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The Benefits of Baby Massage

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 11:00am
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Many health care professionals agree that infant massage is a wonderful way to strengthen the parent-child relationship and contribute to a baby's healthy development. It’s a good idea for parents to learn massage techniques from a certified Infant Massage Instructor in a class with other parents and babies.

That way you’ll come to understand how to individualize the massage to your own infant's needs, developmental level and temperament and this can be a great opportunity to meet other parents in your community.

There are a number of benefits of infant massage:

  • It's relaxing! Most babies love being touched in this gentle and nurturing way. The loving touch can reduce fussiness and irritability.
  • It helps with digestion.
  • It can provide relief with gas or colic.
  • Premature babies benefit from appropriate massage. Research connects infant massage to weight gain in premature babies.
  • Massage promotes bonding. Both you and your baby will come to enjoy this special time just for the two of you.
  • It helps with communication. You become more attuned with your baby's nonverbal cues.
  • Sleep patterns improve. Your baby is learning to relax, and the result is often more sound and longer sleep.
  • It provides stimulation. The gentle stroking stimulates muscles and circulation.

 
If you’re considering baby massage, check out our Safety Tips for Massaging Your Baby and our Baby Massage Tips.

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

 

Did you use baby massage with your baby? How did you find the experience? Share your story with other parents by leaving a comment below.
    

 

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Sleeping Through the Night

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 04:07pm
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It doesn't take new parents long to begin to understand their babies' sleep patterns…or lack of them. When new parents with young babies get together, one of the common topics of discussion is their babies' sleep! Many ask the all-important question, "When will my baby start sleeping through the night?"

“The term ‘sleeping through the night’ means different things for different parents,” says Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert. “A baby’s sleep schedule is anything but predictable! For some it means their baby sleeps continuously from midnight until 7am, for others, it means 11:30pm to 5:30am with several awakenings in between that don’t wake the parents.

“Babies often wake briefly several times during their sleep; if nothing stimulates them, they fall back to sleep again and parents may not even realize the baby was awake,” Foster continues. “If baby wakes and is hungry, that may cause some crying, it is the only way she is able to tell you that she needs you.”

For the first couple of months, it may be easier to have your baby sleep in their crib next to you. You will begin to hear her stir and can feed her before she starts to cry, which means you may be able to return to sleep a little faster.

By six weeks of age, many babies begin to sleep for a five to six hour stretch between seven p.m. and 1:00 a.m. and have about six feedings in a 24-hour day. It’s normal for a seven-week-old baby to sleep 14-18 hours a day. They may sleep for five to six hours at night and then again in the morning and afternoon and then have a period during the day when they are awake and sociable.

Foster is quick to point out, however, that each baby is unique and that it’s important when your baby is little to do what works for him. If your baby still needs that 5:30am feeding, you should continue it. In another month or so, at around 10 to 12 weeks old, he may only need five feedings in 24 hours and he will adjust his sleep schedule.

Hang in there! Your baby’s night time schedule might not be ideal for you, but it’s probably very typical and likely won’t last much longer.

If you are concerned that your baby isn’t sleeping enough or is sleeping too much, be sure to contact your health care provider.


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

At what age did your baby ‘sleep through the night?’ How did you deal with your sleep challenges? Add your comments below and let other parents know about your experience!  

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First Time Away from Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 09:55pm
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Some parents look forward to their first outing without their new baby, while others dread it. Some are eager to think about something other than diapers and feeding, while others think two hours away from baby is far too long. Whichever category you fall into, there are strategies to help make time away from your little one easier.

For some of you, the first separation may have happened shortly after birth if Mom or your baby were unable to come home right away and were forced to be separated. Maybe a work or family commitment has called upon one or both of you to leave your baby for a few hours. For others, the day hasn't arrived yet. In fact, it may not be for several weeks or months after your baby is born. However, eventually, you will have to leave your baby in someone else's care for the first time.

The Stress of Leaving

It’s hard to leave when you know your baby is still so vulnerable, so you may experience different levels of distress at different times. For example, Dad, you may be going back to work just a few days or weeks after your baby is born while Mom may not leave baby for any reason for a couple of months.

Leaving your baby can be a very emotional time. It can bring up feelings of worry, guilt or even a sense of emptiness. These emotions can strengthen if your baby is upset just before you leave or is difficult to console when you return. You may feel terrible that your baby cried for a long period of time or refused to eat when you weren’t there. It's important to recognize that there is a wide range of experiences as to how parents react in general and how you react in particular when that "first time away" happens.

Dealing with It

If leaving your baby for the first time isn't that difficult for you, don't question yourself. This certainly isn't a measure of how much you love your baby. Enjoy your time away—guilt free!

However, if you are having a hard time leaving your baby, here are some ways in which to handle your first time apart:

  • Accept the idea that, eventually, you will need to leave your baby in someone else's care.
  • Talk about your feelings with your partner, other family members or friends.
  • Plan and put energy into selecting a childcare provider who provides you with a high level of confidence. Otherwise, when you're gone, you'll just be worried that your baby isn't receiving the level of care that you want her to have. Stress will be your destiny!

Time Away Made Easy

Being prepared for time away can also make it easier. Here are some strategies that can help you prepare.

Teach your baby to be at ease with other adults. Let others hold and comfort your baby. If you're the only one to respond to him when he needs comforting, he will have a more difficult time feeling calm when others take care of him.

Have your babysitter spend some time with your baby when you're home. Don't hover and interrupt. Let the caregiver have some independent time with your child.

Plan a "graduated" absence. The first time, go out for just an hour or even less. Go for a walk or for a cup of coffee. Go out in the yard and read, or go shopping. Each time you go out, stay away a bit longer until both you and your baby get used to the time apart. The idea is to do something where you can control the time and distance you're away.

Carry a cell phone or leave a number where the sitter can reach you. Knowing that they can contact you at any time can be reassuring.

Tell your sitter that you're struggling with the whole separation issue and may be checking in. It's important that your sitter doesn't become offended when you call to check on your baby—maybe even repeatedly. She needs to see it as helpful for your comfort level. Try not to overdo this though. Make a rule; for example, you'll only call once an hour.

Planning your Time Away

Make a plan with your babysitter. You know your baby best. You also know how much discomfort you think your baby can tolerate before you need to become involved. Decide in advance what your limits and your baby's limits are. Do you want to be called if your baby wakes up—no matter what? If so, then tell that to the babysitter. Do you want your babysitter to try her best soothing techniques for 20 minutes, and then if they aren't working, call you? If so, specify that. Babies under 1 year are too young to be left to "cry it out" with a babysitter. If you can't be reached and your baby is having a prolonged crying episode, be sure to list who the babysitter should call.

Plan your first outing so that it fits into your baby's schedule. Go out during your baby's usual sleep time. Plan your time away so it falls between feedings, especially if Mom is breastfeeding. Try going out during a time in the day when your baby isn't fussy.

Don't make a big fuss just before you leave. Your baby will pick up your stress, which is more likely to make him anxious.

Always leave an extra feeding. This is a wise idea, just in case you return later than you planned.

On your return, fall back into the usual routine. Avoid trying to make up to your baby for being gone. There is nothing to feel guilty about; you've done nothing wrong by taking some time for yourself.

 

How did you handle your first outing without your baby? How did you plan in advance? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!

 

 

 

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Full time work and travel: How they will affect your baby

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 01:14pm
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Being away from your child can be very difficult for both of you. Research shows that parental absence is usually difficult initially when your child is between six months and two and a half years. If you're away for a few days or even a few hours, you may find that your child becomes very upset with you, even angry. If this happens, try to comfort and reassure her.

Spending time away from your child is sometimes necessary and, in most cases, these absences will cause no harm. If you have to be away longer than one or two days, you can make things easier by leaving your child with someone who knows him well, will understand he may be anxious and upset, and who will consistently reassure him of your return. It's also best to leave your child in familiar surroundings. It is helpful to try and have their day remain as consistent and predictable as possible, whether you are with them or they are in the care of another person (getting up the same time, having the same bedtime routing, nap time, etc.).

You can help to reassure your child and keep a positive relationship. When you return at the end of the day or after a trip, your child may tell you to "go away," or say, "I don't want you." What your child really means is that she missed you terribly and wishes she could have more control over your coming and going. Let you child know that it is okay to be mad or sad or grumpy. Tell them that you love them no matter what they feel and you are so glad to be home with them. To help your child feel a little of this control, allow her to keep her distance for an hour or so after you return if that's what she wants, or let her direct where you should sit. This may help your child feel more secure that she still has some say in her relationship with you. Above all, don’t get upset or chastise your child for not being happy to see you.

Be Honest. Some parents are inclined to tell their child they will be right back, or not tell their child they are leaving and then leave when the child is occupied or sleeping. Although this might seem easier it usually causes greater distress in the long run. You child may start to become extremely upset whenever you are out of their sight because they fear you are not going to return It is much better to tell you child you are leaving and when you are coming back. They may be too young to understand time, but you can help them by putting jellybeans (or a similar small, non-perishable food item) in a jar. One jellybean goes in for each day you are away. The child eats one jellybean at the same time each day and when all the jellybeans are gone, Mom or Dad is coming home.

Make coming home special. Always greet you child right after you arrive home and spend a few minutes with them. Cuddle, share stories, show pictures; just spend some nice time together. If there were issues with the child when you were away, save dealing with this until a little later. Your return home needs to be a pleasant time for all of you.

Include your child in preparing for you to leave. Give your child a role in helping you pack and in taking something to remind you about your child, (i.e. a picture, one of their toys, etc.). Having them participate will help them feel more included and will also help them to understand the difference between a “long trip” and just going to the store.

Connect with our child while you are away. Children respond well to structure and predictability. If you are away for more than a day, call just before bed, send an e-mail or talk to them via one of the social networking sites. Try to make your connection at the same time each day. After they wake up, at supper, or just before bed as an example. You might want to take one of their storybooks with you and read it to them as a part of their bedtime routine. A great idea that some parents have used is to have two copies of favourite storybooks so that as the parent read one over the phone or internet, the child can follow with their own book.

Children do adjust. Remember that there are millions of parents who work full time, part time and travel away from home and their children are doing just fine.

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