Ultimate Guide To Having & Raising a Baby | What To Think About | Lavendersun
PREPARING FOR THE BIG DAY
Nine long months have finally passed and you’re finding it hard to believe that skin can stretch that far! As the birth of your baby gets close it’s time to pack for your stay in hospital or at the birthing center.
You have probably spoken to your doctor or midwife about how you’d ideally like your labor to progress. This can include whether you’d like to be offered pain relief, the use of a bath and who will cut the baby’s umbilical cord. Having your birth plan written down will help you and your partner relay to the medical staff your wishes during this time. Remember it is just a plan and don’t be disappointed if you need to change it as your labor progresses, after all, the most important thing is that you and your baby are healthy when the birth is over.
A couple of weeks before your due date starts packing! Here are some of the things to include in your packing:
- A dressing gown and slippers, socks and a comfortable nightie or oversized t-shirt you can move around in during the early stages of labor.
- Your favorite relaxing CDs, massage oils and lip balm.
- You won’t want to eat anything substantial but sipping on diluted apple juice or a sports drink might help, so slip a suitable drink into your bag.
- Check if the hospital has an ample supply of heat packs or bring your own – just check if your birth partner can get access to a microwave to heat them.
- Don’t forget your toiletries, and a hairband can be very useful to tie back long hair.
Your baby will also need a few things for their stay and journey home:
- You will need to have an approved car seat that is properly fitted.
- Pack two or three stretch suits and vests, a jumper, beanie, socks and mitts, and a warm blanket.
- You will need a supply of nappies and wipes.
Don’t forget to pack a going home outfit for yourself plus maternity pads, breast pads and a couple of nursing bras. Finally, pack a couple of changes of loose and comfortable clothes, these will be handy when visitors come to congratulate you and welcome your newborn.
MAKE YOUR BABY FOOD
Life is hectic and pre-prepared food can be a great stand by when time is short. Preparing your baby’s food from fresh ingredients doesn’t take long and you have the advantage of knowing what he or she is eating.
Many health professionals recommend that breast is best for babies, but regardless of whether your baby is breast or bottle-fed, they shouldn’t start to eat solid food until they are six months of age. Until then your baby’s digestive system is not developed enough to handle anything other than breast milk or baby formula. It is recommended that you continue to supplement your baby's diet with breast milk or formula until they are twelve months of age.
Introducing Solid Food
At six months of age, your baby is ready for iron-enriched baby cereal. Over a few weeks, you can gradually bring new foods into the diet. Investing in a blender will allow you to make up great purees in an instant.
Steamed and pureed vegetables and pureed meats like chicken and fish can be introduced. Introduce each food separately so you can identify if your baby has an allergic reaction. By nine months you can introduce your baby to some finger foods like toast and bananas.
Your baby will like to start to feed themselves so be prepared for mealtimes to become messy!
Never leave your child unattended when they are eating in case they choke. By the time your baby is a toddler, they will enjoy eating a range of food by themselves.
The food at the Ready
Putting aside steamed vegetables from your dinner and pureeing them takes no time at all and you can easily freeze meal-sized portions for later use. Try to avoid adding sugar and salt to the food and don’t deep fry.
Toddlers like to graze so when you’re planning an outing, it is a good idea to pack a small container of food. A few sultanas, half a banana, a vegemite sandwich, a little cube of cheese and a couple of strawberries will give your child lots of variety and satisfy their hunger while you are out. For easy and healthy baby food recipes you may want to visit Kidspot.
HOW TO COPE WITH A TEETHING CHILD
Your baby will probably cut its first tooth sometime in their first seven months of life. The pain associated with teething varies from child to child and the effectiveness of teething remedies is just as varied.
If you have any concerns about the symptoms your child may be experiencing, or you feel they need to take some form of medication to relieve their discomfort, always check with your doctor first.
Symptoms and Solutions
As a tooth moves close to the surface of the gum your baby may experience some of these symptoms.
Irritability – your child may not sleep as well as usual or may be more difficult to settle and generally fussy. You may start to see a reddening of their gums where the tooth is pushing against the skin. You may also find your baby has a hot, red cheek that corresponds to the side of the mouth where the tooth is erupting. They may also pull at their ear particularly when their molars are cutting. If your baby is struggling with the pain consult your health care professional about a suitable pain relief medicine or a gum gel.
Drooling – teething stimulates the production of saliva. An excess of drooling can also cause babies to develop a saliva rash on their chins. Wipe the area frequently and apply a barrier cream if necessary.
Gnawing – babies sometimes like to chew while teething. Teething rings are useful particularly if they are filled with a gel that can be cooled in the fridge. Cool foods such as yogurt and pureed fruit may also help soothe sore gums.
Diarrhea – this can be caused by an excess of swallowed saliva. Make sure your baby’s nappy is changed frequently; a barrier cream may help protect your baby from nappy rash.
Cold-like symptoms – your baby may run a slight temperature and have a runny nose. Monitor their temperature closely and if you have any concerns see your doctor immediately.
Teething can be difficult for babies and their parents but the discomfort shouldn’t last for more than a few days. For more information on teething visit the New Parents Guide, and for teeth development information, visit the Better Health Channel.
BREASTFEEDING: ESSENTIAL INFORMATION FOR NEW MUMS
It has been argued when it comes to looking after your newborn, one of the best things you can do is breastfeed. Breastfeeding provides your baby with all their essential nutrients, helps protect them from illness and promotes normal brain and bodily development. Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it can take a little effort to get it right. Here’s a brief introduction.
First, you’ll need a comfortable, supportive chair to sit in or position yourself on your bed. Ensure the room is warm enough for your baby and is suitably quiet. Initially, it’s very important to have skin to skin contact, so have your baby in their nappy only. Always ensure your baby is calm before starting.
The first step is to place your baby on your chest. Many babies will start to move their head around in search of milk. Should they move towards one breast, gently position them across your lap and ensure that you are supporting their back with your hand? Use pillows to help support the baby and/or your arms if needed.
Women are advised to bring their baby to the breast, and not the breast to the baby (which might hunch your back). Let your baby nuzzle into your breast. Some instinctively open their mouths quite quickly while in other cases it may be necessary to brush their lips against the nipple first. It may take a few tries, however, should your baby lose interest, just pop them back in the middle of your stomach and try again.
Your baby will usually start feeding as soon as they have latched onto your nipple. A good position is essential – their mouth should fully cover your nipple and areola with the tongue underneath the nipple. Tilt their head slightly so that the nose is free and they can breathe easily. They should be facing you with their body in a relatively straight line. It’s important when feeding to ensure that the baby is swallowing as well as suckling.
Once you and your baby have the hang of feeding next time just bring them straight to the breast. The duration of any feed will vary, and you may find it helpful at first to start writing down details so you can keep a track of feeds. While the very first milk from your breasts is a highly nutritious substance known as ‘colostrum’, as the baby grows the first milk expressed at any feed is the thinner ‘foremilk’ which quenches thirst and is full of nutrients. This is followed by the calorie-rich ‘hindmilk’ which satisfies hunger. So it’s important not to rush a feed and to finish one breast before moving to the next. It’s also important to start successive feeds on alternate breasts.
A Helping Hand
While breastfeeding is nature’s way, it can still take effort to get your baby feeding comfortably. While in hospital, make the most of any help offered by the nursing staff and feel free to ask questions. Should you be having difficulties back at home, the Australian Breastfeeding Association is a wonderful resource. Their website features lots of useful information, and they have 24-hour phone service so help is just a phone call away. Remember too that your local Early Childhood Centre may provide valuable advice and assistance. Phone them first to check if you need an appointment.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF PUTTING YOUR BABY ON A ROUTINE
The question of whether to put your baby on a routine is one that has divided the parenting world for decades.
Some parents like to take a structured approach to feed and sleeping while others prefer to be more relaxed and let their baby set the pace.
If you are trying to decide whether a routine would be right for your baby, knowing the advantages and disadvantages may help you make the best decision.
Advantages of a routine
Routine advocates suggest there are several benefits from putting your baby on a routine, including:
- Your baby sleeping through the night earlier
- Easier settling at night and at nap times
- More rest for the parent at home during the day with structured nap times
- Better feeding habits, particularly for breastfed babies
- Reduced incidences of colic and feeding problems
Disadvantages of a routine
Many parents choose not to put their baby on a routine for several reasons, including:
- It can be restrictive and limit the times when parents can go out
- Stressful if the baby doesn’t want to co-operate and sleep at the designated time
- It can interfere with other family members’ schedules, particularly older children
- Routines don’t always take into account babies’ growth spurts when they are naturally eating and sleeping more
- Babies are unpredictable by nature
Whatever your decision, it is important to take into consideration not only your baby’s needs but also those of the rest of your family. The right choice for you will depend on your circumstances and personality, and most importantly, what suits your baby.
ASLEEP GUIDE FOR NEW (AND NOT SO NEW) BABIES
There seems to be no common denominator when it comes to babies & sleep.
Some sleep for hours on end from just a couple of months while others are still calling for night service for what seems like years on end. If sleep (or lack of it) is an issue for you, try not to despair. However much it may feel like you are alone, the reality is that sleep issues are very common. Babies need to learn how to sleep through the night which can take a while. In the interim, here are a few suggestions to help them and you cope a little better.
The first step when putting a new baby down to sleep is to ensure it is wrapped. Little ones experience a startling (more) reflex which is a little like the feeling of falling. Wrapping them helps to counter this, and helps prevent them from waking by flinging their arms or legs around. Generally, you would use a muslin wrap in the summer months and a thicker cotton one in winter. Wrapping should be firm but not so tight that your baby can’t move. A nurse or midwife will be able to help you if you’re unsure of the correct procedure. To also help you, there are several products similar to sleeping bags for babies and toddlers, and these can be great for those babies who don’t like to be wrapped, and for older ones who have passed the wrapping stage.
It also pays to look at the baby’s sleep environment. A night-light (very dim or colored) can sometimes be a good idea, and many parents swear by “white noise” such as the sound of TV static, fan motors or vacuum cleaners. Nature sounds such as the waves of an ocean can also do the trick or the sound of whales. You can buy CDs of these sounds in baby shops or record stores, or there are clock radios or sound machines that come with the sounds embedded. White noise and nature sounds tend to block out sudden and loud noises and encourage sleep. Other parents even find that classical music or easy listening radio helps.
The next thing to work on is sleep techniques if you are having issues, professional community services such as Tresillian and Karitane can help. Basic settling techniques might include back-patting or gentle rocking for instance, but for advice, it would be worth contacting Tresillian (they have a 24-hour phone line), other professional sleep centers, or your local child health center. New mums are usually provided contact details of a local center before they leave the hospital and center staff can be a wealth of advice and information. When you are experiencing real difficulty, it’s also advisable to seek professional advice. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Babies have been night waking for as long as there have been babies, but with a little help, and time, your child will eventually learn to sleep through the night and you’ll get some well-earned rest!
WHAT TO EXPECT IF YOU’RE EXPECTING
What to expect if you’re expecting: Health insurance for new parents
Private health insurance can be a great thing to have if you’re thinking about starting a family or planning to have more kids. So what should you expect from a policy if a new bundle of joy is about to enter your world?
Most private health funds charge the same premium for family cover as they would for a couple's cover. So if you and your partner already hold a couple’s policy, you shouldn’t have to pay more if you include your dependent child/children on your existing cover.
You should check the terms and conditions for dependent children. Health funds generally consider dependents as children under the age of 21 who are single and studying full-time. However, different policies will vary in cover levels and age rules; some funds lift the age limit to 25.
Once you’re pregnant and after you have served the 12 month waiting period, you can select your preferred doctor throughout your pregnancy and choose a hospital from your particular fund's nominated hospital list. This may be limited depending on your coverage level. If you’re a private patient in a private hospital, insurance can mean the difference between having your private room and bathroom instead of sharing a ward with other patients in a public hospital.
The earlier the better
Couples need to consider taking out private health coverage before falling pregnant if they don’t already hold a policy, as most new and upgrading policyholders often have to serve a 12-month waiting period on obstetrics cover. Plan and you will be able to access your pregnancy and birth-related benefits (obstetrics) when you need them.
Protect your newborn
Some private health funds recommend for parents to add a newborn child to their existing policy a few weeks before birth. That way, your baby is covered in the womb and from the very second, it’s delivered. If you hold a couple’s policy with pregnancy and birth-related service benefits, only your pregnancy is covered. A family policy ensures your new bundle of joy is covered from birth.
Getting Private Health Insurance doesn’t have to be a labor-intensive process. Try Comparing Private Health Insurance Online?
BREASTFEEDING VERSUS BOTTLE FEEDING
Medical experts agree that breast is best for babies; however, some women may not be able to or may feel comfortable with breastfeeding their child and will have to use formula. As a mum, whether you feed your baby breast milk or formula there are some things you will need to consider when making this decision.
The case for breast milk
Antibodies: breast milk provides your child with important antibodies to help it fight infections in the first few months of life. There is also evidence to show that breastfed babies have a lower incidence of asthma, allergies, obesity, and diabetes in later life.
Perfect food: breast milk is the perfect food for babies. It is usually easily digested and contains the vitamins and minerals your child’s rapidly developing body will need in its first few months of life.
Free and convenient: No late-night trips to the supermarket when you realize you have run out of a particular food. Breast milk is available 24/7 for most mothers so your new baby needs never go hungry.
Skin to Skin contact: breastfeeding allows close bodily contact which helps promote a strong bond between mother and baby.
Getting back into shape: breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract, and it also burns calories. Breastfeeding mothers need to eat up to an extra 500 calories a day of healthy food.
The case for formula
Convenience: Your partner or baby’s other caregivers can feed your baby so you don’t always have to be present, which can be very important for some new mums.
Flexibility: you can leave your baby with a caregiver if you need to return to work or if you are taking a well-earned break. Formula-fed babies also tend to need less frequency of feeding than breast-fed ones
Doing what’s best
You need to decide which decision is best for your child, your family and of course yourself. For more information on breast and formula feeding visit the Breastfeeding Association, KidsHealth, or Early Childhood Australia.
A FIRST BIRTHDAY TO REMEMBER
There are milestones in every child’s life, and one that is always enjoyable – for child and parents – is the first birthday. Marking the occasion with a party is a great idea. It’s good to keep it simple however so as not to overwhelm your little boy or girl. Celebrate with a small gathering, some food, and games, and you’ll have a perfect day to remember.
When it comes to a first birthday party, timing is everything. Little ones will likely be having one or even two periods of sleep per day, so you’ll want to schedule the event outside their usual sleeping time. Mid-morning or afternoon might work well, and it’s a good idea to keep the party to around an hour as anything much longer than this may tire them out.
Casual is usually better when it comes to a first birthday party. There will undoubtedly be some mess so you’ll want a comfortable environment. Aim for the lounge room at home or perhaps a local park – wherever you and your bub feel comfortable. Wherever you hold it, remember to keep an eye out for choking or other safety hazards. A child-friendly space is vital.
Small is a good idea when it comes to the guest list. Keep it to close family and / or a few good friends. Your child may not be comfortable around strangers and might be overwhelmed with a house full of new faces. This is their day after all.
This is entirely up to you. You can keep it casual with a phone call or email, or have fun with some beautiful invitation cards. If you have the time, you could make your cards featuring a gorgeous pic of the birthday boy or girl.
Finger food is fabulous for parties. It’s not only easy to prepare (or buy) but also perfect for little fingers. Children at this age are just starting to enjoy the delights of finger food, so include lots of child-friendly options like carrot sticks, cheese pieces, and mini breadsticks. Remember to avoid nuts and any other foods that could cause an allergic reaction in young children.
It wouldn’t be a birthday without a cake! You might buy one from a supermarket or bakery (order in advance if you’re after something specific) or perhaps like many parents you’d like to make your own. As far as flavors go, you could go for banana, carrot, chocolate, vanilla…the choice is yours as little ones will probably only eat a mouthful or so anyway. Whatever flavor you choose, all children love brightly colored decorations and fun shapes.
Children at this stage aren’t quite ready for pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey but they might enjoy some music or simple games. Alternatively, you can layout some play mats with a few toys to keep them happy.
While we tend to think of this as the most exciting part, your baby will most likely not yet know what presents are all about. Still, it’s a great time to spoil your little one with a few gifts.
A child’s first birthday party is a great time to celebrate not just your child’s birthday but at the end of your first year as a parent. Yes it’s exhausting but you’ve made it, and it’s worth a celebration! However, you choose to mark the day, remember that there’s no need for an elaborate or expensive celebration. Give your child lots of attention, love, and hugs, take some photos, and they’ll have a picture-perfect first birthday!
The Big Move: Shifting Toddlers from Cot to Bed
Children grow very quickly and it may seem just an instant before they’ve transformed from newborns to toddlers.
Many people use the word toddler at different ages, but one sure sign they’ve reached this stage is when they’re ready to move from the cot to their bed. While it might seem a simple procedure, this shift can sometimes be unsettling. Here are a few tips to help you help them ease into the transition and ensure it’s a safe and successful move.
Firstly, make sure they are ready for the move. Your toddler can be anywhere between two and three-and-a-half years of age, but if they are still waking during the night, and running around getting into everything, it may be better to wait until they settle a little more. Continually trying to climb out of the cot is a sign they are ready for a bed. Whatever stage your child is at it’s vital to make sure the room and the house have been childproofed in case they do get up during the night. The following are a few precautions you can take.
- Ensure child gates are in place for stairs and that your toddler can’t tangle themselves on curtain strings, or any of the other similar hazards.
- If they can get out of their room they may go to the toilet at night, so you’ll need to make sure there is a safe path, and/or let them know to come and wake you first. Make sure you have a safety rail attached to the new bed to prevent them from falling out.
Once you have a safe environment, communicate to your child how proud you are that they are big enough for their bed, and involve them in the actual move. You might let them choose their quilt cover or bed linen for instance. Make it fun for them and you’ll have a much easier transition on your hands. If they have a security blanket from their cot or favorite soft toys, ensure they are ready and waiting for them in the new bed. And keep the bedtime routine exactly as it has been so there aren’t too many sudden changes at one time.
Timing can also be an issue if you have welcomed a second baby. If you are moving your toddler so that the new arrival can have the cot be careful to make sure your older child doesn’t feel resentful. It may be better to move them into the bed a while before your bub takes the cot, and/or even get a second cot if they don’t yet seem ready.
Keeping your toddler calm, comfortable and safe makes for a happy toddler – and that makes for happy parents.