Monthly Archives: April 2007

Toddlers In Motion

baby_waterparkYour baby turned one a few months ago. You survived a very challenging year…

You marveled at the incredible changes in your baby from month to month. One day your baby decides it is time to walk. You grab the video camera. You clap and smile and your baby knows this is something special. Everyone asks them to repeat this great feat. They oblige and enjoy the attention.

A few months later they continue along in natural development and begin to climb on top of the kitchen table. You scream “No!” as they prepare to leap. You look horrified and your confused toddler does not understand why this next step in his development is not resulting in the same reaction as mere walking. “Where are the cameras?” “Where is the applause?”

You now have a toddler. From here on, your delight at your toddler’s advancement in physical and mental development will be balanced against your fear that they will be hurt. And your toddler will feel frustration and some confusion as they do “what comes naturally” and sometimes get a negative reaction.

Toddlers have no knowledge of danger. By the same token, they have no idea that they can be hurt. The normal bruises and bumps will begin to give them an idea of what to avoid, but a real sense of fear (like we have as parents) does not yet exist for them. All they know is that they must move forward along this developmental road. They must begin to become an independent individual –and it is your job as their parent to help them achieve this important goal in a safe, protected environment.

What a wonderful challenge this is! Here are a few points to keep in mind as you move ahead…

1. It is important to be aware that toddlers have very little — if any — self-control. They are driven to explore, to climb, to taste, to feel, everything in their world. So create an environment as free of danger and frustration as possible. The first step is to safe proof your entire house. Place gates between rooms and on stairs. Remove breakables, protect electronics and plug outlets and remove electric cords from reach. It is helpful to get down on your hands and knees and check the room from a toddler’s perspective. Remove anything that you find that could become a danger.

2. Now you are ready to make a space that fosters creative exploration for your toddler. Put cushions or small plastic climbing toys in the room. Provide a variety of toys, and change them every few days. If you are in the kitchen, put chairs on top of tables, and remember to lock all cabinets except for one filled with plastic containers, wooden spoons, and small metal pots that can become safe and entertaining toys.

3. Lastly, never forget the number one rule: Always keep an eye on your toddler.
The reality is they are fast and can get into trouble quickly.


by Winnie Yu Sherer
Dr. Mary Ann LoFrumento (as medical advisor)

All new parents expect their babies to cry, some perhaps more than others. But when unrelenting wails of a newborn become a nightly occurrence, your baby may be suffering from colic.

Colic is a frustrating and distressing condition that describes a pattern of excessive crying for no apparent reason. The condition is quite common and affects up to 10 percent of all babies. Colic typically starts a few weeks after birth, peaks at about six weeks of age, then gradually improves somewhere between the third and fifth month.

Dealing with colic can be extremely difficult, especially for first-time parents who can’t calm their baby’s screams and are at a loss as to what to do. To make matter worse, most new parents are already exhausted and sleep deprived. The combination makes for a frustrating experience. The mom’s diet (if she’s nursing) and the way you feed a child might make a difference, but is no guarantee of relief from the nightly cries.

What it Looks Like

Many babies go through fussy spells in the late afternoon and early evening, which is why pediatricians are often reluctant to label these bouts of crying colic.

True colic starts between the second and fourth weeks after birth. Colicky babies may cry around the clock, but worsen in the early evening. The crying is inconsolable and often accompanied by the baby extending or pulling up his legs. During the crying jab, the baby may pass gas and their stomachs may be enlarged or distended by gas. Fortunately, the crying does dissipate eventually.

What to Eat

Consider giving your baby a teaspoon or two of chamomile tea, a remedy that may help calm you baby’s cries. If you do, make sure the tea you buy contains the purest form of chamomile possible. Moms who are nursing might also want to consider drinking chamomile tea, which can soothe their jangled nerves as well.

If your baby is using formula, consider switching to a different formula. A study in the journal Pediatrics found that babies who ate a hypoallergenic infant formula made with whey hydrolysate, a type of protein, decreased the amount of daily crying in colicky infants by 63 minutes.

What Not to Eat

If you’re nursing, consider cutting out foods that might promote gas, such as beans, broccoli, and cabbage. Consider also eliminating spicy foods, caffeine, and high-fiber foods, all which can irritate your baby.

Nursing moms might also want to consider giving up cow’s milk. One older study looked 66 moms of breastfed infants who were put on a diet free of cow’s milk. The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the colic disappeared in 35 infants, but reappeared in 23 of the infants when cow’s milk was reintroduced.

Other food allergens may be involved, too. A separate study in the same journal looked at the effects of a maternal diet low in food allergens. Moms in that study eliminated highly allergenic foods such as cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and fish. Babies whose moms ate the low-allergen diet experienced a reduction in the duration of their crying spells.

Supplements for Colic

There are no supplements recommended for the colicky infant or a nursing mom.

Stay-Healthy Strategies

  • Feed your baby whenever she’s hungry. Babies are generally less fussy on a full tummy.
  • Make sure to take care of yourself. Colic can be exasperating. Enlist help from family and friends who can provide you with a brief reprieve.
  • Soothe her in other ways. Try swaddling her tightly in a blanket. Sing to her. Walk her around the room to soft music. Consider massaging your baby.
  • Make some noise – white noise. The hum of a dryer or a vacuum cleaner can help settle some colicky infants. But be careful where you put the baby if you use a dryer. Never place the baby on top of a dryer, only beside it.

What Can A Newborn Do?

newborn babyAlthough a newborn baby does not appear very active, there is actually a great deal of brain activity going on. And many new parents wonder just what is going on inside that adorable little sleepy head. It might surprise you how much is happening as your baby’s brain takes in the world with all it’s sights and sounds.

Infants at this age can focus clearly on an object eight to ten inches from their eyes. This is exactly the distance between the baby and the mother’s (or father’s) face during feeding. You may notice your baby trying to make eye contact with you during this time. This is because babies react to the human face (or even a drawing of a face) during this time period more than any other shape. They are most drawn to the eyes. Smiling and making faces at your new arrival is the best stimulation you can do – and it’s fun too!

At this age, babies are good imitators and they will try to mimic your facial movements (open mouth, stick out tongue). In addition to the human face, babies also enjoy sharply contrasting colors, large squares, bright lights and round shapes. Moving objects are more attractive than still ones.

There are also reflexes that every new baby will have during the first weeks of life. One that you may have noticed is the startle reflex. This occurs whenever the baby hears a loud noise or moves suddenly downward. Both arms will move out and then in, and the baby may grimace or cry. This is a normal reaction. Another reflex is to grasp his tiny hand around your finger. It’s a great way to connect with your baby. If you place your finger on the bottom of his foot, the toes will try to do the same.

Babies usually smile by two months of age. This can occur earlier and I will never argue with the grandmother who claims the baby smiled at one week of age. But most babies are at least six weeks old before they can smile in response to something (such as another smiling face.)

Touching, cuddling and holding are all important stimuli to your baby. They are a form of communication, which will often calm a fussy baby. When a baby is crying and upset, he will have some capacity to quiet himself by hand-to-mouth activities. This may range from brief swipes of the hand to the mouth to actual thumb sucking.

You should be able to use some of this information as well as your own observations to console your baby and to interact with him in a positive, stimulating way. Be careful not to over stimulate! If you see your baby start to look away, it might be time to decrease the stimulation and allow the baby to rest. Remember to relax and enjoy your baby!

Baby Blues & Postpartum Depression

baby_bluesAlthough the birth of a child is supposed to be a happy time, for some women it may be just the opposite as they are suddenly overcome by feelings of depression or anxiety.

Baby Blues

The most common form of postpartum depression is the well known “baby blues.” This occurs in the first weeks following the birth of the baby and lasts only a few days. The mother finds herself feeling sad, irritable or confused and has crying spells, difficulty sleeping or loss of appetite. Symptoms are most intense within the first week after childbirth. This occurs in 10 -16% of new mothers and resolves without treatment. The cause is suspected to be hormonal (similar to premenstrual syndrome.)

What can I do if this is happening to me?
If the symptoms last only for a few days, you need only to let it pass. If you feel like crying – cry. It helps if your spouse or family members recognize that this is a normal phase. Insensitive comments such as “Just snap out of it” or “How can you be sad with such a beautiful baby?” do not help the situation. If the symptoms last longer than two weeks, please notify your obstetrician. Prolonged baby blues may need to be treated with medication.

Postpartum Depression

This form of post-childbirth depression is less common than the “baby blues” but can affect 10 – 20% of new mothers in some form during the first year. The severity of the depression varies from mild to severe. The symptoms of postpartum depression usually begin one to four months after delivery and may last up to one year if left untreated.

Let’s take a closer look:

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
The symptoms of postpartum depression include the well-known signs of general depression. These include: overwhelming sadness, crying spells, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and an inability to feel happy with the new baby or with other aspects of life. Other symptoms can be the symptoms of anxiety. These symptoms are more subtle but may include a sense of overwhelming uneasiness or panic attacks. When this happens, the person usually describes a feeling of impending doom, often accompanied by chest pain, shortness of breath, and/or rapid heart rate.

What causes postpartum depression?
The cause of postpartum depression is not well known. It is most likely related to a combination of hormonal and psychological factors. The stress of caring for a new baby only adds to the problem, as does sleep deprivation.

What can I do if this is happening to me?
Many women do not seek help because they are ashamed that they are not experiencing the “joys of motherhood.” These women hide their symptoms, but continue to feel miserable inside. This disorder is treatable, and it is important to treat. Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics have shown that newborns (and infants) are affected by a mother’s chronically depressed mood. If you experience any of the symptoms listed or you just don’t feel “right,” let your physician know. Tell your obstetrician, family practitioner or pediatrician.

Where can I find more information on postpartum depression?
(800) 944-4PPD
Postpartum Support International
(805) 967-7636