All posts by Kinedu

Tips for successful breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a learning process that requires patience and practice. Experts recommend you try to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible, as being calm will help your baby feel calm too. Likewise, feel free to choose to breastfeed standing, sitting or lying down as long as you and your baby are comfortable.

If you choose to sit, you can try different breastfeeding positions such as the cradle hold (baby positioned in front of you with his head resting on your forearm), cross-cradle (baby in front of you, but held with the arm opposite to the feeding breast) or in a football position (as if you were carrying a football on your side). Whatever positions you choose just make sure that your baby’s whole body is close to yours.

According to La Leche League, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts the following steps will help make breastfeeding successful:

1. Make yourself comfortable assuring your back is fully supported. Having good back support will allow you to rest your baby on your body and not carry all his weight on your forearm.

2. Place a nursing pillow on your lap to help prevent arm pain. If you wish, you can place your feet on a foot stool to give your whole body support. For a hands free experience, you can also carry your little one in an appropriate baby carrier.

3. While breastfeeding, sip on a nutritional drink such as water, juice or milk and remember to keep hydrated as fluids help with milk production.

4. Hold your baby close to your breast and place him perpendicular to the orientation of your areola.

5. Make sure that your baby’s nose and chin are facing your areola, and his nose and the area between nose and mouth are facing your nipple.

6. When your baby opens his mouth, bring him close to the breast (if he doesn’t open his mouth, gently touch his cheek or lower lip with your finger or nipple to awaken his suction reflex). By this point your baby’s body should be up against your body.

7. Let your baby approach your breast rather than taking the breast towards him. Use your free arm to give extra support to your breast, squeezing it like a hamburger to make the latch easier.

8. Once your baby has latched on to your breast, verify that his mouth is closed around the areola, not the nipple as this can cause drying and cracking.

9. When done or when you wish to separate the baby from the breast, wait for him to stop sucking and then slide your pinky finger on his lips and gums. Don’t separate your baby if he is still latched on, as the suction is very strong and can hurt you and cause pain to your breast.

10. How did you feel? You may need to repeat the above steps to be sure the baby adheres well to your breast. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to breastfeed on your first attempt; both your baby and you are learning. It’s just a matter of practicing!

Why is it important to vaccinate my baby?

There are great myths that surround vaccines. So much information available at our fingertips can cause fear and confusion. However, doctors and health experts such as the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that vaccines are safe and highly important.

Immunization protects our babies from serious illnesses which can lead to death. They are so efficient that their implementation has led to a dramatic decline in the emergence of infections. They work by creating immunity to various diseases; saving lives in this generation and the ones to come. Therefore, if parents don’t vaccinate their children, they can cause a disease outbreak that could have been easily prevented. Likewise, children who aren’t vaccinated can transmit diseases to other children who are too young to be vaccinated, to elderly people, or to those with weak immune systems.

Vaccinating your baby will help strengthen his immune system and protect him against diseases such as: tetanus, whooping cough, rubella, hepatitis B, polio and others. Thanks to vaccines, these diseases are now rare. Most are no longer longer known, even though they caused epidemics in the past. Furthermore, vaccines save you money as treating a preventable disease is very costly and if we avoid vaccination, diseases can reemerge and affect many people.

Secondary effects

Many parents have doubts about the side effects that may occur after vaccinating their children. Side effects do exist, but they are most commonly mild such as: pain around the bite or fever. There is a possibility of developing more serious side effects but they are extremely rare. Now, despite side effects, illnesses are always worse than the collateral effects that vaccines bring. Therefore, we must not be afraid and be very conscious about what the media informs us and the myths that surround vaccines.

Symptoms and treatment of an ear infection

Ear infections, also known as otitis or middle ear infection, are caused by bacteria, viruses or allergies; causing a blockage in the Eustachian tube (part of the ear) that affects the middle ear. They usually emerge after a cold or other respiratory infection. These infections are highly common in children and are one of the reasons they often go to the doctor.

When babies have ear infections, the middle part becomes swollen and may fill up with fluid. This can be very uncomfortable for children. Most of the time, these infections get better on their own. Usually, the symptoms subside in a few days and in one or two weeks’ time, there are no symptoms or discomfort present at all. Sometimes there is even no need to administer medication, but occasionally doctors may recommend antibiotics to treat the infection.

On the other hand, chronic ear infections may lead to a hearing problem. Therefore, it is important to notify your doctor if your child has an ear infection, especially if you notice that it occurs frequently.

What are the causes of ear infections?

Infections are more common within the first two to four years of life. This is mainly due to the following reasons:

• The Eustachian tubes are shorter and more horizontal, which makes the entry of bacteria or virus easier. In addition, if the tubes are narrow and soft it favors the obstruction.

• The adenoid, or throat tissues, are large and can cover and clog a portion of the tubes.

• Attendance at daycare or preschool may increase the risk of infection.

• They are more common in boys than in girls, especially in ones who have a family history of infections.

What are the symptoms?

• Ear pain

• Trouble sleeping

• Unusual crying and restlessness

• Lack of appetite

• Leaking or accumulation of fluid in the ear

• Your baby doesn’t answer to quiet questions or sounds

• Your baby pulls at his ears

• Fever

• Nausea

• Vomiting

How can I decrease the pain?

• If you notice that your child has an ear infection, don’t hesitate to take him to the pediatrician.

• Place a warm cloth on the affected ear.

• Follow your pediatrician’s instructions, like taking prescribed medication or drops in the ear.

How do I reduce the risk my baby acquires an ear infection?

• Remember to wash your hands frequently and make sure that your little one’s hands are clean too.

• Keep up with vaccines, some of which help prevent infection.

• Avoid contact with people with an infection, especially of the respiratory tract.

• If you smoke, make sure that your child doesn’t inhale secondhand smoke, as this can contribute to ear infections.

Remember ear pain is not always due to an infection; sometimes pain occurs when teeth are coming in, when your little one has an object stuck in his ear, or wax plugs. Whatever the reason, it’s best to contact your pediatrician to identify the cause and give you indications for an adequate treatment.

Autism: What is it and what are the first signs?

Autism is a developmental disorder that comes down to differences in an individual’s brain development. The causes of autism are still unknown, but it is believed to be due to several factors, including genetic components and environmental factors. Now, it is important to emphasize that upbringing and vaccines aren’t among the factors that cause autism.

Every person with autism is different; however, there are common features that unify them. These characteristics include social and emotional traits, like: difficulty to communicate, interact with others, make friends, perceive what others feel, make eye contact, detect sarcasm, among others. It is also common for an individual with autism to perform repetitive movements and seek routines. Certain noises or subtle changes can bother them, they may have a strong interest in a particular topic and may even be experts on it, but on the other hand they may have a learning disability.

Autism is so broad that it is part of a spectrum called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Within this range there are different types of autism, among them there is Asperger Syndrome, which has similarities with autism in the need for routines, frustration over changes, difficulty to socialize, and a passion for a particular topic. The main difference is that there is no learning disability.

The diagnosis of autism is often late, most of the time it is not detected until a later age. However, experts have noticed that early detection is extremely beneficial because steps can be taken to help foster a greater adaptability and independence. We know that every child is different and develops at his or her own pace, but there are certain developmental milestones that if not met at certain age, may raise a flag. Below are a few signs related to autism, these milestones are normally reached by the time a child is 12 months old. If your child presents most of them and you are worried about his development, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor and talk to him or her about it.

Key signs after 12 months:

• Doesn’t respond to his name.

• Doesn’t socialize reciprocally with caregivers.

• Gets mad when small changes occur.

• Rocks his body, flaps his hands or turns in circles.

• Prefers to play by himself.

• Avoids or resists eye contact.

• Doesn’t show much facial expression.

• Doesn’t point to objects or responds when you point to an object.

• Uses little or no gestures, like to say “hello” or “goodbye”.

• Doesn’t answer or understand simple instructions like: “Show me the cat.”

• If he babbles, he doesn’t seem to be having a conversation.

• If he speaks, he talks in a robotic voice.

• He can’t say any words.

• There is a loss of milestones that were already achieved.

• Doesn’t look for things that he sees you hiding.

• Has obsessive interests (for instance, he can spend a lot of time watching objects that turn around, like a fan or toy tires).

• Plays with objects in the same way every time, and often shows interest in only part (for example, he may play with a toy with lights specifically only turning it on or off).

• Tends to follow a routine.

These are just some signs of autism. Your child meeting some of them doesn’t necessarily mean he has autism; however, if you are worried that your baby shows most of them, it’s best to contact your pediatrician and talk to him/her about it. That way, together you can see if your baby’s development is on track or if it’s a good idea for him to be evaluated by a specialist.

Anemia: What is it and how do I prevent it?

Iron is a very important and essential mineral in our diets because it keeps our body oxygenated. It is part of hemoglobin, the substance found in red blood cells that’s responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. It gives us our healthy skin color and is essential for a child’s healthy development.

It is important to provide a diet rich in iron because it helps us maintain a healthy level of red blood cells. If the body doesn’t obtain enough iron, the most common type of anemia can appear.

Babies that were born at term and with good weight have a reserve of iron that lasts during the first six months of age. However, at the end of this period it is essential to get iron from other sources because the body no longer contains it. It is very important to do so because anemia that’s not treated could lead to delays in growth and development.

What are the symptoms of anemia?

• Paleness

• Persistent irritability

• Drowsiness

• Poor appetite

How do I prevent anemia?

To prevent anemia, it is important to ensure that your child receives adequate amounts of iron through food. Here’s how:

• Offer your child a balanced diet with iron-rich foods such as:

o Red meat

o Fish

o Chicken

o Spinach

o Yolk

o Sweet potato

o Beans

o Peas

o Iron-fortified cereals

• Remember not to give cow’s milk to your baby until after his first year.

• If your baby drinks formula, choose one that is fortified with iron.

• Include solids rich in vitamin C in his diet because it helps the body absorb the consumed iron.

Remember if you suspect your baby has anemia, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. By means of a simple blood test, he can detect it and indicate the proper treatment.

My baby has swallowed something, should I be concerned?

At this stage of your baby’s development, his mobility has increased immensely. He’s probably starting to crawl and wants to grab any object that is in sight. Babies want to explore and discover their world and they do it in the best way they know: taking objects to their mouth. They discover textures and shapes this way, not to mention taste! Knowing that babies are highly mobile, it is very important to child-proof your home and verify that there aren’t any harmful objects at your little one’s reach.

For babies, there is no object that is off limits. If they see an object that gets their attention and is within their reach, they will take it whether it is dangerous or not. At this age, they can’t discriminate between safe and dangerous objects. That’s why it is recommendable for parents to “walk in their babies shoes” by crawling around the house and identifying and removing any possible danger that might be in their reach.

Sometimes, despite our effort to eliminate dangerous objects, our babies cleverly find objects that we don’t see. The objects that our children find can be dangerous, like batteries, sharp objects or other objects small enough to be swallowed, but large enough to obstruct their breathing. When swallowed, some small objects like coins or small marbles, go directly to the stomach without causing much trouble. Larger objects can cause damage to the esophagus, stomach and intestines, or cause obstruction in breathing.

Is it stuck?

Swallowing small objects must be evacuated through feces regularly within 2 days, but it can take up to 4 to 5 days.

Watch out for these signs that the object could not go through:

• Chest or stomach pain

• Your baby can’t drink or eat

• Vomiting

• Fever

• Excess salivation

Contact emergency paramedics if your baby:

• Has trouble breathing or crying

• Has trouble swallowing

• Fainted

• Is drooling or salivating to much

• Is breathing loudly or making a whistling sound

Take your child to the doctor he has swallowed a dangerous object such as a battery, sharp item, or medication.

Your guide to choosing a pediatrician

If you have not yet chosen a pediatrician, here’s a list of the six most important things we consider you should take in account.

1. Ask for references from friends and family because they can give you their opinion and share personal experiences.

2. Compare between doctors who you might be interested in, having at least three options is an excellent idea.

3. Check their credentials.

4. Ask them for an interview and keep in mind to:

• Talk about a subject that is important to you, such as breastfeeding.

• Ask the questions that are most relevant to you.

• Check availability in his office.

• Observe his interaction with your child.

• Discuss the frequency of your appointments. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians must check children at the first, second, fourth, sixth, ninth, and twelfth months of age. They also recommend that babies be checked at both 18 and 24 months of age and once a year after that.

• Ask if he works in a group or alone.

• Ask if he will be available if an emergency arises.

• Talk to him/her about how you can communicate outside the office; if he has an email address where you can write or separate phone to call.

5. Decide whether you and the pediatrician bonded after the first appointment. It’s crucial to feel secure and that you trust your pediatrician.

6. Location might also be a factor to consider. Check how far his office is from your residence.

Remember it’s important to choose a pediatrician that truly values your child’s health and development. This way you’ll feel secure knowing that your baby is in good hands.

Myths about vaccines and autism

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) encompass a wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of disability that an individual may have. This disability falls into the category of developmental disorders and it is caused by differences in brain functioning. This spectrum is characterized by a lack of communication and socialization skills, as well as repetitive and stereotyped behaviors. People who have it communicate, behave, and learn differently, developing from an early age.

The information that the media spreads about vaccines and autism causes a lot of fear and doubt among parents. We may hear many opinions, but the important thing is to know if they are backed by scientific evidence or not. Research has shown that vaccines and autism are not related. Within the last two decades, a wide range of studies in various countries found that vaccines are not associated with autism.

In 2013 the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention of Diseases) conducted a study in which they proved that vaccines don’t cause autism. Since 2003, the CDC has conducted many studies that reject the association between vaccines and autism. The medical journal Pediatrics has also conducted studies that didn’t find any link between the effects of vaccines and the risk of developing autism. Many more research has been conducted around the world and the evidence and the scientific community agree that vaccines don’t cause autism.

My baby has Jaundice, what should I do?

If you notice that your baby has a yellow appearance both in his skin and the whites of his eyes, it might be a sign of jaundice. Jaundice is a common condition in infants that occurs when there is too much bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance produced by the body to replace old red blood cells. The liver is responsible for processing and disposing bilirubin through feces. Now, since your baby’s liver is still developing, it can’t eliminate everything that it accumulates in the blood causing the yellow look. Jaundice may appear since the second or third day of life or after the first week. You will notice it first in your baby’s face and eventually the color will spread and appear in his legs.

Why does jaundice occur?

There are several reasons why this may occur. For example:

• High level of red blood cells.

• Lack of important proteins.

• The immaturity of the liver.

• The intestine reabsorbs bilirubin before it’s eliminated.

What are the types of jaundice?

• Physiological: The most common type. It appears between the second and fourth day of birth and it disappears when your baby is one to two weeks old.

• Premature: Usually occurs in premature babies due to the immaturity in their development. It must be treated soon to avoid complications.

• Associated with breastfeeding: It can occur when your baby is not getting enough milk.

• Associated with breast milk: It is rare but some babies develop jaundice due to substances found in breast milk. Usually, they get better after the third or twelfth week.

• Blood type incompatibility: It may occur when your baby has a different blood type than you. By having a different blood type, the mother’s body can create antibodies that destroy her baby’s red blood cells, creating an accumulation of bilirubin at birth.

If you notice that your baby’s skin is turning yellow, he has a high temperature, or that the jaundice he already had is spreading, contact your doctor to determine an accurate diagnosis and necessary treatment.

The great benefits of breast milk

Breast milk is a great gift of nature and a universal aspect of motherhood. Not only does it provide adequate and personalized nutrition for your little one, but it also helps to strengthen the emotional bonds between you and your baby; providing complete nutrition in every way.

The composition of breast milk is ideal for babies, since it reduces the risk of acquiring diseases and infections and contains all the nutrients that a baby’s brain requires to achieve its potential! By consuming your milk, the eyes, heart, intestines and virtually every other organ in your baby’s body receives the benefits to work at their best potential. That is not all, breast milk contains antibodies and prebiotics that help with a good digestion and protect against gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. It also prevents ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis, the development of allergic reactions, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, and more. That’s just wonderful! Breast milk also helps promote bonding, protects the body from disease and helps with physical development, as its consumption contributes to the appropriate growth of your baby’s jaw and facial muscles.

As a mom, you also get great benefits from breastfeeding. Postpartum recovery is faster, helping you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy and contributing to the quick return of the uterus to its normal size. Furthermore, your hormonal health improves, it lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and it prevents postpartum depression. It is highly convenient, as it is ready whenever you need to feed your baby and it’s always at the right temperature. Also, we can’t leave out that it is affordable, since there is no monetary cost and given its nature, its use is eco-friendly.

As we can see, breastfeeding is beneficial for both you and your baby, psychologically and physically! For this reason, the World Health Organizations recommends that our babies should consume breast milk exclusively during their first 6 months of life and then along with complementary foods at least until 24 months of age. Though every mother’s decision is personal and nobody has the right to put pressure on you to do something you don’t want to do, breastfeeding has so many benefits that it is definitely worth trying.