Monday, November 28, 2005

Have a Head Rest Ready for the Baby when Heading Home from the Hospital

A friend commented on another posting that new parents taking their baby home from the hospital must make sure they have adequate gear to transport the newborn home safely. I'll recapitulate some of the wisdom he shared. Having adequate gear to transport the newborn home safely includes having, ofcourse, an infant car seat correctly strapped into the back seat (you can get help from a local fire department, I think, on how to correctly and securely strap a car seat into your vehicle) and making sure your newborn is snuggled in tight in the car seat. Companies that make the car seats sell extra material you put in to the car seat to accomodate and to better fit smaller babies (e.g. newborn infants).

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Going Home from the Hospital - Have a Doughnut Ready

One of my closest friends had a baby a few weeks ago. And, I am every grateful that she's giving me a play-by-play of things I should know. Well, here's a bit of wisdom she passed me most recently.

Have a neck cushion or doughnut ready for the trip home from the the hospital. Anyone who has just had a baby will be too sore to sit directly in the car. A doughnut will soften the pain a bit. In fact, she recommends having two doughnuts, one for the car and one in the home.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Interesting Study on Colic

The findings aren't absolutely conclusive. However, coming from a family in which we're allergic to a number of things, I found this to be helpful .

Special Diet Curbs Colic

November 7, 2005 08:41:13 PM PST
By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Breast-feeding moms may be able to ease their babies' colic if they exclude the most common allergens from their diet.

That means no wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy or fish, according to a new study in the November issue of Pediatrics.

"Our findings suggest in breast-fed infants who are otherwise well, and where breast-feeding technique is satisfactory, a significant number of infants can have their distressed behavior improved within one week of diet modification," said study author Dr. David Hill, director of the department of allergy at Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

Not everyone is convinced that a low-allergen diet does the trick, however.

"Kids who have colic get better on their own anyway with the element of time," noted Dr. Rebecca Unger, an attending pediatrician at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "This diet is pretty restrictive and they only had moms on it for a week or so, and I'm not sure what the optimal time is to get the allergens out."

Dr. Lisa Pavone, a family medicine specialist at Beaumont Hospital in Troy, Mich., agreed.

"Colicky symptoms peak at about six weeks, so a lot of these kids may have been on the down slope of colic anyway," she said, but added, "Anyone who has a colicky infant can use any additional information they can get about things that might help."

Colic affects about one in five babies in the United States, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Most babies with colic have peaceful days, but at some point in the day -- usually early in the evening -- the baby becomes inconsolable and will cry for hours at a time. Colic is diagnosed if the baby's doctor can't find a medical reason to explain the crying. The disorder generally begins when a baby is about 3 weeks old and peaks around 6 weeks. Usually, by the time a baby is 12 weeks old, colic is nearly gone.

No one knows exactly what causes colic, though theories abound. One theory is that a hypersensitivity to some food proteins may cause colic.

To test this theory, Hill and his colleagues randomly assigned mothers of 90 breast-fed infants to either a low-allergen diet or a normal diet that included foods forbidden for the low-allergen group. Forty-seven women were assigned to the low-allergen group, and the remainder were in the control group.

The low-allergen group excluded cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy and fish from their diets for seven days. Mothers recorded all periods of crying or fussiness for the study's duration. The average age of the babies was 6 weeks at the start of the study.

On days 8 and 9, 74 percent of the babies in the low-allergen group were crying/fussing less frequently, while 37 percent in the control group were. That means babies in the low-allergen group were almost 40 percent more likely to have a reduction in their crying spells. Overall, the low-allergen babies were crying for about three fewer hours during a 48-hour period.

However, when mothers were asked to subjectively assess whether the babies were crying less, there was little difference between the groups. So, mothers in the low-allergen group didn't seem to notice that their babies were crying less frequently.

"Exclusion of allergenic foods from the maternal diet was associated with reduction in distressed behavior among breast-fed infants with colic presenting in the first six weeks of life," said Hill.

Hill noted that if a mother decides to try dietary restriction, it should be done under the supervision of a health-care professional, and it shouldn't be restricted for more than a week or two. He said if there's no response during that time, it's likely that food isn't the cause of your infant's colic.

Pavone said that there are several helpful books and videos on colic available for new parents. She also suggested trying simethicone drops, which can help reduce gas. She said if you're going to try any homeopathic remedies for colic, to check with your pediatrician first to make sure it's safe.

Both Pavone and Unger said it is crucial for parents of colicky children to get a break whenever they can. Have your spouse take over for a little while so you can get some rest, or recruit family members, friends or neighbors to help.

More information

For more tips on soothing a colicky baby, visit the American Academy of Family Physicians.