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Preparing to go Back to Work While Breastfeeding

Preparing to go Back to Work While Breastfeeding

A lot of us have been fortunate enough to be able to work from home during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. In the next few weeks and months, however, businesses will begin to open and allow workers to come back. Whether you are a new mom or a seasoned one, if you are planning to go back to work while breastfeeding in the near future, now is the time to put together your strategy.

As a word of caution, it is important to accept that staying on top of your feeding/pumping schedule will certainly become more difficult as you spend more time away from home and away from your little one. We know how hectic work schedules can be, especially if you are just coming back from maternity leave (or quarantine). There are a lot of breastfeeding-related things to consider:

  • How do I build up a milk supply?
  • Will my baby take to a bottle?
  • When and where will I pump at work?

But don’t stress, we are going to cover all of these things here today!

1. Stockpile

One of the first things we recommend doing to prepare for returning to work is to begin stocking up on your milk supply. We suggest you do this as soon as your supply becomes established (this occurs around 2-3 weeks postpartum). Having a stockpile of milk gives you a little bit of a safety net while you get used to trying to pump at work. The best time to pump for storing is between your baby’s feedings. You can safely store your breast milk in a standard refrigerator freezer for 3-6 months and a chest freezer for 6-12 months. Just make sure to store them in the back of the freezer and not in or near the door.

*Tip: Date all of your milk and use the oldest milk first. This is important for two reasons:

  1. the quality of your milk will slowly degrade the longer it is frozen
  2. the nutritional needs of your baby changes as they grow and the quality of your breast milk changes in order to meet those needs. Therefore, if you are feeding your 9-month-old breast milk you pumped when they were 2 months old they may not be getting all of the nutrition they need

2. Practice Bottle Feeding

Get your baby used to taking a bottle as soon as possible (around 3 weeks old). To avoid confusion, it is best to have someone else bottle-feed the baby. This is a great chore for the non-breastfeeding parent! Have your partner bottle feed the baby 2-3 times a week. This will not only give them time to bond, but your baby will also develop familiarity with the different styles of feeding. We cannot stress this step enough. If your baby is not used to being bottle-fed, they may protest and refuse to eat when you are away. And that’s fun for no one. 

*Tip:  A great time to pump for your stockpile is when your baby is practicing bottle-feeding

3. Talk to your Boss

To ease your transition back to work, discuss your needs with your boss or supervisor before you return. Let them know how often you will need to pump (on average you will need 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a day). Block off time on your calendar to pump so you don’t find yourself trapped in a meeting or forgetting because you are wrapped up in a project. Find out if there is a lactation room available or if you can arrange to use an empty office or conference room to pump. Do you need/have access to refrigeration facilities? If possible, arrange for a designated drawer or shelf space where you can store your milk. If you have your own office or workspace, ask if it is possible to arrange for a small refrigerator.

4. Practice with Designated “Work” Days

Choose one day each week several weeks before your expected return to work and if possible (and safe), go to work, even for a few hours. This will be beneficial for several reasons:

  1.  it will help your baby get comfortable with spending more time bottle-feeding
  2. it will give you the opportunity to work out any “bugs” in your action plan ahead of time rather than on the first day back where you will undoubtedly be overwhelmed with work – and emotions

Preparing to go back to work while breastfeeding is a challenge. According to recent statistics, 66% of nursing mothers return to the workforce with the intention of pumping their breast milk. However, after the first few months, barely 13% continue. This sharp decline is because of a lack of flexibility in the workplace, tension amongst co-workers, and an increase in work-related stress. BUT, as we covered in this post, the best way to set yourself up for success is to prepare, prepare, prepare. Also, you have rights as a breastfeeding mother, which are clearly outlined by The United States Department of Labor.

The first year is very important in your baby’s development and if breastfeeding is part of your plan, eliminating as much stress as possible before you return to work will allow for greater chances of success!

Breastfeeding can be challenging in any scenario. If you need assistance, education, or insight on breastfeeding, we are here for you. We offer in-person and phone consultations. Click here to learn more.

Source: Welcome Baby Care

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Colicky Baby? Here’s What you Need to Know

Colicky Baby? Here’s What you Need to Know

Bringing home a new baby is exciting, fun, and sometimes scary, especially if you are a first-time parent. But the first few weeks are usually some of the most peaceful in your little one’s life as they adjust to being in the world. However, by the third week, you may notice they are getting a little fussy. They may have crying spells for extended periods of time or are difficult to soothe. If these crying spells are high pitched and accompanied by facial flushing, distended tummies, cold feet, tight fists and/or flailing arms and legs, and last for more than three hours, you may have a colicky baby on your hands. So, today, we are going over what you need to know to help get your little one (and you) through it.

Don’t overfeed

Some babies will stop eating when they are full. Some babies, however, are slow to develop that brain-tummy connection. When this happens, your baby may gradually feed longer and longer. This leads them to become overfilled and very uncomfortable. We recommend keeping track of how long your little one nurses for at each feeding. If you notice that they are fussy after a particularly long feeding, an overfilled tummy could be the culprit. 

Monitor your diet

If you are breastfeeding, you need to be aware of the foods you eat. Watch out for foods that contain dairy and caffeine, and vegetables like onions, cabbage, beans, broccoli. These can definitely upset your little one’s tummy leaving them feeling very uncomfortable, bloated, and gassy. 

Change formulas

If you formula-feed your baby and notice they have a bout of colicky crying and fussing shortly after a feeding, it could be because of the formula. Some formulas contain whey protein that can be difficult for an infant’s system to digest. Discuss switching to a low-allergy formula with your pediatrician and see if you notice a reduction in colic episodes. 

Stimulation

Even though there is no definitive evidence that stimulation helps ease the symptoms of colic, those who have experienced colic with their little ones swear by a handful of tricks. Sometimes constant noise like the clothes dryer, a fan, or vacuum cleaner can soothe them. Rhythmic sounds tend to work best over music or the sound of the TV. Also, rhythmic movements like walking, swinging, or rocking can help. Some even suggest tightly swaddling them in a soft blanket. Just holding them upright vs. lying on them on their backs might do the trick, too.

We still don’t fully understand the cause of colic in infants but some professionals suggest that it could possibly be an inherited trait. If your baby develops colic (crying spells that last more than three hours), it is good to be aware of the things that can make it worse. As frustrating as a colicky baby can be it is important to remember that you are not alone. Colic affects up to 25% of newborns and is typically a sign of good health. Little ones who develop colic are most often big, healthy, vigorous babies who usually grow out of it by the third month.

If you believe your baby has developed colic, it is important to confirm with your pediatrician to rule out a possible underlying health issue.

Source: Welcome Baby Care

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Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms

Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms

May is Maternal Mental Health Month with today (May 6th) dedicated as Maternal Mental Health Day. All month long we will be discussing postpartum mental health. We thought we would start our series by defining and discussing postpartum depression signs and symptoms.

We often think that life is joyful, loving, and blissfully happy for everyone when a new baby arrives. But that’s not always the case. Sadly, many new parents are left to navigate their new world alone. This can be especially hard for mom. When you just spent 9+ months having your needs catered to, the sudden lack of interest in your well-being can be jarring. It is estimated that nearly 900,000 women experience postpartum depression in the United States each year. That is shocking. Especially since so many women and families experience it in silence. So, today we are going to have a candid discussion about postpartum depression, its signs and symptoms, and how to treat it. 

What are the “Baby Blues”?

After giving birth, it is common to experience mild symptoms of sadness known as “baby blues”.  Common signs of baby blues include:

  • crying spells
  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • sadness
  • irritability
  • foggy-headedness
  • trouble sleeping

These symptoms are very common in postpartum women and are nothing to be alarmed about. The baby blues are short-lived, typically lasting from a few days to a few weeks.

What is Postpartum Depression (PPD)?

More than just baby blues, postpartum depression is a severe onset of depression experienced after giving birth. It can occur as quickly as hours after delivery or as long as a year past the birth of your child. On average, postpartum depression occurs in the first three months after having your new baby. Conservative estimates show that upwards of 15% of new moms experience postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms

As we mentioned earlier, it is common for new moms to experience baby blues. However, if the symptoms remain or become more severe it could be postpartum depression. Signs of postpartum depression are:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Developing Postpartum Depression

If you develop postpartum depression, it is important to know that it is not because of anything you did wrong. PPD has nothing to do with how strong or capable you are. And it is definitely not a prediction of what type of mother you will be. Postpartum depression can happen for a lot of different reasons. Pregnancy, delivery, nursing, and caring for a baby are very taxing on your body, mind, and spirit. You may have a family history of depression which can make you more susceptible. Perhaps you are lacking a strong support system or your baby was born with special needs. Even your birthing experience can affect your postpartum mental health. 

Postpartum Psychosis

If you develop postpartum depression, please do not feel ashamed. And please know that it is perfectly acceptable, if not required, to seek help. If left untreated, PPD can last for months or even years. In rare cases, postpartum depression can evolve into postpartum psychosis. Symptoms of psychosis include:

  • hallucinations or delusions
  • obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • paranoia
  • sleep disturbances
  • excessive energy or agitation
  • confusion or disorientation
  • attempts to harm herself or her baby

In those rare cases seek medical attention immediately or call 9-1-1

Treating Postpartum Depression

If you are dealing with the baby blues or even postpartum depression how do you know if you should “ride it out” or get help?  Well, it is important to monitor your symptoms to keep track of any shifts in your well-being. If your symptoms don’t fade after a few weeks, get worse, or make it difficult to care for yourself or your baby it’s time to seek medical attention.

There are several options for managing postpartum depression. The most common treatments are:

  • counseling
  • drug-therapy
  • hormone therapy

Treatment for postpartum psychosis may require:

  • removal from the home
  • hospitalization
  • antipsychotic drug therapy

Final Thoughts

After receiving treatment for PPD, it can take a few weeks to feel like yourself again. Certain lifestyle changes in conjunction with medical treatment can have a double impact on your symptom relief. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, making time for yourself, and finding a support system are all important steps to take when managing postpartum depression. 

It is also important to remember not to put too much pressure on yourself as a new mom. During your postpartum time, you are experiencing massive changes in your body, and in your sense of self. You are navigating your new role as a mother and redefining your old role as a partner. Your hormones are trying to rebalance and you’re most likely sleep-deprived. It is OK to feel overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it and if you aren’t feeling joyful all the time, that’s OK. Most importantly, know that we love you, believe in you, and are always here for you whenever you need a support system, reach out anytime: 952-942-5676

If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of postpartum depression, please seek help. If they are showing signs of postpartum psychosis or expressing suicidal thoughts or desires to hurt their baby, please call 9-1-1. Don’t wait for improvement, act NOW.

Source: Welcome Baby Care

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Your Guide to a DIY Mother’s Day

Your Guide to a DIY Mother’s Day

It’s finally May. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the weather is getting warmer. It’s a nice distraction from all the COVID-19 related stress and anxiety we’ve been dealing with these past few weeks. But you know what else is coming up? Mother’s Day! And that means shopping for gifts. Did you know that consumers spend over $25 billion on Mother’s Day?! Whoa! That’s a lot of flowers and spa gift cards. But did you also know that a survey of mom’s found that a clean house or a full night’s sleep topped the list of most-wanted gifts? So, rather than dropping a bunch of cash on things your mom (or wife, or daughter, or friend) doesn’t really want, show them just how much you care with these DIY Mother’s Day gift ideas:

Write a Mother’s Day Letter

Life, on a normal day, is full of responsibilities, tasks, and to-dos. The days are long but the years are short and we sometimes lose perspective. If there is a new mom (or a seasoned one) in your life, they may be too exhausted to remember the little things. Or, worse yet, they may feel unrecognized for the hard work they’ve silently put into bearing and raising their children. Write them a letter to remind them. Remind them of how superhuman they were during labor and delivery. Share a memory of how their loving touch calmed their crying baby. Show them gratitude for how much of themselves they have sacrificed to be a doting, dedicated mother. Sometimes we need validation for what we’ve done, to remind us that we’re doing it right. A heartfelt letter for Mother’s Day is a perfect way to do just that.

Get Everyone out of the House (Mom Excluded)

OK, I know this one is tricky, especially since we are supposed to be social distancing. But there are some safe activities you can do outside of the house so mom can have some alone time. Take the kiddos for a long drive or go on a hike. If leaving the house isn’t an option, arrange to give the mom in your life as much space as possible. For example, if she wants to be in the yard, you and the kiddos play in the house and vice versa.

Print Some Family Photos

Since the invention of smartphones, we have all become amateur photographers. Mindlessly snapping photos of everything in our lives. Which can catch great memories and be a lot of fun. But you know what we don’t do anymore? Print those photos. And what’s the fun in that? As a Mother’s Day gift, consider printing out a visual timeline of her journey to (and through) motherhood. There are a lot of great online printing services where you can upload your images and have them mailed to you. That way you can maintain your social distancing and still have give a thoughtful gift. Win-win.

Take her Place

Now, I don’t literally mean kick her out of her role as a mom, but I do mean take on her tasks. If you are quarantined with your mom or your wife/friend/sister who is a mom, then take over the chores she usually does. Women, even in 2020, still do the bulk of household chores. So, take it upon yourself to do the dishes, the laundry, make a grocery list and go shopping, scrub the bathroom floor, etc. Let her have a day free of those responsibilities.

Or better yet…

Hire a Postpartum Doula for the Day/Night

Did you know that postpartum doulas do dishes? Laundry? Cook? Overnight care? Yup. We do it all. We are like magical little faeries who come into you home and make order out of chaos. If the mom in your life needs a good night’s sleep (or a nap), needs to take a break, or just wants someone to talk to about any concerns, then give us a call. We are available to work any hour of the day, any day of the week. Book a postpartum doula for a few hours, or for 10. We can meet whatever needs you have!

Have a new mom or soon-to-be mom in your life? What better gift than the gift of a postpartum doula. We offer a-la-carte, package, and gift certificate options.

Source: Welcome Baby Care

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Breastfeeding Prep: Here’s What We Think You Should Know

Breastfeeding Prep: Here’s What We Think You Should Know

If you are soon-to-be expecting your first little bundle of joy, you no doubt have learned a lot about pregnancy. And in turn, you have learned first-hand about all of the, how shall we say? Unglamorous things about being pregnant? Point being, we’re sure you’ve experienced some surprises along the way. Things you wish you would have known beforehand. We also feel there is a similar amount of unspoken mystery surrounding breastfeeding. So, today we are going to talk about what we think you should know about breastfeeding now – so you’re not surprised by it later!

Breastfeeding Can be Hard

For some reason, there is an expectation that moms instinctively know how to breastfeed. While, yes, breastfeeding is a very natural phenomenon (for most women), it is not necessarily an easy skill to master. And as your body is recovering from labor, learning to nurse may be the last thing you want to do. You may experience issues with latching, low supply, or maybe your baby just isn’t interested. Nursing is something that takes time to learn how to do it efficiently. If you are having a hard time or find yourself getting frustrated, don’t give up. We are now offering virtual lactation consulting, so if you have questions or troubles with breastfeeding, we’re here to help!

Breastfeeding Can be Painful

Yes, breastfeeding might be painful. And it is important to understand what may be causing your pain:

  • Improper latch
  • Clogged duct
  • Engorgement
  • Sore or cracked nipples

. . . to name a few.

There’s a lot of *trial-and-error involved when you are first learning how to breastfeed. Once you get the hang of things though, breastfeeding can actually become very pleasant. Not only will you experience a physical release of pressure, but your brain releases oxytocin during breastfeeding. Oxytocin is known as the “love” hormone which encourages a sense of calm and can initiate bonding.

*If you are experiencing chronic pain during breastfeeding or are exhibiting signs or symptoms of mastitis (rash, warm skin on the breast, burning sensation during feeds, or fever) it may be time to visit your doctor.

You Need to Eat More

Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy, energy to produce the milk as well as to deliver it. On average, you will be burning anywhere from 400-500 calories a day just from breastfeeding! In order to keep up with this demand, it is crucial you compensate by eating an abundance of healthy, nutritious food. Staying well-hydrated is equally important.

You’re Going to Need Bigger Bras

When you are breastfeeding, you will undoubtedly notice how much bigger your breasts have become. When your milk comes in, it is not uncommon to gain a full cup size (or more)! But don’t worry, once your milk supply stabilizes you will see a reduction in the size of your breasts. However, they will most likely remain enlarged until after you wean your little one. So invest in quality, supportive bras.

Your Nipples are Going to Leak

Yup, you read that right, you leak breast milk. All the time. They will leak when you are close to feeding time, they will leak when you think about your baby, they will leak when you hear a baby cry, they will leak when you take a warm shower, trust us they will leak! Sometimes it is just a dribble and other times it can be a full-on eruption. Many people who have never breastfed tend to think of the stream of milk as coming from one set point, like a faucet. But in reality, the milk comes out in a spray, like a showerhead. The best way to be prepared for the inevitable leakage is to stock up on breast pads and to always carry a spare t-shirt when you go out!

So there it is, a few of our favorite inside pointers to help you prepare for breastfeeding. Much like pregnancy and delivery, breastfeeding is full of surprises, frustrations, even annoyances. Once you get the hang of it though, you will love the time you get to spend snuggling, nourishing, and bonding with your little one!

Source: Welcome Baby Care

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Getting to Know the Three Phases of Breast Milk

Getting to Know the Three Phases of Breast Milk

Your body is amazing. Not only did it grow and birth a human, but it is also capable of exclusively nourishing that human through the first six months of their life. Did you know that as your baby grows and changes, your breast milk grows and changes, too? Yup, that’s right. Your body knows exactly how to create the perfect, most nutrient-rich formula to protect and help your little one grow. So today, let’s spend some time getting to know the three phases of breast milk.

Phase 1: Colostrum

Colostrum, otherwise known as “liquid gold,” is the precursor to your milk supply and produced for only 2-5 days postpartum. A nutritionally dense superfood for babies, colostrum contains white blood cells and immune-boosting support. Colostrum is high in protein but low in sugar and fat, making it easier for your newborn to digest. Colostrum is so beneficial to your newborn, you should make giving it to them a priority, even if you don’t plan to breastfeed.

Some women can produce colostrum throughout their pregnancy but don’t worry if you don’t notice any. Once the placenta is expelled from the uterus, hormonal shifts signal to the breasts that it’s time to start production. Colostrum is noticeably different from breast milk. It is thick, creamy, and typically gold/yellowish in color (but it can be clear). One thing you may notice is that you will produce far less colostrum than you will transitional or mature milk.

A feeding for your newborn will consist of about 1-1.5 teaspoons of colostrum. While this sounds like a dramatically small amount, your newborn’s stomach is quite small and does not begin to stretch until around day three. By this time, your baby will be capable of eating more per feeding, and, luckily, this is when your transitional milk will come in.

Phase 2: Transitional Milk

Typically, between days 3-6 postpartum, you will begin to produce “transitional” milk, the bridge between colostrum and mature milk. Your newborn is growing rapidly during the first few weeks of their life, and amazingly, your breast milk adapts to meet their changing needs. During the time of your transitional milk, your breasts are learning how much to supply based on how much your newborn is eating.

The content of your milk at this stage is changing, too. Compared to your colostrum, transitional milk has a higher content of fat and lactose (sugar), which helps give your baby energy. The protein content of your transitional milk changes, too. Casein and whey now play important roles in digestion and satiety. Whey proteins, which are rich in antibodies and remain liquid in your baby’s stomach. This makes them easily and quickly digestible. Casein protein, however, curdles when it mixes with the acid in your baby’s stomach, helping them feel fuller longer. If you begin to notice chunks in your baby’s spit-up, this is why.

Your breast milk changes the most during this transitional phase as your body learns how to match the changing needs of your growing newborn. By the end of your first month postpartum, your milk supply will transition into your mature milk.

Phase 3: Mature Milk

Your final stage of breast milk transition is your “mature” stage, typically reached by four weeks postpartum. At this point, your milk has made almost all of the changes and adaptations necessary to meet your growing baby’s needs. Your mature milk is especially effective at protecting your little one against bacteria. Perfect timing, too, as we’re sure you’re noticing your little one putting more objects into their mouth! Interestingly, your mature milk is so specifically suited for your unique baby, scientists are still having trouble fully understanding exactly which cells, antibodies, etc. breast milk is made of and how it works to protect babies. Amazing.

Mature milk is delivered to your baby during feedings in two stages: foremilk and hindmilk

    • Foremilk is the milk that comes out at the beginning of your feed. It is thinner, sweeter, and typically lower in fat. 
    • Hindmilk is the milk that comes in gradually as your baby continues to feed. It is more nutritionally dense and higher in fat.

Your mature breast milk not only satiates your baby’s hunger, but it also helps build their gut bacteria, boost their immune system, and feeds their rapidly growing brain. On top of that, your mature breast milk contains stem cells and hormones that help build the foundation for your baby’s health throughout their entire life!!

If you are experiencing difficulty with breastfeeding, have questions, or just need some support, we offer a variety of  lactation consultation packages, including virtual appointments!

Source: Welcome Baby Care

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Developmental Leaps Part I: How and When Your Baby Grows

Developmental Leaps Part I: How and When Your Baby Grows

During your baby’s first year they will grow at an astonishing rate. It is the fastest they will ever grow in their entire life. On average, by your baby’s first birthday, they will have tripled their birth weight and gone through ten major development milestones known as “leaps.” That’s a lot of learning and growing! These spurts in growth can cause some temporary personality changes in your little one, too. Some of the most common signs your baby is going through a developmental leap are crying and fussiness, sleep regressions, and separation anxiety. Change can be scary for babies, so during these important growing phases, remember to reassure your baby that they are safe. With so many important changes happening in the first year, we are going to break it down into two articles. Today, we will discuss developmental leaps 1-5 and talk about how and when your baby grows!

 Leap #1: New Sensations

During your baby’s first few weeks of life, they experience the outside world much like they experienced the inside world. Sounds are muffled, their sight is blurred, and their senses are focused on survival (aka, trying to find food). But around week 5, your baby will begin to develop a deeper awareness of the world in which they have been living. You may notice your baby is suddenly wide-eyed about everything. Indulge their curiosity.

Leap #2: Recognizing Patterns

Pattern recognition begins around week 8 and involves more than just their sight. While visual patterns can be endlessly entertaining for your little one, they are also taking note of physical patterns, too. Patterns in sound (like singing), patterns in touch (like water during bath time), or patterns in movement (like how they can move their hands) are all important to your baby’s development. During this time you may notice your baby swiping or kicking more often. Another sign they have reached this second leap is they may begin to vocalize – a lot.

Leap #3: Smooth Transitions

As you recall from developmental leap #2, your baby is discovering patterns in their movement. You may also notice a pattern in how they move: jerky, seemingly erratic, and comically cartoonish. But around week 12, your baby will gain better control over their arms and legs. Your baby’s reaching, kicking, grasping, etc. will become smoother and more intentional. But leap 3 transitions are more than just physical. During this time, your baby is experiencing more nuanced perceptions of the world around them. They can notice subtle changes in tone of voice, shifts in light, or a subtle breeze.

Leap #4: World of Events

As adults, we often take for granted what our brains do for us automatically. When we see someone jump, for example, we know they will come down because our brains understand cause and effect. And by around week 19, your baby will, too. Leap #4 is possibly one of the most intense developmental leaps your baby will make. Understanding cause and effect can (and most likely will) drastically change your baby’s behavior. You may notice they are becoming more vocal or fussy, and possibly a little more stubborn. Unfortunately, this is also around the time your baby will experience their first sleep regression. This happens for several reasons. One, they are excited to be learning new skills and are often too cognitively stimulated to want to sleep. And two, they understand now that when and if they cry, mom or dad will come to get them. It is also around this time we highly suggest implementing a sleep training strategy (we have doulas for that!).  It is imperative for your baby to develop healthy sleep associations and self-soothing skills. Because this phase of your baby’s development builds the foundation for their sleep habits for the rest of their life.

Leap #5: World of Relationships

Around week 26, your baby will begin to understand their relationship to the world around them. This leap, too, can cause some behavioral changes in your baby. By this point, they are aware when things are uncomfortably close or frustratingly far. With this new understanding of distance, learning to move has become a top priority. You may notice your baby rolling, scooting, or even crawling. You may also notice they now scream their head off when you leave the room. This is because they don’t understand where you went. And they also understand they can’t go find you. This can be frightening for many babies and can be a frustrating time for many parents. But as with all leaps, this phase, too, shall pass.

Check back later this week to learn about developmental leaps 6-10!

Source: Welcome Baby Care

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Developmental Leaps Part II: How and When Your Baby Grows

Developmental Leaps Part II: How and When Your Baby Grows

If you’ve read part one of this two-part series on your baby’s development, you know, by this point, that your baby has gone through a ton of changes! But what comes ahead as your baby nears/enters toddlerhood are critical changes that will carry them through the rest of their lives. So, let’s dive into developmental leaps 6-10 and continue our discussion about how and when your baby grows!

Leap #6: The World of Categories

Around week 37, you may notice your baby is becoming more methodical. They may be focusing intently on the way they can interact with and manipulate objects. Your little one may suddenly be obsessed with squishing their food or examining specks of lint they find on the floor. This is because they are starting to “research” their world. This intentional type of behavior is helping them recognize which sensations, objects, etc. belong to which categories (e.g. food, toys, animals, and so on).

Leap #7: The World of Sequence

During leap #6, destruction was the name of the game for your baby, but by around week 46, you may notice the exact opposite to be true. During developmental leap #7, your little one will have a new interest in construction. It is by this time that your baby starts to understand that success comes after a series of sequences. If they want to build a tower of blocks, for example, they will need to understand which objects are blocks. They will then need to understand how the blocks need to be put together. They will also need to understand how to accurately stabilize the blocks on top of each other. And so on.

Leap #8: The World of Programs

Your baby will reach developmental leap #8 around the end of the first year. This is also a big shift for parents as they leave infancy behind and enter the joys of toddlerhood. At around week 55, your little one has increasingly more confidence in how they approach, interact with, and understand the world around them. During this leap, your toddler will be putting if-then patterns into action. During this type of exploration, you may notice your new toddler engaging in a lot of exploratory and ‘naughty’ behavior. If I knock over this glass, then its contents will spill. If I pull the dog’s tail, then it will yelp. This can be a crucial time in behavior development when it comes to interacting with parents, too. During this phase, it is important to let your little one explore, but reinforcing negative behavior can lead to years of trouble. Negative associations that are often developed during this time are: tantrums, hitting, fighting bedtime, and finicky eating. To set your toddler up for success, it is important, as a parent, to be clear about boundaries, firm with rules, and consistent with age-appropriate consequences.

Leap 9: The World of Principles

As your toddler grows more confident and observant with their world, you will notice they develop a love for imaginative play. They may babble with their toys (or have their toys babble with each other), or they may imitate interactions they’ve witnessed. One of the most common – and adorable – mimicry that happens around this leap is with pretending to be on the phone. While there are a lot of very cute behaviors your toddler will be engaging in during this phase, it can also be frustrating. This is because your little one is also beginning to experiment with emotions. You may notice an increase in whining, pouting, aggression, and use of the word “no.” These are all normal experiments. It is also when your toddler needs your patience and understanding the most.

Leap #10: The World of Systems

The last and final leap occurs around week 75 (aka 17 months). Your little one has learned a lot over the past year + and now they are going to put it all into practice. During developmental leap #10 your toddler is honing their personality. They better understand how they interact with their world and know they can choose who they want to be in it. Your toddler may choose to be kind and gentle, or they may choose to be rude and aggressive. They are growing their conscience, values, and personality norms.

A word of caution about this phase:

By this point in your parenthood journey you’ve no doubt been told over and over again that you cannot spoil your baby (which is true). It is important for you to understand that, by this point, however, that rule no longer applies. During developmental leap #10, you are helping your toddler put into action everything they’ve learned. They are creating, in those few precious weeks, the value systems that will carry them throughout their entire life. Your job now is to help them navigate. Your best tools for this are patience, understanding, patience, love, and, oh yeah, patience.

If you missed our post on developmental leaps 1-5, you can read them here!

Source: Welcome Baby Care

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The Dos and Don’ts of Healthy Sleeping Practices

The Dos and Don’ts of Healthy Sleeping Practices

A full, restful night of sleep can mean the difference between a happy child and a crabby one, no matter what their age. But did you also know that sleep deprivation in children can manifest as hyperactivity, clumsiness, impulsivity, and lack of focus? Being well-rested is integral to your child’s health, wellness, and development so it is important to create healthy sleeping habits as soon as possible. And whatever your parenting style, the rules for creating these habits are the same across the board. So, today, we have compiled a list of dos and don’ts of healthy sleeping practices.

The DOs of Healthy Sleeping Practices:

Establish a consistent routine 

Believe it or not, children love boundaries and limits. Having set nap-times and bedtime will teach them what to expect when. Having predictable routines will help them feel secure, can lead to better self-control, and encourage independence. 

Stay Calm

Sleep times, whether for naps or for the night should be a loving, peaceful time for all involved. Yes, bedtimes can be a battle all their own, but if you approach the situation with anger, frustration, or emotional outbursts your child will develop fear and anxiety about sleeping. This is incredibly counter-productive. Take deep breaths, use a calm voice, and step away for a moment if your child is upset. Your composure is key.

Introduce Security

Allow your little one to have a “safety” item such as a blanket or toy. These items are to be used during nap-time or bedtime ONLY. Limit this to one or two items and not the entire toy box.

Incorporate Wind Down Time

An hour or so before bedtime, it is important for your child to wind down. Much like how you might enjoy a good book at bedtime, your child can benefit from these routines as well. Dim the lights, tuck your little one into bed and read stories, listen to quiet music, or sing lullabies.

Stick With the Plan

Do your best to keep them in bed once you tuck them in and complete your winding down. If they get up, quietly walk them into their room and tuck them back in. If they are crying for you, go in and give them a reassuring pat. Do not pick them up and do not speak! Once you engage them you open the door for more questions, demands, or cries. You may have to tuck them in several times but eventually they will stay put and fall asleep. 

The DON’Ts of Healthy Sleeping Practices:

Beds are For Sleeping

As mentioned above, do not fill your little one’s bed with toys, this is just a distraction for them and can greatly hinder the quality of their sleep. It is important to establish their bed as a place for rest and sleep, not play. 

Avoid Negative Associations

Never use bedtime as a threat or punishment. As we mentioned above, you want bedtime to be a positive experience.

Choose Snacks Wisely

If your little one likes a pre-bedtime snack make sure to avoid foods that contain caffeine or sugar, this will negatively affect the quality of their sleep. No ice cream, no flavored yogurt, no cookies. Stick with carbohydrate-rich snacks like bananas.

Water Only

If your little one is thirsty or likes to have something to drink at their bedside give them water.  As with sugary foods, juice, soda, or other sugary beverages will negatively impact their sleep.

No Screens

Turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime and never allow your little one to have a TV, Smart Phone, or tablet in their room. Watching screens stimulates the brain and makes it difficult to sleep restfully. 

Establishing healthy bedtime habits can be difficult, especially if you’re starting from scratch with an older child. Just like with adults, replacing a bad habit with a good one takes time. Through consistency and routine your child will quickly adapt to their new schedule and will be sleeping restfully in no time.

Need help with your child’s sleep? We offer in-person and virtual sleep coaching packages.

Source: Welcome Baby Care

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Sleep Regressions: Everything You Need to Know

Sleep Regressions: Everything You Need to Know

Your little one has been sleeping like an angel for the past month. They effortlessly go to bed, are easy to resettle, and only wake to feed. Then, all of a sudden, they begin to fight you at bedtime, scream for hours, and won’t sleep for longer than 30 minutes. What in the world happened?! Well, the bad news is, they have most likely hit a sleep regression. The good news? They only last a few weeks. I know, I know. A few weeks of sleepless nights seem like a lifetime. I hear ya. But it’s important to remember that they pass and you will get through them. So, what are sleep regressions? What causes them? What are the best ways to get through sleep regressions? Good questions, let’s dive in.

What are Sleep Regressions?

Well, they are exactly what they sound like. A sleep regression occurs when an infant regresses from sleeping well to having trouble falling or staying asleep.

What Causes a Sleep Regression?

Remember those amazing developmental leaps we discussed last week (read part I and part II)? Yup. Those are why. Whether it’s learning a new skill or experiencing separation anxiety, developmental leaps are a major cause of sleep regressions in infants. It is possible for your little one to experience up to four regressions during their first year at four, six, eight, and twelve months. All are linked to developmental leaps.

Other reasons your little one may be experiencing sleep regressions are:

  • Changes in schedules – like starting daycare
  • Traveling
  • Illness
  • Teething

What are the Signs of a Sleep Regression?

Babies, like adults, can just have “off” nights when it comes to sleeping. Maybe their tummy is upset or there is a noise that keeps waking them. These nights are not considered regressions, especially if they only occur a night here and a night there. Sleep regressions are prolonged and last from 2-4 weeks. Here are signs of a sleep regression:

  • Crying when put down to bed
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Frequent waking throughout the night
  • Short naps
  • Increased fussiness

Can you Prevent Sleep Regressions?

This is a very common question among parents. Unfortunately, no, you cannot avoid sleep regressions. This is because they are linked to cognitive and physical developments. However, the disposition of your child can affect how minimal or severe they are. You may also notice major differences in sleep regression severity from one of your children to the next. They truly are an individual experience.

How to Make it Through Sleep Regressions

Familiarizing yourself with when and why your little one experiences sleep regressions is key to getting through them. During these regressions, your little one needs extra love, understanding, and patience. So, here are a few things you can do to get through them in one piece:

  • Do not let your little one become overtired, be strict with nap and bedtimes
  • Shower them with extra daytime love and snuggles
  • Stick to your bedtime routine, or implement one if you haven’t already
  • Consider a sleep training program, we are always available to assist with this
  • Try some of these healthy sleep practices

Sleep regressions can be very trying experiences for even the most on-top-of-it parents. But being prepared, understanding the basics, and having an action plan will make them just a little easier to get through.

If you are interested in sleep training or need assistance with sleep regressions, we have specially trained doulas on staff who ready to help either virtually or in-person.

Source: Welcome Baby Care