All posts by Baby Knowledge

When can I take my baby swimming?

The simple answer to this question is: as soon as you want to. You may have heard or been told you have to wait until after your child has been vaccinated, some leisure centres may still use this guidance but the advice dates back to when the vaccinations were first introduced (as polio was very common).

The Department of Health has since stated you can take your baby swimming from a very young age and there is no need to wait until he/she has been vaccinated. There have been no cases of natural polio infection in the UK since 1984 and the vaccinations that contained a live virus (which in very extreme and rare cases were thought to have caused polio) were stopped in 2004.

Most baby swimming lessons start from around 6 weeks old, the idea of these lessons is generally to help you to be confident in the water with your baby. If your baby feels safe, he will be happy in the water from any age, as long as the introduction to water and swimming is an enjoyable experience. There is no rush to take your child swimming for the first time. Experts at the ASA and many paediatricians recommend babies start swimming at around six months old. There are other ways of introducing your child to water and increasing water confidence before his first swimming experience; during bath time ensure you keep it relatively short so he doesn’t get too cold and smile and keep eye contact, keep it playful and fun and encourage him to splash.

When you take him swimming on your own for the first time, try and do it at a time when the pool is less likely to be busy and your little one isn’t going to be hungry or too tired. Remember to stay calm, be confident, keep good eye contact and smile lots and lots. You will both have a great time. As your child gets older you may then want to consider lessons to improve technique.

Resources:
NHS, swimming.org

How to massage your baby’s legs, tummy, chest, arms, head and back

A complete guide for massaging every part of your baby’s body. If You want to massage your baby but don’t really know where to start then fear not; baby massage is made easy with these simple steps:

Create a calm, relaxing environment

  • Choose a time when your baby is content and alert, not tired or hungry.
  • Try sitting on the floor, bed or sofa, with your baby safely on a towel in front of you.
  • Find a position that’s comfortable, gives you good eye contact with no overhead lights and where your baby is warm.
  • It’s up to you whether your baby is nappy-free, but it can help to at least loosen the nappy when massaging the tummy.
  • There are lots of lovely baby massage oils on the market but any plain, vegetable based oil, such as sunflower oil, is perfectly adequate.
  • Your baby may end up ingesting some oil, so you really want to make sure it is safe (petroleum-based oils or oils containing nuts aren’t recommended).
  • You may like to introduce a massage after bath and before bed as part of a bedtime wind-down.
  • Getting started

    Before beginning, ‘ask permission’ by rubbing a little oil between your hands over your baby, and saying ‘can I give you a massage?’ This may sound a little crazy but your baby will become familiar with this visual and audible cue and know that massage is about to start.

    It’s great to massage the whole of your baby’s body using a range of techniques:

    Legs and feet

    1. Carefully hold one of your baby’s legs between the palm of your hands, then gently but securely hold your baby’s ankle and support the weight of the leg.
    2. With your other hand, mould it around the top of your baby’s thigh and then slide it down towards the ankle. The action is similar to milking a cow!
    3. Once you have massaged one leg, swap and massage the next. Soft, flowing strokes are best and it is important to always keep the ankle supported.
    4. The next step is to massage your little ones foot. Support your baby’s foot in two hands and with your thumbs, stroke over the sole of her feet from the bottom of her heels to her toes.
    5. Repeat over and over alternating your thumbs.
    6. The top of the foot can be massaged by gently squeezing her toes between your thumb and forefinger and giving them a little wiggle and applying gentle pressure with the pads of your fingers all around her foot.
    7. Finish by rubbing her feet softly and then repeating the leg massage in the opposite direction. (This time from ankle to thigh).

    Tummy

    1. Remove or loosen his nappy.
    2. Place your handly softly on the base of his rib cage at a 45 degree angle (so your little finger is in contact with him), slowly brush your hand downwards towards the bottom if his tummy as if your hand were an awe on a rowing boat. Hold your hand so your pinky’s edge can move like a paddle across your baby’s belly. Repeat these strokes using both hands in a continuous wheel like movement.
    3. With your finger tips, massage her tummy in circular clockwise movements.
    4. Trace “I Love U” with your fingers: Write the letter ‘I’ down your baby’s left side. Then trace an inverted ‘L’, stroking across the belly along the base of her ribs from her right side to her left and down. Trace an inverted ‘U’, stroking from low on the baby’s right side, up and around the navel, and down the left side.
    5. Walk your fingers around his navel in a clockwise direction.
    6. Hold knees and feet together and gently press knees up toward her abdomen.
    7. Rotate baby’s hips around a few times to the right. (This often helps expel gas.)
    8. Place your hand on his tummy horizontally and rock your hand from side to side a few times. Note: Avoid massaging tummy if the cord hasn’t completely healed.

    Head and Face

    1. Cradle your baby’s head in both of your hands, massage her scalp with your fingertips, as if you’re shampooing. (Avoid the fontanel, the soft spot on top of baby’s head.)
    2. Massage her ears between your thumb and index finger.
    3. Trace a heart shape on her face, bringing your hands together at the chin.
    4. Place your thumbs between your baby’s eyebrows, and stroke out.
    5. Again with your thumbs, stroke gently out over baby’s closed eyelids.
    6. Stroke from the bridge of the nose out over the cheeks.
    7. Using your fingertips, massage the jaw in a small circular motion.

    Chest

    1. Place both of your hands on your baby’s chest and gently stroke outwards from her sternum to her shoulders.
    2. Beginning at her sternum, trace a heart shape bringing both hands up to her shoulders, then down and back together.
    3. In a crisscross pattern, stroke diagonally from one side of your baby’s hip, up and over the opposite shoulder, and back down to her hip.

    Arms

    1. With one hand, hold your baby’s wrist. Relax her upper arm by tapping it lightly with 2 fingers.
    2. Hold your baby’s wrist with one hand and shape your other hand in a C-shape around baby’s upper arm; stroke from her shoulder down to her wrist.
    3. As though gently wringing a towel, softly stroke down from her shoulder to her wrist with both hands rotating in opposite directions.
    4. Massage her palm by moving your thumbs over and over from the heel of her hand to her fingers.
    5. Stroke down the top of her hand from her wrist to her fingertips. Gently squeeze and pull each finger.
    6. Massage her wrist by moving your fingers in a small circular motion.
    7. To complete, roll her arm between both of your hands

    Back

    1. Place your baby on her tummy horizontally in front of you, or lay her across your outstretched legs. Keep her hands in front of her, not at her sides.
    2. With both of your hands on her back, move each of your hands back and forth (keep them going in opposite directions) from the base of her neck to her buttocks.
    3. Hold your baby’s buttocks with one hand and use the other to stroke down from her neck to her buttocks.
    4. Using your fingertips, massage small circles down one side of baby’s spine and up the other. Avoid pressing directly on her spine.
    5. Gently massage her shoulders with small circular motions.
    6. Massage her buttocks with big circular motions.
    7. Holding your fingers like a rake, stroke down her back.

    You may not want to massage your baby’s whole body every time but massaging her legs, tummy and if she likes it, her head are perfect for a calming routine before bed time. If at anytime during massage your baby becomes upset or falls asleep, you should stop massaging immediately. I hope you found this guide to baby massage useful. Please leave a comment to key me know how baby massage is working out for you and take some time to check out my other posts. Thanks for reading!

    What you need to know about baby massage

    Baby massage has become increasingly popular in western culture over the past 20 years or so. It originated from ancient Indian traditions and is also widely used in Africa. There are said to be benefits for both baby and parents, here you can get all the information you need before you get started.

    What are the benefits?

  • First and foremost it is a fantastic way of strengthening your bond with your baby.
  • It is also a great way for partners and Grandparents etc to bond with your newborn.
  • It can help to alleviate the effects of post natal depression and improve the mother/baby relationship.
  • It can help you to become more confident in handling your baby and recognising his/her needs.
  • It raises levels of the feel good hormone oxytocin in both of you which results in a calmer, content, much more relaxed mother and baby.
  • It helps to relax your baby’s mind and muscles before bedtime.
  • The oil nourishes your little ones skin.
  • It can relieve the symptoms of colic or constipation.
  • A face massage can help to ease a blocked nose or blocked ducts.
  • A massage of the gums through the skin can help with teething pains.
  • When is the best time of day to do it?

    There is no wrong time to massage your child, however, for maximum benefit you should try and gauge your little ones mood. The best time is when he is awake and content, don’t start massaging if he is tired or hungry and stop it and try again later If he is turning his head away or stiffening his muscles. Massaging your child after a feed may cause him to vomit so try and give him approximately 45 mins to an hour to digest his milk/food. Baby massage is fantastic as part of a bedtime routine for newborns and toddlers.

    Does my baby need to be a minimum age?

    There is no minimum age for starting baby massage, however, if your child was premature you should wait until her due date before you begin massaging her.

    What oil should I use?

    There is absolutely no need for expensive baby massage oils. In fact, a plain vegetable oil such as sunflower oil is all you need.

    References:
    mayoclinic, nct

    These foods are a choking hazard, do not give them to your children

    It is reported that around 2,600 choking accidents in the UK each year involve children under four years of age. That’s over 7 children per day, everyday. It is likely that this statistic is considerably lower than factual incidents due to the amount of choking incidents that go unreported. Children choke on small toys and on food that is too big and too difficult dislodge. A study in the journal of the American Medical Association 30 years ago concluded a child every five to six days chokes to death on a food. This study has not been repeated but Smith, who conducted the study says says “I have no reason to think those numbers have changed because there haven’t been major changes in surveillance or protection.” Here is our guide on the food you should avoid giving your children and the things you can do to make them a little safer if you are going to give them.

    Peanuts
    Peanuts are often avoided anyway due to the risk of an allergic reaction, however, they also pose a choking risk; it is possible they may block the lower airway so should be completely avoided.

    Chewing gum
    According to the international chewing gum association, Chewing gum can be a choking hazard. The gum base, which is a component of the gum that makes it stretchy and tough, is more difficult to swallow than ordinary foods. Older children should always spit gum out to prevent choking and also prevent a build up of gum in the rectum (if large amounts have been swallowed).

    Popcorn
    Popped, half popped or not popped at all, popcorn is a choking hazard and should be avoided. It doesn’t dissolve, is jagged in shape and is hard to dislodge if stuck, your child’s trachea (windpipe) is the size of a drinking straw – imagine trying to suck air through a straw with a piece of popcorn wedged on the end if it. Due to popcorn being so lightweight, there is also a risk that it can be ‘sucked’ down accidentally by your child, this could result in choking (as stated) or the popcorn sitting on one of your child’s lungs (this is likely to cause an infection if not medically removed).

    Chips
    For the same reasons as popcorn; chips are hard and light so difficult to dislodge and easily swallowed accidentally (before chewing).

    Round slices of hotdogs or sausages
    Whether cut into a round shape or eating whole, the shape forms a perfect ‘plug’ over the trachea and is very difficult to remove. If you are giving your child sausages and hotdogs you should always cut them length ways as well as chop long ways.

    Carrot sticks or baby carrots
    All vegetables should be steamed (preferably) or boiled, grated or chopped into thin matchstick shapes before giving to your child. This makes them softer, easier to chew, easier to cough up if swallowed accidentally and less likely to cause a choking incident.

    Tough meat and meat with gristle and bone
    It is heavy and can easily slip to the back of your child’s throat. You should remove all fat, gristle and bones and chop into small pieces. You can further mitigate the risk by slow cooking, mincing or shredding.

    Hard candy
    An 8 year study between 2001 and 2009 reported more than 16,100 children aged 14 and younger visited the A&E because they were choking on hard candy. It is the number one food for causing choking incidents in children and should be completely avoided.

    Whole grapes
    Don’t be fooled by their nutritional value. Grapes are a huge choking risk. Whole grapes should be completely avoided for as long as you can and cut up grapes (you should cut into quarters as a minimum) only given once you are confident your child can sit up properly and chew foods well. Babies should not be given grapes at all ; even when they are cut up they can still result in a choking episode if not chewed properly.

    Cherry tomatoes
    Avoid cherry tomatoes as you would grapes. The size and texture are similar and the outcome of not chewing (or not being being able to chew) properly will be the same.

    Large pieces of raw fruits and vegetables
    Raw fruit and vegetables can be very hard and difficult for your child to chew, particularly if his/her molars (back teeth) haven’t cone through yet. You could cook them slightly to soften them or grate them (such as carrots and apples). Soft pears and bananas don’t need to be avoided but you should, of course, never leave your child unsupervised when eating.

    Every precaution should be taken to avoid choking episodes, if you are using the baby led weaning technique you should still take the above precautions as these are the highest risk foods. There is never a substitute for supervising your child when eating and it is recommended you learn basic first aid for children. Encourage your child to sit up whilst eating and never allow them to play as this will also increase the risk. If you have any questions, please ask.

    The Pros and Cons of Changing Tables

    If you think a changing table is a necessity, think again. However, it does have its advantages, mostly being comfort for you. This post looks at the pros and cons of changing tables.

    There are a few different types of changing tables available, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. The three main types are freestanding, over the cot and fold away. The freestanding changing tables are a furniture unit on their own, they often have 2 or 3 shelves for storage and come in a variety of styles, these are generally the most expensive. The over the cot changers simply secure to the sides of your baby’s cot or cot bed, it makes them much easier to store and doesn’t take up additional room in your littlest ones nursery. There are 2 different types of fold away tables, one which is fixed to the wall and folds up out of sight (much like the ones you get in public changing rooms) and the other can be fully folded up and stored away. Now you have a brief outline of your choices, let’s take a look at the generic pros and cons:

    Pros

  • You have a designated area at home that is strictly for changing nappies, your baby will come to recognise this.
  • You can carefully store all nappy changing equipment in one place.
  • It will, without a doubt save your back – it is much easier than bending over or being on your knees.
  • On some models you can also place a baby bath on it, making those early baths much easier on your back too.
  • Cons

  • They are not cheap – you shouldn’t really use a changing table once your child is able to roll over so you don’t really have that much time to get your money’s worth.
  • They can take up a lot of room – depending on the model, you may find you can make better use of the space in your child’s nursery.
  • The products can be a bit too easily accessible – once your little one starts grabbing at things you will have to move your nappy changing products to a higher shelf or off the changing unit altogether.
  • I hope this has helped you decide on whether you need a changing table/changing unit and also on which type of model best suits you if you do want one. Let me know what you decide!