Saturday, July 13, 2013

Baby Cries For No Reason

Full tummy? Check. Clean diaper? Check. Fever-free? Check.
So why is your baby crying? Babies have their own good reasons. But even the wisest parents can't read their babies' mind – and babies don't have the words to tell us what's wrong. 
If you haven't already looked at 12 reasons babies cry and how to soothe them, you may want to start there. If you still need strategies, read on. Fortunately, you can offer comfort without knowing the cause of distress.
Here are some tried and true methods:
Something to suck on
Sucking can steady a baby's heart rate, relax his stomach, and calm flailing limbs. Offer a pacifier or a finger to clamp onto and let your baby go to town.
Snuggling and swaddling
Newborns like to feel as warm and secure as they did in the womb: Try swaddling your baby in a blanket, wearing your baby, or holding him against your shoulder to re-create that feeling. Some babies find swaddling or cuddling too constrictive and respond better to other forms of comfort such as rhythmic movement or sucking a pacifier.
Music & rhythm
Try playing music, singing a lullaby or your favorite song, and dancing around the room. Experiment with different kinds of music to see what your baby responds to.
White noise
The growl of a vacuum cleaner might not seem very soothing, but many babies are calmed by a steady flow of "white noise" that blocks out other noises – much like the constant whoosh of bodily sounds they heard in the womb.
Fresh air
Sometimes simply opening the front or back door and stepping outside with your baby stops the crying instantly. If it works, savor the moment: Look around, look up at the sky, talk to your baby about the world around your home – whether it's a quiet cul-de-sac or a busy city street.
Warm water
Like fresh air, warm water can soothe and put a stop to your baby's tears.
For a change from a bath, try holding your baby in your arms under a gently running shower. Don't push it if your baby doesn't like the noise or splashing water, but some babies really take to it. Just make sure your shower is slip-proof.
The movement involved in being carried in your arms or a carrier may be enough. Other ways to get your baby in motion: a rocking chair, swing, or bouncy seat; setting your baby in a car seat on the dryer while it's on (don't walk away, though – the dryer's vibrations can cause the seat to move and fall off!); a ride in the stroller or car. 
Give yourself a break
A crying baby who can't easily be soothed puts a lot of stress on parents. Thankfully, as your baby gets older, he'll be better able to soothe himself and much of the crying will stop.
In the meantime, don't feel guilty about taking care of yourself as well as your baby. It'll make you a more patient and loving parent. When you're reaching your limit, try these tips:
  • Put your baby down in a safe place and let him cry for a while.
  • Call a friend or relative and ask for advice
  • Let someone you trust take over for a while.
  • Put on quiet music to distract yourself.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Remind yourself that crying in itself won't hurt your baby – and he may just need the release.
  • Repeat to yourself, "My baby will outgrow this phase."
  • Whatever you do, don't express your frustration by shaking your baby.

For 3 Month Baby Toys

In her first months, before she learns to grasp objects or sit up, your baby will most appreciate things she can look at and listen to. Her vision will be fuzzy at first and she'll fix on things that are about eight to 15 inches from her eyes, though in the first month she'll only be able to see clearly to about 12 inches. She's drawn to the human face — and can recognize yours at about 1 month — but she will also enjoy large pictures of faces.
High-contrast patterns and bright colors captivate her because they're the easiest for her to see. She's already learned to appreciate sounds and soft music. (Find out the lyrics to all your favorite lullabies.) Objects that move slowly and produce a gentle sound are far more interesting to her than those that are fixed and silent.
Hand-held toys: Her nearsightedness makes her appreciate anything you can move into her line of sight. She won't be able to hold toys for a while, but she'll demonstrate her preferences by batting at the ones she likes.
MP3 player or music box: Music is one of the best ways to entertain and soothe your infant. Play a variety of music — nothing too raucous — and see how she responds. For more ideas, see our musical recommendations for this age group.
Mobile: A mobile can add a new dimension to a baby's horizontal view of life. Look for ones with high-contrast colors and patterns. Many babies are particularly fond of mobiles that play music. For safety's sake, keep the mobile out of your baby's reach. Mobiles are a strangulation hazard, so don't attach one to or hang one directly over her crib. Instead, hang the mobile from the ceiling just within your baby's line of sight.
Unbreakable mirror: Although they won't realize it's themselves they're seeing at this stage, babies find their own reflection fascinating. And by 3 months old, yours may have struck up a relationship with hers, and begun smiling at it. Look for a mirror you can hang near a changing table or stand up in front of your baby during tummy time.
Soft books with high-contrast patterns: Soft books with easy-to-see patterns or decorations are designed just for babies. Lie down next to her so she can watch you turn the pages as you read aloud to her — even at this age it pays off. For more ideas, see our recommended books for newborns.
Sensory toys: A soft toy that trills or tweets when pressed will please a baby for months to come. The accidental squeaks will also help her become aware of what her hand is doing.
Sock and wrist rattles: Attach a soft rattle to your baby's wrist or ankle, or warm her feet with socks that have built-in rattles to provide long moments of entertainment as she experiments with new sounds she can make herself.
Wind chimes: Babies love soft music, so hang a set of these in a place where she can watch it move and listen to the sound. If the chime is near her crib, your baby may fall into the habit of watching it for a few minutes before drifting to sleep. Hold her up once in a while so she can sound the chimes herself, too.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How to trim your baby's nails?

Should I trim my baby's nails?

Yes. Your baby's nails may be softer and more pliable than yours, but make no mistake—they're sharp! A newborn has little control over his flailing limbs and can easily end up scratching his own face or yours.
Little fingernails grow so fast you may have to cut them several times a week. Toenails require less frequent trimming.
How do I trim my baby's nails without cutting his fingertips?
The best time to do this is while she's sleeping. Another good time is right after a bath, when your baby's nails are softest.
Make sure you have enough light to see what you're doing. Use a pair of baby scissors or clippers made especially to use on tiny fingers. Press the finger pad away from the nail to avoid nicking the skin, and keep a firm hold on your baby's hand as you clip.
Cut fingernails along the curve of the finger. Cut toenails straight across. Then use an emery board to smooth out rough edges.
Doctors recommend using only an emery board in the first few weeks of a new baby's life because nails are very soft. And new parents are also more likely to accidentally clip their baby's skin.
If you decide to give your baby a manicure while she's awake, ask your partner or a friend to hold her and keep her from wiggling too much while you work. Or have someone distract her so she'll let you hold her hand still for the clipping and filing.
Some parents bite their baby's nails into shape, but doing it this way could introduce germs from your mouth into any little cut your baby may have on her finger. You also won't be able to see what you're doing, and you'll find that your baby's finger is tiny compared to your teeth!
If I do cut a fingertip, how do I stop the bleeding?
If you do nick a tiny fingertip, don't be too hard on yourself—it happens to lots of parents. Simply rinse the cut under cool water, then wrap a tissue around your baby's finger and hold it with a little pressure. The bleeding usually stops in a couple of minutes.
Resist the temptation to try to put a bandage on your baby's finger. It's likely to come off when he puts his finger in his mouth, and he could end up choking on it.
Also, doctors don't recommend using a liquid bandage product for babies or toddlers because they'll probably suck it off. If your child has a wound that doesn't stop bleeding, it's a good idea to see your child's doctor.

Advantage And Disadvatage Of Day Care

What are the advantages of daycare?

Many parents like daycare centers because they offer a formal, structured environment. Many daycare centers are inspected for licensing purposes, in some cases caregivers are supervised (many classrooms have more than one teacher), and a director oversees the entire operation.
"I didn't feel comfortable with the idea of hiring a nanny. I feel like I'd always want to check up," says Noelle Haland, a copy editor in Minneapolis, Minnesota, whose 13-month-old son Max is in daycare. "I know taking care of a child can be frustrating and a nanny can also find it stressful." Rather than worry about how a nanny might handle her son during particularly trying moments, Haland decided on daycare.
Another plus: Centers have clearcut rules for parents to follow (such as pickup and drop-off times) so you know exactly what is expected of you. A daycare center is usually more affordable than a nanny. Plus, parents have the opportunity to meet other parents who may be able to lend support and babysitting time.
Also, the arrangement is more stable (compared to, say, nanny or relative care) because the center agrees to watch over your child regardless whether a teacher is sick or tardy or even tired of working for you. Yvonne Matlosz, BabyCenter mom, agrees. "We chose a daycare center so we didn't have to work around someone else's sick days and vacation," she says.
Staff members at good centers are usually trained in early childhood education so they know what to expect from your child developmentally and are able to nurture his growing skills accordingly. If the center you're considering doesn't hire knowledgeable staff, keep looking.
Good daycare centers include a nice mix of activities during the day to teach different skills, such as singing, dancing, and storytelling. Scott Huber, whose 3-year-old daughter Lindsay has attended daycare in Portland, Oregon, since she was 2 months old, says he likes the fact that his daughter spends her day doing projects and honing skills in a structured setting.
"They're not just playing all day," he says, "they're learning new things." Huber says he feels especially good about his decision to put Lindsay in a center when he sees the projects she does. "Many of the instructional projects are a good mix of left- and right-brain activities, usually made of simple objects like blocks or beans or vinyl letters for creativity, but presented in an organized, structured, and methodical way," he says.
Ongoing research by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development suggests that children in quality daycare centers may even have an intellectual edge over those in other kinds of care. When researchers compared kids in quality daycare to those in other, equally high-quality childcare situations, children in centers performed a little better on tests.
Finally, toddlers can benefit from the chance to socialize with other children, which they may not get to do as often or at all when a nanny or a relative cares for them at home.
What are its disadvantages?
One problem with daycare is that you're at the center's mercy. You may have to pay a costly fee for late pickups, scramble for backup care when the center is closed on holidays, and stay at home when your child is sick. And your child is more likely to catch diseases such as colds and pinkeye, since he's exposed to more germs. "My son Max never really had a serious illness before starting daycare," says Noelle Haland.
Children are also less likely to get the one-on-one care that you take for granted with astay-at-home mom or nanny. Babies, in particular, need a lot of love and attention to thrive and do well. Finally, moms and dads know that handling one baby, let alone three or more, is tough work, which is why some parents balk at the idea of a single teacher caring for more than one baby at a daycare center all day long.
The bottom line
It's true that quality of care dips when a person has to watch over too many children, but good centers make an effort to keep the teacher-child ratio as low as possible. Also, having a number of teachers at these centers means they can support each other when needed.
Quality daycare centers keep the number of children in each group low, too. "It's easier to give one-on-one attention and be responsive when there are fewer kids in a room," says Stephanie Glowacki, director of accreditation programs at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a benchmark of quality.
The organization recommends:
  • One caregiver for every three babies if there are six infants in a group, and one for every four if there are eight babies in a group. NAEYC says eight babies should be the maximum number in any group.
  • One caregiver for three children in a group of six, a 1:4 ratio for eight children, 1:5 for ten, and 1:6 for 12. Groups should have no more than 12 kids.
daycare center doesn't have to follow these ratios unless it wants to receive NAEYC accreditation. But centers do have to at least meet state guidelines, which vary. Even so, you can use these ratios as a guide when you're evaluating centers; the closer they are to NAEYC standards, the better.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Formula-feeding away from home

Bottle-feeding is very convenient — until you're away from your own kitchen. Then scooping, mixing, and pouring may start to seem pretty complicated, especially if your baby is fussing.

What helps:

  • Canned, ready-to-feed formula. Canned, ready-to-feed formula is the easiest solution — and the most expensive one. It costs considerably more than powdered or concentrated liquid formula, so many people save it for emergencies. Consider buying a brand sold in cans that are free of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA).
  • Powdered formula dispenser. Use a divided plastic container to carry premeasured amounts of formula. Then simply pour the powder into a bottle, add water, and serve.
  • Individual packets of powdered formula. While a bit more expensive than cans of powder or liquid concentrate, these premeasured packets are very handy, especially if you're traveling by plane and don't want to lug a can of formula in your diaper bag.
  • Knowing how to safely carry formula with you. If you choose the more economical route of mixing your own formula, be sure to safely prepare and store it: A prepared bottle keeps at room temperature without spoiling for about one hour. If you won't use it within an hour, keep it in an insulated cooler with ice packs until you're ready to serve. To be safe, many experts recommend boiling the water you use for formula until your baby is around 4 to 6 months old, when his immune system starts to provide more protection against infection — so you may need to bring water with you. Throw away any formula that's still in the bottle one hour after your baby started feeding. Once your child's mouth has touched the bottle, the contents can become contaminated with bacteria.
  • A bottle cooler/warmer. With a portable cooler/warmer, you can keep a bottle cool and then warm it up when you need it. Some run on batteries. Others have car battery adapters (and can also be used at home).
  • Hot and cool gel packs. Gel packs that can be frozen solid or heated in the microwave help keep your baby's bottles cold until ready to serve and can also be used to heat the bottle for serving.
Tip: If your baby prefers formula warm, take a thermos of warm water with you. Just heat the water to the desired temperature at home, pour it into a thermos, and scoop the right amount of formula into individual bottles. Mix the bottles when you're ready to feed.

Introducing solid food

When should I introduce solid food to my baby?

You can introduce solids any time between 4 and 6 months if your baby is ready. Until then, breast milk or formula provides all the calories and nourishment your baby needs and can handle. His digestive system simply isn't ready for solids until he nears his half-birthday. 
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for at least six months – though parents will attest that some babies are eager and ready to eat solids earlier.

How will I know when my baby's ready?
Your baby will give you clear signs when he's ready to move beyond liquid-only nourishment. Cues to look for include:
  • Head control. Your baby needs to be able to keep his head in a steady, upright position.
  • Losing the "extrusion reflex." To keep solid food in his mouth and then swallow it, your baby needs to stop using his tongue to push food out of his mouth.
  • Sitting well when supported. Even if he's not quite ready for a highchair, your baby needs to be able to sit upright to swallow well.
  • Chewing motions. Your baby's mouth and tongue develop in sync with his digestive system. To start solids, he should be able to move food to the back of his mouth and swallow. As he learns to swallow efficiently, you may notice less drooling – though if your baby's teething, you might still see a lot of drool.
  • Significant weight gain. Most babies are ready to eat solids when they've doubled their birth weight (or weigh about 15 pounds) and are at least 4 months old.
  • Growing appetite. He seems hungry – even with eight to ten feedings of breast milk or formula a day.
Curiosity about what you're eating. Your baby may begin eyeing your bowl of rice or reaching for a forkful of fettuccine as it travels from your plate to your mouth.

How should I introduce solid food?

For most infants, you can start with any pureed solid food. While it's traditional to start your baby on solids with a single-grain cereal, there's no medical evidence to show that introducing solid foods in a particular order will benefit your baby. Good foods to start with include pureed sweet potatoes, squash, applesauce, bananas, peaches, and pears.
First, nurse or bottle-feed your baby. Then give him one or two teaspoons of pureed solid food. If you decide to start with cereal, mix it with enough formula or breast milk to make a semi-liquid. Use a soft-tipped plastic spoon when you feed your baby, to avoid injuring his gums. Start with just a small amount of food on the tip of the spoon.
If your baby doesn't seem very interested in eating off the spoon, let him smell and taste the food or wait until he warms up to the idea of eating something solid. Don't add cereal to your baby's bottle or he may not make the connection that food is to be eaten sitting up and from a spoon.
Begin with a once-a-day feeding, whenever it's convenient for you and your baby, but not at a time when your baby seems tired or cranky. Your baby may not eat much in the beginning, but give him time to get used to the experience. Some babies need practice keeping food in their mouths and swallowing.
Once he gets used to his new diet, he'll be ready for a few tablespoons of food a day. If he's eating cereal, gradually thicken the consistency by adding less liquid. As the amount your baby eats increases, add another feeding.

How will I know when my baby's full?
Your baby's appetite will vary from one feeding to the next, so a strict accounting of the amount he's eaten isn't a reliable way to tell when he's had enough. If your baby leans back in his chair, turns his head away from food, starts playing with the spoon, or refuses to open up for the next bite, he has probably had enough. (Sometimes a baby will keep his mouth closed because he hasn't yet finished with the first mouthful, so be sure to give him time to swallow.)
Do I still need to give my baby breast milk or formula?
Yes, your baby will need breast milk or formula until he's a year old. Both provide important vitamins, iron, and protein in an easy-to-digest form. Solid food can't replace all the nutrients that breast milk or formula provides during that first year. See how much breast milk or formula babies need after starting solids.
How should I introduce new food?
Introduce other solids gradually, one at a time, waiting at least three days after each new food. This way you'll get a heads-up if your baby has an allergic reaction to one of them (signs of an allergy may include diarrhea, vomiting, a swollen face, wheezing, or a rash). If there's a family history of allergies, or your baby develops an allergic reaction during this process, start waiting up to a week between new foods. 
Talk to your baby's doctor about which solids to introduce and when. To play it safe, the doctor may recommend that you hold off on feeding your baby more allergenic foods like soy, dairy, eggs, wheat, fish, and nuts.
Even though it's a good idea to get your baby accustomed to eating a wide variety of foods, it'll take time for him to get used to each new taste and texture. Each baby will have unique food preferences, but the transition should go something like this:
1. Pureed or semi-liquid food
2. Strained or mashed food
3. Small pieces of finger foods
If your baby is transitioning from cereal, offer a few tablespoons of vegetables or fruit in the same meal as a cereal feeding. All food should be very mushy – at this stage your baby will press the food against the top of his mouth and then swallow.
If you're feeding your baby from ready-to-eat jars of baby food, scoop some into a little dish and feed him from that. If you dip his feeding spoon into the jar, you won't be able to save the leftovers because you'll have introduced bacteria from his mouth into the jar. Also, throw away any baby food jars within a day or two of opening them.
Some parents may tell you to start with vegetables instead of fruits so your infant won't develop a taste for sweets. But babies are born with a preference for sweets, so you don't have to worry about introducing food in any particular order. Also, don't leave any food off his menu simply because you don't like it. And stay away from foods that might cause him to choke.
If your baby turns away from a particular food, don't push. Try again in a week or so. He may never like sweet potatoes, or he may change his mind several times and end up loving them.
Don't be surprised if your baby's stools change color and odor when you add solids to his diet. If your baby has been exclusively breastfed up to this point, you'll probably notice a strong odor to his formerly sweet-smelling stools as soon as he starts eating even tiny amounts of solids. 

This is normal. If his stools seem too firm (rice cereal, bananas, and applesauce can contribute to constipation), switch to other fruits and vegetables and oatmeal or barley cereal.
At about this time, you can also introduce your baby to water, which may help keep constipation at bay (although your baby will get all the hydration he needs from breast milk or formula). You can offer 2 to 4 ounces of water per day in a sippy cup.
How many times a day should my baby be eating solid food?
At first he'll eat solid food just once a day. By around 6 to 7 months, two meals a day is the norm. By around 8 months he should be eating solid food three times a day. A typical day's diet at 8 months might include a combination of:
  • Breast milk or iron-fortified formula
  • Iron-fortified cereal
  • Yellow, orange, and green vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Small amounts of protein such as poultry, lentils, tofu, and meat

There are certain foods that you shouldn't give your baby yet. Honey, for example, can cause botulism in babies under a year old. For more details, see "Foods That Can Be Unsafe for Your Baby."

Do I need any special equipment?

It's helpful to have a highchair, plastic spoons to protect your baby's sensitive gums, bibs, and plastic dishes and bowls. A splat mat on the floor can help keep messes to a minimum. You may also want to introduce your baby to a sippy cup soon after you start solids.
If you're making your own baby food, you'll need a tool to puree the food, like a blender, food processor, or baby food grinder. You'll also want to have storage containers for refrigerating and freezing extra portions. (Some parents use ice-cube trays – or similar devices made just for baby food – to store and freeze individual portions.)
Where should I feed my baby?
You'll want a sturdy, stable, comfy place for him to sit, at a convenient height for you. To start out, that might be a bouncy seat or even a car seat. (Just make sure that he's upright enough to swallow well.) Once he can sit up by himself, though, a highchair at the table is your best bet. Your baby will be able to participate in family meals, and you'll be able to eat your own meal and feed him at the same time. It'll also be easier to clean up after he chows down.
How can I help my child develop healthy eating habits?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to bathe your baby

Be sure to read our article on safe bathing before you get started. The most important safety tip is never to leave your baby alone in the bath – not even for a minute.

How often should I bathe my baby?
Although some parents bathe their babies every day, until yours is crawling around and getting into messes, a bath isn't really necessary more than a few times a week. Just wash his face frequently, clean anywhere there are skin folds, and thoroughly clean his genital area after each diaper change.
When you do bathe him, you may find it a little scary to handle your wiggly little one when he's all soapy and slippery, so keep a good grip.
Where should I bathe my baby?
It makes sense to use the kitchen sink or a small plastic baby tub. A standard bathtub requires you to kneel or lean awkwardly over your baby and gives you less control over his movements.
What's the best way to give my baby a bath?
Here's how to do it and what you'll need to make baby-bathing easy. With any luck, bath time will become one of the most enjoyable parts of your days together:
1. Gather all necessary bath supplies, and lay out a towel, a clean diaper, and clothes. Make sure the room is comfortably warm so your baby doesn't get chilled.
2. Fill the tub with about 3 inches of water that feelswarm but not hot, to the inside of your wrist – about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) or a few degrees warmer.
3. Bring your baby to the bath area and undress her completely. 
4. Gradually slip your baby into the tub feet first, using one hand to support her neck and head. Pour cupfuls of bath water over her regularly during the bath so she doesn't get too cold.
5. Use mild soap sparingly (too much dries out your baby's skin). Wash her with your hand or a washcloth from top to bottom, front and back. Start by washing her scalp with a wet, soapy cloth. Rinse the soap from the cloth and use it to gently clean her eyes and face. If dried mucus has collected in the corner of your baby's nostrils or eyes, dab it several times with a small section of a moistened washcloth to soften it before you wipe it out. As for your baby's genitals, a routine washing is all that's needed.
6. Rinse your baby thoroughly with cupfuls of clean water, and wipe her with a clean washcloth.

7. Wrap your baby in a hooded towel and pat her dry. If her skin is dry, or if she has a bit ofdiaper rash, you may want to apply a mild lotion after her bath.