Baby Care

How to Manage Newborn's Sleep Schedule

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Newborn sleep can be tricky. If you are wondering how to manage your newborn's sleep schedule, there is no perfect instruction manual when it comes to your baby and his sleep. Around 4-6 hours after your baby has been born, he will take a 4-5 hour nap. This time is crucial for mom to take advantage and get a good nap in. This period of sleep will help restore energy levels after labor and give you a boost for the next few days of very frequent nursing as your milk comes in.

Every baby is different but there is a general pattern that most babies seem to follow during their first few weeks earth-side. There are some things that you can do during this time that will hopefully guide your baby to learn a good sleep pattern as he grows. 

Days vs Nights: Your baby may take a week or two to figure out days and nights. To help encourage sleeping at night, keep the lights low, voices quiet and after feeding lay your baby down. A white noise machine can also be helpful. During day sleeps, keep it light in the room with some noise and in between sleep talk to your baby frequently.

Swaddle: Learn how to swaddle! Up until now your baby has been warm and snug in your womb. Swaddling can be very soothing, especially when he is tired or fussy.

Shush: To help soothe your baby to sleep, shushing can work very well. Surprisingly, it can be quite loud! While in the womb, the sound of the blood flow is louder than a vacuum!

Sucking: Sucking is very comforting to an infant. Once your baby has established a good latch, introducing a pacifier helps satisfy this need.

Deep Sleep: When initially laying your baby down, wait until she has reached a deep sleep. This takes about 20 minutes of rocking. Watch for unclenched fists and "loose limbs". This will help your baby to stay asleep once you lay her down.

Though this period of time can be exhausting, it does get better! Remember that there is purpose in frequent waking and light sleep. The purpose of this ensures that your baby will wake to feed when hungry which is incredibly important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breastfeeding: How Do I Know My Baby is Getting Enough?

Breastfeeding a newborn is an incredible boding experience between a mother and her baby. One of the common worries for a mom is whether or not her baby is getting enough to eat. Unlike bottle feeding, the actual amount is unknown. This can feel concerning. Especially is the baby is fussy or not sleeping. Occasionally, due to milk supply or a poor latch, the baby may not be getting as much as they need. Thankfully there are things you can do to help if that is the case!

 Comforting Signs That Your Baby is Getting Plenty to Eat:

Wet / Dirty Diapers: Your baby should have on average 6 wet diapers and 4 stools per day. The urine should be light in color and mild smelling. By about day 5, your baby’s stool should have transitioned from meconium to yellow and loose.

Alert / Satisfied Baby: When your baby is hungry he will be active and alert, giving you cues to demand feeding. Afterwards, your baby should appear satisfied and probably sleepy.

Breasts Feeling Empty: Once your milk is in and your baby nurses, your breasts should feel empty at the end of the feeding. They may feel harder and full at the beginning and soft at the end.

Your Baby is Gaining Weight: Although there typically is slight weight loss in your baby before your milk fully comes in, around day 5-6 your baby’s weight should slowly start creeping up on the scales. Every baby is different but the goal is to have your baby at least back to birth weight by two weeks of age.

If your baby shows any of the above signs that he is not getting enough to eat, it is important to see a pediatrician and a lactation consultant.

At Health Foundations Birth Center, our lactation consultants and postpartum nurses are here to assist you with any and all questions you have related to breastfeeding your new baby. 

We also have a group, Mama's Milk Hour, led by Jan Kaste, IBCLC. This group meets every Thursday at 2:30. It is free and open to the public. You have a chance to weigh your baby, nurse and weigh your baby again to get an idea of how much your baby is eating at each feeding. Jan is there for basic questions and advice.

 

Introducing Your Breastfed Baby to the Bottle

Baby Feeding on Bottle

Whether you will be returning to work after your maternity leave or would like to get your partner more involved in feeding your new babe, introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby can be a helpful, and sometimes tricky, endeavor. Many women like to have the option to have pumped milk available that a family member or caregiver can give the baby should they need a break, some extra sleep or happen to be away for more than a couple hours. Here are 5 helpful tips to introducing your breastfed baby to the bottle so that it’s a smooth and gentle transition for you both.

5 Tips to Introduce Your Breastfed Baby to the Bottle

  1. Timing is everything: Your midwife or lactation consultant will likely tell you that introducing any sort of bottle or artificial soother must be well-timed. Too early, and you run the risk of disrupting your newly established breastfeeding routine and too late, your babe may reject the bottle all together. The ideal time to introduce a bottle is between 4-6 weeks. That way, you will have already found your groove with breastfeeding and your baby will likely not experience any nipple confusion. 
  2. Choose a slow flow nipple: When picking out a bottle and nipple for your baby, choose one that most closely mimics the breast and allows for a slow flow of milk. Sucking from a bottle requires a different latch and tongue movement than suckling from the breast. A slow flow nipple will most closely replicate the experience of breastfeeding and allow baby to take his time eating. 
  3. Have your partner give the bottle: Getting a bottle from mom who usually breastfeeds can be confusing and frustrating for a little one. If possible, have your partner be the bottle aficionado. Even better yet, take the time that your partner is learning to bottle feed your baby and do something for yourself. Take a shower, take a nap, go for a walk or run an errand. Your baby is more likely to have a successful bottle feeding experience if they can’t smell mom and her milk nearby. 
  4. Take baby steps: Rather than having your partner or family member offer the bottle when your baby is hungry, try introducing it after they have breastfed. This way, they will not be frustrated as easily with the process and can explore the feel of the bottle without the pressure of needing to satiate their appetite. You don’t need to put a lot of breastmilk in the bottle, even starting with a half an ounce should suffice. If the milk is not freshly pumped, place the bottle in warm water to heat it prior to feeding. Baby may be more likely to accept a warm bottle versus milk that is directly from the refrigerator. 
  5. Encourage paced feeding: One of the challenges with bottle feeding is that we decide how much baby should drink rather than baby deciding. To most closely simulate the experience of breastfeeding, never force the nipple into baby’s mouth and simply allow him to decide how much he wishes to drink. Give baby breaks for burping and rest and switch sides from which you feed him as he would when breastfeeding. It’s also important to make sure your partner or the caregiver is able to recognize baby’s hungers cues so that he or she can feed baby when he’s hungry versus on a set schedule. 

Introducing bottle feeding does not have to be a stressful process if approached slowly, gently and with plenty of time for practice. If you have questions about the process of introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby or are pregnant and considering a natural birth in a homelike setting, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you throughout your journey of motherhood.

Managing Visitors After Baby

Newborn Visitors

Nothing attracts well-meaning visitors like a brand new, adorable baby. Once the little one arrives, friends and family will be eager to meet your little one. Being prepared ahead of time for how you and your partner want to handle visitors once baby arrives will save you a great deal of stress and spare you some potentially uncomfortable conversations.  Here are 5 tips for managing doting friends and family once you bring your baby home.  

  1. Come up with a plan with your partner: These days/weeks following the birth of your baby are all about you, your baby, and your new family. You will not only be adjusting to caring for a newborn but also dealing with your own recovery and rapidly fluctuating postpartum hormones. It is important to be mindful of rest and nourishment. This is also a special time of bonding for you and your baby. Set those boundaries ahead of time and stick to them. There will be plenty of time for everyone to meet baby when the time is right!
  2. Accept help: When baby arrives, it is perfectly fine to ask for/accept help. Most people will offer- say yes! People often like to bring a meal, but don’t be afraid to ask for help with things like walking the dog, looking after your other children, or even holding the baby while you shower. Knowing that some of your daily chores are being taken care of allows you to focus on important things like resting and bonding with your new babe.
  3. Have your partner protect your space: Agree ahead of time that your partner will be the person to greet visitors and also gently nudge them once they have been there for a little while. A good amount of visiting time is about 15 minutes. Your partner can tactfully send people along their way when you need your rest, gently step in if your parents or in-laws are overstepping their bounds, and/or make suggestions as to how people can make themselves useful during their visit.
  4. Shamelessly ban sick visitors: There are few things as susceptible to germs and illness as a vulnerable newborn. There is no excuse for visitors showing up with a cough, the sniffles, a sore throat or even recovering from “food poisoning.” Let those mama bear instincts take hold and politely suggest that anyone who is not feeling 100 percent save their visit for a later date. It’s also okay to require that visitors wash their hands and use hand sanitizer before holding your baby. 
  5. Allow for plenty of alone time: A steady stream of visitors can be exhausting. You will likely already be feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, working to establish your breastfeeding relationship and will be navigating life with your newest family member. Try to space your visitors out and limit the time they spend in order to allow plenty of time for you and your little family to bond. True friends and family will understand how sacred this special time is for you and your new family.

You should never feel the need to apologize for prioritizing and taking care of yourself and your new baby in the days and weeks following your delivery. Your baby. Your family. Your way.

For questions regarding prenatal or postpartum care, natural delivery or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center.

The Facts on Circumcision: FAQ's & What You Need To Know

Baby Boy Circumcision

There are few topics surrounding newborns that can incite such heated debates as the decision of whether or not to circumcise baby boys. For many families, the decision to circumcise their sons is easily made for cultural or religious beliefs, or simply wanting them to be like dad. But critics of the circumcision often liken the procedure to female genital mutilation and denounce its inherent risks and long-term consequences. No matter what decision you make for your son, the important thing is that you educate yourself on the risks and benefits beforehand and choose the path that is right for your family. Here’s what you need to know.

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin of the penis exposing the glans or penis head. Circumcision is a surgical procedure typically done within the first ten days of life by a doctor in the hospital or pediatricians’ office, or in religious exceptions, in the home. 

How common is circumcision? 

Although circumcision rates are declining with more and more parents choosing to forego the procedure, approximately 55 percent of infant males are still routinely circumcised. 

Does circumcision have health benefits?

Research suggests that circumcision reduces the risk of urinary tract infections in infants by up to 90 percent and penile cancer in older men by more than 50 percent. However, these conditions are rare in uncircumcised individuals as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics does acknowledge that circumcision reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Does circumcision have risks?

Like any surgical procedure, circumcision does have risks. Complications occur in approximately .2-2 percent of circumcision procedures and may include bleeding, infection, negative reaction to anesthesia or problems with the foreskin such as failing to heal properly or reattachment to the end of the penis. Fortunately, complications are rare and are typically easily addressed with treatment. 

Will circumcision hurt my baby?

With proper use of a local anesthetic, the pain experienced by the infant will hopefully be minimal. Historically, doctors did not use any sort of anesthesia or pain relief prior to the procedure which can be quite painful. Fortunately, now, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants receive a topical or injectable anesthetic before being circumcised. Talk to your doctor about what type of anesthetic will be used for your baby before the procedure. 

Is it more hygienic to have my baby circumcised?

Both a circumcised and an uncircumcised penis require gentle cleansing with warm water. If you choose not to circumcise your son, it is not necessary to retract the foreskin to clean beneath it. This will happen on its own typically before puberty. As your son ages , it’s important to instruct him on how to properly cleanse his penile region whether he is circumcised or not just as you would with other areas of bodily hygiene. 

If I choose to have my son circumcised, how long will it take to heal?

Circumcisions typically take 7-10 days to heal. The doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to care for the penis as it heals. During this time, take special precautions to clean the area gently and apply petroleum jelly during diaper changes to prevent the incision site from sticking to the diaper. Do not use baby wipes on the incision site.  

The decision of whether or not to circumcise your son is a personal, family decision that should be dealt with as such. If you have questions or concerns about the procedure or would like more information, contact a pediatrician before he is born to set up a time to talk. As with any medical procedure, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the risks and benefits beforehand so that you can make an informed decision that is best for your child. 

For questions about pregnancy, natural birth, infant care and the postpartum period, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

GERD: Is Your Infant Suffering from Acid Reflux?

Infant With Gerd (Acid Reflux)

Acid reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), in infants can be worrisome for you and uncomfortable for your baby. Although GERD is rarely serious in infants and will typically resolve on its own by age 1, it’s important to know how you can help your baby and what the treatment options are. Here’s what you need to know about acid reflux in infants.

What Causes GERD in Infants?

Acid reflux in infants is caused by food and acid in the stomach traveling back up the esophagus into the mouth. The reflux may cause irritation to the esophagus and cause your baby to spit up excessively or vomit. GERD is usually the result of a digestive system that has not yet fully matured. Because of this, once the digestive system is fully developed around one year of age, your baby’s symptoms should resolve on their own. Typically, infants who suffer from acid reflux are otherwise healthy.

Symptoms of GERD in Infants:

While spitting up is a normal daily occurrence in infants up to and even occasionally beyond six months, these symptoms may suggest your infant is suffering from acid reflux:

  • Spitting up or vomiting excessively and often throughout the day
  • Crying during or immediately after feedings
  • Frequent gas/belly pains
  • Fussiness at the breast or bottle
  • Gagging or choking while eating
  • Persistent Coughing

How Do Doctors Diagnose GERD in Infants?

More often than not, your baby’s pediatrician will be able to diagnose acid reflux based upon the symptoms alone. Typically, any further testing will not be necessary. If the pediatrician is concerned that the issue may extend beyond an immature digestive tract, he or she may recommend further testing.

Testing may include:

  • X-rays of the digestive tract: Your baby may be given barium in a bottle to highlight possible obstructions to the digestive tract on the X-ray images.
  • Ultrasound: to rule out pyloric stenosis.
  • Blood and urine samples: to rule out the possibility of infections that may cause vomiting.
  • Esophageal PH monitoring: This is a procedure in which a small tube is inserted into baby’s esophagus through the nose or mouth to monitor acidity levels. This may require hospitalization.
  • Upper endoscopy: This procedure is typically done under general anesthesia and involves placing a small tube with a camera lens into baby’s esophagus, stomach and small intestine to rule out the presence of obstructions or other complications.

Most babies will not require the above testing and a diagnosis should be possible based on symptoms alone.

How Can I Help My Baby Feel Better?

Having a baby who suffers from acid reflux can make a parent feel helpless. There’s nothing worse than seeing your baby in pain and not being able to solve the problem. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to help reduce your baby’s GERD symptoms. These include:

  • Slightly elevating baby’s head: Instead of lying baby flat to sleep, place a wedge under the crib or basinet mattress to give his head a slight boost. Many moms and dads love the Fisher Price Rock N Play Sleeper for keeping a baby with acid reflux slightly propped. Baby should always be placed on his back to sleep.
  • If bottle feeding, offer more frequent but smaller meals.
  • Burp baby often during feedings.
  • Keep baby upright for 30 minutes following a feeding.
  • Some pediatricians may recommend adding one teaspoon of rice cereal to baby’s bottle if bottle feeding. There are conflicting opinions on this approach before six months of age so be sure to consult your pediatrician and do your research before trying this option.
  • If you are breastfeeding, try adjusting your diet by strategically eliminating things like dairy, caffeine, beef, eggs, etc., that might be contributing to your baby’s reflux.
  • If formula feeding, try experimenting with different formulas. Consult your pediatrician for recommendations.
  • Use bottles that eliminate baby’s air intake such as Dr. Brown's.
  • If your baby is still experiencing a considerable amount of discomfort despite the above changes, your pediatrician may prescribe simethicone or a calcium carbonate antacid to further reduce his symptoms.

In extreme, but rare cases, GERD may cause breathing problems and even pneumonia. There is a surgical option available in which the surgeon wraps the top part of the stomach around the esophagus to form a block that prevents reflux from occurring due to stomach acidity. This, however, is a very uncommon and rarely necessary procedure for infants.

If you have questions about acid reflux in infants or would like information about natural birth, pregnancy and postpartum services or women’s care, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you through your pregnancy and beyond.

Vacationing with Baby: It Doesn’t Have To Be An Oxymoron

Vacationing With Baby

It’s summertime--the wonderful season of sun, sand, water, barbecues, fireworks and family vacations! If this is your first summer as a parent, you may be used to jetting off to fun destinations with your honey without too much forethought. Pick a week, book tickets and hotel, pack flip flops and go, right? Enter baby. Vacationing takes on a whole new dimension when you are toting your tot along for the trip. Here’s all you need to know about planning, preparation and executing a successful vacation with your new baby. 

Packing and Preparation:

Lots of preparation goes into planning a great vacation with your baby. Most importantly, don’t save planning for the last minute or you will end up frazzled and unprepared. Once you’ve decided where you are going and have booked your tickets and accommodations, determine what you will need to pack for yourself and for baby. Make a list that covers all the essential baby items such as:

  • baby sunscreen (if needed)
  • swim diapers
  • hats
  • clothes
  • pajamas
  • dishes
  • bottles
  • formula (if needed)
  • breast pump (if needed)
  • bibs
  • pacifiers
  • swaddles
  • diapers
  • wipes
  • toiletries and bathing essentials
  • stroller
  • baby carrier
  • portable crib
  • toys and loveys
  • car seat
  • baby food (if over six months)
  • hand sanitizer
  • outlet covers
  • baby dish soap

Before you leave, make sure baby is healthy and has had any vaccinations that are recommended before travel. It’s always a good idea to discuss any upcoming travel plans with your pediatrician in case there are any extra precautions that need to be taken for baby due to the season or destination. If you are traveling internationally, baby will need a passport just like you. Allow plenty of time for the processing of the passport before your trip.

If you will be bringing a travel crib for baby to sleep in, consider doing a trial run at home to help him adjust to the new sleep arrangements in a familiar environment. And finally, once you’ve got everything prepared for your tiny traveler, don’t forget to pack for yourself! Put some of baby’s belongings in your luggage as well so in the event that a bag is lost, you will have the important items you need.

Flying with Baby:

If you’ll be flying to your vacation destination, there are several factors to consider when planning for baby. First, will he ride on your lap or will he have his own seat on the plane? Though having a child under the age of two, ride on your lap is free for domestic flights, the FAA strongly recommends that all children from birth to 40 pounds are secured in an airplane compatible car seat in their own seat. Car Seats For The Littles is a great resource that offers tons of valuable information regarding airplane safety for babies and car seat safety in general.

“Remember, on the flight the only things not restrained during taxi, takeoff, and landing, are children under two. Children and adults over two, the flight attendants, all carry-on baggage, books, computers, soap in the lavatory, coffee pots, and snacks are secured. But a lap baby is not. For some reason they’re not given the same priority as the peanuts.” – Car Seats for the Littles 

In addition to ensuring baby’s safety on the plane, here are a few other tips to make air travel a success:

  • Wait to check your stroller until you’ve reached the gate so that you have it for navigating the airport on both ends of your trip and in the event that you have connections.
  • If you do decide to check your car seat, make sure to package it in the original box with sufficient padding to prevent any damage from occurring in cargo. Check the seat over thoroughly upon your arrival and do not use it if there are any visible signs of damage.
  • The 3-ounce-rule does not apply to formula or breastmilk when passing through airport security. 
  • Bring whatever you need to feed your baby on the plane with you.
  • Be sure to pack an accessible change of clothes for both you and baby in case there are any accidents during the flight.
  • Pack your party tricks to entertain baby in the event of fussiness. Include a few new toys, books, and anything else that will help pass the time for your little one.
  • Board early and deplane last. This will allow you time before takeoff to get situated and time after landing to pack up your belongings. 
  • Although most airlines do not have restrictions on the age at which an infant can fly, it’s safest to wait at least until your baby has had their first round of immunizations at 2 months of age. Remember that your new baby’s immune system is still developing and he is going to be more susceptible to germs and illness on a flight than you are. 
  • Offer your baby a bottle or pacifier at takeoff to lessen the effects of the pressure change on his ears.
  • Double check that the car seat you are bringing is air travel compatible. If your car seat at home is too bulky or cumbersome, consider buying an additional inexpensive, travel friendly car seat. 

Accommodations:

Another major factor to consider when preparing for a family vacation is where you will stay. If you are going to visit family and will be staying in a home, you will probably face fewer challenges in regards to setting up a baby friendly space than if you stay in a hotel room with just mini fridge. If you plan to stay in a hotel room, be sure to confirm that the room has a refrigerator if you will need to store breastmilk, formula or baby food and find out if it’s possible to get a suite with a kitchenette to make your stay more comfortable. Another great option for traveling with a baby is to consider renting a vacation condo instead of a hotel room where you will likely have more space, more than one bedroom, a kitchen and possibly EVEN a washer/dryer to accommodate your family of three. 

Airbnb Screenshot Family Home

Upon arriving to your destination, get things set up right away so that you can handle baby’s needs as they arise. This may involve putting up a portable crib, setting up your sound machine, creating a changing station, laying down the play mat with toys, setting up the bottles and other dishes by the sink and taking measures to baby proof any areas where baby will have access. Consider packing some outlet covers in your luggage to take care of exposed outlets and some tape to conceal exposed wires in the room. Obviously these last suggestions are only relevant if you have a baby that is on the move. Making your vacation living space as baby friendly and convenient as possible from the get-go will save everyone time and hassles so that you can focus on having fun.

Schedule and Activities:

While you may not be able to hit the latest night clubs in town on your trip, there are plenty of fun activities to be had with your baby. Take some time to do research about your destination before your trip to determine family friendly activities and restaurants that you might want to try. As much as possible, you want to try to adjust your vacation schedule to your baby’s existing schedule rather than the reverse. If you have a happy well-rested baby, the activities will be more enjoyable for all. 

Speaking of rest, you’re probably wondering how naps will work on your trip. That really depends on the age of the baby but there are many options for making naps work while traveling. Consider wearing your baby in a sling or carrier for naps on the go or pack a comfortable stroller that reclines instead of a basic umbrella stroller. A carrier or a stroller is truly a must have for vacations regardless if you will use them for naps. If your baby needs to nap in a quiet, dark room (which many babies do), you and your partner can take turns staying back with baby while the other partakes in some R&R or vacation activities. 

In addition to family friendly activities like the beach, pool, or sightseeing, you will likely want to have at least a few meals out while vacationing. If your baby is still tiny, you may get lucky and have them sleep through most of your restaurant experiences but if you have an older baby, bringing entertainment is a must. Bring a couple books, a few toys, snacks (if old enough) to ward off any meltdowns due to boredom. Try to eat dinner early if your baby is used to going to bed early  as it’s important to stick to their schedule as much as possible. 

Once you return to your room for the evening, follow bed time protocol just as you would at home. If baby takes a nightly bath to unwind, do a bath. If you usually read three books and sing two songs, read three books and sing two songs. Follow everything exactly as you would if you were home to make baby feel comfortable and secure in his new setting. Once baby is asleep, if you and your partner are itching to get out for some adult time, some hotels do offer sitter services if a friend or family member is not an option. As you can see, traveling with your baby requires lots of planning and forethought to have a successful family vacation. The more prepared you are, the more smoothly things should go for you and your baby. So, pick a destination, drag those suitcases out of storage and start planning your first family vacation. 

For questions about pregnancy, natural birth, postpartum health and women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. Bon voyage!

Keeping Baby Cool in Summer: A How To Guide For New Parents

Keep Baby Cool

Memorial Day has come and gone and it’s officially summer in the Twin Cities! Barbecues, pool parties, vacations and hot weather are upon us and it’s time to get prepared. While having a summer baby in Minnesota may be decidedly easier than the challenges of having a winter baby, there are still factors that you must consider to protect your baby from the heat. Conditions like heat stroke, sunburns and dehydration can be very serious when they happen to a new baby. Here are 10 ways to ensure that your precious babe stays cool in the summer heat.

  1. Keep baby hydrated: Although babies under six months should not drink water, they should be more frequently breastfed or offered a bottle when it’s hot. Babies need to drink up to 50 percent more breastmilk or formula during the warm summer months to receive sufficient hydration. Babies over six months should be offered modest amounts of water in addition to breastmilk or formula. 
  2. Don’t expose baby to direct sunlight: Your new baby lacks the ability to regulate his temperature like an adult and also is not old enough to wear sunscreen. When outdoors, your baby should be fully covered in loose fitting, lightweight clothing at all times and a broad-brimmed hat. Seek shade wherever possible and avoid outdoor activities during the sun’s most harmful hours, between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
  3. Use sunscreen wisely: Although sunscreen is not advisable for small babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed their stance now saying that children under the age of six months can wear small amounts of sunscreen on exposed areas when necessary. Children over the age of six months should have sunscreen applied liberally and often when exposed to the sun. Be sure to wipe off sunscreen with a with a cool damp wash cloth upon returning inside to allow baby’s body temperate to regulate most efficiently. For a list of safest sunscreens for kids, click here.
  4. Choose the right clothing: While baby should be mostly covered when outside, always choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing on hot days. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and linen work best in the heat to keep baby covered but cool. Remember that sunburns can happen even in the shade. Make sure your baby is fully covered or in the shade at all times if he is less than six months and avoid prolonged exposure for babies over six months. 
  5. Never EVER, EVER leave baby alone in a hot car: It does not matter if you roll down all the windows and only intend to be gone for a minute. There is never a time when this is a safe practice. On a 70 degree day, it only takes 20 minutes for the internal temperature of the car to reach over 120 degrees WITH the windows cracked. Leaving your baby in a hot car can be life threatening.
  6. Choose a summer friendly baby carrier: While baby wearing is wonderful for bonding, it can create extra heat between the two of you. To ensure that you both stay as cool as possible while baby wearing, choose a warm-weather-friendly carrier like a linen ring sling, gauze wrap or SSC with a mesh panel. They also make mesh wraps and slings that can be worn in the pool so that you and your baby can take a cool dip together. Opt for tummy-to-tummy carry positions during the summer to allow baby easy access to breastfeeding. 
  7. Keep baby’s sleep environment cool: The safest room temperature for sleep for a new baby is between 65-70 degrees. If temperatures are high and you do not have an air conditioner, consider installing a window unit or large fan or dress baby in minimal nighttime clothing. Baby should be dressed comfortably and appropriately for the nighttime temperature-not too warm but not too cold either. It’s imperative that you do not over bundle baby for sleep as overheating has been found to play a factor in some instances of SIDS. For more tips on safe sleep for infants, check out this article!
  8. Choose air-conditioned fun activities: If it’s unpleasantly hot outside and you have a new baby, you really shouldn’t be spending much time outdoors, if any. Think of places in your community where you can go to cool off and get out of the house like bookstores, the mall, the library, the aquarium, the movie theater, Target, Starbucks etc. In the case of extreme temperatures (over 100 degrees), opt for staying home instead and waiting for more comfortable weather before taking baby out. 
  9. Crank the air in the car: When possible, cool your car down first prior to buckling baby into her car seat. Because she lacks the ability to regulate her little body temperature, strapping her into her car seat in a hot car is not a good idea. Let the AC run for a few minutes to begin the process of cooling down the car. Also, if you have them, ensure that your backseat vents are open and working properly to increase airflow to baby once you do get moving. 
  10. Watch for signs of heat distress: Problems caused by hot weather can range from less serious conditions like heat rash (a red and bumpy rash in the creases and folds of the body) to much more serious complications like heatstroke and dehydration. If your baby appears flush, red-faced, restless and lethargic or is vomiting and seems to be breathing rapidly, seek medical attention immediately as he may be experiencing symptoms of heat stroke. While you wait for medical help, take baby to a cool place, strip him down to his diaper and sponge him with a cool wet cloth. Most importantly, take precautions to prevent serious conditions like heat stroke and dehydration before they happen. 

Taking the proper precautions to protect your baby from the sun and heat during the summer months is as important as protecting them from the winter chill. Remember that your little one cannot regulate his own body temperature like adults can and therefore relies on you to keep him in a comfortable setting. For questions about infant care, pregnancy, natural birth and more, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. Happy Summer!

Helpful Tips for Gentle Night Weaning

Night Weaning Baby

If you’re a new mom, you’ve likely seen the acronym ‘STTN’ in all the mommy blogs, articles and Facebook groups alike. STTN or ‘sleeping through the night’ might seem like an unimaginable feat that could never possibly be accomplished by your baby. One of the biggest barriers to sleeping through the night can be frequent nighttime nursing. Night nursing is a perfectly normal and healthy practice for babies. However, if night nursing is interfering with your ability to get sufficient rest or function in your daily life, you may be considering night weaning. Here are some tips for gently night weaning your baby or toddler.

  1. Don’t night wean until your baby is ready: Although there are various schools of thought about when babies are ready to give up eating at night, it’s best not to try night weaning before six months of age. Young babies are not intended to sleep through the night and need the nutrition as their bodies undergo rapid growth and development. Talk to your pediatrician to see if they feel your baby might be ready for night weaning and as always, trust your motherly instincts first and foremost.
  2. Increase baby’s intake during the day: Often it can be a cyclical effect when babies don’t eat very much during the day and then love to snack all night long. Try increasing the frequency of nursing sessions or number of bottles and solid meals offered to ensure baby is getting adequately filled up during the day. If your baby is older and on the move, this may mean taking time out of their busy play schedule to add an extra feeding.
  3. Introduce a lovey: Quite often, if your baby is nursing frequently at night it may be for comfort and not because they are actually hungry. Begin the process of conditioning other comfort items such as a small stuffed animal or muslin blanket. Try sleeping with the lovey yourself for a while to get your scent on it and hold it in between you and baby whenever you nurse or bottle feed.
  4. Give more snuggles during the day: If your baby is nursing at night for comfort, increasing daytime touch may help reduce the need for those midnight snuggle sessions. Try wearing your baby in a carrier or sling during the day and giving lots of extra attention and cuddles.
  5. Break the eat-to-sleep association: Although feeding to sleep is a healthy and natural practice, many babies can ONLY fall asleep if they are nursing. Breaking the eat-to-sleep association by finding other ways to soothe baby to sleep can help with the night weaning process. Try rocking, patting, shushing, singing, snuggling and other forms of comfort to help baby help baby drift off to slumber.
  6. Get your partner involved: Getting your partner involved with the nighttime routine and with night wakings can help with the process of night weaning. Although your baby may protest this change at first, eventually your partner will develop their own routine and soothing techniques to help baby get back to sleep without nursing. 
  7. Feed your baby before you go to bed: As long as you’re still up, try sneaking in a dream feed before you hit the hay. A dream feed is when you feed baby late at night while they are still sleeping with the intention of filling them up. Adding a dream feed, particularly for younger babies, is a great way to get a few hours in before the next waking when you go to bed. 
  8. Shorten night time nursing sessions: Rather than cutting out night nursing cold turkey which can be distressing to your baby and cause engorgement issues, try gradually shortening your nursing sessions a little bit at a time. Cut back each session by one or two minutes over the course of a week and begin to break baby’s latch when his sucking slows but before he falls asleep. Then try using other forms of comfort (see #5) if he’s struggling to fall back to sleep.
  9. Create new sleep associations: If your baby is accustomed to nursing to sleep, they may have developed the belief that they NEED to eat in order to fall asleep. Creating new sleep associations can help teach babies new cues that it’s time for bed. Try incorporating some relaxing music, soothing scents like lavender or a nice massage at bedtime as part of the new routine. Be sure to use these new associations every night so that your baby learns when he hears the music or smells the lavender, it’s time to sleep.
  10. Create distance between you and baby at night: If you room share or co-sleep with your baby, adding a little distance between the two of you may help with the process of night weaning. Whether this means staying in the guestroom for a few nights while your partner works on their night soothing skills or simply moving baby’s crib a bit further away from your bed, a little distance between baby and his favorite snack may help with the night weaning process. 
  11. Stay calm if baby protests the new routine: It’s likely that baby will put up a fight over this change to his routine. Try to keep your cool and stay calm to demonstrate to baby that you are there to help him through this transition and you won’t be rattled. 
  12. When in doubt, consult the experts: Here are a few of the most knowledgeable experts on the process of gentle night weaning. They’ve done the research for you and have step by step plans for the process. 
  13. Talk to baby about the change: As silly as it may sounds, try talking to your baby during the day about the changes you intend to make. Your baby, and definitely your toddler, can understand more than you think. There are also a few great books on the subject like Nursies When the Sun Shines that can help your baby understand the concept that eating is for daytime. 

Remember, that night weaning is a process that takes time, patience and a commitment. If something doesn’t feel right or your baby seems negatively impacted by the change during the day, consider waiting a little while longer before cutting out night nursing. Many babies still need to eat once or twice during the night at a year or beyond and there’s nothing wrong with that if it works for your family. For questions about night weaning, pregnancy, natural birth and more, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you beyond the birth of your baby!

Tips for Hiring Your First Caregiver

Hiring First Caregiver

You have a new baby. Suddenly, your life revolves around this tiny perfect human and you feel as though you are wearing your heart on the outside of your body. Whether you are returning to work or have decided you just need a few hours to yourself each week, hiring a caregiver for your child can be a very scary and overwhelming prospect. Here are 10 tips to help you find the best caregiver for your family.

  1. Decide what you need and want in a caregiver: Are you looking for someone who can work in your home full-time when you return to work or just for a few hours each week? Do you expect your caregiver to help out with household tasks like laundry and tidying or will their sole focus be caring for your baby? Is it necessary that your caregiver has a car and a clean driving record or is it okay if they arrive via bus or need to be picked up? These are all important factors to consider when determining your caregiving needs. Take the time to write a thorough job description identifying all your needs and wants for a caregiver and don’t forget to include what you are willing and able to pay. Indicate the type and length of relevant childcare experience you require and any other criteria that is important to you like a college degree, CPR and First Aid certification or previous child development coursework. Being specific with your needs up front will help potential caregivers know if they are qualified for the position before applying.
  2. Allow time for the search: Hiring a caregiver for your baby is not a process you want to rush. Allow plenty of time for interviewing multiple candidates, calling references, conducting trial periods and deciding who will be the best fit for your family. You should start your childcare search at least two months prior to when you will need the caregiver to begin. Deciding who you will entrust with your most precious child is not something you want to do in haste.
  3. Connect with friends and family members for referrals: What better reference than one that comes from someone you already know and trust. When you begin your search for a caregiver, reach out to other parents you know and ask them who they would recommend. Ask family members whom you trust and who know your family well, who they would suggest you contact. You may even be lucky enough to have a family member who volunteers to help with the caregiving of your baby.
  4. Consider using a reputable nanny agency: If your personal connections aren’t rendering any great referrals, consider using a professional agency with a good reputation to help you with your search. Using a childcare agency has the added benefit of providing you with candidates who have already been vetted, gone through a background check and determined to be qualified for caring for babies and children. While you may pay a fee up front for this type of service, the peace of mind in the long run will be worth it.
  5. Don’t cut corners on the interview process: While it can be helpful to begin the process with a phone interview, make sure that you meet all serious potential candidates in person. Prepare your questions for the interview ahead of time and allow up to an hour to spend with each applicant. During your time together, you will want to ask questions about experience, child rearing beliefs, what they plan to do with your baby during their time together and any other areas of importance to you. It’s a good idea to ask how the caregiver might approach certain scenarios and how they have handled challenging situations in the past. If possible, have the potential caregiver interact with your child during her visit so that you can see her degree of comfort caring for an infant and how your baby responds.
  6. Call their references: Ask for at least three references from each potential caregiver and actually call them all personally. Make sure they provide you with references that can speak to their professional experience caring for babies and children and not just personal friends or family members. Ask each candidate’s references to share strengths and weaknesses they noticed while working with them and be sure to ask about any reservations they may have in recommending them for future positions.
  7. Ask for a background check: Unless you are hiring a friend or family member for the position, you are essentially hiring a stranger to work in your home and care for your baby. A background check is an important step to ensure that you are hiring the person you think you are hiring and to rule out the possibility of any criminal background. If you find your caregiver via an agency or online nanny website, they may already have a background check on file. If not, you can easily find back ground check services online to conduct varying degrees of searches. Do not skip this step before employing someone in your home with your child.
  8. Make sure they respect your parenting beliefs: If you are adamantly against letting your baby, “cry it out”, and your nanny thinks it’s okay to do, we can guarantee this will not be a good fit. It’s important that your caregiver has a good understanding of your parenting style and beliefs and is comfortable following them while in your home. You will want your child to ultimately feel that it is a seamless transition from parent to nanny in terms of the type of care that is provided. Your nanny should be working with you, not against you, to raise your baby the way you have decided you want him raised.
  9. Conduct a trial period: Decide upon your top candidates after the interview process and do a trial period with each of them. You can do a trial day or week depending on how much time you would like to assess the fit. During this time, stay home and observe how they interact with your baby and their degree of comfort and ease caring for your little one. Do short excursions away to see how your baby adapts to being left with another caregiver. This will also give you and your caregiver the opportunity to get to know one another better and for her to ask any questions she may have about your baby or home. 
  10. Create a contract: Once you have decided on a good fit for your family, put all your expectations, agreements, and terms of employment on paper, review it with your new nanny, and have both parties sign and date the document. Make a copy for your new caregiver and keep one for yourself. This way, if issues arise in the future about expectations or care provided, there is a contract to reference. 

With the proper preparation and thought, finding the right caregiver for your child can be a rewarding and beneficial experience for all involved. Needless to say, this person will be one of the most important people you will hire in your life as they will be responsible for love and care of your baby in your absence. Take the time to do it right—it’s worth the peace of mind.

Infant Hunger Cues - A Simple Guide to Baby's Hunger

Infant Hunger Cues

Wouldn’t it be nice if newborns came with an instruction manual? One of the more challenging feats as a new parent is learning your baby’s various hunger cues and how to catch them before tummy rumbles turn to tears. Initial signs that your baby is hungry may be subtle and easy to miss if you don’t know what you are looking for. Here’s a simple guide to breaking down the stages of baby’s hunger cues and what to do if baby becomes upset before you notice them.

Early Hunger Cues:

Your newborn is not likely to raise his hand and ask for the breast or bottle when he is feeling hungry. There are, however, some early indicators to look for that may suggest he needs to be fed. Early hunger cues include waking from sleep, stirring, turning of the head, lip smacking, opening and closing the mouth and rooting or seeking the breast. The rooting reflex, for the new parents out there, is a baby’s automatic tendency to turn his head toward the stimulus and make sucking motions with his mouth when the lips or cheeks are touched. This is a natural reflex that helps with the process of breastfeeding. If you see baby displaying any of these cues, offer the breast or a bottle.

Mid Hunger Cues:

If you miss the first set of cues (which can easily happen when you are just learning), the second set of more active cues may be more noticeable. Babies who are beginning to feel frustrated and hungry may display increased physical movement such as fidgeting, stretching, rooting around the chest of whoever is holding them, positioning themselves for nursing, fussing, fast-paced breathing or putting their hand, toy, clothes or just about anything in their mouth. If your baby has reached this stage of hunger, offer a bottle or the breast as soon as possible.

Late Hunger Cues:

Responding to late hunger cues is when it gets a little trickier. Every new parent has missed the early and mid-cues at least once and found themselves having to soothe an inconsolable baby. If your baby has reached this point of frustration and hunger they will begin to cry, move their head frantically from side to side, turn red and display signs that they are agitated and distressed. At this point, you will need to comfort your baby before feeding them in order to have a successful nursing or bottle feeding. 

Try calming your baby by cuddling him, having skin-to-skin contact, wearing him, singing to him, rocking, bouncing or even taking a warm bath together. Once your baby has calmed down, offer the breast or bottle. Although it will likely happen to even the most attentive parent from time to time, you want to avoid reaching this stage of hunger to the best of your ability. Once baby has reached this stage of agitation, he is more likely to have a poor latch, feel overly tired, eat less and wake sooner for the next feeding. Routinely letting your baby reach this stage of hunger and distress can result in feeding problems and poor attachment.

A good rule of thumb in the early days is-- when in doubt, feed baby. For breastfed babies offering the breast frequently and for comfort in addition to hunger will only help increase your milk supply and develop a strong and lasting bond with your baby. For bottle fed babies, feeding with love and attentiveness is also a great way to strengthen your attachment and nurture your bond with baby. If you have questions about hunger cues, nursing your baby or any and all things related to pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center

*Special note for bottle feeders*

With bottle feeding, it is also important to look for signs that your baby has had enough. These signs include turning the head away, refusing to suck and becoming fidgety or frustrated. Just as it is important to be aware of hunger cues, it is also important to respect signs that your baby is full and let him take the lead on how much he eats. This will help prevent overfeeding baby.

Baby Friendly Activities for New Moms

Baby Friendly Exercises

Being a new mom can be isolating at times. Even though you are home and loving snuggling up to the new love of your life, you may also be itching to get out of the house and interact with other adults! The good news is that there are so many activities available now for moms and babies in the community. From swim and exercise classes to play groups and mom and baby yoga, with a little effort to get out of the house, you and your baby can be social butterflies in no time. Here’s a list of ideas and local options for new moms in the Twin Cities.

  • Breastfeeding Support Groups: Breastfeeding support groups are a great first social activity for mom and baby as you will find the littlest of little babies at these gatherings and you can gain valuable help and knowledge from a lactation consultant. This is a great way to get help with baby’s latch or transitioning off the nipple shield and many other breastfeeding challenges that may arise. You are also usually able to do pre and post-feed weigh-ins to determine how many ounces your baby is getting per nursing session. Here are some local options for moms looking to connect with other nursing moms.
  • Mom and Baby Yoga: Mom and baby yoga is another wonderful bonding activity for you and your little one in those early months. Most mom and baby classes are open to babies as young as 8 weeks of age and involve small motions for baby that can aid in digestion, sleep and soothing while providing a relaxing way for mom to distress. Mom and baby yoga classes are anything goes as far as breastfeeding, diaper changes and crying babes, so do not worry if your baby isn’t having a ‘Zen’ day. Check out these locations for mom and baby yoga classes in the community.
  • Story Time: You are never too young for the joy of reading. You may have even read to your baby in the womb! Now that your little one is here, baby story times are a great way to get out of the house, meet other moms and enjoy a story or two with your baby.
  • Baby Signing Classes: Baby signing classes are a great way to jump start excellent communication between you and your baby. Although your baby may not be able to return sign with you until 8 or 9 months, they understand well before they are able to communicate. The earlier you begin signing with your baby, the earlier he will be able to communicate his needs to you. Baby signing is associated with earlier ability to communicate, decreased crying and even possibly a few extra IQ points down the road. Here are a few options for baby sign language classes in your area:
  • Music Classes: What better way to connect with your sweet baby than through music, movement and play. Music classes offer the opportunity to expose you baby to different sounds, songs and instruments as well as meet other moms and babies in your community. There are a few great options for music classes in the community including:
  • Swim Classes: Parent and baby swim classes are the perfect opportunity to expose your baby to the water for the first time and begin to learn some basic safety skills like back floating, flipping over from back to front and brief submersion. Most swim schools will allow you to take your first parent and baby swim class around 6 months. Typically the classes will be short to accommodate baby’s needs but will allow time for some simple instruction, games and singing. It is never too early to begin educating yourself and your child on water safety. Here are a few options for baby swim classes in the area:
  • Baby Friendly Exercise Classes: Once you’ve been cleared by your midwife or OB for exercise, you may be wondering how in the world you will find time to work out with a baby. Fear not though, there are actually many options these days for the moms who love fitness. From stroller exercise groups to babywearing barre,  these are fitness classes where moms can actually bring baby along for the ride while she gets her sweat on! Here are just a few options in the area:
  • Mom’s Groups: Lastly, mom groups are a real thing these days. They are born on Facebook, Meetup.com, through churches, birth centers and friend groups alike. Some mom groups are brought together by certain parenting philosophies or interests and others are created simply by location. Whatever the theme or lack thereof, joining a local mom group will be one of the best things you can do in that first year of being a mom to connect with other moms who are going through the same phase of life and have children that are the same age as yours. These moms will become your buddies, the ones you can talk poop and breastfeeding with without batting an eyelash. Their kids will be your kids’ playmates and hopefully your spouses will even get to know one another during family activities. There are many ways to get involved in a local moms’ group but here are just a few ideas.

As you can see, although you may feel as though you’ve been one with your couch and the Boppy pillow since baby was born, there are MANY options for you and your little one to get out of the house and connect with other new moms and babies. Give different types of activities a try to see what works for you and your baby. Try out a couple different mom groups until you find your people. Being a new parent is one of the most exciting, wonderful, terrifying things you have likely ever gone through. Why not make a few friends to join you on the journey?

For questions about natural birth, pregnancy, postpartum opportunities, classes and more, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Five Essentials to Carry in Your Purse if You Ditch the Diaper Bag

Mom With Child Out & About

Many moms are choosing to forgo the traditional bulky diaper bag in favor of a more fashionable, multipurpose purse. A large purse can work great in lieu of a diaper bag as long as you pack for baby as well as yourself. If you’ve decided that you’re not the diaper bag toting type, here are 5 essential items to be sure you have in your purse at all times.

  1. Diapers: Needless to say, don’t leave home without at least 3 or 4 diapers on hand in case of accidents or just a necessary change. If you use cloth diapers, you’ll want to be sure you also have a wet bag to carry any soiled diapers home without a mess. 
  2. Wipes: Wipes are not only a necessity for diaper changes but can serve a multitude of other purposes from wiping hands, and faces to cleaning the surface of a high chair at a restaurant. Make sure you always have at least one pack of wipes in your bag at all times.
  3. A change of clothes: When a new diaper and wipes don’t cut it, a change of clothes may be necessary. You don’t want to be caught out and about with a baby who’s had a blowout and no clean change of clothes. Your spare change should include a onesie and pants and socks and a sweater if seasonally appropriate.
  4. Hand sanitizer: Especially when you have a new baby, hand sanitizer is your best friend. Whether you’ve touched the grocery cart or the gas pump or have just been around a sick friend, disinfect your hands before passing those germs to baby. Your baby’s immune system is still developing and he is more susceptible to harmful viruses, colds and bacteria now than ever.
  5. A soother: Whether your baby finds comfort in a pacifier or prefers to snuggle with a lovey, be sure to have a comfort object on hand in your bag. This can be an especially important item for car rides when mom can’t be close enough to comfort.

Obviously, there are many more items that may be useful and even necessary to carry in your bag for baby. These include but are not limited to, a hat, a bottle, a sippy cup (for older babies), diaper cream, a nursing cover and a baby sling. But if you are going for the just the essentials to throw in your purse, the above list should suffice for a brief outing. To learn more about what you’ll need for your baby or for any and all questions related to natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Preparing Your Pooch for Baby’s Arrival

Dog with Baby

Before children (and even after) many people consider their pets their babies. Pets are important members of our family whom we love and interact with on a daily basis. Particularly for dogs, the arrival of a new baby can be a game changer. Having once had the full attention of their doting parents, the attention will be shifted to the demanding newborn and your pup or pups may begin to feel a little left out. Here are some tips for preparing your pooch for bringing home baby!

  1. Set up baby equipment like the crib, swing and other essentials in advance so that your dog can get used to his new surroundings. If you plan to have a gated off area where baby can safely play on the floor or have tummy time, go ahead and set that up early too so that your dog will begin to learn his new boundaries ahead of time.
  2. Nip any behavioral issues in the bud before baby arrives. If your dog is a habitual jumper when you walk in the door, take him to training school to kick the bad habit. The last thing you want is to be walking in the door with baby and have Rover jump on you both.
  3. If your dog has never been around children, consider taking him to a place with kids like the park to see how he reacts. Of course you will want to have him at a safe distance and on a leash for this experiment but it will helpful to see how he responds to little ones playing in the vicinity. 
  4. Use your phone or a prerecorded CD to play sounds that a baby might make for your dog. He may have never heard the cries of a baby before and exposing him to these stimuli before the actual baby arrives may help circumvent any anxiety caused by new and often loud noises.
  5. Your dog’s schedule will likely have some changes once baby arrives. There may be fewer long walks or other “Rover and Mom” excursions and he probably won’t get as much attention once you have a newborn on your hands. Rather than having him experience an abrupt change on the day baby arrives, consider easing him into the new schedule over a series of weeks before your due date. Dogs do much better with gradual modification than hasty changes to their routine.
  6. If you plan to take your baby for walks and bring your dog too, practice pushing the stroller while walking your dog. It may seem like a silly thing to do with an empty stroller but this may be more complicated than you think and require some fine tuning before you’re toting both of your babies.
  7. Be sure your dog has his own set of toys. Your baby will have lots of new toys that likely interest your dog. He will need his own exciting things to provide a distraction from chewing baby’s Sophie the Giraffe teether.
  8. Make arrangements for who will care for your pup in your absence when you and your partner are off to have the baby. Be sure to leave instructions for feeding, walking and who to contact in an emergency and leave your dog some special toys and treats to keep him entertained while you’re away. 
  9. Be sure to give Rover some extra love and snuggles in those final weeks before baby arrives. You soon will be busy with all the demands of a newborn and you both will be grateful to have had the extra cuddles when you could. 
  10. If you are able, have your partner or a trusted friend return to your home after the baby is born with a blanket or onesie that smells like baby. This will help Rover become acquainted with the smell of his new sibling before he arrives at home. 
  11. Ask for help! Taking Rover for long walks or for ‘Yappy Hour’ at the local park may be the last thing you are feeling up for in your sleep deprived state of new parenthood. Ask a friend or family member who is comfortable with dogs to help out with walks and getting your dog’s energy out. You will both be grateful you did!
  12. When you return home, have someone else hold baby while you greet your dog. Once he has calmed down, you or your partner can hold baby and allow Rover to sniff his feet and meet his new family member.
  13. In those first weeks at home, try to include your dog when possible. Have him lay by your feet as you nurse baby or sit by your side as you change your little one’s diaper. The more time he spends around you and baby, the more comfortable and accepting he will be. 
  14. * Safety Tip * Never allow your dog to get in between you and the baby. Even the most well-behaved, gentle dog should not be put into a situation that could become potentially dangerous if they are startled, scared or uncomfortable. 

Bringing a new baby home is a big adjustment for your dog too and taking the time to help him prepare for the change will serve you both well. With the right preparation and care to ensure that your dog’s physical and emotional needs are still being met, the introduction of a new baby can be a harmonious experience for all. In just a few years, your dog and your child will likely be the best of friends. For questions about bringing baby home or natural birth planning, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you, beginning to end!

Protecting Baby During Flu Season

Baby with Influenza

With the arrival of winter unfortunately comes the arrival of flu season and we are in the heart of it in February. Before having children, you may not have been too concerned about the inevitable arrival of the influenza but that has likely changed now that you are caring for your precious and vulnerable infant. Children under the age of five, and specifically babies, are at the highest risk for serious flu related complications. Flu complications ranging from pneumonia and dehydration to the dangerous worsening of chronic conditions like asthma, heart disease and sinus problems can send children to the hospital and in rare circumstances even result in death. Children under the age of six months are at the greatest risk of these life-threatening complications and for that reason need the greatest protection. Here are a few a ways you can help protect your new baby from the flu virus this winter. 

  • Take extra special precautions to shield baby from unnecessary exposure to germs during the first two months when they are particularly vulnerable. Avoid crowded places like shopping malls, grocery stores and restaurants and use a light blanket to cover baby in the stroller when out and about. This will prevent well-meaning admirers from getting too close or worse yet, touching your baby.
  • Abide by a strict no sick visitors’ policy. Guests should be symptom and fever free for at least 24 hours before visiting you and your new babe. 
  • Hand wash, hand wash, hand wash! Not only can hand washing protect you from all the nasty germs during cold and flu season, it can prevent you from spreading those germs to your precious and defenseless little one. Use warm water and soap and lather your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds to ensure they are clean. 
  • Keep disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer on hand when you are out and about. Disinfect surfaces like shopping carts before using and use hand sanitizer before handling your baby to be extra safe.
  • Breastfeed! Breastfeeding provides your baby with valuable antibodies and immune support to protect him from many different illnesses and infections. To learn more about the immune system benefits of breastfeeding, check out this article.
  • Stay current on your own vaccines. 
  • In the unfortunate event that you or your partner does come down with the flu, do your best to minimize contact with your baby until you are better. Take extra precautions to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands and use sanitizer frequently. Also, try not to touch your nose, mouth and eyes to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Stay hydrated: This keeps mucous membranes moist, which lowers the chance of a cold or flu taking hold in your nose or lungs.  Make it a goal to drink 60-80oz of water daily.
  • Supplement with Vitamin D:  Vitamin D is an important player in overall healthy immune function, but it's also an effective antimicrobial agent in its own right, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.
  • Give your body the fuel it needs to function optimally, which means being healthy enough to fight off infectious viruses.  Do this by avoiding refined sugars, grains and processed foods.
  • Hot drinks and honey. Any warming drink can help soothe a sore throat, suppress a cough, and calm the overall commotion of a cold or flu. Honey coats the throat and relieves irritation while its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties go to work fighting viral infections. Try Buhner’s Colds and Flu Tea: 2 tablespoons ginger juice, juice of 1/4 lime, pinch cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon honey, and hot water.

Taking these extra measures to ensure that your family stays healthy during flu season can help prevent your baby from suffering from serious and potentially life-threatening complications. For questions about protecting your baby during cold and flu season and for all inquiries about natural birth, contact us at Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We wish you a happy and healthy winter season!