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Well-Being of a Baby

There's nothing quite like holding a happy baby -- or a not-so-happy baby!

Here are a few of the biggest issues relating to baby well-being -- and what to do about them.

Diaper Rash 

The signs:Changing baby sisters diaper 2015

  1. There are red, raised areas on the skin in the diaper area.

  2. Sometimes red, raised areas have a raised center that is yellow or white.

  3. Sometimes skin is also dry and peeling. 

Here's how to prevent diaper rash:

  1. Change your baby's diaper every time he wets or has a bowel movement.

  2. Wash your hands before and after changing a diaper.

  3. Clean the diaper area with disposable baby wipes. Or use a clean washcloth or soft paper towel with mild soap and warm water. Rinse the area with clean water and pat dry.

  4. For male babies, wipe all stool and urine from under and around the penis and scrotal area, from front to back.

  5. For female babies, wipe all stool and urine from front to back, gently separating the folds (labia). A white vaginal discharge in the first few days of life is normal.

  6. Don't use powders or oils in the diaper area.

  7. Know that skin irritation can be caused by many things: detergent, fabric softener, lotion, soap, disposable diapers, baby wipes, or anything touching the diaper.

If your baby seems to have diaper rash, take a look at the Diaper Rash Fact Sheet from the ND Health Department. Pay special attention to the signs that it's time to call your healthcare provider. 

Feeding Cues

Signs that your baby may be hungry: 

  • mouthing, rooting, putting her hand to her mouth, making sucking movements, crying, or clenching fingers or making a tight fist over his chest or tummy.

cute baby 515112Signs that your baby may need a break or rest during feeding:

  • looking away, arching her back, pulling away, spitting up, choking, or crying.

Signs that your baby may be full:

  • opening or relaxing arms alongside his body, opening hands or relaxing her fingers, arching his back, pushing away, or falling asleep.
  • Signs that your baby probably just wants to spend time with you: smiling, turning her head toward you, looking at your face and eyes, reaching out to touch you.

Check out the Feeding Cues Fact Sheet from the ND Health Department for more great info on baby feeding and what to do.

Newborn Behaviors

Newborns have many behaviors that seem unusual but are completely normal. For instance, sometimes they:

  • get hiccups.

  • startle easily.

  • cross their eyes.

  • tremble when crying.

  • strain when making a bowel movement.

  • burp a small amount of milk after feeding.

Check out the Newborn Behaviors Fact Sheet from the ND Health Department for info on newborn behaviors that can seem alarming but are nothing to worry about.

Finding Quality Childcare

Babies can thrive whether they are cared for only at home or also in childcare. Finding quality childcare has everything to do with a baby's well-being.

The Child Care Fact Sheet from the ND Health Department tells you what to look for in a childcare provider. 

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Nutrition

nutrition 2015

 

 

Nutrition is important at every age and stage.

Visit this site again soon for nutrition tips.  

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Preconception Care

Good nutrition is important for your baby -- even before you or your partner get pregnant!

Check back soon for tips on preconception care.

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Prenatal Care

 These tips can help you have a healthy pregnancy. They also help your baby's developing brain. 

  1. Exercise during your pregnancy. Moms who exercise develop larger placentas. Larger placentas are more able to carry oxygen and nutrients, while taking waste products out.

  2. Don't smoke, drink, take drugs, or have caffeine (which is in coffee or soda). All of these substances can damage your developing baby. NDQuits is totally free and can help you stop smoking. Contact FirstLink at 2-1-1 for programs that can help you stop drinking or using.

  3. Take prenatal vitamins. These vitamins, which have folic acid, help prevent damage to your baby's brain and spinal cord. They’re also great for your baby’s brain development.

  4. Eat foods (like flax seeds and walnuts) that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which boost brain power. Make sure you're also getting enough DHA -- which is present in oily fish, a few other foods, and some supplements. Check out the article, "DHA Brain Power," by Dr. Sarah Brewer for more info.

  5. Eat a pregnancy diet -- with protein, calcium, iron, folic acid, and vitamin C. Check out great pregnancy nutrition tips from the American Pregnancy Association.

  6. Read and talk to your baby. No matter what you say, your developing baby can hear you. He may already be memorizing words you say -- to use when he starts talking.

  7. Reduce stress. Unfortunately, a pregnant mom's stress can affect the environment in which the baby is living -- which can be harmful to your baby's brain development and sometimes lead to premature birth.

Decisions, Decisions

There are lots of decisions during pregnancy -- whether to breastfeed (highly recommended), what to name your child, whether to circumcise, and more. Check out the Healthy Children’s website for tips on a range of decisions.

Note that there are many views on these decisions, including circumcision, and it's worth thinking through the options.

If you're in a position to look for a pediatrician, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) has plenty of advice on what to look for.

Prenatal Appointments

Click on the image for info on prenatal appointments -- what to have checked at various weeks of pregnancy. prenatal appointment timeline

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Breastfeeding

Celebrity Moms Breastfeeding Photos

 

Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Breastfeeding provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat -- everything your baby needs to grow.

  • Breast milk is much easier for your baby to digest than infant formula.

  • Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria.

  • Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of asthma, allergies, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea.

  • Breastfed babies have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.

There are lots of benefits to breastfeeding moms, too. Breastfeeding:

  • burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster.

  • releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth.

  • lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may also lower your risk of osteoporosis.

If you're Native American, check out "Native American Women DO Breastfeed" by Camie Jae Goldhammer. There's great info from other Native moms who breastfeed.

Increasing Breast Milk Supply

Here are a few ideas on how to increase your breast milk supply: 

    1. As soon as your baby is born, give her skin-to-skin contact.

    2. Breastfeed your baby as soon as possible after birth.

    3. For 48 hours after birth, have regular skin-to-skin contact with your baby.

    4. Nurse at least 10 minutes on each breast.

    5. Alternate which breast you start feeding with each time.

    6. Make sure you are comfortable; then help your baby get comfortable.

    7. Feed your baby on demand

    8. Drink 64 ounces of water a day.

    9. Eat healthy and often.

    10. Eat lots of oatmeal.

    11. Drink pineapple juice.

    12. Find a good certified lactation consultant.

    13. Try making and eat lactation cookies.

    14. Talk with your healthcare provider about supplements to increase your breast milk supply.

    15. As much as possible, relax.

Breastfeeding Resources

  1. North Dakota Department of Health

  2. La Leche League International

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics

  4. Breastfeeding Made Simple

  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

How Partners Can Make Breastfeeding Easier

6 ways dads can support breastfeeding moms

 

There are lots of ways dads, partners, or even other family members can help.

Click on the image for a full screen view.

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Immunization

Vaccination schedule 2015

 

What vaccinations should your child have -- and when? This handy chart from the March of Dimes breaks it all down. Click on the image for a full screen view.

The ND Health Department offers a lot of information about immunization requirements from birth through adulthood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also puts out a guide for immunizations from birth through age 6.

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Well Child Visits

well child checkups and immunizations vaccinations

 

A "well child visit" is a routine check up, which is different from a "sick visit," which happens when your child is feeling sick or you have another concern.

Click on the image for info from Healthy Families Now on the ideal times for well child visits.

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Family Mental Health

Holding sleeping baby cropped 2015

 

 

 

Coming soon. 

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Financial Help

Coming soon.

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Time Management

It can be tough to manage time when you're busy with a young child's needs -- let alone the needs of other family members.Time management 2015

But with some planning, you can create more together-time, while helping your child develop independence and self-worth.

Here are some time management tips for busy families:

  1. Use a daily planner: Every paper that comes home from school, work, or anywhere else with a date on it can go into the planner. Playdates? Check the planner. You can also color-code it. For starters, you can use one color for meals and another for events.

  2. Make a meal plan: Put a meal planning or shopping list on the fridge or by the door -- wherever you'll see it best. When you run out of something needed, write it on the list.

  3. Make family night a priority: Family comes first. But with the rest of life's pressures, important family bonding can lose its place. Write "family time" on your calendar each week -- and say no to other obligations.

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Stress Management

Playing drums indoors 2015

 

Parenting can be very stressful. Remember to take time for yourself and de-stress the best way you can. Some parents listen to music, some journal, and some exercise and stretch.

Find your own way to come back to your center.

Here are a few ways to de-stress:

  1. Be prepared. Try doing tasks (lay out clothes, pack lunches, look at the day’s schedule, and gather the laundry) the night before. This can save you from rushing in the morning.

  2. Overestimate the amount of time activities will take. Since there can always be natural delays, allot some extra time in your schedule.

  3. Make playtime a priority. Schedule time in your day just to play with the kids.

  4. Adjust expectations. There is no such thing as the perfect family, perfect children, the perfect spouse, or the perfect home.

  5. Make time for yourself. Know what makes you happy and relaxed. Take time for personal interests outside of your family and come back with a refreshed spirit.

Toxic Stress

Children have a toxic stress response when they face strong, frequent, ongoing adversity such as:

  • physical or emotional abuse,

  • chronic neglect,

  • caregiver substance abuse or mental illness,

  • exposure to violence, and/or

  • the many burdens of family poverty and economic hardship.

Also, children with toxic stress response face these burdens without adequate adult support. 

Toxic stress can impact a young child’s development and brain architecture -- with damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan.

It's crucial to get help if you or your child faces these burdens. Contact FirstLink at 2-1-1 for resources near you.

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Attachment & Bonding

In order to be healthy and happy, babies and young children need to be attached (or bonded) to caring adults. Communication cropped 2015

Here's how to help your child experience attachment:

  1. Be consistent. Do your best to give your child regular attention, even when you feel distracted by your own obligations or worries. Infants and toddlers should spend their first 3 years in consistent care in order for secure attachments to develop. 

  2. Be responsive. Children need more than physical care. Be playful and affectionate. Demonstrate love so that your child learns to show love, too. 

  3. Get support. Lack of attachment can be high in families where there is stress -- such as relationship trouble, moving to a new home, financial difficulties, or other stressors. If you're facing these stressors, reach out for support from a trusted family member, service provider, or other community resource. Check out the Map of Services at NDKIDS.

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