What is There to Play With?

Toys for little babies need to be larger than the baby’s mouth because they love to pop anythingBaby toys that is near into their mouths and there is the possibility of choking if toys are too small.

As little babies love to try the taste of everything that is within reach, keep toys germ free by washing regularly. Make sure then that their first playthings are easy to clean. Leaving toys in the sun for four hours does chase away the germs but soapy water is still one of the best cleaning products!

Squeaky toys, rattles, soft animals and small dolls, blocks, balls, chiming and laughing toys need to be easy to grasp and keep hold of.  Little fingers have the ability to grip very tightly.

Try stretching a row of toys across the stroller or cot. This is constantly entertaining as shiny bright colours will attract attention. Seeing them jiggle and hearing their sounds will focus their eyes, ears and hands.

Books with black and white designs and pictures are particularly interesting to very young babies. Magazines with pictures can be placed along the side of the bassinet or cot supported by the mattress. Large coloured pictures will attract their attention as they study colours which will intrigue them.

When baby is having some tummy time on the floor, she will enjoy looking up at different shapes and coloured toys.  Make sure that all of baby’s toys have no glued on parts such as ears or eyes as they can be pulled off and swallowed. And nothing with sharp edges of course.

When you leave the house, take a couple of baby’s toys with you so that he can play with them and not come in contact with germs in surroundings away from home.

As baby grows, keep some toys aside for another day so that they are a novelty when they are given to them. We all want happy babies!


Do You Wonder if They Are Teething?

Occasionally a baby is born with a tooth, but most babies start teething around 5 to 7 months Baby teethingof age. However some may be a year old before the first tooth appears.

Once they are through, clean the teeth with a soft damp cloth initially and later a soft bristled brush. Toothpaste is not needed at first. When they are over a year use just a pea sized amount of toothpaste will work well.

Toothbrushes with chunky handles are easy to hold and an ‘animal’ or a funky design on the end adds interest. To prevent decay, don’t settle your baby in bed with a bottle of formula or juice as the teeth will remain coated all night. Food like biscuits, muesli bars, lollies and dried fruit will leave a sticky layer and should be cleaned away after the food has been eaten.

As your toddler becomes good at using a toothbrush, clean yours at the same time as they will enjoy copying what you do. Children do need help with cleaning their teeth until they are 5 or 6 years old.

So how to suspect that teeth are on their way?

Teething can be suspected when you notice the following:

  • Lots of dribbling.
  • Not feeding so well.
  • Unsettled and unhappy – episodes of crying.
  • Wanting to chew on anything that is near.
  • May have one or two rosy cheeks.
  • An area on the gums may look red and swollen.

What can help?

  •  Give a cold cloth to chew on or a teething ring. Chill in the fridge beforehand as the coldness is soothing.
  • Tie some firm fruit in muslin and they will enjoy chewing on that.
  • Rub the gum area with a clean finger.
  • If your baby bites when breastfeeding, take baby off the breast and have a break. Try again a few minutes later.
  • Bonjela is a useful numbing gel to rub on the gums if the baby is over 4 months. Give it time to soothe by applying 10 minutes or so before feed time.
  • Paracetamol will help reduce severe distress–pain. Give about 30 minutes before the feed and make sure of the correct dose for the age and weight of your baby. Only 4 doses should be given in 24 hours.

It is a rather trying time but quite exciting when the teeth finally appear!




Bathing Your Baby

When your baby has a bath, it is a really good communication time. You are close and must touch and hold to keep baby safe. It is a good way for dad to bond with the baby too.  So first ofsmall-child bath all, assemble everything you will need so that towels, cloths, baby soap and fresh clothes are all close by. You may need a heater on in the room if the weather is cold.

Always run the cold water in first and then add hot water to give a pleasant warm temperature when you test it with your inner wrist.

Now you are ready to go!

  • Remove baby’s clothes and wrap him in a towel.
  • Tucking him under your arm, place his head above the bath and with a wet facecloth, wipe each eye from the inside out – using a different part of the cloth for each eye. Then wash the face and ears. The tip of your finger is the biggest thing that should go in the ear.
  • Hold baby over the water and wet the hair and cleanse with soap or baby shampoo. Rinse thoroughly and gently towel dry.
  • Lie baby down on the side table and remove the towel. With wet hands, soap all over then place baby in the water and rinse it all off.
  • Carry out a conversation as you do all this!
  • When cleaning the penis, do not pull the foreskin back – just cleanse over it. With a little girl, gently separate the sides of the vagina and clean with a cloth from top to bottom. Any discharge is usually normal and blood may be seen a few days after birth.
  • Very small babies usually cry in their baths but they learn to enjoy it and later may cry when they are taken out of the water.
  • Once the skin is washed and clean, lift baby out and dry thoroughly all over.
  • Take care drying behind the ears, under the neck and in other folds of the body especially if they are a little chubby!
  • Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is an effective way to treat any dry skin.
  • To dress baby put the nappy on first (it’s wise to be safe), then the rest of the clothes. Babies usually need a layer more than an adult to keep their body at a comfortable temperature.

A baby can have “top and tail” days as they do not need a bath every day. A shower with dad can become an enjoyable time. Mum needs to be on hand to dry and dress baby. As baby grows, bath times will become a fun time as they play with toys in the water.

NEVER leave a baby or toddler in the bath alone. Do not leave the bathroom for any reason if they are sitting in the bath which has water in it. So plan baby’s bath time into the daily routine and probably keep to the same time each day. Enjoy this time as well!






Baby Blues, Postnatal Depression and Postnatal Psychosis

Your new baby is just 3 days old and is sleeping in her bassinet. A tear trickles down your cheek Depressed mum Feb.2016and you ask yourself why you are crying? Are these the sad feelings your Midwife had talked about?  One or two friends have popped in and admired the new baby and breastfeeding has gone better too so you feel you should be completely happy.

The new Grandma is vacuuming the house and proud new Dad has gone to the supermarket. Everything is running smoothly so why do you feel so sad? Then you remember more of what the Midwife has said.

Third day blues occur as a result of the body’s changing hormones. There has been the stress of the labour followed by the relief of delivering a healthy baby and the excitement of the arrival of flowers and cards. Sometimes all the emotions then crash together. It will pass she had said – in a few days. She advised accepting all help offered and getting rest when baby sleeps or someone else looks after her.  Putting  fresh clothes on after a shower and some makeup too can lift the mood.

Usually these bad feelings disappear after four days and you feel your old self again! Words from the antenatal class come back: “Try and eat three meals a day and fit in fruit and drinks of water too. Having a new baby in the house is a major change.” It was a relief to recall all this.

What is Postnatal Depression?

10 to 20% of mothers experience a temporary period of depression. Signs are anxiety, tearfulness, not sleeping well, little appetite, fatigue and not enjoying the baby. These symptoms can last for a number of weeks.

Sometimes the mother may not even be aware of how stressed she is and yet it is very noticeable to other members of the family who can see that things are not going as well as they should be.

Other signs of “PND” are:

  •  Lacking concentration.
  •  Not wanting to get out of bed in the mornings.
  •  Loss of interest in sexual activity.
  •  Looking at baby in a detached way and not having any feelings for the baby.

It is essential to talk about these feelings with a family member or health professional. A doctor may prescribe medication. Support is needed and in time positive feelings will return. This type of depression will go away.

Postnatal Psychosis (Puerperal Psychosis)

This disorder is rare and occurs after birth in 1 in 500 new mothers.

Signs are feeling totally out of touch with reality, delusions, anger and hostility towards the baby plus the other signs of depression. Psychiatric treatment and medication will treat this condition very successfully and a full recovery will be made.

When Dad or the family feel the Mum is showing any of the depressive signs, and is just not herself, contact the family doctor. It can be treated and it will all get better.




Welcome New Baby

You’re home with your new baby and she is crying so your questions begin. Having left the hospital on the same day that baby was born, you are feeling a bit overwhelmed!

You collapse on the settee and the new Dad is making shushing noises as he holds the baby ParentingAnswerswho takes no notice and continues crying!

Is she hungry perhaps? As your cup of coffee gets cold on the table nearby you undo your clothes, unwrap your precious bundle and bring her to your breast. Skin to skin the midwife had said, was ideal. So! You see a tiny dribble of yellow milk showing on your nipple. You lay this tiny person on her side with her mouth opposite your nipple. Suddenly her mouth is wide open and she closes her mouth over it. The crying stops!

Colostrum is the name of the creamy yellow first milk which flows from the breast in the first days after birth. It is very valuable as it is a natural antibiotic which protects the baby from stomach and respiratory illnesses and helps to avoid other conditions like asthma and eczema.

A new baby’s tummy is only about the size of a table tennis (ping pong) ball so feeding often likeBlog 71 Breastf 2 hourly, will keep the tummy full. Sore nipples can occur in the first days but watching the following can help avoid this.

  • Firstly make sure baby has a WIDE open mouth when he comes to the breast. His lips should cover the darker area (areola) which surrounds the nipple.
  • Secondly, when baby appears to be sucking and swallowing you can check this out by looking at the side of his neck to check for swallowing movements. If he stops swallowing, he will be grasping the nipple and this can make them very sore.

 So as soon as you see this happening, slip a clean finger into the corner of the mouth to break the suction. Off he will come! Then rub a little milk onto your nipples as the healing properties in breast milk will help them recover and heal any tiny cracks. Avoid soap on the nipples as it tends to dry them too much.

Accept any offers for help in the house as you will get tired. Little babies don’t understand that night time is for sleeping. Try having a lie down when baby is dozes off. Their care is full on in the first weeks. But truly calmer days will come.




Is Your Child’s Behaviour a Worry?

An American programme called STEP ( Systemic Training for Effective Parenting) had an interesting way of suggesting very useful methods of teaching children to be responsible and cooperative.

Using the word DISCIPLINE, they gave guidelines of options that parents can use when behaviour becomes undesirable.

D – Distract the Child
I – Ignore Naughty Behaviour
S – Structure the Environment
C – Control the Environment, not the Child
I – Involve Child Through Choice and Consequences
P – Plan Time for Loving
L – Letting Go
I – Increase your Consistency
N – Notice Positive Behaviour
E – Exclude them with a Time-out.

D – Distracting the Child

Thirteen month old Kate heads rapidly towards an electric socket in a corner of the room.
“Kate,” her mother says firmly. Kate pauses and looks at her mother. Then her Mum quickly scoops her up in a friendly way and takes her to the opposite corner of the room.

I – Ignoring Naughty Behaviour if it is Appropriate

This is useful for minor disturbances such as showing off, tantrums or bad language.
Three year old Sam demands a glass of orange juice. He is told he will not be given it unless he asks politely. But Sam is feeling tired and cranky and he whines for the juice. His Dad carries on fixing tea and pays no attention to him. Sam whines again and then remembers why he isn’t getting what he wants. He says,”Please” and uses a pleasant voice when he asks a third time!
His Dad now says, “I’ll be happy to get you that juice. I like the way you asked me.”

S – Structuring the Environment

Two year old Briar takes a lolly from the dish on Grandma’s coffee table. She is told that one is all she may have. Grandma then puts the dish in a cupboard and life goes on peacefully.

C – Control the Environment, not the Child

Have boundaries if you cannot change items you do not want touched. If you are not going to be in the room, say, “You may play here while I am on the phone or leave the room. You decide.” She then chooses.

I – Involving the Child through Choice and Consequences

Giving choices helps them to develop independence and cooperation. “Which toys would you like to take to Grandmas?” “Do you want to wear your red pajamas or your blue ones?”

If they say, “No, I want this!” You tell them that that is not one of their choices.

P – Planning Time for Loving

If you have another child or baby, try to spend some time alone with each child every day. Then give them your full attention at that time.

L – Letting Go

If children are protected and allowed to get away with anything and everything or if total obedience is demanded, they will not learn to become independent. Give opportunities to try new things.

I – Increase Your Consistency

No matter where you are, children need to know what to expect if they misbehave. Always try to be consistent.

N – Notice Positive Behaviour

There is a huge benefit in acknowledging children when they are doing well. It raises their self image and can actually prevent misbehaviour.

E – Excluding the Child with a Time-out

This gives them time to calm down and gain self control. It should be a last resort and for very disruptive behaviour. The most effective time out is to have them alone away from other social goings on.


Sleep Challenges

Most young babies and little children don’t sleep the whole night through and for parents, sleepblog69being short on sleep is very hard to cope with. Here are answers to questions I have been asked about how to cope with some of these situations.

Q. My 10 month old baby wakes up crying from her morning and afternoon sleeps. Why should that be?

A. Some babies just need a very gentle and slow waking time. Lean into her and cuddle her closely and talk soothingly as this will be reassuring.
Don’t hurry her out of her cot. Does your daughter go to bed awake?
Putting a baby to bed while she is still awake, avoids the shock of waking alone when the last memory was of being in your arms. Distract with a toy when you lift her from her cot. Distraction works well to change lots of unwanted situations.

Q. My 12 month old son always has a morning and an afternoon sleep. A couple of times I have put him to bed a bit late at around 4 o’clock, so he keeps on sleeping then into the night. And he hasn’t woken for his dinner!
I am not sure how to handle this.

A. Instead of bedtime at 4 o’clock, try an early dinner before that time and then see if he settles for the night. This way you may not have to disturb
him again. Often, by one year of age, the two day sleeps will merge into one so enjoy the two breaks while you can.

Q. My 20 month old son wakes without fail at half past five every morning. I have tried putting him to bed later in the evening but this pattern doesn’t change. Staying in his cot doesn’t appeal to him! I want to have some more sleep so how can I persuade him to sleep in a bit longer?

A. Try getting up as soon as you hear him, change his naps, and even give him a quick feed. Leave a couple of toys or books in his cot and turn a radio on to low talk back or music for company too. Then nip back to bed and hope for the best. You may get another hour’s sleep!

Q. We will soon have to return the cot our son has been using back to family and I wonder if it would be OK to start using a bed now for our 19 month old son? I really don’t want to buy another cot. Should we make the change? And how do we prevent him from falling out?

A. Your son may be able to make the transfer to a bed although most toddlers are 2 or 3 years old before this happens. Let him lie with you on the bed, sometime before you stop using the cot so it becomes a familiar place. Make sure there are lots of familiar toys and a favourite cuddly blanket near. If you are worried about him falling out of the bed, place a mattress on the floor next to the bed or you could buy a bedside barrier. Baby stores do have them. It is so easy for a toddler to get out of a bed so now is the time to think about safety issues and child proof your house!

Christmas Shopping to Fill the Stockings

Santa must already have a lot of ideas for the sorts of toys to deliver on Christmas Eve. How Christmas stockingabout you?  Toys are important as they are tools that help babies and children grow. They help use their imagination, develop their physical skills and express their feelings.

When you are searching for gifts to buy, firstly consider whether they are safe. The smaller the child, the bigger the toy is a good rule, as small toys have parts that can cause choking. There should be no sharp corners or loose parts such as button eyes on a soft toy. Be wary too of toys with pull strings which are safe for older children but can wrap around the legs, wrists or neck of young babies and also cause choking.

You may be unsure whether the toy that catches your eye, is suitable for the age of you little one.

Here are some suggestions for toys for different ages:

0 – 6 months.

  • Squeaky toys to chew and suck on.
  • Rattles.
  • Soft dolls and animals.
  • Coloured cardboard and fabric books.
  • Mobiles to string across the cot or in the bedroom where the movement will catch their attention. Some may have sound that can be turned off and on.

6 – 12 months.

  • Nests of cups or cones.
  • Tubes.
  • Soft balls.
  • Peg and hole blocks.
  • A wooden hammer or spoon.
  • Toys to bang. (They love that.)
  • Wall hangings to go near their cot.

1 – 2 years.

  • Cardboard boxes to climb into (so cheap.)
  • wooden hammer and peg sets.
  • Toy telephone.
  • Buckets, water and sand toys such as spades.
  • Posting boxes.
  • A small pram or trike.
  • Simple jigsaws.
  • Plastic rakes, toy brooms.
  • Drums, xylophones.
  • Dolls and teddies which are a bit more sophisticated than their first cuddly toys.

2 – 5 years. 

  • Crayons, pencils and books to colour in.
  • Play dough and clay.
  • Cookie cutters.
  • Pictures or stickers of favourite TV characters.
  • Plastic lawn mower.
  • Doctor and nurse kits.
  • Garage and play shop items.
  • Tea sets, clothes for dressing up.
  • Trucks and trains.
  • A magnifying glass.
  • Simple games like dominoes.
  • A bubble blowing set.

You will see tempting toys in the shops so just check the recommended age which should be displayed. A packet of seeds for the garden may interest older children and always include a book or too. Always supervise play times as it is unwise to leave little children alone with pencils or crayons!

Enjoy this exciting time of the year and see if you can find someone to baby sit your children. Shopping is much easier going alone and will certainly make the job less stressful – perhaps even enjoyable!


Some More Q and A

Frequent Questions & Answers

Q1. My boy is four and a half years old and  is a happy child, but he has never been dry at night. This doesn’t worry him but sometimes it really gets me down. Is there anything I can do?

A1. Be reassured by the fact that 10% of children are still wetting the bed at night. There is often a family history of a parent or relative who had this similar problem.

However, as a parent it is often hard to accept the extra cost and work involved using nappies long term and in washing wet pajamas and sheets.

Use a plastic sheet underneath to protect the mattress and to make it easier for yourself. Give your son lots of encouragement during the day and reassure him this will stop one day!

Q2. How will I know when my baby is ready for solids?

 A2. Around 5 – 6 months a baby will start taking notice of what you are eating. He may enjoy chewing on anything he can see and teething may be near or more likely already underway.

Other signs of readiness are:

  • Sitting with support, leaning forward and opening the mouth when what is in front of them looks interesting.
  • Holding head up well.
  • By 6 months, the enzymes in the stomach are mature and will digest the food well.
  • Is now able to transfer the food from the front of the tongue to the back of the throat and then swallow it.

Continue with the milk feed first and small amounts of food for starters.

Q3. My 2 year old was a lovely baby but now she has turned into a really difficult child. I have a new baby just seven weeks old. What’s going on?

A3. Two year olds are at the stage of learning to be independent. Your daughter has had a big change in the attention she will now be getting and to get your attention, she will “play up.” On other days, she will be very determined and impossible to reason with!

Make sure your home is safe so when you are busy with the baby she is safe too. Shut of some areas. Share breastfeeding the baby with reading her a story. A new doll can be her baby and she will copy what you do.

Most importantly, really try and spend some time alone with her every day without baby around. Tell her you love her and how special she was as a baby. And how lucky you are now to have her now as your Big Girl.

Q4.I “have just weaned my baby onto a cow’s milk formula as I am soon back at work. I am worried because he doesn’t have many bowel motions each day.

A4. Babies do not need to have a bowel motion every day but it should be soft and easy to pass when it comes. If the poos becomes small and hard like little pebbles, he may not be getting enough fluid. Check you are making the formula to the correct strength – correct amount of water to the number of scoops.

For further answers to your concerns see my book available from my website http://www.parentinganswers.co.nz/book-sample-pages



Frequent Questions and Their Answers

Frequent Questions & Answers

Q1. I recently had a breast infection and I have heard that these can come back. Is there anything I can do to avoid this happening?

A1. “Breast infections, known as mastitis, with aches and pains, shivers and fevers, and the painful area of the breast, are decidedly unpleasant. You need to concentrate on maintaining good health. Have regular meals and drink water regularly and fit in a daily rest. Feed baby from each breast every feed time. This ensures that the milk keeps flowing well. If you feel any lumps, massage them regularly. Avoid tight fitting bras or clothes over the breast area as this could cause the milk to back up in the milk ducts. This could cause damage to the breast tissue which could increase the risk of infection.

Q2. My two year old son has begun biting his friends and I’m really embarrassed.

A2. Little children often go through this stage of biting on impulse when angry or frustrated. You need to act firmly when it does occur. Tell him that what he has done is wrong and take him away from the group. When you are alone together, tell your son that biting hurts people and he needs to tell his friend that he is sorry and apologize. If he will not say sorry, apologize for him. If it occurs as they play, you will need to stop the play and leave the area. This habit will resolve. Use distraction to produce more acceptable play. He will grow out of it.

Q3.How old will my baby be when she starts to get teeth?

A3. The teeth come through on average between 5 and 7 months. However, some babies are even born with a tooth or begin teething earlier than that and sometimes there are very few teeth through by the end of the first year. Some babies just pop their teeth through with no problems and the first you realise that they are there are when feeding your baby solids, you knock the spoon against one. An early sign is dribbling and this can carry on for some weeks until any teeth are seen. A later sign is one or two rosy cheeks. A baby will really enjoy chewing at this time, so provide some toys with smooth edges or a teething ring. Pieces of chilled fruit tied tightly in a muslin cloth will be happily accepted too but never leave a baby alone when they are eating and chewing.

Q4. My baby is 3 months old and I am worried as my breasts feel soft and not as full as they used to. How can I know that I have enough milk for my baby?

A4. What you describe is quite normal. As the weeks go by, the amount of breast milk reduces to equal the amount that the baby needs. They will be feeding more efficiently and may seem satisfied after a shorter time at the breast. There are growth spurts where more feeds are demanded around 6 weeks and 12 to 13 weeks but after that they settle back to having shorter feeds probably 3 to 3 and a half hourly over the day and for longer during the night. If your baby has  really wet nappies over the day, is content between feeds, is gaining weight and passes soft poos, rest assured, they are doing just fine!