Common concerns with your baby

Common concerns with your baby

 
 

As a new first-time mother, you may come across many things that will cause you to worry and stress. But fear not! There is no doubt, whatever you are dealing with, someone has dealt with it before. Here we discuss some of the most common concerns for a baby, parents may have.

Bedtime tricks and tips!

Remember the abrupt wake up kicks at night and the many good-day greetings? Well your baby is still very much in rapid eye movement (REM) and active sleep cycles during its early years of life compared to adults. This type of sleeping pattern is light and dreamy. Babies are easily awakened between REM and active sleep which is why a snoozing baby in your arms is easily awaken when you lay them down in their bassinet. Every newborn is different and so too is their sleep needs; in the first month, a baby sleeps in total between 16 to 20 hours, by four months they sleep a total of 13 to 17 hours and by six months they sleep a total of 15 hours. But here’s the dilemma, how do you distinguish between a, ‘I just woke up and trying to fall back to sleep’, ‘I’m not sleepy’ or ‘I’m hungry’ cry in the middle of the night and early hours of the morning? A baby’s small tummy shows that frequent feeds are needed during the night as well. Generally, a baby younger than three months will rarely sleep for longer than 3 to 4 hours without needing a fed. A hungry baby is more alert and active, has its mouth wide open sucking on its hands, feet, blanket and anything else it can find. If your recently fed baby soon resumes crying, it’s likely because they want you with them when they’re trying to fall asleep. Keep their crib in your bedroom in arm’s reach from your bed or you might like to lay them beside you in your bed and later move them into their crib when they are in deep sleep; you’ll not only satisfy their lonely cries but hear them stir early and get to fed them before they start to cry saving you both from waking up completely. Settle down your baby for sleep by reading and singing to them, cuddle or take a bath together. Naps during the day shouldn’t last longer than 3 hours so that your baby isn’t too rested when it’s time for bed and try to sleep while your baby naps. Rock your baby back-and-forth to the sounds of a lullaby and use your voice and shhhhhhh sounds to comfort and make them sleepy. Sucking on a pacifier is not only soothing for your baby but its use has been shown in studies to decrease the risk of SIDS. As your baby grows it will learn how to sleep for longer periods and until this happens, just remember that you can always have uninterrupted sleep in the future but your baby won’t always be sleeping by your side.

Spitting up and Vomiting

Is your baby spitting out the breast milk or formula milk during or after feeding? This could be because he or she is taking in mouthfuls of air rather than liquid. Nothing is easy at first but with practice from both you and your baby, the act of breastfeeding will become perfected. Help your baby suck in less air by ensuring that your nipple and areola are fully in their mouth or that the bottle is tilted high enough so that the teat is completely filled with milk. After every feed, burp your baby to release any trapped air. When practice makes perfect and you still find that your baby is occasionally spitting up, that’s ok because their digestive system is still developing and learning how to function. If on the other hand you notice serious and/or continuous spitting up and your baby isn’t gaining weight, consult the paediatrician. If your baby often cries after feeding or is reluctant to feed, it could have reflux which can occur when stomach acid backs up in the oesophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach) and in severe cases, reaches the baby’s mouth. This condition is painful for the baby and can occur regularly after feeding. If you suspect that your infant has reflux take them to the paediatrician.

How often should I feed my baby and for how long?

If only breasts were slightly transparent, breastfeeding learners wouldn’t have to worrying about not feeding their babies enough milk. Luckily, there’s no true need for any alien like features whether you breast or formula fed. Learn to read your baby’s hunger and satisfied signs, check their dirty diapers over a 24 hour period for pale urine (there should be at least 5 heavy or 6-8 lighter wet nappies) and regular bowel movements (poo should be soft and runny) and closely monitor your baby’s growth and weight gain. During their first week of life, babies lose a little weight but by the second or third week, an adequately breastfed baby gains on average 112-200 grams per week during the first month, ½ -1 kilogram a month for the first six months and ½ kilogram per month from six months to the first year. Formula fed babies have similar grow rates to breasted babies for the first few months but then typically gain weight more quickly than breastfed babies. An undernourished baby will grow and gain weight slower, have poor skin colour and muscle tone, be less active and take longer to mentally develop.

Feeding frequency

Nurse your baby at the breast every 2-3 hours during a 24 hour period and after three months, every 3-4 hours during the night; always when he or she looks hungry. Older infants feed less often (they can sleep for 5 hours before their next feed) than younger infants so by feeding on demand, you’ll always have the right frequency. Formula fed infants feed less often because it takes infants longer to digest formula milk than breast milk. A hungry baby is more alert and active, has its mouth wide open and sucks on its hands. Crying is your baby’s late indicator of hunger and should be avoided.

Feeding time

Feeding a newborn can take up to 45 minutes since you are both still learning how to breastfeed. Young babies might also fall asleep during feeding time so try keeping them awake by uncovering them from their blanket, tickling their feet and interacting with them. Once you both become pros, sessions times are encouraged to last between 10 to 15 minutes on each breast. Breastfed babies will regulate their own intake by ceasing to suck whereas bottle fed babies don’t work for the milk and might finish off the bottle because they enjoy it rather than are hungry.

Nipple confusion

Need a tiny break from breast nursing or perhaps your partner wants a turn at feeding but you’re too afraid you’ll cause nipple confusion by occasionally bottle-feeding them? Most babies can switch from breast to bottle and back again with no difficulty, and some can do so from day one. Drawing milk from the breast requires the baby’s jaws, gums, tongue and lips to work rhythmically together which is beneficial for their development but requires more work than drinking from a tilted bottle which has a protruded nipple and free flowing milk. Your baby is less likely to become nipple confused when it has learnt to properly breast fed which can take up to 3 weeks or sometimes longer; this is also the time when your milk production becomes well established. You should also refrain from using nipple shields during this early time unless otherwise recommended by your lactation consultant. If you are in your early days of nursing and are concerned that your breasts aren’t supplying enough milk, see your paediatrician to discuss ways to increase your milk supply before supplementing with bottle-feeding. To help your breast-loving baby off your breasts until your back from your long awaited and possibly other occasional breaks, call on their dad, grandma and many other admires to feed them. You might like to catch up on your beauty sleep while someone else is feeding them your breast milk. If your baby begins to favour bottle-feeding over breastfeeding it’s likely because they’ve discovered it’s much easier. To encourage them back on the breast you could try making their work easier by using your hands or a breast pump to draw out droplets before bringing them to your breast. Be patient it may take some attempts before they relearn how to latch on properly, feed them before they become restlessly hungry, interact your skin against their skin and if they are using a pacifier, you could try giving it to them less or not giving it to them at all to help them distinguish between leisure and purpose sucking.

Nappy rash

A red, irritated, scaly spotty rash can develop on the skin covered by a diaper of a 4 to 15 month old baby. This is a common problem because your baby’s skin is very sensitive, and many substances, including urine, stool, some laundry products and tightly wrapped diapers that rub against their skin can cause irritation. To prevent a nappy rash, change your baby’s diapers frequently, gently clean and wipe your newborns bottom with a soft cloth or cotton wool soaked in warm water and as they get older, you can use baby wipes (preferably fragrance and alcohol free if your baby is prone to rashes). Give your baby some much needed time-out from the diaper by air drying their bottoms or if you’re in a hurry, blow onto or use a powder to dry up any moisture to prevent microorganisms from growing and causing an infection. You can also apply a cream to clean, moisturise and barricade their skin from the diaper. If you are using cloth nappies, you may need to change to a milder laundry powder, or run the nappies through an extra rinse cycle to completely remove any laundry detergent. Preventative measures will minimise the outbursts of nappy rashes but chances are good that a rash will develop and when it does, clean the bottom gently with a soft cloth or cotton wool soaked in warm water, let the bottom air-dry, apply a nappy rash cream (these are available without a prescription) and wrap the nappy loosely on. Consult your doctor if within 2-3 days the rash doesn’t disappear, spreads to other areas of the body, rash develops into blisters, pus-filled spots, pimples, ulcers or the baby develops a fever.

Newborn jaundice

If your baby’s skin and the whites of their eyes look yellowish a few days after birth, he or she may have the common condition known as jaundice. Your baby’s liver is still developing and learning how to function. One major role of the liver is the breakdown of old red blood cells to make room for new ones. When red blood cells are broken down they release a substance called bilirubin. The majority of newborn jaundice cases are caused by the immaturity of a baby’s liver to handle and effectively remove bilirubin which builds up creating the yellowy features. By the end of the second week, the liver will have matured and the jaundice will disappear. If however it appears that the condition is getting worse or not improving, consult your paediatrician.

Colic Baby, stop crying!

Colicky babies are healthy newborns under the age of 3 months, who cry continuously throughout the day and/or night for no apparent reason. Colicky babies have crying episodes that last longer than 3 hours, more than 3 times per week. The baby looks distressed with their hands in closed fists, possibly red faced, have knees bent due to abdominal pain and passing gas and have loud tummy rumblings. These wailing fits are likely to frustrate and exhaust you for no amount of snuggles, lullabies neither baths nor any other trick in the book seems to help console your baby. Colic occurs in 20% of newborns usually between the ages of 2 and 4 weeks old and they generally recover around 3 to 4 months of age. The causes of colic are not yet fully understood although possible theories include that the infant’s digestive system is still learning how to function, the infant feels overwhelmed by its new surroundings, is a consequence of maternal or passive cigarette smoke or the infant has sensitivity to a particular food component in the breast milk. A mother can choose to quit smoking and/or eliminate high risk sensitivity foods from her diet one at a time, to try pinpointing the culprit. These particular foods include cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli), chocolate, caffeine, spicy foods and allergenic foods such as diary, wheat, soy, onions and peanuts. Be mindful that if you cut out dairy products, you need to consume other foods rich in calcium or take calcium supplements to maintain your health. If you are formula feeding your baby, try switching formula. Other tips include wrapping the baby in a blanket, keeping their room quiet and dark, messaging their belly in a clockwise direction to help move the poop along and release trapped air and to burp the baby after every feed. Colic won’t harm your baby although you might want to consult with your doctor to be certain that no other problems are making your baby cry. Colic will pass away on its own, in the meantime stay positive and seek assistance from your mother and mother-in-law, a close friend or relative to mind over your baby while you and your partner have some time to sleep and recharge your batteries.

SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected and unexplained death of a healthy infant under 1 year of age. Infants are at a greater risk of SIDS while sleeping which is why it’s also referred to as crib or cot death. To reduce the risks of SIDS, lay your sleeping beauty on its back during naps and throughout the night and inform your baby’s other caregivers to do the same. When under supervision, it’s perfectly safe and well encouraged for your baby to play on their tummy during play time to strengthen their muscles but the same cannot be said for nap or bed time. When your baby can easily roll from back to tummy and from tummy to back, still lay them on their back and allow them to adopt their comfortable position. Your baby is safest sleeping on firm surfaces therefore when they fall asleep in their car seat or pram or in your arms, lay them in their crib, portable crib or bassinet as soon as possible. These surfaces must be covered with fitted sheets and be kept free from loose bedding and objects such as pillows and toys that can possibly suffocate, strangle or entrap your baby and be sure that the area around their crib is safe. Keep their room temperature set for a lightly clothed adult and dress them in what you would wear to bed or add no more than one more layer with one blanket wrapped securely around them or you can buy baby sleeping bags that keep your baby warm without running the risk of covering their heads. Co-sleeping can be unsafe so instead of bed sharing, share a room and place the crib within your arm’s reach and when midnight feds or lonely cries call or you simply want to watch them sleep, lay your baby back in its crib before you fall asleep. Prohibit cigarette smoking around the baby and if possible, breastfeed for as long as you can to decrease the risk of SIDS. After three to four weeks, your breast milk production should be well established and you can offer your baby a pacifier to nap and sleep with as it helps to reduce the risk of SIDS. If you baby doesn’t like using a pacifier try offering it to them again and if it falls from their mouth don’t try putting back in during their sleep. The risk of SIDS is very small with approximately 1 in 1,500 babies. Take the precautions as mentioned above, worry less and try to get some eye shut too. Consult with a paediatrician if you have concerns or would like more information.