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Is your baby a room-mate or a house-guest?

Curious Baby

Many years ago, a client told me about how she and her partner had felt about caring for their baby in the middle of the night: “Everytime he woke up and needed a diaper change we behaved as though a GOD had landed, and we both had to get up to worship him and cater to him.” After a few weeks of this, they decided they were “over-staffing the diaper changes” and did not need both parents to get up each time.

Many new parents in the baby groups I facilitate have told me that they don’t know what to DO with the baby, when, after a few weeks, the baby starts to stay awake for longer stretches and seems to be looking for something to happen. The parents say they don’t know what to do to “entertain” or “stimulate” the baby. The braver ones confess that they find it boring, to talk to a small baby and rattle toys in the air.

It makes me think of the difference between a house-guest and a room-mate.

When a friend or family-member comes to stay at my house for a few days, or even a week or two, I tend to focus on them. I cook special meals. I make them cups of tea. I might take a few days off work to spend with them or make sure I come home early from work. If they go off to their room for a nap, I might relax and go do the dishes, but when they come out of their room, I feel I should give them my attention, and offer them a drink.

Once someone has lived with me for several weeks, though, they become a room-mate. We might plan to have dinner together, but I don’t have to rush home from work. I can do the dishes while they sit in the kitchen drinking their tea. We might even sit in the living room together reading the paper, and be quietly companionable.

You might feel about you new baby as though they are a very special houseguest at first. But that’s not sustainable for more than a few weeks. Eventually, you have to acknowledge that your baby is your long-term room-mate, who’s going to stick around for the next 18-25 years!

Of course, you should give your baby attention.

You should talk to your baby, and play little tickle games, and rattle toys, and read books, and sing songs. But it’s also ok to hang out in the living room together sometimes, and read your book, or answer your email, or listen to a podcast while baby kicks and rolls around on the floor and looks at the ceiling or out the window. You will look over once in a while and check in with baby, make sure baby know you are still there, still available. But you don’t have to stare into your baby’s eyes every minute of the time they are awake!

Remember that your baby did not come here to “play.” You baby’s goal is to learn to be like you! So you can help your baby by showing them what a happy busy grown-up looks like. Let your baby see you doing chores. Fold the laundry on the floor while the baby lies next to you. Put your baby in the bouncy-chair to watch you while you empty the dish-washer, or vacuum. When your baby can sit in the highchair, put them in there to watch you do the dishes or peel the carrots.

I hope your life is not only made up of chores though!

Let your baby watch you doing things that make you happy. Dance around the living room, do some yoga. A friend of mine decided to learn the banjo during her mat-leave. Her son loved listening to her play. An artist I know used to paint big colourful canvases with her baby watching, fascinated, from the baby seat.

But you also want your baby to learn to kick back and chill out. So model that behaviour. Go lie on a blanket under a tree with your baby and just be peaceful.

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How to bottle-feed a baby – Paced Bottle-Feeding

bottle-feeding

Whether we are exclusively bottle-feeding, breastfeeding-with-occasional-bottles, or doing-half-and-half, it makes sense to feed the baby in the most physiologic, relaxing, pleasant way possible, which helps parent and baby develop a comfortable attachment. This process is sometimes called Paced Bottle Feeding. It involves mimicking the flow that the baby might get at the breast, and allowing the baby to have control of their experience, the way they would at the breast.

This information is intended for babies from birth to six months or so. After that, the baby will be better able to communicate their needs.

General guidelines:

1. Feed your baby based on the baby’s cues, not on a schedule. Hunger cues are:

a. Lip-smacking
b. Tongue darting
c. Squirming
d. Rooting – looking for something to suck on with their mouth
e. Hands to mouth
f. “Barking”
g. Crying is a very late cue – really more a sign of distress than hunger.

2. In the first three months or so, a bottle-fed baby will need small amounts of milk, 2-3 ounces, about 8-10 times per day (24 hours). Gradually they will start to take more milk at a time and feed less often.

3. Hold and cuddle the baby a lot. Even when you are not feeding them. We often over-interpret baby’s crying as meaning hunger when really the baby is asking for physical contact, movement, stimulation.

4. Don’t change the baby before the feed (unless absolutely necessary.) It just makes a hungry baby angry to be changed when they want to eat. It’s better to take a little break in the middle of a feed to change a diaper. And babies often poop when eating anyway!

5. Have your baby skin-to-skin when feeding, if you like, and if it’s convenient. Do not swaddle the baby when feeding them. Let the baby’s hands be free to explore and participate.

6. Use a slow-flow nipple – this is a nipple which, when held upside-down with milk in it, will release one drop of milk per second. This makes sure the baby does not eat too much, too fast.

7. Plan to take 10-20 minutes to complete the feed. Every feed does not need to be the same length. We all have some long meals and some short ones. Taking a longer time to feed allows the baby to recognize the feeling of being full before they become over-full. This reduces “colicky” crying.

Step-by-step Bottle-Feeding:

1. Make sure you, the parent, are comfortable. Make sure you are not hungry yourself, and can sit and focus on the baby for the next 20 minutes or so without interruption. Find a cosy place to sit, with good support for your back and arms. Make sure you have the bottle and a burp cloth and maybe a box of tissues nearby, as well as a water-bottle for yourself, and perhaps your phone, so you don’t have to jump up if it rings.

2. Make the baby comfortable in the crook of your arm. Your elbow should be supported, and the baby’s head is resting against your forearm. The baby’s head should be higher than their stomach. The baby does not have to sit absolutely upright, but being on an incline is better than flat on the back. (Babies fed while lying flat are at more risk for dental caries and ear infections.) Being upright means the baby is able to release air they might swallow.

3. Touch the baby’s upper lip with the nipple and draw the nipple downwards over the bottom lip. When the baby opens their mouth, put the nipple in slowly, letting the baby draw it in. Do not force the nipple into the baby’s mouth.

4. Keep the bottle tilted so most the nipple is full of milk. But don’t worry if the baby sucks in a little air – this is quite normal.

5. Count the baby’s sucks and swallows. If the baby does not take a breath by the fourth or fifth suck, remove the nipple and allow the baby to have a break in the flow to swallow and breathe. Keep the nipple right there, by the mouth, so the baby can latch on again when ready.

6. The baby may be upset when you remove the nipple. Talk to them and tell them it’s coming back. They just need a little break. After you have done this a few times, and they know it always comes back, they will be calmer.

7. Other signs a baby needs a break are:

a. Opening eyes wide
b. Pulling the head back, or turning it to the side
c. Arching the back
d. Pursing the lips
e. Letting go of the nipple

8. Take the nipple out right away and sit baby upright or put baby up on your shoulder if you see these signs of mild distress:

a. Milk spilling from the mouth
b. Opening eyes widely
c. Stiffening of arms and legs
d. Flaring nostrils
e. Grimacing
f. Lips turning blue

9. Talk to your baby. Tell them a story. Talk about your plans for the rest of the day, or about what you did this morning. Make it clear that you are focusing your attention on them in a loving and relaxed way, and that you enjoy their company. Develop a habit of pleasant meal-time conversation that will last a life-time!

10. Switch sides halfway through the feed. If you were holding the bottle in your right hand to start with, switch so you are now holding it in your left hand, and the baby is resting on your right arm. This provides for symmetrical eye stimulation and development.

11. Let the baby decide when the feed is done. Signs of being finished are:

a. Falling a sleep
b. Turning head aside or back from the nipple
c. No longer sucking
d. Letting go of the nipple

12. Resist the urge to encourage the baby to finish the last bit of milk in the bottle. The baby is in charge of their body and their stomach. Letting the baby feel satiation cues and responding to them is a good way to set up good eating habits for later life.

13. Put the baby up on your shoulder to burp. Pat their back gently.

14. A baby will often fall asleep for a few minutes, and then decide they could use a little more milk. Take advantage of that little break to change the diaper. Then be prepared to give the baby a little more milk. That’s okay.

15. If the baby still seems to root around even when they have had a large amount of milk, consider that they might just need to do a little more sucking. Offer a pacifier and a cuddle and see if baby falls asleep.

Resources:

HealthyFamiliesBC.ca is a good website on family health – lots of information there on formula feeding and bottle preparation.

HealthLinkBC.ca is another source of British Columbian health information.

www.inspq.qc.ca/ is a Quebec resource with good, detailed information – in English.

Many of the ideas I have shared here are influenced by:
https://www.peelregion.ca/
https://kellymom.com/

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Perinatal Care for Gender Diverse Families

Families come in many forms. It is a responsibility of perinatal care providers to adapt to meet the needs of all parents-to-be in dignified and affirming ways. While many people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences will share hopes and worries about pregnancy and parenting, transgender and queer parents may have some needs and desires that are unique to their gender and sexual identities.

Join Katie McNiven Gladman (Registered Midwife, IBCLC) and Kingsley Strudwick (founder of Ambit Gender Diversity Consulting) for an evening of education and skill-building to better support transgender and queer people as they embark into parenthood.

Date: Friday, May 25 from 7pm to 9pm at Mothering Touch, 975 Fort St

Cost: $35 per person

Book online here or call Mothering Touch at 250-595-4905 to register.

 

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Sing! Sing! Sing!

These days, with the Christmas season approaching, it feels that all I do all day is singing and babies, babies and singing. Of course, babies and families are my work-work, but singing is my play-work and it takes over my life at this time of year. I sing in a choir and I am cast in a musical, and I will be singing for a few church services.

I sing because I love it, but also because I must. I must sing for my mental health, for my creative spirit, but also for my physical well-being. And I believe that singing to your babies is good for their mental health, their creative spirit and their physical well-being. And for yours too.

When you sing to your babies, you tell them that there is nothing to worry about (or why would you waste energy on song?). You master and regulate your breath and this relaxes your body and theirs. You share your feelings with them, joy or sadness.

When you sing to your babies, you expose them to long, often rhyming, rhythmic segments of language. This is such valuable input to someone who is trying to learn to speak! And the abstract words are combined with musical information about the emotions associated with those words. We know about the value of talking to your babies, but when that one-sided conversation starts to be difficult to maintain, sing!

When you sing to your babies, you give them information about their day. In the morning you sing getting-up-and-washing-your-face songs. When it’s time to go out you sing getting-into-your-car-seat songs. At changing times you sing diaper-changing-songs. And at bedtime you sing lullabies. Those musical snippets (Wagner called them leitmotifs) announce change, activities, moods, useful information for a baby who has no control over their day. It’s so much easier for them to go along with what you planned if you give them a little advance warning!

When you sing to your babies, don’t worry about how well you sing. Your enjoyment of and emotional commitment to the song is much more important that your vocal technique. Don’t pass a fear of singing on to your babies. As the days get shorter, and the winter cold keeps us indoors, pull out some old songbooks or cd’s from your childhood. Remind yourself of the lyrics you love and pass on a love of song!

~Eva

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Is a Prenatal Class about Childbirth or about Babies?

Prenatal Childbirth Preparation for Doctors' Patients

This term we use – Prenatal Class – is confusing, isn’t it?

Some parents-to-be are fascinated by, or worried about labour and birth and are wanting to spend a lot of time talking about it. They come to our 12-hour, six-week Childbirth Preparation classes and are happy to spend most of the time on labour and birth, and practicing comfort measures and coping skills, and find that it’s great that we also spend two entire hours talking about babies and breastfeeding.

Other parents, who are more worried about how they are going to cope with the baby once it is out, feel they would like to spend more time talking about babies and breastfeeding.

It’s for this second group of parents that we have designed the Parenting the Newborn series. It’s a three-week, six-hour series in which a postpartum doula and breastfeeding educator takes you though two hours on baby care and two hours on breastfeeding, and then a First Aid Instructor comes and teaches two hours of Infant First Aid and CPR.

Many of our parents take both sets of classes. And we encourage this by giving parents a $15 discount if they sign up for both classes at the same time. (We also acknowledge that there will be a little overlap between the classes.) Some parents take only one, or only the other.

I would say, that if you take only one, the Childbirth Preparation Class is the one to take. Experiencing childbirth in a healthy and satisfying way takes knowledge and preparation. Labour and Birth happen all at once, in a big storm. There is little time to consider, or problem solve during labour. The learning and considering and deciding needs to happen before labour starts – even though you may change your mind during labour itself – in fact you probably will.

You can learn baby care and breastfeeding over several week and months. Babies are very patient with fumbly parents, and every parent figures out their own way through the challenges of of the first weeks. In fact, the hormones you make (yes, parents of all genders make hormones when they are around babies) will help you be more attentive and respond more sensitively to your baby.

At Mothering Touch, we believe in people’s basic ability to give birth and care for their babies. We want parents to feel well-prepared and well-supported, to feel satisfied with their birth experience and to be able to enjoy the first weeks with their baby. That is the goal of all our classes and groups.

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My Baby Hates the Car Seat! – Guest post by Aliya Khan

“My baby hates the car seat!” Such a common complaint from new parents in our Baby Groups. Recently, Aliya Khan, a regular in our baby groups, offered to write a blog post for us on her experiences with her daughter. As you will see, she has TONS of ideas!
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Caring for an infant can be hard. And having an infant that hates the car definitely doesn’t make things any easier. (I’ll just say it: Having an infant that hates the carseat sucks.)

So what are you to do when your baby gets upset every time you place them the car seat?

For one thing it forces you to reevaluate your priorities:

‘Do I really need to leave the house?’
‘Is that appointment really that important?’
‘Do we really NEED groceries?’
‘Do I HAVE to take auntie Kelly to the airport?’

The answer can’t always be no, and eventually you’re going to have to put your baby in her car seat.
So do you just put up with the screaming? If you’ve ever driven in your car with a screaming baby you know just how insurmountable this task can be.

I’ve been there. I’ve experienced the whole spectrum of feelings from hopeful, to anxious, to enraged and finally defeated (mixed in with some guilt over the rage). Before I had a baby I thought if you couldn’t get your baby to settle down at home then that’s what you did; go for a drive and let the car lull them to sleep. I was led to believe it was the go-to, fail-safe, do-this-when-all-else-fails, sanity-saving method for us new parents. But our baby quickly let us (and the whole neighbourhood) know how she felt about being in her car seat. So I had to either get creative or spend the first few months of her life staying home or going no further than my feet could take us.

I soon discovered, through the ‘new mommy’ circles I ran with, that this is actually very common among infants. And that I wasn’t the only (by far!) that was struggling with this issue. Nor was I the only one who experienced the emotional roller coaster that each trip manifested. Thankfully she outgrew this around her 5th or 6th month and she’s developed into a delightful young traveler, but I could have used this list in those bleary-eyed early days.

First- is your baby comfortable: are the straps twisted, is she too hot or too cold, hungry, does she have a soupy diaper, etc…the usual checklist. Rule out any medical conditions by talking to your baby’s pediatrician. If everything seems good and they’re still upset give any or all of the following a try:

  1. Find two or three radio stations that play mainly static and save them to your presets in your car.
  2. Pulse the static radio stations to mimic a heartbeat.
  3. Attach a ribbon to your baby’s window your baby can entertain herself by watching the ribbon flutter in the breeze.
  4. Leave the house at a predictable naptime or just make short trip between naptimes.
  5. This one worked for me the most: the sneaky side boob feeding. Nurse your baby to sleep with they’re clicked into the car while casually, awkwardly leaning into her seat, boob at mouth level. (Please note that this is not comfortable for you in ANY way. This method may not work for all boob shapes. If you bottle feed this will probably be way more comfortable. And it will only work if someone else is driving, of course.) (Mothering Touch Comment: Make sure your own seatbelt is fastened!)
  6. Sing. Sing the whole time. Sing so your baby doesn’t have a chance to start crying. They’ll be busy listening to you sing your butt off (don’t be shy here, it doesn’t matter what you sound like, your baby just loves to hear your voice).
  7. Place a mirror on the back of the head rest so your baby can see themselves and reflections. Maybe they’re lonely back there.
  8. Crack the window slightly. A cool breeze, the sound of the wind, the sudden pressure change in the car might be enough to grab her attention and stop her from crying.
  9. Open and close her window over and over. (Please note this only works if you have power windows.)
  10. Attach something to the car seat bar. In my case it was a luggage tag but a soft toy or something similar would work too. I kept it close enough for her to touch but far enough away so she couldn’t put it in her mouth.
  11. Talk. Talk about anything and everything. Talk about what street you’re on, what colour the car is in front of you, how many trees there are on the road where you’re going, what you’re going to do when you get there. Talk so much that your baby won’t have time to think about crying.
  12. Put up a sun shade over her window. There’s nothing worse than finally getting her to calm down only to get stuck at a stoplight with the sun shining right in her eye and getting her all upset again.
  13. Change, Feed and burp right before strapping her in. An uncomfortable diaper, being hungry or a gas bubble can quickly escalate to screaming when strapped in tight.
  14. Pacifier. My daughter Never really took to a pacifier unless it was in my mouth first and then she’d try to grab it. Then she would either play with it or chew on it. Warning: if the pacifier falls out you may be stopping the car to put it back in.
  15. If all else fails strap her into your carrier and take the bus (or walk if that’s an option.)

These are some ideas that help me 75% of the time. All these tricks can be helpful but if you’re too distracted by your unhappy passenger, pull over.

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Keeping the Love Alive: When Partners Become Parents

Randy and Eva

My husband Randy and I have been together for almost 35 years now. We were together for seven years before having our first child. In that time we completed a total of 5 post-secondary degrees, got married (and organized a wedding with 120 guests), moved three times (including one move abroad), spent several long periods living apart because of school and work, lived with my parents (for a year) and renovated a 1500 square-foot apartment. We had lots of stress. And lots of arguments. We also had lots of opportunities to grow as a couple and as a team.

But it wasn’t until Daniel was born that we realized how important it was for us to be a team. Because now, we were not the only ones who would be made unhappy if our team did not succeed; our son would be made unhappy too. We were really stuck now!

Not only did we suddenly recognize the permanence of this team, but we also were suddenly aware of all sorts of issues we had each taken for granted. We had never thought to discuss questions like:

Who will get up in the night with the baby?
Whose paid work is more important?
Who decides how often we bathe the baby, or change his sheets, or wipe his nose?
Who makes sure there will be food in the fridge, clean clothes, toilet paper?

Continue reading Keeping the Love Alive: When Partners Become Parents

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DadsDadsDads

Lucas myers

At Mothering Touch we spend a lot of time talking about Fathers. Expectant fathers, new fathers, fathers’ roles, fathers’ pride, fathers’ responsibilities, fathers’ anxiety, fathers’ identity, fathers’ joys. What do fathers need? What support? What information? What books? What equipment? And it’s hard to find answers to those questions.

But this weekend, Theatre Skam and Lucas Myers are going to answer those questions for us in Hello baby! And maybe one answer is: Fathers need a good laugh!

Matthew Payne, the Artistic Director at Theatre Skam and one of our Mothering Touch Dads, approached me to make sure I knew about this great show. It’s framed as an Instructional Lecture for new fathers. It poses (and I hope, answers) burning questions like:

“Is your life as you know it really over?”

“Can you safely operate a fax machine/belt sander/breast pump on two hours sleep?”

“Is it really possible to become so obsessed with bowel movements and nipples that you a make up little nicknames for them? Like ‘Jerome’? Or ‘Kathy?’”

I gather there are songs too. The one I am most looking forward to hearing is Yes-Honey-I’d-Be-More-Than-Happy-To-Make-Dinner-And-Hand-Wash-All-These-Cloth-Diapers-As-Soon-As-I-Finish-Giving-You-A-Back-Rub-And-Vacuuming-The-Floor-Again-Because-You-Are-Hyper-Paranoid-About-Germs,-Really-I-Would,-No,-I’m-Not-Just-Saying-That-Because-I-Think-It’s-What-You-Want-to-Hear,-I-Want-to-Do-It,-Look,-I’m-Doing-It-Right-Now,-See?

I invite Dads and Moms and all those who love them and support them (like Grandmas and Grandpas and Aunties and doulas) to come on this field trip to the land of New Dads. I’m looking forward to a good laugh!

Hello baby! at the Metro Studio – February 22 and 23 – Single Tickets for Hello Baby! along with season tickets are available in advance at Ticket Rocket or 250.590.6291 – Advance Tickets: $18 for Adults, $15 for Students and seniors At the Door: $23 for Adults, $20 for Students and seniors

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Pregnancy Happy Hour – Happy Feet!

reflexology

Pregnancy Happy Hour – our drop-in group for pregnant women on Friday evenings from 5-6:30 – is one of my favourite times of the week. I love sitting with the moms-to-be and chatting about how they are feeling, how their lives are changing through the pregnancy. I love hearing their questions and helping them to find answers. I love how the moms bond with each other and form friendships which see them not only through the pregnancy, but on into motherhood. We talk about the joys and challenges of pregnancy, their concerns and plans about labour and birth and their dreams for motherhood.

One of the things I think helps the group work really well, it that it’s just for women. Groups of women often achieve intimacy very quickly, and Pregnancy Happy Hour is no exception. But I am often asked by the women and their partners, if the partners couldn’t be invited along to the group sometimes, as a special event. And I though Valentine’s Day was a good time for that to happen.

So on Friday February 15, we are inviting the partners to come to Pregnancy Happy Hour and we are going to have a special guest. Michele Mork of West Coast Reflexology will be coming to teach us all some fabulous foot massage techniques. And lest you think this is just a sneaky way to get our partners to rub our feet, I assure you, the partners will get their feet rubbed too. After all Valentine’s is about spreading the love to ALL.

Pregnancy Happy Hour costs $2, and we will put out a donation jar for contributions to Michele’s fee. A $5 contribution (per couple) is suggested.

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Practical Parenting Tips

We recently held a contest asking for one really practical tip they have discovered in their life as a parent or soon-to-be parent.  It had to be really PRACTICAL… not, “love your baby”, or “be patient.”  We wanted to know HOW to show our love, HOW to be patient.  We wanted tips that included stuff like duct tape, TUMS, chocolate, exercise balls, baby carriers, salt-and-vinegar chips, diaper wipes, chicken soup, swaddling blankets and stain remover.

These are the tips we received.  We love ALL of them.  They demonstrate how loving, resourceful, intelligent, practical, generous and committed parents can be.  Thank you to all of you.

  • Sanity saver – join a local Facebook mommy group, (even while pregnant if nothing else to start building resources).  When you’re a new mom surviving on little sleep and even when you can’t get out of the house you can still interact with other mommas/vent/have a place to ask any and all questions about baby that’s worrying you/have an instant resource/find a network for playdates/know what baby-friendly events are going on/know where the baby-related sales or deals are/child-rearing tips and if nothing else, by reading other people’s posts you know you’re not the only one going through the same things or know what to expect.  – Annie Smith

  • Everyone who visits after the baby is born brings a food item for the fridge or freezer as finger food or quick dinner for the new family.  And morning visitors get to hold the baby while mom eats, showers, washes and conditions her hair AND brushes her teeth all before noon!  – Maartje Goodeve

  • Practical tip for pregnant ladies: always, always carry a snack with you.  You never know when hunger still strike and when it does, it is fierce!  – Annie Shum

  • Have a hair dryer near your diaper change spot for your new baby – turn it on very low to warm and dry little bums.  Sure to make diaper changes easier and your little one might even fall asleep!  – Tanya Binette

  • Put your babe in the jolly jumper, hung from the bathroom door framehead, and you get to shower!  (tip given by a friend, which was part of our morning routine for many months).  – Rotem Regev

  • Plain yogurt directly on a diaper rash.  cleared it up overnight and i’m sure it felt nice and cool on baby’s bum 🙂  – Lisa Kat

  • Baking soda & water soak followed by a water and vinegar soak will take the old milk smell out of that gross bottle or sippy cup that has been missing for days & you know is hiding somewhere in your house 🙂  – Ceilidh Myers

  • For the adventurous, use a blow up kiddie pool as a travel “containment” system at your campground.  Use frozen ketchup packs wrapped in gauze as mini ice packs.  – Kristyn Kaitila

  • When all else fails, a handful of cheerios on the floor will buy you five minutes of peace.  – Jana Kim

  • Try to get out of the house each day, even in the early weeks of parenthood.  Even if it’s just to the grocery store to buy one thing, go to the coffee shop, or walk the dog.  Just getting a change of scenery and some fresh air is refreshing for body and soul.  – Meghan Wiebe

  • If you ever manage to cook/bake up something your baby likes then do up a big batch and freeze into portions.  Then you always have a quick and easy meal on hand.  – Lara Engst

  • If you are planning to go back to work after your mat leave go on many daycare wait lists as soon as you know you are pregnant.  – Clare Randell

  • Start singing one song/lullaby as soon as your baby is born whenever you put your baby to sleep.  I did it with my baby.  And after about a month, whenever he fusses, I would start singing it and he calms down right away.  Very useful when you are in the car or trying to get him to calm down to feed or for a quiet time.  – Juliana Wijoyo

  • Be sure to have one-handed meals at the ready for the first couple of months.  Wraps, muffins, soup in a mug… anything that can be prepared and eaten easily with one hand while feeding!  – Rhea Harriman

  • Don’t be afraid to follow your instinct when it comes to your little one, you really do know what’s best for her, and don’t let others instill doubt in you! 🙂  – Celle Rikwerda

  • When your munchkin colors on the gorgeous glider and ottoman, or the couch with pen/marker, bust out the dish soap and good old elbow grease!!  – Angela Scandale

  • My practical tip is for a mother’s sanity.  Join a baby group.  I felt very isolated in the beginning, but then a friend recommended coming to Baby Group.  I could not thank her enough.  Not only do you get to hear that all the crazy things your baby does is actually normal, but you get the support of all the other parents.  You also get to make friends, who conveniently are on maternity leave as well, and would love to meet you for a coffee or a walk.  I think it is the best advice I received and it is the advice I give to all new Moms I know.  – Jamie Owens

  • If your little one is a fussy eater mix anything with yogurt and I bet she/he will eat it!!!  – Jessica Johnson

  • If you plan on pumping and bottle feeding or formula feeding and are thinking about buying bottles, I recommend buying a few different types of bottles and then once baby is born, see what they like best, then go out and buy more in that model of bottle.  I see so many parents buy 20 bottles of say Ventaire but then their baby is born and don’t take to the bottle and prefer another kind!  (Even my daughter did this :))  So, try out a few different bottles with your little one and then decide from there 🙂 – Nicole Baldwin

  • The one practical thing I could recommend for those becoming parents is to know that something that works for one baby doesn’t work for another.  Therefore there is no point in buying everything before baby comes – better to borrow from a friend and test it out first.. Like carriers, swings, bounce chairs, wraps, etc… Baby’s are picky!  – Lucy Smirnis

  • If you have smaller breasts (I’m a C cup, and it still works for me), no need to invest in expensive designer nursing tanks and bras.  Two tank tops layered do the trick nicely.  To breast feed just pull up the top one, and pull down the one underneath, and viola, a discreet way to nurse at half the price.  – Zach Brittany Mallett

  • When my little guy started getting interested in his feet, I started putting them in his hands at diaper changes (and giving him lots of encouragement and smiles for ‘helping mommy’).  Now that he is a very squirmy 7 month old, it helps keep him on his back and (sort of) still during diaper changes… at least most of the time. 🙂  – Holly Fang

  • Coughs and colds, we hate germs.  To help your littles with a cough, put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the soles of their feet right before bed.  It works.  Give it a try.  – Mira Cameron MacIver

  • My most practicle advice for new moms, get a carrier.  In whatever form… sling, wrap, Ergo, whatever.  When you’re at your wits end (and you will be) strap your baby in and get outside!!!  – Trisha Walker

  • Try to set one goal per day for yourself.  It can be anything – shower and dress, do a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, make it to Mom group…  And if it doesn’t work out, try again the next day.  Things can change so quickly, and this can be stressful, but trying your best to do what’s best for baby and yourself in the moment is what matters most.  I also tried to get outside at least once a day with the stroller except the days when it really snowed.  Baby loved the fresh air and so did I – for the exercise, to clear my head – and for those first few months, to help my baby nap!  – Lara Perzoff

  • Use an old 5 volt cell phone charger to bypass the battery pack on your swing.  You will never have to buy those expensive D batteries and never run out of power!  Especially good with newborn twins who slept better in a swing at first 🙂  – Sarah de Rham

  • Learn how to breast feed lying down and learn how to breast feed in a carrier.  It’s possible and makes life so much easier!  – Anastasia Cyprus

  • My son drinks from a sippy cup, but I give him a regular cup in the bath for practice.  No soaked clothes and no mess!  – Clara Smith

  • Your child is ever changing.  Once you get used to what you believe is normal, it all changes again on you.  Expect change, and embrace the new stages in your little ones life.  – Jen Schilling

  • In my 16 months of parenting there is one thing that I have learned.  Babies vomit a lot.  The first time my son got sick was around 7 months old.  I found myself constantly doing laundry of stinky milk vomit.  I was really quite discusting.  Unfortunately, my matress was not to be spared as well.  One thing that really helped was mixing baking soda with a few drops of your favorite essential oil.  Mix the two together well and put the powder in a siff and srpinkle on your mattress, leave sitting for an hour and vacuum.  Voila.  The baking powder absorbs any moisture in your mattress and the essential oil gives it a nice smell.  I hope this helps if anyone is thinking about how to get their mattress cleaned.  – Dawn Cheung

  • Always carry a pack of post it notes when out and about – comes in handy for a potty training toddler.  Stick it to the automatic flusher sensor so it doesn’t flush while your little one is still on the toilet.  – Brittany & Crawford

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The Vital Importance of Touch

From our Baby Massage Teacher – Sheila Hobbs

Starved of touch babies will die.  Deprived of adequate, loving touch children will grow up with varying degrees of difficulty making social connections, forming loving bonds and/or experiencing intimacy of any kind.  This is the extreme outcome, the negative results of tragic dysfunction.  Given a normal degree of physical touch and cuddling infants grow strong and healthy, developing into fully functional adults.  What then is the benefit of infant massage – of giving more than adequate touch?

A variety of studies using both average and at risk children show the same types of outcome, improved bonding, less illness, decreased stress, better weight gain, less digestive issues and better sleep patterns.  There is also evidence for improved speed and quality of physical and emotional/mental development.  How does touch do this?

When we are massaged, and this applies to both children and adults, we experience decreases in our cortisol (stress hormone levels) and an changes in our white blood cell counts (indicating better immune function).  There is also an increase in oxytocin levels, as we see with breast feeding, which encourages bonding.  One of the nice things is that massage is not limited to moms but can be done by dads, grandparents, aunts and uncle – whoever might want to increase their connection to a child.

These three basic hormonal and cellular changes are the causal factors for all the rest of the changes.  Being less stressed and not getting colds and flus (or any other diseases) contribute to better digestion, leading to weight gain.  Better digestion mean less gas/colic and constipation.  Reduced stress leads to better sleep – both faster falling asleep and better quality of sleep.  All of the benefits discussed above contribute to a healthier, happier, more comfortable baby, which is a more connected baby – connected to itself and its body, and to its caregivers.  This all means, of course, healthier, happier, better connected parents as baby sleeps through the night, cries less and responds more easily.  Everyone wins.

Shoving aside all this great science and physiology, infant massage give you and your baby a structured way to experience positive touch and quiet, enjoyable time together.  Another reason to look into each others eyes and get to know the people behind them, allowing you and your child to move forward together.

When I am teaching infant massage I love being able to give babies and their loved ones a way to connect to each other and enjoy the fleeting peace that comes as both parent and child sink into the calm quiet of a good massage.  I am so lucky to be able to share my knowledge in return for sharing the wonder of watching the newest members of our world experience something beautiful.

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Websites For Dads

I love everything about Mothering Touch.  The one thing I sometime feel badly about though, is that in focussing on Mothers, we sometimes miss out on supporting Fathers.  In an effort to find new resources for dads, I was snooping around the internet the other day (the speed at which I do it makes it snooping rather than surfing) and I found these websites for fathers:

New Dad – Beginnings & Endings

Footprints of Fatherhood – Fathers leave their footprints across the hearts of their children

Great Dad – Because Dads Don’t Always Think Like Dads

24-Hour Cribside Assistance

Fatherhood – It’s the best job on the planet

Looking for more?  Just Google "Dad Blog" – there are LOTS of great sites available!

– Eva