Borchardt Consulting

Posts Tagged ‘Baby

Sleep positioners were originally designed after the Safe Sleep community began urging parents to place infants on their backs in order to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Sleep positioners come in a variety of different designs but their design purpose is to keep an infant on his or her back.

Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of this product was to introduce yet another soft device into an infant’s sleep environment increasing the risk of suffocation.

Safe Sleep experts have long held that sleep positioners only increase the possibility of an infant dying due to either SIDS or accidental suffocation caused by the soft product.

To reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including accidental suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs, positioned on a firm, empty surface. This surface should not contain soft objects, toys, pillows, or loose bedding.

Once an infant can freely roll, he should be allowed to adopt whatever sleep position he prefers.

 

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Today I am remembering my own personal guardian angel, my sister Becky.  She died 22 years ago today, when I was 4.  I’m having a particularly tough time this year, and I’m not entirely sure why.  My mother says it’s because I’m only just starting to comprehend this with my adult brain. 

Molly & Becky

Molly & Becky

 

Part of me thinks that is ridiculous.  I remember my sister with vivid detail, and this isn’t something that I woke up with when my frontal lobe was fully formed.  I remember my grandmother holding Becky at my 4th birthday party, and—in my typical 4 year old way—I decided it was time for a musical interlude.  I serenaded Becky with some absolutely preposterous song that had no tune or real story because while I sang, her eyes never left my face and she smiled at me while I did.  Baby sisters make the best audience. 

So it’s not as if I don’t remember my sister or didn’t understand that “dying” meant I would never see her again.  I knew that.  I was angry about it.  I knew it meant my parents were sad.  I knew it made my dad cry, something I had never seen before.  I also knew it was wrong; my baby sister wasn’t supposed to die.  That’s not how things worked. 

But at the same time, there are things I didn’t understand.  The day after she died was Halloween, and my mom said I begged her to take me trick-or-treating.  One of my aunts took me to my preschool Halloween party because I refused to miss it.  I was still 4 and couldn’t miss the chance to dress up.   

Years later, I would get so frustrated with my parents.  Fall is my favorite season, and I take any opportunity to decorate the house, but my mom never wanted to get out the fall/Halloween decorations.  In my narrow teenage mind, I thought it was because my mom doesn’t have any Martha Stewart home décor skills (she doesn’t).  Now I look back and wonder how I could be so completely blind.   

I understood from a child’s perspective, but now I can identify with my parents.  I watch my friends balloon up with their own little bundles of joy and it’s such an incredible (and weird!) process.  One of my friends lets me touch her adorable little baby bump all I want, and I just keep touching it.  How fascinating to grow a human inside of you.  I have no idea how my parents woke up in the morning or kept breathing.  I worry about my future children and my friends’ children too. 

It’s weird to have a child’s grief inside of me as well as an adult’s grief.  I miss my sister for the baby that she was, smiling at my stupid songs, and for what she should have been, my friend and my enemy and my confidant and helping me torture our youngest sister.  As an adult, I’m not sure how I feel about heaven, but I will never shake the thought of heaven as a tea party, covered in pink teacups, balloons, and cakes, completely a 4 year old’s vision of what the perfect world would be. 

 I very rarely dream of Becky, but when I did, she was always a playmate, a fellow child.  Last summer, I dreamed of Becky how she was before she died, a small, warm body with those dark blue eyes.  I was an adult and held her in her old room, rocking her to sleep.  I woke up crying but happy.  It’s weird… this child’s memory mixed with now-grown emotions. 

So while 22 years isn’t a milestone or a particularly special year, I’m having a rough time.  I think as adults we are somewhat dismissive of children’s memories and feelings because they are so fluid.  The stories they tell show us exactly how they remember events, and we giggle more often than not because it’s a very different event than we remember.  Their emotions swing so quickly; one moment they are losing their minds and the next they are playing happily.  But I remember dropping barbies on the ground when we heard the sirens.  I remember seeing my parents cry.  I remember seeing my cousins lined up at the end of my Nana’s bed as she led them in prayer for Becky.  And now, as an adult, I try to just remember my sister.

Last Weekend Together

Last Weekend Together

Tummy Time Tip5The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep and their tummies to play as part of a daily routine. Just a few minutes a day, a few times a day, can help your baby get used to Tummy Time and help prevent early motor delays. If you begin early (even from just a few days old) and maintain a consistent schedule, your baby will learn to love Tummy Time. This helps develop the muscles in their back, neck, and trunk, on their way to meeting all their infant development milestones.

Tummy Time should begin from the time baby is brought home from the hospital. Try these simple tasks:

  • Create a habit of alternating baby’s position (not location) at least every 20 minutes when baby is awake.
  • Carry baby in arms rather than in a car seat.  Sometimes use the “foot ball” hold and carry baby tummy side down.
  • When changing baby’s diaper, flip him over onto his tummy for 30 seconds  to one minute.
  • Place baby on his tummy on your lap to burp or soothe. A hand on his bottom will help to keep him steady.
  • If bottle feeding, alternate arms to create a more natural hold for baby.
  • When you are awake and alert, lie down and place baby on your tummy or chest.  Until baby can lift her head, alternate her head position for her.  Make sure you keep  your hands on baby at all times.
  • Get down on the floor at eye level with baby.  Be sure to position yourself in different locations around baby to encourage head turning.

Babies don’t always like Tummy Time in the beginning because they have no ability to lift their heads.  However, if you are consistent about doing Tummy Time for short periods all throughout the day, every day, baby will learn to love it!

For additional information on Tummy Time activites and Infant development.  See www.Pathways.org.

Do's and Don'ts of Sling Safety

Do’s and Don’ts of Sling Safety

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned parents and caregivers about using a sling for infants younger than 4 months of age, preemies and twins. 

 

Slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. The sling’s fabric can press against an infant’s nose and mouth, blocking the baby’s breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin toward the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate. 

 CPSC recommends that parents and caregivers make sure the infant’s face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling’s wearer. If nursing the baby in a sling, change the baby’s position after feeding so the baby’s head is facing up and is clear of the sling and the mother’s body. Parents and caregivers should be vigilant about frequently checking their baby in a sling.

Cultures throughout the world carry babies in slings but correct positioning is crucial.  Follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Always be able to see your baby’s face.
  2. Nose and Mouth should be clear.
  3. Baby’s chin should be up.

When baby is in a sling, baby shares your body heat and has the additional covering of the sling.  Make certain that baby is not too warm.  His or her head should be uncovered.

Enjoy having your baby close!

21 years ago, my 4 month old daughter died suddenly and unexpectedly.  It rocked my world and I continue to feel the aftershocks of that day. Before you roll your eyes and think, “It’s been 21 years, get over it!”  Allow me to say that I live a blessed life and I’m very happy.  I believe that is owed in large part to my daughter’s death.

I have been thinking for months that I needed to find a way to mark this huge milestone.  21 years old means that my baby is no longer my baby but an adult.  A woman.  Sigh.  I missed so much. But, as I was ruminating about all that has happened in the last 21 years, I realized that the best way for me to honor my daughter’s short life would be to thank all the people who played such a huge role in helping me to heal and smile again. 

The kindnesses bestowed upon me can never be repaid but I want those who prayed for me, cried with me, sat with me, bullied me and held me up to know that I not only remember Becky, but I remember them too.  For a long time, Wednesdays were the worst day of the week since that was the weekday that my daughter died.  It was the hardest day to go to work and pretend to be Okay.  But, I remember coming home every Wednesday night from work and finding a note on my door from a neighbor. The note read: “Dinner is ready and hot.  Give me a call so I can bring it over.”  Those dinners meant much more than a hot meal for my family.  Those dinners, at first so unexpected, showed me that someone knew, even before I did how emotionally draining those anniversary Wednesdays could be.

I remember my sister who had an infant of her own and who came over several times a day, every day.  She handed me her baby to breastfeed (just a little) before she breastfed her own baby in order to try to slowly ease my way out of breastfeeding.  After 4 months of breastfeeding, there was no easy way to stop the copious flow of milk.  My sore breasts were just an outward sign of my pain.  Yet, my sister’s generosity in sharing her darling dark haired baby girl not only eased my sore breasts, but eased my aching arms as well. 

I remember my co-worker who went to lunch with me every day and endured my overwhelming sadness.  I remember my neighbors who sat with me for hours and hours in the backyard just passing the time of day, sitting quietly or talking about mundane daily life.  I felt included and surrounded by love.

I remember a boss who made it possible for my husband and me to take our surviving daughter to Disney World.  We needed a little time for this family of four to figure out how to be a family of three again but with the unexpected expenses of a funeral there would have been no extra money for an extravagant trip. 

I remember a stranger whom I had never previously met calling me every day to check on me because she too was a mother who had a baby die.  She understood the isolation of deep grief.

I remember my large family whose distress kept the family tom-toms beating for months strategizing on how they could best help.  Never intrusive, but always loving, they looked for ways big and small to ease our never-ending sadness.  I remember coming home from work and finding my laundry sorted.  What a relief!  I could go to work every day.  I could manage a staff but I couldn’t sort my own laundry.  It just seemed like too many decisions.  So while I was away, a little elf would sneak into my house and sort my laundry.  That kindness said to me: “We believe you’re capable, but we’ll just give you a little hand.”  What a gift.

I remember my 4 year old daughter sitting next to me in her own rocking chair while I cried.  She would pat my leg and chatter to me.  She was so full of questions.  She challenged me to stay in the present instead of drifting back to the past where my other baby girl was.  She reminded me that she too needed a mommy.

I remember several years later a friend who wrote me a check for hundreds of dollars so that I could go back to school to become a bereavement facilitator and run support groups for other families who had  also experienced the death of a child.

I remember all the nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters who made time every year to commemorate Becky’s death anniversary by gathering at her tree.  They wrote messages of love on balloons that we hoped would reach from our hearts to her heart and we watched both the children and the tree grow up together.

I remember my parents’ heart-break that they could not fix this giant boo-boo for me and make the pain all go away.  I remember my father’s anger at the belief that it should have been him – the senior family member rather than his granddaughter.    I remember years later when their son (my brother) died watching them with gentle strength and abiding faith withstand the pain of losing a child with great dignity.

I remember my husband holding me in his arms at night and crying with me.  I remember him telling me that we could survive this – and we did!  

There are many other stories of kindness.  Too numerous to mention but no less touching and appreciated.

Thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  I can never express how much each kindness lifted me up and helped me to believe that one day it would be better.  No one who has not experienced it can adequately describe how difficult a transition it is from carrying your baby in your arms to carry her in your heart.  Yet, we were surrounded by love, compassion and empathy.  It’s been a long journey.  I remember so many kindnesses. Kindnesses that didn’t stop after a few months or even a few years but continued on even until today – 21 year years later.  Very few people are so blessed.

I remember.

 

 

Breastfed infants are 80% less likely to die before age 1 year than those who never breastfed, even controlling for low birth weight.  Breastfeeding is the most effective way to insure your baby’s health and survival.   That’s a pretty impressive, yet globally, only 40% of babies under six months are exclusively breastfed.

Breastfeeding is also really good for Mom’s health.  Women who breastfeed for more than twelve months during their lifetime tend to have lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce the risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer in a mother’s later life and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Perhaps best of all, breastfeeding women use the weight (fat stores) they accumulated during pregnancy to produce breast milk. Breastfeeding mom’s burn an additional 500 calories a day.  Wow!  A simple, relatively easy way to lose baby weight.

Baby benefits from breast milk too.  It is the food least likely to cause allergic reactions; it is inexpensive; it reduces the risk of SIDS; it is readily available at any hour of the day or night; babies accept the taste readily; and the antibodies in breast milk can help a baby resist infections.

Breast Milk is the Best Food for Baby

 

If both Mom and Baby benefit from breastfeeding, then what’s the problem?  While baby instinctively knows exactly what to do, for Mom breastfeeding has to be learned.  Many women need support and advice as they begin breastfeeding.  Some women experience nipple pain and fear that baby won’t get enough milk. Once past those initial challenges, more than half the mothers of infants will return to work.  While companies are supposed to provide a clean place (not the bathroom) for a working mom to pump, breastfeeding friendly companies are still relatively rare.

It is possible to work full-time and successfully breastfeed but it takes commitment and planning.  The best time to work through a breastfeeding plan is actually before the baby is born.  Find out what the company’s policy is for supporting breastfeeding moms.  Talk with other working moms and healthcare providers about the options for pumping.  There are lots of different types of breast pumps available both for rental and purchase. There is a breast pump that fits every mother’s needs.

Finally, don’t go into breastfeeding with the belief that it’s all sunshine and fun.  Breastfeeding is an evolving activity.  Mom and baby develop a rhythm over time.  Ultimately, breastfeeding is one of the most satisfying, enjoyable activities a mother will every do with her infant.

 

Tummy Time is important for baby because the amount of time baby spends on their tummy is reduced by back sleeping and car seat usage.  The average baby now misses out on several hours of natural tummy time every day.  The lack of tummy time can result in serious consequences for baby’s development.  Flat head (Plagiocephaly), Wry neck (torticollis) as well as social, emotional and developmental delays can all be linked to a lack of tummy time.  However, all these issues can be avoided by parents and caregivers by giving baby an appropriate amount of snuggle time (carried) and tummy time every day starting from birth.

The key to effective tummy time is consistency.  Every day when baby is awake, alert and supervised, the caregiver can place baby on his or her tummy for small amounts of time.  A newborn baby is recommended to be placed on his or her tummy around 5 times a day for no more than 3 minutes each time.  As baby grows and gains strength and skill, that time should increase until by three months of age, baby is spending an hour a day of awake time on their tummy.

There are several simple ways to integrate tummy time into baby’s day without adding an additional or time consuming routine.

  1. You can place baby on their tummy on your lap for burping.
  2. Place baby on your tummy while lying down so that he or she can look you directly in the eye.
  3. Get down on the floor and put your face at baby’s level.  Place interesting toys all around baby so that she reaches in different directions.

When the baby is on his or her back, it is easy to develop a flat spot on the head because the skull is so soft.  A bald spot on baby’s head is the clearest early warning sign that baby is spending too much time in a certain position.  Altering the position that baby holds their head while on their back will help prevent both flat head syndrome and wry neck; a condition where the neck muscles on one side of the neck shortens and the opposite side lengthens.  The key is to recognize that baby prefers to turn his or her head to look at the parent or the door (where the parent comes in).  Here are a few simple tips:

  1. When diapering, alternate the baby’s head direction for each diaper change.  Then, flip baby over onto their tummy for a moment.
  2. When bottle feeding baby, alternate the arm in which baby is held just like a breastfeeding mother would.
  3. Put baby to in a safe crib on her back for every sleep time, but alternate the orientation of her head between the head of the crib and the foot of the crib.

Perhaps the most important thing that parents and caregivers can do to positively affect baby’s social, emotional and developmental progress is to carry the baby in arms rather than in a car seat.  When baby is held, he or she is getting lots of sensory input, eye contact and bonding in addition to lots of muscle usage.  As a newborn, keep baby’s head, neck and back well supported; but as baby gains skills and develops, you can begin to use a less supporting position.

For more information on tummy time, go to www.pathways.org or schedule a Tummy Time workshop from Borchardt Consulting.  If there are concerns about baby’s development, consult your pediatrician.


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