Thursday, June 5, 2008

How to Protect Your Baby at Home and In Bedroom

Children can injure themselves in the house or bedroom in a number of ways. The most posible cause of injury in a bedroom for children arises from crawling out of the crib, and either falling and injuring themselves in the fall, or crawling out of the crib and then gaining access to the house unsupervised. Children can also climb up the changing table, climb up their dresser, or other pieces of bedroom furniture. They can either fall off or have the dresser fall down on top of them, causing serious injury. Children could also climb up to the bedroom window and then fall out. It is important to make a child's bedroom as safe as possible and to be aware of the potential hazards.


1. Make your baby's crib safe. When you're putting together the crib, you need to make sure it is safe.

* Note the safety bumpers around the perimeter of the crib and the little ties on them. Those ties need to be able to push up and down, so make sure that this can happen. Do not tie them to a rung on the crib to prevent movement - they must move so that baby cannot use them as a stepping stool to climb on and fall out of the crib. As there are concerns about regular bumpers restricting airflow in the crib and increasing the risk of SIDS, the best option is to use a mesh bumper which will pad the side rails of the crib, but will also allow free flow of air to the baby.

* Remove the bumpers as your baby grows. If you are concerned about your baby bumping their head, this is both less likely (as an older baby can move away) and it is also the lesser of two evils when compared to the injury that might occur if the baby falls out.

* Early climbers under two years of age need a crib tent installed. This can prevent the child from falling and injuring himself or herself, or even dying, which has unfortunately occurred as a result of such falls. Keep the baby in the crib, safe and healthy. Alternatively, you may decide to take the crib down and put the crib mattress on the floor or else get a toddler bed.

2. Prevent your baby from being injured while inside the crib. Make sure that you buy an appropriate mattress. There are many different types of mattresses that can help combat SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

* It is important to make sure that the crib mattress is been placed in the top position when you bring your baby home from the hospital. This will make it easy on your back when you need to lift the baby out of the crib and then later when you put him or her back.

* In order to prevent injury when your child starts sitting up, make sure that that the mattress is placed all the way down to the bottom position. This will keep the baby from falling out of the crib.

* Be mindful of where the outlets are in the room. Usually parents don't even realize that there is an outlet behind the crib until they've moved that mattress down to the bottom rung. Your baby now has access to it, so make sure that you put a sliding cover over that outlet.

* When your baby is sleeping, make sure that there is no pillow, no stuffed animals, no toys in the crib. All that should be in the crib is a loose blanket and your baby. It may seem to go against your wishes to keep baby cozy and snug but it is more important to keep your baby safe. This is highly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to prevent injury.

* Remove dangling objects. Many parents like to have mobiles or nettings over the crib. While objects such as these create beautiful and stylish nurseries, once your child is old enough to grab and pull them down, they can pose strangulation hazards and can be very dangerous to your child. Remove them from the crib, and place them in another part of the room out of reach.

3. Purchase a baby monitor. Purchasing a baby monitor is a must-have for any parent if your home is large enough that you cannot hear your baby from one end of your home to the other. This enables you to be aware of what your child is doing when you are not near them. You will be able to hear if your child is crying, and you'll be able to reach him or her immediately. If your child is in the crib playing and having a great time and safe, it is because you've followed all the safety rules outlined in this article. By doing this, your child isn't in any type of danger, because a baby monitor allows you to let your baby play and enjoy free play time in the crib.

4. Select a good baby monitor. The audio quality is extremely important, as well as the range. When purchasing a baby monitor, it is important to follow these considerations:

* Be sure to keep your receipt. Some monitors work like a charm and some don't.

* You need the best audio possible.

* Make sure that the channel is set for your home because you might be picking up the frequency from your next door neighbor's home. They also pick up cell phone frequency or landline frequency, so you need to be mindful of that.

* If your monitor is not working when you bring it home, just change the channel on your home landline and then on your baby monitor landline.

* Assess how far you can take the monitor. Does it work with one of the monitors being up in the baby room, and, say you want to be out on the front porch, does it work all the way out there?

5. Put the baby monitor in the right place. The most effective place to put a baby monitor is near the crib, but not in the crib; many parents make that mistake. When your child is sitting up and a little bit older, make sure that the baby monitor is not within your child's reach, because if he or she gets hold of it, this means he or she can also access the electricity, the batteries, and can suffer a burn or shock. It is fine to have anywhere that is near the baby, but not within the baby's arm's reach.

6. Childproof the windows. If you live in a multi-level home, childproofing the windows on the second or subsequent levels is very, very important to ensure that your child doesn't fall.

* Use window guards to childproof windows. These come in different colors and can match the design theme of the room. When you are choosing a window guard, be sure to find one that has an emergency latch. It's an emergency release latch so in the unlikely event of a fire, you're able to get out. Then you can grab your safety ladder from underneath the bed, throw it out of the window and everybody's safe.

* If you have a one-level home, or a single story home, you can use different types of window locks to childproof windows.

There is an aluminum device that can be attached to the base of the window to childproof it;


Use a suction cup device which works well with sliding glass doors or just large picture frame windows, as well as small windows. These can be used to childproof double-hung and any different type of window. This is a great way also to keep the window open, perhaps 3 1/2 inches (8.5 cm), so that you have a breeze coming in and out, but the stoppers are there to prevent the child getting access to out.

* Please be advised that screens are not baby-proofing devices. Children will look out of the window and press their faces against that screen and with their little nose and hands, looking to see daddy or doggie or whatever else; in doing this, the screen's going to give and the child is going to fall. So, do not think of the screen as a child safety measure under any circumstances.

7. Make sure the dresser cannot fall. Children are climbers, and they want to climb up a dresser, a changing table, any piece of furniture that you have either in your bedroom, or in your home. You must make sure that that furniture stays put, and that it's not falling on top of them, and crushing them.

* Install a furniture anchor to prevent furniture falling, and they can be many different types. Nylon ones are good because there's a lot of flexibility, so if the stud isn't perfectly, exactly behind where the piece of furniture is, you can move it, and the furniture is still secure and will not fall. Another great thing is, if you're moving, you just remove the device from the wall, and keep it attached to the furniture, move to your new home, and then install it on the new wall. This is a great way to keep the children safe from falling furniture. Just remember - children will climb, so you have to make sure that you just prevent the danger and the accident.

8. Ensure all window blinds and curtain tassels are completely out of reach. Blinds and tassels can pose a strangulation hazard to your children. You need to make sure window blinds and curtain cords are tied up out of reach of your children, by using something as simple as a blind cord cleat. It's a dollar or so and can be installed right next to your curtain. It is very quick, simple and something you can do yourself.

9. Use doorstops and door holders to prevent child injuries. Little fingers get pinched in doors all the time. Products such as doorstops and door holders can prevent such an injury.

* Get either a door mouse, or something that can be installed right in the door jamb, to keep the children from getting their fingers pinched, to keep them from closing the doors on their hands.

* Single piece doorstop

Be aware, however, that doorstops can pose a choking hazard. If you look around your home, you might find that there are spring doorstops with the little small rubber stopper on the end. That rubber stopper can be removed and can be ingested or choked on by children. So it's important to install a single piece doorstop so that the door isn't hitting the wall, but is not posing a strangulation or choking hazard to your child.


* Note that some hospitals and midwives, especially in Australia and New Zealand, recommend that crib bumpers not be used at all. They may present a possibility of suffocation if baby gets stuck under them while sleeping.

* Some families cannot afford, or choose not to have, a separate, furnished bedroom for their baby/toddler. You can put the crib in your own bedroom to facilitate night nursing, or you can have your baby sleep with you using a safely installed guardrail or "sidecar" crib next to your own bed. In this case, you will need to childproof your own bedroom using many of the suggestions given on this page.

* Because of choking hazards from older children's toys, be careful in timing the move of a toddler/preschooler to join an older sibling in a bedroom. These toys may have choking risk!


* As always, make sure that what you use is safe for your child. Safety is the most import priority when childproofing a room.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How to Survive the First Month of New Motherhood

You made it through about nine months of pregnancy and hours of labor or surgery, not to mention that annoying stay in the hospital immediately afterwards. They have finally stopped waking you up three times a night to check your blood pressure, and now you're home with the newborn baby. If you are feeling a bit lost, here's some advice on how to keep both of you healthy and happy.


1. Don't expect perfection from either yourself or the baby. The idea is to roll with the punches and just get through this tricky period of adjustment in the best way that you can. Keep in mind that ninety percent is an A. If you are managing to keep the baby fed, and in clean diapers, and you are staying alert to any medical necessities, you are doing great.

2. Make things easy for yourself by keeping materials and supplies close by the places where you will be using them.

* If you are nursing, move your most comfortable easy chair into the baby's room. Set up a table next to the chair for a bottle of water, your glasses, a clock, maybe some music, and anything else you will routinely need during nursing. If you are going to be up in the middle of the night, you might as well be comfortable. Make it even easier on yourself by not even getting up; have one of those new cribs that fits right next to your bed and has a side that drops. Then just reach over, get the baby, and nurse lying on your side.

* If you are bottle feeding, keep everything you need for formula preparation conveniently grouped on the kitchen counter. You will be way too tired to be searching in the drawers and cupboards in the middle of the night for the lid of the bottle. Or, better, just before bed, prepare bottles by taking a clean, empty, DRY bottle and measuring out the dry formula. Then cap it, and place it next to your night stand or in the baby's room along with a couple bottles of plain water - again, pre-measured if you think you might not get it right in the middle of the night. Just open the bottles and mix and feed. In the morning, take the empty bottles down to be washed. Another alternative is to buy the ready-to-feed formula in bottles for night time feedings, but this can get expensive.

* You may have a perineal incision which will require washing with each trip to the bathroom, and this will require certain equipment. There is also a possibility of hemorrhoids. Again, make things easy on yourself by putting all those materials within easy reach of the toilet. It is important to take care of yourself and the closer the materials are to hand, the faster you can get yourself taken care of so that you can get back to that baby. Good products to have on hand are Preparation H, Tucks Pads with Witch Hazel, Tylenol or Motrin. A squirt bottle for gentle cleansing and diluting urine is helpful for this healing area.

3. Sleep when the baby sleeps. It's essential to avoid sleep deprivation so that you can remain alert when caring for the baby. Know how much sleep you need per day and get it in bits and pieces, sleeping when your baby sleeps, and napping when your baby naps--avoid the temptation to catch up on email while the baby is sleeping. You need to rest when the baby rests.

* Place the baby on his or her back and keep the crib or bassinet near you with no pillows, quilts, or toys (a light blanket can be placed below the baby's arms and tucked in lightly along the bottom half of the crib). If you choose to co-sleep, read up on how to do so safely. Also see the Warnings section below about sleeping positions.

* Call your doctor if the baby seems to be sleeping excessively (over the normal 16 hours a day) as this may signal an infection.

4. Ease into a schedule. Some people feel that an effort should be made to get on a schedule right away, and others believe in letting a natural rhythm arise at its own pace. Either way, do what is most manageable for you without causing stress to the baby. It will take some trial and error to find a good balance.

* Try to keep things picked up but don't worry about the dusting and the vacuuming. Some of that kind of thing is just going to have to wait until you get back on your feet.

* Help the baby differentiate night and day by playing and keeping the room bright during the day, and by avoiding playing and bright lights at night. Change your baby's clothing on a constant schedule, as this will help them know that onesies are for playtime and night gowns are for bedtime.

5. Brace yourself for the postpartum blues. Especially if you have had a medicated, surgical or "assisted" delivery. Over 50% of women experience tearfulness, tiredness, sadness, and difficulty in thinking clearly on the third or fourth day after delivery, probably caused by a sudden decrease of maternal hormones. Don't ignore these symptoms and any feelings of sadness or guilt that result; talk about it with someone who's close to you, and don't try to feign glee if you're really feeling down. Feel your emotions all the way through! Some of it will be painful and that is okay. Not only are you adjusting to an awesome event in life, your body is releasing every hormone known to woman around the clock. It should pass within one to three weeks as the hormones stabilize and you acclimate to the new situation.

6. Accept help. If you can afford it, hire a housecleaner, even just once every two weeks. That can help a lot. Get a babysitter if you need a break. If your partner is in the picture, support everything he or she does to help out. Be willing to let your partner dress or bathe the baby, and to take the child out for a walk or a drive; a parent who feels supported in his or her efforts to attend to the baby is more likely to want to spend more time with the baby, and that is likely to be a win-win situation for all involved. Relax and let your partner run with it. Chances are they can change a diaper just as well as you can! Sharing the responsibilities is a good thing. Discuss how you can do more of it.

7. Carry the baby close to you in a baby carrier when you move around the house or when you go out. Strollers are nice, but you may find that keeping the baby right on your chest will be the most convenient for you even while you cook meals. Taking a walk outside can be very refreshing for both you and the baby, and a baby carrier can make getting around very easy and comfortable for both of you.

8. Ease into a different diet. If you ate your way through nine months of pregnancy with the mindset of providing for two, don't expect to immediately go back to 1400 calories a day and the will power of a professional bodybuilder. It may take a week or two for your habits to adjust. Plan to eat 3 healthy meals a day, and give yourself a little flexibility with your snacks until your body catches up with your eating habits. After your doctor gives you permission, start exercising again in small increments. If possible, join a gym. Not only will going to the gym get you out of the house, you will be inspired to stay on track by all of the twenty-somethings in sports bras and spandex. Don't forget to drink enough water and take a daily multivitamin.

9. Keep your social life balanced. Some moms will find time away from the baby to be relieving, while others will prefer to keep the newborn with them at all times. It's an individual choice. Either way, stay in touch with your support system, whether that consists of the father, your close relatives, or friends. Consider finding other new mothers and connecting with them. Many places have groups of moms who meet regularly, and they can often be found with a little research on the Internet. As far as guests are concerned, limit people from visiting during this time when your child is vulnerable to contagious illnesses; most people are at their most contagious before they show symptoms of being sick.

10. Know what to expect from the baby. Don't be surprised if the baby loses a few ounces of weight during the first few days after being born--they'll usually bounce back to that weight after seven to ten days. Look for the baby to demand to nurse every 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, appear satisfied after feedings, takes both breasts at each nursing, wet 6 or more diapers each day, and pass 3 or more soft stools per day. Have the baby checked up on by a doctor on the third or fourth day after birth (if the newborn was discharged within 24 hours of delivery) and two weeks after birth; this is a good time to ask the doctor any questions you may have. Always remember and keep up to date with shots. Immunization, flu, and others are important to get during this and the next few months. You may choose to decline or postpone immunizations. Smaller babies, especially premature, are more delicate and they don't have the immune system of a toddler or preschooler.

* Spitting up is not uncommon and is nothing to be alarmed about, as long as the baby's weight gain is on schedule.

* The umbilical cord stump will usually fall off during the second week; until then, give the newborn sponge baths instead of tub baths, dab the stump with alcohol, and fold the front of the diaper down below the navel to keep the area aired and clean.

* If the baby is circumcised, place a dab of petroleum jelly on the circumcised area to keep the diaper from sticking to it.

11. Remember to enjoy that baby. The first few days and weeks will be rough, and you might be tempted to forget that you are in the midst of a miraculous and wonderful time. So even though you will be tired and sometimes stressed, do remember to soak in the joyful parts of the day. Cherish every minute, even when you are up at 2 am giving the baby a feeding and you look out the window and all is dark except your house. These few months will pass quickly and believe it or not, you will miss it!


* Ask for and get help. Being a mother is a job in itself, never mind laundry, cleaning, cooking, changing the oil in your car, and all those other things that have to get done. You don't get awards for doing it all.

* Depending on your individual situation and when and if you will be returning to work, it is never too early to start making plans. If you are returning to work, solidify your childcare arrangements. If you will be spending your days momming, start connecting with Moms in your area and locating Mommy and Me classes.

* Keep the camera right out in the open and use it every day for one or two shots. Your baby will change fast, and before you know it, you will be making a slide show for graduation from high school. For that you are going to want to have plenty of nice pictures!

* Remember that this is the "first time" for your baby, too, so they assume that whatever you're doing, that's the way things are supposed to be. Your baby will not be criticizing or judging you.

* An important reminder-when your baby cries, do not take it personally. Their unhappiness is about them, not about you. There's no such thing as a "good" baby---or the converse---a baby who is crying in order to be bad or irritate you. Also, don't forget that babies aren't always crying because they're sad. They can't talk or enunciate anything, all they can do is utter an uncontrolled burst from their vocal chords. Know your baby, and you will know what he/she wants when crying.

* Whenever possible, lean on your partner for support -- they will also feel more involved and invested!

* The most important advice you can get is to ignore all the well-meaning people giving you advice. At the end of the day, what works the best for you and your baby is what you should do.


* Know the latest information on sleep positions and educate anyone who is helping you so that they will do the right thing in this regard. If anyone else looks after the baby, clarify that the baby is always to sleep on its back--a baby that is accustomed to sleeping on its back and is then placed to sleep on the stomach or tummy is at greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

* Call the doctor if you spot extreme floppiness, jitters, fever (rectal temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius), and very loose and watery stools.

* Pay attention to any hard spots in your breast tissue if you are breastfeeding, as there is a slight chance of a plugged milk duct becoming infected. Call your doctor if you develop this problem.

* Take Post-Parteum Depression seriously. It's a medical problem, not a sign of you being a bad mother. It can be treated and you will enjoy being a woman and mother much more.