II’m sure you’ve seen them in your blue, red or purple book for your babies, the charts for tracking the weight, length and head circumference of your baby. Simply put, if your baby is on the 50th centile for weight this means that 50% of the population is heavier than him or her and 50% lighter. That's 'average'. If he or she is on the 90th centile only 10% of the population is heavier and 90% is lighter, and the same for height and head circumference. Simple. But I keep meeting parents who worry about these charts: I met a [...]
The first two years of your baby’s life are filled with so many lessons, most of which you can only appreciate or recognise with the gift of hindsight. So, as my daughter approaches her 3rd birthday, and my brand new son enters into his seventh week of life, I thought it would be a good time for me to reflect back on 5 things that I learned in those crazy 2 years. My hope is that it may offer some reassurance to other mothers, and also serve to remind me of a few things as I walk this road for [...]
Every mother wants her baby to have soft flawless dewy skin. Achieving that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but important for your baby’s health. The integrity of the skin layer prevents the penetration of allergens (causing allergic (atopic) dermatitis) or harmful bacteria (causing infection). However the surface layer of a baby's skin is 30% thinner than in adults so is more easily penetrated or damaged by substances applied to it. It takes more than a year for the skin to mature. For maintaining integrity skin should have: Slightly acid pH Friendly (commensal) germs Natural Moisturising Factor (mostly fats) [...]
Lately, I understand, there has been a frisson of activity on a parenting page regarding a blog I wrote in 2014. In the blog about preventing sleep problems in six month olds I quoted from my book “Your Cherished Baby’ and suggested: Ideally, he should be put down drowsy but awake. If possible there should be minimal fussing after tucking in. Unless it is your choice and the baby’s habit, once down, avoid rocking, cuddling or patting to sleep. And if it is, you have a choice to gradually (step by step, night by night) wean the baby off such input [...]
Fully breastfed infants start to need other foods at around six months. By then they have run their stores of iron down and also need to supplement the vitamin D in their diet. Also breastmilk (and formula) is relatively low in protein, which is suitable for babies, but the growing infant now needs more. Back in the day, the often-recommended first food was baby rice. We now recognise that early taste experiences program our babies’ food preferences for later, so processed refined rice flour, which is a world away from real food, and is now no longer recommended. [...]
Children Eat What They Enjoy, and Enjoy What They Know.... Humans are omnivores – they’ll eat anything that looks nutritious, and therein lies a problem: they can also poison themselves in many different ways. So evolution came up with a solution. Make the young generally ‘neo-phobic’ (fear of new things’) that is, wary of unfamiliar foods. Another great strategy is to get them to copy their mother and only eat what she eats, as it’s should always be safe. So we copy our Mum. When we’re in the womb we swallow the amniotic fluid and learn the [...]
The old fashioned ideas (pre-2008) were at six months of age a cautious, slow introduction of spoon-foods, limited variety and the avoidance of allergic foods until the infants were older. Nowadays, based on real information and studies, we know differently.
With the return of the warm weather parents have started asking me what to do about their babies regarding insect repellants and sunscreens. Mosquitoes and midges agree that babies are delicious and will ignore the adults and exclusively hone in on the youngest human with the softest skin. Babies primarily need to be protected from contact with them by avoiding outside exposure in the evenings and sleeping with insect nets over their cots. The spray-on repellents should not be used at all under 2 months of age and after that, it should not sprayed directly on to the [...]
“Do you have a good baby?” Says the sweet-faced old lady to you in the shopping centre. Just to be clear, this is code for “Does your baby sleep for long periods of time and not feed too often or at inconvenient times?” How to answer? She means well, so perhaps “Yes, she is. She cries when she is hungry and sleeps when she is tired” is a bit abrupt. Instead how about giving her a short enlightening lecture? Here are the critical points: Babies are just foetuses who are outside the womb. In comparison to other mammal babies, [...]
I was bewildered by all the Internet chatter about the picture of Victoria Beckham kissing her children on the mouth. The horror and the outrage! That same day I was discussing feeding babies spoon foods, and a mother wondered what they did before blenders. Good question, because these two things are connected. Transitional feeding seems to be necessary for humans from around six months of age. It is a time when breastfeeding doesn't yield enough iron or protein to maintain optimal growth in babies. In many animals the mother prepares soft foods by chewing it herself and then transferring [...]
II had an interesting conversation with a friend a few days ago. He sighed “We are having such trouble getting our little girl into childcare – there are so few places available. We are feeling so stressed and guilty that she might not get the early education and sociability that she needs?” Time for a reality check. Humans are amongst the most social species on the planet. We have been honed by countless generations of ancestors who selected themselves to reproduce by their ability to socialise. It doesn’t need to be trained into us. It’s inherent. In our first [...]
When visiting a new mother and baby there should be a rule. A principle that is common knowledge within the community and which no one questions and everyone respects. Don’t ask to hold the baby.