Baby’s first camping trip

Fresh air, nature, and a whole lot of family bonding.

A camping trip can be a rewarding experience for the whole family. However, taking your little one will mean you must plan ahead in order to have a successful and enjoyable trip. The location of the trip will determine the preparations you must make to ensure a pleasurable experience.

Going camping in the woods will be wildly different from a trip up a mountain or a campsite near the beach. Regardless of the place, body temperature regulation in babies isn’t fully developed which is why your little one will need protection from the weather. You need to make sure your child isn’t too warm or too cold, and the best way to do this is with the appropriate layers of clothing. Babies can lose body heat very quickly, possibly 4 times faster than an adult can. Inversely, they can also experience overheating if you’re not careful.

While packing, make sure to consider an appropriate hat, sunglasses if needed, and enough baby sunscreen and/or bug spray. It is not recommended to expose a baby younger than 6 months to direct sunlight. If older than 6 months, use sunscreen, but avoid peak hours, usually from 10 a.m to 4 p.m.

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Are babies who reach milestones early academically gifted later?

It’s an exciting time for parents to witness their little one reaching a milestone, whether it is the first time he smiles, rolls over, says his first babble, or crawls. Parents will also, quite often, compare the milestones reached to the progress of a cousin, sibling or friend’s baby. Sometimes doing this will provide the parents with comfort about their kid’s development, while for others, it will be a source of concern. But do milestone timing say anything about a child’s potential for the future? For example: is a baby who talks early more likely to be academically gifted than the others?

Research on developmental disorders suggest that the age at which babies reach a motor or language milestone can be a “sign” of later outcome. Studies have found links between early motor skills and later language skills and social cognition in children with risk of an autism spectrum disorder. Similarly, children with language disorders can be identified too by their early language skills.

In this logic, the milestones’ timing is indeed valuable for identifying the babies that may require additional care. However, they cannot tell much about the future potential of the children who are developing “typically”.

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Why should we praise children’s actions instead of their innate qualities?

Parents praise their children for many different things, especially during their first few years of life when they are constantly learning and accomplishing new tasks. Be it that their children finally learned to walk or simply look extremely beautiful, parents tend to constantly praise their children for almost everything. It seems as if they were hired to play cheerleaders for their children the whole day.

And don’t get me wrong, this is great! Babies need this kind of social support to keep up, learn, and grow. But, not all types of praises benefit children in the same way. It all depends on the chosen words and whether these words are focusing on the toddler’s efforts or on her physical and individual characteristics. For instance, the phrase “good job” focuses on the toddler’s actions, while “good girl” focuses on the toddler as an individual. Even though both of these phrases may sound quite similar, they have very different effects on toddlers. A study found that children are better prepared for future life challenges when they are praised for their actions and efforts, rather than for their innate qualities.

Researchers studied a group of over 50 toddlers while interacting with their parents. They videotaped these babies and watched them five years later. They found that toddlers who were praised for their efforts during their first three years of life were more prepared to overcome life’s challenges. The reason is that these children believed they had the ability to learn, become smarter, and grow. Their parents had helped them believe in themselves and in their ability to make things happen by putting some work and effort. Moreover, researchers found that more boys were praised for their actions and efforts than were girls. So, even though girls were praised with phrases like “you are so smart”, they were less likely to believe that they could develop those same traits and, therefore, they were less likely to challenge themselves. Continue reading

Toxoplasmosis, causes and prevention

The parasite toxoplasma gondii is responsible for toxoplasmosis, an infection that can penetrate the placenta, be transmitted to your baby, and therefore be dangerous during pregnancy. During the third trimester, this infection tends to be risky, as it’s when the baby has the greatest risk of becoming infected. So take precaution in order to prevent it, and take care of your baby’s health.

How does toxoplasmosis get transmitted?

Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted through infected, raw or poorly cooked meat, contaminated veggies, fruits, and water, or by touching your face after being in contact with contaminated soil or cat litter. Not everyone who becomes infected shows symptoms, however, you could notice some flu-like symptoms. If you suspect an infection make sure to visit your doctor.

What do I do if there’s a cat at home?

• Try to avoid direct contact with your cat’s litter box. Ask someone else to clean it up for you, it’s ideal if you don’t tamper with it while you’re pregnant
• Feed your cat well-cooked food and never give your cat undercooked meats
• Always wash your hands after being near your cat
• Don’t let your cat out where it can catch an infected prey

Safety recommendations that prevent infections:

• Wash your cooking utensils with hot water before preparing any dish
• Wash all of your fruits and veggies before cooking or eating them
• Wash your hands often, and wear gloves if you need to work in the garden
• Avoid touching your face, especially when cooking

Although the infection rate is very low, it’s best to be safe than sorry.

Labor is approaching, know the signs

Your body will begin to prepare for birth a few weeks before delivery. Even though it’s impossible to know the exact moment ahead of time (your doctor can only estimate dates), there are some signs that could help you figure out when you are going into labor. Sometimes these symptoms, though, can be present and just be a false alarm.

Here’s a list of some symptoms previous to delivery:

• Rising Braxton Hicks contractions. They could feel like period cramps and can range from mild to very painful. If they don’t increase in frequency and intensity, it could mean that you still have a few days or weeks before giving birth
• Your baby positions itself place near your pelvis. You could feel your baby position {him/herself} in your pelvis. This will help you breathe and it means your body and your baby are preparing for birth
• Dilation. Your cervix should dilate up to 10 cm in order to allow your baby’s passing through the birth canal
• Mucus discharge. You might begin noticing a thick and blood tinted discharge when the date is approaching or after having sex
• Your water breaks. The amniotic liquid leaks right before delivery, and it could come with contractions if they haven’t already started. If you notice your water breaking, go to your doctor or midwife immediately.

Sometimes these symptoms could start days before delivery or they could be a false alarm. However, you must be prepared if these symptoms show up since it could mean that your baby is on {his/her} way.

Vaginal candidiasis: causes and preventions

Vaginal candidiasis is an infection caused by the growth of the fungus Candida in your vaginal walls. Having a small amount of these Candida is completely natural. However, you can develop an infection if they multiply too much.

This infection is common during pregnancy, due to high levels of estrogen, and therefore a higher production of glycogen in the vagina (glycogen helps said fungus grow).

The most common symptoms of vaginal candidiasis are creamy vaginal discharge, burning sensation during urination, pain, redness, and itchiness around the vagina or the labia. If you experience any of these symptoms, go to your doctor to get screened. Talking to a professional before getting medication is really important since these symptoms could get mixed up with another kind of infections, such as sexually transmitted diseases.

This infection isn’t harmful to the baby. However, your baby could get it during birth. If {he/she} does, it can be treated seamlessly.

How can I prevent vaginal candidiasis?

• Avoid humidity in the genital area
• Wear cotton underwear
• Avoid wearing synthetic pants
• Try to sleep with no underwear on for better ventilation
• Wash your genitals with water and avoid vaginal douches

Sexually transmitted diseases during pregnancy

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are obtained through a virus of bacteria that is transmitted through anal, oral, or genital sex with an infected person. Some diseases such as Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through needles, razors, or contact with the infected person’s blood.

It’s important that you take special care during pregnancy to prevent STDs since some of them could pass through the placenta and infect your baby. Besides, STDs are dangerous and can cause preterm births, spontaneous abortions, or a urinary tract infection.

Here’s a list with some of the most common STDs:

• Chlamydia
• Hepatitis B
• Herpes
• Syphilis
• Gonorrhea

Some STDs could show no symptoms at all, this is why you should go to your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect of a possible infection.

How can I steer clear from STDs?

It’s hard to avoid getting one if you or your partner have sex with other people or do intravenous drugs. You could use a condom to decrease the risks of getting them, but even so, you may get infected. This is why monogamous sexual relationships are the best way to reduce risks.

Urinary tract infection: risks during pregnancy

If not treated in time, a urinary infection could provoke an infection a bladder or kidney. Kidney infections, a type of urinary infection, could be harmful to your pregnancy and should, therefore, be timely detected and treated. Urine exams can detect these infections, so getting tested is very important during pregnancy.

These are some types of urinary infections:

• Bladder infection or cystitis, which is very common amongst young women who are sexually active
• Urinary tract infections are not serious if treated in time. Some symptoms might include a burning feeling when you urinate, pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen, and cloudy or strange-smelling urine. Even if not commonly risky, Urinary tract infections can develop to Kidney infections, and then pose a higher threat to pregnant women, so, if you feel fever or chills, check with your doctor since it might be a sign of a Kidney infection.
• Kidney infection, not common during pregnancy. This infection could be serious since it raises the risk of a premature or low birth weight baby. Infection could also spread to the mother’s blood stream and take a toll on her health.

Urinary infections have similar symptoms: the constant need to pee, pain when having sex, burning sensation when peeing, and pain in the lower abdomen. These symptoms differ from the characteristic kidney infections, which are as follows: vomiting, nausea, lower back pain and high fever. If you present any of the above symptoms make sure to call your doctor.

The role of hormones during pregnancy

Hormones during pregnancy are some of the main causes for the physical changes. Each hormone released has a purpose for a specific stage in gestation. Hormonal fluctuation can also cause mood swings in the expectant mother.

The main hormones present during pregnancy are:
• Progesterone: stimulates tissue thickness in the uterus to prepare for the fertilized egg, allowing the baby to develop in the womb during the 9 months of pregnancy
• Human chorionic gonadotropin: it’s found in the mother’s bloodstream and stimulates the production of estrogen and progesterone. The presence of this hormone confirms a pregnancy
• Oxytocin: this hormone is in charge of delivery contractions and mother-child attachment
• Prolactin: stimulates the mammary glands in preparation for breastfeeding
• Estrogen: its higher during pregnancy, producing changes in your body, skin, hair and nails

You might find yourself feeling extra sensitive and receptive to other’s emotions and needs during pregnancy. Hormonal fluctuation generates a rollercoaster of emotions, so laughing or crying for no apparent reason could often happen. You might also be more forgetful during the day. However, experts believe that this is due to your being more attentive to your baby’s needs, so other things become irrelevant. Hormones play a big part in pregnancy. Knowing the purpose of each of them could help you understand your emotional reactions better.

Changes in women’s brain during pregnancy

Studies have shown that a woman’s brain changes during pregnancy. Each of these changes has a specific purpose. One of them is that the brain becomes smaller by approximately 7%, which could be due to structural changes or new neuronal connections. Studies show that the areas in charge of affection are activated, and the ones on judgment are deactivated. This is why mothers are less likely to judge their children.A lot of pregnant women feel more absent-minded during pregnancy. However, studies show that maternity stimulates intelligence; therefore, a woman who’s been pregnant experiences positive changes. According to experts, being absent-minded is a result of the expectant mother paying more attention to what she’s doing, and therefore is able to detect when she slips off.

Hormonal changes are pretty evident during pregnancy. The increase of the hormone progesterone lowers cortisol production, which protects the baby from being affected by the mother’s stress. On top of that, the increased levels of oxytocin help create a bond of attachment and trust between the mother and the baby. Oxytocin levels go up during birth to diminish pain, and during breastfeeding to provide milk to the baby.

If these changes are not enough, the mother’s alertness and senses such as smell and hearing are improved during and after pregnancy. This helps mothers distinguish their baby’s crying from others, or sense when their baby is in danger.

Each of these changes in the brain allows the mother to be able to raise and take better care of her baby. Attachment and connection between a mother and her baby start during pregnancy, and increases as the baby are born and growing.