Introducing a New Baby

Introducing a New Baby

Few things are more exciting than the introduction of a new baby into a family.  Our hearts and minds fill with images of our children playing together happily.  We imagine the sounds of laughter filling the house and heartwarming family pictures.  But we also worry about how our older children will adjust and what behavioral issues will sneak into our lives.

Luckily, our older kiddos are pretty resilient and there are many things that we can do to help them with the transition.

There is enough love for all of a mother’s children

My eldest daughter was 5 when we discovered we were adding a new baby to our family.  We knew she wanted a sibling and she was super excited about the news.  But as my pregnancy progressed, there were moments where I’d catch her usually glowing smile replaced by uncertainty.

One day while we were looking through baby stuff at Walmart, I looked over and saw that look on her face… you know the one… sadness, confusion, self-doubt.  When I asked her what was wrong, she looked up and me and shared that she was worried I wouldn’t be able to love her as much when the new baby came.  And that I’d be so busy taking care of the new baby, that I wouldn’t have time to take care of her too.  Talk about a sharp kick-in-the-stomach.

But it was also a beautiful moment to understand where our older children may be when we bring a new child into the mix.  Because my daughter was older, she was able to vocalize her greatest fear.  But we need to understand that our younger littles may have the same fears and be unable to clearly put those fears into words for us.

A mother’s heart grows while the baby is growing to make sure there is plenty of love to go around.  So when you see my belly growing, you know my heart is growing too. 

These are the words I shared with my daughter on the day that she shared her darkest worries.  And I watched as the relief flooded her face.

We can help our older kids be part of the process

Your older kids may enjoy helping to get things ready for the new baby.  And although we may not go along with their top name choices, (my daughter wanted to name her sibling Harry Potter if it was a boy) they may be able to help out with other important selections.   Ideas to consider…

  1.  Pick your two favorite nursery decor ideas and ask your older kiddos to help choose which one to go with.
  2. Let them help pick out a special toy for the new baby and let them get a matching one if that’s what they’re into.
  3. Help your older kids create artwork for the baby’s room. Picture of kids artwork You can get a pack of 3 8×10 blank canvas panels at walmart for $3.  Draw a simple design in pencil and let your littles go to town with some acrylic paints.  When they’re done, do the outlines with black paint and let it dry.  If you make several different pictures you can create a really neat art section.  Imperfection preferred. 🙂
  4. Let your older children pick out a special outfit for the new baby to come home from the hospital in.

We can be honest with our kids on what to expect

Change is scary.  And a new baby is a BIG change.   Mom going to the hospital can be scary for your older littles.  In many cases, going to the hospital to have a baby may be the first time our older children are separated overnight from us.  But we can let them know what to expect and make it less scary.

  1.  If the older kids will be visiting you in the hospital, make sure to tell them about all the stuff that goes along with a hospital setting.  Contraction monitors, pulse ox monitors, blood pressure… all these things make noise.  IV poles connect tubes of fluid to mom.  There are wires everywhere.
    woman in hospital holding new baby
    Copyright: famveldman / 123RF Stock Photo

    Add a tired uncomfortable new mom into the mix and it’s not surprising that seeing mom in the hospital can be a tad bit scary, especially for toddlers.  Let your littles know beforehand that these things are going to be there.  Show them pictures of what a hospital looks like.

  2. If your littles are going to be with you during the course of active labor, let them know that you are going to be uncomfortable and may be in pain.  The sight of mom in pain can be very overwhelming particularly for young children.  Consider having them stay with friends or family during your labor if you know that this is going to be an issue.
  3. Make sure your older kids know that you are going to be sore for a bit after the baby comes.  And although snuggles are appreciated and very wanted, you will need them to help you by being gentle.  Even if you don’t think your older children are going to really understand, tell them anyway.

We can keep our older children involved at home

Our kids love showing us how big they are.   And bringing home a new baby means automatic promotion for them.  So involve them to the extent that they want to be involved.  Diaper fetcher, paci gatherer, clothing picker-outer….  Help them to be involved.  If they’re not into helping with the baby though, don’t force the issue.  Keep giving lots of love and snuggles..  They will come around.

We can help foster their relationship

Once you are home from the hospital and settled into a routine, make sure to keep setting good boundaries and expectations.  Remember to notice when your older children are doing things you want them to repeat.  So often, we are so grateful that things are going smoothly, we don’t remember to point out the good things and instead focus on redirecting the bad stuff.  So make an effort each day to notice and comment on several things your mini is doing well.  You will be amazed at the result.

Your older kiddos are still your baby too

Sometimes when you bring home a new baby, your older child is not ready to give up his/her role as the baby of the family.  And although growing up happens to the best of us, we can reassure them that no matter how big they get, they’ll still be our babies.  And that although they may have gained a new roll in the family, their overall role has stayed the same.

Have Fun

So welcome to the world of parenting more than one kid.  Enjoy the journey and laugh a lot.  And if behavior issues crop up that you’re not sure how to handle, make sure to chat with your pediatrician.  There are so many things we can do as parents to help our kids along in this process!

5 Things Your Newborn Wants You to Know

So you’ve done it! You and your partner have just given birth to your first bundle of joy and you are heading home.  Welcome to the world of parenting. Perhaps you’ve been around kids for your entire life, and perhaps this is the first newborn you’ve ever held.  Regardless, you are now responsible for a tiny human.

Whether you’re feeling extra confident in your coming parental responsibilities, or maybe a little overwhelmed at the abundance of advice pouring in, there are a few things your brand new bundle would like you to know.

“Sleep Like a Baby” refers to mattresses, not actual babies

Babies are often fitful sleepers.  We have this idea that our new bundles are going to be still and angelic in their sleep.  However, most babies jump and startle just as much in their sleep as they do while awake!  Between the little jumps and jerks, frequent feedings, and diaper changes, most brand new bundles only get a couple of good hours in a stretch.  No worries though, you will one day sleep again.  🙂  In the meantime, invest in some good coffee and try to start some healthy sleep habits.

Babies are actually pretty tough

The birthing process is not for the faint of heart.  In a vaginal delivery, you can expect your newborn to exit a cervix that fully dilated, is about the same width of a softball.   With a caesarian delivery, your uterus is cut open and the baby is tugged out.  Although exactly how uncomfortable this is for the baby is not really known, it’s safe to say it’s probably not very pleasant for them (we know it’s not super fun for the mommas).  At the very least, we can expect that there’s a good bit of pressure involved.  So take a deep breath.  You’re not going to hurt them by burping them or changing their clothes.

Crying doesn’t always mean something is wrong

Our littles are brand new and testing out their voices.  And it takes some time for them to figure out the best ways to get their needs met.  But they do come with some pretty nice lungs and crying is always good at getting our attention.  So before worrying that something is wrong, remember that they can cry for LOTS of different reasons.  Hungry, wet, dirty, hot, cold, tired, bored, uncomfortable.  Too much noise, too little noise.  Crying can mean anything.  So go thru your list and fix what you can.  But sometimes, they just need to cry and it doesn’t mean you’re missing something or doing something wrong.

You have to take care of yourself too

When you get in a plane and are ready for take-off, you are reminded that in the event of an emergency, first put on YOUR oxygen mask, and then help those around you.  This is an important message for new parents as well.  You cannot properly take care of a baby if you’re not taking care of yourself.  You need to eat, hydrate yourself, and rest.  Take turns if you need to.  Ask for help.  Have a friend come hold your mini while you take a nap. Set a cooler of snacks and waters next to your bed.  But however you choose to do it, make sure you are taking care of you.

There’s not just one way

First time parents often get a bad rap.  I am forever having parents apologize for asking very reasonable questions with the qualifier that they’re “first time parents.” You do NOT have to apologize for this.  Every single parent enters the parenting business with their own individual baggage.  And every single baby is different.  So do what’s right for you and your family.  You don’t have to apologize for being a first-timer.  And you don’t have to second guess every single decision that you make.  Do the best you can and ask for help and guidance when you need it.

The Truth About Drowning

The thought of one of our children dying is terrifying.  And although it is true that we all are born and we all will die, noone is ever prepared for that to happen.  Especially when it is accidental and preventable.  For years now, stories surface about the dangers of dry drowning sharing heart wrenching stories about perfectly normal children who died after having innocent fun in the pool.

As if the thought of drowning wasn’t scary enough, now we hear about kids who were completely fine and then just die due to the water.  In reality, this is not something that really happens.  So let’s go thru all the types and descriptions of drowning so that we know what to keep our eye open for.

Wet Drowning

This is what we typically thing of as drowning.  The child inhales water and  water floods into the lungs.  This completely messes up breathing and the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the body and brain does not work.  Circulation shuts down.

Dry Drowning

Theoretically, this can happen if really cold water starts to forcibly enter your airway (such as you fall mouth open into a lake in January).  This is quite a shock to your body and your airway involuntarily spasms totally blocking off your airway.  This is a very rapid event and you would be unlikely to resurface, let alone be fine for hours, days, or a week.  Thankfully, this is actually something that would be exceedingly rare to happen.

Near Drowning

In near drowning, water is inhaled and there is generally plenty of coughing and sputtering.  This is usually not a small event.  You may have to fish them out.  They may look bluish or grey.  But in this case, water DOES get into the lungs.   Once water is where it’s not supposed to be, it irritates the airways and can cause worsening symptoms.

After the moment has passed, they may seem ok.  But over the next hour or so they may not be quite right.  They may seem sleepy or confused.  They may complain of their chest hurting or start to cough more.   Symptoms usually begin within 4-6 of the water event.  THESE are the kids who need evaluation in the ER so that trained staff can monitor for worsening symptoms and supportive care.  If this child is at home and continues to worsen, they can get in trouble.

Young child swimming in a pool

The Reality

I trained in New Orleans, LA.  Very hot, very humid, and completely miserable in the summer.  I watched several “near drownings” during my rotations thru the PICU.  They are always devastating.  Pools, lakes, rivers, bathtubs, even little plastic kiddie pools can lead to problems.  Sometimes a youngster can manage to unlock a door they’ve never opened giving access to a pond or pool.  Sometimes it is an unfenced pool that belongs to a neighbor.  Other times a parent leaves for “just a minute” to answer the phone and returns to the unthinkable.

Children who die from near drowning events are never completely normal and then die.  They may have mild trouble that is easily overlooked and that worsens and progresses.  But they are not fine for days or a week and then die.

This is good news for us parents.  Because if we know what to look out for, we don’t have to stress over every single cough that happens in the water.

How to know if your child’s sputtering at the pool is something that may be more serious and need to get checked out

  • They require assistance to get over their choking at the pool.  Maybe they were under and you had to pull them out, maybe they had trouble catching their breath and had to sit out for a bit to recover.  Just because they needed help does NOT mean that they WILL have an issue.  But it DOES mean we should keep a watchful eye on them for a few hours and make sure they don’t start anything fishy.
  • Sometime after they’ve choked in the water, they start getting sleepy and don’t seem as responsive as usual.  They may keep falling asleep or zoning out.  Or they may seem confused.
  • They start coughing more as time goes on.  Maybe even complain of chest pain or trouble breathing.  Their chest may look funny with breathing (retractions) and if you look, you may see their nostrils flaring out with breaths.
  • Any of these issues start within 4-6 hours of their swimming event.

Keep your eyes open and be safe.  For more information on how to recognize when a swimmer is in trouble, you can check out my post on Water Fun here.

Also, you can check out the CDC’s handout on drowning prevention here.

Hopefully this will help to alleviate some of the fears that circulate this time of year.  There are so many ways we can help keep our kids safe.  As always, never hesitate to discuss concerns with your doctor.  I promise we don’t mind 🙂

Easy Ways to Add Fiber to Your Child’s Diet

Boy with green apples as biceps

All About Fiber

Hi there!  A couple of days ago we talked about poop and constipation.  I know that trying to get enough fiber in your kid’s diet can be a little overwhelming.  So today, we’re going to talk about some great snack ideas to get more of that beautiful fiber in your child’s diet.

What Exactly IS Fiber?

Fiber is the leftover parts of your food that CAN’T be digested.  There are 2 types of fiber… soluble and insoluble.  The soluble fiber can dissolve in water and turns into a gel.  The insoluble fibers stays the same and comes out just as it goes in.  For our purposes here, both are important.  But I’m not going to go into all of the ways each are utilized.  For those of you with burning questions on fiber, you can check out this site for all you could want to know about fiber 🙂

What Kinds of Foods Have Fiber?

Luckily for us, there are loads of foods that have fiber in them.  All fruits and vegetables have fiber in them, although some have more than others.  For example, 1 cup of grapes has about 1.4 grams of fiber in it.  One small kiwi has 3 grams.  Vegetables tend to pack a punch with fiber, but again, some have more than others.  For example, 1 cup of broccoli has 6 grams of fiber.  1 cup of asparagus tops at 3 grams.

Often overlooked sources of fiber in our diet include nuts, seeds, and legumes.  Beans are actually a wonderful source of fiber and many kids love them which makes our job much easier.  1/2 cup of lentils holds a whopping 7.8 grams of fiber.  An ounce of raw almonds holds 3.6 grams of fiber.

Whole grains also have fiber in them.  Things like whole wheat and oatmeal can be great sources of fiber.  Wild rice, brown rice, rye, barley, millet, and quinoa are all excellent fiber sources as well.

What Kinds of Foods DO NOT Have Fiber?

Although there are many options that contain great sources of fiber, many of the foods that we eat on a regular basis do not have a lot of fiber.  Meats can be part of a healthy diet and provide protein and iron, but they do not contain fiber.  Most “kids” cereals do not provide a lot of fiber.  Cookies and crackers are often made with refined white flour and are not a good source of fiber.

Pancakes, waffles, white rice, white breads, donuts, muffins, and pastas also are not good sources of fiber…  Basically “all the good stuff” as my kiddos tell me.

How to Add Fiber to Your Kid’s (or your) Diet

Try to aim for about 5-6 grams of fiber per main meal and split the difference between the snacks.  If you focus on the main goal it can be a bit overwhelming.  Try to add a fruit or veggie (or both!) to each meal or snack, it will really add up over the day.  Also, don’t forget that nuts and seeds also have fiber..  So adding a scoop of nut butter for your kids to dip their fruit in will really bump up their fiber content.

There are lots of great websites that are geared towards kids that discuss healthy diet.  The choose my plate site is wonderful and has lots of activities and information.  You can find it here.  Below are just a few examples of food combos that taste great and give a hidden fiber boost.

Breakfast

  • Add some fresh veggies (like sweet peppers) to your eggs
  • If your kiddos like toast with their breakfast, try switching to a light multi-grain english muffin.  1 muffin has about 8 grams of fiber and is not heavy in calories or fat making it an excellent choice.  Toasted with a tablespoon of almond butter and you’ve already gotten in nearly 10 grams of fiber with a healthy meal that will hold them over till lunchtime
  • If you’re a baker, consider switching to whole wheat white flour for an added fiber boost.
  • Oatmeal is a great breakfast that has a good source of fiber.  My kids particularly love the Maple Brown sugar “weight control” option.  A packet of this with an apple sliced on the side will give plenty of calories and about 8 grams of fiber total for the meal.

Lunch and Dinner

  • Consider switching up your grains.  Many of us enjoy white rice or pasta with our meals.  You can try switching to a brown or wild rice or a pasta which is enriched with whole grains or fiber.  If your kids are not buying the change, you can also cut down on the number of times you serve the white rice or pasta and make substitutions on the other days.
  • Try switching out your starches with beans.  Lentils and black beans make great side dishes and are easy to prepare and eat, even for your littlest family members.
  • Try for 2 veggies per meal.  Have your kids pick out something new to try to consider having them help prepare the meal.  There are some great child friendly knives available so that you don’t have to worry about fingers coming off in the preparation process.
  • My kids helping prepare Thanksgiving meal a couple of years ago. Notice the “little kid knife” used by my youngest.

Snacks

  • A snack bag of baby carrots mixed with 2 tbsp of hummus will give nearly 4 grams of fiber
  • An apple plus 1 tbsp of almond butter will give 4 grams of fiber
  • Many kids like the little single serve gummies for a quick an easy snack.  They are not high in calories and many claim that they are made with fruits and vegetable.  However they are all sugar and no fiber and really have no nutritional benefit.  If your kids are fans of chewy fruit snacks, then try out the new Pressed by Kind bars.  The dark chocolate strawberry  and dark chocolate banana bars each have 6 grams of fiber and are made from actual fruit with no added sugar.  They also have apple chia, strawberry chia, cherry, pineapple mango and others that have about 4 grams of fiber.

Aim for a Rainbow

In general, try to get a “Rainbow” of foods into you and your child’s diet.  Try new things and keep trying.  Remember that sometimes even we adults may have to try new things MANY times before deciding we like them.  Stay persistent and keep an open mind.

A Rainbow of Healthy Options