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!

There is a NEW post from NAOMI up today (9/5/14)! Check it out HERE.

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