Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Top Eight 'Bad' baby behaviours (which are not bad just normal...)

Feeding more than every 3 hours...

Babies have small tummies, about the size of a marble when born! Their tiny tummies only hold about 5ml of colostrum to begin with and this can be digested very quickly. Some babies need feeding every 1.5 hours, some can feed in 20 minutes but others need an hour. Some babies have latch problems such as bad positioning or tongue tie which can affect feeding causing them to feed for much longer or more often. The Le Leche League have some fab information here on how babies feeding differs in frequency from other babies.

Waking up at night even at 6 months...

I have some bad news - babies do not sleep all night and guess what? Neither do we! How many times do you wake check your surroundings, go back to sleep, wake have a sip of water, go back to sleep, wake go to the loo then go back to sleep? Well babies wake too and if they do not cry it doesn't mean they do not wake, it means they have learned the art of drifting from sleep cycles on their own. Some babies do this at 3 months - some not until 3 years! It is all normal. This link from Kelly Mom contains lots of links to normal infant sleep studies and guess what? 84% of babies were not sleeping through the night at 6 months. Babies wake for many reasons, here are some:

  • Hunger
  • Security
  • Comfort
  • Teething
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Reverse Cycling
  • Pain
  • Wet/dirty nappy
  • Too hot or cold
So although it may be tempting to train them not to ask for your reassurance at night, think about it, how would you feel? This post explains it from your baby's point of view.

My baby won't eat solids!

If baby is under a year old and refuses solids, whether that be puree, finger food or mashed mulch its probably because they are not ready. Like any developmental stage, babies learn to start eating at different ages. At 1 year old 90% of a babies calories should still be from milk - food before 1 is just for fun! So just go with it, as long as baby is healthy, happy, gaining some weight/growing and has wet and dirty nappies then just keep offering them a range of healthy foods. I go into the the introduction of solids in great detail in this post.

My baby is so clingy yet they used to go to anyone

This is a really normally phase. At some point between 6 months and 14 months babies realise that they are separate from their mothers and can get a little freaked out by this. They start to really miss you when you leave them and can feel really insecure. The worst thing you can do at this age is ignore their pleas. They are babies for such a short time and need lots of reassurance and love in this stage. 

Ways to reassure baby when they suffer separation anxiety:
  • Be there as much as possible, obviously if you have to work then you cannot do a lot about that but when you are there try not to leave them crying alone
  • Wear them in a sling
  • Increase day time touch, cuddle them more, offer them more breastfeeds (if you are breastfeeding)
  • Have more skin to skin
  • Do not try and transition them from co-sleeping to a cot or from your room to theirs at this stage
  • Try not to sleep train or do anything that involves leaving them upset
  • Meet their needs as much as possible - babies who have their needs met generally become happier toddlers
If you are reading the above and feel you may have made separation anxiety worse by sleep training then this may have some pointers for you. Do not beat yourself up - we all make mistakes due to lack of information/sleep/patience!

My toddler does not understand 'no'

Like anything, some babies/toddlers/children will understand consequence sooner than others. If you have a toddler that seems to 'ignore' you when you say no, try to distract them, make the environment safe and explain to them why they cannot do something. Smacking them for not listening/doing as they are told is often not the best thing to do as they loose trust in you. 

My new baby cries as soon as I put them into the moses basket/crib/swing/pram

Babies spend 9 months in the warm watery secure paradise of your womb. They are constantly held, rocked to sleep, hear your voice, smell you, hear your heart beat. They have no irritations such as nappies rubbing, poo stinging, clothes feeling funny its just them fluid and you. Then one day they are squeezed through the most narrow passage ever (or just lifted from) this little heaven as they know it into a cold world of noise, light and foreign objects. They feel safe when they are with Mum. They know you, your smell, your voice and know they are ok. They relax and fall asleep on you. Then they are placed in a cold place with no Mum and they startle and cry - its very normal. Rest assured they are not trying to 'play you' by letting them sleep on you you are not making a rod for your own back, you are making your precious bundle feel so secure so they can learn to live in this new strange world without fears and anxieties. They need you. I love this link which really explains normal newborn behaviour and the reasons behind it.

My baby uses me as a dummy

Yes. Why do you think dummies were invented? Because babies have a sucking need and sometimes this can be really strong. They would not have invented them if there was no need for baby to suck. Babies do this for comfort, skin to skin, for pain relief, to increase milk supply, to fully empty the breast after a feed and many other reasons.

Many mothers feel worried that they should not let baby 'use' them in this way but introducing an artificial dummy can have negative effects, especially when introduced in very young babies. It can affect the following:

  • Milk Production
  • Breastfeeding latch
  • Facial/dental development
  • Make Mum's period return sooner
  • Make baby gain too little weight
So dummies really as best avoided if at all possible. I understand some mothers need a break and this can help and formula fed babies can benefit from having a dummy to prevent over feeding but breastfed babies should have as much of their sucking needs met at their Mothers breast.

My child is aggressive so therefore I need to use time out/smack them

Children can be aggressive for many reasons. Whilst it is true violence can be a learned behaviour, some children do get frustrated easily and find that this frustration causes them to be angry. I have met children from very laid back parents with aggressive children and laid back children from highly strung parents.

Although it can be tempting to stick little bobby in the corner for snatching a toy or smacking him for pushing over a child it is more important to understand why they are feeling aggressive. If your child is verbal enough to explain what is wrong ask them. Sometimes children become frustrated because they have eyesight or hearing difficulties, others when in pain. Its best to explore all avenues.

If they are slow to communicate you could try baby signing as an avenue of communication. If there is a certain 'trigger' to the aggression ie. sharing you could see if there are any books out there that explain things to them in pictures.

Punishing them may make them more frustrated and aggressive. 

I am sure there are other baby myths I have missed off so please feel free to comment - these are just a few I have come across. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of calling children naughty or their behaviour bad, we accepted them as normal?