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Feeding Tips

Some babies eagerly consume all new foods, while others who generally shy away from all kinds of new experiences shun their first solids. Often, it takes some experimenting on the part of both the parents and the baby to diversify the babys diet and feeding patterns. The task may be easier if you:

baby feed

– Avoid introducing new foods when the baby is not feeling well.

– Do not force the baby to eat any food she seems to dislike particularly. Rather, give up this food temporarily and try to introduce it again at a later stage.

–  Offer new foods in tiny amounts, no more than a teaspoonful at a time.

–  Let the baby suck a little food off your finger if she seems to dislike the spoon.

Elimination

Most babies also begin to have fewer, more regular bowel movements, although breast-fed babies may continue to have more frequent movements than bottle-fed babies. Dont be alarmed if the baby goes longer between bowel movements or seems to strain to have movements after solid foods are introduced. The introduc­tion of solid foods is likely to have some effect on the stools, but the baby should adjust fairly quickly.

Keeping Track of Health and Growth

Unless a baby has a specific medical problem, your attention in feeding and frequent cuddling and caressing will assure that he thrives. A newborns tiny body is, however, highly vulnerable to the stress of even a minor illness or other setback. Thus, new parents need to be aware of possible trouble signs or missed milestones (signs of normal development that should be reached by certain ages).

Health and Growth

At first, it may seem hard to balance vigilance with common sense. Its better to err on the side of caution, and call the doctor whenever anything seems unusual. Pediatricians are used to reassuring new parents, and they will understand your concern.

Doctor visits: Why and how often

Routine pediatrician visits are required to maintain your babys health. Regular well-baby visits are essential for giving immunizations and monitoring growth and development.

The first of these checkups is generally performed about two weeks after birth, although the exact timing varies from region to region (as well as from doctor to doctor). A child who had medical problems at birth or in the newborn period may need a checkup sooner. The next routine visits generally come at eight weeks and four months of age.

After the first two weeks, rapid and steady weight gain on average, about an ounce per day, or about two pounds per month is the hallmark of an infants physical development. Birth weight is usually doubled by three to five months. Your babys head also grows, by about a half-inch in circumference each month, and the soft spot near the back of the head (but not the larger one at the front) closes by four months or so. Your doctor will be plotting your babys weight and length on a growth chart such as the one in Volume II, A to Z Encyclopedia of Child Health & Illness. This monitoring will assure that your baby is growing along his own curve and will alert your pediatrician of any possible growth problems.

During these visits, the pediatrician will take note of the babys appearance and development. The doctor will also perform a careful physical exam and measure the babys weight, length, and head size. Blood may be taken using a needle prick in the heel during the two-week visit to check thyroid function and, in some cases, to repeat the screening test for the genetic disorder PKU (phenylketonuria). (The PKU test is generally performed once before the baby leaves the hospital.) Both visits should include a discussion of feeding, daily care, and vitamin supplementation, and the pediatrician should answer any questions you may have.

A babys immunizations should start a day or so after birth with the hepatitis B vaccine, which is now routinely administered in the hospital or at the first visit to the pediatrician. At one to two months of age, a second dose of hepatitis B vaccine is recommended, and at two months, the first doses of oral polio vaccine, DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccine, and Hemophilus influenzae type B vaccine are administered. (For a more detailed discussion of immunizations, see the encyclopedia.)

Many infants barely seem to notice the brief needle prick of an immunization. The baby may startle and cry or simply flinch a bit when he gets the shot (which is given in the upper thigh muscle). At the other extreme, sensitive newborns cry throughout their checkups because they dont like having their clothes removed and being handled by the pediatrician. These babies may cry even harder when they get shots. Whatever your babys response, you can help by staying calm and relaxed.

Starting Solid Food

Before the age of four months, solid food may actually be harmful to babies. Early introduction of solids may increase the chance that the baby will develop food allergies, and it may prevent the baby from getting enough calories to grow properly. At around six months of age, though, babies can no longer get adequate nutrition from milk or formula alone. From this point on, they need a greater variety of foods for proper growth and development.

Starting Solid Food

Certain changes in a babys feeding behavior signal a readiness to begin solids. These changes, which appear between the fourth and sixth months, include the development of a more mature sucking pattern in which the gums move up and down, and the appearance of drooling, which makes it easier to swallow solid food. The babys tongue no longer reflexively pushes food out of the mouth, and coordination of the tongue and swallowing muscles is improved.

Even babies who have experienced all these developments, however, may resist solid food at first. If a four-month-old seems to dislike having cereal spooned into her mouth, the best approach is to abandon the effort and try again in a few weeks. A six-month-old who refuses solid food, however, may need some persistent coaxing. If you meet with resistance, talk to your pediatrician.

Most pediatricians recommend starting a baby on iron-fortified rice cereal, since rice is the grain least likely to provoke allergic reactions. Start with a teaspoon or two of food mixed with enough formula or breast milk to be smooth and moist, but not runny.

When you first offer cereal, make sure the baby is hungry but not too hungry. Most experts recommend starting the feeding with milk or formula, then switching to a small amount of cereal, then finishing up with more milk or formula. Give tiny bites in a small spoon (baby spoons coated with a durable plastic to protect tiny teeth are ideal), touching the tip of the spoon to the babys lips to open the mouth and placing the food at the back of the tongue.

At first, the baby will probably push most of the food out of the mouth. In time, however, she will learn to enjoy the flavor and sensation of solid foods and the more encouragement you give in the form of smiles and exclamations, the more eager the baby will be to eat.

Introduce new foods at the rate of about one every four to seven days so that, if the baby develops an allergic reaction, you can easily identify the cause. At around five or six months you can offer fruit juices, which should be diluted with water at first. Avoid products and foods that are not totally pureed until the baby is older.

Besides rice cereal, foods that are recommended for five- and six-month-olds include oatmeal, peaches, apples, peas, sweet potatoes, pureed meat, mashed bananas, and squash. Wait awhile to introduce corn, tomatoes, citrus fruits, orange juice, fish, berries, egg whites, and spinach, since these foods are more likely to provoke allergies.

Well Baby Care

Small babies produce more heat than adults. Their body temperature increases in the first months and peaks, around the sixth month, at 99.5, after which it starts to decrease gradually. During the first year, you should avoid exposing the baby to extreme heat or cold. Doctors recommend maintaining room temperature between 68 and 72 degrees during this time, avoiding letting the baby become overheated.

Well Baby Care

The rule of thumb for this age, as well as for smaller infants, is to dress your baby no more or less heavily than you dress yourself for a given outdoor temperature. The exception: Babies should wear hats in cool (not just cold) weather, and a sun hat is a must to protect a babys delicate skin and scalp from burning ultraviolet rays.

By the age of four or five months, the infection-fighting antibodies with which babies are born have diminished. Thus, a number of babies get their first colds during these months, particularly if they have older siblings or are exposed to other children in day care. Although it is widely believed that breast feeding protects babies against colds and other infections, this claim has not been fully proven.

To minimize the risk of infection, keep the baby away from people who have colds and other illnesses and, equally important, wash your hands frequently. Attempting to keep the babys hands and toys clean may be a losing battle, but is worth the effort, particularly when someone in the household has a cold or the flu.

The Growth Curve

In the three- to six-month period, infants continue to grow rapidly. The bodys fat stores increase, giving babies their characteristic and perfectly normal pudgy appearance. One of the fastest-growing organs during this period is the brain, which continues its development until the fourth year of life. The soft spot at the back of the skull (the posterior fontanel) closes by four months of age, while the soft spot at the front (the anterior fontanel) enlarges during the first few months of life, and closes when your baby is between nine and 18 months on average.

By about four months of age, many babies have doubled their birth weights. If your baby gains weight more slowly, there is no cause for concern provided the baby appears healthy and does gain some weight.

At three months, babies weigh around 12.5 pounds on average, and their length ranges from 22 to 25 inches. Between the ages of four and six months, they gain approximately one and one-half pounds a month and grow about an inch every month. Boys tend to be longer and heavier than girls. For a clear picture of how your baby grows during these months, see the growth charts in Volume II, A to ZEncyclopedia of Child Health & Illness.

Visiting The Doctor

During the three- to six-month period, the pediatrician should see your baby twice once at four months and once at six months. (Depending on your own pediatricians policies, these intervals may vary). During these well-baby visits, your child will be weighed and measured and his or her general development and health, including hearing and vision, will be assessed.

To evaluate the hearing, the doctor will ring a bell or make a loud noise behind the babys back and observe the response. The pediatrician can screen the babys vision by shining a bright light in the eyes and observing how the baby blinks and follows the light source.

Immunizations administered during this period are the oral polio vaccine, the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine, and the Hemophilus influenzae type B (HiB) vaccine at four months; and the DTP (as well as, in some cases, an additional dose of HiB vaccine) at six months.

Milestones For The Three- To Six-Month Period

As mentioned elsewhere in this book, each child develops at her own, unique pace. On average, three- to six-month-olds acquire the following skills in approximately the order given below. Most babies will do some of these things sooner than expected and some a bit later. Remember that variation is the rule.

Overall, though, the three- to six-month period is a time of tremendous development during which new abilities and awareness emerge almost every day. A number of thrilling firsts take place during this time the first laugh, the first gurgle, the first utterances that sound almost like words. Once a new ability appears, you may see the baby practice it over and over again. On the other hand, some babies seem to back off and send new skills underground for a while soon after they develop. Either pattern is normal.

First feedings

Breast feeding is the best feeding method, although even a newborn can be well-nourished with formula feeding. If you wish to breast-feed, its important to get a good start. The sooner you begin, the better.

First feedings

The breast milk produced in the first few days after birth is a thin, watery substance called colostrums. It was once thought that this early milk didnt provide full nutrition. Now we know that the opposite is true: Nature designed this newborn food to have just the right balance of fluids and nutrients and to deliver protective immunity. Babies dont need a lot of nutrition in their first few days, but they do need water and, preferably, the antibodies from mothers immune system that only breast feeding can provide. After several days of nursing, regular breast milk usually comes in right on schedule, bringing the nutrients the baby needs to grow and develop.

Whether you breast- or bottle-feed (or use a combination of both), youll have an easier time of it if you let the baby determine when feedings should take place. Generally, newborns need to nurse or have a bottle every few hours, but some may be hungry more often. If the hospital permits it, keep your baby in your room with you as much as possible. (This practice, known as rooming-in, is now standard for healthy babies and mothers in many hospitals.) That way, you can provide feedings according to your babys internal schedule rather than the nurserys. If the hospital routine is interfering with your attempts to breast feed, let the doctor or head nurse know about it.

If you bottle-feed, use special newborn nipples (or use a needle to create a small hole in a solid nipple), because standard-size holes are too big for newborns.

Once youre home, a regular feeding routine develops over time. During this period, its important to remember that every cry is not a cry of hunger. Fatigue, discomfort, and over stimulation also make newborns cry. On the other hand, refusing to feed your baby until a prescribed period say, three hours has passed may leave you and the baby both frantic and exhausted.

The key to successful feeding sessions is to let your baby set the pace. You will get into a nice rhythm where you understand the babys cues that signal readiness for nursing and satisfaction of hunger. When you first start nursing, though, both you and the baby will be a little awkward before getting into a routine. A helpful guideline may be to offer each breast for five minutes. In time, you will develop a very clear sense of when and for how long the baby wants to nurse.

Healthy babies gain weight rapidly but not right away. In fact, your baby may actually lose some weight (mainly in the form of fluid) in the first week, and not regain it until the second week. Breast-feeding mothers may be especially worried that their babies arent getting enough to eat, since they cant measure how much milk the baby takes at each feeding.

If the baby nurses regularly and seems reasonably contented after feedings, though, he is probably getting enough milk. The best gauge is the measurement of the babys growth at regular pediatric checkups. If growth is normal, food intake is on target. Also, the baby should be having regular bowel movements, as well as six to eight wet diapers a day.

A New Awareness Discovering The World

While life with a three- to six-month-old still has its ups and downs, its calmer and more predictable than the first few weeks. The whirlwind of activity that greets the arrival of a new baby has died down; cards and gifts have stopped arriving; and both parents (but especially the mother) are beginning to feel a bit more like themselves. Feeding, diapering, dressing, and bathing the baby have become second nature.

Discovering The World

Things are easier from the babys point of view as well, largely because you have relaxed enough to learn the meanings of the various cries, gestures, and other signals with which she communicates. When your baby starts to fuss, you know what types of small adjustments less light, less noise, less intense interaction your baby may require to become content. As a result, you can both focus your attention on your budding social relationship.

The third month marks an exciting turning point in the babys development as a social being. Infants begin to cry less and spend more time cooing, kicking, or lying on their backs and playing with their fingers and toes. They make eye contact and deliberately gurgle, and gyrate to get or maintain a parents or other caregivers attention. By about five months of age, they laugh and squeal with pleasure and excitement. Specific types of behavior that denote fear, curiosity, contentment, anger, and other feelings also become more pronounced, as well as more individualized from baby to baby.

Along with being more sociable in the second three months of life, .babies are also more intrigued by things such as lights, toys, hands, and hair. Six-week-old babies spend much of their calm and alert time gazing at their mothers or fathers. By contrast, six-month-olds pay increased attention to objects, spending much of their calm, wakeful intervals watching the movements of shadows and light, looking for the sources of sounds, and grasping and mouthing whatever objects they can get their hands on.

This increased involvement with the environment is illustrated by a bottle-fed three-month-olds recognition of her bottle often accompanied by impatient squeals or excited leg and arm movements if the bottles appearance coincides with a feeling of hunger. Three-month-olds also look at their hands and their reflections in mirrors.

Although parents are usually thrilled by the babys ability to interact with the world, they must also be prepared to meet new demands. Providing basic care is no longer enough. At this stage, interaction and stimulation are as important to the babys development as food and sleep.

Using A Playhouse As Storage For Garden Toys

Try as hard as you might there never seems to be enough storage space for your childrens toys. Garden toys are much larger than the toys which are kept in your home so you need to find a suitable location to store those garden toys and your childrens playhouse may just be the right place.

Playhouse

As more and more garden toys are made of strong, molded plastic, you should pay great attention to ensure that these toys are stored away correctly and out of the sunlight because the sun will damage them if they are left in full view of the suns rays, regularly.

A place for your garden toy storage

A childrens playhouse is a great place for them to show their imagination and learn about social skills as they play with parents, relations and neighbourhood friends. Some of the cheap playhouses are quite small and made of plastic, but this can still be ideal for very young children. It is only as the children become bigger and stronger, that they might need to graduate into a larger childrens playhouse which might still made of plastic or might be a larger wooden variety that has been treated and painted to match local weather conditions.

Unless youve trained them particularly well, all children possess one similar habit. Thats the ability to leave toys wherever they were playing with them last and not thinking that they need to be returned to a safe location when playtime is over. If you can teach your kids to use the childrens playhouse as a garden toy storage centre, then you might be able to save yourself a lot of walking around your garden to clear up after your children.

Hammocks make great garden toy storage

If your childrens playhouse is big enough, the purchase of a few garden hammocks can help control the garden toy storage situation. If you run a mesh hammock from wall to wall, your children will be able to see through the mesh if they want to bring a toy out and they will know if it has enough space when theyre putting toys back.

Because most childrens garden toys are made of plastic, you can make a game out of putting the toys back in the hammock, along the lines of basketball with a gigantic net, because its unlikely they will damage the toys from throwing them over a short distance.

This also gives the children the opportunity to play a game that is a little bit daring because is not common practice for them to throw their toys around, without a parent making a biting comment. Your children will look forward to the opportunity of thinking theyve broken a rule, knowing that the rule can be broken on this occasion.

If this gets all the toys off the floor and packed away, then a hammock or two is a great investment for your childrens Playhouse.

There does need to be a word of warning, though, if youre to use a hammock for garden toy storage and you have small children. Hammocks do have ropes at each end and children will always find a way of getting their head caught in a rope which could cause them to choke, so you might want to wait until the children are of sufficient age before you install the hammocks.

The Right Amount of Water to Give Your Baby

A certain amount of water is recommended for everyone, particularly during the warmer seasons because the heat can dehydrate someone quickly. However, what most people don’t realize is that infants up to 6 months old can be given too much water. A 1997 Clinicians Reviews survey of new mothers discovered that almost 25 percent gave their babies water at least three times weekly during their first month of life.

Baby water

Children and adults aren’t prone to water intoxication because they can tell how much water they need by how thirsty they are. Babies can’t do that. In addition, a newborn’s kidneys filter slower than older infants, which cause diluted sodium levels in the blood.

During 1989 to 1991, doctors at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital reported 24 cases of water intoxication. As there were only 10 cases reported from 1985 to 1988, it seems that this is a problem somewhat on the rise. The reported cases involved healthy babies of 4 to 5 months of age who drank three 8 ounce bottles of water during 6 to 12 hours.

Water intoxication symptoms include needing more than eight diapers daily, pale urine, and sleeping more than normal with difficulty in waking up. Mothers need to be aware that these symptoms should never be ignored. They should also be aware that healthy babies don’t need any more water than what they get in formula or breast milk.

Babies can get water intoxication from drinking several bottles of water daily or through drinking overly diluted infant formula. Water makes babies feel full with fewer calories. Therefore, giving a baby extra water can cause weight loss or keep him from gaining sufficient weight.

Pediatricians advise mothers to feed babies 2 to 3 ounces more than their age in months per feeding. For instance, a 4 month old baby would need 6 to 7 ounces three times daily. Over 8 ounces at one feeding is usually not necessary. Typically, the proportions of milk to water are two thirds milk and one third water. This gives the baby about 8 ounces of water spread out over 24 hours. If you dilute the formula, milk shouldn’t be less than 50 percent.

When baby is eating solid food, usually around 7 months old, small amounts of water can be introduced by using a cup. Follow your pediatrician’s instructions and your baby will be protected from ever suffering from water intoxication.

Why You Should Use Homemade Baby Food

Something that many new parents wrestle with is whether or not they should make their own baby food or buy it in jars from the store. A significant number of these parents go on to actually create their own home made baby food. There are actually some very good reasons for this, too.

Baby Food

The baby food you buy from the store has extra salt, fat, sugar and other “fillers” added to it. These things are meant to add flavor and texture to products that are already poor in quality. They don’t contribute anything to the health of your baby. When you make your own baby food, you know your baby is getting everything his or her body needs.

Making your baby’s food lets you know exactly what is going into your baby’s system. For instance, when you make apple sauce for your baby, you know that you’re using only the freshest and purest apples.

Store bought apple sauce has unrecognizable ingredients. It’s simple to make baby food at home, which is something that you’ll realize soon enough once you begin. The only things you need are a food blender and fresh ingredients. Another advantage is that you can make large amounts of your baby’s favorite meals ahead of time and freeze them so you can serve them in minutes every day.

With the economy so bad these days, everyone looks for a way to save money. Making your own baby food is a lot cheaper than store bought baby food. This keeps you from paying outrageous prices just to feed your baby food that’s not even very good for them.

In the end, it’s very satisfying to see your baby enjoy the meal that you’ve personally prepared. Not only that, but you’re reassured that there are only healthy ingredients and at a fraction of the cost of commercially prepared baby food. You’ll instantly see that your baby loves the taste of your home made food much better than that of the store bought jars.

Those should be enough reasons for you to go that extra mile to make food that your baby will enjoy and become healthier by eating. If not, think about how you can utilize family dinner leftovers.

Tips for Purchasing a Baby Stroller

One of the most important pieces of baby equipment you’ll need for your new baby is a stroller. They’re available in many styles and brands. They also have various features that make each one different from another one. The one you choose for your baby should be a very versatile one so that you don’t have to buy a new stroller as your baby grows.

Baby Stroller

Newborns need seats that recline fully. So you’ll need a stroller that can do that as well as help support older babies in sitting up. Strollers should also have the right type of restraints so that your baby isn’t able to slip out of the stroller or can’t maneuver his way out.

The wheels will need to be checked for easy movement. This makes turning and moving in tight spaces easier. In this way, you can make sure your baby has a smooth ride. Wheels that are attached to an axle also offer more stability. In addition, make sure they have a strong brake to lock the wheels in place when needed.

Frame construction is another very important aspect of strollers regarding you’re the safety and comfort of your baby. One piece frames are recommended as the baby can’t get his hands cut on any rough edges or stuck in small separated areas. This is something you’ll definitely want to check out before making your selection.

Other things to consider include what sort of extras you want on the stroller. For instance, there are strollers with or without canopies, cup holders, trays, and extra storage space. To make your decision, consider how you’ll be using the stroller and where. This will help you know what sort of features you’ll need. Some parents even choose to buy two strollers so that they have one for easy traveling and casual outings and one that will hold up to longer trips.

One last consideration that’s certainly very important is what sort of budget you have to spend on a stroller. Strollers range from $30 to over $300 so you’ll need to closely examine what features you need and see which type of stroller matches both your needs as well as your budget. Obviously, baby safety comes first, but you can find a stroller that provides safety and comfort for your baby as well as meeting your budget.