Friday, October 26, 2007

Weirdest Advice - No deodorant

Babies bond through smell, so mom should avoid scented products and deodorant in the newborn period so as not to interfere.

Unlike some of the other weird advice, this is one that sounds weird and crazy, but it's actually good advice. Baby's sensory systems are brand new and adapting to a whole avalanche of new stimuli. Researchers have shown what mama knows instinctively - babies are soothed by the mere presence of her scent. And animal studies suggest that that repeated exposure is critical to bonding and brain development.

As usual, Mother Nature has helped us along in this regard: in the post-partum period, it's not uncommon for mothers to have a heightened sense of smell. I recall cursing my husband in the early weeks after my daughter was born because he would spray his cologne in the bedroom before he left - I could smell it for hours (and not in a good way).

Scented products are also likely to be hard on post-partum and newborn skin. Your bottom may feel like it needs to be refreshed, but whether you had a vaginal birth or a c-section, the, um, exit point is likely to be irritated by scented soaps and creams. And given the degree of medical intervention accompanying most births (including lots of antibiotics), a yeast infection will not need much encouragement.

Scented soaps on the breasts and nipples can make sore nipples worse by encouraging irritation. Use nothing but water on the your breasts - a little breastmilk at the end of a feeding and air drying can help with mild soreness.

With respect to deodorant/antipersperants in particular, infants are eating pretty close to the application point. And if you've read the labels on these products, they're not something you want your newborn baby licking.

Finally, a very good side effect is that without lotions and potions to hide behind, mama will be more motivated to get herself in the shower everyday. And a daily shower is reason enough to make this weird advice very smart indeed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Weirdest Advice - No more babies jumping on the bed

To keep your baby from rolling off the bed, use a diaper pin to pin their sleeper to the sheets.

I first heard this advice second-hand before I had children and, I admit, it actually sounded like a good idea at the time. But it isn't.

For one thing, it's demeaning (we restrain animals, not people) and probably uncomfortable. For another, it has the potential to be unsafe: the pin could undo and injure the baby or the baby could become entangled in the bedding (unsurprising, since it is pinned to them).

This is not an example of safe co-sleeping, although many families do find that bed-sharing increases the amount of sleep everyone gets. The benefits of co-sleeping to the breastfeeding relationship are well-documented as well.

That said, there are things to keep in mind, if like most parents, you do share your bed with your baby some or most of the time. A recent coroner's report in Ontario did a real disservice to families by ignoring the clear benefits of co-sleeping and failing outright to share some simple guidelines to keep baby safe.

It's not listed in that link, but also please don't pin the baby to the bed.

Weirdest advice - Gross misuse of spices

To get boogers out of your newborns nose, put pepper under their nostrils and it will make them sneeze it out.

Hand to God, this advice was given to me. In defence, the giver was a childless aunt who was well-intended and quite concerned about the baby having a cold and being stuffed up.

Here's the thing: newborn babies were, just days prior, in a liquid environment and there's a lot of junk to get out as well as getting the hang of breathing air (along with all the particulates in our modern world). So, a little stuffiness is not surprising.

If it really seems to be bug them and not just on-lookers, a few drops of breastmilk or infant saline solution (go to the drugstore, they'll take your money for this mild salt water solution) will help things along.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Weirdest Parenting Advice - Babies are not Rosebushes

Babies need space to spread out in order to grow. Variation: Your baby will be crooked unless you keep his back perfectly straight in a stroller.

I have to believe this arose from a gardener. Plants that are given more space grow better and if you let them bend for too long, they stay that way. Uh, yes, except that babies are not rosebushes.

They are baby mammals whose most pleasant experience to date (perhaps ever) is in the tight warm confines of mama’s belly and then her arms. And a happy baby grows better – ever notice all those indigenous mothers with baby tied to them? Ever notice how happy those babies look all squished inside their pretty wraps? Funny – there don’t seem to be millions upon millions of stunted, crooked villagers all over the world.

Arms tired? Ah, perhaps your little one is growing (phew!). Get yourself one of those lovely slings and carry on.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weirdest Parenting Advice - Bait and Switch

If your baby won’t take a bottle, just put chocolate milk in it. Variation: If your baby won’t take a pacifier, dip it in honey.

Ah, the old bait and switch. Both these pieces of advice were actually dispensed to me in the doctor's office (by fellow patients).

Do not try this at home, folks. Seriously, these are both very bad ideas even if your baby still doesn’t have any teeth to rot.

First, babies usually don’t need bottles or pacifiers – in fact, introducing these too soon can interfere with breastfeeding. A bottlefed baby who suddenly refuses a bottle should be seen by a professional as soon as possible as something else may be at work.

Second, even if you are a breastfeeding pro, chocolate milk does not contain all the iron or fat that a baby needs and contains a whole lot that she doesn’t (like refined sugar, colour and other additives). Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that she’ll accept breastmilk or formula in that bottle. Besides that, chocolate is among the more allergenic foods and it’s wise to delay its introduction beyond the first year.

Honey has to the potential to be even more dangerous – spores that cause infant botulism (Clostridium botulinum) can be found in honey and your little one’s immune system can’t fight these off. It's rare, very very rare, but it's dangerous and sometimes deadly. And probably useless anyway as he’ll be able to tell when there’s no sweet nectar on the end of that soother…