Archive for the ‘Babies’ Category

Despite the headlines about co-sleeping and cot death nearly half of us still do it.  A study in 2004 showed that 47% of infants in Britain bed-share with their parents for at least part of the night. Most of my mummy friends have spent some of those early days co-sleeping and others have kept it up into toddler-hood.  So why do we feel like its a dirty secret?

The Department of Health does not recommend bed-sharing because of an increased risk of infant death.  A documentary in 1991 presented by Anne Diamond, whose son had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Sids), discussed co sleeping research undertaken in New Zealand. The Maori community co-slept and they had a high rate of Sids and the two were linked. The conclusions of the documentary were amended two years later. Researchers acknowledged that the Maori habits of smoking and drinking alcohol had a great connections to the Sids rates that co sleeping.

In countries such as China and Japan where co-sleeping is the norm, Sids is virtually unheard of.  One 2006 study of children age 3–10 in India reported 93% of children co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping on its own is not the problem, but if combined with alcohol, drugs or cigarettes it can be.  And actually the NHS guidelines reflect this.

To reduce the risk of cot death, the Department of Health (DoH 2009) recommends you should not share a bed with your baby if:

  • You or your partner smoke
  • You or your partner have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medication or drugs
  • You feel extreme fatigue
  • Your baby was premature

Pro’s and Con’s of co sleeping

  • Great bonding time
  • Some studies have shown that sleep-sharing babies tend to breastfeed more, and disrupt their mother’s sleep less
  • Mums who share a bed with their baby tend to breastfeed their babies for longer periods of time, this could be because they find it easier to breastfeed in bed rather than getting up
  • Babies who sleep with their parents tend to stay awake for shorter periods of time as its quicker to see to their needs


  • Sharing your bed with a fidgety baby means you may not sleep as well as you do when your baby sleeps in a cot.
  • If your baby gets used to falling asleep next to you, she may become reliant on having you there to go to sleep.
  • Depending on how long you co sleep you may find transitioning your child out of the bed and into their own a difficult process.
  • Sleep sharing can affect your sex life.  For obvious reasons.

What are the do’s and don’t of co sleeping?

  • Keep bedding light and minimal to avoid risk him being smothered or overheating.
  • Make sure the mattress is firm.
  • Never sleep on a sofa or waterbed as they could get wedged in the cracks between the cushions or between you and the back of the sofa.
  • Do not put your baby to sleep on pillows.
  • Don’t leave your baby alone on the bed.
  • Make sure the baby cannot roll out of the bed in the night.

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Big news stateside this week are safety concerns regarding slings after the deaths of 14 babies over two decades. The news reporting seems somewhat extreme and incredibly fear inducing. Don’t get me wrong the death of any baby is tragic and devastating to all involved, but as momlogic.com says “when a baby tragically dies in a crib, we don’t say “all cribs are dangerous” and stop using them”.

There are apparently two suffocation risks. One is due to weak musculature, babies are unable to control their heads in the initial few months of life, so there is a chance that the sling can press against the nose and mouth. The other is some slings may rest the baby in a curved C position, with the chin bending toward the chest, this can limit their air intake.

The CPSC haven’t singled out any specific baby slings, however, the slings thought to be of most concern are the bag style ones that go around the neck and cradle the baby below your chest or near your belly.

The CPSC recommends, “Parents and caregivers make sure the infant’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling’s wearer”.

Babies under 4 months old seem to be most vulnerable. In one story I read the baby was a week old, that’s fresh out of the womb, why would you need to be carrying a baby in a sling at that point. I was under strict instructions by my midwife to not get out of bed for 2 weeks. Music to my ears frankly, when does anyone allow you to do that? It was great advice, we all stayed at home for 2 weeks.

There are many benefits to baby wearing, the closeness from the body contact is comforting and helps baby feel secure. All slings come with instructions as to what weight is appropriate and also age guidelines. Using a sling correctly is completely safe. Always read the instructions and comply with them fully, stay home and carry your baby in your arms for 2 weeks, you’ll never get this time back.

Be aware, but don’t be afraid of carrying your baby in a sling.

Read the full warning, complete with illustrations on how babies should and shouldn’t be positioned in the slings.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) providing breastfeeding education and support to new mothers could prevent more than one million child deaths every year.

The WHO recommends that infants start breastfeeding within one hour of birth and consume nothing but breast milk for the first six months of life.  Despite this advice,  less than 40% of mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed for this time. Insufficient breastfeeding is a problem in both rich and poor countries, the agency says.   The nutritional value provided by breast milk means that the baby is get exactly what it needs and no artificial formila is able to match this.  In addition, breast milk provides important antibodies to the underdeveloped infant immune system. 

If 90% of women met the WHO breastfeeding guidelines, the agency says, 13% of global deaths under the age of five could be prevented, translating into 1.3 million lives saved per year. Although many women start out breastfeeding, many stop due to poor latch or because they are unable to feed without pain. “When it comes to doing it practically, they don’t have the practical support,” said the WHO’s Constanza Vallenas. 

If you are breastfeeding and feel in need of extra infomation and support check out our links under Support – there is lots of help out there if you know where to look!

Source: Reuters/Naturalnews.com

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The Department of Health has revealed it is to scrap plans for healthy children under five to continue to be vaccinated against swine flu, just three months after urging GPs to vaccinate more than three million youngsters against the outbreak.

In a major U-Turn, the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, revealed the programme of vaccinating healthy children would wrap up at the end of next month, although GPs have been told to continue to try to vaccinate children until then.

Extending the vaccination campaign to children has proved a disappointment, with just 17% of children in England having had the vaccine according to the latest uptake figures.

GP leaders blamed protracted negotiations with the Government, which refused to provide concessions on GP workload via a national deal, for the lack of uptake in a campaign which ended up being launched as a hugely patchwork and bitter set of local arrangements between PCTs and GPs.

The move to scrap child vaccination against swine flu will also be seen as vindication by many GPs, with the majority of respondents to a Pulse poll in December claiming that it was a waste of NHS resources.

The Government also revealed that just 32% of all target groups had been vaccinated in England, which confirms Pulse’s predictions that the vast majority of GPs will fail to receive reduced thresholds in this year’s patient survey, after the GPC’s national deal based on vaccination of at risk groups aged between 5-65.

Sir Liam revealed overall figures for vaccination take up were far worse in England than other parts of the UK and elsewhere in Europe, adding: ‘We continue to receive anecdotal accounts of people not being aware of their need and entitlement for vaccination or believing that vaccination clinics are unavailable.

Source: Pulsetoday

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Baby led weaning is becoming more and more popular. It’s based on a paper written by Gill Rapley (Deputy Programme Director of Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative), it means not giving purees and instead introducing your 6 month old child to finger foods from the start.

Using solid food allows a baby to feed themselves – no spoon feeding. Food should be offered in shapes and sizes that your baby can handle and they will feed themselves using their fingers. They choose what to eat, how much and how quickly.

That’s the essence of BLW. No purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no baby rice, no mixing everything with expressed breast milk and no preparing everything weeks in advance.

I came across this method when I was weaning my 2nd child. She refused point blank to be spoon feed anything apart from yoghurt. She loved feeding herself and has an extremely healthy appetite, more so than my 1st child who was weaned using purees. It made life so much easier. I made one meal for the 2 of them and they both tucked in.

Don’t they choke?

There is no more risk of choking than with any other method of introducing solids. Gill Rapley argues that as long as babies can sit upright, the fact that they can handle their own food and move it to the back of their mouths means the risk of choking is minimal. However, it is important to remember that babies should never be left unattended when eating. Foods with stones in should also be avoided like cherries and olives.

We did experience some gagging during the process, but gagging, as opposed to choking, is actually a safety response to food travelling too far back into the mouth so when we see our babies gagging they are actually handling the problem and it’s best just to keep calm (or at least look calm) and wait until it passes.

Foods I tried were peas, sweetcorn, toast, butternut squash, fish, mince, eggy bread, omelettes, chicken, rissotto, meat stews, baked beans (low salt and sugar ones), rice and many more. Here’s some BLW recipes.

There are some great benefits of BLW, baby becomes part of family meals and frankly it’s so much easier than dealing with the spoon feeding stand offs.

It helps babies practice hand-eye coordination every time they use their fingers to take food to their mouths. Holding foods of different sizes and textures a few times a day helps improve babies dexterity. Also because all their senses (touch, smell, taste, hear) are involved babies learn to relate all these things together for a better understanding of the world around them.

Meal times can be messy but clearing up solid food is still easier than mopping up puree.

(courtesy of baby led weaning)

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One of the most memorable things my midwife told me was that three days after giving birth, the pregnancy hormone feast drops suddenly into a hormone famine. It’s common for women to feel low and tearful at this time. She was spot on, I literally cried rivers come day four. There was nothing I could put my finger on exactly after either of my births. I just felt totally overwhelmed and helpless.

About half of new mothers will feel a bit weepy, flat and unsure of themselves on the third or fourth day after having a baby. It is known as the ‘baby blues’, and generally passes after a few days.

Most cases of PND start within a month of giving birth, but can start up to six months later. There is no single reason, but there are a number of different stresses that may add up to cause it. Lack of support, difficult labour, birth not going to plan, exhaustion and relationship problems to name but a few. Some depressed mothers worry that they might harm their babies, but this is apparently quite rare.

It is believed that you are more likely to have PND if you:

  • have had depression (especially PND) before
  • do not have a supportive partner
  • have a premature or sick baby
  • lost your own mother when you were a child
  • have had several recent life stresses – bereavement, unemployment, housing or money problems

However, PND can start for no obvious reason and without any of these stresses.

Acknowledging you are struggling is often the hardest part, particularly if other new mums around you ‘appear’ to be coping well. It’s important not to dismiss your feelings and to get help. Speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP. They can discuss the treatment options available to you. Often anti depressants will be suggested, however, there are natural alternatives.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviours, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that you can change the way we think to feel/act better even if the situation does not change. CBT is considered among the most rapid in terms of results obtained. The average number of sessions clients receive (across all types of problems and approached to CBT) is only 16. Other forms of therapy, like psychoanalysis, can take years. Find a CBT therapist here.

Homeopathy –  can be very effective in treating all depression. A consultation with a homeopath would bring the most beneficial results. Depending on the severity of the symptoms I would recommend a minimum of 6 mths treatment during which you should experience some relief. Common remedies for PND are folliculinum, cimicifuga, ignatia, opium, pulsatila, sepia, staphysagria, arg nit, aurum and  nat mur.

Placentophagia – Studies have shown that eating your placenta can help prevent postnatal depression. The placenta contains high levels of various vitamins, such as B6, which can help curb PND.  Eating the placenta enables the mother to “reclaim” these vitamins and put them to use in her own body. Placentophagia may also increase a mother’s blood levels of a hormone known as CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), a known stress-reducer. For more information and placenta recipes click here

If the thought of this leaves you wretching, then consider having your placenta potentised into a homeopathic remedy. Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy in Tunbridge Wells provides this service. They’ll send you a pot of alcohol for you to send back to them with a piece of your placenta in it. It will then be made into a remedy, in the form of a lactose or sucrose pill, which you can then take.

Supplements like 5HTP, vitamin B complex and omega 3 EFA’s have all been linked with helping to balance mood, particularly in women. Supplements can be supportive in helping you get back on track. They are not a cure all and in severe cases of PND, seeking help from a therapist may also be necessary. Do not use 5HTP when taking anti depressants.

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan and the important brain chemical serotonin. It is an effective antidepressant because it actually increases the production of serotonin and there is a link between depression and low levels of serotonin. Deficiencies in B vitamins can cause irritability and depression. When buying a complex make sure it includes B5, a potent anti-stress vitamin. Multiple clinical studies have shown Omega 3 helps fight depression. It can even help combat more severe mental illnesses, such as bi-polar disorder.

Studies have shown that exercise – walking, swimming or any activity you enjoy, is helpful in depression. Find a local mum and baby fitness class like pilates, yoga or powerpramming. It’s also a great opportunity to meet other like minded mums.

When you’ve been stuck indoors with babies/children for days on end cabin fever can set in.  Getting out for a walk to the shops or the park can be quite meditative and help relieve frustration. The motion can help settle the baby (really effective in a sling) and you both get some fresh air.

If you hit the depths of despair and have no one you feel you can talk to, reach out to one of the organisations below. It could change your day and possibly help you turn things around.

Organisations That Can Help

Association for Postnatal Depression – Helpline: 020 7386 0868 (10am-2pm Mon, Weds & Fri, 10am-5pm, Tues & Thurs). Provides support to mothers suffering from post-natal illness.

CRY-SIS – Helpline: 020 7404 5011 (line open 9.00 am to 10.00 pm, 365 days a year). Provides self-help and support for families with excessively crying and sleepless babies.

Meet-A-Mum-Association (MAMA) – Helpline: 0845 120 3746 (7.00 pm to 10.00 pm weekdays). Self-help groups for mothers with small children and specific help and support to women suffering from postnatal depression.

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Graco has recalled roughly 1.5 million strollers after the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) got many complaints of the fingertips of children being amputated.

The Graco models included in this recall are Select Alano, Passage and Spree Model Strollers.  If you are concerned that your buggy may be included in this recall click here to read Graco’s statement.  Also Graco’s twitter page has lots more information and you can pose a question directly.

Maclaren have also had to recalled buggy’s after they received about a dozen complaints regarding fingertips being amputated when caught in the hinges of the stroller.

If all this is putting you off buggy’s, check out our feature on the best slings on the market.

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