This blog is for Moms and Dads who have limited time and need quick parenting tips.

25 August 2010

Sleep - Newborns

As much as we would love it to be different, babies need to be fed during the night and will not sleep through the night (around 8 hrs straight) for at least 3-4 months depending on their temperament, birth size and how well you establish good sleep behaviors.

You can do a lot to help babies become good sleepers. For newborns these are my top tips:
  • Swaddle - buy a a few good swaddle blankets and do them up firmly.
  • Put baby to bed in their crib so they associate crib with sleep.  If you must use a swing then you may have difficulty latter when they are too big for it and you have to use the crib.
  • Darken the room for day-time naps.
  • Invest in a white noise machine.
  • Do not rock or hold to sleep unless you want to establish this as a pattern!
  • Wake-up the baby at the same time each day and expose to sunlight.
  • Do not play with the baby at night-time wakings otherwise they can't learn the difference between daytime activities and night-time activities (which should be just eating and sleeping)

A few words about "schedules".  Firstly I hate this word and prefer to use the word "routine" - this implies a predictable series of activities but with some flexibility to make adjustments as needed. Babies can develop a routine from day one. My twins, born at 34 weeks, were on a 3 hourly feeding routine in the NICU which we continued - it was my sanity.  It was the best thing to know that it was time for naps and I could have a shower and know they would sleep through it.

Establishing a routine:
You can start this from day one. Be prepared to be flexible - babies will have great days and unsettled days.  If your baby is really upset, I do not recommend letting them cry it out (CIO) at this age.
  • Eat, Activity, Sleep, You (EASY) - This is from The Baby Whisperer book.  In essence it is an order of activities - feed the baby, do some activity (like diaper changing and playing), put the baby to sleep and then YOU get some time to re-energise!   
  • Wake at the same time each day and expose baby to sunlight - they learn to associate day-light with waking.
  • A typical newborn will be on a 3 hourly routine.  Personally I am happy to vary things by about 1/2 hr at this age.  Here is a basic guide with a 7am start time:
    • 7am - wake-up.  
    • 7am - 8.30am. Change diaper and feed baby.  Playtime.
    • 8.30 - 10am - Sleep
    • 10am - wake-up
    • 10am - 11.30.  Change diaper and feed baby.  Playtime.
    • 11.30 - 1pm - Sleep
    • 1pm - 2.30pm.  Change diaper and feed baby.  Playtime.
    • 2.30 - 4pm - Sleep.
    • 4 - 5.30pm - Change diaper and feed baby. Playtime.
    • 5.30 - 7pm - Sleep.
    • 7pm - Change diaper and feed baby.  Bath-time and then straight to bed - around 7.30 - 8pm
    • At night you feed at 10pm, 1am, 4am and then start the day at 7am.  No playing - just feeding and back to bed!  I do not recommend waking the baby to feed unless they have gone 5 hours between feeds.
  • If your baby is sleeping more than 2 hours in the day, I suggest waking and feeding them.  If you let them sleep they can start to confuse day with night-time.
  • Warning:  If you feed your baby to get them to sleep they may get into the habit of wanting a feed to go to sleep - this becomes a problem when they get teeth!  Milk has sugars in it and if you feed your baby and lie them down, the milk pools in the mouth and causes tooth decay.

Soothing a Baby To Sleep
  • Most babies need to learn to go to sleep so don't pick them up at their first little whimper.  Let them have a chance at putting themselves back to sleep.  Set yourself a 5 minute goal (use a clock as it can seem like eternity) - if the baby is still upset or has escalated go to the next point.
  • Gently make some slow "shhh" noises and rub their back - try to do it in time with a slow heartbeat.  If you pick them up at this stage then they learn that crying results in being held - they will have trained you! 
  • If the baby starts to really let loose with the crying after doing the shhh noise and back rubbing, pick up and cuddle.  Gently rub their back and as soon as they are reasonably settled (not necessarily asleep), put them down and go back to shh noises.
  • Sometime the baby will cry for a genuine reason - wet diaper, clothes uncomfortable or gas.  I recommend checking all of these (even to the extent of undressing completely).  Eg., A loose thread could be caught on their toe!

Crying It Out (CIO)
 If you establish good sleep habits using the tips above you should never have to use CIO techniques.  You will know that they are crying because they are hungry (it is the time you usually feed them) or they are tired (it is nap-time).  If you do not have a routine, you are guessing at why your baby is crying and this can be hard.

 Moving to a 4 Hourly Routine
As your baby gets older (generally around 4 months) you will move naturally to a four hourly routine - 2 hours of awake time followed by 2 hours of nap-time.  My youngest baby started sleeping through the night at 4 months - 7.30pm - 7am - bliss - until teething started.

Last tip - sleep when baby sleeps.  Let the washing and other cleaning go and look after yourself.  I happy, rested Mommy is best for all.

23 August 2010

Diaper Rash

Ouch - nothing looks worse than diaper rash on what should be a sweet baby bottom ready for kissing.  And I am sure it hurts like hell.

Tips for treatment:
  • Avoid wet-wipes and use a warm washcloth to clean the area.
  • Slather on Zinc Oxide, Butt paste, Desitin (original), A&D or Triple Paste.
  • Change the instant there is action below (either end can irritate the skin)
  • Give the butt some air time - lots of air time on a towel or waterproof mat.
  • Give a warm bath each day with a little baking soda added.
  • There is a product called Calmoseptine which is a medical grade barrier cream.  I have a friend who was desperate after all else failed and it worked wonders for her daughter.
  • Pure Lanolin can soothe sore skin too.

Yeast Rash
  • There is a chance it could be a yeast infection especially if you or your baby has been on antibiotics.  
  • A yeast rash looks a little different - red, raised and with a definite border.
  • Mix a little Monistat or an anti-fungal like Lotrimin or Clotrimazole with your diaper cream.
  • You may need a prescription like Nystatin.

Take note of what your child ate - some foods are very acidic and can burn fragile skin easily - like oranges (and their juice) and tomatoes.

First Finger Foods

There has to be more finger foods available than just Puffs and Cheerios surely? Well yes, in fact there are lots of things that are great and safe under supervision. Just make sure the pieces are soft and small, and that your baby is upright when eating.

Here are few ideas:
  • Cut-up ripe banana
  • Avocado
  • Soft cooked beans - black or kidney beans are great
  • Soft ripe fruit like peaches, pear, mango or apricots
  • Watermelon
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta - ravioli is a good choice
  • Lightly toasted bread or bagel
  • Tofu
  • Cooked vegetables cut-up into small pieces - broccoli, carrots, sweet potato and peas are great
  • Rice cakes
  • Small pieces of cooked chicken
  • Soft cheese - grate it for more fun
  • Rice balls
  • Flaked fish
  • Egg yolk omelette (no whites until they are 12 months)
And some other tips:
  • Coat slippery foods like banana with cereal or wheatgerm so baby can grip them.
  • Add some flavor - you can sprinkle foods with nutmeg, cinnamon or ground ginger
  • Remove skins from fruit like apples and pears

Avoid these foods due to choking hazard and/or allergic reactions:
  • Raisins
  • Honey
  • Raw vegetables
  • Hard fruit
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Grapes
  • Hotdogs and sausages
  • Hard cheeses
  • Nuts - and of course peanut butter
  • Olives
  • Popcorn
  • Strawberries (until 12 months old)

21 August 2010

Brown Bag School Lunches

My eldest daughter starts kindergarten on Monday and will be taking her lunch - one look at the school menu and the decision was made. So I have been researching what to give her so the other kids will be jealous and she won't be eying-off their hot-dogs.

Ideas for the actual food:
  • My first thought - Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - but most schools ban this because of peanut allergies.
  • Sandwiches made with cheese, sliced vegetables and/or deli meats.  Vary this with tortillas or pita bread.
  • Crackers.
  • Mini bagels with hummus.
  • Cheese - either cut slices or cheese sticks.
  • Vegetables - carrots, celery, broccoli, cheery tomatoes - with dipping sauce like Hummus or the less healthy option, Ranch dressing.
  • Celery sticks filled with cream cheese and topped with raisins.
  • Pasta salad - cook the tubular pastas the night before and toss in olive oil.  Add bell peppers, snap peas and cheese.
  • Chicken or pork souvlaki - after these have cooled, put them in a container with some dipping sauce.
  • Rice salad - cold rice with fillers like raisins.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs - yes they do smell a bit.
  • Fruit - grapes, watermelon, strawberries, bananas, peaches etc.  Soak things like apple pieces in orange or lemon juice to prevent them going brown.
  • Yogurt - freeze it the night before so it is nice a cold by lunch-time.  I like Greek yogurt - Fage is the best I have found (my husband is Greek descent).
  • "Clif Kid Twisted Fuit" - these are twisted fruit snacks that are organic, made from real fruit without all the added sugar.  They are a bit expensive but nice as a treat occasionally.
  • Bran or fruit muffins.
  • Banana bread.
  • Cereal bars - we like the Nutri-Grain Fruit Bars.  They are made with whole grain but contain 12 g of sugar - could be worse.
  • Drinks - my kids only drink milk and water so this is easy.  Flavored milks are full of sugar and banned in many schools.
Other ideas:
  • A really nice lunch bag - we got ours from Pottery Barn Kids.
  • Get a decent ice-pack to keep things fresh.
  • Use a cookie cutter to make the sandwich look interesting. 
  • Pack a small suprise - a note, cute drawing or sticker.
  • Freeze sandwiches and pack in plastic bags or wax paper.

Cradle Cap

Another thing we hate. Just don't schedule your babies baptism when they are 6 weeks old as they are sure to have baby pimples and cradle cap.  Yes both go away with time but are yucky and not great for baby pictures.

  • Use a soft brush or even a toothbrush to loosen scales.  You can also remove scales with a fine tooth comb.
  • Shampoo frequently.
  • Use a medicated shampoo like Selsun Blue - be careful to avoid the eyes.  Rinse really well.
  • Before shampooing you can rub in a natural oil like Olive Oil or Almond Oil and leave in about 15 minutes.  If it is really bad you can leave it in overnight - it may clog the pores and is messy - but sometimes you just got to do it.  The flakes can be picked off the next morning (gross I know).
  • For really severe cases - my son's was so bad his head was bleeding - we got a prescription for a foam called Verdeso.  It is relatively new but worked wonders.


My littlest guy just got his first tooth - at 9 months and 4 days of age. Yes, he is a bit late to get his first tooth but he has been pretty good about it so far so I am not complaining.

Here are my top teething tips:
  • Wet a clean wash cloth on the corner, freeze it and give it to baby to chew on. 
  • Put some ice in one of those nifty mesh Baby Safe Feeders - Nuby make one called a Nibble which is great. I give it a little rinse and he sucks away like mad as happy as a pig in mud.
  • Wash your finger and gently rub the gums for about 1-2 minutes - you can do this with a cold/icy washcloth too.
  • Give your baby a rubber teething ring you put in the freezer to chew on - but let it get a bit soft before giving it to your baby.There is a BPA free one by Green Sprouts that is good.
  • Biter biscuits - these are hard, baby biscuits especially for little ones.  Watch for choking and don't leave unattended!
  • Cold foods like applesauce and yogurt.  I think I might make some applesauce Popsicles!
  • To prevent drooling rash - dab on some Vaseline, Aquaphor or similar product after you pat the area dry.
  • Give some acetaminophen or ibuprofin  if your Doctor gives you the ok - I generally do this only at night when things are desperate.  Do NOT give aspirin - this is dangerous to babies.
  • Baby Orajel - this is a numbing lotion you put on gums so be careful with it.

20 August 2010

Food Throwing

Hate the mess?  Don't have a dog?  Then here are some top tips to stop kids throwing food on the floor - we are talking baby/toddlers here - not college students:
  • Put only small portions on their tray and add to it once it is finished.
  • A firm "no" when food goes overboard.
  • Remove the food and say "you must be all done" when the hand swiping starts - they will get the message especially if you remove them from their chairs and don't give-in to pleas for more food.
  • Teach them to say or sign the words "all done" when they are no longer hungry.
  • Definitely don't laugh when they do it the first time - it won't be funny for long.
But, stuff still happens so:
  • Invest in a dog.
  • Use a hand vacuum before you step on the Cheerios.
  • Put a splat mat under their high-chair.
  • Teach your kids to clean-up.  They can wipe-up their own messes with a paper towel from a very young age.
Remember kids will get a bit messy and they need to feel different textures and  use utensils.  This type of mess is normal - it is the happy, throw-down the meal stuff that is not nice especially if you ever want to leave the house and go out to eat!

19 August 2010

Sore Nipples From Breastfeeding

Oh, the joys of breastfeeding.  It is meant to be a wonderful, loving experience - until your nipples hurt like hell.  So here are a few tips to help you and baby actually enjoy breastfeeding:
  •  Ensure a good latch.
  • Use a nipple guard - a molded plastic cover for your nipples that the baby can suck through.  These are available at stores like Target and Toys R Us. 
  • Let your nipples "air out" after feeding.
  • A gentle warming with a hairdryer does wonders after feeding.
  • Put some nipple cream once you are finished all this - cover with a breast pad.


The inconsolable crying - by baby, and then by Mom and Dad - how we hate colic.  It is no comfort to know that it goes away as when you are living it - it is hell.   Some quick tips:

When feeding:
  • Feed baby small amounts and then wind.  (try 1 oz at a time).
  • Keep baby as upright as possible when feeding with a bottle.
  • Burp a lot - like every oz.
  • If breast feeding, your diet is important to reduce gas in the baby - eat bland foods that do not give gas.
  • Try gripe water.
  • Try different bottles - Dr Browns are great.
  • To slow down gulping by baby - use a slow flow nipple - a preemie nipple is great for all newborns.
  • Try a different formula - like Nutramigen or Alimentum.
  • Keep baby upright after feeding but be careful of swings or bouncers that cause the baby to scrunch up in the middle as these may may things worse.  Baby Bjorn makes a more upright bouncer.
Tips for when baby is crying and needs to be soothed:
  • A nice warm bath.
  • Swaddle.
  • Gentle rocking.
  • Shushing - rhythmical shushing sounds in time with your "non-racing" heartbeat.
  • White noise machine - I downloaded white noise "music" onto my IPod and it also helps baby from being disturbed by household noise.
  • Use a pacifier or even your finger - the sucking is really soothing for them.
  • When baby is close to sleep, put in crib and continue "shushing" - you can also rub their back.
  • Use a sleep positioner - these are foam elevated pillows for babies that keep their head higher than their bellies.