Articles about Parenting
A = Affection
B = Babysitter – have one for an evening so you can have a romantic evening uninterrupted with your partner
C = Concentrate on each other
= Candles together in the tub
D = Dance the time away even if it means dancing around the lounge table late at night
E = Eye contact with each other
= Express your needs, thoughts and desires with each other
= Emotional cues
F = Feelings – discuss them with each other
= Focus on fun together
G = Give and take
= Gifts – buy your partner a surprise gift just because
H = Humour – something you should never be without
I = Ideas – share them with your partner
= Involved – be involved together looking after your baby
J = Jokes. Keep life light-hearted and fun
K = Kisses
= Keep love alive
L = Love
= Laugh together
M = Massage – take turns at it
N = Night out together
O = Open-up and talk about how you are really feeling and coping with your new role as a parent
P = Playful side
Q = Quality time together
R = Resolve conflict
S = Share your thoughts
= Spoil each other
= Be sensitive
T = Talk to each other
= Turn off your phones when you are together
= Loving touch
U = Ups and downs – expect it
= Understand the others point of view
V = Verbal communication
W = Words – loving ones
= Walks together
X =Xtra love
Y = Don’t yell at each other
Z = Zero in on each other
= zzzzz together
Based on the research of Ann-Marie Widstrom, a Swedish researcher on skin to skin contact between mom and baby at birth, there are nine observable newborn stages in the first hour or two after birth when a baby is placed immediately skin to skin with his mother. These are innate and instinctive to the baby.
Stage 1 – The birth cry
The distinctive cry occurs immediately after birth as the baby’s lungs expand. It is the most glorious sound imaginable as it confirms your baby is alive and well! He is making his presence felt and letting his mom and dad know that he has arrived. (It is probably the only time in life you love hearing the sound of a baby crying!)
Stage 2 – Relaxation
The baby is placed skin to skin with the mother
The newborns hands are relaxed. It is as though baby is taking a deep breath after this unusual experience of labour and birth. Whew that was quite something!
Stage 3 – Awakening
The newborn exhibits small thrusts of movement in the head and shoulders. Occurs about 3 minutes after birth. He is feeling the wide spaces around him, no longer tightly confined in the vagina but free to stretch.
Stage 4 – Activity
The newborn begins to make increased mouthing and sucking movements as he starts to explore his environment with his mouth. He has more stable eye movements now and looks at the breast and then looks at his mother. The dark areola around the nipple attracts him to the nipple area where his sustenance will come from. He is able to move his hand to his mouth, sticks his tongue out and massages the breast with one or both hands. All of these movements increasing the release of oxytocin in his mother’s body and preparing her body for bonding and breastfeeding.
Stage 5 – Rest
The baby may have periods of rest between the activity during the first couple of hours after birth. This resting time does NOT mean baby is disinterested in the breast and needs help latching. Just let him be and he will continue in his own time. Don’t rush him. Enjoy this time together
Stage 6 – Crawling
Baby “crawls” using sliding, pushing, leaping and crawling movements to reach the breast and nipple. These are short periods of action around 35 minutes after birth
Stage 7 – Familiarization
Baby becomes acquainted with the nipple by licking the nipple and touching and massaging the breast. Begins about 45 minutes after birth and can last 20 minutes or more. Baby makes sounds to get moms attention. He looks at the other people in the room, familiarizing himself with his new environment. Baby moves in a purposeful manner. Be peaceful and unhurried and watch the amazing happenings as baby finds the breast and will soon latch and suckle without assistance or interference. Don’t try to latch the baby – he is not ready just get. His tongue is flat and high in the roof of his mouth, whereas just prior to self-attaching, the baby cups the tongue and drops it while opening the mouth wide for a deep and effective latch. Be on baby time not on hospital or doctor or nurse time.
Stage 8 – The newborn takes the nipple, self-attaches and suckles.
This usually begins about an hour or so after birth. If the mother has had analgesia or anaesthesia during labour, it may take a while longer for baby to complete these stages.
Stage 9 – The final stage is sleep.
The baby and probably mom as well will fall into a restful sleep together
Anne-Marie Widstom believes that if a baby is put skin to skin on the mother’s chest immediately after birth, without a delay for routine procedures, and left there undisturbed as he goes through the nine instinctive stages at his pace, that the likelihood of breastfeeding success is greatly enhanced!
However whether you want to breastfeed or not, put baby skin to skin as there is just so much more than breastfeeding that goes with skin to skin
By Dr Pierre van der Spuy – MD, MBA. Author of “A happy human brain” – Metz Press
“Why did no-one warn me that having a child will make me so unhappy?” a mother recently confided. Her dream of finding happiness by becoming a mother was shattered. She is not alone. 28 different studies have shown that 85% of couples will experience a drop in their happiness that will only recover when the last child leaves home, if at all. For some, it is much more than a drop. In some cultures, 30% of mothers experience postnatal depression. The dilemma gets even worse. Research shows that happy parents nurture happy children, and vice versa. And we know that parents are as happy as their unhappiest child.
- Embrace the following: You will not find love and happiness by having a child; you must have love and happiness to give to your child.
- Your child’s happiness therefore starts even before she is conceived. It starts with both mother and father being happy and loving individuals in a relationship of respect, intimacy and support. (This is the reason why 15% of couples maintained their happiness after they had children.) So spend more time fixing your relationship, than fixing the baby-room. Go into marriage counselling if needed. Your children will thank you for it.
- During pregnancy, work towards maintaining a sense of psychological and physical well-being. Do hobbies and activities for no-one else’s sake, but your own happiness. As far as possible, avoid full-time stressful jobs or find professional help to alleviate the stress.
- If you struggle with chronic physical problems associated with pregnancy, seek both medical and psychological help.
- Spend positive quality time with your unborn child. Logic dictates that the beginnings of the emotional bond between mother and child are formed in the womb. This bond is a vital prerequisite for a happy human brain.
- Prepare yourself for the joys and struggles of having a child. Ask other mothers and fathers what their positive and negative experiences were and how they coped. We need to shatter our fantasies that children will make us happy, for a baby needs positive caring realistic parents from day one.
- Study books that explain what care, especially in the first three years of life, is crucial for the development of a happy human brain.
- Accept that having a happy child is not a right or a given, but the fruits of hard work and positive mature parenting by both spouses.
Dr Melodie de Jager – Author of Play Learn Know – Metz Press & Brain development milestones & learning – Mind Moves Institute.
Mom is a baby’s anchor – a place of safety. Mom soothes. Dad is different – he smells different, his body feels different and his voice sounds different. To a new-born baby dad represents the whole world. Because novelty is stimulating a dad is responsible for the development of new wiring in baby’s brain. An involved dad is said to increase a child’s IQ and sense of humour, attention span, attitude to learning, while a mom’s love is expected, a child often feels he has to earn his dad’s love.
Mom’s role – to soothe baby and develop the emotional brain.
Dad’s role – to develop baby’s thinking brain.
Dad is not a stand-in mother. He is the protector who keeps everybody safe. His role is different, but not less crucial.
Dad’s relationship with mom is important because mom can only spontaneously go into labour, breast feed and care for baby if she is feeling safe and cared for. Mom’s stress levels can delay birth and unconsciously wire baby’s brain to be a bundle of stress. Research has shown that continued exposure to stress during pregnancy contributes largely to hyperactivity and problems with concentration later.
Dad is a boy’s role model. A child mimics what dad does, not what he says.
Dad is a girl’s first love. Dad shapes her mind about men.
Dad’s play rough and tumble, which is excellent for gross motor development and balance. Doing BabyGym is a wonderful way for dad to develop the mechanics of his baby’s brain and body www.babygym.co.za. His expectations must be realistic – it is great to play games that is at a challenge level, be aware of not pushing too hard too soon resulting in a frustration level for both. Dad-at-play enriches a child’s self-esteem and confidence and starts when dad puts his new-born baby skin on skin on his chest.
If dad is an absent dad, it is important that a baby and later a child is exposed to an important and consistent male figure. The consistent presence of the important-other-male is of value, so a boy and a girl can learn about men.
Story time with dad is super special. It’s not just the story. The feel of his big, strong body against a child’s small frame; his man-smell, his deep voice and his big hands that hold the book all say: you are safe with me, I’ve got your back covered.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said: My son, the battle is between 2 ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil. It is full of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is Good. It is filled with joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied: “The one you feed.”
A great way for you as dad to be involved with your little one is to bath him especially if mom’s domain is breastfeeding (nappy changing should be a shared responsibility – not one solely for men). When bathing your baby – the important rule to adhere to is – lock the bathroom door behind you and your baby. There is a fundamental thing about a woman – she cannot keep from commenting and correcting your inefficiencies – so lock her out. (She should have more sense to leave you alone and go and have ten minutes time out to put her feet up and relax). Bath time can be your time interacting with baby – a time when both of you are relaxed and attention is focused on each other. As little ones get a bit bigger, they love bath time. It can become your special bonding and play time – time where you are not distracted by anything, time you can give your attention in an unhurried and dedicated way to your baby. It will add to your baby’s special memories of life.
- Hearing the words “You have a baby boy / girl”
- Holding your baby for the first time
- Bringing your baby over to your partner and seeing how happy you have made her
- Wearing your baby skin to skin
- Holding your partner’s hand and watching your baby sleep
- Calming the baby in the middle of the night, then humming a song and dancing in your darkened living room – just you and your baby in your arms
By Heike Millar- Midwife, BCur Ed & Ad, Good Night certified Sleep Consultant
Setting the scene: It is 2 am and your little one is crying. Again. You fed her at midnight. Could she possibly be hungry again? Let us assume, for the sake of this article that your baby is younger than 6 months (as the most probable reasons for night time waking change as your child gets older).
- The most common reason for an infant to wake up at night is because she is hungry. So you feed her. If you are breastfeeding ensure that she gets a full feed, including fore and hind milk so that she stays full for longer. You put her down but she is still fussing.
- Maybe she has a wind? Winds can cause cramping and tummy pain so burp your baby carefully after each feed.
- Still moaning. If you haven’t already done this, check her nappy and change if necessary.
- Nope, nappy is dry and she is still not happy. Maybe she is too hot or too cold. As baby’s hands and feet are always cold check her behind her neck. Small babies can’t control their own temperatures so you need to dress her accordingly. If the back of her neck is hot and clammy you have overdressed her. If it is cool pop her in a baby sleep sac.
- That wasn’t the problem and she is still crying. Maybe she is missing the uterus. Try to recreate it for her using Harvey Karp’s “five Ss”.
- Swaddle her snugly with her hands at the face (like she was in utero).
- Put her in the Side position with her head slightly down facing.
- If this doesn’t work try the third “S”- make a fairly loud “Shhhh” sound close to her ear. The sound of Mom’s blood flow in the womb was louder than a vacuum cleaner to your baby.
- Next is Your baby was constantly rocked in utero by Mom’s movements, so, supporting her head and neck, swing her. This is not a shaking movement, more of a shiver or a jiggle movement”.
- The fifth “S” is non nutritive Sucking. Let her suck her fingers or thumb (as she did in the uterus) or a dummy.
- If none of that worked she may have cramps. The exact cause of infant cramping, or colic, is unknown. It is thought that there may be different reasons for infant colic because not every solution will work with every child.
There are many colic remedies on the market. Check whether they contain alcohol or sucrose before administering to your little baby.
Holding her over your arm, so that there is slight pressure on her tummy, while you rub her back may work.
Many moms have had success by taking their child to a chiropractor that has experience with children.
- So why is she still crying? Maybe she has a temperature. A normal body temperature is between 36.5 and 37° Celsius. If your child is younger than 3 months old a fever needs medical attention. Older than 3 months, it is the normal reaction of the body to get warm when it is fighting infection. If your child has a slight temperature you don’t need to do anything, just watch her and the temperature. If the temperature reaches 38° degrees she will probably start to show other symptoms that she is feeling awful. Administer some infant paracetamol as prescribed.
- Okay she doesn’t have a temperature but is still crying. Maybe she is uncomfortable. Check her bedding in case something is poking her. Are her socks too tight? Is there a mosquito biting her? Are her clothes or blankets scratching her skin?
- Can’t find anything that is making her uncomfortable? Perhaps she is just feeling overwhelmed and over stimulated. Make sure no clothing is irritating her, turn off the lights, make sure there are no strong smells in her environment and turn off any noise. If you can’t turn off the noise then turn on some white noise to drown it out.
- If she is still crying at this point you could try a bath or a massage. Put her in the car and take a drive or put her in the pram and roll her backwards and forwards over a ridge. You could also try some very weak camomile tea.
If you think there is something more serious at play take her to your nearest 24 hour casualty.
If you know she is not ill and you have tried everything it is now your partner’s turn. If you have both reached the end of your tether it’s time to put her in the car and drop her off at Grandma’s house. If a third person is not an option and you have tried everything put her safely in her cot and close the door. Drink a cup of tea and calm down. Once you are ready to face her again go back in and start at the top of the list. Hopefully she will be sleeping peacefully when you tip toe back in.
By Hettie Grove – Nursing sister advanced midwife, SA certified perinatal educator, SA certified lactation consultant
Tummy time is when a baby lies on his or her tummy for developmental play and its one of the biggest gifts you can give your child. The best news is that it is free. A definition of tummy time might be something like this – “placing a baby on his stomach or in the prone position during awake times under supervision”. Newborn to one month old babies benefit from doing tummy time directly on mom or dad’s chest. We tend to want to leave tummy time for a later stage, but you see, we only have approximately 16 weeks after birth to do this.
Why is tummy time such a new buzzword and what does it really do for a baby? The quick answer is tummy time is the foundation of all sensory and motor skills throughout life.
The moment babies are born they start learning how to move their little body outside of the secure containment of the womb. Babies need to learn to use their neck, shoulder and arm muscles and this all happens with tummy time. Parents often don’t realise that at birth a baby’s head weighs about 25% of his body weight. Bearing this in mind tummy time is hard work for babies.
Consistent tummy time has been found to be one of the biggest factors which improves motor function and development. Researchers have found that four month old babies who spend at least thirty minutes a day on their tummies scored higher on developmental tasks when compared to babies who didn’t spend time in tummy time.
Not all babies enjoy tummy time from the start. Some may demonstrate frustration and others need a little more support to enjoy their tummy time. So why do some babies hate tummy time and why do parents often shy away from tummy time? Many parents feel that tummy time hurts or causes frustration. They often think there must be something wrong with them or with their baby. We need to be very clear about tummy time that it does not hurt. Not only is baby using his whole body, but he also needs to learn to lift his heads and turn it from side to side to look at his world. While in the womb, babies have been curled up into a little ball for their entire pregnancy.
The beauty of tummy time is that it helps babies learn about how to open their little bodies up and gently elongate the front of their body for optimal development – the throat and mouth areas are also developing for future speech. Visual systems are learning how to coordinate two eyes together. The central nervous system maps and wiring develops from head to toe, which means that the map of the head and the neck develop way before the map of the feet (cephalo-caudal). That is why baby’s neck needs to strengthen to carry his heavy head long before he can walk and why your hands always tend to be more sensitive and skilled than your feet.
Since tummy time is so important, how can you help your baby enjoy it?
There is no doubt that Tummy time is essential for good health!!!
Potential benefits to baby in tummy time –
- Eases tummy function
- Encourages movement and developmental progression
- Tummy time is key to development of movements and motor skills
- It helps build arm and hand function
- Prepares baby for sitting and crawling. You may notice that your baby looks in one direction most of the time, or constantly lays on one side of their head during sleep. This is a sign that your baby may be having some trouble with active head and neck movements.
- Promotes visual development. Tummy time builds visual motor skills, looking up, binocular vision, and moving eyes side to side independent of head movements.
- Promotes optimal head shape. Most babies are sleeping on their backs, so they spend long periods of time with pressure on one area of the head. Babies are then placed on their backs to play, further reinforcing the pressure on that area of the head. Over time and through the influence of gravity, this can lead to a flat spot on the side baby likes to turn to. Tummy time gives the head optimal pressure relief and actually offsets the time your baby spends putting pressure on the back of the skull. Your baby’s skull is soft and molds easily. The best way to ensure a nice round head without flat spots is to do tummy time every day!
- Facilitates sensory skills.
Does tummy time only benefit flat heads?
Tummy time assists tongue function, oral skills, sensory development, postural and head control, learning and exploring the environment, assisting play, and aides gastrointestinal issues such as passing wind, burping, reflux, gastric functions, assists neurological development and so much more. Research has shown that most babies tend to spend less than 5 to 10 minutes a day on their tummy. Add all the luxury products of infant swings, rockers, seats and other devices – we are heading for a disaster. We live a “container lifestyle” with babies sleeping on their backs, being in the car seat to the bouncer and being held in reclined position for sleep.
Tummy time can be easily encouraged and fits every lifestyle, and by engaging in time on the floor helps babies to unfold and extend which is totally opposite of their life in utero. Tummy time is about being with baby in a way that is contributing to his natural method of developing, transitioning from a flexed, womb-like position to an extended, opened up position. Equally important is connecting with a parent and experiencing the sensory awareness of extra-uterine life and the influences of gravity which tummy time provides.
Babies need to use reflexes to move in the first few months BUT to be able to do this babies need to work against gravity and tummy time gives them this excellent opportunity. More than half of all babies have a head turning preference to one side and the best way to ensure that baby turns his head to the other side (important for all of development) is to make sure baby is in the best position to do this, which is tummy time. For this to happen we need the parents to interact and play with their babies.
It’s never too early or too late to start tummy time!
How to do Tummy Time
- Select a tummy time spot in your home
- Place a clean blanket on the floor
- It may be helpful to pick a spot on a carpet, rug or padded foam floor
- Place one or two age appropriate toys near you
- Lay your baby on his back to begin
- Engage your baby in back and forth interaction, for example, eye contact, cooing, making different facial expressions. You are playing first, to warm your baby up for tummy time experiences
- Be available for eye contact as much of the time as possible
- Slowly roll your baby from their back to their tummy slowly. It can be helpful to roll baby to his side first, and wait until it flows to roll into a tummy time position
- You can sing or talk, make gentle playful noises, offer a toy for looking at, etc to keep baby engaged
- It may be very helpful to lie down on your tummy with your baby. This benefits both of you, the baby has his mom or dad close by and you get to spend some quality time with him
- When your baby starts to communicate he is ready to transition out of tummy time by vocalizations or movements/facial expression, gently tuck one arm underneath the chest and roll your baby to his side and then back
- It is supportive and loving to pick your baby up, hug him, and give lots of encouragement by hugging /holding baby close to your heart, reassuring baby “You did it!”
- “Wow, you are amazing on your tummy!” …
- Then repeat for 5-15 minutes, depending upon your baby’s abilities
Tummy Time recommendations
- 3-4 sessions per day
- 5-15minutes per session to start
- Gradually build up the minutes
Tummy Time recommendations based on age
- Newborn to two months old – spend a minimum of 30 minutes per day during awake periods
- Two to four months old – spend a minimum of 45 minutes to 1 and a half hours per day during awake periods
- Four to six months old – spend a minimum of 1-2 hours per day during awake periods
- Six to eight months old – the majority of waking hours will be spent in tummy time or sitting / learning to sit. Babies should learn to sit before they learn to stand.
It is highly recommended that you begin tummy time as soon as you get home from the hospital or birthing centre.
Most babies LOVE to look at their reflection in a mirror. It is nice to have a mirror available for your baby to look at while he is in tummy time.
By Heike Millar – Midwife, BCur Ed & Ad, Good Night certified Sleep Consultant
You are pregnant and eagerly anticipating the arrival of your bundle of joy. Despite the fact that your bladder has not allowed you to sleep a solid 8 hours since you fell pregnant, your friends with children are probably telling you to enjoy your last sleep filled nights. Whoever coined the phrase “sleeps like a baby” has either, never had a baby, or was speaking of a night of frequent waking. There are, however, some things you can do to assist your baby on the journey to developing healthy sleep habits.
As adults we go through a series of “sleep states” – from deep, light and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Each cycle lasts about 90 minutes. REM sleep is when we dream and brain activity resembles that of the waking brain. It is during this REM sleep that we are more likely to awaken fully if we subconsciously assess a problem (there’s a dog barking, a mosquito buzzing, a baby crying, a full bladder) and we are unlikely to be able to fall asleep until we have addressed the problem (tell the dog to sshhh, kill the mosquito, feed the baby, go to the bathroom). However, if no such assessment is made we will just carry on sleeping and not know that we were half awake.
Babies have two sleep states – active (REM) and quiet. Newborn sleep cycles are about 45-50 minutes long. During active sleep you may see your baby’s eye lids flutter, her breathing is irregular, she may twitch, make small movements and even small noises. Young babies spend much more time in active sleep than adults do and this is why they awaken more easily and more frequently. Helping your baby transition from one sleep cycle to the next smoothes the journey to healthy sleep.
WHO recommendations for safe sleep-
- Place your baby on her back to sleep
- Ideal room temperature is between 16-20° Celsius
- Use a firm sleep surface with no pillow, feet to foot of the crib. Keep soft objects, bumpers, toys, and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area
- Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your baby
- Make sure nothing covers your baby’s head, dress your baby in a babygrow and use a sleep sac rather than a blanket
- Bed sharing is not recommended but room sharing for the first 6 months is.
Establishing a safe sleep space
It should be calm and consistent. The cot is for sleeping only and your baby should sleep here at night and during daytime naps. There should be no toys in the cot or mobile above it. Introducing a safe “lovey” or “dudu blanket” as a security object is a “good” sleep association and should be included in your bedtime routine and be put into the cot with your baby to sleep. White noise is an excellent sleep aid it helps baby feel secure and drowns out any other background noises that may disturb her sleep.
Starting the journey
In the first two weeks all you need to concentrate on is getting to know your baby. She needs to be loved, fed, changed, and to sleep. Newborns need plenty of sleep (16-18 hours a day). The brain consolidates knowledge during sleep and for your newborn everything is new. Imagine never having seen a dog or a teddy bear before. She needs to sleep to process all this new information. A newborn baby will wake 2-3 hourly for feeds (including nights) but is only awake for about 45-60 minutes at a time and then needs to sleep again. She will often fall asleep in your arms or at the breast. Enjoy this time.
A consistent routine
From about 6 weeks you should notice that your baby’s days and nights follow a pattern. Consistency will help cue your baby’s brain as to when it is time to sleep. Interact with her when she is alert during the day and limit interaction at night to help her recognise that nighttime is for sleeping. No fuss or conversation at night. Aim to soothe as many of the senses as possible during the bedtime routine. A warm bath helps to relax your baby and make her feel sleepy. A calm, loving touch; a lavender candle in the bathroom; soft music; dim lighting. Start having a consistently early bedtime sleep begets sleep. Using white noise, rocking, patting, sssshhhssshhhh sounds, non nutritive sucking on hands or dummy and swaddling may help to calm her down and assist her in falling asleep.
Breastmilk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is used by the body to manufacture melatonin (the sleep hormone).The tryptophan levels in the breastmilk are determined by the mother’s circadian rhythm. Babies who breastfeed at night fall asleep faster at bedtime and get more overall night time sleep (subsequently so do their parents).
Melatonin is released naturally as the light fades so in the morning, open the curtains to let in light and expose your child to natural light during the day. Keep the room as dark as possible for nighttime feeds as well as for daytime naps. This will help establish your child’s natural circadian rhythm.
By 3 months she can be awake for between 6090 minutes during the day and may drop the 10pm feed and stretch to 1 or 2am before waking. Thereafter she will wake 34 hourly to feed again. Try to recognise her sleep cues and to have her in her cot by the time these cues start. She may be more fussy than usual, have red eyes, yawn or loose eye contact. At this age, put her in her cot awake but drowsy at sleep times and allow her to self soothe.
From about 4 months, you can start to loosen the swaddle and when your baby wakes at night, don’t rush to her immediately. Give her a chance to self soothe. If she does need a feed go to her but don’t feed her immediately. Delaying gratification slightly may help children become independent but trust your maternal instinct on whether your child is ready for this.
Hopefully your baby’s journey to healthy sleep habits will be a short one without pot holes or speed bumps.
Information from Lullaby Trust – www.lullabytrust.org.uk
Babies need a lot of sleep during the first few months of their lives so it’s important to ensure that they are sleeping as safely as possible.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby under one year of age where no cause is found. There are steps parents can take to help reduce the risk of it occurring. SIDS can happen at any time, not just at night, so the advice should be followed for all sleep times.
Always place your baby on their back to sleep
The risk of SIDS is reduced if baby is placed on the back to sleep and not on the front or side. Studies found that the risk of a SIDS death for infants placed on their tummy was over 6 times the risk for those infants placed on their back.
Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth
Smoking during and after pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS. During pregnancy, the number of cigarettes smoked is highly associated with risk. Therefore, the more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk of SIDS. Studies show that the risk of SIDS is 2½ to 4 times higher in mothers who smoke 1–10 cigarettes per day, versus the risk in non-smokers, and 7 to 8½ times higher in mothers who smoke over 20 cigarettes a day. Passive smoking also significantly increases the risk of SIDS and the risk increases further where both parents smoke.
Have your baby in your room to sleep
The safest place for your baby to sleep – night and day – is in a crib or cot in the room with you for the first six months.
Breastfed babies have a lower risk of SIDS.
Studies have consistently shown a reduced risk of SIDS in breastfed infants. Exclusive breastfeeding (where only breast milk is given) is associated with the lowest risk, but breastfeeding of any duration may be beneficial for lowering the chance of SIDS compared to formula feeding alone.
Avoid letting your baby get too hot.
Research has shown that overheating from excessive room temperature or overwrapping is associated with an increased risk of SIDS. Optimum room temperature is 16-20C, combined with light bedding or a well-fitting sleep bag. Baby’s head must remain uncovered. Don’t use a pillow. Put your baby to sleep on a firm mattress and not a sofa. Don’t let baby be able to wriggle under the bedding.
Using a dummy
Research suggests that using a dummy when putting a baby down to sleep might reduce the risk of sudden infant death. If you choose to use a dummy, wait until breastfeeding is well established. Stop giving a dummy to your baby to go to sleep between 6 and 12 months. Don’t force your baby to take a dummy or put it back in if your baby spits it out. If you use a dummy, make sure to offer it to your baby for every day and night time sleep.
Meningococcal meningitis, a form of meningococcal disease, is a serious bacterial infection. Unlike viral meningitis, it can potentially kill an otherwise healthy young person within 1 day after the first symptoms appear. 1, 2
Meningococcal disease can be difficult to recognise, especially in its early stages because meningitis symptoms are similar to those of more common viral illnesses. But unlike more common illnesses, meningococcal disease can cause death or disability within just 1 day. 1
Many of the people who survive meningococcal meningitis can be left with serious medical problems that may include amputation of limbs, fingers, or toes, severe scarring, brain damage, hearing loss, kidney damage, and psychological problems. 2
Who’s at Risk for Meningitis?
Even people who are usually healthy can get meningitis. Although all age groups are affected, the highest-risk groups include infants and young children. 1, 2
How Meningococcal Disease Spreads
Common everyday activities can spread meningococcal disease. This includes kissing, sharing utensils and drinking glasses, living in close quarters such as a dormitory or summer camp, and smoking or being exposed to smoke. Activities that can make teens feel run down may also put them at greater risk for meningitis by weakening their immune system. These include staying out late and having irregular sleeping patterns.2
How to prevent the disease
- You can’t watch your children every minute of every day. But you can help protect them from meningococcal disease (which includes meningitis) by getting them vaccinated. Getting your child vaccinated is the best way to help protect them from meningococcal meningitis. 1, 2
- Simply talk to your child’s health-care provider about the importance of vaccination. Meningitis vaccines (indicated from 9 months of age) are available for individuals who wish to reduce their risk to contracting the disease. 1, 2
- If you ever suspect that your child has meningitis, contact emergency services right away, where he or she can be evaluated and receive prompt medical care.1, 2
- Thompson MJ, Ninis N, Perera R et al. Clinical recognition of meningococcal disease in children and adolescents. Lancet. 2006;367:397-403.
- World Health Organisation. Media Centre. Meningococcal meningitis. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs141/en/#. Accessed on 13/08/14