Tag Archives: Newborn

Should I wake my newborn for a feed?

Waking a newborn baby in the middle of the night may seem a little crazy, however, for a short while, you will need to do this. Here’s why:
Babies lose around 10% of their birth weight soon after being born, so even just a few days after being born (and of course being weighed for the first time), his weight will be below his centile. This is usually the case for around 2 weeks. Until your little one is back up to the weight he should be (according to the centile graph), he should go no longer than 4 hours between feeds and you should wake him up if necessary – newborns need anything from 8 to 12 feeds a day. You may also need to wake your newborn from daytime naps if they tend to exceed 3 hours. Once this period is over and your child has regained the lost weight and gained weight appropriately (therefore following the correct centile), it is then time to look at establishing a better day/night routine to encourage your baby to sleep for longer periods during the night. As well as the obvious health benefits to your child as stated above, feeding your little one regularly also helps you to establish your milk supply if breastfeeding, it is also important to note that crying is a late sign of hunger. In terms of recognising early signs of hunger, you may find my post on hunger cues and what they mean helpful.

To establish breastfeeding and minimise the risk of breastfeeding complications, I would recommend feeding at least every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours during the night for the first 2-3 weeks. The chances are your breastfed baby will wake for feeds anyway but good to know where you stand if she decides she wants to give you a little rest! If you are bottle feeding you should still wake your newborn for a feed until she is following her centile and always follow the instructions on how much formula milk to give (always check instructions on the packet).

I hope you have found this post informative and helpful, as always, your comments are warmly welcomed.

Is it safe to swaddle?

Does swaddling damage babies hips? Does it increase the risk of SIDS? Are there any 21st century benefits to swaddling? Swaddling is an ancient, traditional method of wrapping babies. The blankets or cloths used are tightly wound around the body thus restricting movement, particularly to the limbs. It dates back to around 4000 years ago until becoming unpopular in the 17th century, it appears it is becoming popular again in western civilisations but, some studies have cast doubt on whether it is safe to swaddle or not. Here is the low down:

Does swaddling damage hips?

Professor Nicholas Clarke, an orthopaedic surgeon from Southampton University Hospital, argues that swaddling may damage the development of babies hips. His theory was published in the peer reviewed journal ‘Archives of Disease and Childhood’. His opinion is that swaddling (tightly wrapping a baby) forces the hips into a straightened position where the legs are pressed together, and this he says, may lead to a condition called hip dysplasia.
Dysplasia is not always painful, but can cause joint abnormalities and long-term complications such as osteoarthritis. Severe cases can eventually require hip replacement.

Does it increase the risk of SIDS?

As there are only risk factors for SIDS and not causes, it is difficult for any study to pinpoint one action as reducing the risk. You should create a safe sleeping environment which includes not allowing your baby to overheat, putting him on his back and don’t allow anything to cover his face. Swaddling is a risk factor – it can result in baby overheating, the blanket coming loose and covering her face and may also stop baby’s natural survival reflexes from waking her during the night. If after reading this you still decide you would like to swaddle, you should follow these recommendations:

  • Be aware of the risks, particularly of the use of heavy materials and the risk of the blanket coming loose.
  • NEVER be placed your baby on her stomach when swaddled.
  • If you are going to swaddle, research suggests it is safest to swaddle from birth and not to change bed time practices at 3 months of age, this is when SIDS risk is
    greatest.
  • Always make sure Secondary caregivers (childminders/nannies/nurseries/family members) are aware of your child’s usual sleeping environment and
    practices and they stick to this ie they don’t decide to start swaddling or allowing baby to sleep on her tummy.
  • There has been a lot of research in to the cause of SIDS and as a new parent it is the thing we worry most about. I always like to play on the safe side. I used a fitted sheet, had nothing else in her bed, my baby had a sleeping bag (that fits) and I also had a sensor pad with an alarm. We also co-slept – I always made sure this was made safe and we never slept on the sofa. It can seem like a bit if a minefield but the safest advice is to follow the advice. No one is telling you how to parent, just helping you to make sensible, informed decisions. The more we know about the risks, the better decisions we can make about our babies sleeping environment. The most important new information for me in this post is the advice not to change your little ones sleeping habits at around 3 months of age. This is where the risk of SIDS is at its highest – this may be due to secondary caregivers not being properly informed. I hope you found this post useful.

    Do you swaddle? Were you swaddled as a child? Did you inform your child’s carer of his sleeping habits/environment?

    Resources: NHS

    The pros and cons of introducing a dummy

    Should I introduce a dummy? What are the pros and cons? The dummy debate will continue for as long as there are both babies and dummies (and that isn’t going to stop anyone soon). This info will help you to make an informed decision on whether or not to introduce one.

    The pros

  • Giving your baby a dummy when she sleeps may reduce the risk of SIDS. You should put it in her mouth when you put her to sleep but there is no need to give it back to her should it fall out.
  • It also allows your baby to comfort and soothe herself.
  • It satisfies the sucking reflex. Some babies like to suck more than just when feeding and a dummy allows them to do this.
  • When the time comes that you don’t want your baby to have it anymore, it is easier to wean off a dummy than it is off sucking a thumb.
  • The cons

  • If you introduce a dummy before breastfeeding has been established, it may cause nipple confusion. This could result in your newborn being unable to breastfeed. It is best to wait until your baby is at least one month old.
  • Recent research suggests there may be a link between dummy use and ear infections. It is thought this is due to a change of pressure between the middle ear and upper throat. Bear in mind, there is not enough evidence to confirm if this link is accurate (it may be that mothers in the test group had babies who were already more prone to ear infections and gave a dummy to soothe them).
  • Overuse of a dummy can delay speech, it is recommended you limit the amount of time your child has it, using it for sleep time only is a good way of preventing this.
  • It may cause problems with teeth development if your child regularly uses it for prolonged periods.
  • You may offer a dummy when your little one really wants to be fed, it is an easy mistake and one you will have to be aware of.
  • Dummy safety

  • Always sterilise the dummy before use if your child is under 6 months. After this you can wash with warm soapy water.
  • Never clean a dummy by sucking it – you have lots of bacteria in your mouth that you will transfer.
  • Replace it regularly to ensure there are no cracks, this is where germs/bacteria can survive.
  • Never dip it in anything, particularly not sweet things like honey or juices.
  • Choose an orthodontic dummy with a large shield and air holes, look for the British Dental Association logo.
  • Avoid using a cord attached to the dummy as there is a strangulation risk.
  • Resources:
    WebMd, Product safety

    Why do I worry so much about my sleeping newborn?

    Every new parent worries about their newborn, even more so when she is asleep. Hopefully this post will help to alleviate your fears whilst maintaining the safety and health of your child.

    I worry my baby will stop breathing

    Newborns do not have regular breathing patterns so there may be occasions where you little one has what seems like a huge gap between breaths. In reality this is likely to be only a few more seconds gap than usual. Look out for the colour of your baby’s skin. If it is blue she may be having breathing difficulties and if she is red she may be overheating.

    I worry about SIDS

    Every parent worries about SIDS. The practice of creating a safe sleeping environment has been so successfully highlighted over the years we can’t help but worry. Follow the guidelines on both creating a safe sleep environment and the tog rating and temperature guide. Your baby should sleep in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months, this will also help to reassure you.

    I wouldn’t know what to do…

    A huge fear for all parents is that we find our children needing urgent medical help and we don’t know what to do. Be it choking, not breathing, convulsing or even bangs to their head or burns and cuts, we all know getting first aid trained is the right thing to do, the confidence it gives you when dealing with the above is immeasurable but more importantly, it could save your baby’s life. You can find out more about baby first aid from the British Red Cross

    Common Newborn Conditions and when to see a Doctor

    These conditions are very common in new born babies. Should you notice any of these symptoms you should seek medical advice.

    Abdominal Distension

    If in between feeds your newborns tummy sticks out and is quite hard when you touch it or he is vomiting or hasn’t had any bowel movement for 2 days, it may be a sign of an intestinal problem. It could just be that he has bad wind or constipation but you should get him checked by a doctor.

    Birth Injuries

    Birth injuries happen and can often go unnoticed. The most common birth injury is a broken collar bone or muscle weakness. A broken collar bone will heal reasonably quickly, particularly if you are made aware of it and have kept it as motionless as possible. In some cases, a small lump is spotted a few weeks after birth at the site of the injury. This is the new bone forming and is evidence your newborn is healing.

    Muscle weakness is caused by stretching of the nerves attached to your little ones muscles during labour/birth. If one side of your newborns body (usually an arm or shoulder) or face doesn’t appear to be as active as the other side you should seek medical advice, you will be given advice on how to handle, hold and feed your baby in order to promote healing. This usually corrects itself after a few weeks.

    Blue Baby

    Your newborn may have blue hands or blue feet when cold and may have a blue face, tongue and lips when crying excessively. Once your child has warmed up or has calmed down her skin colour should return to normal shortly afterwards. If your baby’s skin is blue more often than this it may be a sign of a heart or lung problem, particularly if this is coupled with breathing and/or feeding difficulties. Blue skin is a sign that your child is not receiving enough oxygen, this requires immediate medical attention.

    Coughing

    Your child may cough and splutter when drinking too fast, when trying water the first few times or if your breast milk has a fast flow, however, if he coughs or gags routinely when feeding you should consult your doctor. This may be caused by a lung or intestinal problem.

    Excessive Crying

    Newborns cry for many reasons and you should firstly ensure she is clean, fed, not tired, burped and warm. If this, along with you cuddling and comforting her doesn’t work and her cry is different to her normal one such as shrieks of pain or it is prolonged for an unusual amount of time, you should seek medical advice. It may be your baby is in pain or is ill.

    Forceps Marks

    When forceps are used to help deliver a baby, they will usually leave marks or scrapes on your newborns skin. On some occasions there will be lumps, this is due to the tissue bring damaged under the skin. If you are concerned about the marks left by forceps you should discuss this with your midwife/health visitor but, on most occasions these marks and lumps will clear up within 8 weeks.

    Jaundice

    Many healthy newborns have a mild case of jaundice; a slight yellow tinge to their skin. However, in some cases it can be extremely serious and lead to brain or nervous system damage. Jaundice is most commonly caused by a newborns liver not yet functioning properly, the liver is responsible for removing bilirubin from the blood stream. Bilirubin is formed by the body’s natural breakdown of red blood cells. If your midwife is worried about jaundice in your newborn, tests will be arranged and appropriate treatment given if required (usually light therapy). Breastfeeding 8-12 times a day will also help a newborn suffering from jaundice (it seems to be more common in breastfed babies, possibly due to not feeding well). You should always check with your midwife or doctor if you are worried about jaundice or jaundice has developed/worsened since your newborns last check.

    Sleepiness and lethargy

    Newborns tend to sleep for the majority of the day to begin with, thus is completely normal. If your baby doesn’t wake for feeds, doesn’t seem interested in feeds when awake or seems uninterested or lethargic you should seek medical advice immediately, particularly if this is a change to your newborns usual behaviour.

    Breathing difficulties

    Three or four hours after bring born, your baby should have already developed carefully breathing pattern. If you notice a change in this pattern or if she is taking over 60 breaths per minute you should seek medical advice.
    In most cases, breathing problems are caused by a blocked nose which can be easily fixed with saline drops and a bulb syringe, these are available from pharmacies. If however you notice any if the following symptoms you should seek medical advice immediately:

  • Breathing faster than usual (more than sixty breaths in one minute), although babies do breathe more rapidly than adults.
  • Retractions (sucking in the muscles between the ribs with each breath, so that her ribs stick out)
  • Flaring her nose
  • Grunting whilst breathing
  • Persistent blue skin coloring
  • Reference: AAP,