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This checklist addresses safety issues in and around the home. You do not have to change everything in your house – just be aware of the dangers!

General

· gate for stairs; you may want to consider one at the top and one at the bottom of the stairs

· make sure the bars of the banister rail are not too far apart

· socket covers

· no poisonous/prickly plants, such as the Swiss Cheese Plant

· non-skid matting under rugs

· protective caps on edges/corners of tables

· lockable window handles

· security glass in door panels

Kitchen

· cleaning chemicals, plastic bags, bin liners, batteries etc should be stored in a lockable cupboard or out of reach

· do not put harmful substances in old drink bottles or food containers

· when cooking always turn pots and pan handles towards the back of the hob

· cupboard door and drawer safety catches

· do not leave the leads from kitchen equipment trailing over the edge of the work surface i.e. kettles

Utility Room

· always store heavy machines in a safe place

· beware of trailing cables

· all chemicals should be stored in a locked cupboard

· best of all: lock the door!

Bathroom and Toilet

· all medicines should be in a locked cabinet

· adjust the hot water thermostat so that a child cannot be scalded

· non-slip mats in the bath and for the bathroom floor

· cleaning chemicals should be stored in a locked cupboard or on high shelves

Child’s Bedroom

· shelf units and wardrobes should be screwed to the walls

· put heavy objects on the lowest shelves

· put toys where they can be easily reached

Visit http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Articles/ for more baby safety information!

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Baby’s Sleep Pattern

January 30, 2008

baby_sleep.jpgMost parents wonder how they can get their baby to sleep through the night. After all, it is hard work to feed baby constantly, especially when breastfeeding.

Baby’s natural sleep pattern

The daily average sleeping time of a one-month old baby is 16 and a half hours but we have to consider that some babies sleep far more and others far less. New parents quickly understand that they cannot “train” their infant as easily into a routine that suits them. There is no ideal baby sleep solution! After all, babies have to get used to a whole new world.

Infant sleep pattern is initially very different: newborn’s sleep typically consists of short intervals of sleep intermingled with even shorter periods of wakefulness. At first, there is a very limited biological sleep pattern since there was no day and night to adjust to within the womb. However, most babies will be able to sleep for a length of 4 hours by around 4 months of age.

As baby grows their sleep pattern changes too. There are good biological reasons for infants to change the way they sleep. Constant growth spurts in the first year of their lives require frequent feeding, thus more interrupted sleep for both parent and baby. If a parent forces his newborn into some kind of sleep routine, it may interfere with the milk supply when breastfeeding.

Ideal baby sleeping position

When parents co-sleep with their infant the baby’s natural position is laying on his back. This position helps to breastfeed more easily, to be able to attend to the baby quicker and it leaves space for the baby to move. This natural sleeping position is supported by the fact that the rate of SIDS in the UK from 1981 to 1992 fell by a staggering 90% since the new sleeping position was advocated.
Research into the way babies sleep has shown that sleeping on the back is not only natural, but also life saving. However, some infants refuse to sleep on their back. The position they were used to in the womb is the reason why they may feel more comfortable laying on their tummy.

When sleeping on their back baby can fuss a lot with their flailing arms and legs. Here it is advisable to swaddle baby in a lightweight receiving blanket (i.e. http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Products/Sleep-time/Blankets/Virgin-Wool-Baby-Blanket/76/)

It may make him feel more comfortable and relaxed. If swaddling is not an option for baby, a simple organic baby sleeping bag may do the trick (http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Products/Sleep-time/Sleeping-bags/).

Baby’s Breathing

A newborn’s breathing rate is irregular. Their normal breathing rate is about 40 times a minute; however, if baby sleeps this can slow down to as much as 20 times a minute. In addition, babies experience pauses in breathing several times during the night. The irregular breathing pattern and the pauses are completely normal because babies are born neurologically unfinished. Their breathing control centre in the brain is still immature.

Baby’s Best Sleeping Environment

There are some gentle ways to help baby sleep more comfortably.

A cradle or a moses basket can re-create the comfort of the womb.

Swaddling has been proven to be very successful with most newborns.

Make sure the room is not too warm and not too cold (around 20°C).

As mother’s movement soothes the baby in the womb, rocking, swaying and patting will still help baby to relax outside the womb.

Don’t be afraid of background noise! Baby is used to noise from being in the womb. If you try to create a quite sleeping place for your baby, it may actually be counterproductive.

Babies sleep best by knowing that mum or dad are close. If you are busy working from home, cooking or playing with the sibling, create a quite corner in the room for your baby to relax.

Don’t stress yourself with establishing a night time routine! If this is your first baby, it is difficult enough to find out what routine actually works best for you and your baby. As mentioned above, baby’s physical development causes sleep patterns to change. Eventually, you will feel the need for routine and, most importantly, you will find that your baby has settled more. Give him about six months before introducing a routine that will work for all of you.

Make sure that baby’s immediate environment is toxin-free by choosing organic baby bedding and an organic baby mattress. By buying only organic baby products you will cut baby’s allergy risks significantly and allow him to move about freely without the fear of chemicals and pesticides (please visit http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Products/ for more information).

Baby Eczema

January 28, 2008

More and more babies suffer from this condition which can be triggered by many different things, such as stress, certain foods and environmental factors.

Eczema may be hereditary and is found to be closely related with hay fever and asthma. A baby is more likely to suffer from this skin condition from around 3 months onwards. Some scientists believe that if eczema is found in babies before 3 months, she is more likely to develop asthma and hay fever in later life.

For many parents the visit to the doctor is the first step to treatment, and most often the last. Starting a course of steroids, antihistamines and even antibiotics triggers a vicious cycle because your baby’s immune system is suppressed with chemicals. In contrast, alternative medicine will boost her immune system to make it strong enough to help fight eczema.

Common symptoms

A red, scaly rash can start on the cheeks and spread elsewhere.

Common affected areas are: the face, behind the ears, armpits, hands, knees and elbows and neck.

You will find patches of dry skin.

The skin can be very itchy, accompanied with visible scratch marks.

Blisters, cracks and possibly weeping sores.

Eczema always needs treatment to avoid complications and infections.

Eczema irritants

Irritants can include:

Dust mites, animal hair and pollen

Synthetic fabrics and wool

Extreme temperatures, i.e. too hot or too cold and wet

Dry air (central heating)

Certain foods (please read http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Articles/Babys-first-food/Baby-food-to-avoid/36/)

Household chemicals found in for example conventional cleaners and washing powders

Fragrances, i.e. room sprays, soap, baby lotions, oils, etc.

How you can help

Firstly, clip your baby’s nails. It is important to minimize the damage your baby can cause by scratching her skin. You may even consider covering her hands with mittens or socks when sleeping.

There are natural helpers available to replace conventional baby skin products (www.babysbest.co.uk/Products/Natural-baby-care/Skincare/)

You must avoid synthetic fabric and use only pure cotton clothing and bedding for your baby.

You should control your baby’s diet.

Complementary treatments

You can relieve itchy skin with a soothing bath and essential oils, such as jojoba or almond oil. You can add a few drops of lavender oil for a relaxing scent.

An oatmeal bath is very effective, too. Put a small amount of organic oats together with a little bit of either jojoba oil or vegetable oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil in a thin cotton bag (you can also use a muslin towel and tie it up). Hang it over the tap so the running water releases all the goodness into the bath.

Vitamin A, Zinc and Omega 3 oils are nutritional helpers who help boost the immune system and with the healing process. You can find Vitamin A in carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, kale, butter, spinach and pumpkin (among others). Zinc is high in beans, nuts, almond, whole grains, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and red meat and poultry. Omega 3 oils can be found in eggs, fish (salmon, cot, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies), nuts, linseeds, and kiwifruit.

You can soothe irritated skin by holding a piece of cotton wool soaked in ice-cold milk on to the area for a few minutes.

For more tips and information visit http://www.babysbest.co.uk/

When going out, you can create your own first aid box with the following herbal remedies for fast and effective relief:

Tea tree essential oil is anti-septic

Calendula cream is soothing and has anti-septic properties

Lavender essential oil is cooling

Arnica has anti-inflammatory properties

This guide is for minor injuries that can be treated at home. If your baby has a serious injury i.e. the bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes, the wound requires stitching or your baby has high fever (reaching 40°C or 104°F), you must seek medical help immediately.

Cuts & grazes

Wash the wound carefully with clean water. You can also add some drops of tea tree essential oil to a bowl of water and clean the wound carefully to remove dirt and grit. Allow the wound to dry properly, either by air-drying or by patting it very gently.

If swelling occurs, cool the affected area with some ice cubes wrapped in a cloth.

If there is any bleeding, gently press against the wound with a clean cloth to help stop the bleeding. A little bit of Calendula cream with its anti-septic properties will help the wound to heal quicker.

Depending on the size of the wound, apply a dressing or plaster.

Insect stings & bites

They may be very painful but rarely serious. If the sting is inside the mouth, monitor your baby very carefully. The swelling could cause breathing difficulties. On rare occasions, a sting can cause an allergic reaction. If swelling inside the mouth occurs or you suspect an allergic reaction, your baby requires medical treatment.

However, you can prevent being bitten before going out by applying citronella, eucalyptus or lavender essential oils, diluted in a base of almond oil. Don’t apply essential oil straight on to the skin!

Firstly, if you see a sting, pull it out quickly with a clean pair of tweezers.

Cool the affected area with cold water or ice cubes wrapped in a towel to reduce the pain. Here, a little bit of lavender oil is soothing. It reduces the swelling and stops the itching.

You can apply a mixture of 1 tsp of cider vinegar and 2 drops of lavender essential oil to calm the inflammation.

Sun exposure

Babies must never be left in direct sun light! They must be kept in the shade at all times. In addition, baby should wear light cotton clothing and keep her head covered. Their skin is far too sensitive to allow aggressive UVA and UVB rays.

However, if your baby suffers from over-exposure to sunlight, cover her immediately and move her into the shade. Give her lots of water to drink. If she has any red skin as a result of over-exposure, you can bathe it in cool water. Add 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil which will help soothe the skin.

In addition, you can mix 120ml of calamine lotion, 5 drops of German chamomile and 15 drops of lavender oil and treat the affected area.

Burns

Minor burns can be treated at home. The following natural remedies can help:

Cool the affected area under cold running water or bathe in cold water until the immediate burning sensation settles down.

Aloe vera gel which is kept in the fridge at all times will effectively cool and soothe burns and speed up healing time.

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For more baby tips and tricks visit http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Articles/

Experts recommend that baby should ideally be breastfed for at least the first year of his life. Breast milk is nutritionally perfect for your baby’s development and all he needs. In fact, in most non-Western cultures it has been observed that babies are usually breastfed for about 2 years before being weaned. This seems like a long time for us, yet it is perfectly plausible if we consider baby’s delicate immune system that has to sustain harsher living conditions.

In contrast, studies in modern cultures have shown that the average time a baby is breastfed is about 4 months. Some mothers may also decide against breastfeeding altogether because of medical or personal reasons. There are formulas on the market specifically designed for different ages of baby. They represent the only alternative to breast milk as they are designed to be “as close to nature” as artificially possible.

When it is time for baby to taste first solid food, health visitors now follow the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which recommends that no solid food should be introduced before the first 6 months.

However, you may receive contradicting advice from older relatives and friends who advocate the introduction of solid food sooner than 6 months. Whatever your decision, follow your baby’s lead: He will show you if he is interested by watching you eat with eager anticipation or by showing signs of being hungrier than normal and requiring constant breast or bottle feeding.

For more tips and tricks about baby’s first food visit http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Articles/Babys-first-food/

Baby recipes & meal ideas

January 21, 2008

feeding_baby_1.jpgAfter you have introduced baby rice successfully, you can add a peeled and boiled carrot and mash a little into the baby rice. This way you introduce the new taste of carrot very gently.

Apply the same method with a baked or stewed apple, or other raw fruits such as banana or pear.

Once your baby gets used to a “vegetable only” or a “fruit only” diet you can introduce vegetable and fruit combinations such as:

Butternut squash and sweet potato

Carrot and potato

Broccoli and potato

Peas and sweet potato

Lentils, carrot and potato

Apple and carrot

Apple and pear

Peach and banana

Apple and plum

This list surely shows that keeping it simple is the best start! The amount and varieties will change according to your baby’s appetite. After some time, you will be able to take a portion out of your family’s dinner for your baby (before adding salt or stock!) and blend it.

If you struggle to find time to prepare home-made food for your little one, you can prepare his meals in advance and freeze the portions.

Please visit http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Articles/ to read the full article

Feeding Baby Safely

January 17, 2008

feeding_baby_thoughtful.jpgPreparing baby’s first food can be a scary prospect when you are worried about hygiene in the kitchen.
However, if you follow some basic hygiene rules, cooking can be great fun and very safe too.

By the time your baby starts on solids he may already be picking up his toys from the floor and putting them into his mouth. This is probably the time when you wonder whether you can still keep your baby’s world sterile. The truth is that it is not possible and – let’s be honest – you would not want to keep it sterile. Nowadays, the majority of medical professionals agree that our obsession with cleanliness can actually be harmful as it leads to a lowered immunity which makes us more vulnerable to germs and disease in the long term.

However, there are some basic hygiene rules which we all must follow to keep our babies safe:

· Always wash your hands with soap and water before you start. You must wash them again after handling raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs as they harbour bacteria. This may sound obvious but many of us forget it!

· Make sure you wash your pots, pans and utensils in hot, soapy water. Then air-dry them, instead of using a tea towel.

· Always wash vegetables and fruit as they can still have residues of pesticides used in the growing process on their surface as well as harbour bacteria

· Try to use separate cutting boards, one for “animal” products like meat and fish and another for fruits, vegetables and bread. If you only have one board, wash it when you switch from one food type to another. You must avoid cross-contamination where possible!

· Refrigerate freshly cooked baby food within 2 hours as bacteria can grow at room temperature after this time.

· When opening jars, listen for the ‘pop’ to make sure the seal was intact. If the lid of the jar has a raised button and you cannot hear the ‘pop’ sound when opening, return the jar to the supermarket or discard.

· After you have taken out a serving from a jar, put the lid back on again and refrigerate.

· You can keep fruit and vegetables in the fridge for 2 days; meat for 1 day; meat/vegetable combination for 1 day and egg yolks for 1 day.

· When heating baby food in the microwave, always stir up the food and test its temperature (either on the inside of your wrist or on your lips) before feeding baby.

· When in doubt about the freshness of a food, always discard!

For more information about Feeding Baby visit http://www.babysbest.co.uk/Articles/Babys-first-food/