Baby Bonding

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.

For Dads Only: Bonding with Your Baby

Dad bonding with baby

If you’re a new dad or you are about to become a dad, you may be wondering what your role in your baby’s life will be. While many moms may feel the bond with their baby before they even arrive, for some dads it may take a little time and that’s okay! Your relationship with your baby is a unique and special one and it needs to be nurtured just as the bond does between mother and child. Here are some great ways you can ensure that you and your baby build a lasting and secure bond.

  1. Start before birth: Bonding with your baby can begin as early as when he’s still nestled cozily in the womb. Get involved with your partner’s pregnancy by attending her prenatal visits, taking prenatal classes, feeling baby kick and helping to prepare your nest for baby’s arrival. One way you can actually help your baby get to know you is by singing or reading to mom’s tummy. Somewhere between 20 and 24 weeks gestation, babies start to be able to hear outside voices with their little ears. This will help your baby connect with you once he is born as he will recognize the tones and patterns in your voice.
  2. Practice skin-to-skin care after birth: Kangaroo Care is not only hugely beneficial for mom and baby, but for dad and baby too. Infants who have skin-to-skin contact with their dad following birth and during infancy enjoy benefits such as better thermal regulation, reduced stress and less frequent crying. Also, dads who engage in this practice with their new babes report feeling more closely bonded compared to dads who do not.
  3. Get involved: Many dads may feel like it’s the mom and baby show those first few weeks of infancy, but really, dads are tremendously needed and can be invaluably helpful too! Help with the feedings by bringing baby to mom if she is breastfeeding and then offer to burp baby afterward. Have mom pump for a midnight bottle and be on night duty for special daddy and baby only bonding time. Use diaper changes as an opportunity to make loving eye contact and silly faces with your little one. There are many ways to help with a newborn that will not only give mom some rest but foster a closer connection between you and your baby.
  4. Wear your baby: There are a whole host of benefits to the practice of babywearing and they are not just for moms! Find a sling or carrier that you like, snuggle up to your little one and take a walk around the neighborhood or get stuff done around the house. Carriers are a great alternative to strollers as they allow for the benefits of physical closeness between baby and parent. They are also a great way to be hands-free so you can knock out some chores while cuddling with your babe. Check out this article for more tips on how to safely wear your baby.
  5. Take part in the bedtime routine: Whether it’s being the expert on bath time or choosing a special book that will be just for you and your little one, being part of the bedtime routine is a great way to bond with your baby. If your baby regularly nurses to sleep and needs mom to do the actual putting down at the end of the night, find ways to get involved in the preparation. Your baby will come to know and expect that special time with her dad and it will be a signal that the time to sleep is near. 
  6. Be a soother: Often when babies get upset, a dad’s knee-jerk reaction can be to hand her back to her mother. And if she’s hungry, this is the best solution. However, many times babies will cry for a variety of other reasons where dad can be just as helpful at providing a comforting snuggle as mom. If you’ve ruled out hunger as a possibility, try soothing techniques with your babe like rocking, swaying, swaddling, singing, shushing and bouncing. Often dads can be excellent soothers by just having a comforting voice and a rhythmic bounce. 
  7. Set aside special dad and baby playtime: Whether it’s an evening walk to the park, some silly time on the play mat or a nighttime snuggle with a favorite book, set aside time each day that is just for you and your baby. Not only will this give mom a chance to shower and grab a snack, it will create a predictable routine and special bonding time daily for you and your little one. Use your time together to engage with your baby by making silly faces, allowing him to study your expressions, telling him about your day, playing peekaboo or even giving infant massage a try. These are all fun ways that you and baby can build a lasting and secure bond.
Dad at birth

There are many great ways for dads to create their own special bond with their baby that will foster a mutually beneficial relationship. If you have a new infant at home and you are struggling to feel the connection, don’t worry, it will come. Give some of the above ideas a try and allow yourself time to explore the ways your relationship with your child will be special and unique. For questions about pregnancy, natural birth or postnatal care and infant bonding, please contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We’re here for you from conception to postpartum and beyond.

Father with newborn.jpg

Babywearing Safety: 15 Tips to Wear Baby Safely

Babywearing Safety

Babywearing is the wonderful and highly convenient practice of keeping your baby close to you by wearing them in one of several different types of carriers. Although babywearing is a traditional and age-old practice in many cultures around the world, it has only recently begun to catch on in the US due to its many benefits to both mom and baby. To learn more about the great benefits of babywearing, check out Eight Reasons to Wear Your Baby. If you are planning to wear your new baby during any stage of his younger years, it is important to educate yourself on the principles of safe babywearing. Here are some tips for ensuring that your baby is secure and comfortable in the carrier.

  • Choose a carrier that is ergonomic. There are many different types of baby carriers from soft structured carriers and Asian style carriers, to woven wraps, stretchy wraps, and ring slings. 
  • Ensure that you use proper ergonomic positioning for the carrier you choose to make sure that baby is in the safest and most supportive position.
  • Although it is normal for babies to fuss the first couple times you try a new carrier, choose a time of day when baby is well rested and happy for his maiden voyage.
  • Ensure that baby’s airway is open at all times. 
    • Keep baby in an upright position, high on your body so that you can easily monitor breathing.
    • Infants should only be placed in a cradled position if necessary to nurse and should then immediately be returned to the upright position upon finishing.
  • Carefully inspect new and used carriers before use. Check for areas of worn fabric, tears, weak spots, loose stitching, broken buckles, undone hems and any other structural flaws that may make the carrier unsafe. It is also important to choose carriers from reputable manufacturers to ensure that they will be compliant with US safety standards.
  • Choose a carrier that provides ample support for your baby’s back and neck.
    • Your baby should be held with his knees higher than his bottom and with his legs in a spread squat position, with support spanning from knee to knee. Full knee to knee support becomes less possible and necessary as your baby ages and becomes a toddler.
  • Practice common sense when wearing. If you wouldn’t carry your baby in your arms while doing the activity (i.e.: riding in a car, boat, kayak, or bike) then don’t wear your baby in those scenarios.
  • Practice all carries with someone to spot you or over a bed, couch or low to the ground soft surface. Do not use carries, such as back carries, that you have not confidently mastered. Seeking out a babywearing group is a great way to educate yourself on different types of carriers and carries and to get helpful instruction from babywearing educators and other moms.  
  • Support baby’s head if you bend over while wearing him in a carrier.
  • Choose an age appropriate carrier. Stretchy wraps, for instance, are wonderful for cuddly newborn carries but do not provide adequate support for bigger babies. You should also be able to try a variety of types of baby carriers through your local babywearing group who often have lending libraries. 
  • Ensure that your carrier is snuggly fitted to you and your baby. Your baby should not be able to slump down in the carrier and you should not feel unnecessary pressure on your back.
  • Close enough to kiss: You often hear the phrase, “close enough to kiss,” in the babywearing world used as a good measure of positioning. You should be able to reach your baby’s head effortlessly to give them a kiss if they are in the proper position.
  • You should always be able to see your baby’s face. The fabric of the carrier should never be pulled over baby’s face so that you need to pull it back to see him.
  • Keep baby’s chin off his chest. This restricts airflow and can make breathing difficult for your baby. As mentioned above, baby should be carried in an upright position and there should be at least a finger width of space in between their chin and neck.

When done correctly, babywearing is an extremely safe and comfortable practice for both the caregiver and the baby. There are so many benefits to wearing your baby from bonding and breastfeeding promotion, to freeing up your hands to do things around the home all while making your baby feel safe and secure. Education on safe babywearing is essential before using a baby carrier and can be easily sought through your local babywearing group. Check out Babywearing International to learn more about your local chapter. You can also contact us at Health Foundations with any questions regarding baby care.