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Thursday
Jun162011

Your Top 10 Questions About Sleep - Answered!

All the basics – so that baby and you can get some rest.

By KATHERINE FINN DAVIS, PHD, RN, CPNP

Rest easy. Here's everything you need to know.

New parents often worry about their baby’s sleep: Is he sleeping too much or not enough? Is he in the right position? Where should he sleep? Don’t let these questions keep you up at night— the answers are easy once you know the basics.

A newborn’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock that tells the body when to sleep, is not well developed at birth. As a result, he can sleep as easily during the day as he does at night. A normal, full-term newborn sleeps about 14 to 18 hours a day but rarely for more than a few hours at a time. And when he does sleep, he may twitch, smile, frown, make sucking movements or breathe irregularly. A lot of parents think that their baby isn’t sleeping well as a result, but this is totally natural.

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Tuesday
Jun212011

Feeding Fundamentals

Not only will a healthy diet allow your baby to grow properly, but mealtime will help the two of you bond. Here’s how.

By RITA PICKLER, PHD, RN, PNP

The number one rule to follow when it’s mealtime with your child? Feed your baby like a baby. Infants need a diet that is very different from that of an older child or adult. The food you give your little one now will help her grow and develop properly as well as set the stage for healthy eating habits. Starting with the wonders of breast milk right through to the time when she’s got pureed peas all over her face (and yours!), your baby will love to eat, so use it as a time to bond with her and give her everything she needs to grow.

Breast Is Best

In the first months of life, the best food for infants is breast milk, as is recommended by all healthcare providers, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. It provides your baby with all the nutrients she needs for these early weeks of rapid growth and development. In fact, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is the best way to keep your baby healthy: Breast milk is more easily digested than formula, and studies have shown that it can decrease the occurrence or severity of diarrhea and similar conditions and may protect your baby from ear infections and other common infant illnesses.

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Tuesday
Sep272011

Keep Your Child Well

Meeting regularly with your baby’s healthcare provider is just as important when your child is healthy as it is when he is sick.

By DOLORES C. JONES, Ed.D., RN, CPNP, CAE

The first time your healthcare professional examines your baby will be in the hospital or birthing center. Often the exam takes place in the nursery where you may not have the opportunity to observe it. The first checkup or well-child visit may be in your home within a few days of discharge or when you take your baby in to visit your healthcare professional, usually before he is one week old. You might schedule the appointment before you leave the hospital but, usually, you're asked to call after you're discharged. You'll want to make sure the day and time of the appointment are convenient for you and that you plan for enough time so you're not rushed. If your pediatric practice has more than one office, be sure to confirm the location of your appointment.

The First Checkup

Once you arrive, you'll be requested to sign in at the front desk. Be prepared to show your insurance card and make any required payments at that time. There is often a separate waiting room for well-child visits. You'll want to make sure you bring feeding supplies (a blanket to use while breastfeeding, or a bottle) and changing supplies with you.

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Tuesday
Sep272011

Home Sweet (and Safe) Home

Home may be where the heart is, but it’s also a goldmine for infant injuries. Childproofing your house now will keep your curious little one safe and sound.

By JO ELLEN LEE, RNC, MSN, CPNP

Dangers hide everywhere in a house, and growing, exploring babies are surprisingly adept at finding them. To make sure your child stays safe, take time to babyproof your house before she is mobile. It’s a good idea to get down on your hands and knees to see the world from a baby’s point of view. If something looks dangerous, remove it, lock it up or cover it up. Continue to look around your home periodically to spot the next new hazard your child may uncover as she grows and develops.

Steps to Safety

Children learn by moving, touching, tasting, grabbing, licking, feeling and imitating. Because this places them at prime risk for injuries, especially from poisoning, it’s important that they be supervised every crawl or step of the way. Keep in mind that many injuries occur when there has been a change in routine—often during holidays, special occasions or stressful times. Here’s what you need to know to make safety reign in your home.

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Tuesday
Sep272011

Play & Learn

Three ways to nurture your baby’s development through play

By PATTI LUCARELLI, RN, MSN, CPNP

Rhyme Time

Believe it or not, your little one is ready to play with you almost from the moment she’s born. Simple rhymes sung to a classic melody will help her learn language and rhythm with the rise and fall of your voice.

A time-tested favorite is “Pat-a-cake.” Gently pat your baby’s hands as you sing and act out this rhyme: 

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Roll it, pat it and mark it with a B.
And put it in the oven for baby and me!

At first, your baby will listen and watch. After just a few rounds, she’ll anticipate the game with giggles and smiles. Eventually, she’ll request such games again and again. Through repetition, she is learning new skills as well as gaining control and mastery of her body and mind. Remain patient and positive, and enjoy this togetherness.

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