Tuesday, January 28, 2014

5 Tips For Fun Silly Comparisons Between Kids and Kickstarters

I know it has been a long time since my last post, but I've had a lot of changes over the last couple of years. I'm offering this post as a fun experiment, and as an update for where I am now in my life.

It occurred to me today that there is a definite similarity between having a child and having a Kickstarter. I mused aloud about this silly parallel with my friend, and we both were soon collapsing in laughter. So for your enjoyment, here are the top five reasons why having a Kickstarter is like having a kid!

1. It's more fun to think about having a Kickstarter than it is to actually "give birth" to one.

It's a LOT of fun coming up with the idea for a Kickstarter, just as it is a lot of fun to "practice" making a baby. I come up with new ideas for Kickstarters pretty often, but when a kickstarter idea actually becomes real, it's a long difficult, but ultimately rewarding journey. This doesn't deter me in the least from coming up with new ideas for more, but I'm much more careful after having one, about whether I'll decide to risk letting another one… take root.

2. Your kid is a lot cuter to you than it is to other people.

Yes, I'm one of those parents who will pull out the pictures and regale you with stories of my son's first bath far more often than I'd like to admit. And turns out, that tendency follows you into the world of having a Kickstarter! Everyone loves their Kickstarter, and we can go on for hours about the process of shooting and editing the video, or choosing the reward tiers. These stories might seem important and interesting to me, but I've learned to reign myself in a little as I see peoples eyes begin to glaze over.

3. Everyone has an opinion on how you should be running your Kickstarter. Everyone.

When you have a new Kickstarter it is encouraged for you to put out a rough draft and solicit advice on ways to improve it. That is actually hugely helpful, and I highly recommend doing it. However, the advice doesn't stop. Ever. Just like when I visit family sometimes I will be told I need to feed my son "more bread" to "put some meat on his bones" (even though he is allergic to gluten), I am still given daily hints and tips about how to market my kickstarter more effectively. Much of this advice is great, but I have to make choices, and sometimes I'm stuck with the result of my choice and I can't change it. And sometimes the advice I'm given would work much better if I was a big company with a big budget.

4. Every time your kid does something good, you forgive her for all she's put you through.

My child is a lot of work. Picky, and allergic to tons of things. Intelligent, but unenthused about home-work or house-work. Social, but limited in communication skill by autism. I sometimes feel like the majority of my interactions with him are a bit of a struggle. But then he'll just do one thing right, comfort  a classmate, ace a test, or say "I love you" just when I need it most. I melt and everything is fine again. That is similar to how when your kickstarter goes a day or two with hardly any momentum, it's excruciating. Not to mention all the behind the scenes emailing and marketing you have to do. But then suddenly a big backer will pledge, or a blogger will say yes to an interview, and suddenly everything is wonderful again!

5. Uncertainty about the future becomes commonplace.

You're never really sure if your Kickstarter is going to go out into the world and become a huge success, or if it will end up living in your basement embarrassing you, and costing you money for the rest of your life. But you love it either way.
Yeah, like with your kid. :^)

Anyway, I hope you all have enjoyed my self-indulgent ramblings. I'd love to hear in the comments about how you think having a kid and a kickstarter are similar. And please, take a moment to pop over to my kid… er… kickstarter and become a backer. Every single contribution, no matter how small, is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

5 Tips For Infant Massage

Babies grow super fast. This is no secret. But often in the hustle and bustle of each day sometimes it can be easy to forget what this means for your baby. Imagine if you were going to the gym every day, for around 8-10 hours. No heavy impact, but lots and lots of Pilates style aerobic exercise, weight lifting, and yoga. Just think about how exhausted and sore you would be. Then as you rest, the pain of bone growth would set in. Maybe this isn't exactly how babies feel, but as one who has observed babies over and over again during their first few months, I think it is pretty close sometimes. This is just one reason why I'm such a strong believer in baby massage. Another is that as a mother of an extremely premature son I relied on the calming and relaxing effect of infant massage very often. In this post I will cover some of the best massage strokes for a calming and soothing effect on your baby.

1. Arms and legs

Starting near your little Yogi's hands, gently wrap your hand around his forearm. Then, with minimal pressure, slide your hand toward the shoulder/armpit area. To keep your baby's arm extended as you do this, you can hold your baby's hand with one of your hands, while your other hand executes the massage stroke. Repeat this stroke about 5-10 times on each limb, or as many as feels right and relaxing for you and your baby. When using this stroke on your baby's legs, hold the foot with one hand, start the stroke at the ankle, and slide until you reach the hip.

2. Chest and stomach

There are a lot of strokes that are recommended for a baby's stomach and chest. My favorite for the chest is to start with your hands together each covering one side of her rib cage. Then slowly fan your fingers out toward your baby's sides starting with your pinky fingers until your hands are splayed out across her chest. Then smoothly continue the motion down the sides of your mini-buddha's belly all the way down to her hips. Repeat this stroke between 5-10 times, or as many as feels right and relaxing to you and your baby.
On the stomach the most basic soothing stroke is a circular one that moves in a clockwise direction around your little one's belly-button. Be careful not to get too close to the belly-button, you want to be a minimum of 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) away from it at all times. This is clock-wise from YOUR perspective, meaning if you start on your babies right side (the one most easily reached by your left hand) you should first move up and over your baby's belly button, then down and under it, until you end up right where you began. The pressure should be minimal, and you can leave your baby's clothing on if it is more relaxing to do so. This stroke is best used at a minimum of 20 minutes after a feeding, and can be used as much and as often as your baby seems to enjoy it (though the first 20 minutes after eating is not the best time).

3. Back and shoulders

With your baby laying on his stomach, you can use this basic gentle stroke to help calm, and move gas out his lower exit. Starting with one hand over each shoulder blade using gentle pressure slide the heels of your palms down both sides of your little athlete's back at the same time until they reach the diaper line. Put no pressure on his spine, and be aware of trying not to tickle your baby in this position. While tickling will not hurt him, it can be counter-productive when your goal is relaxation. This stroke can be repeated anywhere between 10-20 times, as long as your baby is enjoying it and it is relaxing for both of you.
For the shoulders it is not important for your baby to be laying on his stomach, or back. Either position is fine as long as he is comfortable and relaxed. This is more of a hold than a stroke, as you cup your hands around each of your baby's shoulders and gently pull down toward his hips. I recommend you pull both shoulders at once, but you can do one at a time as well if your baby seems to like it better. No kneading or rubbing is needed for this, just gently pull, and hold for about 20-30 seconds, then release. You can repeat this hold a few times if your baby seems to be particularly calmed by it, but using it too often can cause tension, so trust your instincts and watch your baby for cue's.

4. Feet and hands

Though an open-palm massage is often soothing for an adult, infants often find it too stimulating, and even ticklish. It is much more calming for your baby to have your hand cover her fist and  gently squeeze it while it is closed. Just a small amount of pressure as you cover her fists is enough to release the clenching that she normally has to do herself, and is normally very calming. This hold can be maintained for about 20-30 seconds, and repeated as often as it is comfortable and relaxing for you and your baby.
Similarly, when massaging your little sweet-peas toes you want to avoid tickling her. So softly cover the toe-end of her feet from about the arch and all around the top and bottom at the same time. Then you will move in four directions. First up, gently stretching the toes slightly up toward her knees, then down subtly pointing her toes away from her body like a little ballerina. Next, you will rotate her feet slightly counter clockwise, very gently, and watching her for any signs of discomfort. Follow this by rotating her feet in exactly the she gentle way clockwise. The timing for this part of the massage should be about 2-5 seconds for each direction that your move her toes. When I'm doing this massage, I think to myself: "Up-two-three, down-two-three, twist left-two-three, twist right-two-three, release." Though you can repeat the foot massages often as you and your infant are finding it to be relaxing.

5. Face and ears

Massaging your baby's face can be quite soothing, but it is easy to cause stress if you are not careful where you touch. I recommend this stroke as a way to avoid most of the trigger points for feeding instincts. Starting directly above your little snuggle-pop's eyebrow on the end nearest to the nose, run your fingertips softly along the length of the eyebrow, then across the temple and around the outer edge of of his ear. Not on the ear, but on his head behind his ear. If it is easy for you to do both sides at once, this is more relaxing, but if you find it easier to stroke one side then the other, do that instead. Repeat this stroke as often as you like, using very soft pressure, and slow soothing motion.
Your baby's ears are soft, and sensitive, so vigorous massaging of any kind will most likely not be very soothing. However gently holding the large outer edge and lifting it slightly away from his head can be very soothing indeed. Again, I think of this as more of a "hold" than a stroke, and no kneading or pulling is necessary. Just a gentle grasp and lift should be enough to do the trick. Only maintain the hold for about 5-10 seconds, unless the baby seems to be especially enjoying himself. This hold, and face massage, are best used when your baby has just come in from an overly-stimulating walk, or just after leaving a noisy room with bright lights.

Though it is always important to be in tune with your little bundle's needs, when giving an infant massage it is also very important to be relaxed and grounded yourself. Listen to your instincts, watch your baby's reactions to the different strokes and holds, and if something seems to be causing stress or discomfort, discontinue it at once. Soft music, a warm room, a gently scented hypo-allergenic organic massage oil, all of these things are nice, but not essential to your ability to give an effective and relaxing infant massage.
If you have found these tips to be helpful, please share them with any new or expecting parents you know. Comments, questions, and requests are always welcome. I am working on illustrating this post, and hopefully will have something up soon. Happy parenting!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

5 Tips For Baby Milestones 0-3 Months

The sheer volume of developmentally significant moments in the first three months is a bit overwhelming. It can be hard to know which milestones are more important to watch for than others. The tricky thing when looking at milestones at any point in your baby's development is becoming too focused on when your baby should be able to start doing something. Milestones are developmental moments that we watch for to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. For example, infants can start laughing as early as 3-4 months old. But if your baby doesn't start laughing until she is 5-6 months old there is still nothing out of the ordinary. This milestone is only important when the normal span of time for it to occur has passed. So if your baby still hasn't laughed by 9-12 months, there might be something wrong. There are very few things that must happen in the first three months in order to be sure that your baby is developing on schedule. Five of them are listed here.

1. Turns head toward sounds.
The acknowledgement of hearing sound and expressing curiosity about where the sound came from are very important. Your baby can start to show this interest right away, or it may take a few weeks. However, if your little Sherlock is showing no interest in sudden sounds that are coming from outside their range of vision by the age of three months, there might be something seriously wrong. If your baby does not meet this milestone, it could be caused by a number things, including deafness, and neurological issues, so bring it to your pediatrician's attention right away.

2. Eyes follow your face.
This is called "tracking", and it is a social instinct that teaches your baby how to communicate. Although babies don't speak, or even learn to use sign language for several more months, they are learning to interpret your expressions, your tone of voice, and your physical cues from the first couple of weeks. If your baby isn't showing any more interest in your face than in a random toy or mobile by three months this could be indicative of a serious issue. Though the particular cause is best left for your pediatrician to sort out, it is something very important to watch for.

3. Resists when arms or legs are pulled or pushed.
The instinct to pull or push with arms and legs is essentially your baby's built-in personal trainer. Your baby has to grow new muscles and continually strengthen existing muscles constantly from the moment they are born. Her body is growing so fast, and getting heavier , so nature made sure she would be born with a need to push and pull, kick, and grab, twist and wiggle, constantly. If this instinct hasn't kicked in, or seems to be barely there, it could cause many physical development delays and result in years of physical therapy. As well as being a sign that there might be something seriously wrong. But it is easy to test, just give a little tug on your baby's hand while she is awake and alert. If she pulls away, she is fine.

4. Tries to suck on things that brush the cheeks.
This instinct normally kicks in within minutes of birth. However, it can sometimes take a bit longer. The urge to turn his head and start suckling is of course one of your little kissy-face's most basic survival instincts. It is there to help him figure out how to eat. Though you can still feed a baby who does not have this instinct, it is important to bring it to your pediatrician's attention, as it could be a sign of something more serious.

5.Grasps an object with purpose.
Now this skill does take just a bit longer to kick in. At first your baby will just swat at things or nudge them with her hand, but after a month or two, she should be able to grab something within her reach that she is looking at. Though she won't learn to let go for another month or two, learning to grab, on purpose, is something that demonstrates the normal development of curiosity, independence, and physical coordination. If this skill is late in showing up, even if the cause is not a very serious one, it could point to a particular type of challenge that your diaper-dweller will have to face. Such as the need for help with fine-motor skill development, or being encouraged to explore and ask questions, or needing extra encouragement to try new things. Of course your pediatrician will help in determining how serious the cause of missing this milestone is. And guide you in the proper direction to give your baby the help she may need.

Always remember, milestones aren't there to promote competition, it doesn't matter in the least if your baby started doing something two weeks or a month before another baby. And it doesn't matter if it takes your baby a month or two longer to master a skill like rolling over or sitting up than other babies you see of the same age. The most important thing about milestones is to be sure that your baby will have the earliest possible care for any issues that could have an effect on his development. If you have found these tips to be helpful, please forward them to any new or expecting parents you might know. And as always, your questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome. Happy parenting!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

5 Tips About Your Baby's Spit-Up

Many of us parents worry about our baby spitting-up milk and/or formula. Sometimes it can seem like our little regurgitators don't keep anything down at all! I often get asked questions about this constant concern, and in my recent poll it was voted the topic of most interest to you. However, since many of the questions I am asked don't have to do with how to minimize spit-up, I decided to take this opportunity to simply answer some of the most common questions many parents have on the topic.

1. Is spit-up dangerous during sleep?
Laying your baby on his back to sleep is considered the safest position. But this obviously leads to the concern that your infant may choke on his own spit-up. This is not a common problem for most babies. Most babies will turn their head slightly to the side during sleep, and even if they don't they have reflexes that help them avoid choking on their spit-up. If you have ever dripped water on your little splasher's face during his bath, you might have seen him arch his head and body backward while waving his arms. This reflex is to help your baby roll onto his side if any thing obstructs his breathing. He will do the same thing, even while asleep, if his airway is not clear. Even swaddling will not keep your baby from arching his back and turning his head. The only time when night-time spit-up might be dangerous is if your baby has a cold that is producing a lot of mucus. If your baby is having trouble breathing anyway, there is a chance some spit-up could be sucked into the lungs on accident. There are some dangers that this could cause, so if you suspect that this has happened I would contact your pediatrician right away. Signs that your baby might have inhaled some spit-up are, excessive coughing, coughing while crying, and a rattling sound to their breathing between coughing.

2. Why does my baby spit up when laying down?
Many babies have trouble keeping their food down when laying flat, because there is a valve that is often under developed or not yet very strong at the top of the stomach that is meant to keep food down once swallowed. When this valve is so underdeveloped that it hardly functions it causes the condition known to most of us parents as "infant reflux". Even if your baby doesn't have reflux, when there is still liquid in her  belly and you lay her down, the food will sometimes leak back into her throat (which can be painful because there will probably be some stomach acid mixed in) and stimulate the gag reflex, which causes spit-up. It helps clear food out of the airway before it is accidentally inhaled into the lungs, but also causes a bit of a mess. Most of the time digestion of breast milk and formula is pretty fast, and almost all of your baby's food will be gone within 10-15 minutes after a feeding. However, every baby is different, and as your little one grows she will change as well. Sometimes this means that digestion will take longer, or that there is something about the feeding that disagrees with your finicky nibbler's tummy, and there may be a bit more left to toss back up the pipes than normal. As a good rule of thumb, try to keep your baby's head elevated a few inches above her stomach for at least 20 minutes after feeding to try and ensure that most of the food has been digested before you lay her down flat.

3. Is white chunky spit-up normal?
There are several different types of spit up. The most common is fairly watery with a few chunks of white cheesy-creamy stuff in it. This kind is usually seen pretty quickly after a feeding, and most often in infants that are having a bit of excess drool. The reason the spit-up is watery with little white chunks is usually because the spit-up was triggered by a burp which brought up both bits of partially curdled milk (curdling is a natural reaction to your baby's stomach acids, and is part of the digestion process), and mixed it with the excess saliva that was both in your baby's throat, and in his mouth. Another common kind is a large amount of milky-white chunky stuff. This usually comes right up from the tummy, and is often the result of a strong gag reflex getting triggered accidentally by a burp (...or a finger, or a toy, or a pacifier). It can also be caused by a bit too much horsing around too soon after eating. And, more rarely, it can be caused by nausea from a sickness. In general, white chunky spit up is absolutely normal. Other common types of normal spit-up are mostly milky (few chunks) and mostly watery (no milk or curdled milk chunks).

4. Is my baby spitting-up too much?
Almost always the answer to this question is "no". If your baby is eating regularly, having a normal number of wet and dirty diapers, and is continuing to gain weight, then she is getting enough to eat. It can seem like your baby is spitting up an awful lot, but it is extremely rare for a baby to spit up an entire feeding. The reason for this is, that digestion begins as soon as your baby swallows her first mouthful. And for a baby who is 3-4 months old digestion proceeds at an average rate of 1 ounce (30 ml) every 10-15 minutes. So if your baby eats approximately 5-6 ounces (150-180 ml) and a feeding lasts around 15-25 minutes, a great deal has been digested by the time your adorable little lactarian has finished. Even if your baby occasionally empties everything left in her stomach within 5-10 minutes after eating, the most that would come up would be around 2 ounces (60 ml). Now, don't get me wrong, 2 ounces (60 ml) can seem like an awful lot when poured down your neck, but as far as it being a sign that your little tulip isn't getting enough nutrition, it is unlikely. However, trust your instincts, and if you feel like something is really wrong with your baby, always check with your pediatrician.

5. How can I tell if my baby's spit-up is not normal?
In some cases there are conditions that cause strange spit-up. Some signs that you should immediately bring to your pediatrician's attention are:
  • If your baby's spit-up is discolored (Yellow, green, red, blue, etc).
  • If your baby spits up something that looks like coffee grounds.
  • If your baby is not gaining weight appropriately.
  • If your baby is forcefully expelling spit-up type fluid (projectile vomiting) frequently.
  • If your baby resists feedings and is still spitting up large amounts.
  • If your baby spits up constantly throughout every feeding.
  • If spitting up seems to be causing your baby sharp pain (screaming and crying immediately after spitting up on a regular basis).
 Unless you see one of these strange types of spit up, your baby's spit up is probably normal.

Although there are many things to worry about with your new baby, generally spit-up shouldn't be one of them. The worst thing about spit-up for most parents is the inevitable spoiling of a favorite shirt, or getting some splattered on  your face. If you have found these tips helpful, please forward them to any new, or expecting parents you know. As always questions and comments are always welcome! Happy Parenting!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

5 More Tips For Reducing Your Baby's Fever

A baby's fever is one of the most frightening things you will experience as a parent. And although there are plenty of ways to lower your infants fever with medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, many parents feel that a natural approach to fever reduction is the better choice for them. The tricky part about fevers, is that they are the natural way for your baby's body to fight infection. So reducing a fever should be done mostly when the fever has risen nearly to levels that could be unsafe for your baby. Also, always notify your pediatrician when your baby is running a fever. If your pediatrician agrees that gently lowering your baby's fever with some natural methods is best, then I recommend you try these tips and/or my first 5 tips for reducing your baby's fever. Also be sure to continually monitor your baby's temperature while using any of these tips. A fever dropping too quickly can be a sign of shock, which can be dangerous.

1. Tepid skullcap tea sponge bath.
Skullcap is a natural herb that has gentle fever-reducing properties. Though many herbs including this one are considered safe, when your baby is already sick, it might irritate the stomach if ingested. Instead, simply make a medium-strength tepid tea (steeping the teabag for about 3 minutes) and then use a soft cotton cloth to sponge the cool liquid onto your baby's wrists, under his arms, behind his knees and across his chest and shoulders. This has the combined cooling effects of the slow evaporation of the liquid, and the gentle absorption of small amounts of the herb through your little glow-worm's skin.

2. Damp socks.
Whether you rinse your baby's socks in a bit of fresh cool water, or if you dip them in some chamomile, or skullcap tea (be careful, this can discolor the socks), when they are still just a bit damp, put them on her. This will help with a slower cooling evaporation, that is gentle enough to avoid cooling your infant down too quickly. As your little munchkin kicks her feet she will help to cool the socks off as well. Re-moisten the socks from time to time as they dry.

3. Cool lettuce leaf wrap.
 Fresh romaine lettuce leaves soaked in a tepid bowl of water can be wrapped around your baby's legs, chest and back. Lettuce naturally conducts heat very quickly. As it absorbs the heat from your baby, it will also insulate gently, making sure that his temperature does not drop too fast. Change the lettuce leaves often, every 3-4 minutes until your infant's fever has been reduced to safe levels once again. Check your baby's skin for any sign of irritation, and discontinue the lettuce wraps at once if a rash appears.

4. Fever reducing acupressure.
For infants and babies, there is a very gentle style of acupressure that can be used. It is called the "Jin Shin" technique. Using this technique, you gently hold the acupoints for a few moments while breathing deeply, then repeat at regular intervals over the course of the day. Some acupoints that you can use to help reduce your little tiger-lilly's fever are:
          * LI-4 "Union Valley"
          * LI-11 "Pool By The Bend"
          * GV-14 "Great Hammer"
Gently hold each of these acupoints in turn for about 10-15 seconds while using deep breathing to keep yourself calm and centered. You can repeat this baby's fever reducing acupressure routine 3-4 times through the day.

5. Skin-to-skin hold.
 The best heat regulator you have is your own body. If you walk in the sunlight your body cools down, if you stroll through the shade, your internal temperature increases. So, in a warm room, take your baby's clothing off (except for the diaper) and hold him on your bare chest, Your body will immediately start to cool you both down. The excess heat from your baby will be absorbed gently through your own skin. This technique is not only gentle and effective for fever reduction, but it is very calming and comforting to both the you and your infant. If you think that your baby may be feeling cold, you can drape a light cotton blanket over his back. Continue the skin-toskin hold for about 20-30 minutes for the full effect. You can continue the hold longer if you like, but the fever will not drop much further. The hold can be repeated as often as you like.

While your baby has a fever, and immediately after a fever has been reduced, it is important to remember to try to feed your infant as much as you can. Dehydration is common in babies with fevers. Also, please put any sleep-training on hold until your baby feels better. Your baby needs as much sleep as she can get while she is sick, and it doesn't really matter if she sticks to a schedule or not. Also, always, always, always, talk to your baby's doctor about what you are doing, and how your baby is feeling. Even if you feel it is not that important, your doctor can reassure you, or alert you to issues you may not have been aware of. If you have found these tips to be helpful, please forward them to any new or expecting parents you know. Happy parenting!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

5 More Tips For Relieving Your Baby's Gas Pains

One of the most consistent issues parents face with their new babies is the discomfort that gas can cause. That is why I am revisiting this topic. For a new baby, gas is inevitable. For the first couple months the digestive system is still adapting to both processing nutrients and expelling waste. The issues that cause gas pain are related to both slow movement of waste through the bowels, and difficulty digesting. Even when your baby is only eating breast milk or formula the simple process of breaking down the nutrients can be hard on your little sugar-pop. So here are five more things you can try.

1. Warm peppermint and fennel compress.
To make a compress  wrap a some fresh peppermint and fennel with a soft piece of cotton cloth and soak in warm with water for about two minutes. After soaking, squeeze out the excess water and place the warm damp compress on your little darling's lower abdomen. To finish, wrap a cloth around your baby and the compress to make sure it won't move. Leave the compress on for about 20 minutes, re-moistening it with a bit of the same warm water that you soaked it in to begin with about every five minutes or so. The scent is calming and the herbal properties of fennel and peppermint have been used to assist in digestion for hundreds of years. Using a compress is a very good natural way to help your sweet little bubble blower absorb a bit of the herbal benefits gently, and in a way that doesn't give her tummy more new substances to digest.

2. Give a supplemental bottle of water.
One thing that your baby can ingest that does not cause gas is water. Water is not digested in the same way as other foods, and so causes no gas by itself. Also water can dilute other fluids making it harder for gas bubbles to form. Although he may not drink much, just a little bit goes a long way. Water can also stimulate the bowels to move, which is very helpful. It is important to note that you should not replace a feeding with a bottle of water, since there is no nutritional value, but a little extra water after a feeding can do wonders for a little tooter who is prone to gas trouble.

3. Swaddle with your infants legs folded.
When your infant has trouble with gas, one sign is when she pushes her legs straight out. This is an instinctual reaction to abdominal pain and is meant to help push off anything that might be pushing on her belly. However, pushing the legs out straight actually tightens your little giggler's behind muscles, which doesn't help matters move along.When your infants legs are wrapped up in a folded "criss-cross-applesauce" style in front of her, the instinctual tightening of the abdomen in response to gas pain is much more helpful. To do this type of swaddle, wrap the arms as you normally would, normally, then fold the legs up and crossed. While holding the legs with one hand bring the bottom section of the blanket up and tuck it into the front of the swaddle. It is also important to remember that all swaddling should either leave your baby's legs free to kick about or have them wrapped up near the body with the knees apart to prevent hip dysplaisia which can sometimes result from straight-leg swaddling.

4. Tummy time across your thighs.
Sometimes the gentle pressure of regular tummy time is not enough to relax your infant's abdomen. Or your little pipsqueek may just dislike regular tummy time, and the combination of the pain and the position may make the situation worse. In these cases, laying your baby across your thighs, with their head on one thigh, and their tummy on the other is a great thing to try. Not only is contact with you soothing, but as your baby lays on your lap, you can gently bounce the leg that his tummy is resting on very lightly. Let his legs hang down as you do this and softly stroke and pat his back. The combination of your warmth, the gentle pressure, and the position of the legs is often a near magical combination for producing the relief your baby needs.

5. A foot massage.
For babies that have a continuing problem of gas I like to suggest trying a reflexology massage. Reflexology is the art of stimulating areas on the feet and/or ears to affect other areas of the body. It is similar to acupressure, but the way it is applied has more room for error. The area of your baby's feet that is associated with the bowels is in the center of the bottom of the foot  between the arch and the ball of the heel. As your baby lays on her back hold her feet up and gently rub this area in a soft circular motion for a few minutes. This gas relieving reflexology method can be done a few times during the day. I like to do it just before the morning feeding, just before the later afternoon nap, and just before the bedtime feeding. The reason I do it before feedings and before sleep is because the way that reflexology works is not immediate. Reflexology is designed to treat the underlying issues (in this case movement of waste through the bowels, and efficient digestion), not to relieve the immediate symptoms.

Though there is no cure-all perfect remedy that will work for every baby, these tips have come in very handy for me over the years. Some babies are more prone to gas and gas-related pain than others, but the nice thing about babies is that they outgrow these kinds of things eventually. It is very important for you as a parent to remember to try and stay calm and gentle in these frustrating times. Keep trying new things until you find something that works, and then enjoy the silence as long as you can. The only thing as intense as a the feeling of frustration when a baby cries is the feeling of relief when they finally stop. If you have found these tips helpful, please forward them to any new or expecting parents you know. Questions and comments are always welcome. Happy parenting!

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm Back.

I would like to apologize to all my readers for my long absence. After my family moved to Utah we experienced quite a few changes. There have been some pretty tough times over the last two years, and when push came to shove I had to let go of my blog for a while. I am thankful to all of the emails and letters of support I have received over the last couple years, and I do apologize for how few I was able to respond to. I have recently moved back to the city of San Francisco, and have resumed my career in child care.

As a quick announcement, I have recently contracted with Day One in San Francisco to teach my Infant Acupressure techniques in their San Francisco location. The first class will be held on January 26th 2012. For more information, or to register, please visit their site.

Thank you all for your continued support and interest. As before, I am interested in any feedback or questions you may have for me. Happy parenting!

- Naomi

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

5 Tips for deciding whether to have your baby vaccinated.

If you are a parent or are soon to be one, chances are you've heard a little about the controversy surrounding the practice of routinely vaccinating babies. Many parents do a lot of research on their own and decide to either go forward with the vaccinations, or they decide not to. However, the information that is out there is very difficult to sort through, and it is often hard to know just what to believe. The choice of whether to immunize or not is an important one, and I've gathered some tips to consider when the time comes for you to make it.

1. Space out the immunizations.
One of the biggest concerns about vaccinations is the possibility of their link to Autism. While there have been studies done in which the link between the two has been disproved, the anecdotal evidence supporting a link continues to mount. There has also been a growing support for a third theory, the theory that there is a link, but it has to do with how many vaccinations are given all at once. The reasoning is that when you vaccinate a baby, their body is tricked into thinking it is being attacked by various illnesses, and when a baby's body has so many confusing signals going on, things get mixed up and a cloud of symptoms is formed. This cloud of symptoms is what many who support this theory blame for the development of Autism. If this theory has any truth to it, there is a simple and effective way to avoid it. Schedule your vaccinations for once every few months. Don't worry about meeting preschool deadlines for vaccinations, you can always start preschool a little late, or find an in-home preschool with no vaccination schedule required.

2. Delay immunizations.
Another related theory about the link between Autism and vaccinations supports the idea that it is not so much the lumping together of the vaccinations that is harmful, but the young age at which the vaccines are given. Part of the reason that the vaccines are given at such a young age is because the younger a child is when they contract one or more of these ailments, the more likely they are to die from them. Delaying having your child/ren vaccinated is a calculated risk, but the payoff of possibly lessening the risk of developing Autism is worth it to some parents. One of the only drawbacks to this strategy is that it could delay preschool. Also, for most kindergartens children need to be fully immunized, so delaying too long could affect their eligibility. If you do decide to delay immunizations I recommend the double strategy of waiting until your baby is 18 months old, and then also spacing out the immunizations as far as you can.

3. Verify the ingredients of the vaccines.
Another of the concerns that people have discussed as a possible cause for the autism link is the idea that there is lead and other harmful ingredient in the vaccination shots that are distributed to kids. Although lead has not been an ingredient in vaccines for some years, it is best to double check the exact ingredient list with your pediatrician. Don't just read the information booklets given by the vaccination producers, and don't only read the information put out by those who oppose vaccinations. Research for yourself any ingredients that you are not comfortable with, and ask for alternative methods of vaccination if you have doubts about the safety of any of the ingredients. Often there are oral vaccines or even inhaled vaccines that have fewer ingredients, but because they are somewhat less effective they may not be carried by your pediatrician. Ask for a special order if your pediatrician does not carry the particular type of vaccination that you would prefer.

4. Consider risk factors.
There are certain risk factors that you should consider when deciding whether to immunize, or not. I'm not talking about the risks that stem from the vaccinations themselves, I'm talking about the risks that are posed to your baby if he was to contract one of the horrible diseases that are routinely vaccinated against today. Many people have said things like "no one gets Polio anymore" or "how bad can Diphtheria really be?" or even "how could my baby even contract Hep-B?", but the very fact that we are unfamiliar with just how bad these diseases are is attributable to routine vaccinations. If you are considering risking your baby's exposure to any of these diseases I strongly advise that you both do actual research on exactly how devastating they can be, and how common they are in your part of the world. Also, consider pre-existing risk factors such as prematurity, compromised immune system and regular exposure to other children. In cases where your baby's personal risks of contraction is higher than normal, use careful and very deeply thought out reasoning before deciding not to immunize.

5. Use natural methods to reduce your risk factors.
Whether you decide to immunize or not, there are some natural methods that, while they have not been proven to work, are said to be able to reduce and even eliminate Autistic behaviors in some children. Using these methods earlier, during the first exposure to foods and throughout the first four years is one way to try and reduce your baby's chances of developing Autism-spectrum symptoms. The most commonly used is the DAN! diet. Of course you should carefully monitor your baby's nutrition and ask your pediatrician for advice before starting any child, but especially a baby, on a specialized diet. This diet basically eliminates wheat gluten, milk casins and artificial food colorings and flavorings. While your baby is still receiving most of his nutrition from breast milk you might also want to reduce your own consumption of these foods. It has been suggested that nursing mothers should limit their intake of any of the 8 common allergens anyway, so reducing especially those two, wheat and milk, is something you might want to seriously consider. As you introduce foods, try to steer toward rice, beans, veggies and fruits that have not been processed and that are organic when possible. Also, a daily multi-vitamin is always a good idea, to help supplement you and your baby's diet. Ask your pediatrician for recommended brands. Though these food suggestions are not proven to help reduce or eliminate the symptoms of Autism, there are many parents that swear by them. As long as this type of dietary change is something that you can do safely, if it even has a chance of reducing your baby's risk factor it may be worth it to give it a try.

Unfortunately there is still no known cause for Autism, and no proven cure. The fear that parents feel when confronted with the possibility of raising a child with Autism is very strong, and it can sometimes lead to decisions that are based more on feelings that on actual facts. Carefully read and weigh the validity of any information you use in making your decision of whether or not you will have your baby vaccinated. There is a lot of information out there on both sides of the issue, and all of it cannot be true. If you have found these tips to be helpful please forward this site to any new or expecting parents you know. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome. Happy parenting!

Friday, October 2, 2009

5 tips for understanding baby talk.

If babies could talk they could tell their parents what they need and things would be so much easier, right? Well, maybe, but since a baby comes into this world with relatively few neural pathways and practically no activity in the language center of their brain, chances are that your baby has pretty much no idea what she needs either. For the first few months the pain that your baby feels from gas, hunger or even getting a finger pinched is very similar. They don't have an understanding of the different parts of their body yet, so when they cry at first they will usually just cry louder and higher pitched with more intense pain. There are a few sounds that your baby makes that come from naturally reacting to certain kinds of discomfort though, and becoming familiar with these will help you decipher the general meaning behind basic forms of baby talk.

1. High pitched grunts.
Quite often, just before your little squidling starts crying in earnest he will make a series of grunts that get higher in pitch each time. These will often be accompanied by kicks, turning his head back and forth and arching his back. Sometimes these actions can indicate that your baby has reflux and if they happen after every feed and result in large amounts of spit-up, you might want to have your pediatrician check for it. However, most babies will do this five or more times a day, sometimes even in their sleep, and it is merely an indication of gas. A burp, to be specific. For your baby, a burp bubble that hasn't come up yet can feel like a tightness it their chest and arching their back provides a little relief. Also, if the bubble is moving up their throat it can bring some spit-up with it when your baby turns his head back and forth it can dislodge this bubble from behind the spit up and help the burp come up. As the burp bubble moves up the esophagus pressure on his vocal chords will tighten them, making the grunts of discomfort sound higher and higher in pitch. So generally if your baby is grunting in a high pitch, try burping him.

2. Low pitched grunts.
These grunts can also be an indication of gas, just gas that is headed out of the other end. When your little princess is feeling a bowel movement coming on she will probably lean forward, stretch her legs out straight and grunt like a walrus. It is certainly not the most delicate sound you will hear her make. Quite often, parents who have their baby swaddled will misinterpret this movement and sound to mean that their baby is trying to get out of the swaddle. This is usually not the case, however if your baby shows signs of frustration (fast kicking with bouts of rhythmic crying), you could try another type of swaddle so she can wiggle a bit more. Wiggling, especially from side to side, really can help to get a bowel movement going.

3. Coos and gurgles.
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong when your baby is cooing and gurgling. These sweet little sounds are where some of the payoff for the sleepless nights and stinky diapers comes from. However, these beautiful sounds are not just cute. They are helping your little linguist figure out how his vocal chords work. The best thing you can do with your baby when you hear him chirping and blowing raspberries is to talk to him, imitate him and generally give him face time with positive feedback. Face time is hugely important all throughout your baby's first year so let yourself enjoy it as much as possible.

4. Rhythmic crying.
Rhythmic crying can best be described as "Waa waa waa waa waa waa waa!" and it is the most frustrating sound in the world for a parent to hear. When a baby cries like this parents try everything they can think of to sooth their baby, and yet the baby usually does not respond to most of it. Rhythmic crying is often caused by one of these two issues: pain and frustration. Or it could be the result of a combination of them. Most often, your baby will begin to feel a pain, like gas, hunger, diaper rash, headache or even something more serious like a bug bite or a twisted arm or leg. Then, when the remedy you offer does not relieve the pain, your baby gets frustrated and even angry. Don't worry, this anger is not directed at you, your baby does not have a concept of blame yet. Don't beat yourself up, just very methodically try to rule out any of the more serious issues that could be making your baby cry, and when you think you know what is wrong try to distract you baby from her frustration long enough for her to accept the remedy that you are offering. Good distractions for babies are: noise from a vacuum or hair-dryer, bouncing with you on a bed or exercise ball and a change of scenery, like going outside for a brisk walk around the yard. It is important that you distract your baby before you offer the remedy to their pain because while your little drama queen is in the middle of her frustration she will be too upset to cooperate.

5. High pitched, long screams.
These are rare, and they will chill your blood if you hear them. I've never met a parent yet that didn't know what this kind of cry meant. However it can scare you so bad, that you cannot think of what you should do. This type of cry means your baby is in severe pain. When you hear this kind of cry, the first thing you should do is look at your baby and his surroundings to assess what the source of the pain might be. If you don't see anything immediately that could be the cause of the pain, unwrap and undress your baby. Look for any bite marks or unusual movement . Check the diaper too. If you cannot find any surface reason that your baby is in pain, try to sooth him. If he is somewhat soothed by you but is still crying intermittently, try burping him or giving him a warm baby massage. If you did find a source for the pain when you looked at his body, depending on how serious it looks you might want to call your pediatrician for further direction. Often this kind of crying is the result of muscle cramps. Imagine the growing pains that you had when you were in your early teens, only magnified, and with no rational explanation for what is happening to you. This is why I recommend trying a warm baby massage. Gas can also lodge suddenly and painfully in your baby's abdomen, both baby massage and burping are sometimes effective at helping to relieve this kind of pain. Another thing that many parents are surprised to discover is that their baby, through wiggling and kicking on a fuzzy blanket on a carpeted floor, can get quite a shock from static electricity. To prevent this from happening, try using a humidifier. Static electricity does not build up nearly as badly in a moist atmosphere as in a dry one.

As your baby grows she will learn to tell the difference between the things she needs, and you will start to notice a difference between her various types of cries. The level of non-verbal communication between parents and their babies is really quite amazing to observe from the outside. If you have found these tips helpful, ,please forward them to any new or expecting parents you know. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome. Happy parenting!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Toddler Tuesday! 5 tips for knowing when to take your toddler to the ER.

For most bumps and bruises a kiss will do. For fevers, coughs and colds a visit to the Pediatrician might be in order. But how do you know when a symptom that your little bug collector has is more serious than the rest? Well, besides the obvious things, like gushing blood or getting bitten by a snake, here are a few more subtle symptoms you should watch out for.

1. Refuses to use an arm or leg.
As your little gymnast grows his bones will to solidify and thicken. suddenly one day a fall from a bed could snap a bone that just days before would have been able to bend and spring back. So if your child does break a bone, you might not know it right away. Some kids show pain very vocally, while some will keep it to themselves. However, if your little one is limping, crawling or suddenly left-handed all the time it's time to go get it checked out. A broken bone that is left unset can not only heal improperly and leave a child unable to develop normally but it can sometimes damage other tissue including nerves and blood vessels. So if you have a strong suspicion that your little boy has a broken bone, don't let it go for a few days, head straight in to the hospital for an x-ray.

2. Redness from a bug bite begins to travel up the arm.
Most bug bites, even spider bites will be itchy but ultimately harmless. Of course if your child shows evidence of an allergic reaction you should rush to the hospital right away, but if they just have an itchy bump most of the time it will go away after a day or two. There is an exception to this rule though. Sometimes a bite will develop an infection. The skin does not have to be broken for this to happen, and though there might be a low-level fever it might not be high enough that you would notice. The danger with infection is that it would enter your little entomologists bloodstream and travel to her vital organs. However, as long as you keep an eye on the bite it is easy to tell if this is happening. If an infection is traveling up an arm or leg, you will see a bright red line leading from the bite. Some infections travel faster than others, so as soon as you notice the stripe, get moving!

3. Absence of urine, or urine that smells like solid waste.
After the first 6 months or so most parents start to lose track of how often their baby is peeing. However, it is very important that you keep a habit of making sure that your little toilet-paper sculptor has gone pee at least once a day. If you notice that it has been about 24 hours since the last wee-wee, watch carefully to see if there are any wet diapers or potties over the next 12 or so hours if there are not, take your baby in. Also, if you begin to notice that your child's urine smells just like a poopy diaper this is another alarming indication that there might be something very wrong with his kidneys, bladder or digestive tract and a trip to the hospital is in order.

4. If your child is extremely lethargic.
Now when you think lethargic, you might just think sleepy. Well, what I mean when I say lethargic is if your child is so sleepy that you can put her in a cold bath and she will barely open her eyes for a few seconds. This type of lethargy can be a symptom of quite a few majorly dangerous problems. Whether there is a problem with your doodle-bug's blood sugar or some type of pressure on her brain you want to get the worst possibilities ruled out fast.

5. Inability to keep solid food down over an 8 hour period.
Many viruses and colds can cause your child to vomit. However, no matter what the reason, if your little wall artist can't keep solids down over a fairly long period, chances are that he is in danger of becoming dehydrated. There are many very serious reasons that a child could be vomiting, as well as thousands more that are nothing to worry about. However, if your little one goes too long without taking in any solids, even if he can keep down fluids it is important that you have him checked out. Remember that often fluids will be expelled along with solids when your child throws up, and the serious things that could be causing this type of reaction, which could be anything from an allergic reaction to an obstruction of some kind need to be caught early to prevent serious complications.

I know that most parents who read this are going to feel immediately freaked out, but keep in mind, that most children will probably never have any of these things happen. The purpose of this post is to give you more things to keep an eye out for in the worst cases. Too often if a parent does not know that a certain symptom can be serious it can be left to cause more serious damage before it is eventually discovered and sorted out. If you have found these tips helpful, please forward them to any new and expecting parents that you know. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome. Happy parenting!