Safety Tips for Massaging Your Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 11:00am
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Our experts have created these safety tips to help you when you’re massaging your baby. Remember, it’s a great idea to learn about baby massage from a certified Infant Massage Instructor.

  • Do not massage a baby that is sick or has a fever.
  • Do not massage over areas that have a rash or are red. This could cause further irritation to these areas and may be painful for your baby.
  • Avoid using nut-based oils when doing massage to decrease the risk of an allergic reaction.
  • Do not use oils around baby's eyes or mouth, as these may get into their eyes or mouth during massage.

Sources: Tina Holden, Child, Youth & Family Consultant, British Columbia.
Jill Vyse, Massage Therapist, International Association of Infant Massage, Canadian Chapter.

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Sleeping Safely

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 03:50pm
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Most new parents have heard about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or “Crib Death,” as it is sometimes called. The sudden and unexpected death of a healthy infant under the age of one occurs more often than you would think – in Canada, three babies a week die from SIDS. Why this happens is still unknown, but certain factors are known to increase the risk of SIDS.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce the risk.

“SIDS is a scary prospect for parents,” says Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert. “But through a few simple precautions there are some strategies you can use to limit your baby’s risk.”

  • Put baby to sleep on his back. Unless your baby’s doctor has told you otherwise, the safest position for newborns to sleep is on their backs. Contrary to what lay people may have told you, this position is not more likely to cause your baby to choke. When babies are old enough to turn over on their own, you do not have to force them to sleep on their backs.
  • Ensure there is good air circulation around baby’s face. Check that the mattress is firm and flat, and that it fits the crib well. Don’t forget to throw away the plastic wrapping that the mattress came in. This will help prevent your baby from smothering. Also, to prevent suffocation, do NOT put pillows, comforters, stuffed animals or bumper pads in your baby’s crib.
  • Make your baby’s environment smoke and drug free. To reduce the risk of SIDS and other causes of disease and disability, moms should not use drugs, alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs before and during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding. As parents, you will need to make sure that nobody smokes near your baby. This is healthier for your baby and it reduces the risk of SIDS.
  • Don’t let baby get too hot. Babies need to be warm, but making them too hot can increase their risk of SIDS. How can you tell? Chances are that if the room feels warm enough for you, it’s warm enough for your baby. Feel the back of your baby’s neck, rather than your baby’s hands and feet – they’ll always feel cooler. If the back of his neck feels warm, your baby is warm. Put the same number of layers as you’re wearing on your baby, with maybe an extra light layer. Your baby should not be sweating.
  • Try breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not only the best way to feed your baby, it may also protect from SIDS.

No sleep environment is completely risk free, but you can do a lot to keep your baby safe. In addition to the recommendations above, The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends:

  • Place your baby in a crib that meets the Canadian Government’s safety standards. This is the safest sleeping environment for your baby in the first year.
  • Do not share your bed with a baby under the age of 1 year. This increases the risk of SIDS. If you want your baby near you at night, put your baby’s crib in your room.
  • Avoid air mattresses, waterbeds, pillows, soft materials and loose bedding. They are unsafe—even for temporary sleeping arrangements.
  • Avoid using foam wedges or rolled towels for positioning your baby for sleep.
  • Don’t use your baby’s car seat or infant carrier as a substitute crib—even when travelling. The harness straps could cause your baby to stop breathing.
  • Do not sleep or nap with your baby on a couch, recliner or cushioned chair. It could result in a fall, injury or suffocation.
  • Don’t leave bottles of milk or juice in your baby’s bed because these are choking hazards.

Click here to learn more about your sleep and your baby.

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What is Skin-to-Skin Contact?

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 09:41pm
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Skin-to-Skin contact is holding or laying your baby on your chest or abdomen with your baby just wearing his diaper. This can be done immediately after your baby is born and in the weeks and months following his birth. You can put a light receiving blanket over baby.  Both mom and dad can provide skin-to-skin contact with baby.

Skin-to-skin contact has many benefits for your baby, including babies that were premature.  Immediately following birth, it helps your baby adjust to the world around her.  She is warmed by your body heat, her heart rate and breathing stabilize and her presence helps to release Oxytocin, a hormone in Mom’s body that will help in breastfeeding and keep Mom’s uterus contracted.  Your baby’s senses are heightened immediately following birth; she will smell her mom’s body, look at her parents, hear their voices and feel their touch.  Skin-to-skin contact in the weeks and months following birth continues to offer benefits to your baby such as:

  • Helps increase breast milk supply as frequent skin-to-skin contact allows baby frequent access to breastfeed
  • Baby has an increased ability to keep warm
  • Increased comfort from the warmth of your body, hearing your heartbeat and closeness of your voice
  • Improved weight gain
  • Increased baby-parent bonding
  • Improved oxygen levels in baby
  • Continued improvement in baby’s breathing patterns and heart rate
  • May help calm baby during painful procedures

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The benefits of reading to your baby

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 11:58am
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Reading to children has many benefits. It is a great opportunity to bond and enjoy each other's company. It can also increase their vocabulary, trigger their imagination and expose them to new experiences and concepts. Moreover, reading with children prepares them for learning to read by fostering their appreciation for books and by familiarizing them with print and the structure of stories.

Some parents wonder whether reading to their child in utero has any benefits. While there is no research suggesting that this has any unique benefits, doing things like talking, reading or singing to your child during your pregnancy will help you develop feelings of attachment towards her. By focusing on her in this way, you can begin to include her in your life. Also, through these activities and your everyday conversations with others, you are exposing your child to your voice. As a result, she will be capable of recognizing it from the moment she is born and this will contribute to her bonding with you. So it's never too early to start reading to your child.

From the first days of life and throughout childhood, you can help instill a love of reading. Start by setting an example. Show your child that reading is an enjoyable activity by reading in his presence and keeping lots of reading material in your home. Read to him often (several times a day!), a special activity that stimulates your child's senses through colourful illustrations to look at, the comforting sound of your voice, your touch and your smell as he snuggles against you.

You can further enhance your child's enjoyment of book-reading by encouraging your child to get actively involved in various ways. For example, let your infant manipulate sturdy board books and soft cloth or plastic books as you read to him. He will enjoy feeling the different textures with his fingers... and his mouth! These actions can make book-reading a more fun, positive and engaging experience for your child by allowing him to play an active rather than a passive role.

It is also important to let your child set the pace. Spend as much or as little time as he wants on each page. Also, give him the opportunity to choose books that interest him. Raid your local library or bookstore so you have a wide selection of books available to choose from and let him decide which book he wants to read, even if you've already read it three times that day! By respecting his choices and supporting his interests in these ways, you will foster his appreciation of books and help him develop a positive attitude towards reading.

Try to choose books that are appropriate for your child's age and level of development. Children's books often come with age recommendations that are based on factors such as the book's length, the level of vocabulary, the topics and concepts covered, and the amount of detail appropriate for the average child's level of development at a given age.

Some parents find that their child does not seem to be interested in books. They try to close the book or struggle to get away during story time. If this happens to you, don't force things as this will only frustrate both of you. However, do try again soon. Choose your timing carefully and take into account your child's mood and energy level. Pick a time when your child is relaxed, perhaps just before bedtime, and read in a quiet place where there is no other distraction such as the television or other family members who are engaged in a different activity. Also, suggest books that match your child's interest (e.g. animals, machines, rhymes, etc). He will be more likely to enjoy such books. It's also important to follow your child's lead and to give him plenty of leeway for exploration; don't assume he will understand right from the beginning that the pages have a specific order, or that he will want to read the whole book in one sitting. The important thing is that he has fun, not that he does it the "right" way.

Video Alert!
Watch our Reading with Your baby video to learn more about Comfort, Play & Teach and reading to your child.

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