The La Lèche League advises to exclusively breastfeed baby for at least 6 months. You can continue to feed your baby exclusively after this time, if you wish so. However, many babies develop a desire to try solid food or they need filling up more. Banana or baby rice are a great choice for starting baby on solids. Your baby can also try pureed fruit and vegetables, raw or cooked. They are easy to digest and taste great. He will also enjoy nibbling a bread crust or rusks. Please read more tips about baby’s first food baby’s first food here.

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Your baby’s physical development:

Baby should be able to hold an object in his hand and feed himself i.e. with a cracker. He smiles often and confidently when being interacted into play and talk. Baby can sit without support and bear some weight on his legs when held standing. He may also be able to pull himself up into a standing position when sitting. He will object if you try to take his toy away from him and also try to reach for a toy by moving towards it. Baby is becoming more independent by the day – and more confident. He looks for a dropped toy and tries to pick up an object in his fist. When hearing somebody baby turns his head towards the direction of the voice. Peekaboo is now a great game!

He may already be able to creep or crawl by now and pass an object from one hand to the other. Maybe he can also get into a sitting position from lying on his front. Waving bye-bye and clapping hands is another challenge which some babies may have already learned. A few babies can also pick up tiny objects with their finger and thumb and walk whilst holding on to the furniture (so-called cruising).

Your baby’s emotional development:

At this age, baby is learning about cause and effect: when his hand releases the ball it will fall onto the floor. This is an important discovery and will take some more months and plenty of experiments to understand.

Slowly, baby starts to understand the meaning of often repeated words, such as “no”. This little word has a strong meaning and will thus be picked up quicker than other words.

Baby simply loves social interaction: play, talk and cuddles are all important for developing his confidence and trust. He is keen to imitate sounds, simple movements and facial expressions. This helps him to communicate as well as to get to know his physical abilities. He loves attention, especially when he feels frustrated about not being able to reach his favourite toy. Baby can express his anger very strongly now and your duties as parent will shift from caring to taking a standpoint when being confronted with his strong emotions.

There are a lot of games and activities that he will enjoy now. Take a look at our activity list for some inspiration here.

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Breastfeeding is one of the most enjoyable experiences in life. Though many first time mums have no difficulty embracing this new challenge, a lot of mums encounter a painful and often frustrating struggle when breastfeeding their baby. Here are some helpful tips to get you through the most common breastfeeding problems – the natural way.

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Engorged Breasts

During pregnancy, your breasts have prepared for breastfeeding which may have resulted in your breasts gaining in significant size. What is more, a few days after birth, once the milk shoots in, the breast can feel painfully tender, hot, hard and swollen. It is probably even more difficult for the baby to latch on as the nipple may be flat, thus creating more frustration. This phenomenon can occur within a few hours and once the breastfeeding process – supply and demand – is more established to work in tune, it will diminish quickly, usually within a couple of days. In order to ease the discomfort you can take the following steps:

• The best and quickest solution to reduce the pain of engorged breasts is to breastfeed frequently and long. Through your baby’s sucking the production of milk and the supply will start to run more normal.

• If the engorgement is too painful to wait for the next feed or your baby has obvious difficulty to latch on properly, try to express a bit of milk by hand before nursing.

• Wear a well-fitted nursing bra which is not too tight around the breasts. Some women may even prefer not to wear any bra in the beginning.

• If the breasts are still painful after nursing, you can try to ease the discomfort by putting chilled cabbage leaves on your breast (cut a hole in the middle for your nipple). Take them off as soon as the discomfort vanishes.

• Try a warm shower or put a warm towel around your breasts to help the fluids flow better.

Sore Breasts

First time mothers often suffer from hyper sensitive or even cracked nipples. While breast milk is usually the answer for every ailment, including cracked nipples, it may not always give sufficient protection.

• You can use Calendula ointment to speed the healing process and to prevent infections through the nipple. Even though it is safe for baby to swallow it is generally better to wipe any excess off before putting baby on the breast.

• In order to prepare the nipples for breastfeeding you can use Olive Oil in your late pregnancy stage – apply a drop twice a day. This will make them less sensitive and thus less likely to crack once you start to nurse your baby.

• Place wet tea bags, preferably chamomile, on your sore or cracked nipples. The properties in the tea will help with the healing process.

Breastfeeding during Illness

Breastfeeding is the best way to strengthen baby’s immune system and to make her resistant to germs and other bacteria. If you catch flu or some other virus, you do not have to stop breastfeeding your baby as you won’t be able to pass it on through your breast milk. However, your baby can become infected through other contact with you so it is important to wash your hands before handling your little one.

Too much Breast Milk

If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of breast milk, there are several things you can do.

You could donate your breast milk to The United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking. Thanks to breast milk donors human milk can be given to those babies who are unable to be breastfed naturally. It has proven invaluable for a healthier start for premature babies, thus allowing them to develop their immature system more positively. For more information about breast milk donation visit their website here.

However, if you decide not to donate your breast milk, you can also decrease your supply by taking two to three sage tea infusions per day. It can be very effective and will also help with weaning your baby, as it reduces the milk production slowly.

Lump in Breast and Mastitis

If you feel a lump in your breast or your breast is very hard and painful, please see your doctor or a breastfeeding specialist immediately. They will be able to give you necessary medication and/or advice.

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk

Not enough breastmilk?

March 18, 2008

Breastfeeding is highly influenced by the mother’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. Low levels of stress, healthy nutrition, plenty of fluid intake, emotional support and nipple stimulation through baby’s sucking are all important contributors to breastfeeding success. However, living circumstances often don’t allow perfect breastfeeding conditions: another child in the family, the death of a loved one, money worries etc. all add to an increase in stress levels. Other factors such as breast surgery can contribute to low amounts of breast milk. It has also been found that more women who gave birth by caesarean section encountered breastfeeding problems. This may have various reasons such as the initial separation between mother and baby or the physical pain as a result of the surgery which ultimately affects the mother’s ability to enjoy the breastfeeding experience.

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While the WHO’s (World Health Organization) guidelines of how long to breastfeed clearly state that baby’s physical and psychological health benefit most when breastfed for at least six months, inexperienced mothers often despair when they feel they do not produce enough breast milk to satisfy their baby. It can be an emotional rollercoaster when new mothers have to face personal stress as well as the fact that breastfeeding does not go “according to plan”. This downward psychological spiral inevitably results in the production of lower amounts of breast milk. Consequently, mothers often give up breastfeeding much earlier than the recommended minimum time of six months.

The following suggestions may help to increase the production of breast milk by either calming mother’s nerves and her system or by encouraging the body to produce more.

It is vital to rest when breastfeeding, so rest when baby is sleeping too.

The following herbs are known to help increase breast milk production:
Fennel, Raspberry Leaf, Alfalfa, Nettle, Hops, Blessed Thistle and Goat’s Rue.

o Fennel tea: It helps in different ways: it encourages natural breast milk production and helps soothe indigestion and baby’s colic. Its compounds help balance the female hormone levels and are thus very good for calming the nerves.

o Raspberry Leaf tea: It is recommended to be taken well before giving birth, in the third trimester, to help soften the uterus and thus ease the birth process. It is also very good to be taken after birth as it is full of vitamins and minerals and it is proven to help with the recovery.

o Alfalfa is a more common galactogogues (breast milk increasing herbs). Alfalfa proteins are rich in amino acids which are known to supplement any lack in nutrition and thus, help the improve milk quality and production.

o Nettle tea: like Alfalfa, nettle is full of vitamins and minerals which will help improve the quality of the milk.

o Hops: it has been known for centuries that it helps with breast milk production; however, it should not be taken over a long period of time as it can cause depression and make you sleepy. If you tend to have a depressive nature, it may be better to stay away from hops.

o Blessed Thistle: it is known to stimulate milk production effectively; it is a breast milk booster in combination with Raspberry Leaves.

o Goat’s Rue: it is very powerful and has shown to increase milk production by up to 50% in some cases as it may also stimulate the development of the mammary glands. It has no reported side effects.

Another more hands-on way of promoting breast milk production is simple pumping. As nipple stimulation helps the milk supply it is important to let baby suckle as long as possible or necessary. After a few days milk levels should be increased.

In our modern world many may find it difficult to relax and to rest. Having a baby, giving birth and breast feeding are all dependent on the body’s efficient work force. Please remember to allow yourself time to sleep and relax as much as possible in order to experience a more enjoyable time with your baby!

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk

Breastfeeding Positions

March 10, 2008

As new mothers become more confident in breastfeeding their little ones, they will also discover new feeding positions. However, in the beginning most of them start off with the cradle hold as this seems to be the natural position for both mother and baby. The baby lies on his side, facing the nipple. While mother can hold him comfortably in both her arms without loosing control over what is happening, baby feels close, protected and warm. This tummy-to-tummy position seems ideal for a more relaxing experience, especially in the beginning.

The clutch hold: This position is ideal when you had a caesarean and you don’t want to put too much pressure on your abdomen. It may also facilitate breastfeeding for mothers with large breasts or if you are nursing twins. You hold your baby at your side, holding his legs under your arm. It is recommended to use a pillow to bring baby up to the level of the nipple, so holding baby should not become a strain. You support baby’s head with the right hand if he is feeding from the right breast (and vice versa).

The side-lying position: This position is preferred when baby needs a feed in the middle of the night or when you are having a rest. You lie on your side with baby in front of you on his back. He may either turn his head towards the nipple or lie on his side, so tummy-to-tummy. It is important that his mouth is in line with your nipple. You may find it helpful to support your breast with your hand. Putting a pillow behind baby’s back to keep him from rolling back (if he lies on his side) may also be helpful.

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk

Breastfeeding benefits both mother and baby physically and psychologically. Human milk contains at least 100 ingredients which are not found in artificial milk and it is known to be the perfect start for baby. While mother feels more relaxed, baby receives nature’s super food and thus, develops safely as it is nutritionally perfect. Decades of scientific research have revealed how this fascinating interdependent relationship works and why nursing baby naturally is unmatchable.

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• Colostrum which is nature’s protective serum is given first and boosts baby’s immunity. When breast milk develops a few days after birth baby’s immune system is continued to be given viral and bacterial protectants in order to fight off germs. Moreover, antibodies contained in human milk protect against infections. Breast milk offers the perfect combination of protective agents for baby to be safe during the most critical period of life. In addition, it helps babies to develop their own immune system faster and more strongly because they have time to develop their systems, being protected by mother’s milk, before having to fight off germs themselves.

Breastfeeding gives either complete protection or delays the onset of symptoms of allergies, autoimmune thyroid diseases, bacterial meningitis, celiac disease, diabetes, infant diarrhoea, eczema, urine infections, and necrotizing enterocolitis.

Breastfeeding also appears to be protective against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). A study carried out in New Zealand has shown that bottle-fed babies are exposed to twice the risk of SIDS; other scientists believe that the risk can be multiplied by five. There are two main reasons why breastfed babies are less exposed to the dangers of SIDS: 1. Human milk has protective properties which cannot be found in formula milk and thus, give baby natural protection; and 2. The overall way of how baby is cared for differs significantly: while breastfed babies need more frequent feeds, thus being attended to more often, bottle-fed babies tend to sleep in longer intervals. This may be positive for new parents who feel the stress of sleep deprivation; however it is not positive from the baby’s point of view. In addition, studies show that breastfed babies tend to be put onto their back instinctively when feeding during the night. This position is proven to be protective against SIDS.

Human milk may also protect against diseases in later life such as inflammatory bowel syndrome, juvenile diabetes, breast cancer, and malignant lymphoma. Chronic conditions such as asthma and allergies or middle ear infections are more likely to develop or to be more severe in bottle-fed babies.

Breastfed babies show higher I.Q. scores; this finding had nothing to do with their mother’s socioeconomic or educational status.

Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of developing child obesity because human milk contains less fat-stimulating insulin than formula milk and passes on the protein hormone leptin which is believed to help regulate appetite and fat production.

• The more challenging suckling at the breast helps improve muscle development of the face.

• The taste of human milk changes slightly, depending on the mother’s diet, thus preparing baby naturally for a wide variety of solid foods later on.

Breastfed babies usually do not suffer from constipation, as bottle fed babies can do.

Most importantly, infants who are nursed naturally are given more time to bond with their mother because they tend to spend more intimate time together. As baby’s vision is very limited, baby seeks the closeness of mother or father to feel secure and nurtured.

Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk

Breastfeeding is the most natural way of nursing an infant. In the early 1900s, the numerous health benefits of human milk were not known; but today we are aware of all its health promoting properties, not just for baby but also for mother.• Nursing baby requires a lot of energy, especially when baby experiences a growth spurt and demands very frequent feeding. As such, breastfeeding is nature’s easiest diet because it uses an extra 500 to 1,000 calories a day. If the mother eats healthily this is the chance to shed those unwanted pounds.

• By feeding baby, the body releases the hormone oxytocin which helps contract the uterus during the first few days after birth. This is extremely helpful as it stops residual bleeding and the uterus regains its former shape much quicker.

• Several studies have shown that breastfeeding is related to developing breast cancer; if a woman has breastfed she is at lower risk for pre menopausal breast cancer.

• Continuous infant feeding prevents contraception by stopping ovulation. This phenomenon has been called “exogestation” – gestation outside the womb – because the female fertility system is programmed as if it was still pregnant. Baby’s suckling sends a message to the body which indicates the baby’s developmental stage: the more baby feeds the higher is the contraceptive protection; however, if baby is breastfed less frequently (less than every two hours), contraceptive protection may be much lower.

• The risk of developing ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and hip fractures in later life has also been shown to be significantly lower when breastfeeding.

• Women who have breastfed are less likely to develop heart disease too, as they tend to have higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in their blood.

Mild forms of postnatal depression may be reduced or even prevented because the body’s hormones make mothers feel more positive overall.

Breastfeeding is cheaper: it does not require you to buy a lot of equipment and the savings in formula milk can add up significantly.

Most importantly, nursing mothers all agree that feeding baby is accompanied by an extremely warm, comforting feeling which helps strengthen a deep rooted bond. While baby suckles hormones are released into the mother’s body which calm and relax her in order to make it a very positive experience, especially when she feels tired or stressed.

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Nurture your baby naturally at www.babysbest.co.uk

The History of Bottle Feeding

February 25, 2008

Archaeological findings have shown that breast feeding substitutes were used thousands of years ago. Historically, substitute milk was given to infants whose mothers died or were too sick to feed their babies, usually with limited possibility of wet nursing at hand. Cow’s milk or goat’s milk were commonly used to replace mother’s milk. In addition, babies were sometimes given supplementary solid food, such as a paste made of bread or flour mixed with milk or water. Needless to say that infant mortality rate was extremely high – from 50 to 99% . History and cross-cultural studies have revealed that the increase in bottle feeding resulted in an increase in infant deaths, especially where standards of hygiene were not met. It is a fact, that artificial infant feeding can hold more risks for baby.

During the industrial revolution artificial feeding became popular in Britain as women had to leave their children behind to work in the factories. The first scientific breast milk substitute was invented in 1867 by a German chemist. It was a combination of cow’s milk, flour, potassium bicarbonate and malt. However, the popularity of bottle feeding increased when condensed milk was developed in the late 19th century. The social consensus about how best to feed baby in a modern world which was filled with new scientific achievements, changed towards artificial infant feeding. Bottle feeding was sold as nutritious, safe and easy to prepare with no need for refrigeration. More importantly, pasteurization of milk and sterilization of feeding equipment made artificial infant feeding a safer alternative; thus, making bottle feeding more popular. In addition, medical representatives and scientists celebrated this new supposedly convenient way of feeding baby. As a result, breast feeding became comparatively unpopular as figures show that only 20 to 30% of babies were actually breastfed during WWII in the USA. However, the 1980s proved difficult for companies such as Nestlé when their involvement with medical establishments in order to sell formula feeding in the third world was revealed.

Bottle feeding is still the number one choice for many new mothers. This can have different personal or even medical reasons, although modern living standards are mainly to blame for the change in maternal attitude over the past century.

For more information about breast- and bottle feeding visit www.babysbest.co.uk