Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5 Tips About Why Your Baby Is Sleeping So Much And Not Eating

The sleeping and eating habits of your babies is a constant source of  worry for new parents. Though grandparents and doctors will reassure you over and over again that everything is normal, you'll probably still be pretty concerned more often than you'd like. One of the reasons the eating and sleeping cycles of your little one are so hard to feel comfortable with is because over the first five years they will change pretty often, and quite drastically.

There are a few reasons these changes are happening, and simply understanding what is going on can go a long way toward soothing your frazzled parental nerves. The following are the top five reasons your baby is having such dramatic shifts in her sleeping and eating patterns.

1. Body Plumping = Less Sleep, More Eating

Your baby will from time to time suddenly develop a huge appetite, while at the same time he seems to stop sleeping all together. This is caused by his need to stock up on baby fat. Baby fat is a basic building block for growing every part of your little muscle man's new body. However, baby fat is stored energy, so in order to store some of it, your little bunny will need to take in quite a bit more than he is using. Eating as much as he can hold means he has a whole bunch of energy, kind of like drinking several energy boosts, and it makes sleeping very difficult. In those brief periods where he does sleep though, his body will be converting any unused energy into baby fat, so those naps, even though they are hard, are still extremely important.

2. Body Stretching = More Sleep, Less Eating

Then suddenly just when you think your little cuddle monkey must be allergic to sleep, and she seems just about as plump as a cherub, she starts sleeping all the time, and hardly eating a drop! Some parents mistakenly think it is a sign that their rolly-polly bug has gotten lazy from gaining too much weight, but that is just not the case. What is most likely happening is that your sweetheart has stored up plenty of energy and now her body is using it to help her grow. The best source for building strong bones, healthy muscles, and efficient internal organs is that adorable baby fat. But turning the baby fat into new, bigger, better, body parts takes a lot of energy, so your little princess spunky-butt will be catching as much sleep as she can, even if it means skipping a meal here or there.

3. Brain Plumping = Less Sleep, Less Eating

Now, brains don't get fat, so "plumping" is a bit of an odd term. But what I mean is that during this part of the ongoing cycle of growth and development, your baby will be gathering information. He'll be fascinated by everything, looking around, grabbing, smelling, tasting, and generally absorbing everything around him. He's too busy to eat, too curious to sleep, and basically driving you crazy with wanting to play at 3 am. This phase is a hard one, because it takes a lot of energy from you and there seems to be no way to slow him down. Generally you'll see this behavior pop up around the time your little Sherlock passes a developmental milestone. The world will seem to change a lot when he learns to roll over, or figures out how to sit up. There are lot's of new things he'll need to learn very quickly! Don't worry though, this cycle will eventually take a break and let you catch a little much needed sleep too.

4. Brain Stretching = More Sleep, More Suddenly

All of that new information your little one has been gathering eventually needs to be processed into her rapidly growing brain, and nervous system. You'll notice a sudden change of pace, and your frenetic little huggy buggy will suddenly fall into a pattern of falling asleep in the middle of a big meal, and then needing a nap afterwards. This might look just like the Body Stretching part, but it is characterized by the suddenness of the need for sleep. Ever see a picture of a baby falling asleep mid meal? That baby probably is growing some important new brain cells, and translating direct experience into memory and cognitive function. Now, for babies that are still very little, you might notice that they fall asleep while eating extremely often, maybe even every time. Yes, that is in part because of how fast their brian is learning. It will slow down and eventually be much more rare for your infant to fall asleep while eating, but it is a very good sign when it happens, especially early on.

5. Immunity Boosting = More Sleep, More fussy

Sometimes your little button nose will have just had a nice long nap, much longer than normal, and yet when she wakes up starts fussing and crying as if she is exhausted! This is usually a good indication that your baby-cake is trying to fight off a cold. Your baby doesn't always catch every illness that she is exposed to, and the reason why is a healthy immune system. But the immune system needs a boost of it's own from time to time to keep running smoothly. This basically means that her body is going to need a lot more nutrients like vitamin C, Carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin E, and Zinc among others. These nutrients are stored in your baby's body, in muscles, fat, and organs. So when she needs to process them into her immune system, she will not feel great, and need a lot of sleep. Usually there is no need to worry, but if you ever have the feeling that there is something more seriously wrong, you should talk to your pediatrician.

Just like us grown ups, our babies will sometimes have changing sleep patterns and appetites. It is important to remember that almost everything your baby does is completely natural, and normal. However, if you ever find that you cannot wake your baby easily with a little jostle and noise or notice that he is refusing to eat for more than 12 hours, you should bring it to the attention of your little one's doctor right away. There are few things our little squishy britches will keep doing from one day to the next, being cute is really the only thing that doesn't change. So relax and enjoy the roller coaster, your baby is just waiting for you to get used to this new pattern so he can change it on you again. Happy parenting!

Also, please check out my current work over at YummyShapes.com where I blog about once a week these days.

Friday, September 5, 2014

5 Tips For Teaching Your Baby To Roll Over From Back to Belly

Watching our little ones grow is both thrilling and stressful. While there is no high like seeing your sweet baby recognize your face for the first time or learn to play peek-a-boo, there is no low like worrying that your baby might not be developing on schedule.

Almost every time I speak to a parent about their baby I find that they have been worrying about one or two of the major milestones of the first year. So, rest assured, even if your baby hasn't rolled over and it is nearing the 10 month mark, while you should let your pediatrician know, your baby will be just fine in all but the rarest cases. However, there are a few small things you can do to help your little one as they are working on figuring out how to flip the world upside down and back.

1. Hip Swivel

This is a simple little exercise to help you start walking your nimble little wiggle worm through the motions of rolling over. Start with her laying on a blanket on a soft floor. Take ahold of each of her legs, and gently cross the right leg over the left. Keep bringing the top leg over and around, until her right hip lifts off the floor. Now hold her there or a count of five unless she seems uncomfortable or frustrated. Then gently bring her right leg back to it's natural position, and repeat the movement with her left leg. Repeat this, taking turns on each leg, about 6 or 7 times in a row to help encourage muscle memory. This gentle repetitive motion will help guide your baby through the mechanics of how to get her lower body to roll over. In just a couple of weeks you should see her start to swing her leg over and swivel her hips on her own as she gets ready to fully roll over.

2. Raise the Arm

Another step you can take to help your little finger muncher learn how to get from his back to his belly is to show him how to get that arm out of his way. If you've seen your baby roll up onto his side at all, you might have noticed that one of the things stopping him from just rolling the rest of the way is the arm he is resting on. So, the next time you see your sweet little monkey get almost up and over, just reach in and take a hold of his arm that is against the blanket, and guide it up near his ear, so it is completely out of his way. Always guide the arm gently, and let your baby pull it back if he is uncomfortable. Try to remember to do this as often as you can while playing with him on the floor. Before you know it he'll start figuring out how to get out of his own way.

3. Demonstrate

Yes, this means what you think it means. It means you should get down on the ground and roll over while your little sock kicker watches. It may sound silly, but there is more and more evidence turning up that babies start learning visually long before we think they do. Hold her up to watch as another baby rolls over sometimes as well. This is helpful, because it gives you an example of exactly how another baby gets themselves rolled over. Also, when you are demonstrating the technique to your baby, remember to think through each step from your little rug buddy's perspective. You might realize how hard it is to twist your legs over without something to push off from, or notice the huge barrier that your shoulder becomes. These little insights can help you understand your baby's struggle, and be supportive in the ways that are most effective for her.

4. Sing a Ditty

A little tune can turn a stressful training session into a fun workout for a grown up, and unsurprisingly, it can also work for your baby. Sing, or hum or whistle a peppy tune to your little giggle face as you help roll him back and forth slowly from back to front, and then front to back. I particularly like singing "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" because it comes with built in instructions about how to roll over! I have even wondered if teaching babies to roll over might have been the original purpose of the nursery rhyme! Whether you use this song, or one of your own, a little music goes a long way toward turning floor time fun, for both of you.

5. Payoff is Important

It is important not to discourage your cute little honey bubble by forgetting to give her a reward after she has been working hard on learning to roll over. Though your little one doesn't have a concept of "earning a reward", she will already have a highly developed sense of "needing a break". So take a few minutes to play with her before, during, and after you work on rolling over with her. It'll be a surprisingly nice pause for yourself as well. Teaching your baby to do anything can feel like trying to train water to dance, so take a lot of breaks to enjoy your little stinker and remind yourself that he's pretty amazing already.

It is extremely likely that eventually your sweet cuddle bear will learn to roll over, no matter if he does it spontaneously at 4 months, or seems to be just starting to figure it out by his first year. There is hardly ever a reason to worry about exactly when it will happen, and chances are good that if there is a reason to worry, your pediatrician will not only know what it is, but give you helpful and useful things you can do to help him with his own unique developmental needs. The most important thing is to always see the best in your baby, encourage, and support him, and always believe that he is capable of anything. Your baby will understand that long before he figures out how to get from his back to his belly. As always, comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome, and if you have found these tips to be helpful, please forward them to any new, or expecting parents you know. Happy parenting!

Also, please check out my current work over at YummyShapes.com where I blog about once a week these days.