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Night-Weaning Your Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 01:51pm
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Want your baby to start sleeping through the night? It can happen! But, first you need to begin night weaning your baby. We can guide you through this process with some time-tested Comfort, Play & Teach® strategies.

Generally, it’s okay to start night weaning your baby after he’s 6 months old. But check with your health care provider to be sure there’s no medical reason to continue a night time feeding. Some babies wean themselves, while others are open to it if their parents take the lead.

In many cases, babies cry only a little for a night or two along this process before adapting to going through the night without waking for a feeding. However, if your baby cries inconsolably for several nights in a row, go back to your normal routine and try again in a week or two. He may be going through a growth spurt and need that feeding to satisfy his hunger.  This is not spoiling him. In this situation, you are not training him to get what he wants by crying. Instead, you will be responding to his needs—and this is a good thing.

Our experts have created the following Comfort, Play & Teach® activities to help you night-wean your baby.

Comfort

  • Timing is everything. Don't try night weaning if your routine is changing or about to change—especially if you’re about to become less available. For example, it’s not good for your baby to attempt night weaning just before you return to work. Try to undertake night weaning a long time before or considerably after you make such a change. It’s also not a good idea to try night weaning during a vacation or shortly after a move. Your baby can be affected by these changes in her routine. She will naturally want to connect with you at night if she is in a strange place or if she has less of your time during the day.
  • If you’re the one who comforts your baby when he cries at night, try having your partner attend to the baby. The smell of you or your breast milk can make your baby want to feed.
  • Throughout the process, gently soothe and comfort your baby when he wakes. Explain that it's sleepy time. Repeat gentle soothing, but firm words such as “sh,sh” or “night night” while patting his back or tummy. Even though he's too young to understand your words, most babies gradually understand the meaning, and your presence soothes them.     

Play

  • Be sure to keep any play that takes place just before bed quiet and calming such as reading a book or giving baby a massage. A revved up baby may fall asleep in exhaustion, and then wake up in the middle of the night with energy left to burn off.
  • Don’t reward your baby with play in the middle of the night. Some parents feel that if their baby is awake, they might as well get up and play. Keep nighttime for sleeping and daytime for play.

Teach

  • Wean slowly and gradually. This is the most important key to successful night weaning. Remember that your baby is still young and has a tremendous need for comfort, closeness and reassurance—particularly from his parents.
  • Very gradually give your baby less time on each breast or a little less milk at each feeding.
  • Very gradually prolong the intervals between feedings by patting and comforting your baby. This will gently urge him to go back to sleep.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty to eat throughout the day. Offer your child extra feedings in the evening so he won't be hungry in the middle of the night. Wake him for a final feeding before you go to bed.

 

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Reading with your Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 06:03pm
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For some parents, the idea of reading to their newborn seems ridiculous. If the baby can’t speak or understand, why would they be interested in a story? But child development experts are quick to assure new parents that reading to their child is one of the most important things that they can do.

Reading to your baby right from birth, even during pregnancy, can make a big difference in your child’s development. It’s a way to communicate with your baby that will help him build his language skills. Through reading, you’re also comforting your baby. You’re involved by touching, rocking and speaking to him. And when you read, you’re playing with him. You can make sound effects or ask questions or try commenting on what he’s looking at. It’s a chance to teach your baby about colours, shapes, feelings, how people act and react and what the world is all about.

It may seem strange that all of those things help your baby before he can even talk, but there are even more benefits. Experts believe that early literacy helps your baby increase his vocabulary and attention span. He’ll develop an eagerness to read and learn. He’ll know how to handle books, understand how to put sentences together, predict what happens next in a story, increase his social skills, bond with you and identify his feelings.

The best time to start reading to your baby is actually during pregnancy.
There is evidence that reading to your baby while in the womb promotes bonding and baby comes to prefer his parents’ voices. In research studies, babies have even shown a preference for songs or stories that they had been exposed to before they were born.

With a baby, it can be tough to hold their attention to read them a story. Try to choose books with large print and pictures that will keep your baby interested. Speak in the slightly higher pitched, animated simple words that are often called “parentese.” Make sure your baby is comfortable, dry and fed so that he won’t be distracted as you read. And, as much as it might seem repetitive to you, try to read the same book every day for a while. It will help develop your baby’s memory, plus your baby will start to look forward to the pictures and words on the next page.

Let your baby touch the book you are reading. Touch is a central part of human learning. We all learn especially well when we can pick up and handle materials. For babies, experts generally recommend board books because they are safer (much harder to chew), plus they’re great for helping babies learn to exercise their fingers and hands.

If your baby fusses when you are reading, don’t try to keep reading or choose a different book. Put the book away and wait for a time when baby is calm. The last thing you want is to have your baby connect fussiness with reading. Always wait for a time when your baby is in a happier mood and then try reading.

Reading with your baby is Comfort, Play & Teach® time:

Comfort

  • If you make reading with your baby a routine, your baby will feel safe and comforted.

Play

  • If you routinely read in an animated way, your baby will be enjoying playtime with you

Teach

  • If you make reading a reading routine, your baby will learn to pay attention, pick up words for his vocabulary, and learn to think ahead.

 

Check out our Reading with Your Baby video for more tips and strategies for reading with your baby.

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Cry it Out

by Maxine
Posted June 21 2011 03:21pm
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Our experts have looked at both sides of the debate - the Cry it Out method and the Attachment Parenting approach. Below you’ll find a series of articles that can help you get a better understanding of the Cry it Out method so you can decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Still not sure of which approach is best for you and your baby? Ask an Expert and get the answers you’re looking for.

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Living smoke-free with your baby

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 04:10pm
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Breathing in second-hand smoke causes over 1,100 deaths in Canadian non-smokers from lung cancer and heart disease every year. A Health Canada Report in 2007, noted that 7% of Canadian children under 12 years old were exposed to second-hand smoke from cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Although this number is dropping, it still means that about 300,000 children under age 12 continue to be exposed regularly to second-hand smoke.

The good news is that most Canadian families agree they should avoid exposure to second-hand smoke in their home and car. Currently, four out of five (82%) Canadian homes already restrict smoking in some way and parents report there is general agreement about these restrictions among family members. Parents also report that the primary reason they want to cut back on the amount of second-hand smoke in their home is because of their children.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals which are known to be linked to cancer. Second hand smoke also contains these chemicals; 2/3 of the smoke from a burning cigarette remains in the environment such as a room or a car-the other 1/3 is inhaled by the smoker. Third hand smoke also contains the same chemicals. This is the smoke that gets trapped in hair, skin, fabric, carpets, dust and toys; which accumulates over time. Babies and young children may take in more third hand smoke because they put their hands in their mouth and they spend more time playing on the floor.

Children are more vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke because:

  • They breathe faster than an adult and will breathe in more air relative to their weight and, therefore, absorb more toxins.
  • Their immune systems are less developed than an adult and their lungs are still developing.
  • Their airways are smaller and more sensitive to impurities in the air.
  • Children may not be able to move to a less smoky environment (e.g. go to a different room or get out of the car).
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke in children has been linked with health problems such as colds and upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, croup, ear infections, asthma and allergies.
  • Babies exposed to second-hand smoke are more at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

What do these statistics mean to you as a parent? Well, for one thing, they mean that you are not alone. Across Canada, hundreds of thousands of families are struggling with the issue of second-hand smoke and are looking for ways to protect their children from its harmful effects. For a guide on how to make your home and car smoke free visit Health Canada’s Website or visit The Canadian Lung Association website which has tips on how to protect yourself from Second and Third Hand Smoke.

Visit Health Canada's website for A Guide for Parents: Making Home and Car Smoke-Free.

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