Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sleep saviours

Needing sleep? Looking for advice? Read on, as I review some of the best baby sleep books on the market
Early in April I wrote about my sleep-deprived state due to a toddler who seemed permanently latched on to my chest and refused to sleep.
Well readers, I’m very happy to report that our house is a completely different place. 
I am no longer being called every hour to attend a crying toddler through the night.
I am no longer breastfeeding whenever she commands it.
I am no longer yelling at my toddler to “Go the @$!& to sleep!” (incidently if you google this one liner with Noni Hazelhurst, you’ll find a very entertaining book reading!)
I am no longer feeling like a zombie in the morning.
And everyone is happy.
It did not happen overnight, and let me tell you that our little one, though sleeping much better, is still a work in progress.
So how did I do it?
Well, I’m a huge advocate of gentle methods to get baby to sleep so you won’t find me writing about controlled crying (partly because I tried it on my first born and was horrified with the results).
A crying child is a child in need, and leaving them to cry to sleep is not responding to that need or solving any sleep problems.
If it’s worked for you, stop reading now, but there will be many parents reading this who are tired. Very, very tired. And they look through bleary eyes at the various baby sleep books wondering which one will work for them. 
If they’re anything like me, they’ll buy the lot. So to save you the trouble, I’m reviewing the top books that will help you get your baby (and you) back to sweet dreams using gentle methods.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pester power

How to deal with the child that doesn’t stop nagging
Last weekend my family attended a local market which featured a large number of stalls selling baby items, girl’s accessories (hair clips, jewellery, etc) and toys, as well as the general bric-a-brac, antiques, plants, homemade cakes and so on.
Now before we had even got to the first stall on site, my six-year-old asked: “Can you buy me something please Mummy?”
My pitiful response was: “We’ll see”.
I say pitiful because it was all I could think of without using the “n” word, which I tend to use a lot these days with my cheeky toddler who loves nothing more than to eat playdough and draw pictures on the couch with a permanent marker.
But my response was not a lie because if I did spot something nice (and cheap) for my daughter, I would happily buy it for her.
So in we go browsing each stall and the nagging doesn’t stop. 
“Mum, can you buy me something?”
“Mum, can you buy me something?”
“Mum, can you buy me something?”
“What do you want?” I reply, starting to feel agitated.
“I don’t know,” she ponders and points to random objects around us, “How about this? how about that?”
“No,” I say.
We’re standing at a stall selling antiques and I’m looking at knitting books from the 1960s that are sitting next to a Bessemer butter dish and ashtray.
Unless my daughter wants to take up knitting, baking or smoking (God forbid!), there is nothing here of interest to a six-year-old, but she is so keen for me to buy her something, she’ll take whatever she can get.
We continue on through the market and she continues asking me to buy her something. 
I tell her to stop asking, and that if I saw something suitable then I would think about it. But she doesn’t let up, and in the end, I can’t wait to leave and we both go home empty-handed. 
This is a classic case of pester power.
When a child is surrounded by desirable things at their eye level, it can be very hard to understand that pretty, shiny or yummy things are bad for you, or can’t be afforded. Why is Mum saying no when there are so many nice things here?

How to make a baby

13 steps to getting a positive pregnancy test
When you and your partner make the decision to try for a baby, it can be an exciting (and let’s be honest, very enjoyable) time.
But the fun can very often turn into frustration when month after month you are still not pregnant.
If you’re ready to become a parent, or if you’re finding it hard to fall pregnant, there are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances of getting that positive test.
1. Start taking folate (folic acid) every day as this has been proven to help your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly right from the moment of conception.
You can also eat a healthy diet that includes folate such as fortified breads, breakfast cereals, beans, leafy green vegetables and orange juice, and it wouldn’t hurt to take a multivitamin each day as well.
2. The next thing you can do is get a checkup with your GP. 
Your doctor can evaluate your health and identify any risks in your health and lifestyle that may affect your pregnancy.
It’s also worthwhile visiting your dentist for a checkup and routine clean, but if there’s any chance you may be pregnant then wait until after your baby is born to have dental x-rays.
3. Eating a healthy diet and controlling your weight will ensure you start your pregnancy on the right track. 
Eat from the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, proteins (chicken, fish, red meat and beans), grains and dairy products. Avoid foods high in fat and sugar.
Keep your intake of caffeine at a minimum, remembering that it can be found in not just coffee but also soft drinks and medications.
Avoid unpasteurised milk products, as well as unsafe foods such as raw meat and fish which could be contaminated.
4. Stop smoking and avoid passive smoke. This is a no-brainer as it is common knowledge that smoking can greatly harm an unborn baby and increase their risk of SIDS. If you need help to quit, be sure to ask your GP for advice.
5. Stop drinking alcohol. Although you may enjoy a glass of wine or two at night, drinking alcohol can make it harder for you to get pregnant, and drinking during pregnancy can cause lifelong problems for your baby such as heart defects, developmental problems and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Make-believe mates

When your child has an imaginary friend, the best thing you can do is go with the flow
Your toddler has a new best friend who is always ready to play, shares their love of Thomas the Tank Engine and never demands special food or toys, or does not have to be picked up and taken home. 
In fact your toddler’s best friend is a figment of their imagination and could change over time into a magical being or a favourite animal.
Many children aged between three and five develop imaginary friends though they sometimes don’t outgrow them until they are at school, sometimes right up to seven years of age.
Imaginary friends give children a way to express their feelings, explore relationships and practice their social skills.
About two out of three children will have an imaginary friend at some stage so it’s very common part of a child’s development and nothing for parents to be concerned about.
However, that doesn’t stop parents from worrying about whether they need more stimulation, or more social skills, or whether they should discourage the imaginary friend or play along. 
Having an imaginary friend is not a sign that your child is lonely (which may be of particular concern if they are an only child), but a sign that they are exceptionally creative and imaginative.
According to one study, children with imaginary friends tended to be better at seeing things from other people’s perspective.
Another study undertaken at La Trobe University by the School of Psychological Sciences found that children with imaginary friends performed better on a test of communication skills than those without, and use more complex language.
Children who have imaginary friends engage in lots of pretend play and this has long been recognised as beneficial in their development.
Imaginary friends serve many purposes.