You read all the books and were totally prepared for the poo and the vomit and the crying and the soft spot in their head… but still you keep seeing things that make you wonder:
Is my child normal?
Probably. Put plainly, your child is more likely to be normal than not – and by ‘normal’ I mean displaying behaviours that are common and not cause for concern.
Here are ten weird, annoying, frustrating, confusing and totally normal things about your child.
1. She bites you on the shoulder when being carried and held.
This can be due to teething (have you noticed your baby gnawing on more than just your shoulder?), or it can be just an experimentation with cause and effect. This is a good sign as it shows your baby is learning more about the way the world works and testing what your response to a nip on the shoulder will be. To avoid getting chunks taken out of you, respond by putting her down without comment. Test completed! Soon with enough repetition she will probably decide the outcome isn’t worth the biting. Continue reading →
In recent years I’ve seen more and more babies wearing amber teething necklaces. You probably have too, both in the streets, in your circle of family and friends, and around the million dollar necks of celebrity offspring.
If you don’t know, these necklaces are made from Baltic Amber and are supposed to relieve pain and inflammation from teething. I’ve heard many people say they work, and many more who say they may as well try them even if they’re aren’t sure if they work, but here’s the rub: there’s not one single shred of evidence worldwide that amber necklaces have any affect on the body whatsoever – except to self-esteem, perhaps. I feel great when I wear some beautiful amber jewellery my dad gave me, but only because I look so lovely in it 😉
There’s two main arguments why I don’t think the teething necklaces should be used.
One of the top items on many new parents’ to-buy list is a nappy or diaper bag. It can shine like a beacon of hope against the fear that having a baby will mean you can never leave the house again. With a nappy or diaper bag you can hit the streets, hit the road, hit the town! Most people with whom I’ve worked nappy bags three or four times the size of their baby and filled to the brim.
I’ve already written about paring down your nappy bag so you don’t carry around more than you need. If you lessen the amount of stuff you bring with you on baby outings, then do you still need an expensive and large specialised nappy bag or just….you know… a bag?
#7 piece of baby gear you probably don’t really need: A specialised nappy or diaper bag
What makes a actual ‘nappy or diaper bag’ different from a regular bag?
Size: Most nappy or diaper bags are over-sized like a swollen tote or satchel. There’s a sense the nappy bag should be big enough to carry everything you might possibly need, but what actually seems to happen is that you carry everything it can possibly fit, regardless of whether you need it.
Aesthetics: The nappy or diaper bag often falls into one of two camps; super babyish or super stylish. Rather than chose whether to use a bag that announces your parenthood or one that defies it, why not use a regular bag that suits your style and budget that happens to have baby things in it?
Pockets: Nappy or diaper bags should have lots of pockets and sections to divide (and conquer!) all of baby’s bits and bobs. This is undoubtedly a boon, but there are many and varied regular bags that have just as many pockets and compartments.
Insulation: Some nappy or diaper bags have a layer of insulation, to keep milk and food warm or cool. This is a function that most people seem to use rarely and when you do, I think you’d be better off using a smaller – and more portable – insulated bottle bag or pouch.
Cost: A nappy or diaper bag will cost you more than a regular bag because it is called a ‘nappy or diaper bag’. Like many designer items, giving something a desirable label boosts its perceived value. A messenger bag or satchel, backpack, tote, or any other regular bag may do just as well as a nappy bag without costing as much.
Benefits of using a plain old regular bag instead of the nappy or diaper bag
For me, it comes down to cost, usefulness both in the short and long term, and personal taste. I think a nappy or diaper bag is likely to be overly expensive, less useful than it seems in the short term and in the long term potentially useless (will you keep using the baby patterned bag when your own baby is no longer in need of it? Will you use the posh bag that hides plastic lined pockets when you go out with friends?), and I find them cumbersomely large.
When I put the question of nappy or diaper bags or regular bags to some readers of a baby forum, several said they had used one initially but soon realised it was more of a burden than a help. Some suggested using adult bags like I’ve mentioned, and others embraced the baby style but at much less expense by buying children’s backpacks. For my money, I’d prefer to keep a nappy or diaper wallet – which is just what it sounds like, a large wallet that fits a few nappies or diapers and wipes – along with a few other small essentials in a casual bag I can use both with children and without. There are lots of choices out there and they almost always cost less than the specialised nappy or diaper bags!
I am a big advocate of swaddling. In my experience young babies who are swaddled sleep much better than those who are not. Wrapping your baby is one the very first things I’d suggest if your baby has trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
However, I do not recommend you buy a swaddle suit. Not only are they an unnecessary expense but can actually do more harm than good, potentially causing damage to your baby’s hips. All you need to swaddle your baby are muslin cloths.
#6 Item you should avoid buying your baby: Swaddle Suits
Swaddling basically means “wrapping your baby firmly.” The sensation of pressure on their bodies mimics the feeling of being in the womb and provides comfort (like a hug!). This comforting feeling allows them to feel safer and more relaxed when falling asleep.
During the first months of life the Moro Reflex, or Startle Reflex, causes a baby to suddenly fling their arms out from their body. Not only does this physically startle a baby awake, but can be very surprising and upsetting to some babies. At this young age they don’t really understand that these arms are their own, so the feel and sight of them being flung out from their body is quite a shock. This reflex will often wake a baby and disturb what should be restful sleep. Swaddling keeps the arms wrapped firmly against the body and prevents the Moro Reflex from startling your baby awake.
Why shouldn’t I get a Swaddle Suit?
There are many brands and styles of swaddle suits available. I don’t profess to have used and assessed every one, so my recommendation not to use them is equal parts’ anti swaddle suit’ and ‘pro muslin cloth’ for swaddling. Some are wraps with velcro and buttons, others are zip up suits, there are many materials and styles and quirky names. What they all have in common is a price point well above a pack of muslin cloths and a full body constraint*.
Anti Swaddle Suit
Too often swaddle suits are not tight enough across the chest and upper body and too tight across the hips and legs. Many suits have little wings for the arms to sit above the head, directly contravening what I see as integral to the swaddle technique – having the arms tucked up against the body. The zip-up styles in particular are little more than tight sleeping bags and do not, in my opinion, provide enough pressure on the body to provide the comfort traditional swaddling affords.
Conversely, these swaddle suits will usually encase the lower body, pinning the legs into a straightened position. Babies are born with very loose hips, to assist delivery. Over the first few months of life the hips need to flex and move outwards to strengthen the joints. Babies who are wrapped too tightly across the hips when very young can get hip dysplasia, where the hips become dislocated and require weeks of treatment to correct.
* There are some swaddle ‘wings’ available that wrap only the arms. While these do not place unwanted pressure on the hips, I still feel they do not provide enough pressure on the upper body to warrant buying them instead of the muslin cloths.
Pro Muslin Cloth
A large square muslin cloth used for swaddling can (read: should) be wrapped firmly around the upper body with the arms against the chest, leaving the hips and legs only loosely wrapped and reasonably free. I have never noticed that babies are more or less comforted by wrapping that includes the legs; it is the pressure on their stomach, side, and back that provide the secure sensation.
Not only does the muslin cloth the provide a firm secure wrapping on your baby’s upper body without putting pressure on his hips, but they are significantly cheaper than the designed suits. You can usually buy a pack of four or five for less than one suit.
Once your baby no longer sleeps wrapped these cloths can be transformed for many other uses (everyday cloths for spills, light covering when very hot, to drape over pram to darken for naps, blankets for dolls, …. etc etc) whereas the swaddle suit will eventually be another expensive item you no longer have use for.
So, even though your baby would look super cute in a swaddle suit with tiny wings above his head,
I think you’ll find he sleeps better and grows stronger if you use a simple muslin cloth instead.
Did your 8 or 9 month old baby used to be a ‘good sleeper’? Or perhaps not so good, but you’d figured out some tricks and methods to get some approximation of good sleep at night and during naps? Only now you’ve found that suddenly little Tootle (imaginary baby name of the week) is taking ages to settle, waking quickly, crying, fussing, complaining, and generally making a mockery of your previous boasts and relief that she was sleeping fairly well?
It can be very frustrating to feel like something’s gone wrong, especially if you can’t seem to fix it. But if you know what’s probably causing these sleep habits to change then hopefully you can deal with it a little better.
Your baby is older now
Bottom line, even if it seems like a moment ago you learned a routine or a method or a style of babycare that worked, in the first year your baby moves into a different phase of life every few weeks. That means that you need to adapt to these changes every few weeks as well. It’s common to see parents still trapped in a thought pattern from a time their baby was younger, often also trying to combine with information they’ve found or been given about the changes facing their baby now. For example, babies who are eating solids also being pushed to drink frequent large amounts of milk around the clock; the new phase on top of the old.
There are some big things that are changing at around the 8 or 9 month mark that can have an impact on sleep habits. Continue reading →