For centuries, infants were usually wrapped tightly in homemade, improvised cloths or in coverings made from plants or animal skins. Sometimes, both materials were used, as in the case of the Inuit, or Eskimos, who were stuffing layers of moss or peat inside a seal’s skin to diaper their infants as early as the 1300s. Evidence suggests, however, that sanitation was not strictly observed: during the 16th century, for example, wet garments were simply dried and reused!
The mid-19th century saw the advent of cloth diapers in today’s more recognisable form: typically squarish in shape and spun from cotton. Cloth diapers were also able to be fastened onto babies more easily, thanks to the invention of the safety pin in the late 1840s. Since then, the basic cotton diaper has hardly evolved through the decades. Today, cloth diapers are generally made from a mix of natural fibres and manmade materials including cotton, hemp, bamboo, wool, microfibre, polyester fleece and or/ polyurethane laminate (PUL). Increasingly, there is a trend towards using organic natural fibres too, for more green and sustainable production practices and less risk of skin allergies. Some cloth diapers now even have double or triple layers and a multiple, fibre-filled strip, making them much more absorbent than older styles.
Pros of cloth diapers
Less risk of skin allergies, especially for organic cotton as no chemicals or dyes are used during manufacture. Natural cotton is also said to be more breathable
Is more cost-effective in the long-term as they can be reused many times over. It is estimated that a single cloth diaper can be used between 100-150 times with normal laundering, and even after factoring in water, electricity and detergent, cloth diapers will still cost around one-third of disposables
If still in good quality, they can even be kept and used for subsequent children in the family. Or they can be recycled as household rags
Kids who wear cloth diapers tend to be potty trained earlier as they are more aware of their skin feeling wet
Greener towards the environment as cloth incinerates and breaks down more easily as compared to synthetic materials
Cons of cloth diapers
More time, effort and water needed to launder dirty diapers—you’ll literally have a full load on your hands!
Risk of infections caused by exposure to the E.coli strain of harmful bacteria, especially if the diaper is not thoroughly washed in bleach and hot water
Inconvenient for travelling, visiting folks
Just wearing one diaper requires extra components such as the diaper pin, liner and cover
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It’s a wrap!
When it comes to diapering baby, is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Most parents would definitely prefer the convenience of disposables, but may perhaps be uncomfortable with their little one leaving a significant carbon footprint so early in his young life!
Environmentalists also have insisted that there is no such thing as a truly 100 percent biodegradable diaper and some supposedly biodegradable materials don’t decay completely either. Meanwhile, compostable diapers may be popular overseas but not so in a country like Singapore, where most of the population resides in high-rise apartments. Even if you do have a garden, it’s not so simple either as simply burying the diaper with soil as part of compost mix—if not done right, there’s the risk of spreading bacteria from faeces, and even this sort of biodegradable diaper will still take a year to completely decompose (and that’s for just one, so realistically speaking, there won’t be enough area for such activity).
So what’s a savvy, tree-hugging mamma supposed to do? For starters, compromise, especially if cloth diapering all the way really isn’t your thing. And back to the question at the beginning: yes, you can have the best of both worlds, albeit with hybrid diapers, which combine both cloth and eco-friendly disposable components.
Essentially, a hybrid diaper features a diaper cover that’s reusable and waterproof, which is a big plus, as it’s usually the outside of the disposable diaper that contains the stuff that’s hardest to break down. Hybrid diapers also give you the option of either using a biodegradable disposable pad for the inside (which can be thrown away or in some cases, flushed down the loo), or natural cloth liners made of green materials like organic cotton, wood pulp, hemp or charcoal bamboo. While washing is still involved, the load won’t be as heavy, and most importantly, you’ll still be doing your bit in helping cut down on the consumer waste of disposable diapers.
If you’re seriously contemplating using hybrid diapers on your baby, you will have to decide which inner liner option you would prefer to purchase. As your baby grows you will also have to fork out for the outer cover (commonly referred to as the “shell” in hybrids) which comes in different sizes and of course, a variety of adorable designs. In Singapore, brands such as GroVia, Moo Moo Kow and RafRaf are all readily available; if not in stores then online via local delivery.
Dare we say you’re now better prepped to make a more educated decision in choosing a diapering solution for baby? Here’s hoping your baby gets nappy-happy!
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Baby Care: Watchful Care over Your Baby
Your baby is born tough. If you notice how the hospital nurses treat your newborn, you will realise that they are not as delicate as you think. But this does not mean you can compromise on safety—your baby is still young and vulnerable, and his overall well-being and security remain your responsibility. Being aware and vigilant of the following areas will help provide that little extra ease of mind when it comes to protecting your newborn from harm or other mishaps.
Handling a newborn
When handling a newborn, always support your baby’s neck.
Hold your baby in a secure position before feeding and burping to avoid cutting off their air supply.
When bathing your baby, make sure the water is not too hot as their skin is sensitive and may be more susceptible to scalds.
Never leave your baby unattended in the bathtub. Babies can drown in seconds.
Use a bulb syringe or nose cleaner to clear mucus. Never use a cotton swab or your fingers.
Never shake your baby. This can cause serious brain damage or blindness.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
It is recommended that infants should be placed on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS, also known as crib death. SIDS is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby under 1 year old. Some things you can do to make your baby safer:
Place your baby on his back to sleep, even for naps, to prevent any form of suffocation.
Choose a well-fitted, firm mattress. Soft mattress raises the risk of SIDS.
Remove soft toys and loose bedding from your baby’s sleep area in case they bury their head into it.
Keep all blankets and coverings away from your baby’s mouth and nose.
Do not smoke around your baby.
Over-dressing your baby can overheat his body temperature. Keep your baby away from direct sunlight.
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In Singapore, any child below the height of 1.35m is required to have suitable child restraint, with a seat belt, by law.
Install the car seat in a rearward facing position to offer maximum protection.
Choose a car seat suitable for your baby’s height and weight—not something that can last longer. Babies’ neck muscles are not fully developed so an improper restraint can cause their chin to fall on their chests, cutting off their air supply.
Never ever leave your baby in an empty car, even for a minute.
Check your infant carrier is secured before placing baby inside.
Never leave your baby unattended on a bed, sofa or any raised platform.
Always keep a close eye on your baby if he is learning to turn over, crawl, stand and walk.
Secure your baby with a safety harness if he is sitting in a high chair or shopping trolley.
Keep sharp objects, medication and hazardous chocking items out of your baby’s reach.
Avoid leaving your baby alone with an older sibling or pet.
Put away strings and cords from curtain, toys and any other objects. They may find its way around your baby’s neck and cause strangulation.
Consider learning CPR. In the event of an emergency, CPR can save your baby’s life before professional medical attention can be administered.
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Common Concerns: Diarrhea in Babies
Beat the baby blues! We talk to Dr Wong Chin Khoon of SBCC Baby and Child Clinic for his insights into yet another common baby health woe that first-time parents face – and we’re looking at Diarrhea – or loose stools – a baby ailment that can be really messy as well as worrying for parents.
Read on to find out the cause of this digestive condition, its symptoms, and what you can do if your baby suddenly ‘lets loose’, as advised by Dr Wong.
What is the cause of Loose Stools / Diarrhea?
Diarrhea or the frequent passage of loose stools may be an isolated symptom or may be associated with vomiting, fever and/or loss of appetite as part of acute gastroenteritis (GE). The underlying cause is a virus transmitted from either an infected person or contaminated object (e.g. toys, utensils, cups).
According to Dr Wong, passing loose stools 6 to 8 times may be normal in a totally breastfed baby. So it is important to compare the frequency and consistency of the stools to his or her normal pattern.
Vomiting and diarrhea are the body’s way of getting rid of an infection or telling us that something is wrong. Infection by a virus is usually mild and should not last longer than 1 week.
How to manage the diarrhea?
The gold standard of treatment is maintenance of hydration and oral probiotic. The most important thing you need to know is that there is NO NEED to stop the diarrhea by giving anti-spasmodic medicine like in the adult!
Dr Wong advises that parents should in fact allow the diarrhea to run its course. The body is trying to purge out the unwanted waste, which takes an average of 2 to 4 days.
Your child should get better if he or she gets lots of rest, liquids, and good foods. Fever medication may be used (if the temperature exceeds 38°C) to enable your baby to feel more comfortable so that he can sleep and drink better.
Oral rehydration therapy
Oral rehydration therapy is another way to help your baby when he or she has vomiting or diarrhea.
An oral electrolyte solution (ORS) is a liquid that has exactly the right amount of water, sugar, and salts needed for rehydration. Water is not the ideal rehydration fluid as it does not have these ingredients.
You can buy the ORS in most pharmacies in one of these forms: solution, power or effervescent tablet which needs to be dissolved in required amount of boiled water. The amount needed depends on the age and weight of your baby. Your baby’s appetite is often affected, so go slow and give small but frequent hydration fluid.
Dr Wong also reminds parents that your baby’s bottom needs extra care too!
Ensure timely change of diapers and be more liberal in your use of diaper barrier cream to prevent diaper rash.
When should you seek medical attention?
The warning signs can be different for each child. Watch your child closely. Pay attention to things that you think are different about your child’s usual behavior.
Your baby should see a doctor if he or she has ANY of the warning signs for serious vomiting or diarrhea as follows:
Not willing to drink at all
No tears when crying
Vomiting often for more than 4 to 6 hours
More than 6 large, watery diarrheas in 1 day
Stomach pain that is severe and does not stop
Less than 5 wet diapers in 1 day
Dry skin, mouth, and tongue
Very sleepy or very fussy
Cool or grayish skin
Green or coffee ground vomits
Blood in the vomit or diarrhea
Bringing the knees up to stomach and crying (suggesting severe tummy ache)
Fever over 39°C, or 102.2°F, for longer than 12 hours
Sunken fontanelle (the soft spot on your child’s head if he or she is less than 18 months old)
We hope that you have benefited from this little health tip. Remember to consult your healthcare professional for medical advice.
About Dr Wong Chin Khoon MBBS (S’pore),
MMED Paediatrics (S’pore), FAMS
Private Paediatrician currently practicing at SBCC Baby and Child Clinic located at 26 Jalan Membina #01-05 Singapore 161026
Dr Wong headed the Children’s Emergency at National University Hospital when it started the service in 2002, before moving on to Department of Emergency Medicine, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital serving as Senior Consultant in 2006. He was also the Senior Consultant, Contingency & Scenario Planning Division, Ops Group at Ministry of Health from 2008 – 2010. Dr Wong was awarded the HMDP training award (Paediatric Emergency, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada) in 2001. He remains amongst only a handful of paediatricians who has received formal training in the field of Paediatric Emergency in Singapore. Dr Wong was also awarded the EXSA (Excellence Service) Award (Silver) in 2008.
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Baby Growth Spurt: All You Need To Know
The first year of motherhood can be a nerve wrecking experience. But, one of the most rewarding parts of this difficult experience is to see your little one mature and grow. And the timing of your baby’s growth spurts tends to follow a pattern.
But, when does this pattern repeat itself? When does your little one go through growth spurts? Read on and get the answers to these questions here. Here we look at when babies go through growth spurts and how you can spot them.
What Is A Growth Spurt?
A growth spurts is a sudden increase in your baby’s growth rate, and experts often link it with increased feedings. While going through a growth spurt, your baby will be hungrier than usual and act fussier than normal. He will feel more hungry and you will have to breastfeed him more frequently than normal.
Babies tend to consume more breast milk while they go through a growth spurt, and it is temporary in nature. Most breastfed babies seem to exhibit such symptoms during the first few weeks of their life. The breast milk consumption normalizes between one and six months. After six months, when you begin to wean your baby with solid foods, his breast milk consumption gradually decreases.
Growth spurts mark physical and mental developments for your baby. Your little one requires proper nutrition so that he becomes more mature and learns different growth facets like rolling over, crawling, walking or talking. In most of the time, growth spurts last for only two to three days. Try to feed your baby constantly during such phase and help him go through the development changes smoothly.
Interesting Facts About Growth Spurts:
Growth spurts occur in both breastfed and bottle-fed babies.
The mother needs to feed her baby constantly during such phase, to satisfy hunger curbs of the little one.
There is no definite or set time for a growth spurt, but it usually occurs during 7-10 days, three weeks, six weeks, three months, four months, six months and nine months.
Your baby gains most of the weight during such phase.
Growth spurts are less frequent occurrence after the first year of your baby’s life.
The baby gains more height than weight after the first year of his life.
Growth spurts last for only 2-3 days, but can sometimes last for a week also.
As your baby needs more breast milk supply during his growth spurt, you need to regain your calories by drinking fluids and eating nutritious foods.
The weight of your baby usually triples after the first year of his life.
The height of your baby increases by almost 8-10 inches after the first year of his life.
What Happens During A Growth Spurt?
Here are some of the noticeable changes that occur during growth spurts:
During a growth spurt, your little one puts up extra weight, height and his circumference of the head increases. He learns variant developmental activities like crawling, walking, rolling and sitting.
Your baby gets hungrier more often and intakes higher amounts of breast milk than usual.
Your baby acts fussier, as soon as her stomach gets empty, and you do not feed him in mentioned time frame. If you want to keep your growing baby calm, it is advisable to feed him at regular interval of time. With an adequate supply of breast milk, your baby’s growth rate is higher, and he matures at a faster pace.
Babies going through the phase of growth spurts may not exhibit any of the noticeable signs. But you can keep a track of the growth rate, by regular monitoring of his body weight. A sudden increase of body weight clearly indicates that your baby is going through growth spurts naturally.
When your baby goes through a growth spurt, he may need to sleep more or less than usual. Research concludes that when babies go through growth spurts that act clingy, fussy and irritable. It disrupts their sleep pattern during night-times.
Vital Data About Baby’s Growth Rate:
Let us look at the data, which help to analyze your baby’s growth rate after the first year of his life.
1. At Birth:
Length of the newborn baby lies around 19 and 21 inches (48-53 cm)
Weight of a healthy newborn baby falls between 7 and 7.5 pounds (3- 3.4 kg)
2. Gain In Birth Weight:
Resumes by day 14
Doubles by the age of 5 months
Triples by the age of 12 months
3. Gain In Birth Length:
Increases 50 percentage at the age of one year
4. Gain In Head Circumference:
14 inches (35 cm )at birth
17 1/4 inches (44 cm) by the age of six months
18 1/2 inches (47 cm) by the age of one year
5. Weight Gain First Six Weeks:
3/4 ounce (20 grams) per day
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Is A Growth Spurt Linked With A Feeding Spurt?
Yes, they are interrelated. A feeding spurt is the phase when your baby seems hungrier than usual and needs frequent feeding. Your baby will act fussier than usual and seem hungrier than usual, in fact, even after you feed him. Mothers need to increase the frequency of feeding, for both breast milk and formula milk. For breastfed babies, the feeding can reach up to 18 times in 24 hours.
Surprisingly, a feeding spurt is not directly related to enhanced growth rate, but it helps your baby consume more calories and grow fast. For such reasons, many individuals use the terms feeding spurt and growth spurt to indicate the same thing.
Signs Of Growth Spurts In Babies:
Besides being hungrier than usual, there are some other signs of growth spurts in babies, which include:
1. Bottomless Stomach:
One of the most significant sign of growth spurt is a large and sudden increase of your baby’s appetite.
Your baby feeds more frequently than normal.
Your baby requires an extra amount of calories to cope with the growth pace accurately.
It is important for you to feed your baby at frequent intervals of time so that he fills up his appetite constantly and feels satisfied. Hunger curbs make your baby feel restless and irritable.
Before and during a growth spurt, your little one seems sleepier than the normal days.
Your baby wakes up lesser at nights and takes naps during the daytimes also.
With extra sleep, the baby channels her energy for her growth processes.
Research concludes that your baby sleeps for an excess four and half hours than usual days during a growth spurt.
During sleep, a vital protein called human growth hormone (HGH) is produced in your baby’s brain.HGH is extremely crucial for your baby’s growth and mental development.
But there are exceptions, where babies sleep lesser during growth spurts. In such scenario, the baby wakes more frequently at nights.
The modification in sleep pattern during growth spurts usually varies from one baby to another. If you are confused with the sleep routine, never freak out in such situation. Hold your patience, as your baby’s routine, will be back to normal in next few days.
During a growth spurt, your baby acts more restless, irritable and clingy than usual.
You may notice that your baby likes you holding him all the time and starts crying as soon as you put him into the bed or crib.
Your baby easily becomes weepy, when he lays back in his bed alone.
4. Change In Feeding Routine:
During a growth spurt, there is a slight change in your baby’s feeding routine.
You may notice that your little one feel hungrier more often and want to feed at different times during the day and evening.
5. Your Baby Gains Weight Rapidly:
During a growth spurt, your baby intakes extra amount of calories that are essential for his body growth and development.
Your baby gains body weight significantly during the first year of his life.
Doctors advise that you weigh your little one every month. It helps to keep a track of your baby’s growth rate.
Changes To Observe During Different Phase Of Growth Spurts In Babies:
1. At Two Weeks:
Your baby is still too little, but their eyes seem to look with intense concentration.
Keep your face at a distance of 25 cm, and start communicating with your little one. Establish a skin to skin contact that helps you to bond with your baby. Your baby tends to sense your body temperature and feel normal.
Once your baby starts putting up his body weight, you can expect to see the gain of around 25g per day.
You will notice that your baby grows faster and discover that his tiny nails are growing too.
Your baby will probably sleep for up to 18 hours a week but in a random fashion.
2. At Three Weeks:
By now your baby starts looking a bit more like you and his skin appear pinkish and a bit plumper.
By the end of the third week, your baby tries to lift her head and move it from one side to other.
You can roll up a soft towel under his chest and help him get started with small lifts. His nervous system and muscle control mature slowly, and her movements become jerky.
3. At Six Weeks:
Your baby becomes more attentive and awake, and his senses start turning more sensitive than the earlier days.
Your baby develops his sensory glands and now able to hear, see, smell and taste. But he can only express his senses through screaming and crying.
You can notice signs of growth spurts during the sixth week of your baby’s life. As your baby senses different notions, he becomes more restless and cries whenever feels hungry.
During this phase, your baby smiles more and cries with real tears.
4. At Three Months:
In this phase, your baby seems to recognize you and acts shy in front of strangers. He starts to establish a close bonding with his parents.
Your baby cannot sleep well and starts to distrust strangers or unknown family members. Above all, your baby reacts negatively when either of the parents is not around him.
Your little one gets better at moving around like crawling and motor coordination. He can sit, hold toys in his small hands, put a finger in his mouth, listen to music, understand simple commands, and clap hands or wave good-bye.
5. At Six Months:
By now, your baby has reached to double his birth weight. At six months, the growth rate of your baby slows down to about one pound a month. The gain of height also allows down to about half-inch each month.
At this age, your baby learns to sit independently and uses both his hands to offer support to elevate his body.
Your 6-month-old baby can easily roll from his back to his stomach and vice versa.
The sleep time of a six-month baby varies from six to eight hours. But if your little one finds trouble sleeping, it is better to consult the pediatrician immediately.
The risk of SIDS is quite lower at six months than it was during the first few months of your baby’s life.
You can include solid foods during this phase of your baby’s life. You can include iron-fortified cereal, strained fruits, and vegetables. If your baby seems allergic to a certain food group, eliminate those from his diet.
Your baby learns to communicate at this tender age. So read story books, sing songs and try to communicate with him.
6. At Nine Months:
At nine months, your baby tends to become an expert crawler.
At nine months, your baby rapidly changes his position. He can push to attain the crawl position, sit back down or bend forwards to pick his toys.
During this phase, your baby’s brain develops progressively. Try to create a positive environment and help your little one learn interesting things through educational videos and games.
Your baby can now utter some words like Pa, Ma, Dada and many more. Your baby also understands your instructions and responds to them accordingly.
Hold your baby’s hand and help him stand on his feet, so that he learns walking effectively.
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Effective Ways To Deal With Growth Spurts In Babies:
Here are some of the helpful tips that guide parents to deal with growth spurts and keep babies calm during the sensitive phase:
1. Breastfeed Your Baby At Regular Intervals:
Your baby becomes fussier or irritable as soon as he curbs for hunger during a growth spurt.
Try to offer him the extra feeds and satisfy the hunger prangs fully.
Your baby’s body requires sufficient amount of nutrients for growth and development. Through regular breastfeeding or formula milk, you can supply those vital elements and help your baby grow faster.
To increase your milk production rate, it becomes essential to drink lots of fluids and intake nutritious foods.
If your baby is formula-fed, and he immediately feels hungry after a feed, you can give him an extra bottle.
2. Dealing With Disturbed Sleep Pattern:
Growth spurts often lead to disrupt the sleep pattern of your baby, while he quickly gains weight and grows.
During the specific phase of growth spurts at two weeks, three weeks, six weeks, three months, six months and nine months your baby develops unusual sleep patterns.
If your little one sleeps more during nighttime, no need to wake him up. Most of the growth hormones releases in the body during the night. So it is better if your baby sleeps longer in the nighttime.
If you notice that your baby wakes at regular interval of time, try to feed him breast milk.
If your baby sleeps for too long in the daytime, at nights he acts restless and cries constantly. Try to keep him awake during daytime and play engaging games. Keep the naps during daytime short and sweet. Keeping your little one active during the daytime helps him to sleep through the entire night.
3. Dealing With Unpredictable Eating Habits:
If your baby sleeps more than usual and wakes up early in the morning, keep yourself available for breastfeeding when he wakes up. If you have to go somewhere out, consider pumping your breast milk and keep the bottle ready for your baby.
Because of a growth spurt, your baby gets hungry at random hours of the day. But try to establish a feeding routine, which also involves naptime. When your little one gets habituated with the feeding and nap times, he acts less cranky.
If your baby appears to drink more breast milk than normal, do not restrict him from feeding. His growing body requires enough quantity of nutrients during the growth phase. You should not feel frightened that your breast milk will run out. When your baby demands more breast milk, your body tends to adjust the occasion and fulfill his requirements adequately.
Your baby’s appetite decreases depending upon how he deals with his growth spurt. Remember to feed him at regular time intervals and provide the right amount of milk (breast milk or formula).
After inclusion of solid foods, try of make him eat fruits, vegetable, eggs and meat during his growth spurt.
4. Dealing With Unpredictable Emotions:
Bottle-fed babies tend to act crankier and cry more often, as soon as they feel hungry. In such circumstances, try to control your child’s emotions by soothing him with other objects. Such items may include a pacifier or stuffed animal.
Dealing with your screaming and the fussy baby becomes difficult for you. Try to remember that your baby is going through stressful life phase and your have to offer complete parental support to him. Stay calm and try to handle your baby in a peaceful manner. Do not shout or scream unnecessarily. Try singing tuneful music to soothe your little one.
During a growth spurt, show extra affection to your baby. Cuddle, hug and show affection towards your little one so that he easily comes out of crankiness.
Keeping Track Of Your Baby’s Growth Spurt:
To keep a close track of your baby’s growth rate take him to the pediatrician on a regular basis. The medical practitioner examines his body weight, and length band help you keep a complete track of your baby, during the growth spurt.
You need to remember that the growth chart is used to track the pattern of growth in your baby. If the result lies within the normal range, then stay assured about your child’s growth rate. However, if the growth appears stunted at some stage, consult the pediatrician as soon as possible.
Instead of getting frustrated with your baby’s tantrums and crankiness, try to deal with the situations effectively. From birth to one year of age, your growing baby adds up to 10 inches (25.4 cm) in length, and his weight gets three times his birth weight.
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Article written by Ria Saha
Baby Acne: Causes, Treatments & Prevention
Baby acne can occur in as high as 70% of babies including newborns. It is thus quite a common ailment. But what causes those nasty blisters and how can you treat and prevent them? Here is all you need to know about baby acne, its cause, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
What Is Baby Acne?
Erythema toxicum neonatorum, better known by its colloquial name baby acne, is the formation of yellow or white-headed blisters or papules surrounded by red skin on cheeks, forehead, neck and parts of the torso like the chest. They can even appear on legs, predominantly on thighs.
The red blisters of baby acne usually appear and disappear over the course of days or even hours. Although they seem nasty, they are harmless. In fact, your baby will be least bothered about that acne and will continue to behave normally.
Types Of Baby Acne
There are two types of acne that affect babies at two different stages of their infant life:
Neonatal acne occurs in newborn babies around three weeks of age. It is characterized by red to pink lesions that do not have a head and do not protrude as a bump. This acne is limited to the face predominantly to the cheeks and only sometimes on the scalp. It is a mild condition and does not cause any discomfort to the baby since it is not itchy.
Infantile acne happens only after the baby reaches three to four months. Infantile acne is much severe than neonatal acne since the lesions are quite inflamed and form papules. The inflammation may also lead to discomfort to the baby, which may cause the baby to itch or prick at the papules.
How Long Does Baby Acne Last?
Neonatal acne may last a month and clear away without any scarring. In some cases, it may last a couple of months and then clear away without medical intervention.
On the other hand, infantile acne could last for months but will show signs of fading once the baby turns twelve months old. However, this acne has a tendency to persist until three years of age, in which case they leave a permanent scar. Medical intervention may be required in case of infantile acne.
Symptoms Of Baby Acne
Baby acne usually affects parts of the face but can also be found on neck, chest and sometimes on the scalp. The symptoms include red patches or red blisters that cover a localized section or are distributed in various parts of the body.
Infantile acne looks quite similar to adolescent acne since they may also show pustules, which are pimples. This acne can be itchy, and the baby will try to scratch the affected area.
What Causes Baby Acne?
There is no known cause for baby acne, and even medical practitioners are perplexed by it. There are hypotheses though, and we have listed the popular ones. Note that these are not the confirmed reasons for baby acne but just the popular theories about probable causes:
1. Transfer of hormones from mother:
The transfer of maternal hormones from breast milk to the baby is often considered a reason for baby acne. In case a newborn displays acne within a few hours of birth then the transfer of hormones could have happened through the placenta in the womb.
Breast milk is the safest food for a baby, even if it is laden with maternal hormones. It is never known to cause any skin problems. In fact, it improves the baby’s resistance thanks to its antibodies.
2. Immaturity and sensitivity of the skin:
Babies have a developing epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. Their skin can be so sensitive that it is easily affected by simple events such as a change in temperature, contact with an abrasive material or even too much pressure at a point.
All babies have sensitive skin. Thus, this theory does not explain why some babies suffer from acne while some never get it.
3. Allergic reactions:
The acne could be considered a complication of certain allergy. It could be an allergy to a food or medication. Skin hives and eczema are common manifestations of an allergic reaction. Although they may seem similar, skin hives and eczema are different from baby acne. Baby acne does not cause any discomfort to the baby nor is life-threatening. Moreover, babies that are exclusively breastfed and non-allergic may also show acne.
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Do Certain Foods Cause Baby Acne?
It has not been scientifically proven that any food consumed by the mother, like fatty or oily food, causes baby acne. Since babies do not eat the food, which adolescents suffering from acne eat, the possibility of acne being caused by an ingested food can be ruled out in the case of babies.
Thus, baby acne does not have a specific cause and can be conveniently described as a spontaneous event. Changes in skin structure due to its constant growth and development could be a reason since baby acne is less prevalent in premature babies whose skin is yet to attain the level of a full-term baby. It is a theory that is not scientifically proven and is just a speculation. As a parent, you need not worry about harmless baby acne, but there can be situations when you must rush your little one to the doctor.
When To Rush The Baby To A Doctor?
Baby acne is not fatal and should not be a source of constant worrying. But there are certain situations in which you must promptly bring the condition under medical supervision:
If the acne is too brightly red and oozes a clear discharge.
If the acne has yellowish heads, indicating pus formation that occurs when there is a bacterial invasion of the blister.
When the baby is in extreme discomfort due to the acne. He repeatedly cries while trying to scratch the acne.
When the baby acne is accompanied by high fever, indicating an infection.
If you suspect it is something beyond baby acne, a skin problem such as eczema.
An inspection of the acne by a doctor can help make an accurate diagnosis of the condition.
How To Treat Baby Acne?
As astonishing as it may sound, there is no treatment for baby acne. The primary reason is the fact that there is no known cause for baby acne thus making it impossible to prescribe a medicine without knowing the target. Baby acne itself is completely harmless and is never dangerous. It may last for a few days or a month but will disappear without your intervention. Your pediatrician is quite likely to advise you to leave the condition untouched.
However, he might suggest some medicine to provide relief for the baby’s skin.
Are There Any Home Remedies For Baby Acne?
First a word of caution. Do not try any over-the-counter acne medication for your baby nor use a cream, lotion or soap without your doctor’s advice. Most non-prescription acne medications are for adolescents and adults. Do not even use essential oils, creams or scrub the baby’s skin during bathing.
There are certain home remedies such as oatmeal bath that aim at moisturizing the baby’s skin but have not been medically proven to treat baby acne. All these can actually worsen the condition. If there is anything you can do to help your baby’s skin to be healthy, then it is the following:
Breast Milk For Baby Acne:
Breast milk provides the best nutrition for your baby. It is rich in powerful antibodies that protect the baby from pneumonia and diarrhea-causing pathogens. It also protects the baby from developing allergies.
Breast milk also has antibacterial properties due to the presence of lysozyme, an enzyme that inhibits microbial growth. You can express some milk from your breast and dab it on your baby’s acne using a piece of cotton. This should not be harmful to your baby.
How To Prevent Baby Acne?
Since baby acne has no specific cause and occurs spontaneously, there are no recommended preventive measures. But you can follow some general guidelines. Following are the various ways you can keep your baby’s skin soft and healthy:
1. Keep your baby’s skin clean:
Have a regular bath routine for your baby. This ensures that his skin is free of bacteria and dead cells. It will also help control sweat since babies have underdeveloped sweat glands that tend to secrete excessively.
2. Use clean and comfortable clothes:
Your baby will happily wear what mommy buys for him. Be sure it is soft, comfortable and provides ample room for movement and ventilation. Babies can get quite vexed with tight clothing, especially during summer. This can cause serious skin conditions that may require prompt medical attention.
3. Change his diapers frequently:
Replace those diapers regularly even if the junior has not soiled them. Nappy rashes are those nasty blisters that can occur just by moisture and lack of ventilation.
4. Keep the skin amply moist/dry:
If it is humid summer, then keep his skin dry; if it is dry winter, then keep his skin moist. Maintaining ample levels of moisture and dryness according to the season is quite important. The underdeveloped skin is too primitive to maintain moisture on its own. Therefore, it needs external intervention through moisturizers and ventilation.
5. Avoid scratching or poking at any rash:
You must never scratch, pinch or poke a rash on your baby’s skin. Fiddling with it will aggravate the condition causing a major outbreak that may require medical attention.
There can be situations when the rashes on the skin are not exactly acne and are indicators of some other skin problem.
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Baby Cradle Cap: Causes & Treatments
It is common for most parents to feel glum when it comes to the slightest discomfort of their precious baby. Do you know Cradle Cap is a common skin condition that affects most babies? Though these scales have a cute name, Cradle Cap, the condition is not as appealing as it sounds. Read on to know how you can help your baby get rid of the scaly patches and have a healthy scalp soon!
What Is Cradle Cap In Babies?
Cradle Cap refers to the thick scales of yellowish skin and greasy patches that appear on a baby’s head. Cradle Cap or seborrhoeic dermatitis, milk crust or honeycomb disease, is usually a harmless though unsightly rash that affects babies. Crusts might also be visible on the eyebrows and near the ears of the infant. The scalp becomes dry and may peel, flake or appear red. Though sometimes Cradle Cap covers the entire scalp, it usually affects just a small patch.
Contrary to the common misconception, you should not mistake it for eczema. If left untreated, Cradle Cap heals on its own. But in such cases, the probability of recurrence is higher. As your baby’s hair grows thick, it is likely that the Cradle Cap completely recedes from view.
Facts On Cradle Cap:
Cradle Cap is a very common condition that affects 50% babies.
It is not contagious
Unlike infantile eczema, Cradle Cap doesn’t cause itchiness. However, it is important to clean the lesions, as it can the pave way for fungal infections in the future.
There is no reason to worry if your baby has Cradle Cap. Some parents feel guilty for not keeping their baby clean enough. But, a baby’s hygiene has nothing to do with the occurrence of these scales.
Most children with Cradle Cap are equally prone to diaper rashes
Causes Of Cradle Cap/How Do Babies Get Cradle Cap:
So,what causes cradle cap in babies?
An excessive production of sebum can cause Cradle Cap. These secretions are supposed to make the skin oily and healthy. When these oils dry up, flakes plug the ducts on the scalp. As a result, the sebaceous glands secrete more oil in an effort to push the flakes, causing the development of yellowish crusts.
If there is a case of damp heat brewing within a child’s body, it affects the top of the body. The heat dries up the sebaceous glands on the scalp and the damp heat lies below. Therefore, children suffering from Cradle Cap are also likely to develop diaper rashes simultaneously.
Fungal infection is also another potential cause of Cradle Cap. Malassezia, is a fungus that grows in the sebum.
Biotin deficiency is another reason for developing Cradle Cap.
Like many other forms of skin problems, a problem in the conversion of essential fatty acids also explains the development of this rash. An enzyme deficiency makes it difficult for the linoleic acid, one important essential fatty acid, to convert into gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Some findings prove a temporary deficiency of the enzyme, gamma-linolenic acid can cause Cradle Cap. Therefore, as a cure, some doctors prescribe GLA. Oils like that of primrose, come with added GLA to alleviate many skin ailments in babies.
If you regularly wash your baby’s hair, she is likely to develop Cradle Cap.
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Treatment For Cradle Cap:
It is not always necessary to treat Cradle Cap. Time is the only effective cure. However, if you find them abominable,cradle cap treatment for babies involve the following methods to heal your baby’s scalp.
1. Use any baby oil for cradle cap. Apply olive oil or petroleum jelly on the baby’s scalp. Leave it overnight. Wash the baby’s hair next morning with a baby shampoo. Towel-dry her hair and gently comb the scales off. Repeat the same process every day until all the scales disappear.
2.Cradle cap shampoo for babies can be an option too to cure this problem.Some baby shampoos contain special formulations to clear Cradle Cap. You may opt for one of them, but be careful to stop the use of the product immediately if you find the skin showing any sign of irritation.
3. You may massage drops of Sorbolene or glycerine on the baby’s eyebrows and ears to remove the scales over there. During bath time, carefully remove the crust using a soft flannel.
4. Topical application of aloe vera gel is an effective remedy for Cradle Caps.
5. Applying a vitamin B6 cream or salve helps treat the skin condition.
6. Antiseborrheic shampoos like Sebulex can come in handy to cure Cradle Cap.
7. Very rarely, the scales can turn itchy. In such conditions, a steroid cream or ointment can be applied to the baby’s scalp. However, seek your doctor’s opinion before using an OTC medication.
8. A multi-vitamin and multi-mineral complex specially formulated for infants can help infants overcome any nutritional deficiency which can cause Cradle Cap.
A Word Of Caution:
If the scales firmly stick to the scalp of your baby’s head, don’t attempt to remove the Cradle Cap by pulling it. It can cause bleeding and infection. Talk to your doctor to find a safe solution.
Also, be careful while maintaining the hygiene of your baby’s scalp after this skin infection.
Keep the lesions clean so that no bacterial or fungal infection occurs.
When To Seek Medical Advice:
If you find the Cradle Cap spreads to her face, cheeks or skin fold or even the nappy areas, it is time to call your doctor. Also, watch out for stubborn and reddish patches which might indicate an infection.
If the baby has fungal mouth infection, or fungal ear infection which doesn’t respond to antibiotics or even a persistent diaper rash, it is important to seek medical intervention.
A severe case of Cradle Cap can cause cracking and bleeding of the skin.
Occasionally, Cradle Cap can indicate a weak immune system. If you notice that your baby suffers from diarrhea frequently, talk to your doctor.
Tips For Nursing Mothers:
If you are breastfeeding, you may try the following methods to cure your baby’s Cradle Cap without any medication.
Avoid eating refined sugar if you are breastfeeding your baby. Sugar is likely to accentuate the growth of bacteria and fungus.
Breastfeeding mothers can avoid allergenic foods in their diet. Some studies indicate the allergic reactions in the mother’s body transfer through the breast milk to the infant. Therefore, it would be good for breastfeeding mothers to avoid having milk, wheat and eggs to cure Cradle Cap.
Do not take saturated animal fats. Instead, add fish like salmon to your diet. You can also take a primrose or borage oil supplement after consulting your doctor.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is an important ingredient to counter Cradle Cap. Therefore, it would be good if a breastfeeding mother has its capsule twice a day. Follow your doctor’s advice on dosage.
Eat a bland diet to prevent the worsening of Cradle Cap.
Though there is no absolute way to keep Cradle Cap at bay, you may follow the guidelines to reduce its incidence.
Keep your baby’s hair and scalp clean and dry.
If you oil your baby’s hair regularly, don’t forget to use a mild baby shampoo afterward.
Gently comb your baby’s hair every day to prevent scaling.
Cradle Cap is not a reason to hit the panic button. Though unpleasant to look at, try ignoring them and give it some time to disappear gradually. Relax, your baby will be fine soon!
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Signs Of An Overtired Baby
What Is Overtiredness?
Overtiredness is a condition in between tiredness and exhaustion. It is a state of physical fatigue that activates the stress-response system.
An overtired baby is too tired to sleep and gets fussy. Even if she manages to fall asleep, she would wake up soon after and struggle to go back to sleep. The more the baby gets tired, the harder it is to put her to sleep, as she cannot control or express herself. To put it simple, an overtired baby just won’t sleep.
Can a little baby, who seemingly has little activity through the day, get really overtired? Yes, she can and it is interesting to know what makes her so tired.
Why Do Babies Get Overtired?
The most common cause for overtiredness is sleep deprivation. Your little one learns several things during the day time. To process all of them, she needs regular naps. That is why babies have short awake hours, which extend with age. For example:
A newborn can cope with just 45-minute awake time before getting tired.
A six-month baby can have a two-hour awake time.
A toddler can deal with a five-hour awake time.
As your baby gets closer to finishing her awake time, she turns drowsy and is all set for a nap. This is the right time for you to settle down your little one, as she can fall asleep with ease.
But what if you do not put her to sleep at the right time? Well, she will have to produce more of cortisol and adrenaline hormones to stay awake. Now, this is stress! The cortisol and adrenaline hormones flood into the bloodstream, making it difficult for the little one to relax.
Note: Crying it out is not helpful for babies and could be stressful.
Signs Of Tiredness In Babies:
Why do babies cry when they are tired? Your baby could cry as the last resort after trying to communicate with you in several other ways. If you are asking, “In what way does she communicate with me?” then read on.
Understanding your baby’s cues will help your baby sleep. You need not have to deal with a grumpy baby. Doesn’t it sound great! Here are a few common and early cues of tiredness in babies.
Facial expressions: If your baby’s expression changes from happy to grumpy, she is getting tired gradually.
Rubbing eyes, hair and ears: These are among the most common signs of tiredness among babies and are commonly mistaken for teething.
Yawning: This is one sign you cannot miss! When your baby is yawning, wrap up whatever you are doing and put her to sleep.
Avoiding eye contact: A tired baby tends to avoid looking at you directly. She may even stare blankly into space.
Stiffening the body: Your baby may have rigid or tense hands and legs. She may keep her fists clenched.
Losing interest: If your baby suddenly loses interest in her favorite toy or food, it may be due to tiredness.
Difficulty in latching: Overtired newborns have difficulty in latching or cry at the breast. Older babies may throw food, toys or things that are there in their hands. Some babies may even hit or smack.
Self-soothing: If you ignore the early signals, the tired baby sends self-soothing signals like sucking the thumb, searching for a dummy and so on.
Autonomic signals: After a while, your baby may exhibit autonomic signals, which happen without her conscious control. They include:
Blueness around the mouth in infants
If you miss all these signals the probable outcome is a fussy and crying baby. All these are late signs of an overtired baby. At this stage, a tired newborn cries without any apparent reason, pulls up legs in pain, and arches her back. An older baby puts up miserable behavior, rejects food, fights sleep, screams, and cries.
All these are signs of ‘Flight, Fright and Fight’ that are the classic response to stress hormones. A fussy baby means you surely have missed the bus!
Note: Sometimes, parents may not be able to differentiate between overtiredness of the baby and reflux and colic. Understanding the actual reason is important. Seek a doctor’s advice, if required.
What if you overlook these tiredness cues? You may have to deal with full out meltdowns, which could be a nightmare. Make efforts to calm down the exhausted baby.
How To Calm An Overtired Baby And Put Her To Sleep?
Some babies are ready to sleep at the first signs of tiredness. But some need to be very tired before they fall asleep. You’ll know the difference as your baby grows.
Here’s what you can do when you see tired signs in your baby:
Playing white noise
Dimming the lights
To calm down an older baby:
Rock the little one to drowsiness.
Sing a lullaby or feed if it is feed time.
Avoid eye contact. Give her some quiet time.
Take her away from the noisy environment. No TV, no loud conversations.
Read a book to help settle her down. Use soothing voice to calm her down faster.
When a baby is tired, she may wake up soon after she falls asleep. So be ready to soothe her back to sleep.
Behavior Of A Baby Constantly Tired
If your baby is getting overtired frequently, she displays a different behavior. It is essential to figure it out and take necessary measures. Such a baby may:
Sleep for less than average time for her age and refuse to fall asleep. Turns hyperactive.
Wake up to the slightest of noise and have short or few day-time naps.
Refuses feeds or baby is too tired for feeds. Such babies feed well during nights. Sleep unusually long during nights.
Be more content in the mornings than afternoons. Cries often, has short attention spans, seeks constant attention from you while awake.
Not want to get into her high chair, car seat or crib. Wants you to rock her endlessly.
Show extreme separation anxiety or have an insatiable appetite.
Fall asleep even before the feed gets complete.
Overlooking these behaviors could hamper the overall development of the baby. It is essential to prevent overtiredness by giving her enough naps. Keep reading to learn several ways to achieve this.
5 Tips To Prevent Tiredness In Babies
Keeping an eye on your little one and her activities would help her from getting tired frequently. These tips would be beneficial.
Settle her down at the first sign of tiredness.
Keep your baby comfortable. Dress her in suitable clothing.
Keep her room cool with dim lights.
Do not stimulate or stress the little one during her sleep time.
Have a fixed bed/nap time and plan a bedtime routine with a warm bath.
When you know that your baby goes to sleep at seven in the evening, be ready for her bedtime routine beforehand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why do babies cry when they are tired?
A. Your baby was happily playing around, creating a mess, and then she turns inconsolable. She just won’t settle down! Well, an overtired baby cries it out. They can neither realize nor express their tiredness and eventually cry. They fight to fall asleep.
Q. Do hormones make a baby tired?
A. Hormones and neurotransmitters play a role in the entire process. Melatonin and cortisol are the key hormones that govern sleep. The levels of these hormones keep changing all through the day, making it easy to fall asleep at certain times of the day.
Cortisol keeps us awake and alert. It peaks at 8am and begins to droop as the day progresses.
Melatonin prepares us to sleep.
By stimulating the brain to release more melatonin, you can help your little one fall asleep easily.
A calm, sleeping baby is like music to a mother’s ears! Then why not make a little effort to put the little one to sleep before she gets overtired? They key lies in reading the signs and symptoms. With practice, you can learn to decipher your baby’s unspoken words!
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This post was originally posted on MomJunction
Baby Hunger Cues: What To Look Out For
Feeding babies can stress out new moms! They always have questions like, ‘Is my baby hungry?’, ‘How often should I feed him?’ and so on. The best one to answer all these questions is your little one! Yes, do not be surprised! Your little prince lets you know whether he is hungry or content through many cues. Even, infants can regulate their energy intake and send subtle cues.
Instead of calculating the time spent on feeding or the quantity fed, feed your baby when he is hungry. Pay attention to your baby’s behavior and his simple cues. Wondering how to identify those signals? Read our post at MomJunction to learn about typical baby hunger cues.
Different Baby Hunger Cues
Most parents think that crying is a hunger signal. But it is a late hunger cue. The baby shows many more cues early on. If you can pick those early hunger cues (1), it will be easier for you to feed the little one.
Early Hunger Cues
Licking lips or smacking is the first sign of hunger.
Sucking on hands, lips, toes, clothes, toys and fingers.
Opening and closing the mouth.
Sticking the tongue out.
Moving the head from side to side as if he is looking for something. This movement is called rooting reflex. During the first weeks of birth, when you stroke the baby’s cheek, he turns toward the breast or bottle, as a natural reflex. He makes sucking motions with the mouth. Rooting turns into a voluntary action after the babies turn four months old.
Active Hunger Cues
Trying to get into feeding position by pulling on your clothes.
Turning the head towards the chest of the one carrying the baby.
Increased leg and arm movement.
Breathing fast or fussing.
Squirming or fidgeting.
Waking up from sleep and falling asleep again in quick successions.
Displaying discomfort, making whining sounds, and grunts.
Hitting on your chest or arm constantly.
Rapid eye movement while sleeping. It is a good time to feed a sleepy newborn if he has not fed in a while.
A hungry baby may continue showing interest in sucking even after finishing the first bottle or first breast. It indicates that the little one wants more.
Babies older than four months may even smile while breastfeeding, indicating their interest in continuing.
Late Hunger Cues
Moving the head frantically from one side to the another.
Crying is the last sign. A hunger cry is usually low-pitched, short, and rises and falls.
Calm down the crying baby before feeding. Offer skin-to-skin contact, wear him or allow him to snuggle up to your breasts.
Relying on cry to feed a baby can cause feeding problems, besides stressing him as well as you.
In her book Sleeping Like A Baby, International Board Certified lactation consultant Pinky McKay says, “Notice where your baby’s tongue is when she is yelling — a baby can’t latch on to feed when her tongue is up against the roof of her mouth, and if you do manage to calm her enough to latch on and feed, her suck is likely to be disorganized, or she may be exhausted from crying and only take a small feed before falling asleep. This, of course, means that she will probably sleep for a very short time then wake for another feed as her tiny tummy quickly empties.”
Birth through 5 months
Sucks on fist
Wakes and tosses
Cries or fusses
5 months through 6 months
Cries or fusses
Gazes at caregiver
Smiles or coos during feeding to indicate wanting more
Moves head toward spoon
5 months through 9 months
Reaches for food
Points to food
8 months through 11 months
Reaches for food
Points to food
Gets excited when food is offered
10 months through 12 months
Asks for particular food with words or sounds
Benefits Of Following Hunger Cues
Instead of feeding your child randomly based on time gaps, it is always good to look for the cues he gives. It will benefit you in more than one of these ways:
Helps you get to know your baby well.
Ensures smooth breastfeeding.
Satisfies the little one’s hunger and thirst.
Encourages your baby to trust you.
Gives you confidence.
Builds a positive feeding relationship between you and the baby.
Keeps up the milk supply.
How To Know When Your Baby Is Full?
Once your baby is full and satisfied, he sends signs that it is done. Fullness cues include: closing lips, turning the head away from the food source, stopping or slowing down sucking (if the baby is breastfeeding), falling asleep, looking calm and relaxed, and spits out the nipple or food. A baby older than four months may start looking around and seems distracted.
Moms, try to figure out the subtle hunger cues of your little angels and ensure they are well-fed and content. It is equally important to understand fullness cues too. If the cues from the babies are neglected, they are likely to get confused about their hunger and fullness. It may lead to preferences for unhealthy diet and further, childhood obesity.
Do not worry if you miss the cues at times. It is unavoidable! Remember, each baby is different and has different ways of letting their mothers know what they want. As you get to know your little bundle of joy more, you can recognize the unique hunger cues better! Skin-to-skin contact helps you learn your baby’s feeding cues quickly.
1. Is hand sucking always a baby hunger cue?
Hand sucking need not always be a hunger cue once the baby crosses the newborn period. From around six to eight weeks, an infant begins to explore things through his hands and mouth. He gradually gets more control over his hands. Sucking on hands is also common in babies before or during teething.
2. What if I am not sure if it is a hunger cue?
If you suspect one, yet not sure about your baby’s hunger, offer him a feed. It can help both you and your baby in more than one ways:
The little one can have a feed if he is hungry.
If you are breastfeeding, your milk supply will increase.
It can reassure and comfort your baby.
If your baby has regularly been nursing, yet seems fussy, check for other problems like discomfort from gas or tummy ache, etc.
3. Why Does My Baby Show Hunger Cues Shortly After Feeding?
It is normal for babies to have feeds between short time gaps. It is called cluster feeding that is more common during the afternoon or late evening.
Babies also tend to feed more during growth spurts, which last for two to three days. Growth spurt happens at around two to three weeks, six weeks, three months and six months.
4. Should I Wake My Sleeping Baby For Nursing?
Babies are very sleepy during early days of birth. If the little one is less than four weeks old, wake him once every four hours during nights and once every two hours during the day to nurse. Practice this as long as he is gaining good weight, showing normal parameters, pooping, and peeing.
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Article written by Sumana Maheswari
Over Stimulated Baby: Signs & Prevention
Stimulation and interaction are essential for the overall development of babies. It is necessary to talk and play with your little one often, as sensory experiences play a crucial role in the baby’s overall development, by building connections between learning and brain cells. Overdoing it, however, is not beneficial as it may disturb the baby’s sleep besides hampering the emotional engagement. It is essential to identify when the baby reaches his limit and feels over-stimulated.
Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, Infant Mental Health Promotion director Chaya Kulkarni says, an occasional misreading of baby’s cues of overstimulation is inevitable and not a concern. But, “there’s always the chance that if the parent repeatedly doesn’t respond — if you continue trying to play the game or ignore his distress — the baby will zone out, withdraw, or mentally retreat,” she adds.
What Is Overstimulation In Babies?
Overstimulation is a condition where your baby has had an overload of experiences. Babies may get over-stimulated due to a lot of activity, noise, and sensation, as they cannot process it all. They need some time to calm down. An overstimulated baby ends up crying, and dramatic meltdowns are observed.
Causes Of Overstimulation
Let us check for the primary culprits of overstimulation. Anything too much is too bad. Your little one may get overstimulated if he is exposed to too long activity; spends a long time with friends or relatives; is exposed to loud sounds, busy sights, pungent smells, or technology; or if his routine gets disturbed. It also depends on the temperament of the little one. Some babies are easy-going, while some are easily overwhelmed. An activity or environment can be entertaining for some babies, but overwhelming for others. Duration and intensity of an activity can also contribute to overstimulation.
Newborns may get stimulated even faster as they do not have matured nervous systems to regulate many things that are flooding into it. Even the simplest of acts like feeding, handling, talking, and making an eye contact can overwhelm a neonate. Every simple thing is incomprehensible and new for the infant as all of them are different from what the baby experienced in the mother’s womb. You will have to wait for many months for your baby’s system to mature enough to regulate things.
Now that we know a few causes for overstimulation, it is important to look out for signs to stop your little one from getting overstimulated.
11 Signs Of Overstimulation (SOS) In Babies
The baby sends signs of overstimulation (SOS) and you will have to understand them to avoid it. SOS can be classified into two types like Body SOS and Behavioral SOS.
Body SOS: An overstimulated baby may show body SOS like:
change in skin color from normal to bright red or pale
change in movements like showing tremors or jerks
subtle changes in breathing patterns like breathing fast
Behavioral SOS: The Behavioral SOS include:
spreading toes and fingers
covering his face with hands
spacing out (looking away from you)
trying to switch off (turns head away from you)
becomes fussy, cranky, or drowsy (shutting down)
stiffens up instead of relaxing
shows over attention or hyper-vigilant
Pay attention to his responses and if you observe any of these SOS, decrease stimulation and increase support. Low down the tone and speak slowly. Simply holding the baby for few minutes should do the trick. You may try swaddling the baby, encourage him to suck, or simply sway the little one. All babies can get overstimulated now and then, but preterm babies or the ones with physical challenges frequently send SOS.
5 Ways To Avoid Overstimulation
Studies indicate that baby overstimulation leads to behavioral differences and deficits in cognitive performance. So it is better to avoid it and is not that difficult. The key lies in aiming at the right balance. It can be achieved by following guidelines.
1. Keep an eye on early warning signs
Responding to the early warning signs from your baby is essential to avoid a crying and stressed out baby. Too much fun can cause overstimulation irrespective of the time of the day, and the baby may need a break. Figure out the signs and respond.
2. Time it well
Remember that timing means everything! Figure out the best time for your baby to be alert, content, and interested in socializing and plan accordingly. Most kids are happiest in the mornings and after afternoon naps. Check out the suitable time for your baby and go ahead with the activity or outing.
3. Preparation is the key
Plan your outings or gatherings well, so that the baby do not get overwhelmed. Take snacks, extra clothing, favorite toys, light blankets, and other essentials, if you are moving out with your baby. Head to a quiet place if your baby is sensitive to crowds. Know your baby cues and share them with other family members handling the baby.
4. Take breaks
Plan well and ensure that your little one is prepared for the fun. He should have some time in the middle to communicate with you if he wants to. If you notice that your baby is too excited or tired, have little quite time with him during breaks. Ensure that your baby is ready and shows engagement clues before finishing the break. These breaks are useful in avoiding overstimulation.
5. Say ‘No’ to technology
Say ‘No’ to iPad and baby apps that are too stimulating. Doctors do not recommend screen time for babies. Stick to basics, like a pot and spoon.
How To Deal With Overstimulated Babies?
If your little one has reached the limit, hold him close to you and soothe to reassure him calmly. A few babies may not like to be touched or picked if the situation is very stimulating. In such cases, take the baby to a quite place, dim the lights, and minimize the activity. Swaddle him or talk gently. Offer him a feed or pacifier. He will settle down in some time.
Get back to his schedule. See to it that he sleeps, feeds, and plays. This consistency works wonders in babies. Stick to schedules to make him feel secure, loved, and attached.
Above all, the best thing you can do is to trust your instinct. You are the best person to judge what is too much for your baby and what is needed to calm him down.
5 Benefits Of Avoiding Overstimulation
While it may seem like you have to put a lot of effort and spend a lot of time in guessing and avoiding overstimulation in your baby, it can be helpful in many ways.
The baby feels secure and develops confidence in you.
A little prevention can hugely help in keeping everyone around happy, besides your baby.
You can prevent unsuccessful time-outs or bribes to calm down your baby.
It will get easy to work with the little one’s natural rhythms and abilities.
Everyone around can have fun and the baby would enjoy growing up happily.
1. Why does an overstimulated baby cry a lot?
A. When the baby is overstimulated, he may get too tired as he is awake for a longer time, which makes him cry as he struggles to relax.
2. Can my baby overcome overstimulation?
A. Yes, babies can overcome overstimulation as they grow. When the baby learns to crawl and move around, he can create his own change in stimulation. Until then, you have to help him by frequently carrying him with you. If you keep your little one down, ensure that you provide objects within reach, good music, or colorful things to look at.
While the basic temperament remains consistent in babies, the reactions may change over time. As the baby grows, he develops the skill to deal with things and becomes social. An activity that is overwhelming for a nine-month baby may turn his favorite after a few months.
3. Is under stimulation possible in babies?
A. Yes, under stimulation occurs when the environment is familiar and boring for the baby. It is a situation where the baby may be intellectually starved and may be stressed as a result of it. This could be a result of the lack of new toys or experiences. Follow your baby’s own cues to find out if he is crying due to under stimulation or overstimulation.
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