What Are We Feeding Our Kids?

 

Heinz products

 

 

Below is an article published on 22 June 2016,  about the famous Heinz brand promoting some of its sugary products as healthy. So, mums and mums-to-be, beware!

 

 

 

 

Legal Action Brought Against Heinz Over Kids’ Sugary Snacks

Food companies who make misleading health claims on children’s products have been put on notice by Australia’s consumer watchdog, which is taking multinational Heinz to court for promoting its sugary Shredz toddler products as healthy.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has started legal proceedings in the Federal Court against H.J. Heinz Company Australia Ltd in relation to the food snacks marketed to one-to-three-year-olds.

It alleges Heinz is falsely marketing these products as healthy options for young children, when they are not.

In a statement, Heinz said it strenuously denied the ACCC allegations and looked forward to defending it’s position.

“Heinz takes labelling of products very seriously and compiles with all Australian labelling and food laws,” it said.

The Shredz product range includes three varieties – peach apple and veg, berries apple and veg, and strawberry and apple with chia seeds – and has been available in major supermarkets nationally since at least August 2013.

They are predominantly made from fruit juice concentrate and pastes.

“These products contain over 60 per cent sugar, which is significantly higher than that of natural fruit and vegetables – for example, an apple contains approximately 10 per cent sugar,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

The ACCC also alleges the Heinz Shredz products are likely to inhibit the development of a child’s taste for natural fruit and vegetables.

Particular issue has been taken with the products’ packaging, which features prominent images of fresh fruit and vegetables and statements such as ‘99% fruit and veg’.

Mr Sims says major companies have an obligation under the Australian Consumer Law to ensure products’ health claims do not mislead the public.

The legal action has been roundly welcomed by dieticians and obesity prevention advocates, including the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC).

“The OPC is pleased to see such strong action from the ACCC against Heinz for potentially misleading parents who are simply trying to do their best to feed their children nutritious food,” OPC executive manager Jane Martin said.

“It’s very difficult for parents to know which foods are healthy and which aren’t, particularly for toddlers. I think parents are really trying to make the right choices and they need good, clear, honest information about the nature of the products,” Ms Martin said.

“Many parents would be shocked to know that just one 18g serve of Shredz contains almost an entire day’s worth of added sugar for a two-year-old.

Paediatric dietitian and nutritionist Hanan Saleh agrees, and says packaged snacks, like Little Kids Shredz, are not a healthy alternative to a piece of fruit.

When it comes to making healthy food choices for children, Ms Saleh says parents really need to go back to basics or “paddock to plate”.

“Parents should always think twice before picking up anything in packages,” Ms Saleh told AAP.

The average piece of fruit only contains about 10g of sugar per 100g and also has fibre and important vitamins and minerals.

The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective notices and costs.


Heinz is not the only guilty one.

According to The New Daily,  “in 2014, consumer group CHOICE rated 260 snack foods aimed at children and their lunch boxes, to find which were nutritionally poor”. It found high levels of sugar in servings of products aimed at toddlers and children in a major Melbourne supermarket.

Here are some of its findings:

baby food

baby food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How far can we trust these companies when it comes to feeding our kids? Seriously, what are we feeding our kids?

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Baby Products: What the hell are we using for our babies’ hygiene?

Baby Products

Whilst getting ready for our daughter’s birth, my husband and I got overwhelmed by the number of ‘baby products’ out there and we got a little confused about what would be the safest brand for the baby. You only have to wander in the ‘baby products’ aisle of a pharmacy or a supermarket to get an idea. What should we buy then?

Or, what should we NOT buy?

In February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer. It was found that there was a link between her ovarian cancer and the Johnson talc she has been using. Apart from this case, Johnson & Johnson is facing 1400 lawsuits involving Johnson’s Baby Powder. That sounds scary!

It is alarming that it is only in 2014 that Johnson & Johnson flooded the shelves with new ‘improved’ baby products as it finally managed to remove two harmful ingredients: (1) Formaldehyde, which has been identified by government scientists as a carcinogen, released over time by preservatives, like quaternium-15. (2) 1,4-dioxane, which has been linked to cancer in animal studies, created during a process used to make other ingredients mild. What about those who used the products before 2014?

The question is: would you trust Johnson and Johnson’s products for your newborn? Which product to trust?

According an article from The Connexion newspaper published on 15 February 2016:

NEARLY 300 baby products on sale in France contain chemicals that have a moderate to elevated risk of causing allergic reactions and health problems, according to a report. The study by the group Women in Europe for a Common Future (link) looked at 341 baby products on sale in supermarkets, pharmacies and specialist shops across the country and found the vast majority included chemicals that carried health risks.

The group used criteria set out by the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety and France’s Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament to judge the safety of products.

Among the chemicals the group found that were classed as having an “elevated risk” were an allergen (methylisothiazolinone) discovered in 19 products, including baby wipes, a preservative that can have side effects on the reproductive system (phenoxyethanol) and potentially allergenic perfumes in 226 products.

The WECF has demanded that these three ingredients be banned from all cosmetic products used by children under three years old. The group found 181 products contained chemicals rated as having a “moderate risk” such as EDTA and sulphates, found in shampoos, bubble bath and wipes.

It also noted mineral oils that had been refined from petroleum which could be contaminated with impurities and nanoparticles in skin creams that had yet to have their effects properly evaluated. “We were surprised at the ubiquity of perfumes in almost all the products,” said Elisabeth Ruffinengo of the WECF. The skin of young children is more sensitive and more permeable than that of adults and older children, making the study of the chemicals in baby wipes particularly important. In 2013, the consumer group UFC-Que Choisir also raised the alert over baby wipes when it found that of the 27 brands it tested, 94% contained potentially harmful chemicals.

What about Mauritius?

I cannot recall the number of times I have been advised to use talc with my baby (not Johnson’s brand in particular… but still …) Johnson & Johnson products are very popular in Mauritius; if I consider my relatives and friends alone, I know for a fact that they are not aware of the risks of some chemicals used in some ‘baby products’, let alone the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, and the names of those harmful chemicals…

Some well known and widely used brands of wipes are ‘Bebedou’, ‘Bebe Calin’, ‘Pampers’ and ‘Nivea’.

According to an article from l’Express newspaper, Bebedou contains phenoxyethanol; Bebe Calin contains methylisothiazolinone, perfume and EDTA; Pampers contains phenoxyethanol and EDTA and Nivea contains phenoxyethanol, methylisothiazolinone and perfume — all potentially harmful chemicals.

The article published on 6 March 2016 states that when contacted, the Ministry of Commerce declared they were now going to conduct tests on the wipes. Result of these tests to date? Well, nothing yet. In the meantime, the shelves remain flooded with all the supposedly ‘best’ products for your baby.

The body part of a baby which really needs some cleaning up is the bum. And that part is cleaned numerous times a day and over the night too. So, no use spending lots over shower gels, baby baths etc. as you never know what’s in these ‘baby products’. Given the numerous concerns, we are left wondering: which product to trust for our baby?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How NORAD became the world’s official Santa-tracker

Santa Claus norad

An interesting article I came across from Los Angeles Times, written by Karen Kaplan.

U.S. Northern Command Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Charles D. Luckey and volunteers take phone calls from children around the world. A misprint in a newspaper advertisement kicked off NORAD’s Santa-tracking activities 60 years ago.

December 25, 2015, 5:44 a.m.

It was December 1955, the height of the Cold War, when the red phone on Col. Harry Shoup’s desk at the Continental Air Defense Command began to ring.

Only an elite few knew the number. Odds were good that a four-star general from the Pentagon was on the other end of the line.

Shoup reached for the phone.

“Yes, sir. This is Col. Shoup,” he said.

No response.

“Sir? This is Col. Shoup.” Pause. “Sir, can you read me all right?”

That’s when Shoup heard the little girl’s voice.

“Are you really Santa Claus?”

For the last 60 years, officials at the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., have tracked Santa’s whirlwind tour across the globe to deliver presents on Christmas Eve. Nearly 9 million people from more than 200 countries are expected to check in with NORAD’s Santa-tracking website before they go to bed on Christmas Eve.

And it all began with that phone call.

As Shoup later recalled in a home video, his first response to the unlikely query was that someone was pulling his leg — and he wasn’t amused.

“I said, ‘Would you repeat that please?'” he replied.

“Are you really Santa Claus?”

That’s when he realized two things: Something had gone wrong with his phone, and the question was genuine.

So he told the little girl on the other end of the line that he was, indeed, Santa Claus. Relieved, she informed him that she would be leaving him food by her fireplace, plus treats for his reindeer as well.

“I said, ‘Oh boy, they sure will appreciate that!’”

Then Shoup asked to speak to her mother. That’s how he learned that a Sears, Roebuck & Co. advertisement in the local newspaper had invited kids to call Santa at ME 2-6681 — the number for the red phone.

It was a misprint, of course, but that didn’t stop kids from flooding the line all the way until Christmas. Shoup assigned a couple of airmen to answer the line and act like St. Nick, Shoup’s daughter Pamela Farrell recounted to StoryCorps.

After a few weeks, someone at the Continental Air Defense Command (which is now NORAD) had an inspired idea. He went to the giant glass board where airmen tracked the planes in U.S. or Canadian airspace and added a drawing of a sleigh with eight reindeer. They were headed south from the North Pole.

Shoup studied the board. Then he picked up his phone, his other daughter, Terri Van Keuren, told StoryCorps.

“He called a local radio station and said, ‘This is the commander of the Combat Alert Center, and we have an unidentified flying object — why, it looks like a sleigh!’”

After that, Van Keuren added, stations would call every hour to ask for the latest on Santa’s whereabouts.

The military’s Santa-tracking efforts have become considerably more elaborate since 1955. NORAD’s online tracker plays Christmas tunes while flying reindeer pull a red sleigh over images of the Earth provided by NASA. The site shows Santa’s last stop and gives an ETA for his next destination. It also keeps a running tab of the number of gifts delivered.

Those who find websites passé can download the NORAD Tracks Santa app from the iTunes store, follow @NoradSanta on Twitter, “like” NORAD’s tracker on Facebook or keep tabs through a variety of other social media sites.

More than 70,000 children still call NORAD to talk to Santa on a toll-free line — (877) HI-NORAD or (877) 446-6723 — and another 12,000 or so send e-mails to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com.

All of this would have been impossible for Shoup to imagine as he spoke to the little girl who inadvertently kicked the whole thing off 60 years ago.

Before handing the phone to her mother, the girl asked a question that was certainly appropriate for an Air Force colonel: How is it possible for Santa to visit so many houses in a single night?

Years later, Shoup still remembered his answer: “I said, ‘That’s the magic of Christmas.’”

You can follow Karen Kaplan on Twitter @LATkarenkaplan and also ‘like’ Los Angeles Times Science and Health on Facebook.

Have you been tracking Santa with your kids or you’ve already told them that Santa is not real?

 

Holidays in Mauritius with a Toddler (Part 2/3)

 

Mauritius beach

Mauritius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The holidays in Mauritius are still on and activities and outings are part of our everyday life now; there’s so much to see and do in this paradise island. Here is a list of a few other things we did these last weeks.

Trianon Shopping Park – Intresting shopping outlets

Trianon Shopping ParkWith around 80 shops, cafes and restaurants, cinema halls, this mall is one of the busiest of the island offering a wide variety of both local and international brands. There are many parking spaces and it holds regular events.

A big plus: an entertainment area for kids called Cocotown Kids. It has a huge climbing frame, many interesting activities for both small and big kids as well as a café/restaurant with small tables and chairs. The price charged for three hours is Rs 300 and there are lots to do in those three hours. My daughter loved Cocotown and so did I. We have to go again!

 

Mauritius Aquarium – Not recommendedMauritius Aquarium

After having been to the Sydney Aquarium – where more than 700 species are on display – I must admit that the Mauritius Aquarium was a big disappointment. True, my expectations may have been too high. However, to call the place an aquarium would be a hyperbole. There are many big salt water fish tanks and one very big water tank. There were a few interesting fish and although the website advertised for a ‘ray’, we simply couldn’t find it. The sharks were probably baby sharks and there were about two turtles. All this for the price of Rs 300 for an adult and Rs 150 for children aged between 2 and 12, which is quite a rip off I think with regard to what you get to see.

Mauritius AquariumThe water tanks are placed at quite a height, which made it very hard for my 2 year old daughter, my 3 year old nephew and my 5 year old nephew to see much, if not, anything at all. We had to hold them all the way through for them to be able to have a look. Not very convenient for anyone I must say.

Mauritius AquariumLuckily for us, the children were simply amazed with the turtles and the baby sharks. They know nothing about inconveniences – fortunately for them. They kept asking me about the ray as I had told them they would see one in the ‘aquarium’. Hmmm …

Mauritius beachAfter the ‘aquarium’ they went for a quick swim in the Trou-Aux-Biches sea, one minute drive from there. It was not a great beach but as I said earlier, children are so fortunate to see only the fun side of things, reminding me of the poems of The Lamb and The Tyger in Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’.

Casela – Great fun for kids

Casela Park MauritiusThis nature park has recently been uplifted and looks much better than it did two years ago. It is beautifully maintained and ‘visitor-friendly’.

Because of my daughter’s naptime, I could only spend around two hours in Casela; however, even a full day might not be enough to enjoy all the activities. We walked past the giraffes and straight to the petting farm. The ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, turtles were all quite eager to be fed. We decided to go and feed the kids (baby goats) …… It wasn’t a good idea after all as my 9 year old niece really freaked out causing the other children to get scared too and I’m pretty sure the baby goats got quite scared with so much screaming.

Then we walked to catch the bus for the safari. The safari was quite interesting although the number ofCasela Park Mauritius animals cannot be compared to those from Perth zoo, for example. We saw mainly zebras, ostriches, 2 baby rhinoceroses, a few species from the antelope family. I was pleasantly surprised to see an oryx – the oryx is the national animal of Qtar, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Jordan. Unfortunately for us the giraffes and the ‘big cats’ were in separate enclosures.

The safari took a while and by the time it was over, it was 5.00 p.m. which was Casela’s closing time. We will definitely have to go back for other activities.

Here are a few more pictures of the beautiful place:

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerald Park Shopping Centre – Okayish

Emerald Park Mauritius

Photo Credit: thunderpanths

This is a rather small shopping centre which is not really for kids. If you want to eat or drink something (healthy) with the kids, apart from one vending machine, there is absolutely nothing. I’d say, it’s somewhere you could go to buy clothes or toys for the kids (only 2 shops are relevant for that) but where they will get really bored.

Mr Bricloage which is a DIY type of shop is quite an interesting place. I bought a small swimming pool for my daughter and she absolutely loved it. It was relatively cheap. I really liked the fact that it is not an inflatable one so hopefully it will last a while. Lots of interesting DIY stuff for kids too.

The other shop is  Pridemark. It sells brand clothing at a bargain price. Although I could only find one shirt  for my daughter I bought 3 dresses for myself! If you like brands for affordable prices, this is the place to go.

I’ve got a few other things on my bucket list for the coming weeks. Would you have any suggestions?

Fish and Mercury — it’s important to know how much of which fish type you are eating.

children eat fish

Photo: tomolivernutrition.com

 

When discussing fish with my young niece, I became quite alarmed to see that she didn’t have a clue about mercury level in fish. She had marlin for lunch! I thought I’d draw mums’ and dads’ attention to ‘Fish and Mercury’ so that they are better aware of the risks involved with eating some particular types of fish.

The following article from the New South Wales (Australia) website sums it all up and can be quite helpful to choose how often to give which type of fish to children and also for pregnant mums and women planning pregnancy.

Fish and Mercury (Source: NSW Food Authority)

It’s good to eat enough fish, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding. Fish are a valuable source of protein, minerals, vitamin B12 and iodine. They are low in saturated fat and contain omega-3 fatty acids which are important for the development of babies’ central nervous systems before and after birth.

Selecting Fish

Most fish in Australia are low in mercury but some are higher and too much mercury can harm developing nervous systems. It’s best to know the mercury levels of different types of fish and how often to eat each type.

Pregnant & breastfeeding women & women planning pregnancy

1 serve equals 150g

Children up to 6 years

1 serve equals 75g

Eat 2-3 serves per week of any fish and seafood not listed below
OR
Eat 1 serve per week of these fish, and no other fish that week:

Catfish or Orange Roughy (Deep Sea Perch)

OR
1 serve per fortnight of these fish, and no other fish that fortnight:

Shark (Flake) or Billfish (Swordfish, Marlin)

 

Mercury from fish is generally not a health consideration for most people, it is mainly an issue for women planning pregnancy, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children up to six years.

Ready-to-each, chilled seafood, such as raw sushi, sashimi & oysters or pre-cooked prawns and smoked salmon can be risk for pregnant women because of listeria. Our guidelines have more information about listeria and what to avoid during pregnancy.

Mercury in Fish

Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and accumulates in the aquatic food chain, including fish, as methyl-mercury. All fish contain some methyl-mercury, but most fish in Australian waters have very low mercury levels.

Mercury content is not reduced by processing techniques such as canning, freezing or cooking. Many fish have low mercury levels.

The following fish have low mercury levels and are also high in omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Mackerel
  • Silver Warehou
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Canned salmon & canned tuna in oil
  • Herrings
  • Sardines

Other seafood with low mercury levels include:

  • All prawns, lobsters and bugs
  • All squids and octopus
  • Snapper
  • Salmon and trout
  • Trevally
  • Whiting
  • Herring
  • Anchovy
  • Bream
  • Mullet
  • Garfish

These fish can be eaten more frequently, up to two to three times per week.

 

canned fishCanned Tuna & Salmon

It is generally safe for all population groups, including pregnant women, to consume 2-3 serves of any type of tuna or salmon a week, canned or fresh.

Canned tuna usually has lower mercury levels than other tuna because tuna used for canning are smaller species that are caught when less than one year old.

Supplements

Fish oil products and supplements are not a major source of dietary mercury and there is no recommendation to restrict consuming them because of mercury.

Crustacea & Molluscs

Crustacea (including prawns, lobster and crabs) and molluscs (including oysters and calamari) are not a concern because they generally contain lower levels of mercury and are usually consumed less often than finfish.

Fish for Others

Breastfeeding mothers can continue to eat fish.

Fish are rich in protein and minerals, low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for the development of your baby’s central nervous system, even after birth.

Although it’s important to continue to eat fish while you are breastfeeding, you need to be careful about which fish you choose. Some fish may contain mercury levels that can harm a baby’s developing nervous system if too much mercury is passed to them through breastmilk.

To safely include fish as an important part of a balanced diet while you are breastfeeding, follow the same guidelines provided to pregnant women.

Kids eat fishFish is good for young children

The healthy nutrients found in fish are excellent for growing children. Simply follow the guidelines for children up to 6 years.

 

Exceeding the Recommended Guidelines

Like all foods, fish should be eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet. Over-consumption of any single food group, particularly to the exclusion of other foods, is not recommended because it can lead to dietary imbalances and may increase your intake of potentially harmful substances, such as mercury.

If you have been eating more than 2-3 serves of fish in the past, you can follow the recommended number of weekly portions and your mercury levels will return to normal fairly soon.

Mercury levels will generally halve within several months, providing you follow the dietary advice and limit the amount of Shark (Flake) and Billfish (Swordfish, Marlin) you consume. If you are concerned about your mercury levels, your doctor can order a blood and/or urine test.

If you choose to eat more than 2-3 serves of fish per week it is important to eat a variety of fish, and avoid those that could have elevated mercury levels, such as Shark (Flake) or Billfish (Swordfish, Marlin).

Have you had any issue with mercury level in your blood or that of your child? When did you last have a blood test?

 

7 Parenting Tips from the Book Loving Our Kids on Purpose

A Few Tips on Parenting.

IMG_1201When I first saw the title of this book, Loving Our Kids on Purpose: Making a Heart-To-Heart Connection, I almost decided not to read it. I figured I already know how to love my child, that’s the easy part, it’s all the other stuff that is hard. However, I am so glad that I didn’t stop there. This has been one of the best parenting books I have read. It challenged me to think about how I was raised and the kind of parent I want to be. I picked 7 highlights, but there is really so much more to this book. I highly recommend it and only wish I would have read it sooner.

  1. You can’t control your child.

This was kind of shocking for me to realize, but I think Danny Silk is on to something. Bottom line, you can’t actually control anyone except yourself. You may…

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How to Help Baby Get a Good Sleep? Bedtime Routine is Your Best Friend and Consistency, the Key Word.

Bed time routine

We all know how a good night sleep can make us feel refreshed and boost our mood and morale. Babies/kids, in particular, need a good sleep, both day-time and night-time for their optimum growth and development. Insufficient sleep not only has an incidence on your child’s mood and behaviour (and on yours too!) but also on his development. All babies are different; some sleep through the night as early as one month old, others take 12 months to do it and some, even longer.

From what I have been through I have come to realise how a bed time routine is important and to be consistent with it is the key to a baby’s good night sleep. I learnt about its importance and about sleep associations the hard way. During one month I woke up each night every hour with my 5 months old baby until I was totally sleep deprived and had to go to Ngala for help. I lost a lot of weight and was a very sad person.

When my baby was born I assumed it was normal for her to wake up constantly at night until she would start on solids and then she would start to sleep through the night. I believe I made this assumption, as this was what everybody was telling me. Even during the day, each time my baby would cry, everyone would say ‘she is hungry’ and I would go and feed her. I remember when my daughter was going through a growth spurt (and I had no idea it was one since I had never heard of ‘growth spurt’ at that time) she wanted to be constantly fed. I used to feed her and she would throw up later and then cry again, I’d feed her and she’d throw up later … it was exhausting both for her and for me. I was more than often reminded that being a mum, I had no other choice than accept my situation as this was motherhood! I understood later how I was wrong to believe in all that!

I learnt that being a mum meant that I could have a life too and learning about the following was very helpful:

  • ‘Growth spurts’ and what to expect when baby is going through one.
  • Sleep associations.
  • Overtiredness — the number of hours baby can stay awake for his age, after which over-tiredness kicks in and trust me, this is your worst enemy.
  • Bed time routine.
  • The bedroom and bassinet/cot set up.

Growth Spurts

In the first 12 months babies go through several growth spurts and you will notice major ones when you see baby is crankier than usual; he will also require more feed and be more clingy. When a growth spurt happens, babies can suddenly take weight and height and after that you will notice baby has started to do new things and mastered new skills.

I only learnt about growth spurt much after my baby was born, so I had no idea why my baby was so cranky and why she wanted to feed all the time. I was even advised to check my ‘milk supply as baby was probably not having enough milk’(!!!). I started to worry until I learnt that my milk supply was fine and it was just baby going through a growth spurt.

Many breastfeeding mums start to introduce formula at this point, thinking they are not producing enough milk, that’s why their baby is behaving like that. With breastfeeding, the more you breastfeed the more milk you will produce. Once you decrease the feed the breast will start to produce less and less milk. Hence even during a growth spurt, it is best to feed baby as usual. Give baby lots of cuddle and reassurance. Baby will need extra comfort and trust me, it will pass. If you are still worried, consult your baby’s nurse or pediatrician.

Sleep Associations

Although I did read a fair bit about the Eat-Play-Sleep pattern, when my baby was born, I simply couldn’t understand how this would work. I could not understand how a baby could sleep on her own, without you feeding or rocking her. Eventhough I was given the advice not to let my baby sleep on the breast, this was exactly what was happening after each feed. Then I would take the upmost care not to wake her up before putting her (already asleep) in her bassinet. What I didn’t know at that time was that I was the one who was preventing my baby to have the optimum sleep.

I created a sleep association for her; she quickly learnt that she needed to be fed to sleep and when she woke up after a sleep cycle, she was not able to go back to sleep until she was fed again. This peaked when she was 5 months old and she was waking up after each sleep cycle. I became very quickly sleep deprived.

bed time routineWe can also create such sleep associations with soothers and rocking baby to sleep. Feeding, rocking and giving a pacifier are fine until it becomes a problem. Then your baby will need you to recreate the exact environment in which he fell asleep.

During the first three months, babies require regular feeding during both day and night and night waking is normal. Also, they haven’t developed their ‘clock’ yet so they do not know exactly when it is day or night. However around 3 months old a baby can fall asleep on his own and it is then that it’s very important not to rock baby or to feed baby to sleep or to give him a pacifier; this way baby learns to self-settle and do not have a sleep association which involves you!

It is important to play with your baby during the day, when he is awake; at night, keep lights dim, and do not talk to baby if he wakes up. If you need to change baby’s nappy, be quick and avoid eye contact. It is important for baby to understand that it is night time, he has to sleep and you are very boring at night indeed!

Bedtime Routine

Consciously or unconsciously, we all need a bedtime routine to have a good night’s sleep. Do you have a shower then brush your teeth and get into your PJ’s? Or do you just need to read a book? Most people go through some kind of routine before going to bed. It is the same for babies/kids. With my baby, it was hard at first to establish a bed time routine but I stayed consistent and, with time, it became easier for both baby and myself.

When baby is growing up and getting to know his environment, it is best to provide him with a relaxing bed time routine. Depending on what baby’s age is and at what time baby gets up, you can plan the day’s schedule. For example, a 6 months old baby will nap two to three times a day and can stay awake around 2 to 3 hours hours. So, when baby wakes up, you will know when is the next nap and then work out when is the bed time. About 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime, you can start the routine. For naps, you can do a shorter 10 minutes routine.

Bed time routine

Winding down is important for little ones before they go to bed as this calms them down and they get ready both mentally and physically to sleep.

Well, at first I wasn’t sure what to do nor how this would work out. I thought it would be good for my husband to be part of the routine just in case I wasn’t there some day. The bed time routine I used till my baby was around 18 months old:

  • Quick bath
  • Wear sleep suit and nappy
  • Get in sleeping bag
  • Feed and make sure she didn’t fall asleep (I omitted this step once I stopped breastfeeding and gave her a milk bottle – one with a straw – before she had her bath, when we were still in the living room)
  • Brush teeth (once she had a few teeth)
  • Read a book (big images, no bright colours, few words)
  • Say good night to some objects in the room
  • Say bye to her dad (if he’s there)
  • Switch the lights off (I keep a very dim night lamp on)
  • Say good night
  • Put her in her cot (which has a small blanket and a little doll)
  • Leave the room quickly

Most days, she would go to sleep quietly or just talk and sing till she’d fall asleep. Other days she would fall asleep almost straightaway and on odd days she could even take 20 to 30 minutes to sleep.

Some babies still wake up at night for one or two feeds until they are around one year old. In fact, 90 % of 6-month-olds can sleep through the night without snacking, says clinical social worker Kim West, author of 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. So if you start night weaning around that time, you don’t have to feel guilty.

You don’t have to do all the above steps for a good bed time routine. Whichever steps you choose, make sure your baby has enough time to wind down and you are consistent: do the same things in the same order. After doing the same things over and over again, baby will know bed time is approaching and he will get ready for it; he may even start feeling sleepy once the routine starts. Do not give in – stick to your routine and be consistent.

So, let’s say, your 6 months old baby will go to bed at 7 p.m., you can start the routine around 30 minutes before and before that make sure she is not over excited by screens or by some sweet foods/chocolate.

A Note on Overtiredness

Many parents do not follow a routine with their babies. It is fine if both baby and parents are happy. Many parents say the baby is not tired so he will nap later or maybe in the car or maybe not at all and at night he will only sleep when they will sleep, even if it means 9 or 10 p.m.

Babies can stay awake only for a certain number of hours depending on their age. If they go beyond that, then overtiredness sets it and YES they will not sleep, get over excited and will even sleep later at night or have a very rough night and wake up early. If you watch out for the number of hours baby is meant to stay awake and then no matter what, follow baby’s routine and then put him in his cot, I bet you baby will sleep. (Moreover, for baby’s development he requires a certain hours of sleep; make sure you are giving him all the opportunities to have that.)

bed time routine

Even now, at 2 years old, if I don’t tell my toddler to pack her toys away and insist on her having a shower, she will continue to play and will insist she doesn’t want to go to bed. She even starts crying at times saying she will play and not sleep. At this age, specially, she tries different tricks to delay her bedtime but she knows we won’t give in. She gives in after trying a few minutes and some pretend crying (with real tears!) She’s got some good acting skills! Toddlers do!

Do not wait for your baby to get overtired to put him down for his nap or bedtime. Watch out for the signs of tiredness: yawning, rubbing eyes, avoiding eye contact, clenched fists, crying or shouting for no reason, etc.

Bedroom/Bassinet/Cot set up

When asked, most people will hate to have to sleep anywhere, with lights on and lots of noise and people talking to them all the time. Babies/Kids are the same. Therefore it is essential to create the right environment for baby to have a peaceful uninterrupted sleep.

If possible, it is best to avoid putting baby’s toys in his bedroom. It is important for him to understand that his bedroom is for sleeping and not for playing. Decorating baby’s room is nice but make sure it doesn’t become a distraction to your baby.

I remember during my baby’s first 6 months, she was in her bassinet and there was a mobile with three sheep which were rotating most of the time above her head. I didn’t know at that time that it was a BAD idea to have a mobile in there! I was sending baby the wrong message: when waking up from a sleep cycle, I wanted her to sleep but then I showed her some toys! Confusing!

As mentioned previously, it took me around 6 months to learn about the above points. After 6 months, each time I put baby down for a nap or bedtime I made sure the room was dark and there were no distractions in the room. She definitely slept better.

To Sum Up:

  • Get informed about when your baby is making growth spurts so that you are ready for his behaviour and know how to deal with it.
  • Do not get baby to have a sleep association involving you.
  • When your baby is around 3 months old, start to give your baby a bed time routine and stick to it. Be consistent.
  • Watch out for signs of tiredness and make sure you put your baby down to sleep before your baby is overtired.
  • Create the right environment for baby to sleep.

Some babies sleep through the night as early as one month old and parents do not have any of the above-mentioned problems. That’s great both for the parents and the babies. Other parents are happy with their babies sleeping throughout the day, or at whatever time suits them and also in the car and in the pram, then that’s great too as it’s their choice. If parents are happy to rock baby to sleep for however long it requires then there is no problem in that.

However, for those parents who are finding themselves sleep deprived and want their babies/kids to have a routine, if they believe both baby and themselves require a restful night and not a fragmented sleep and some good daytime naps, then it will be really helpful to work on the above listed points. Having a bed time routine and being consistent will enable you to give your babies/kids the opportunity to have a good sleep. It will not be easy but I believe it is worth the effort for both you and your baby. Does your baby still wake up at night after 12 months?