Parenting Tips

New Parent? Don’t Forget That Self-Care Is Essential for You and Baby!

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New parents can easily get caught up in the to-do lists, diaper changes, feeding schedule, and everything else that comes with having a newborn in the house. But you have to remember that self-care benefits both you and your baby. Here’s advice on the importance of self-care when you’re a new parent.

Putting Yourself First

As a new parent, you realize that suddenly your world is both smaller and bigger all at once. This brand-new life becomes your focus and your entire universe, and you want to protect your new baby. But that little addition to the family is going to take a lot out of you, and you've got to take the time to replenish your own resources, or you won't be able to give your baby everything they need. According to Parents magazine, you need to maintain a balanced life to maintain a joyful life.

It's extremely hard for parents to put themselves first, or even to think of their own needs, but you have to take the time every day to do this. Don't forget to take care of yourself physically by

eating right, getting rest, and exercising. According to BabyCenter, you need to take frequent breaks for your own health. Everyone needs a little downtime, even new parents.

Don't Forget Your Other Needs

You have a lot of physical needs that you need to focus on but don't forget your other needs. You should also connect socially with friends. Take time to acknowledge, feel, and express your own emotions. Get intellectual stimulation by reading, meditate to relax, and work on your hobbies. All of your needs matter, and they all deserve to be addressed.

Dealing With Stress

Newborns bring a lot of joy into your life, but they also bring a lot of stress. New parents often worry about whether they're doing the right things, feeding the baby correctly, diapering properly, and managing all those little chores the way a good parent should. Stress can bog you down in negative thoughts, drain your energy, and make you physically less healthy.

Make sure you're getting plenty of sleep. And when you need it, ask for help. It's okay to acknowledge that you can't do everything alone because you can't. Make it a point to reduce your stress and deal with it in a healthy, positive way. Don't turn to alcohol or drugs to manage your stress, to keep yourself awake, to boost your mood, or to get an extra burst of energy. This is a slippery slope that can lead to addiction, and then you really won't be able to be an effective parent in any way. Substances hamper your judgement, and they very often lead to addiction and abuse, which will only take you away from your child.

Self-Care for You and Your Baby

If you aren’t taking proper care of yourself, then you can’t give your best to your new baby. Make sure you include self-care as part of your parenting routine so you can decrease stress, stay healthy, and set a positive example for your child. Self-care isn’t just for you; it’s also what’s best for your baby, too.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Blog Submitted to The Newborn Care Agency by Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org

Changing Table Necessities

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With an infant comes the responsibility of changing a diaper. Whether you decide to use disposable or cloth diapering, a dedicated changing area can make the whole process much simpler. Our team of Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists have changed more diapers than they can count, and have put together this list of essentials for your changing table to make changing baby a snap! The Changing Area Pick a space that is comfortable for both you and baby, that will remain comfortable until baby is out of diapers (Yay, potty training! We can talk about that later.) This should be a space that is free of breakables and allows baby and caregiver to bond. Some examples that we have worked with include: changing tables, a spare bed, a counter-top, and the floor. To keep baby safe, never leave them out of touch during a diaper change.

The Basics Every changing space should have three things. The baby. A diaper. Wipes.

The Extras To make diapering seamless, you can add in comfort measures for you and baby. These would include things like: -a diaper genie(goodbye stink!) -a waterproof changing mat or liner -diaper creams and lotion to add in some baby massage(we'll talk about this later too!) -a stockpile of diapers and wipes -at least two spare sets of clothing.

Let's get Real You and any other caregiver for your child will spend a fair amount of time diapering. It could even last for many years. Most children will be out of diapers by three. That is a ton of potential quality time that can be spent on the changing table. From the very beginning, taking the time during a diaper change to talk to your child and engage them can lead to huge benefits in their development down the line. Babies love to hear your voice. Even if you are talking nonsense, it is making a difference in their socialization, vocabulary, and emotional development.

Enjoying the Holidays with a New Baby

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It's the Holiday Season; you are making plans to visit friends and family, and they are making plans to see your new baby. Having a new baby during the holidays can be overwhelming. The struggle to please everyone while maintaining your sanity in the postpartum period can make it very difficult to enjoy the holiday season. Throw in going gift shopping with your infant when all you want is to enjoy your baby-moon, and you have a recipe for disaster. There is good news, though! Communication is so important when setting boundaries. Friends and family will not know where the boundaries are if you do not communicate your needs up front. Are you tired? Make it known. If you are hungry, ask for someone to bring you food. Do you need to hold your infant? Tell whoever is holding the baby that it is Mommy's turn. Communicate yours and your baby's needs to everyone in order to maintain your sanity and keep everyone happy! Utilize your resources. Have friends or family that live close by? Take them up on previous offers to help out, whether it be helping to decorate, going shopping with you (or even for you!), and, if you can bear it, let them babysit for some self-care.

 

Baby Wearing

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Baby wearing is an important part of parenting. There have been many studies on the benefits of baby wearing. These studies have found that babies who are "worn" cry less and are socialized earlier. This is due to being included in all the family's activities and being exposed to more language and social interaction, instead of laying in another room passively. Baby wearing is very practical in addition to the social impact on a child. In addition to less crying, wearing your baby increases portability with your infant. Simple tasks for parents are made easier and wearing your baby allows you to meet your own needs, such as eating, shopping, walking the dog, or even working. Using a quality carrier can ensure that parents or care providers can meet the needs of the child while still being able to get things finished.

When baby is happy, parents are happy. When baby is happy, parents are happy, and if there are older siblings, they are happy too. Baby wearing makes it easier to integrate a new baby into the family with older siblings as baby is less likely to wholly monopolize parents' time.

Carriers for baby wearing are an essential tool. As such, it is important to keeps things in mind while choosing which carrier is right for your family.

Things to keep in mind include:

  • What is the main purpose? Short carries or the long haul?
  • Comfort; for both baby and the wearer.
  • Style
  • Who will be the main wearer?
  • Does it need to be adjustable for multiple wearers?
  • Is it hands-free?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • Is it washable?
  • Do you have more than one baby?

If you have questions about baby wearing, there are a multitude of resources available to parents. We suggest: asking your pospartum doula or newborn care specialist; joining a baby wearing group; renting a carrier to find what you like; and reaching out to other parents in your community.

Tackling Cold and Flu Season with your Infant

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It's here. FALL! With the smell of cinnamon, the changing of the colors, and pumpkins everywhere; comes something not so pleasant. Cold and Flu Season! Cold and flu season does not have to be intimidating. There are many things you can do to prevent sickness from terrorizing your house.

  • On a nice day, open up those windows and get the air moving.
  • Change your bedding and towels frequently to prevent germs from building up.
  • Wash your hands!
  • Eat a good diet with immunity boosting vitamins and minerals.
  • Don't share drinking glasses or utensils to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, like doorknobs and light-switches.

Though we can try hard to prevent sickness, a well-stocked medicine cabinet is an essential tool to making it through cold and flu season.

  • Thermometer: A digital rectal thermometer is the most accurate for taking children's temperature. If your child is less than 6 months old and has a fever over 100.4, then it is important to call your pediatrician.
  • Tissues: Red and runny noses are no fun. Be prepared with plenty of tissues on hand that aren't abrasive on your or baby's skin.
  • Humidifier: Adding humidity to the air can be beneficial, especially if there is congestion.
  • Nasal aspirators and Saline drops: Especially for babies who haven't learned how to blow their nose, saline drops loosen up mucous and aspirators clear the nasal passages.
  • Pain Relievers: Infant Tylenol and Motrin can help a fussy baby with a fever, but always make sure to follow the dosing recommendations set forth by your provider.

Cold and flu season does not have to an insurmountable task for your family to accomplish, nor does it have to be stressful. It is something that can be managed with a little preparation in addition to lots and lots of rest. If you ever feel unsure in regards to your infant's illness, then a call to your pediatrician is always a good idea, and it is important to trust your intuition.

Tips for an Easy Newborn Bedtime

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Sleep is an essential part of the growth and development of any newborn which is why they spend so much of their time sleeping. Despite the quantity of sleep that babies receive, many parents still struggle to get their child to fall asleep each evening. So what are the common mistakes that we see when it comes to putting an infant down? Keep reading for our tips for an easy newborn bedtime.

Look for the Signs

One of the best things you can do for an easy newborn bedtime is to pay attention to your baby’s sleepy signs. While these symptoms may vary slightly from child to child, all infants exhibit some form of tired signs. Be on the lookout for rubbing eyes, looking away/trouble focusing, arching of the back, or yawning as cues that your child is ready to go to sleep. Once you begin to see the signs, start whatever preparations you may make for bedtime and get started putting them to sleep immediately. An overtired newborn is exceptionally hard to get to sleep.

Light and Sound

Overstimulation is another common cause of difficulty in putting a baby to sleep and avoiding it can go a long way towards an easy newborn bedtime. Overstimulation often occurs because of an inability to process large amounts of stimulation. When an infant becomes overstimulated, they tend to go into a full on melt down and may not respond well to attempts to comfort them. The best way to help an overstimulated baby is to remove sources of stimulation. Take them to a quiet, dark room and swaddling them will provide a calm environment that will help them settle down and eventually go to sleep.

Tank Up

One of the most common things we hear from new parents is that their baby seems insatiable before it’s time to go down for the evening. Often this is part of a phenomenon known as “cluster feeding” where an infant will feed more frequently in the night to sleep longer stretches through the evening. Ensuring that you meet their feeding demand is one of our biggest tips for an easy newborn bedtime. Cluster feeding is one strong exception to establishing a schedule for your child.

Diaper Rash Basics

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There are a variety of issues and ailments that new parents may have heard of but may not understand very much about them. Regardless of how you approach the situation, all newborns are going to need some form of a diaper. As a result, diaper rash is a common issue that arises for many babies. Below you will find some general information on diaper rash and what you can do to help your child recover quickly.

What is Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is a form of dermatitis (inflamed skin) that appears on the skin under a diaper. It is typically seen in children younger than two years of age with most experiencing the rash between nine and twelve months. This three-month window is typical because during this time, infants spend a lot of time sitting and the introduction of solids around this period causes changes in the pH of bowel movements. According to WebMD, the most common causes of diaper rash are friction, irritation, candidal infection, allergic reaction, and seborrhea.

How Do You Know When It Happens?

Identifying a diaper rash is usually pretty straightforward. The rash will be located on the skin under the diaper area and will look red and irritated. It may appear as a patchwork of bright red skin on your baby’s bottom or genital area. While it is entirely possible for dermatitis to form in the folds of baby’s skin, it is not a requirement for this particular type of rash to be present. Aside from the physical symptoms discussed above, you may also observe some mood or behavioral cues as well. Your baby may show signs of discomfort during diaper changes or cry when you wash or touch their diaper area.

How is it Treated?

Most of the time, diaper rash can be treated at home without any need for professional medical intervention. According to Mayo Clinic, the key is keeping the area dry and clean reduce the risk of further irritation. When cleaning your baby’s rash, avoid rough scrubbing and allow the skin to air dry rather than using a towel. If possible, leave your child’s diaper off for as long as you can to avoid worsening the rash. If the rash Is severe or unusual; gets worse despite home treatment; bleeds, itches or oozes; or is accompanied by a fever, seek professional medical assistance immediately.

Kangaroo Care for Newborns

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Bringing a new life into the world is exciting and developing a healthy parent/child relationship is a lifelong process. While some parents report having an instant feeling of closeness with their newborn, it is not automatic for everyone. So what can you do to foster a sense of intimacy with your child? Below you will find more information on kangaroo care and its benefits.

What is Kangaroo Care?

In its simplest form, kangaroo care is simple to close or intimate skin to skin contact with your newborn. Typically, your baby is in their diaper as you place them in direct contact with your skin. You may choose to use an old button down shirt that you can button up around your baby as they are positioned on you. It may also be advantageous to utilize a blanket as newborns can easily get cold.

Benefits to Your Baby

In part, kangaroo care has become popular because of the wide variety of advantages for a newborn. According to the Cleveland Clinic, some of the benefits include “stabilization of the baby’s heart rate, improved (more regular) breathing pattern, improved O2 stats, a gain in sleep time, more rapid weight gain, and decreased crying.” From this list alone, it’s easy to see how a newborn can benefit from a parent's touch.

Benefits for Mom

One of the best ways for a parent to bond with their baby is to do skin to skin snuggling as soon as they are able. The brain releases a hormone called oxytocin, or the love hormone when you do kangaroo care with your baby. As a breastfeeding mother, Kangaroo care can assist in establishing your milk supply early on along with the help of frequent and effect feedings. The Cleveland Clinic also found that it increased a parents confidence to care for their babies and that their babies are well cared for. This is a great bonding tool for all parents and even siblings if they are old enough or would like to do it with some help! Other ideas could include taking a bath with your newborn.

If you are interested in doing kangaroo care, your San Francisco Newborn Care Specialist or Doula would be happy to assist you in accomplishing skin to skin time with your newborn.

Using the E.A.S.Y Method

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Many new parents find that the scheduling demands of having a baby in the home are difficult to navigate. It is not uncommon for parents to struggle in keeping up with the routine responsibilities of life. Some even feel like they don’t measure up because of these difficulties. So how can you take control of your schedule and regain some normalcy to your life after your baby arrives? Below you can learn about the E.A.S.Y method and how it can help you regain control of your life with a newborn.

Eat

The first part of the E.A.S.Y method stands for eat. Newborns need to eat frequently and tend to feed at regular intervals, so it makes sense to start the process here. There’s nothing fancy here; it is just your baby eating. Make sure you are following appropriate feeding guidelines for your child’s age.

Activity

Once your child is done eating, the next step in the E.A.S.Y. method is to do some form of activity. With newborns, the prospect of doing an activity after eating might be challenging as it is quite common for babies at this stage to fall asleep immediately after a feeding. However, as they grow, it will be easier to incorporate activities. With all of that information in mind, it is an excellent idea to start with simple activities for newborns while keeping the duration short and working towards more complex activities as your child grows.

Sleep

Once your child has had a chance to enjoy some form of activity, they will be likely ready for some sleep which is the next part of the E.A.S.Y. method. The amount of time your baby will sleep will vary from child to child and could be 20 minutes or several hours. Sleep is when your child grows and develops the most, so this is a critical step in the method. Additionally, babies become exceptionally harder to put to sleep when they have been awake for too long so regular naps are crucial.

Your Time

The final part of the E.A.S.Y. method is for you and your partner to do whatever you need or want to do while your child is sleeping. It may be taking a nap to prepare for the night ahead, simple housekeeping, or a shower. Whatever you choose to do make sure you take some time for yourself as well.

Resources

http://noobmommy.com/easy-routine-from-baby-whisperer/

https://www.whattoexpect.com/blogs/momonpurposecrazybyaccident/newborn-baby-needs-the-easy-method

http://kellymom.com/parenting/reviews/review_babywhisperer/

Infant Swim Classes

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Summer is now in full swing, and for many people, that means it is time to head to the local pool and lounge or swim. For parents of infants, taking their baby to the pool can be a concern as there are a variety of risks for them at the pool. Of those concerns, the biggest is often the danger of drowning which is of particular concern for families with pools at their home. Below you will find information on infant swim classes and how they can help to alleviate some these concerns.

What are Infant Swim Classes?

Infant swim classes are designed to help your child learn valuable water safety skills. Classes are typically designed for children six months and older. It is also required that your child can hold a sitting position and roll back to front as well as front to back. Most courses run five days a week for five to seven weeks. By frequently spending time in the pool and working on a specific curriculum, your child’s muscle memory will improve rapidly, and they have a higher success rate at learning the skills being taught.

What Will Your Child Learn?

While there are a variety of topics that may be covered in different infant swim classes, the central theme of these courses is on teaching your child to move in the water. For the youngest of students, these lessons will be focused on movements that can keep your child safe when in the water. One of the most valuable skills they will learn is the ability to turn from facedown to free floating on their back. A child with not only the capacity to float but also the instinct to turn onto their back is significantly less likely to drown should they find themselves in the water unsupervised. As your child gets older, the lessons will progress into teaching them to actually swim.

Where Can You Find More Information?

If you are interested in signing your baby up for infant swim classes, you can use the links below to find a class in your area.

https://www.infantswim.com/

https://blog.littlelane.com/baby-toddler-swim-class-sf/

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-swim-classes-in-san-francisco/

http://www.bayareaparent.com/Article/Best-Swim-Lessons-in-the-Bay-Area/

DHA and ARA in Infant Formula

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One of the common concerns we hear from our clients concerns the ingredients that comprise various formula types. The ingredients we receive the most questions about are DHA and RHA that is often added to infant formula. Below we discuss DHA and RHA, their benefits and the controversy surrounding their use in infant formula.

What are DHA and ARA?

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) are polyunsaturated fats that are naturally found in human breast milk. These fatty acids are responsible for assisting and enhancing several aspects of your body’s overall growth and development. It is also necessary to point out that DHA/ARA needs can be substantially different from infant to infant. Since DHA/ARA are not naturally occurring in infant formula, synthetic versions are known as docosahexaenoic acid-rich single cell oil (DHASCO) and arachidonic acid-rich single cell oil (ARASCO) are manufactured and added to the formula to serve the same function.

Benefits

There are some studies that have been performed to understand the role DHA and ARA in breast milk play in the growth and development of newborns, infants, and toddlers. These research studies have shown a variety of benefits including but not limited to brain development, neurological growth, and eye development. Therefore, having these compounds in you child’s diet is recommended and, as you can imagine, formula manufacturers have used these studies promote the benefits of using synthetic DHA and ARA to boost infant brain development.

Controversy

The biggest problem with the equating of DHA to DHASCO and ARA to ARASCO is that the two are not the same and there is little evidence to support the claims that DHA/ARA found in formula provides the same benefits as that found in breast milk. Additionally, the USDA found that the synthetic DHASCO and ARASCO should not be allowed in organic foods. Their reasoning is that the compounds are “extracted from fermented algae and fungus through a process that utilizes the known neurotoxic chemical, hexane.” It is also critical to note that human fatty acids and synthetic ones from plant sources have different structural configurations with the main difference being that human fatty acids can interact with each other in unique ways. The other main reason for the controversy is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require pre-market testing of infant formula. Instead, they accept the manufacturer’s statements of safety and effectiveness without any independent review.

Thirty-One Freezer Meals for New Moms

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Many new parents encounter a severe lack of motivation to do anything that tends to come along with having a newborn in your home. If you are lucky, you will have family and friends around to help you with the household duties or even meals. However, at some point, it is likely that the meals will stop coming. Fortunately, making a few freezer meals while you are still pregnant can be a lifesaver when that time comes. But how do you know what recipes will make good freezer meals? What ingredients can you use that will freeze well? Below you will find thirty-one freezer meals for new moms from a variety of cuisine types, so there is sure to be something for everyone. Additionally, you can utilize the ingredients lists to determine what foods and recipes are likely to freeze well.

  1. Ham & Cheese Potato Casserole
  2. Black Bean Turkey Enchiladas
  3. Hearty Beef and Cabbage Pockets
  4. All-American Meat Loaf
  5. Slow Cooker Pepper Steak
  6. Shrimp and Broccoli Brown Rice Paella
  7. Italian Chicken Roll-Ups
  8. Turkey Potpie
  9. Baked Chicken Chimichangas
  10. Baked Ham Sandwiches
  11. Zesty Hamburger Soup
  12. Busy Day Bacon Muffins
  13. Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuits
  14. Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes
  15. Oven Baked Chicken Strips
  16. No Bake Homemade Chewy Granola Bars
  17. Chicken Taquitos with Cilantro & Pepperjack Cheese
  18. Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
  19. Honey Lime Chicken
  20. Sweet & Sour Chicken
  21. Slow Cooker Roast Beef French Dip Sandwich
  22. Bacon Covered Kalua Pork
  23. Tex-Mex Meatballs in Red Chile Sauce
  24. Greek Baked Ziti
  25. Spiced Beef Kabobs with Herbed Cucumber and Tomato Salad
  26. Curried Chicken Chowder
  27. Twice Baked Potatoes
  28. Chicken and Brisket Brunswick Stew
  29. Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
  30. “Big Easy” Gumbo Recipe
  31. King Ranch Chicken Mac & Cheese

Need help preparing meals for your family? Most Newborn Care Specialists are happy to help with light meal preparation for the household. Many of the recipes included above are simple enough to be considered for light meal preparation. Contact us today to learn more about what a Newborn Care Specialist can do for you and your family.