Learning about Milestones for Baby Development

January 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Newborn Care

Conception to Newborn

Interestingly, most women do not realize that milestones for baby development start well before birth. While pregnant, many of the developments are seen through ultrasounds, hearing the heartbeat, and other forms of technology. Once the baby is born, there are still developmental changes although not as easy to see. However, from birth to age one, your baby will go through tremendous changes, which include vision, hearing, motor skills, and even development of the cognitive system.

Your Baby’s First Month

In the first month of life, your baby will be going through major changes, specifically when it comes to reflex movements. For example, you will begin to see your newborn move the toes, draw up the legs, and even put his or her hand in the mouth. The baby will start using his/her new muscle control by moving the head, as the eyes try to focus more and more.

Keep in mind, even though your baby can see, his/her vision is only good up to 12 inches. Even so, you will notice the eyes trying to look around the room but your baby is not yet able to focus on anything. However, when the face is hit with bright lights, the baby will blink and find this and patterns intriguing. Even so, the sight of mom and dad’s face is the baby’s favorite.

During this first month, your baby will start to turn the head from side to side, react to sound, and begin to focus on familiar sounds and voices.

The First Three Months

During the first three months after giving birth, there are many things going on with the baby. At this time, your baby is starting to develop and grow, and soon, you will start to notice changes to his or her body on an almost daily basis.

The baby’s motor skills are becoming stronger and more focused, he/she can now lift the head off the ground when placed on the stomach, and the little hands will start to open and close as your baby discovers arms and fingers. Chances are that your baby will also try to put pressure on the legs, which results in the body pushing up.

Another huge change in the first three months of life has to do with the eyes. Your baby’s vision is becoming sharper and near the start of the fourth month, he or she will actually follow mom and dad or favorite objects. At this time, your baby now recognizes people such as parents, siblings, grandparents, and babysitters. Probably the most obvious development is the hand-eye coordination.

Your baby is also getting better with social skills. He or she will smile at things pleasant, laugh when people make faces, and even try to imitate the actions of other people.

Four to Seven Months

By the time your baby reaches six months, things are really changing. Now, without any support your baby can sit up. Some babies at this age are also able to stand with a little help, allowing the legs to support the body’s weight. Even reaching and grasping for furniture, people, toys, bottles, and other items is easy.

One of the most significant changes during these months is that your baby can now see in living color. Unlike before where vision distance was limited, your baby now sees things much further away and knows whom people are from across the room. If you were to enter a room, your baby would not only know you but also follow you with his/her eyes.

The baby’s cognitive thinking is also advancing. Your baby will probably respond to his/her name, repeat sounds made, and even start forming simple words. At first, the words will sound like gibberish but you can be sure your baby is creating short sentences in his or her own way.

Your Child’s First Year of Life

It is hard to believe, but now your baby is turning one. Because your child is moving about, he/she is going to have spills but this will not stop the child from pursuing walking and talking skills. Most children at this age can walk several steps or go from one piece of furniture to another. Simple words are also spoken, some recognized such as momma, dada, doggie, bottle, etc.

You will also discover that at around age one your baby’s cognitive skills are maturing. In fact, children will have a preference of friends, show interest in specific toys, and only want to eat certain foods, and so on. Although small and loving, your child is becoming independent. Do not be surprised if you start hearing an occasional “no” pop out of the child’s mouth, as he/she tries to move from baby to toddler.


Children are amazing but very individual. Most babies will go through similar stages but every child develops at a different rate and in his or her own way. Therefore, use the milestones only as a guideline, knowing that your child may do things earlier or later. In other words, do not assume because your friend’s baby was walking at one that your child will be walking at one.

Best Choices for Baby Gear

January 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Newborn Care

Even though there are different types of baby gear that are necessary, there is baby gear considered luxury items. Obviously, parents want to ensure the baby is both safe and comfortable and today more than ever before the possibilities are incredible.

One of the most important pieces of baby gear you need is the car seat. Today, most hospitals will require new parents to purchase or rent from them a car seat that meets high standards before they will even allow the baby to. Most parents will already have a car seat but if you are a new parent and have not yet purchased one, ask the hospital in that most rent or loan them. Remember, hospitals are liable by both state and insurance regulations so this is a mush.

Another important type of baby gear that makes it much easier to carry your new bundle of love around is the sling or carryall. These come in a variety of designs but most resemble a backpack that can be worn on the back or front, making it much more comfortable and safe while carrying your baby. Although the sling is primarily made for convenience, parents also love the close bond it creates with both mom and dad.

The stroller is also a piece of baby gear that you will eventually need. Even if you do not take the baby out for a few weeks, when you do, a stroller is necessary. Again, you will find many different brands, styles, designs, features, colors and so on but always think of safety first. For instance, you want a stroller designed with brakes to keep it from rolling away. Additionally, to protect your child from hot sun, an adjustable hood is beneficial.

We next want to mention a diaper changing table. You will find these made in many different materials and sizes but regardless, the changing table provides you with a convenient and safe place to change diapers.

You might also consider purchasing a bassinet, cradle, or a pack and play. Smaller than an actual crib, these sleep solutions are ideal for traveling. The key here is to choose one that is sturdy and strong, a bassinet or cradle without any sharp pieces or corners, and even one that has a way of keeping blankets securely in place, which is for safety purposes.

Over the months as the baby grows, you will begin to see remarkable changes. Obviously, the baby will grow physically, but he or she will also begin to change from a motor skills and cognitive perspective. At this point, your baby gear needs will change. As an example, you can purchase a bouncy seat that features colorful and musical pieces that move above the baby’s head, keeping him/her entertained. If you choose anything that makes noise, you might consider one that has a removable noisemaker so when you need a break, you can take it.

Next, babies love music, which can be both stimulating and quieting. Therefore, you should definitely invest in a good CD player with good speakers so as you rock your baby, you can play something relaxing. However, if you want special play time, then music that is more upbeat creates a developmental environment that you and your baby will love.

As you shop around for different baby gear, you will be shocked by the range of possibilities. Always remember that as babies grow, their curiosity and exploratory nature grows. As the parent, you want to enhance this development by providing your child with things such as building blocks, music, and anything to stimulate the mind and body. Again, just make sure that anything you consider is age appropriate and safe.

Finally, check with your doctor about the various types of medication, both over the counter and prescription that you will need and keep your cabinets stocked. Accidents and illness happen and this will keep you prepared for anything.

Understanding Sleeping Problems in Babies and Finding Answers

January 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Newborn Care

The one thing that every new parent agrees on is that little sleep after the baby comes home is a real problem.

Not only is sleep deprivation difficult for new parents, it is also hard on the baby. Sometimes, the problem is not serious but in other cases, there could be something else going on that needs to be addressed. As you will learn, experts have conducted years of in-depth research, finding both causes and solutions.

Causes of Newborn Sleep Problems

Remember, anything that prevents a person from getting good sleep is known as sleep deprivation. Babies, especially newborns go through tremendous change in the first year of life so they need a lot of sleep. Typically, babies from birth to around one month of age sleep between 14 and 16 hours a day. Then between six and nine months, the number of hours goes down slightly, usually between 12 and 14 hours. In both scenarios, the majority of the sleep is during the nighttime hours.

Just as the amount of sleep is important the quality of sleep is also important.

A great example of what disrupts sleep is night terrors or nightmares. Adults can understand these but for babies and children, most are terrified and therefore, not able to go back to sleep. Nightmares occur during the Rapid Eye Movement or REM stage of sleep while night terrors are when the person is in deep sleep.

Another common type of sleep deprivation is caused by a condition known as sleep apnea. In this case, the person actually stops breathing while sleeping. Depending on the person, doctors may be able to find an underlying cause but not always. For instance, the cause of sleep apnea could be something simple such as enlarged adenoids, which is called OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Even though these occurrences do not last long, they still disrupt a person’s sleep.

In the situation of a baby not getting adequate sleep, it might have to do with a psychological problem. In most cases, this would be connected with babies of nine months and up to three years, not newborns. Another possibility is called separation anxiety. In this case, the baby is in fear of a parent leaving. As an example, if a baby were left with a babysitter while mom and dad have a date night, the child may never go to sleep until the parents return home.
Options for Treatment

Many times, experts will discover that a person having night terrors or nightmares lives in a home with a lot of stress and tension. However, there are times when the cause of these problems is never identified. For a newborn and small child, you can offer cuddling and closeness, which helps to reassure the child and make him or her more relaxed.

For sleep apnea, if the obstructive is bad, surgery can be performed to correct the problem. A person with this condition would go through a consultation with the surgeon and in most cases an EEG is performed to monitor brain waves. If a baby has sleep apnea, the doctor may recommend using some type of monitor that would alert the parent should the child stop breathing. Most often, a gentle nudge is all it takes along with comforting the child if he or she is scared and the breathing will return to normal.

Although very common, confirming separation anxiety is a little trickier. Some babies simply need more comforting and closeness from a parent so if you feel your child is suffering from this problem, provide special closeness and bonding.

You can also do things to avoid or eliminate sleeping problems. A great example is that never feed a small baby solid food until you know that he or she is truly ready. The truth is, during the first six months of a baby’s life, all they need is breast milk or quality formula. Additionally, until the baby reaches three months of age, most doctors recommend that milk or juice not be given too close to bed time. Most people believe that a full stomach will help a baby sleep better but in some cases, it causes upset stomach and leads to a long night of being awake. Instead, cuddle or rock your baby to put him/her to sleep, offer a favorite stuffed animal, or give the baby a pacifier.

Summary of Newborn Sleeping Problems

You need to be patient and understanding, realizing that newborn babies are going to go through difficult sleep phases. Typically, the first year of life will bring many changes so be realistic about expectations. Most children will grow out of sleep problems but of course, if you have any concern, talk to your baby’s pediatrician.

The Many Benefits of a Baby Massage

January 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Newborn Care

More and more, people are learning about the benefits of giving their baby a massage. Adults love massages and so do babies. Not only does a massage feel good, it has also been used for treating various health issues such as colic, asthma, and dermatitis.

As soon as a baby is born, they are exposed to sights, sounds, touches, smells, and all kinds of new things. Going through the birth canal and then being faced with the new environment is stressful. All of the different stimuli is being processed and used for their development, which is why gentle touch from parents is so important.

Numerous studies have been conducted that show babies are naturally interested in learning about their environment. This is why young babies will reach for things, roll over, and follow people around the room. All of these experiences are part of their development. After all, their world is now one full of sights and sounds that babies find fascinating.

With a baby massage, you can encourage exploration and development.

One of the most popular types of massages is working the hands in a kneading type motion, gently. This touch actually creates not only security in the baby but it also helps to relax. This close connection between baby and parent is special, something the baby is very much aware of and loving it.

A baby massage creates a unique opportunity for parent and child to bond and solidify their relationship. When you apply gentle strokes but slight pressure, you can reduce stress in the baby all while providing him or her with reassurance. Of course as the parents, you benefit by the bonding experience.

Additionally, when giving your baby a massage, you are also helping the mind. As your baby grows, all types of physiological changes are occurring and during a massage, these changes are heightened. Massage actually stimulates both mind and body, as well as helps to boost the immune system because of less stress.

The key with this is to make sure you are giving your baby a massage in the right way. For instance, touch should always be gentle, remembering that this tiny newborn has very fragile skin, bones, and muscles.

Even the atmosphere in which the massage is being given will be beneficial. You want to set time aside in a room where there is soft music playing, low lights, and even aromatherapy. This will help you relax, as well as the baby. As far as the best time of day for giving your baby a massage, we recommend 30 minutes prior to putting him or her down for bed.

Another consideration for the massage is being in a room that is not too old or too hot. The baby’s body is still adjusting to outside temperatures so you want him or her to be as comfortable as possible. Additionally, your baby will get the most out of the massage without clothes. The best option is to warm your hands, choose a soft, nice smelling lotion, and use slow, gentle motions.

Keeping the room darkened but light enough so your baby can see your face is the perfect atmosphere. This creates a peaceful, relaxing place so your baby is completely relaxed.

Most experts recommend a daily massage but no more than 10 or 15 minutes for each massage or the baby’s body could become sore. There are many benefits to a baby massage to include special bonding time, physical and psychological stimulation, relaxation, and a boost of the baby’s immune system.

The Importance of Choosing the Best Baby Formula

January 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Newborn Care

Most doctors recommend that new mothers breastfeed. The reason is that a mother’s milk contains colostrum, which is loaded with antibiotics and vitamins that help build the baby’s immune system. However, some women prefer not to breastfeed or cannot breastfeed at which time they need to think about buying the best baby formula.

There have been many reports over the years that cow’s milk could cause possible problems. For this reason, pediatricians often suggest that parents not use cow’s milk, choosing a safe and healthy formula instead.

Any baby under the age of one year should not be on cow’s milk. For one thing, the baby could have a problem with being lactose intolerant but cow’s milk is not intended for infants of this age. This type of milk does not contain the right levels of carbohydrates, vitamins, and proteins that a growing baby needs.

Now, if you find formula that has cow’s milk as the foundation, keep in mind that this is not the same as what you would buy at the grocery store for the rest of the family. Instead, baby formula such as this is prepared in a very specific way with proteins and fats being altered so they are more like that of mother’s milk.

Of course, as mentioned some babies are lactose intolerant, which means they cannot handle cow’s milk or even formula based on cow’s milk.

In this case, formulas made with soy are a great alternative. Soy is healthy and easily tolerated. Lactose intolerant babies cannot digest the enzyme needed to break down lactose, which is sugar in cow’s milk. To get past this, simply choose a soy formula, which is not the same as store bought soy milk.

One particular option that has proven helpful for lactose intolerant babies has a protein called hydrolysate. These formulas have the broken down enzyme, which means the baby gets the nutrients needed but without the allergic reaction. Babies who have milk allergies and then fed a formula with this protein have done extremely well.

Along with the different ingredients found in baby formula, there is also the consideration for both convenience and cost.

Baby formula is not cheap, which is why many parents will choose the powdered type, which is the most affordable. Powdered formula is simply mixed with water, either tap or bottled, shaken, and fed.

Another possibility for baby formula is the liquid form. The first option is concentrated formula, which is also mixed with water. This is a convenient and easy solution but because the formula is concentrated, parents need to make sure measurements are accurate. This way, the baby is getting the right level of nutrients but also being fed a formula that can be easily digested.

The other option for liquid formula is ready-to-serve. In this case, the baby formula is already mixed to the exact level of formula and water so all you would do is heat the bottle and serve. Of course, this formula can also be served cold without concern of digestive problems. The only downfall to ready-to-serve baby formula is that it is the most expensive.

As you shop around for formula, we recommend you pay close attention to labels. For instance, you might see some labels stating they are “enhanced”, which means the formula is made with docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA and arachidonic acid or ARA. These ingredients are a type of omega 3 fatty acids that experts say mimic mother’s milk and while deemed safe, some controversy has been raised about their true benefit.

Baby formula on the market today is both nutritious and safe. Even so, there are different preparations so you want to know the right way of mixing the formula. Regardless of the type of formula you purchase, the nipples, bottles, utensils, hands, and virtually anything that is exposed to the formula needs to be sterile.

Simply prepare the baby formula according to the instructions and follow your baby’s lead on when he or she is hungry. Infants will let you know when their tummy needs to be fed so if you try feeding your baby but he or she rejects the bottle, wait about 30 minutes before trying again. Even if your baby drinks only a small amount, put the bottle up and try again later.

Supplies that Every Newborn Needs

January 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Newborn Care

Although you might have a good idea of the supplies you will need for your newborn, there might be a few things overlooked, which we will cover.

The most obvious supply is diapers. Even though you know your newborn will need diapers, you might be surprised to find out the vast number the baby will go through daily. Disposable diapers are convenient but also expensive. Cloth diapers are more affordable but they also require special sanitization and cleaning. You will need to weigh the pros and cons, choosing the type of diaper that works best for your lifestyle and budget.

Along with diapers there are various supplies needed to keep your new baby clean. To absorb urine, clean out ears and the nose, keep the umbilical cord clean while healing, and so on, we suggest you keep cotton balls, cotton swabs, lotion, baby oil, and alcohol on hand at all times.

Medical supplies will also be needed to care for your newborn. Even healthy babies will have moments of being sick so you want to be prepared. For instance, babies get diaper rash, which can be very painful. To ensure your baby’s bottom is clean, not painful, and healing, you want quality diaper rash cream or ointment.

You might even call your baby’s pediatrician, asking for a prescribed ointment that can help with pain and itching. This type of ointment works great for accidental scrapes from the baby’s nails or the healing of the umbilical cord. A great supply to have is good, old-fashioned petroleum jelly. With a cotton swab, you can keep the umbilical cord soft so it falls of easier, or moisten any rough spots on the baby’s body. While you might not need them at all, we also suggest you keep small Band-Aids and gauze nearby along with adhesive tape.

Babies also get mucous build up in the nose, which can make breathing hard. For this, all you need is a sucker ball, also known as a nasal aspirator. This tiny device suctions out the mucous quickly and with no pain. A digital thermometer is another baby supply you will need. These come in various designs to include one that is rubbed on the forehead or a pacifier with a built in thermometer.

While these seem like little things, having these essential supplies ready to use will prove to be a lifesaver.

In addition to diapers and other supplies mentioned for your newborn, you will also need to supply various types of clothing. Newborns tend to be colder than older babies do so you want to make sure you can regulate the body temperature. Of course, you do not want the baby to get overheated either but having several lightweight and heavier clothing items will help.

For instance, 100% cotton tee shirts, those with snap openings for the arms and head are definitely a staple item. Your newborn will spit up often, which is why it is important to have several shirts for changing.

As mentioned, along with the lighter weight items, you also need clothing items. Babies lose most heat from the scalp so hats and hooded jackets work well. Additionally, keeping your baby’s head covered when outside helps to eliminate sunburn is important. A newborn has very sensitive skin that can burn easily and while some sunshine is important, too much is dangerous.

Along with sunburn, babies also get heat rash. To keep your baby cool on hot days so rash does not develop, we recommend you keep many onesies around. These one-piece cotton outfits are easy to put on and take off, just make sure they are loose enough so there is good ventilation.

Just as your baby needs to be cool on hot days, he or she needs to be warm on cold days. Keeping sweatshirts and jackets as a part of the wardrobe allows you to slip one on easily whenever needed.

Finally, those cute little feet also need protecting, which can be done with socks or booties.

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