Category

baby health

The importance of sleep for children and parents

By | baby health, children's health, Relationships

Did you know that you can live longer without food than you can without sleep? As parents, our children and their behaviours can be a constant source of worry, yet parents are much more likely to seek professional help if their child won’t feed or eat, than if they don’t sleep well.

by Becky Goman
Child Sleep Expert

When you have a baby, you expect to have sleepless nights. It’s just part of the course of being a parent. But at what point does poor sleeping start to become problematic? As a mother with a son who thought ‘snoozing was losing’, I know first-hand what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. For me it involved a lot of crying, time off work and ready meals! Sleep deprivation is quite simply awful. Historically it has been used as a form of torture and has been thought to be responsible for some of the world’s worst disasters.
Research suggests that between 20-30 % of all infants and toddlers will have some sleep issues and of those, 84% will continue to have sleep problems until the age of five unless something is done to help. That’s a lot of sleepless nights!

Sleep allows our bodies to repair and our brains to consolidate learning. Poor sleep is linked to weakened immune systems, so it’s no surprise that tired families feel like they pick up every bug going.

If a child is sleep deprived, they may become irritable and more likely to have tantrums. Maybe it is not such a coincidence that the ‘terrible twos’ is the age when a child usually stops napping in the day? Children who do not get enough sleep may also be more likely to suffer emotional and behavioural difficulties and there can also be a significant impact on a child’s development.

Sleep studies show that without the right amount of sleep, children are less likely to be able to retain information or learn new skills, due to lack of concentration.

Signs that your child may be sleep deprived include; excessive yawning, ‘bad’ behaviour, poor appetite and catching more colds or bugs than usual. Whilst in some cases there are genuine medical reasons for the above or indeed for poor sleeping, for the majority of children, poor sleeping is habitual. Things that ‘worked’ to get your child sleeping as an infant, can suddenly stop working, leaving you trying a multitude of new ways to try and get your child to sleep. It is often at this point, when the parents feel they have tried everything, that they give up trying to make positive changes, accepting that their child is only young for a short time and that they will laugh about this when they are trying to drag their teenager out of bed for school!

The good news is that there are simple and effective ways to ensure your child is getting enough sleep and is developing healthy sleep habits. A good simple bedtime routine and a consistent approach can make the world of difference in just a few weeks, or sometimes less. If you can get your child sleeping well, this will be life-changing not just for you but for your child as well. It will improve so many other aspects of your life – work, relationships and health – and make a difference to your child’s health and development too. Parents I have worked with have said: “The change is amazing, I never thought our baby could be one of those magic babies that sleeps through the night.”

“Becky’s wonderful advice and support soon had our son in a clockwork routine which not only meant we had our nights back, our son became more alert and happy.”

“Teaching our son to sleep properly was one of the best decisions we have ever made.”

Becky Goman is a fully certified Child Sleep Consultant and founder of The Independent Child Sleep Expert, who has helped families all  over the UK get more sleep.
For a FREE initial 15 minute consultation call 07770 591159 or email becky@theindependentchildsleepexpert.com.
Or for more information visit the website www.theindependentchildsleepexpert.com

Marvellous Marvellous massage

By | baby health, children's health, Education, Mental health, Relationships

Parent experience and research show there are many wonderful benefits of baby massage – emotional, physical and social. Here I will focus on three key benefits to learning how to massage your baby.

Bonding and attachment
The ancient art of baby massage incorporates touch, eye contact, verbal communication and the expression of love and respect. This, combined with focused one-to-one time promotes the bond between a parent and their baby.

Baby massage can also help promote sibling bonding in the same way that it promotes the parent/baby bond – through eye contact, nurturing touch and communicating love.

Baby massage is a great way for families experiencing periods of separation to reconnect with their baby. For example, baby massage offers parents working away, or working long hours, the opportunity to reassure their baby of their loving affection and give them time to refocus on home life and relax in their baby’s company.

Relieve and promote
By stimulating their baby’s bodily systems (including circulatory, digestive, lymphatic and respiratory), through baby massage parents can help to ease their baby’s colic, wind, constipation and digestion.

Using touch, parents can also soothe teething pains and growing pains and relieve psychological and muscular tension in their baby.

Babies who are massaged are reported to have improved balance and coordination, plus improved muscle development and tone. This can support movement as they grow.

Baby massage also promotes improved sleep patterns and deeper sleep for your baby, which brings me to the benefits of baby massage for you.

For you The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) classes are for babies from birth to one. Classes are baby-led, which means that it doesn’t matter if class time coincides with nap or meal times. Parents are encouraged to follow their baby’s cues and comfort their baby as needed. All babies are welcome with all of their emotions and ways of expressing them.

It can be nerve wracking leaving the house with a baby; an IAIM baby massage class offers a safe space where everyone is welcome and accepted. It is also a great opportunity for you to get out of the house and meet with other like-minded parents and drink a nice hot cup of tea.

Attending classes with your baby is known to break feelings of isolation that many parents feel when they have a baby. The IAIM baby massage program specifically has been shown to promote recovery from post-natal depression.

When parents massage their baby the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) reduces and the levels of oxytocin (the love hormone) increases in both the parent and the baby. This reaction reduces stress and helps to promote bonding.

The interaction encouraged by baby massage can also help parents better understand their baby’s non-verbal language and feel more confident in responding to their baby’s unique needs.

In learning baby massage, you learn a new skill. A skill you can use long after your course has finished – to soothe growing pains, for example. You will also be shown how to adapt the IAIM massage strokes to suit your growing child.

Longer term, research has shown that infants who receive nurturing touch through baby massage grow up to be healthier, more empathic and happier adults.

As you can see there are many wonderful benefits of baby massage, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

If you would like further information about the benefits of baby massage, or how to find your nearest classes, please contact your local Certified Infant Massage Instructor through the IAIM website.
We are always happy to help!

Cheryl Titherly Certified Infant Massage Instructor with IAIM
Cai Baby Massage caibaby.co.uk @caibabysussex cheryl@caibaby.co.uk

Don’t just Google it!

By | baby health, children's health, Education, Health, prenancy

Search engines like Google and Bing are more likely than any other source of information to provoke anxiety during pregnancy, according to research.

A survey of 300 mums who have given birth in the past five years published in the UK Maternity Report by the UK’s leading private midwifery services provider, Private Midwives, revealed that search engines were more likely than any other source to provide information which causes further worry and anxiety.

The news comes following midwife, lecturer and advisor to BBC’s Call the Midwife, Terri Coates, revealed that the Internet was stopping women from turning to their professional midwife for advice.

As many as 41% reported this was the case, while almost the same number (38%) said they had read information about pregnancy in online forums such as groups and chat boards which had caused them concern.

Despite this, 89% admitted that they had consulted the Internet for non-emergency health advice or information about their pregnancy, and outside of midwife appointments, mums-to-be are more likely (53%) to turn to the Internet for non-emergency advice or information than anyone or anything else.

Many will do this regularly throughout their pregnancy – more than one in 10 (13%) searched for advice online on
a daily basis, while more than one in four (27%) did so every few days.

Linda Bryceland, head of midwifery at Private Midwives, said: “Traditionally during pregnancy, women often found themselves receiving huge amounts of conflicting information – everything from well-meaning loved ones, to media and even strangers in the supermarket. But the Internet has opened up a whole range of new sources of information, which in many cases may not be medically qualified and given without context or taking into consideration women’s individual circumstances and medical backgrounds. What’s more, this is available at the touch of the button, on a whim – so it is not surprising that women are finding themselves logging off and feeling more worried than they were to begin with.

“If women have concerns or questions about their pregnancy, the best thing to do is to resist the temptation to quickly search for more information or the answer online, and instead speak to a medical – whether that’s their midwife, the non-emergency NHS 111 phone line or their GP, who can provide professional, clinical information and guidance, which takes into account their medical history and individual circumstances.”

According to the survey, as many as 90% of UK women who gave birth in the past five years experienced anxiety and worry during their pregnancy.

The top five sources of information which provided information which worried mums-to-be during their pregnancy:
1. Search engines – 41%
2. Online forums/groups – 38%
3. People who aren’t medical professionals who I know – 32%
4. Blogs – 27%
5. Strangers – 16%

Private Midwives is a Care Quality Commission registered and regulated service which connects expectant parents with expert midwives who provide antenatal care, birth care and support, and postnatal care at times and locations that work best for parents-to-be.

Herbs to soothe your child’s chickenpox

By | baby health, children's health, Food & Eating, Health, Uncategorized
by Henriette Kress
author of Practical Herbs 1 & 2

Chickenpox (varicella) is caused by the varicella virus. It’s belongs to the herpesviruses. You can remedy all problems caused by this group the same way, including cold sores (herpes simplex) and shingles (herpes zoster).

The most important thing to know about chickenpox is that it can get a lot worse if you use aspirin or ibuprofen. Leave them in your medicine cupboard whenever somebody has chickenpox or herpes.

The second important thing to know is that you have the virus for life. You can get rid of the symptoms, but you can’t get rid of the virus itself. Chickenpox is fairly mild if you get it in childhood. It’s a lot worse if you first get it as an adult, and it’s very contagious. It’s dangerous to the fetus if caught by a pregnant woman.

Herbs for chickenpox
I like three herbs for chickenpox:
1. Lemon balm
Lemon balm (Melissa) has been shown to be effective against various herpes-family viruses. It’s a mild herb and can be given freely as a tea. Here’s how:

Lemon balm tea
1-2 teaspoons dried lemon balm
or 3-4 teaspoons fresh crushed leaves of lemon balm
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as he likes.

2. Coneflower
Coneflowers (Echinacea-species) are wonderful herbs that help strengthen the immune system. They’re also effective against different viruses in the herpes family. Purple coneflower is widely available as a tincture. To use, dilute the tincture in water and give it to your child:

Diluted coneflower tincture
15 drops coneflower tincture
100 ml water
Mix and let your child sip this throughout the day. Generally, coneflowers work better in acute problems if they’re taken as small doses often rather than as larger doses three times a day.

If you find dried coneflower herb, you can make that into a tea instead. The recipe is:
Coneflower tea
1-2 teaspoons dried coneflower
200 ml boiling water
Pour the water over the herb, let steep for 10 minutes and strain. Let cool until it’s drinkable and let your child drink as much as she likes.

3. St. John’s wort
An infused oil of St. John’s wort works wonders for the itch of chickenpox. It’s also great for the pain from shingles. You can make your own, but you can also buy it in well-stocked health food stores. If you can’t get an oil or salve of St. John’s wort, you can use a calendula salve instead.

Infused oil of St. John’s wort
• Fresh flowering tops of St. John’s wort
• Extra virgin olive oil

Fill a jar with the chopped-up flowering tops, then cover the herb with olive oil. Leave the jar in your oven on 50 ºC for two hours and strain the liquid into a wide-mouth jar. Let the water settle out until the oil is clear instead of murky, for about 5 days. Bottle your oil and add a label: ‘St. John’s wort oil’ plus the date. Store in the fridge.

It’s an excellent oil for bruises, sprains, strains and similar and is very effective for chickenpox and shingles.

4. An oat bath
An oat bath is extremely soothing to the itch from chickenpox. To make it, you’ll need a small or large bathtub and rolled oats:

Anti-itch bath
A handful of finely rolled oats
warm (not hot) water
Draw a bath with warm water and adjust the temperature to suit your child. Lower your child into the water and very gently rub a handful of finely rolled oats over his skin. Older children can to this for themselves, too.

5. Chickweed
Chickweed is among our best herbs for various itches. It’s an abundant weed in lush garden soil. Use scissors to take the top off the chickweed and crush it in a little water. Strain and use the resulting green-tinted liquid as a gentle wash on your child’s itchy spots. Chickweed can also be made into an infused oil (see under St. John’s wort); it’s soothing in that form, too.

Those who have had chickenpox can get another outbreak of the same virus decades later. This time it’s shingles, though. Shingles is usually brought on by stress or by an immune system that’s laid low by some other disease. You can use the same herbs for shingles as you used for chickenpox.

Practical Herbs 1 & 2 by Henriette Kress, are available now, published by AEON Books, priced £19.99 each. For more information see: www.aeonbooks.co.uk

The sun has got his hat on – and so should your child

By | baby health, children's health, Education, family, Health, Safety, Summer, swimming

When protecting children from harmful rays, clothing is just as important as sunscreen, say dermatologists at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley.

Putting sunscreen on children is one of those chores that can bring a cloud to an otherwise sunny day. A familiar sight on a beach is a parent restraining a child with one hand and quickly rubbing cream in before their ‘little prisoner’ breaks free to head once more into the water.

They won’t thank you now but protecting your child from the sun’s harmful rays could prevent them from having skin cancer when they are in their 30s – and struggling to apply sun cream to their own children.

But parents forget how vital clothing can be. Long sleeved tops, wide brimmed hats and special UV protective swim
wear are easy to put on as part of getting dressed to go out for the day, and often tick a box with the fashion-conscious child. Synthetic fabrics are better than cotton as the weave is not as loose. Hold the material up to the light to see how much filters through and choose clothing with a tight weave. Dark colours such as reds, blues or greens are more effective at blocking sun rays than white, light or pastels – and have the added bonus of making it easier to spot your child on a crowded beach or park.

Even on warm but overcast days, the UV rays can still penetrate through clouds, so continue to protect your child with clothing and sunscreen. And encourage them to cover up or play in the shade during the peak times between midday and 3pm when the sun is at its most harmful.

Children naturally have more exposure to sun as they are more likely to be running around outdoors partially clothed and in and out of water. Trying to re-apply sunscreen every two hours may not always be practical, so clothing can be a parent’s biggest ally. Add a good sunblock and shade, and you will be giving your child a very precious gift that will last a lifetime – that of reducing their risk of skin cancer in later life.

Children can be ‘slippery fish’ when it comes to applying sunscreen. Reduce the stress for you and them by trying these top tips:
• Make putting on sunscreen a natural part of the preparations for going to the park or the beach. If it becomes a ritual, like brushing teeth, children will be more accepting.
• Make it family fun – help each other to apply sunscreen in front of a mirror so you can see which bits you’ve missed.
• Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply sunscreen – as soon as they see the water or playground you will have a battle on your hands. Instead, apply sunscreen before you leave the house. Sunscreen works best after half an hour anyway.
• Time reapplications with a snack or treat for distraction.
• A squirming toddler? Then apply as much as you can while the child is strapped in their buggy or car seat.
• For quick reapplications, use a spray, but avoid eyes and mouths and encourage your child to hold their breath while you apply it. Or invest in a roll-on sunscreen so children can do it themselves.

Did you know?
UV light can penetrate car windows so invest in a stick-on UV protection screen. And certain medication, such as antibiotics or malaria tablets, may make your child’s skin more susceptible to the sun’s rays.

What sunscreen to choose:
Look for a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection. An SPF of 30 or more with a UVA rating of 4 or 5 stars is a good standard of sun protection for children. Opt for water-resistant creams if your child is
a water baby.

Babies and sun:
Babies under six months old shouldn’t be exposed to sun
at all at this age as their skin burns more easily. When outdoors, always put a baby in the shade with a parasol and fully covered in clothes, with
a wide brimmed hat.

Banishing the misery of prickly heat:
Prickly heat usually appears as tiny bumps on the neck, chest, shoulders and back and is caused when sweat gets trapped under the skin blocking pores or sweat ducts. Babies and small children are prone to prickly heat. The rash usually disappears after a few days but ease symptoms by giving your child a cooling bath and keep away from the sun. Dress them in loose cotton clothing and encourage them to drink plenty of water. If your child is prone to prickly heat, give them an antihistamine half hour before you head outdoors.

Eczema and sunscreen:
Finding an SPF sunscreen for eczema prone skin can be a challenge. There are plenty of ultra-sensitive sunscreens on the market, which are free from perfume and parabens – preservatives used to stop sun cream going mouldy which can aggravate eczema.

If you are using a product for the first time, test it first by putting a small amount to the pulse of your child’s wrist or the crook of their elbow. Don’t wash that area for 24 – 48 hours and watch for any allergic reaction such as redness or a rash.

Advice from Dr Sandeep Cliff and Dr Noreen Cowley, consultant dermatologists at the Spire Gatwick Park Hospital.
Call 01293 778 906 or visit www.spiregatwick.com