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Pregnancy Nutrition

Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:55:14 Europe/London

Hello New Mom! It’s you and Baby now, so you’ll want to eat what’s best for both of you. Keep in mind that while you are eating for two, only one of you is a full grown adult so you will probably only need to take in an extra 200-300 calories per day while pregnant. The bottom line? Do eat for two, but don’t overeat.

In general, you should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, foods rich in vitamin C, iron and calcium plus plenty of water. While you don’t need to eliminate salt and fat from your diet, you should take care to eat salty foods and high-fat foods only sparingly.

Also, as an expectant mom, you’ll want to make sure to take the prenatal vitamins prescribed by your physician and pay attention to your intake of folic acid in particular. Folic acid is a member of the B vitamin family and occurs naturally in orange juice, green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils. The synthetic form of folic acid, which is more easily absorbed by your body, can be found in fortified breakfast cereals, enriched grain products and vitamins. Folic acid helps prevent and decrease the risk of several common birth defects and supports rapid growth of the placenta and fetus.

There are several things you should avoid during your pregnancy due to the possibilities of bacterial contamination, birth defects, decreased attention and decreased memory. While pregnant, you should steer clear of:

  1. alcohol
  2. caffeine and artificial coloring
  3. cigarette smoke
  4. over-the-counter meds and herbal remedies ( unless otherwise directed by your physician)
  5. raw meat
  6. raw eggs and food containing raw eggs
  7. soft cheese
  8. fish with accumulated mercury levels or high levels of an industrial pollutant called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

As you avoid what’s bad and consume adequate amounts of what’s good, you will increase your baby’s chances of being born at a normal birth weight and having good fetal brain development. You will also decrease your risk of having pregnancy complications and severe mood swings and you will help ensure a good post-pregnancy recovery. So eat up!

Posted in Parenting Articles By Alicia Kenny

Lactation 101

Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:54:34 Europe/London

New baby? Lactation, or breastfeeding, is not only a natural, healthy way to provide the perfect mix of nutrients, hormones and proteins for your newborn, but it also creates an invaluable opportunity for mother and child to bond and develop emotional intimacy. Here are the basics:

  1. Establish breastfeeding within the first week of your baby’s birth and remember that the breasts work by “supply and demand” so you don’t have to wait for the milk to come before starting. (And colostrum, the yellowy substance secreted by the breast in the very beginning, gives your baby protection against disease!)
  2. Do your best to stay relaxed and comfortable while breastfeeding, giving Baby plenty of comforting skin contact and soft words. If necessary, help open Baby’s mouth with your finger and gently guide his or her mouth to the breast.
  3. Let Baby suck on one breast until it feels empty or for about 10-15 minutes, then offer the other one. Don’t be afraid to breastfeed whenever Baby is hungry which will probably be eight or more times per day, and unless your doctor tells you otherwise, give your baby nothing other than breast milk for the first six months. The American Dietetic Association says that, “ Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and breastfeeding with complementary foods for at least 12 months is the ideal feeding pattern for infants.”

Besides the emotional and psychological benefits of lactation for both you and your little one, there are numerous positive physical effects for the two of you as well. For one thing, breast milk, which has been called the “gold standard of infant nutrition,” contains fatty acids essential to healthy cognitive development and visual acuity. Breastfed babies have a decreased likelihood of developing intestinal infection, eczema, allergies and dental problems. Mother’s milk contains antibodies that help protect the baby from illness and in the case of premature and critically ill babies, it is extremely important not only for the infant’s nutrition but also for the child’s very survival. Breastfeeding may also help prevent childhood obesity! Lactation is of great value to mothers also. Postpartum hemorrhage is prevented and uterine involution (the return to a non-pregnant state) is promoted. Breastfeeding mothers also have a decreased risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, heart disease and iron-deficiency anemia. Breastfeeding will help prevent another pregnancy from occurring within the first six months after his or her birth ensuring that the mother will have plenty of time to recover physically before her next pregnancy. Finally, as milk production uses an average 200-500 calories per day, breastfeeding can contribute to the loss of excess weight gained during pregnancy, a boon that has given many new moms something else to smile about! If you do make the choice to breastfeed, be sure to discuss your decision with your pediatrician or lactation consultant. Also, be aware of organizations and consultants that exist to help you with questions or problems that may arise. Two such resources are:

  1. La Leche League International – (800) LALECHE and
  2. International Lactation Consultant Association – (919) 861-5577
Posted in Parenting Articles By Alicia Kenny

Consoling a Crying Baby

Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:53:40 Europe/London

You probably already know that crying is your baby’s way of communicating with you, but what do you do when your precious little one starts “communicating” and won’t stop? You’ll have to learn how to interpret or “read” your baby’s various cries in order to respond appropriately. Once you’ve determined that your baby is not sick, tired, hungry or in pain, you can use various comforting and soothing strategies to help Baby calm down.

Some reasons your baby will cry are: hunger, fatigue, boredom, discomfort, frustration, pain, illness, loneliness, colic and irritability. As a general rule, make sure Baby’s physical needs are taken care of first. In other words, make sure your baby is well-fed, check his or her diaper, see if he or she needs to burp etc. If you’re sure that your baby doesn’t have a physical problem that needs to be met right away, then use one or more of the following techniques to soothe Baby and calm him or her down:

  1. Carrying your baby for several hours throughout the day will very likely decrease crying overall and will have a very calming influence.
  2. Use repetitive rhythmic movements to satisfy Baby’s needs for security, safety and predictability. Try a baby swing, rocking chair or dancing while holding baby close.
  3. Swaddle the baby in a lightweight blanket to temporarily restore to Baby the snug, closed in feeling that he or she had while in the womb.
  4. Turn on some background noise such as the washing machine or vacuum cleaner or soothing sounds such as ocean or waterfall sounds. These rhythmic, repetitive sounds can be very comforting to the baby.
  5. Give Baby a pacifier up to six months of age as babies have a strong sucking urge that is not related to their desire for food.
  6. Take your baby for a ride in the car to distract and lull him or her to sleep.
  7. Gently pat, stroke or massage your baby. Stroking Baby’s skin sends messages to the brain to increase levels of beneficial chemicals and hormones that help Baby to bear pain and regulate levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
  8. Allowing your baby to cuddle with a soft object can help soothe him or her.

If none of these techniques work, then consider the possibility that your little one may just need to cry it out until he or she has released all of the pent up feelings inside. Also consider your own mental and emotional well-being as you don’t want to act out any feelings of tension, resentment, frustration or hostility. It’s ok to recognize when you’re close to your breaking point and ask for help! You and your baby will be glad that you did!

Posted in Parenting Articles By Alicia Kenny

Childproofing Your Home

Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:52:53 Europe/London

Child Proofing

Having babies and small children in your home means life, fun, noise and safety, safety, safety. Normal, everyday items can be dangerous and even life-threatening to them, so you’ll want to make any necessary changes to your living environment to ensure the safety of your little ones. From room-to-room there are different adjustments to be made. Here are a few tips to get you started:

The Nursery / Child’s Room

  1. Use a baby monitor to track Baby’s activities while you’re in another room.
  2. Wrap curtain cords and Venetian blind cords and put them out of reach as they can pose a strangulation hazard.
  3. Use a changing table with high sides and a safety trap. Never leave Baby alone on the table.
  4. Cover all unused electrical outlets with clear, plastic covers.
  5. Check toys for sharp edges and detachable pieces that could be a choking hazard.

The Kitchen

  1. While preparing food, keep babies and toddlers in a playpen within your sight, but far from the oven and hot foods.
  2. Keep electrical appliances out-of-reach.
  3. Keep sharp knives locked up or out-of-reach.
  4. Put childproof latches on kitchen cabinets.
  5. Keep plastic bags and plastic wrap out of children’s’ reach.
  6. Don’t heat baby bottles or formula in the microwave as the center of the liquid can be scalding while other parts are cool to the touch.
  7. Remove tablecloths as children can pull the cloth and get hurt by objects that fall off of the table.
  8. Store cleaning products in a locked cabinet or out of children’s’ reach.
  9. Keep a tight lid on your trash can to keep little hands from finding sharp objects or other potentially harmful items.
  10. Keep your dishwasher latched when not in use.
  11. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  12. Make sure your smoke extinguishers are in good working order.

Living Areas

  1. Cover all electrical outlets with clear, plastic childproof covers.
  2. Use childproof screens around your heaters, fireplaces and woodstoves.
  3. Place safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  4. Cover trash containers securely.
  5. Keep drapes, curtain cords and Venetian blind cords out-of-reach.
  6. Don’t use paint that contains mercury or lead as chipped paint could tempt little ones to taste this poisonous material.
  7. Keep ash trays with ashes out of children’s’ reach.
  8. Keep household plants out-of-reach to avoid babies and children grabbing and eating potentially poisonous leaves.
  9. Make sure that carpets and rugs have non-skid backing.

The Bathroom

  1. Keep medications, cleansers, toiletries, razor blades and other hazardous items out-of-reach in locked cabinets.
  2. Use non-slip mats in tub and shower areas.
  3. Bathe young children and babies in water that feels warm, not hot.
  4. Always supervise children under six in the bathtub.
  5. Keep electrical appliances away from water sources and out-of-reach.
  6. Put toilet lid locks on all toilets if you have a child under three.
  7. Set your hot water heater below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent scalding.
  8. Keep bathroom doors closed.
Posted in Parenting Articles By Alicia Kenny

Breastfeeding Nutrition

Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:51:32 Europe/London

Breast feedingSo you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby! You’ll want to make sure that both you and your little one are getting all of the nutrients you need to stay healthy and strong. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nursing mothers need to eat about 300 calories more each day than they normally would and at least 1500 calories every day. Your daily food consumption should consist of a variety of healthy foods with extra protein, calcium-rich foods and plenty of water. In addition to these general guidelines, you should also:

  1. Pay attention to feelings of hunger. Eat until you’re satisfied and consume plenty of nutrient dense foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
  2. Monitor your baby’s reactions. If you notice that he or she is consistently colicky or develops gas after you eat certain foods, then you may want to decrease your intake of those foods or eliminate them entirely while breastfeeding.
  3. Expect that you may be especially thirsty during the first few days after delivery as your body sheds excess fluid accumulated during pregnancy. Increase your consumption of fluid that isn’t filled with empty calories in order to prevent dehydration.
  4. Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages as they may make your baby jittery or irritable and even make it difficult for him or her to get to sleep. Consider drinking caffeinated beverages right after you nurse in order to minimize negative effects on the baby.
  5. Continue taking your prenatal vitamins unless otherwise directed by your physician.
  6. Make sure to eat foods that are rich in zinc as it enhances a baby’s ability to produce antibodies. Some food sources of zinc are hamburger, chicken breast and whole wheat bread.
  7. Limit your consumption of wine to 2 or fewer glasses per week.
  8. Be aware of food sensitivities that can result from common allergens such as cow’s milk, eggs, shellfish, wheat, nuts and peanuts. Some signs of food sensitivity are diaper rash, skin rashes, chronic runny nose, diarrhea and excessive fussiness.

Unless you are severely malnourished, your milk will provide all of the nutrients your baby needs, so if there is something lacking in your diet it will most likely be you and not Baby that suffers. For your own well-being, do your best to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. That’s the best way to ensure that you have the stamina and strength you’ll need to be the best mom you can be!

Posted in Parenting Articles By Alicia Kenny

Finding the Right Pediatrician for You and Your Baby

Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:50:32 Europe/London

Congratulations, you're pregnant. As the count-down to the birth of your new child approaches, you should consider finding a pediatrician who will work the best with your soon to be expanding family. Having a pediatrician on-hand though the formative weeks and years of your child's life is in the best interests of both you and your child. Waiting until your child gets sick or needs a check-up is absolutely not the time to be going through the selection process, which can be stressful even when everything is going according to plan.

Beginning Your Search

There are several sources you can tap into to locate qualified pediatricians in your community.

  • A good place to start is the "American Board of Pediatrics (ABP)". A pediatrician who is certified by them will have will have graduated from four years of medical school, received three years of resident training, and passed their written examination. They provide pediatrician search service on-line.
  • Another source is the "American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)". They also provide a referral database of participating members.
  • Certain health plans require you to choose a pediatrician from their approved network.
  • You can also ask is your obstetrician. Obstetricians and pediatricians often interact to oversee the care of both mother and baby.
  • Ask other moms in your neighborhood including friends, family or co-workers. They may be able to relate their personal experiences about specific individuals.

Vetting the Field

You'll want to find a doctor who fits with your goals and expectations. It's usually best to first meet the candidates to assess their qualifications, personality, approach and experience before arriving at a decision. The kinds of questions you might consider asking your prospective pediatrician and other considerations include:

  • What type of pediatric qualifications do they have? Are they certified by the ABP and/or a member of the AAP?
  • If you are aware of certain health concerns in your family or with your pregnancy, you may want to ask about qualifications in pediatric subspecialty areas?
  • How can they be contacted after hours or during an emergency? Are they available by phone? Who covers for them when they are not available?
  • If you have minor questions what is the best time and method to reach them?
  • Does the pediatrician talk with and care about the children, and not just the parents?
  • Does the pediatrician seem to know about current issues and advances in pediatric medicine?
  • Does the pediatrician have "chemistry" with the children as well as the parents?
  • Does the pediatrician appear knowledgeable about current issues and advances in pediatric medicine?

In addition, you'll probably want to know about availability and cost of services. Areas of investigation include:

  • Office and Location - What are the office hours? What hospital is he/she affiliated with? Is the location conveniently close to your residence or work place?
  • Costs and insurance coverage - What are the costs of services? Do they work with your insurance plan? What services are covered and which ones are not? What are the co-pays and other billing practices?
  • What are the routine child-care check-ups? The AAP recommends checkups at one, two, four, six, nine, twelve, fifteen, and twenty-four months.


Finding the right pediatrician for your family can be a daunting challenge. However, there are several good sources that can help you in your quest. In most cases you'll have a choice about your child's doctor so try to find a doctor who is just right for you. Evaluate you'll health care provider based on the criteria that are most important to you and your family.

Posted in Parenting Articles By J.J. Courtiol, M.A. Ed.

Eight Tips for Potty Training Your Toddler

Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:49:24 Europe/London

Potty TrainingGetting your toddler to perform toileting independently is a welcome milestone for any parent. Few of us want to be changing diapers much past the child's second birthday. However, children vary greatly in their adoption of the potty routine which is influenced by a child's innate ability, aptitude and maturity. However, there several tips and techniques you can use to hasten the blessed day when your toddler says: "Mommy, I did potty by myself".

  1. Get your child ready - explain to your child that it's time to do "pee-pee" and "poo-poo" in the potty. Promote the benefits of being trained such as no more diaper rash, interruptions for diaper changing, being clean and dry. Discuss training as an important stage of growing up.
  2. Make it fun - first and foremost, make this a game. Children will naturally resist anything which is not framed as a fun learning experience. Use play, music, toys, and stories as part of the experience to keep the child from getting bored or distracted.
  3. Create a ritual - try to make the experience repeatable so your child knows what to expect each time and gets into the routine of sitting and staying on the potty.
  4. Use props - use of books, toys, videos and music all help create an atmosphere of fun and enjoyment which is so essential.
  5. Time it right - Try repeating the process every hour for 2 to 4 minutes. If you can do this close to times your child usually has a bowel movement or urination, such as just after a meal, even better.
  6. Be prepared - If you are traveling or away from home, bring a folding, plastic adapter ring that fits onto an adult toilet seat is useful. Extra tissue and wipes will be useful in bathrooms that are short on supplies.
  7. Give praise - give you child social praise for sitting on the potty patiently or for staying dry. If the potty routine is successful, consider some reward (e.g. special prize, book or foods) that are especially valued.
  8. Show your child how to clean up - demonstrate how to wash hands and dry hands on a towel.

Remember that training you child takes patience and perseverance. Staying on task and being consistent send an important message to your child. Above all, don't let your child feel forced. It's important to keep the whole experience fun and enjoyable for the best results.

Posted in Parenting Articles By J.J. Courtiol, M.A. Ed.

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