Posts tagged “Newborn Baby Manual

A World of Beautiful People

I believe the future holds a world of beautiful people.

BABIES OF MIXED RACES COLLAGE Keynote jpeg72px

Beauty

Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And beauty can mean different things to different people. But for this particular observation about newborn babies let’s go with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition: “the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind.”

Observation

As a baby nurse specializing in newborn care I have seen literally thousands of newborn babies. All of them are beautiful in their own way. But, over the years I have made the observation that the newborns of mixed-race parents definitely stand apart in their “qualities … that give pleasure to the senses.” Other baby nurses have shared this same observation, that these babies have something beautiful about them that gets your attention.

The Future

I believe that when we become a world of people without judgement about our differences, that we will become a world full of beautiful people. I believe we will no longer have distinct differences that today keep some of us apart, but rather we will be universally open to the beauty that surrounds us with everyone we meet.

What If

And what if that beauty was not only skin deep. What if the beauty we see on the outside that gives pleasure to our senses, actually goes much deeper and gives pleasure to our mind too. What if the world of the future is full of beautiful people, both inside and out. Imagine the possibilities!

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Golden Hour Benefits

The Golden Hour offers benefits for both of you.

Skin to Skin in the Golden Hour

Skin to Skin in the Golden Hour

What Is the Golden Hour?

As you may remember from the last post, the term Golden Hour is used to refer to the time immediately after your baby is born when being in close contact with you is beneficial for both of you. Holding your baby skin to skin is one of the most important parts of this practice that allows a myriad of benefits to unfold.

Special Opportunity

Because your newborn has a sustained period of wakefulness in a quiet-alert state, this hour or so after birth presents the perfect opportunity for bonding, imprinting on each other, and learning about each other to occur. Although other shorter periods of wakefulness will present themselves later, the high levels of oxytocin present right after birth play an important role in establishing, and maintaining, this special bond between you and your baby. Oxytocin acts to lower stress levels for both of you, setting the perfect stage for short and long-term benefits to unfold. Oxytocin generates changes in brain chemistry that increase your desire for nurturing, and creates the desire for further contact for both you and your baby. Dads who have significant contact with their newborns also experience a rise in oxytocin that creates this desire for further contact too. All of this bonding activity is beneficial for your new family, and provides long-term benefits for your baby’s overall health and development.

Benefits

Skin to skin contact makes it easier for your newborn to transition from the womb to the outside world. Research has shown that your baby will be able to regulate heart rate and rhythm more easily, will breathe more regularly and easily, and will be able to maintain a warm body temperature more easily when held skin to skin. These three things are the important measurements of your newborn’s stability and vitality. Scientists first made these observations about the power of skin-to-skin contact in the early 1980s when the practice of Kangaroo Care (mothers holding their premature babies skin to skin) in Bogotá, Colombia more than doubled the survival rate for these pre-term babies. We now know skin-to-skin holding is beneficial for all newborn babies.

Skin to skin contact also encourages successful breastfeeding, but especially during this first hour after birth. Your body chemistry during this Golden Hour promotes more successful letdown and latching, allowing breastfeeding to occur more easily. The same hormones that help you push your baby out also help to release the flow of milk for your baby (letdown). The readily available milk makes feeding more interesting for your newborn. The smell of the milk, the instant gratification, and the calm-alert state work together to help your newborn “figure out” a proper latch for sustained and successful feeding. And for your benefit mom, the combination of skin contact and breastfeeding releases hormones which cause the uterus to contract and to stop bleeding, both of which are desirable outcomes after delivery.

Overall

The Golden Hour with your newborn held skin to skin offers many wonderful benefits. My hope for you is that you both get to have the intimate and amazing experience of sharing this first hour of life together.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


The Golden Hour

The Golden Hour and Your Newborn

Dad Helped Too

Dad Helped Too

What Is the Golden Hour?

Golden Hour is a term used in photography, labor and delivery wards, and in war … and it refers to that small window of opportunity when the action taken, or not taken, directly affects the outcome of an event. Acting quickly with practiced and proven expertise, defined by the circumstances of photography, birth before 32 weeks gestation, or a traumatic injury, significantly increases the probability of a positive outcome. Leaving this small window of opportunity, usually about an hour, to fall by the wayside leads to a less than optimal outcome.

For Your Baby Too

Today, as research documents its benefits, it is becoming the norm rather than the exception to capture the Golden Hour following uncomplicated deliveries of healthy newborns. More and more the expectation is that the first hour of your baby’s life will be spent in close contact with you, one of the most important practices of this golden hour concept, so that you and your newborn can enjoy these benefits too. If needed, medical interventions to save or improve your newborn’s life of course are always performed first, and your baby returned to you as quickly as possible.

Communication

If you would like to have this Golden Hour with your newborn you can start the communication process by talking with your OB/GYN. When you check in to the hospital you can talk with the medical personnel who will be taking care of you. Expressing your wishes verbally, using only positive words to describe what you imagine to be the best possible way for this magical hour to unfold, will bring you more success than writing a list of everything you “don’t want” to happen in a Birth Plan. This suggestion has everything to do with Mother Nature, and nothing to do with hospital personnel. Acknowledging and trusting medical expertise, and talking positively about your desire to have this Golden Hour with your baby, will work wonders to help you realize this dream.

Benefits

A lot happens in the first hour of life as your newborn engages in a play of interactions with the new environment. After the initial crying that brings air into the formerly fluid-filled lungs, your baby typically will transition into a calm alert state, a state of being that is proven to be the perfect state for learning to occur. Being skin to skin with you during this quite alert time adds to the benefits your baby receives. The next post will go more deeply into these benefits, but just know that taking advantage of this Golden Hour, if possible, will provide positive, short and long term, benefits for both of you.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


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


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


Simple Tool to Guide Your Baby Care Choices

A Tool to Guide You

What would I want if I were you?

What would I want if I were you?

I’d like to offer a tool to help you when you are trying to choose the best care for your baby. There are so many choices to make throughout your day. The benefit of this particular tool is that it will help you immensely with every choice you need to make. It’s “simple” because you simply have to ask yourself one question.

Baby Version of the Golden Rule …

It’s the same question every time:

“What would I want if I were you?”

Only the Best

When choosing for your baby, and that’s what baby care is, if you stop and ask yourself this question you automatically consider the care and response you would want. Since it’s natural to want only the best for yourself, no matter the situation, you will automatically be choosing the best for your baby too.

Try It

So, for example, the next time your baby is crying, stop and ask yourself “What would I want if I were you?” You will automatically begin to make a mental list of options based on the circumstances at that moment. Having this awareness to mentally stop and ask will help guide your response and your choice for the baby care you provide.

Even When You Know

This tool not only helps you figure out what your baby wants and needs, but it also influences how you choose to provide your baby care. Even when you know, for instance, that the care your baby needs at that moment is a diaper change, being in this Baby-Golden-Rule frame of mind will help you provide the best possible care. Because you would want nothing less for yourself, it may come automatically to you to provide your baby care with an abundance of love, human touch, and attention.

Now That You’ve Thought About It

Because your baby is totally dependent on you, your days and nights will be filled with many choices you need to make on behalf of your baby. “What would I want if I were you?” is a tool that is yours … forever. It’s the happy-baby choice. You’ll see!

For you and  yours,

D. Fravert, RN


SF Bay Area Birth and Baby Fair

The SF Birth & Baby Fair is coming!

SF Birth & Baby Fair 2013

If you are in the SF Bay Area you might want to check out the Baby Fair! Next weekend, June 22nd, there will be a variety of exhibitors with wonderful things for your baby. Whether your baby is about to be born, recently born, or a few years old, there is sure to be something worthwhile and interesting for you to explore.

Here are some of the things you can expect for this year!

Birth & Baby Fair2 2013

If you do go to the Fair, please stop by to say hello. I will have a booth with a display of my ebook Newborn Baby Manual, and a continuous showing of all of the videos that you will find in the book. I will be happy to answer any questions for you about your newborn. And if you would like to learn about swaddling, I will show you my baby-nurse inside tips for securing a perfect swaddle for your newborn. Perhaps you would like to practice before your baby is born so you can be ready on your first day together.

My friend will have a display of her App, “Out In My Stroller” that is sure to entertain the little ones in your family. She will show you how the flowers jump, the kites fly, and the birds sing, as you make your way across the scenes.

Hope to see you there!

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Can We Influence Breastfeeding With a Positive Expectation?

The role our thoughts and expectations play in breastfeeding.

A Positive Breastfeeding Experience

Happy Newborn Happy Mom

When you first know you want a baby in your life, you begin to plan for the best experience for both of you. You realize you have many choices to make, and one of those important choices is how to feed your baby. If you choose breastfeeding, I believe there is something you can do to positively influence your experience. Epigenetics, and my own experience, each convince me that it is possible, and therefore worth sharing.

Epigenetics

There is an interesting article I just discovered about epigenetics. The scientist in me is intrigued by the results of the experiment shared in “Genetics, Epigenetics, and the Mind-Body Connection” by Eric Nelson, posted in the PaloAltoPatch 6/6/13. (Click here)

Essentially the experiment demonstrates that taking identical stem cells (growing in a Petri dish), and dividing them into three different Petri dishes with three different environments causes the originally-identical stem cells to grow into three different things (in this case muscle, bone, and fat). The only change was their environment. I find that amazing!

What It Means for Us

The article goes on to say that the human body is just a Petri dish full of cells (about 50 trillion cells) covered by skin. Like the stem cells in the experiment above, our environment has an influence on us. Everything from what we eat to how we think influences the cells in our body. Think of the possibilities!

My Breastfeeding Experience

Because I’ve loved babies all of my life I started making choices about the baby in my future long before I became pregnant. When I discovered the benefits breastfeeding offers babies, I decided at that moment that I would breastfeed my baby.

It was several years before I had my baby, but my conviction to breastfeed held true. The thought never ever crossed my mind that I could not breastfeed.

My positive thoughts and unwavering conviction about breastfeeding gave me a wonderful experience. I sincerely believe your positive thoughts and beliefs can do the same for you too!

The Future

And now, inspired by the thought that I am a walking Petri dish, I am excited to think about the possibilities!

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Your Newborn’s Skin

Your newborn’s skin is interesting.

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

Amniotic Fluid

When your baby is in the womb, the skin is in constant contact with amniotic fluid which is mostly composed of water. Mother Nature provides this fluid layer to act as a cushion to protect your growing baby from injury, to help develop your baby’s lungs, and to provide the space and means for your growing baby to move easily. Being able to move is important because movement helps to promote your baby’s muscle and bone development.

Vernix

Mother Nature also provides a protection for your baby’s skin while living in this fluid environment. That protection is a cheesy-like substance known as vernix. You will see various amounts of vernix on your newborn’s skin, from a little to a lot, depending on when your baby is born.

Peeling Skin

As your baby matures over the first few days to weeks you may notice the skin peeling on your baby’s lips, hands, and feet. If your baby is born after your due date, your baby may have peeling skin at birth. The skin after peeling will be soft and smooth. This process is normal as part of the transition from the fluid environment of the womb to the air environment outside the womb. No lotions or creams should be used on your baby during this time as they will interfere with this natural shedding of the top layer of skin. Soon all of the peeling skin will be gone and your newborn’s skin will be soft and smooth.

Lanugo

If your baby is born early you may see a fine downy layer of hair on the ears, the temples, the forehead, and the back. This abundance of hair is known as lanugo. Lanugo begins to fall out while your baby is still in the womb, and it will continue to disappear on its own after your baby is born.

Milia

It is very common for your newborn’s skin to develop little white spots that are known as milia. These tiny spots are usually found on the nose and face. Milia are formed by dead skin cells that do not slough off (due to a still developing oil gland system) and the cells get trapped in tiny pockets in the skin. These tiny white spots are harmless and will go away on their own within a few weeks.

Baby Acne

Baby acne is another possibility for your newborn’s skin experience. Small pink to red spots may appear in patches or alone, usually on your baby’s cheeks, chin, and forehead. This rash is thought to be caused by the hormones your baby is exposed to in the last trimester of your pregnancy. Baby acne may last for a few months. The best treatment is none at all. Just continue your usual face washing routine, using warm water only, and your baby’s skin should clear up on its own.

Picture Perfect

So you see, your newborn’s skin may be very different than picture perfect. All of these skin conditions are normal, and come and go on their own.

With or without vernix, peeling skin, lanugo, milia, or baby acne, your newborn’s skin is perfect. With peace of mind you can embrace all of these events as a natural part of the adventure of being a newborn.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Tips About Your Newborn’s Head

The shape of your newborn’s head may surprise you!

newborn baby in hospital

A Few Hours Old

At Birth

When your baby is first born you may notice the shape of your newborn’s head is not what you expected. In all of the pictures you see, newborn babies have perfectly rounded heads that imitate the natural shape of humans. But when they hand you your newborn for the first time, your baby’s head may have a noticeable ridge along the top of the head, or the head may be markedly oval and not rounded at all. No worries. These unusual appearances are temporary, and not uncommon.

By Design

By perfect design, your baby is born with the bones of the skull separated into primarily five plates that are held together by fibrous membranes. This design accommodates both you and your baby during delivery to allow for safe passage through the birth canal. These separated plates also accommodate the rapid growth of your baby’s brain during the first year of life.

The First Week

Because of these shifting plates, your baby’s head may also assume a variety of unusual shapes during the first week of life. These changing head shapes are caused by the position of your baby’s head at rest, and usually create a noticeably flat area on the side in contact with the sleeping surface. To help return your newborn’s head to a more natural shape, you can gently rotate your sleeping baby’s head so that the pressure of the mattress, or your shoulder, is on the opposite side. Changing the position of the head as needed will help it become more naturally rounded over time. Your back-to-sleep baby may just turn the head back to midline after your attempt to rotate the head to one side or the other, but it’s worth the try.

Babywearing Helps

Holding your baby or having your newborn in a soft cloth carrier will help to keep your baby’s head more rounded too. Because your baby’s head will not be pushing against a plastic carrier, or against a firm mattress for sleep on some occasions, wearing your baby will help to maintain a nicely rounded head.

The Future

Just for fun, notice the adults you encounter in life and the shapes of their heads. It will be easy to appreciate a nicely shaped head for your baby. And, your grown-up baby will be very grateful for a nicely shaped head that can sport any hairstyle, even the currently popular shaved look for men or the partially shaved styles for young women.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Talking to Your Newborn Increases IQ!

Talk to your newborn and raise your baby’s IQ

Talking to Your Newborn

Your Voice and Your Attention Are Powerful

Perhaps it comes naturally for you to talk to your newborn baby about most anything that crosses your mind. Or, perhaps you have never really thought about talking to a person who cannot yet hold a conversation with you. You might be surprised to learn how important it is to simply talk to your baby … a lot!

Reading versus Talking

You are already aware that reading to your baby helps your baby differentiate the sounds of words and the intonation of your language, making it easier for your baby to imitate language when needed. But, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), not only is reading to your baby highly beneficial, but the less formal times of sharing everyday “conversations” with your baby are very important too. You can enhance your baby’s brain development and have a smarter baby just by talking to your baby. That’s amazing. Learn more about the AAP’s findings in their article

“The Secret to a Smarter Baby”

There’s More

Recently a friend shared another interesting article that documents the research supporting the importance of talking to your newborn. Apparently the continuous monologue that you can have with your baby … What shall we wear today? Do you like the yellow one or the red one? Ok, the red one it is! … is extremely important and has the power to increase your baby’s IQ. According to Tina Rosenberg in this new article

“The Power of Talking to Your Baby”

(based on the research of Hart and Risley, University of Kansas, 1995) “the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental.” Simple, direct, and remarkable.

More is More

So in this new article, it is emphasized that the more words your baby hears, the greater the increase in your baby’s IQ. This seems like such a simple thing to do … yet it has such a profound impact. Now you (and everyone you share this information with) can intentionally help your baby have a more positive outcome in life. Being smart has its advantages … for a lifetime.

Your Attention

The last line of Rosenberg’s comment is valuable because hearing your words, not those of any TV program, are the language and sounds that make a difference. I believe this significant difference is influenced by the attention that goes along with the words you share with your baby. Paying attention to your newborn while sharing the events of the day in a streamed monologue is a very easy way to give your baby the best start in life. Your words and attention are very powerful.

Give your newborn a brighter future by talking to your baby as often as you can.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Happy Mother’s Day!

Here’s a special Mother’s Day message for you.

If you have a newborn in your life … past, present, or future … this is for you.

I hope you enjoy it.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN

Music “Tomorrow’s Child” Kevin MacLeod http://www.incompetech.com. ©D. Fravert, RN.


First Time Holding Your Newborn

Holding your newborn baby is both exciting and scary.

Holding Your Newborn

Holding Your Newborn

The First Time

When you are handed your newborn baby for the first time your heart races as you tentatively reach out to encompass the tiniest person you have ever seen! It is so exciting! Immediately you are cautioning yourself to be very careful, to support the head, and to somehow manage all of those floppy parts in unison to make holding more comfortable for both of you. You are grateful when the nurse swaddles your baby in a blanket. With everything contained you can now relax and enjoy your new baby.

Perhaps This Will Help

There is an easy and delightful trick that will help you learn to hold your newborn with confidence. Try holding your baby without a blanket!

To make this time together more enjoyable for your baby, make sure your hands are warm, and the room is warm too. For your peace of mind, make sure you are seated in the middle of a bed so there’s no chance of dropping your baby.

Start by unwrapping your newborn, placing your baby in a sitting position in your lap, then using both hands to support your baby’s body, neck, and head. As your baby uses arms and legs to try to maintain balance, your gentle support will help your baby gain control. You will learn together during this symphony of checks and balances.

Start Slowly

Although you will find it delightful to discover your newborn this way, try it for just a few minutes at a time because your baby, like you, will be working hard to gain control and coordination. Learning to manage all of those newborn baby parts is work … for both of you

I hope you enjoy these special, tender moments learning about your newborn.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN

Video: If you would like to see how this little trick actually works, and build your confidence before you start, you’ll see how 3 week old Vanessa responds to being held this way in “Holding Your Newborn” in Newborn Baby Manual. I think you will like it.


Ease Your Fears About Having a Newborn

Is it possible to ease your fears about having a newborn?

Newborn Care

Newborn Care

I believe … yes, it is.

Experience Is a Good Teacher

My own experience as a baby nurse allowed me to observe first hand that new parents’ fears were easily quelled and quickly changed to confidence with a newborn care professional by their side. Without fail, demonstrating baby care and sharing tips to make life easier worked miracles for new parents, and for their newborns. With just a little help, happy babies were fed, burped, changed, swaddled, and cuddled with confidence and with ease.

The experience of trying to provide hands-on newborn care for the first few times with a baby professional by their side made all of the difference in the world. Professional support quickly changed fear to confidence and allowed new parents to enjoy having a newborn.

Now You Can Have This Experience Too

Wanting to help ease your fears too by offering this same support to you, and to new parents everywhere, is what prompted the creation of Newborn Baby Manual—Tips & Videos. You can now have a baby nurse by your side 24/7 to provide visual demonstrations of baby care (videos) and share professional tips to make your new life easier.

Repetition

Repetition is the perfect way to learn most anything in life. This guide to newborn care provides that gift of repetition.

You now have the opportunity to learn the important basics of newborn care, even before your baby arrives. Learning tips and techniques in advance can help take the guess work and trial and error out of this new experience ahead of you.

And, having video demonstration at your fingertips can give you the opportunity to reference “Changing Your Baby’s Diaper” for instance, as needed, once you are home alone with your newborn.

Knowing What to Expect

Newborn Baby Manual also provides important information about the first 30 days with your newborn. Learning about your baby’s cues, the perfect design of baby sleep, feeding your baby whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, positively influencing your baby’s body and brain development, and the wonderful benefits your baby care choices can provide, etc. will also help build your confidence about newborn care.

Conversations about these topics happen spontaneously at the bedside when new parents are learning to care for their newborns. Now you can have these same “conversations” before your baby is even born. Having most of your questions answered in advance will help you know what to expect.

Ease Your Fears

Knowing what to expect will ease your fears.

Understanding your newborn will ease your fears.

Practicing newborn care tips and techniques will ease your fears.

The Unknown

There is always the element of the unknown that is part of any new experience … and with it may come a fear of the unknown. But, I believe that the support provided in Newborn Baby Manual will ease your fear of having a newborn, and will allow you to truly enjoy this new experience, starting on Day 1.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Babies are Smart!

Perhaps you have already noticed … your baby is smart!

Newborn Rooting

Rooting: The Hungry Baby Cue

Even your newborn gets this praise. Babies, from Day 1 of life, are smart. They are born with a way of “talking” to us that doesn’t necessarily involve crying. Many of us think of crying as the only way babies have to let us know what they need, but that’s not true.

Body-Language Cues

Actually, your baby is born with a set of body-language cues that let you know, way before the crying starts, what your baby needs. Let’s take a look at hunger. When your baby is hungry you need to know, right? It’s good for ensuring the survival of the human race.

Rooting

So, Mother Nature gave your baby a few cues to let you know. At first, your baby may use the body-language cue known as rooting. Rooting is a combination of sucking on fingers or fists, flailing hands, and turning the head as if looking for something. These body gestures alone are reliable signals to let you know your baby is hungry.

An earlier post “How Do I Know If My Baby Is Hungry?” offers a video demonstration of rooting.

Crying Out

But if you are not able to respond right away to these signals, perhaps you are in the middle of changing your baby’s diaper, your baby will let you know in other ways that food is the number one request at that moment, not a diaper change.

So, to get your attention, and to resend the message more clearly, your baby will add short bursts of crying out … loud, but short, bursts of sound that get your attention … while still signaling with sucking on fists, flailing hands, and head turning.

Fussy-Baby Talk

If the short calls for help aren’t getting the food any faster, your baby will add fussy-baby talk to the mix. This is more like crying, but not full-on crying because your baby is still trying to signal you with the body-language cues too. That’s a lot of work to get your attention!

Full-On Crying

If the diaper change is taking longer than usual, and feeding is delayed, the only tool your baby has left is full-on crying.

It Gets Better

As you learn to recognize the early hunger cues sooner, and as changing a diaper becomes smoother and faster, your baby will be fed before full-on crying is needed. With consistent reliable baby care, your baby will also become more patient with the diaper change when hungry, knowing from experience that the routine is followed by a feeding.

Perhaps you’ve already noticed how smart your baby is, having experienced this scenario many times throughout your day. And, if your baby is yet to be delivered, you now know how smart your newborn is, and can look forward to the adventure of learning together.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Your Baby’s Language

Yes … your baby has a language!

Newborn Attention Looking

Baby Talk

Your baby’s language is composed of coos, cries, and body gestures universal to all babies, no matter where you are in the world. This means that your baby can “talk” to you in a language you can learn and understand.

Coos

When your baby is happy you may hear coos and babble, particularly if you initiate the “conversation” and engage your baby. Your happy, awake, newborn is capable of being engaged and paying attention. You should try it!

Cries

Crying is the sound your baby makes when something is wrong. Since your baby cannot right the wrong alone, your baby is “asking you” for help.  Not only that, but your baby makes different crying sounds in response to the different things that could be wrong. The pain cry, familiar to all of us because it sounds the same no matter the age, sounds different than the hunger cry, or the discomfort cry. You will easily learn to recognize the differences as you pay attention to your baby. The gift of repetition will enhance your learning too!

Body Gestures

Your baby also has a set of body gestures, or cues, that help you understand what your baby wants and needs. These cues usually precede crying. Learning to recognize your baby’s body language cues will help you offer food, comfort, a dry diaper, or soothing care for sleep without the need for your baby to cry. Frequent holding, wearing your baby, staring at your little miracle of life, and paying attention to your newborn’s behavior will help you learn everything you need.

For Example

One body language cue that you will quickly learn to recognize in your newborn is the rooting cue demonstrated by two-week old Vanessa in the earlier post

“How Do I Know If My Newborn Is Hungry?”

 Rooting tells you your baby is hungry … and can happen any time!

Learning your baby’s language is not as difficult as it sounds. Your baby is a good teacher. And, as mentioned above, the gift of repetition is very helpful. It’s so rewarding when you figure it out … and I have no doubt that you will!

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


How to Wake a Sleeping Baby

You might ask, “Why would I want to wake my sleeping baby?”

Talk to Your Sleeping Baby

Talk to Your Sleeping Baby

Wake My Baby?

The most common example of when you will need to interact with your sleeping baby is when you have arrived at your destination and your baby has fallen asleep in the car seat.

Wake Without Startling

There is an easy tip that will help your baby wake without being startled. A startled baby usually cries. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Works Like Magic

From the first time you take your newborn out of a car seat you can make the transition easy for both of you. The seemingly magic tip is to start talking to your baby before you touch your baby. A baby in light sleep will hear your voice before coming awake. Your familiar voice, and the calm way you are speaking to your baby, will both be very reassuring. It just takes a second or two of hearing your voice to reach your baby’s awareness. That awareness of your presence is reassuring, and your baby can be unfastened and picked up with ease.

Does Cell Phone Talking Count?

The sound of your voice seems to make a difference in the response you get from your baby. When you actually talk to your baby, your voice is more intimate, and the focus is on your baby. Talking on a cell phone will still be your voice, but who knows what the tone of the conversation might be. Your baby has no reason to respond to a conversation you are having with someone else. So, for an easier and happier life for both of you, simply talk to your baby. “Here we are SweetPea” may be all the magic you need.

Staying Asleep

As your baby becomes used to this reassuring routine you will sometimes be able to make the transition from car seat to front-pack carrier while your baby stays asleep. This usually happens when your baby is in deep sleep. Once transferred your baby should settle easily in the carrier, snuggled safe and warm next to you, and return to blissful sleep.

Happy Baby

Any time you need to interact with your sleeping baby you will have a happier baby if you talk to your baby before touching your baby. It’s one of the easier baby care practices that gives you lots of happy returns.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Tips for Scheduling Your Newborn’s First Appointment

Perhaps this inside information will be helpful for scheduling your baby’s first visit with the doctor.

newborn baby in hospital

Day of Discharge – Going Home

Magic Words

When you call the doctor’s office to schedule your baby’s first appointment, mention that your newborn was just released from the hospital. These are magic words. Baby doctors routinely allow special appointments in their schedules to be set aside for newborns. You should be able to easily schedule an appointment for your baby.

Special Waiting Room Area

When you make your baby’s first appointment, also ask if there’s a special place in the waiting room for parents with newborns—away from the patients who are sick. Most clinics offer this option, or will try to room you and your newborn right away after check-in. Just ask.

Timing for First Visit

If your baby’s doctor examines your baby on the day of discharge (the day you take your baby home) from the hospital, the usual appointment time for that first visit is 2 weeks after discharge.

If your baby’s doctor does not have privileges where you deliver your baby and is not able to examine your newborn, then the first visit will be 1-2 days after you take your baby home. Since your baby’s doctor has never seen your baby, the visit is scheduled right away.

Now you can anticipate your new baby’s first appointment feeling a little more relaxed.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN


Can’t Stop Staring at Your Newborn?

The natural response to newborn babies is to stop and stare in wonder.

Your Captivating Newborn

Your Captivating Newborn

Whether your newborn is asleep or awake you’ll find you can hardly take your eyes off of your new baby. You’ll catch yourself staring at your newborn for long stretches of time without even realizing it. Your new baby is captivating, and rightly so! Perhaps this natural response serves a purpose, another clever design by Mother Nature.

Perhaps this purpose, other than the sheer pleasure it gives you, is to help you learn your baby’s cues. Recognizing body-language cues will help you learn about your baby. Being able to “read”  your baby’s behavior will help you know what your baby wants and will be very beneficial time and time again.

One baby cue that you’ve probably already discovered is the body-language cue called rooting.

Rooting consists of head turning to the side with mouth open as if “looking for something,” flailing hands, and an effort to suck on those flailing hands as coordination allows.

Rooting is an early cue (before crying) that “tells you” your baby is hungry.

Staring at your baby comes naturally. And learning your baby’s cues can come naturally to you too.

With the gift of repetition, and the unique message attached to each baby cue, you’ll soon be able to say … “When my baby does this ____it means this ____.”

So enjoy staring at your baby, as often as you can. It’s good for both of you.

 For you and yours,

 D. Fravert, RN


Tips for Happy Bathing: Part II

Another important tip: Gather supplies first!

Safe, Hands-Free Bath Supplies

Safe, Hands-Free Bath Area and Supplies

Supplies

Here is a screen shot of the supplies used in the video Sponge Bath. Having all of the supplies you need at your fingertips allows you to work easily and confidently, and helps you keep your baby warm. A warm baby is a happy baby, and keeps bath time fun!

Build a Pallet

Fold a baby towel (or absorbent baby blanket) so that it’s ready to use for swaddling your clean baby at the end of the bath (before the hair wash) and cover it with a waterproof pad to keep it dry during bathing. You can see a small part of the green pad in the picture, and of course the baby towel is protected and hidden.

Fold one adult bath towel and place it on top of the pad to provide the soft and absorbent area where your baby will lie during bathing. Be sure to leave room on the waterproof pad to place used wet washcloths. Your pallet is complete!

Towel for Baby

You will need a small towel for covering and drying your baby during the bath.

Baby Soap

Any baby soap you choose for hair and body is good. You can get baby shampoo and baby body soap separately, or purchase a combined head-to-toe baby soap. The choice is yours.

Baby Washcloths

Baby washcloths are gentle on your newborn’s skin because they are softer. You will need 6-8 of them for each bath so that you can just grab a new cloth for every step (wash/rinse/wash/rinse etc.) and not worry about trying to get the soap out of the washcloth for rinsing. This method will remove more soap from your baby’s skin and will keep your basin of water relatively clean for more effective rinsing.

Diapers and Wipes

Have 2 diapers ready, the extra one is just in case. Baby wipes should be used to clean a dirty baby bottom. You will wash this wiped-clean bottom with baby soap and water during the bath. Keeping baby stool out of your bath water is a measure of safety.

Change of Clothes

Clean clothes picked out and at your fingertips make it easy for you to dress your baby right away. You guessed it … getting dressed will help keep your baby warm too, the key ingredient for happy bathing.

Basin of Water

For your baby’s comfort consider preparing the warm water last, just prior to getting your baby. Warm bath water is essential.

Warm Room

Because it’s worthy of repetition, your baby will be happier if you set up the bath in a warm spot in your home. It just might be the kitchen!

Once you know how to do the sponge bath the tub bath comes easily.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN

The video demonstration for a newborn sponge bath is available in Newborn Baby Manual.