Friday, December 30, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Very Best Baby Gift

Now that the big gift giving holidays are nearly over, some of you have boxes of new toys, games, and super hero jammies pushed back into corners while the favorite gifts (of the moment) are being fully explored. Others have just a few new things unwrapped under the tree or already being worn and played with. As we all settle back into the post holiday routine, we'd like to remind you that there is one gift that your child will cherish more than any other, no matter what his or her age.

There is no greater present you can give a child than your undivided caring interest and attention. Whether you are playing peek-a-boo with a young infant, clapping with joy as your little one takes her first steps, listening with rapt attention to a 3-year-olds' never ending stories, or sharing the triumph of a first successful (if not haphazard) attempt at shoe tying, your loving acceptance and attention will spark memories that will outlast all of the latest gadgets. So, if there wasn't that much money left to spend on gifts this year, you need to know that it really doesn't matter.

Baby science tells us that your presence and affection are the most important gifts your baby will receive. The special moments you share together directly influence how your baby develops, now and in the years to come. So, let the dishes soak and turn the cellphone off, remember how fleeting the stages of your child's life can be and take the time to enjoy each one.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We wish that all of you have a very peaceful, calm, and Merry Christmas! Enjoy those precious family moments together. We'll be back next week.  - Your friends at the UC Davis Human Lactation Center

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Most Popular Holiday Posts!

Happy Holidays!
With all the holidays, traveling, and New Year’s Eve celebrations this time of year, we thought we would share some of our most popular holiday posts with you.

1. First, a post from last year with tips to help you pick the right gift for your baby based on her personality.

2. From 2009, a post on how to make the most out of the toys and gifts your baby will receive this season.

3. Finally, two posts that may help you avoid some of the melt-downs that can happen when you and your baby have too much to do or too many relatives and friends to see!

We hope that these posts will help make the holidays a little easier for you and your little one.

Friday, December 16, 2011

We're Halfway through our Terrible Twos!

That's right, our blog is 2 1/2 years old! It's amazing how fast the time has gone. Here are just a few numbers that show how much we've grown:
  • 265 - the number of entries we've posted since June 2009
  • 250,000 - the number of total page views in September 2011
  • 350,000 - the number of total page views as of yesterday
In the past 3 months, we've had over 100,000 page views! More importantly, we've received wonderful feedback from parents who visit this site. Just last week, we got a wonderful email from a reader, who wrote
Just wanted to say thanks for the great blog. I had my fourth baby almost 6 weeks ago, and of course I feel like a first time mom because every baby is different. The blog posts I have been reading about newborn behavior have reassured me that my baby is normal an that I am doing all that I can for him. It's overwhelming to have another baby after having 3 already, and I am trying to be calm and relaxed, so thanks for the reassurance and tips.  
It made us so happy that we helped this mom and she helped us by reminding us why we do what we do! So, as we move closer to our 3rd birthday, we'd like to thank all of our longtime readers and welcome everyone who's new to our blog. We've covered many topics already, but we're always searching for new and useful information for our readers. If you have something you'd like us to write about or a question you need answered, please send us a comment or an email!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In the News: More First-Time Mothers are Receiving Paid Maternity Leave than Ever

In a past post, we shared information about maternity leave practices and laws around the world, including information about requirements and programs offered in the United States. After that blog posted we received several reader comments providing updated parental leave information for several countries. You can read the post and reader comments that followed here.

Recently, there has been some buzz around a news report published by the US Census Bureau about first time mothers’ maternity leave and employment patterns in the United States.

According to the US Census Bureau, more first time mothers than ever before are receiving paid maternity leave. While the maternity leave laws have not changed, there are more moms in the workforce and more mothers using paid leave benefits. New census numbers show 50.8% of new mothers received paid leave between 2006 and 2008. This is up from 43% in 1986-1990. Where did these numbers come from? The US Census Bureau surveyed 3.4 million first time working moms between 2006 and 2008.

While these numbers are encouraging, the US remains only 1 of 3 countries that does not require paid maternity leave. The other 2 are Swaziland and Papua New Guinea.

Other Interesting Findings about First Time Moms’ Employment

• While 2/3 of new moms with college degrees received paid leave, only 19% of mothers without a high school diploma received paid leave.
• The mean age of mothers at the birth of their first child was 25 years; that’s up from 21.4 years in 1970.
• Education level had increased among mothers with almost ¼ completing a Bachelor’s degree or more, compared to only 9% in 1970.
• From 2006-2008, 66% of women worked while pregnant. About the same number worked in the 1980’s, but between 1961-1965, less than half (44%) of women worked during pregnancy.
• Among mothers who worked while pregnant, about 88% worked into their last trimester and 65% worked until the last month of pregnancy.
• Less than 10% returned to work by 3 months postpartum in 1961, whereas almost 45% returned to work by 3 months in 2005-2007.

-Source: US Census Bureau

What have been your experiences with parental leave? How old was your baby when you first returned to work after your baby’s birth? We’d love to hear your stories and thoughts.

Resources and References

For more about the family medical leave act (FMLA) in the United States, click here.

To read the full census report about maternity leave and employment patterns of first- time moms, click here.

Read a previous post about Preparing for Maternity Leave here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reader Question: Napping Challenges with a 9 week old

By Jennifer Goldbronn, MAS, RD

We recently received an email from a reader that we thought would be good to reprint and answer as a blog post in case more readers experience the same situation. So, with her permission, we present her questions:

I'm a first time mom, and I need some help with my 9 week old and napping. She's exclusively breastfed and sleeps reasonably well at night (for a little baby - four hours max, very occasionally longer), but she will only nap in my arms, and she fights it every time.
I've been trying to feed, then play with her until the first time she yawns, then I immediately try to get her to sleep. It generally results in 10-20 minutes of fussing while I bounce her, and she'll sleep just fine once she's down, but she's up the second we move, and I mean any movement at all. I have to make sure my phone is close to my left hand while I rock her, because if I reach for it, she's up!

Is this normal for a kid this age, and is there anything I can do to get her to sleep in a bassinet? I'm reluctant to put her in her cradle in our bedroom just to nap, as I'm worried that will interfere with her sleep at night - bedtime is the only time we spend in that room. I'd just really like to be able to cook supper again, or maybe do a little picking up, as our house is getting to be more and more of a disaster!

What to Expect: Sleep Patterns for Young Babies

First, let’s talk about what’s normal with sleep patterns for this age. This reader is right, her 9-week-old sleeping a 4-hour max stretch of sleep at night is completely normal. Between 6-8 weeks, babies are just beginning to concentrate their sleep during the nighttime as they are more awake during the day. Also, as babies’ bodies mature, they will begin to follow the light-dark cycle , recognizing the difference between daytime and nighttime, but this doesn’t happen until around 3 months of age. As babies get older, they are more likely take naps at predictable times but not at 9 weeks of age. Having said that, let’s look at some findings from a large study of sleep duration specific to daytime sleep.

• One-month-old babies’ daytime sleep duration varied from 2-9 total hours (all naps) per day, with an average of about 5 ½ total hours of daytime sleep per 24 hour period.

• By 3 months, total daytime sleep averaged about 4 ½ hours per day, and ranged from 1-8 hours.

While this gives an idea of “normal” sleep duration, it also shows just how variable infant sleep can be from one baby to the next. (Iglowstein 2003)

Tired Signs

Next, let’s talk about the signs that babies give when they are tired and ready for a nap. While this reader’s baby was yawning before the reader tried to give her a nap, I wonder if that was the only disengagement the baby was giving. Babies may show several different disengagement cues signaling that they need a break or something different. Perhaps the baby just needed a short break and not a full nap (though this may go against parents’ plans to get housework done!)

Sleep Environment

This reader’s baby sleeps better in her mother’s arms and wakes with any movement. As we’ve mentioned in past posts, young infants fall asleep into light sleep. For babies who are sensitive to position change, moving them in this sleep state can wake them up. Waiting for signs of deep sleep (relaxed arms and legs, steady breathing, little or no movement, heavy body) before laying babies down may help them stay asleep.

This reader also questioned if having her baby sleep in the bassinet in her room would interfere with nighttime sleep. Actually, the consistency of sleep environment for both naps and bedtime would be helpful. Also, having a similar bedtime routine for naps (though it can be shorter) as you have for nighttime helps babies know what to expect at naptime too. The key is consistency. Find a soothing routine that works and stick with it. Research shows that this can help babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. For more about routines, click here.

Knowing what your baby is developmentally capable of and following your young baby’s natural routine by watching for and responding to her cues will help your days go more smoothly. We know it’s hard to watch your house fall apart, chores go undone and personal time vanish, but we’ve all been there, and this will only last a short time! Ask for support during this time so that you can get a break. You don’t have to do it all yourself.


Iglowstein I, Jenni OG, Molinari L, Largo RH. Sleep duration from infancy to adolescence: reference values and generational trends. Pediatrics. 2003;111(2):302-7.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dining Out with Babies: Making it Easier for Others

Last time, we shared some tips for parents to make dining out with their babies a little less stressful. We wanted to follow that up with a post on what you might do if you found yourself in a restaurant (as I did) near to a baby old enough to sit up at another table. As a fellow diner, it is easy to make dining out with babies easier for parents. Not being rude is a great start. But, we know you want to do more than that.We know that our readers can astonish others by “reading” the universal signals used by babies. There is no better time to use that skill than when you find yourself in a restaurant with a baby.

Here are a few things you can do:

1. Make it clear that you welcome the baby. Smile knowingly, stay relaxed and if you get an opportunity, say something nice about the baby. This may sound obvious but you may be the only one in the room who is welcoming.

2. If the baby is alert and looking around, try to catch the baby’s eye. The baby (as long as she is old enough) will be looking for a friendly face and once the baby sees you, the baby will take a good long look. You’ll see how hard the baby will work to figure out where you fit in the world. After all, the baby has no idea whether or not you are a relative or likely to be someone they will see again and again. If you maintain eye contact with the baby and the baby is old enough, you’ll see the baby “refer” to mom or dad to see if you are on the “approved faces” list. I hope you are. If not (sadly, some parents are very suspicious of everyone), just let it go and enjoy your meal.

3. Let the baby be the guide for any further interaction. Babies love attention and if you are making eye contact while their parents are busy looking over the menu, the baby is likely to try to engage you in some way. The baby may smile, open his eyes wider, or stare at you intently. Many babies will start a game of peek-a-boo by looking at you then burying their faces in their parents’ shoulders, then looking at you again. Here’s some fun “across the table/room” games to play.

a. Peek-a-boo – there are many variations of this game but the gist is that the baby looks at you, then stops looking at you and then looks at you again. Thrilling, eh? Well, if not for you, definitely for babies. If you look away when she looks at you or hide behind your hands or your menu, the baby will at first watch you closely then start to play as soon as she figures out that she has a new playmate. The excitement for the baby comes from being able to predict that she will see your happy face again.

b. Mirror games – babies love it when you repeat their actions. If baby shakes her head and then you shake your head, she’ll smile and do it again. The more you do it, the better the baby is able to predict what you’ll do, the more the baby will be amused and laugh. Clapping is another great activity for mirroring. Remember that the baby must always be the leader.

c. Pointing games – babies love to point at things and have their parents talk to them about what they are pointing to. When you are a little farther away, you can make it clear that you are interested in what they are pointing to by looking in the direction in which they are pointing. If you are close enough and it is acceptable, you can talk to the baby about what you see. If not, you can change your facial expression enough that the baby knows you are paying attention. Looking surprised or pleased to see what the baby is showing you will keep the game going.

There are two things to remember that will help your game playing be more fun for everyone. First, always let the baby lead the games and actions. When baby is in charge and predicting what will happen, the baby will be gloriously happy. Second, watch for disengagement cues. These cues will let you know if the baby is getting overstimulated. Playing with a stranger can be hard work! While I‘ve shared several ideas for playing, these games don’t have to make you miss your dinner. Most babies stay interested in strangers for only a few moments and by playing, you’ve given a clear message to the parents and others around you that you value the baby and the opportunity to interact. Bon Appetit!

Friday, December 2, 2011

On the Road Again!

We're all off in different directions today! We'll be back next week with new posts. Have a great weekend!