide up the children’s supplies into two separate bags in case your seats are separated on the airplane.
  • Consider packing toys in a small child’s backpack for any child old enough to carry one.
  • A small belt-bag (fanny pack) is handy for tickets, ID, and cash. Wear it on the front of your body, not the back.
  • Test your bag in advance to be sure it’s not too heavy!

 

The night before the trip

  • Get a good night’s sleep so that you can be more relaxed during your trip.
  • Pack all of your bags and put them in the car or near the front door so you’re not scrambling when it’s time to leave.
  • Review your checklists.

 

At the airport

 

  • Get to the airport early.
  • Check as many pieces of luggage as possible. Avoid overloading yourself with things to carry.
  • Keep in mind that most airport rental carts have to be unloaded to go through security, and that your child may have to be taken out of the stroller or backpack when you go through the metal detector.
  • When you check in, tell the desk attendant that you are traveling with a baby. Let her know if you have a stroller or carseat with you.
  • Change your baby’s diaper immediately before boarding the airplane.
  • Avoid breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby just before boarding as he may fall asleep and wake up crying as you struggle to carry him and your belongings to the gate. Wait until you are seated and unloaded, then feed him and maybe you’ll be lucky and he’ll take a nap!
  • Avoid feeding your little one just prior to boarding. Save food and drink for when you’re on the airplane, as these carry great entertainment value.
  • Consider bringing your stroller and checking it at the gate. This way you can carry baby, the carseat, and all your belongings right up to the airplane gangway. Smaller strollers can be brought on as carry-ons, and an attendant will take bigger strollers as gate-checked items. (Find out where to retrieve these.)
  • If traveling with two adults and multiple children, ask at the desk if one adult can do the early-boarding and set up your carry-on bags and carseat(s). Usually the pre-boarding time is extremely short, and you’ll have to rush to get the carseat secured and carry-on items organized before all the other passengers begin to board. This will also allow your little ones some last-minute exercise before boarding with the second adult.
  • If you have a connecting flight, go straight to the gate upon landing. Sometimes it takes longer to get gate-to-gate than you expect. Any waiting time is best done closer to your next gate.

 

On the airplane

  • To help your baby’s ears adjust to changes in cabin pressure, encourage swallowing during takeoff and landing. You can do this by breastfeeding, or offering a bottle or pacifier. Toddlers can take a drink, nibble on crackers, or suck on a lollipop. (Look for those without a gum or chewy center, which can present a choking hazard.) Use the feeling in your own ears to determine when to give your baby something to swallow, or feed your baby when you see the flight attendants preparing the cabin for takeoff or landing. If your baby is sleeping soundly, don’t feel you need to awaken him; he’ll be fine.
  • Flying in an airplane can cause dehydration, which occurs much more quickly in a child than with an adult. Keep your baby well hydrated with water, juice, or milk.
  • Changing diapers can be a real challenge. Some airplanes have changing tables, but these are typically very small, and while great for newborns a tricky challenge for bigger babies. You can ask the flight attendant for the best place for changing. A small baby can be changed on your lap on or the pull-down tray table. (Be sensitive to the people seated near you if you do this.) Some airlines will allow you to use the flight attendant’s jump-seat; some will let you change your baby on the floor near the galley or in the bulkhead area. If you have an older baby, consider using pull-up disposable diapers on the flight, as these can be pulled up with your little one standing. Use a plastic bag from home or the airsickness bag for disposal in the bathroom trash. Remember that, since flight attendants handle food, they can’t handle dirty diapers. (And they probably don’t want to, either.)
  • The flight attendant will usually heat a bottle for you. Be sure that you shake it well and test it thoroughly, as the galley system often makes things very hot.
  • If your baby is unhappy and begins to cry, take a deep breath and focus your attention on your baby. Fellow passengers who are unhappy about the disruption may forget that you have as much right to be on the airplane as they do. They also may not know, or may forget how difficult it is for a baby or young child to be patient during a long flight. Your best defense against an unpleasant stranger is to say with a smile, “I’m doing the best I can.” And then tend to your baby.
  • Unless you have to, don’t rush off the plane. Let your child play until most of the passengers have disembarked. This will prevent you from standing in the slow-moving line in the aisle while carrying an armload of luggage and trying to keep your baby happy.

 

International travel

  • If only one parent is traveling, make sure you bring a letter of permission from the other parent. This should be signed and assert that the parent gives permission for the child to leave the country. You may not need this, but it’s an easy document to bring along just in case.
  • Get passports for all travelers. It’s easy to obtain a passport for a baby. Passport application forms and instructions are available at your local post office. Plan ahead though, as this can take weeks to obtain the passport after making application.
  • Take advantage of the room available in a larger airplane by taking your baby for walks when it’s safe to move about the cabin.

 

At your destination

  • Determine in advance where your baby will sleep, and find out if you can rent or borrow a crib, if you need one. If you plan to co-sleep you may need to move the furniture around, or even pull the mattress off the bed to make a safe sleeping situation. (Most hotel housekeeping staff will help with this if you ask politely.) Other equipment such as carseat, stroller, highchair, and safety gates often can be rented or borrowed.
  • Find out if your brands of diapers and formula are available at your destination. If not, send a box ahead of time.
  • Ask if your accommodations have been childproofed. If not, bring along some outlet protectors and a role of duct tape for on-the-spot childproofing.
  • Pack a child-safe nightlight to make those middle-of-the-night potty runs and diaper changes safe.
  • Make sure that the vehicle you’ll be picked up in or that you are renting has enough seatbelts for everyone, plus room for luggage and your stroller.
  • Upon arrival, you might want to collect your luggage and then send one adult for the car while the other stays at the curb with the bags and children.
  • Remember to keep your carry-on bag organized, including snacks, for your return flight home.

 

For the frequent flier

Make a master list of those items you typically take along. Be sure to include those you’re more apt to forget. Keep your list on your computer, if you have one, so it’s ready to print out when it’s time to pack

 

This article is a copyrighted excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
Gentle Baby Care: No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry–Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby (Pantley)

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