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What’s In a Hug?

Hugs are pretty powerful … let’s take a look.

Hugs are Good

Hugs are Good

Definition

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a hug is “to put your arms around someone especially as a way of showing love or friendship.”

Hopefully you have experienced a hug as defined above, and hopefully you’re fortunate enough to get hugged a lot. And if not, perhaps after reading this you may want to exchange hugs more frequently, every opportunity you get.

Benefits of a Hug

For some insight into the benefits of a hug you can turn to that familiar Kaiser Permanente voice, currently on the radio, talking about hugs as part of their continuing efforts to support you in your quest for health. They say that a hug can lower blood pressure, improve memory, and reduce stress. That’s amazing! And besides that, they say that a hug makes you feel good, and is proven to be good for your overall health. There’s a lot happening when you engage in this simple gesture of wrapping your arms around someone, beyond showing love or friendship.

For Your Baby

So, if a  hug is good for you, you can see that a hug is definitely good for your baby too. Perhaps there is no high blood pressure to lower, but hugging your upset or crying baby will definitely reduce some of the stress of the situation, probably for both of you. And sometimes you might, for no reason at all except that you are so filled with love, just give your baby a hug. A gentle little squeeze with your arms that brings your baby even closer and gives your baby an infusion of your love. Who knows? Perhaps hugging does improve your baby’s memory too!

Hugs Are Powerful

Hugs have the power to improve your overall health and make you feel good, I believe, because they offer an infusion of loving energy combined with human touch. Your baby, a little version of you, is capable of receiving this loving energy too, and can experience the benefits of a hug for improved health and happiness.

Hugs, straight from the heart, can only do you … and your baby … good. You’ll see!

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN, BSN

Choices that Shape Your Baby’s Future

Research shows how baby care choices shape your baby’s future.

How Will You Choose for Me?

How Will You Choose for Me?

Abundant Research

Perhaps you remember the (linked) post “Intentional Baby Care” that talked about human touch, love, and attention, and the positive, long-term effects of these baby care choices. Here are some other choices you may want to make for your newborn as you think about the person you want your baby to become. In 2013 we have technological advances that make information readily available at the touch of your finger, and we have an abundance of research that only time can make possible. Here is a small sample of what we now know.

“The Primacy of Human Touch”

http://www.benbenjamin.net/pdfs/Issue2.pdf

Ben E. Benjamin, PhD begins by talking about unwanted babies of a hundred years ago in orphanages who died, not from lack of food or lack of clean surroundings, but from lack of touch. When given touch in an outside environment, the babies from these institutions thrived. He goes on to mention that today’s cuddlers (volunteers who hold babies in the hospital) not only help those babies improve physiologically so that they grow and heal faster, but the cuddlers themselves experience “lower anxiety levels, fewer symptoms of depression, and improved self-esteem.” He asks the important question worth exploring:  “And what is the connection between physical human contact and virtually every aspect of health and well being?” And after some discussion he makes this observation about newborn babies: “But it does make sense that during this most vulnerable time of our lives we would form patterns and expectations about how the world works, specifically, about how safe and valued we are in the world, through our skin.” Human touch is a powerful force, easy to give to your newborn, that will help shape the person your baby will become.

“Crying Babies: Answering the Call of Infant Cries”

http://www.childcarequarterly.com/fall10_story2a.html

Melodi Faris cites in her article the research of many investigators as she gives us ample documentation to support responding immediately to the call of a baby crying. “Ideally, a caregiver would evaluate the infant’s cries, choose a method of care to ease the infant’s distress, and respond quickly. This process, if consistent, should instill security and trust in the infant.” Security and trust provide the foundation for development of the long-term benefits of “a more balanced self-concept, better language skills, better problem-solving skills, greater conscience development, and more mature and positive interactions,” skills that may influence greater success in life. Many more research findings are presented that will help you explore this choice for your own baby care.

“Books and Babies and Brains! Oh My!”

https://multcolib.org/parents/early-literacy/brain-development

We learn from the “Brain Development” section of the Multnomah County Library that your baby’s brain development is influenced by “simple acts – singing silly songs, talking about colors and textures…., holding and reading….daily” that cause connections in the brain to form. The article goes on to say that “Babies and young children learn best through warm, responsive caregiving. Clear evidence has emerged that suggests that activity, experience, attachment, and stimulation determine the structure of the brain.” This research documents that “warm, responsive caregiving is essential to healthy brain development.”

“Rocking Chair Therapy Research”

http://www.rockingchairtherapy.org/research.html

Champ Land’s article cites many sources of research demonstrating the positive benefits of rocking, not just for babies, but for people of all ages. Rocking is proven to be good for the mind, body, and spirit. Studies in the elderly population have demonstrated that rocking benefits include a decreased need for medication, improved balance, and more happiness for patients and their families. They also noted in these studies that it’s possible to “rock away anxiety and depression.” Other studies found that post-operative and C-section patients recover more quickly with rocking. Perhaps if you have a Cesarean delivery you would also like to know that “rocking mothers had less gas pain, walked faster, and left the hospital one day sooner than non-rocking mothers.”

It’s commonly known that “rocking soothes fussy babies and relaxes mothers.” But did you also know that rocking “stimulates the balance mechanism of the inner ear. It assists an infant’s biological development and ability to be alert and attentive.” Rocking is also proven to enhance the bonding process for mother and baby. And, it has been discovered that, beginning the 10th week of pregnancy, “rocking promotes the development of the fetal nervous system.” It seems that no matter the age or condition, rocking is truly a simple, relaxing, and fun way to enhance the human body.

Your Baby’s Future

Perhaps you have learned, or been reminded of, some things that may influence your baby care choices. You do have the power, as a parent to this little person who came to live with you, to influence your newborn’s overall healthy development as you make choices that will shape your baby’s future.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN

A Valuable Tip for the Early Days of Breastfeeding

Here is a tip that may help you in the early days of breastfeeding.

Yawning Baby

Yawning Baby

Story

As you may remember from one of the stories in the book my son happened to be born in a hospital without rooming in and without any offer of breastfeeding support. When the nurses would bring my baby to me for feeding, they’d leave him in the crib and disappear very quickly. As a first-time mother, prior to my nursing career, I would look at the empty doorway, and look at my baby, and wonder what I was supposed to do. Without any offer to help me I concluded that I should, as a mother now, know how to breastfeed.

Inexperienced

I was so excited to hold my baby and so in awe of him, this tiny person who came to live with me, that I would end up just visiting with him as I got lost in the wonder of it all. He slept (so it seemed to me) on my chest as I explored fingers and toes and got to know him. My inexperienced eye judged him as sleepy rather than hungry. I never managed to feed him while in the hospital even though milk ran down both sides of my body in response to holding him. When the nurse would return to check on me I would say “He’s not really hungry” … and they would let me! They’d whisk him away back to the nursery and, thankfully, feed him a bottle of formula. I was discharged 24 hours after birth, and it never occurred to me that breastfeeding might have some challenges.

From Home to ED

After breastfeeding my baby by connecting baby and breast as best I knew how, my baby developed projectile vomiting. I took him to the Emergency Department to rule out stomach problems. After examining him and viewing the X-ray the doctor was surprised to report that my baby was “90% air!” A few questions about feeding revealed that I needed help with breastfeeding. The ED nurse watched what I was doing and then gave me this valuable tip that I want to share with you.

Valuable Tip

She realized that with my lack of experience I was not waiting for my baby to open his mouth wide enough before trying to latch him for feeding. Consequently he had a poor latch and took in a lot of air with feeding. The nurse suggested I take a good look at how wide his mouth opened when he was crying. I was so surprised at the shape of his mouth! She told me to wait until I saw his mouth open about that wide before trying to connect him for feeding. She guided me to the perfect latch and let me feed him for awhile before leaving. Breastfeeding suddenly became very easy and very rewarding … for both of us. I was able to breastfeed for 14 months, and even today I am so grateful for the help.

Success

Perhaps this little tip will help you when you are first learning about breastfeeding your newborn. A good latch involves a wide-open mouth, and your baby will define “wide open” during crying or yawning. Now we know!

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN

When Your Baby Needs a Break

Sometimes even your newborn may need to take a break.

So Far, So Good

So Far, So Good

Activity

Like adults, babies sometimes get overly tired and need a change from the current engaging activity. Perhaps there are a lot of people visiting, or perhaps there is more noise than usual in your new location outside your home, or perhaps brothers and sisters want to keep playing with their new baby but your newborn has already tired of the interactions. These are just some of the times your baby may need a break, but it gives you an idea of things to consider.

Baby Cues

We have addressed some of your baby’s cues in this linked post “Your Baby’s Language,” but I believe this set of baby cues are worth mentioning too because they may be very subtle and easily missed. There are a few ways your newborn will let you know it’s time for a break.

The more subtle cues include turning away from the interaction and breaking eye contact. Looking away may be accompanied by frowning or by having a glazed look. Other need-a-break cues take the form of a raised hand with splayed fingers and palms out … almost like holding up a stop sign, falling asleep, or arching back away from you. If any of these baby cues are missed your newborn may resort to crying to get your attention to let you know something needs to be changed.

You see how these cues may be easily misinterpreted as part of a wide range of behavior. But now that you are aware you might consider the possibility that your baby has grown tired and wants to have a change when you see these cues.

What to Do

When you recognize these baby cues you may honor your baby’s needs by changing the situation. Using the examples above, if there are lots of people visiting, perhaps letting them know your newborn will be disappearing for a nap may give your baby the calm environment needed at that time. If it is unusually noisy where you are, perhaps finding a more quiet place to hang out if possible would be a good change. And if siblings are enthusiastically playing with your newborn, perhaps giving them a new activity that doesn’t include your baby would be a welcome change for awhile. These are simple suggestions that perhaps you would want for yourself if you were overly tired and unable to enjoy the current activities anymore.

In the Beginning

When your newborn is learning to feed, to hold up his or her head, to coordinate movement of arms and legs, and to interact with the environment and with the people in his or her life, it is all work. Inside the womb things like feeding and moving come relatively easy and without effort in a warm, relatively quiet, and comfortable environment. All of that changes very abruptly when your baby is born. So, until muscles develop more, and experiences become more commonplace, your newborn may tire easily.

Knowing

Now that you are aware of these subtle cues your baby may give you when rest, quiet, or a change of activity or environment are needed, you can help your baby more easily. Responding to your baby’s needs is proven to help your newborn develop trust and an optimistic outlook, qualities that will help give your baby the best start in life. Truly life is good when someone cares.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN

New Version of Newborn Baby Manual

If you have a copy of this ebook you will be interested to know that an updated version is now available for your added reading and viewing enjoyment.

New Book Cover Art for WP jpeg300px

What’s New

Font change in the videos makes it easier to read captions while keeping your focus on the demonstrations.

List of Baby Care Videos is hyperlinked to give you easy access to any video any time.

“Praise for Newborn Baby Manual” page shares insight into what this book offers from the readers point of view.

Simplified cover art captures the unique feature of embedded videos. All of the “Things You Should Know” are still the same.

Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy the new version of your book.  I think you will like the video changes!

D. Fravert, RN

Pacifiers are Good

Pacifiers are good when used to help your baby.

Pacifiers are Good

Pacifiers are Good

Learning  to Feed

When your baby is in your womb, nutrition is easily provided without requiring your baby to do any work. From the moment your baby is born, everything changes. Outside the womb, your baby suddenly needs to work to get food. This work consists primarily of sucking, swallowing, and breathing. Although it seems to happen spontaneously, your baby needs to learn to coordinate these new feeding activities. Coordinated sucking, swallowing, and breathing prevents choking, makes the food easier to get, and helps your baby conserve energy needed to complete the work of feeding. Most babies learn this quickly and easily.

When Feeding Is Challenging

For some babies feeding can be a little tricky. If your newborn finds feeding to be challenging, using a pacifier as a learning tool is a good way to help. Sucking on a pacifier will help teach your baby to coordinate sucking with breathing, to coordinate swallowing without having to manage a large volume of fluid, and to learn proper tongue placement to help accomplish these important tasks for feeding.

More Sucking

The pacifier is also good for providing sucking time outside of feeding time. It is possible that your baby may want more sucking without necessarily wanting more food. Hunger may be satisfied earlier than sucking, and a pacifier is the perfect tool designed for your baby’s sucking needs. Once satisfied the pacifier usually falls out of your baby’s mouth as your relaxed newborn gives in to sleep.

For Comfort

The most familiar use of a pacifier is to provide comfort to your baby. Most babies are pacified by sucking, ergo the name “pacifier.” Sometimes sucking has the power to calm your fussy baby and to provide the perfect comfort your baby is seeking.

Rejecting the Pacifier

But sometimes your fussy baby may need more than just a pacifier to provide comfort. If your crying baby quickly rejects the pacifier, it’s beneficial for both of you if you respect that rejection and offer some other measures of comfort. Perhaps food, and/or a diaper change, are needed to soothe your baby, and the pacifier of course won’t provide the comfort your baby is seeking. Your baby will let you know.

It’s Your Choice

As with all preferential decisions regarding your new baby, it’s best to gather lots of information and make an informed decision. You’ll be happier with your choice.

As part of information gathering, observe the babies in your world who use pacifiers, as well as the baby in the photo “Pacifiers Are Good.” Make true observations to help you make an informed decision. It’s your choice, for your baby.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN

Tummy Time

Tummy time is the perfect complement to back to sleep.

Tummy Time is Important

Tummy Time is Important

If you practice “back to sleep” for your baby’s safety, you’ll want to practice “tummy time” for your baby’s overall health and development.

Back to Sleep

Positioning your baby on his or her back is the current recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to help reduce the chance of your baby having SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. This simple practice has reduced the incidence of SIDS significantly.

But when your baby is lying down on the back it is not possible for your baby to lift the head. In fact this position that provides total support does not allow movement that challenges the neck and upper back muscles. These are the muscles that will help with head control and body mechanics.

Tummy Time

The AAP also recommends tummy time for your baby. The baby in the picture is a few weeks older than your newborn and is demonstrating tummy time very well. Notice the lifted head, the arm and hand positions, and the leg position.

The tummy position places your baby’s arms and legs next to a firm surface (such as a pallet on the floor), which provides resistance during natural movement. Your baby may be a flurry of activity, pushing, pulling, and lifting up with arms, legs, and head. All of these resistance activities will strengthen your baby’s muscles.

Muscle Development

Placing your baby on the tummy for short periods of time when awake helps your baby to develop muscles necessary for both fine and gross motor skills. Development of these muscles will assist your baby with crawling, rolling over, and sitting up. Lifting the head will strengthen the neck and upper back muscles and will assist with head control. Head control plays an active role in helping your baby with eating, sleeping, and general body mechanics.

Have Fun!

Always stay with your baby, and play with your baby, during tummy time. Whether your baby is on a pallet on the floor, across your lap, or leaning forward into your hand, you can help your baby practice tummy time skills. Interacting with your baby makes it fun for both of you.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN