Brenda's Blog

Why is it important to nap in the cot.

Why is it important not to nap your child reguarly in the pram, car, sling or anywhere else but the cot? If you do you are setting yourself up with a habit that is hard to sustain and impractical to continue. Your baby is not in a comfortable place if they are in the car or pram. It could be noisey, too light, not ideal for their posture, hot, and too bumpy, plus the weather could be bad! Your baby or child needs to be in a quiet place where there is no loud noises and they are able to resettle themselves if they wake up after a sleep cycle. They will get use to the motion of a car, sling, or pram which they rely on to go back to sleep. They can be disturbed if not at home and find it hard to go back to sleep. This is time in the day you have to yourself, to do what you want and catch up with your day to day jobs. You can relax, take a nap yourself, eat, send an email, or make a phone call without having your child around to disturb you. Taking a nap occasionally outside the cot is fine and any short naps can be taken on the go. The cot could be at another house, a travel cot, you may be on holiday, or just visiting somebody for the day. It also helps to settle your child into a routine if cared for by somebody else like a nursery or childminder. Making a commitment to nap your child in the cot as much as possible will pay off later when they have learnt to settle and resettle themselves without you to assist them.

Is your child an early riser?

It is often a bit of a problem if your child wakes early. While it's great that they sleep through the night you don't want them to wake too early in the morning. If they do it means it is a very long day for your child, they often can't wait for their first nap, they can be unhappy due to tiredness and it disrupts everyone else's sleep in the family. But you don't have to live with an early riser. There are a number of ways to sort the problem and if you are consistent and patient it should get better.

How do you know if you have an early riser as parents can have different expectations but I have always considered a 6:30/7am wake up time as acceptable. Before 6:30am is too early but after 7am is too late. You can teach your baby or child the acceptable time to get up by considering the following factors:

  1. ​Keeping to a consistent routine which is the 'right' routine for your child's age.
  2. Making sure bedtime is an appropiate time.
  3. Having a plan of action if your baby wakes early or your child gets out of bed.
  4. Making sure your baby and child has had a good dose of fresh air and stimulation through the day.
  5. They have not napped too much or too late during the day.
  6. You and everyone caring for your child is on the same hymn sheet, that could include your child's nursery staff or nanny.
  7. Your child has everything they need overnight i.e. warmth, a small drink, their comforter, a ventilated room ....

Don't expect results to come immediatey. Make the changes and keep going as with consistency and time it should sort itself.




Breast Feeding

Once baby is born and you have decided to breast feed the midwifes at the hospital will talk about the "fore milk and hind milk." This is the way the milk is produced in the ducts of your breast. The fore milk comes first and the hind milk afterwards. What they don't tell you is how long this process takes when feeding baby. Having worked with so many breast feeding mums over the years my judgement is it takes 15 seconds for baby to stimulate and suck before the milk starts letting down, sometimes less if mums has a lot of milk. It takes about another 30 seconds for the fore milk to come and then about another 30 seconds for the hind milk to come. The whole process is very fast and under two minutes. Once your milk has 'come in' at week two or three baby does not need much more than 10 to 15 minutes on each breast which includes burping time before baby has had a full feed.

If baby was given a bottle with a much more controlled flow with a teat size baby would take no more than 20/25 minutes with burping to finish a feed. So it makes sense for breast fed babies to be the most efficient. By 6 weeks babies have become even more efficient and despite drinking more milk at each feed this time is now down to 15 minutes per feed for both breasts with winding. By 4 months of age and baby is taking even bigger feeds, feeding time will be 10/15 minutes for both breasts and includes time to wind. Any longer and baby is dozing or falling asleep or using the mother as a human dummy!

A Shortage Of Space.

Many families live in flats because of the high cost of housing. They are just as likely living in a flat with neighbours close by to have some ongoing issues with their child's sleep. Despite the restricted space "where there's a will there's a way." A bespoke plan can be adapted to your living situation so your child can be encouraged to sleep better in a shared room or in a room on their own. I have visited many families over the years who live in flats but it seems to have increased more and more. However, sleep training can still be very successful as one mum here explains:

We were experiencing real difficulties getting our 5 ½ month old son to take a bottle and sleep through the night. I am planning to return to work very soon and was experiencing a lot of anxiety about his bottle refusal. This coupled with extreme sleep deprivation was proving incredibly tough, especially given that we are living in a one bed flat.  Within 24 hours of contacting Brenda about our son’s feeding and sleeping issues she had visited us and helped us implement a routine to address both these issues. Within 3 days he was taking a bottle reasonably well and had made huge progress with his sleeping. I was astounded that by us sticking to the simple routine we saw such rapid improvements, particularly given that we are so restricted with space in our one bed flat. I would strongly recommend Brenda’s services if you are struggling with your babies sleep or feeding issues.


The Difference Between Boys and Girls.

Having worked with babies and children for many years I have seen clear biological differences. This is my general observation, I am sure everyone has a different view.

  • ​Baby girls are more independent and reach their milestones quicker. Baby boys are less articulate, take more time to develop skills and are more needy.  
  • Baby girls sleep through the night earlier than baby boys and generally potty train quicker.
  • Baby girls being more articulate will start to spoon feed themselves, baby boys like to sit with their mouths open and be spoon fed for longer.
  • Girls will wake up in the morning in their cot and will entertain themselves. Boys will wake up and shout as they are full of energy and want to start the day.
  • Girls will go off and amuse themselves with different activities. Boys play very well but often have to be directed into play.
  • Girls like to talk and manipulate their way out of trouble. Boys are more likely to hit or run away using their physical strength to defend themselves.
  • Teenage girls can be very moody and argumentative. Teenage boys don't express their feelings so well but enjoy their own company.
  • Both boys and girls want to be independent and enjoy spreading their wings.

A mum said to me once "Boys are like dogs and girls are like cats" how true she was!

Whatever their characteristics we love them all.....


Life's Up's And Down's

While visiting and speaking to parents I hear lots of stories, some sad and some very happy ones. Starting a family and conceiving a child is as we know not always plain sailing. Everyones circumstances are different but I was particularly moved by this story from a family in the Midlands that I was asked to visit this week, which in turn is also Valentines week, so I thought I would  share it with you.
The mum was not able to conceive a baby after several years of trying with her husband. This was due to one of her fallopian tubes being blocked and possible other reasons. So she was admitted to hospital to have the tube unblocked. It was a simple procedure but the hospital managed to make a mistake and admitted the surgery had not been done correctly. The hospital offered the couple one free go of IVF treatment on the NHS to compensate for their mistake but only 'one' egg was saved during ovulation. The couple only had the one attempt at IVF, privately was not an option as they could not afford it. 
Low and behold the egg planted in mum's womb grew successfully and a gorgeous baby girl was born. There were also high's and low's in the first few months because the baby for the first 8 weeks did not put on any weight. 
Now she is 10 months, fully breast fed and looks a picture of health. The problem is she is not eating well and waking several times at night, so that is why they called me. So with the grandparents present I have put a plan in place to sort the issues.
Even though they love their little girl dearly the wakings were taking their toll on the family and unfortunately they could not sustain the current situation like a lot of families. We will correct the eating and sleeping and put her on track, then they can enjoy their most precious daughter even more.

British Summer Time Ends

Another summer gone and the clocks change once again. Mums are always asking how they can manage this with the routine. This means next Sunday, as it is early Sunday morning when we change the clocks, bedtime will come round an hour earlier because we have put the time back an hour but everyone will have got up later on the old time so you can extend your child's day. An hour's clock change doesn't seem much when we travel so frequently over time zones. Its like jet lag, just follow the new time on the clock and your child's natural body clock will adjust.
The day will start as usual for most children but bedtime will come round sooner. So I suggest you make that hour up in the day by 'tweeting' the routine slightly here and there through the day by 5/10 minute changes so everything is slightly later. Adjust your baby's naps slightly so the bed routine starts later. Older children from 2 years can manage better with a later bedtime. To adjust to the new time and get the routine on track start the routine Monday morning as usual on the new time. Don't let your child sleep later. Monday morning everyone has to wake up on the new time, and by Tuesday we have forgotten the clock change and our bodies have adjusted.

Bringing Up Britain

Last week Radio 4 broadcast the final programme of a very interesting series. I totally agree with the discussion that parents should not feel uncomfortable about asking for help when it comes to parenting. It's a very lonely job when you are at home on your own with your children and it can be a very challenging one. It's like driving a car, some perople take to it straight away and have more confidence while other people take longer to build their confidence up. Today there is help available if you look for it and nobody should feel uncomfortable seeking the advice to better their family life and parenting skills. The great thing is you are doing something about it and that is the best investment you can make. Here is the link

Constipation In Babies And Children

 Constipation is a very common problem in babies and young children. I would say all babies at some point suffer from constipation for a number of reasons. Some are listed here:

  • Babies with Reflux are often prescribed Gaviscon to thicken the milk or a formula that has a thickener in it. While this helps stable the problem of Reflux it also creates the problem of constipation.
  • Breast fed babies can become constipated when formula is introduced.
  • Too much UHT formula may impact on their bowel movements.
  • If your breast fed baby has not moved their bowels for several days this does not indicate they are constipated. Breast milk, which is naturally prepared, is absorbed through the body and babies therefore do not have very much waste.
  • The process of weaning can cause constipation as the gut gets use to solid food.
  • Babies often get all the fluids they need from breast or formula but beyond 6 months if they do not drink water they can become constipated.
  • Children need to eat a balanced diet so there is a good variety in their diet and not too much repetition of one food.
  • If a child is unsettled emotionally or is going through an anxious period it could have an impact on their bowel movements.
  • A child who has been unwell especially from a gastro illness may have become dehydrated and this can lead to constipation.

What you can do to ease the constipation:

  • ​​Switch to a different formula powder.
  • Massage your baby and rotate their legs as if they were riding a bicycle.
  • Give your child water or diluted juice, freshly squeezed orange juice to 3 parts water works well.
  • Use powdered formula not UHT.
  • Lots of fruit, vegtables, and other fiber in your childs diet.
  • You can buy lactolose from the chemist, no perscription needed, but seek advice from the doctor first.