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Could my baby have Lactose Intolerance?

Dr Mike Marinus

By Dr Mike Marinus, dad to Megan and James plus a Chiropractor in Blairgowrie with a special interest in family practice and paediatric care. Click here to hear  his podcast. This is the 6th in our series on babies by Dr Marinus. Find his other articles here.

Explosive, frothy, watery poos can be quite an experience and very unnerving for new parents especially when they are accompanied by tummy cramps, painful straining and very stinky gas. It is important to have these tummy troubles investigated by your doctor because there could be different causes for these symptoms.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance has become a buzz word and unfortunately many moms stop breastfeeding unnecessarily or change to a Soy or Lactose free formula without exploring the alternatives.

Lactose is the sugar found in mammal breastmilk. It is too big to be absorbed whole so the body breaks it down into glucose and galactose, which are smaller and more easily absorbed. Your baby’s body uses an enzyme called Lactase to do this and if he doesn’t have enough of it he will develop Lactose Intolerance. Lactose is then not broken down properly and gets digested in the colon by bacteria. This process leaves baby’s colon full of acid and gas which ends up in acidic watery stools, tummy cramps and bad smelling wind.

Preemie babies (especially those born before 34 weeks) are very prone to this because they don’t have enough enzyme to start off with. This is called Developmental Lactose Intolerance and is temporary until their enzyme production catches up. It has been suggested that they use lactase drops to help breakdown lactose initially instead of being put onto lactose free formulae.

It is very rare for a baby to be born with no Lactase at all. For this to happen both parents would have to pass this trait on genetically. But it can happen, and when it does, it is called Congenital Lactose Intolerance and it is a medical emergency.

The Lactose Intolerance we generally see in babies is called Secondary or Temporary Lactose Intolerance and this happens after babies have had an allergic reaction, infection or inflammation of the small intestine where lactase is produced. These babies will often have a short time where they show signs of Lactose Intolerance like of bloating, diarrhoea and cramping because there is temporarily no enzyme to work on the lactose. When the gut lining has recovered everything goes back to normal again.

Lactose Overload

A much more common cause of these symptoms is Lactose Overload. This is when your baby has enough enzyme but is drinking too much milk. Too much lactose gets into the system and can’t be metabolized quickly enough. This then ends in excess Lactose in the colon. Because of its nature this condition is often misdiagnosed as Lactose Intolerance, Colic or even reflux. Babies might overfeed because mom has an oversupply of milk, they may be sick and want extra time on the breast to console themselves or their overfeeding may be linked to sleep issues. The answer with Lactose Overload is to figure out what is causing the overfeeding and manage that by changing your feeding method and habits and possibly lactase drops (which we talk about in the podcast) without necessarily changing baby’s diet.

Cow’s Milk Protein Sensitivity

Another culprit of these tummy troubles can be Cow’s Milk Protein Sensitivity. Whereas Lactose Intolerance and Overload are digestive issues, CMPS is an allergic reaction to cow’s milk protein in either breastmilk or formula that leaves your baby with inflammation in the intestines. This inflammation can stop the production of lactase enzyme and these babies often suffer Secondary Lactose Intolerance as a result of CMPS. As well as the tummy troubles these babies also have allergic symptoms like itchy red eyes, swollen faces and even blood in the stool.


The amount of dairy you eat as a nursing mother has no effect on the level of lactose in your breastmilk but it does change the amount of cow’s milk protein in your milk. Breastfeeding moms of CMPS babies can still breastfeed but need to eliminate cows milk from their diet completely.

Explosive Poos, Tummy Cramps and Stinky Gas are not reasons enough in themselves to stop breastfeeding or change to lactose free/soy formula’s. Check with your doctor, get the tests done and know what it is that’s causing your baby’s discomfort

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Reflux in babies

Mike MarinusBy Dr Mike Marinus, dad to Megan and James plus a Chiropractor in Blairgowrie with a special interest in family practice and paediatric care. Click here to hear  his podcast. This is the 5th in our series on babies by Dr Marinus. Find his other articles here.

Imagine drinking 14 litres of milk a day and then spending 18 hours of every day on your back. Well that’s the equivalent of what babies do every day of their lives, so it’s no wonder these little guys have a tendency to throw up a lot. Babies also have the added bonus of having a valve between the Stomach and the Esophagus that takes a while to become strong enough to hold down the pressure of a full tummy. Add to this that their diet is exclusively liquid and they spend so much more time lying horizontal than our ancestors did and you realize that reflux is a normal, natural part of being a baby. This goes double for Premmy babies because their valves can take even longer to close tightly and chances are they were tube fed in hospital which means the valves have been forced open.

In fact, there is even research to show that as long as your baby is picking up weight correctly and not in any pain, that a certain amount of reflux can take the good bacteria of swallowed breastmilk and move it up into baby’s airways where it is able to fight bad bacteria and other airway disease.

Reflux happens when stomach contents move up instead of down.
Milk that should move from the Stomach into the Small Intestine moves back up the Esophagus because that valve isn’t strong enough to stop it. This is made worse by lots of stomach pressure i.e. overfeeding, general abdominal pressure and even a stomach which takes a long time to empty and doesn’t leave space for the new feed.

This is all fine as long as your baby gains weight, has tons of wet nappies and is generally happy but reflux does become a diagnosable, medical problem when it becomes complicated and that generally means stomach acid is moving up along with the milk into the Esophagus which gets burnt. The Esophagus doesn’t have a protective lining against acid like the stomach does and can be damaged by continued exposure. But even if your baby is refluxing up acid and is vomiting it out of his mouth at least here the acid is being removed from the throat and the burning is less than if it isn’t cleared at all which is the case in Silent Reflux.

Silent Reflux with acid is the one that is often mistaken for colic because no milk comes out of the mouth, so there’s no sign of milk being refluxed, but these kiddies scream with a colicky type cry because of the burning. Typically these children constantly cough, clear their throats and arch away from feeding, breaking the latch and not continuing. They can suffer complications like ear infections, chest infections, poor weight gain and failure to thrive.

What you can do at home?
There are a list of tests your doc can send you to tell if it is silent reflux and if there is acid present and we cover most of them in the podcast. But there is lots you can do at home if you suspect reflux.

  • Feed your baby with its head high.
  • Keep baby upright for 30 minutes after a feed
  • Learn how and when to wind your baby properly
  • Sleep baby on his left side after a feed to drain the stomach quickly
  • Use a sling/pouch as much as possible
  • Avoid extended periods in a car chair because the angle opens the valve.
  • Smaller more frequent feeds
  • Medication / Treatment
    Medication is available for reflux if needed but it most cases it is not required. Speak to your doc about what medications do what, how long to be on them and what the possible side effects could be.

    In my clinic I have found Chiropractic treatment to be most beneficial when it comes to  reflux babies.

    Reflux tends to peak at 4 months and can last anything up to 1 to 2 years. Having said that, these babies tend to become much easier when solids are introduced around 6 months of age.

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    How To Deal With Colic

    Dr-Mike-MarinusBy Dr Mike Marinus, dad to Megan and James plus a Chiropractor in Blairgowrie with a special interest in family practice and paediatric care. Click here to hear  his podcast. This is the 4th in our series on babies by Dr Marinus. Find his other articles here.

    Let’s be honest, nothing prepares you for Colic. It comes out of the blue, it can be terrifying and very upsetting for the whole family. All the books seem to contradict each other and everyone has advice for you which, even though it comes from a good place, generally comes across as them telling you that you don’t know what you’re doing. Newsflash: – You’re not supposed to know! You’re new at this baby thing and just because a piece of advice worked really well for your mother-in-law doesn’t mean it’s automatically right for you and your baby.

    What you need is a plan.
    That starts with a trip to the Paediatrician to make sure it’s only Colic. Wait? What? But don’t we want to make sure our kids don’t have colic? Well, yes but by definition Colic kids are healthy kids and we want to make sure that there are no underlying causes for the excessive crying. Urinary Tract infections, ear infections and other conditions can present just like colic but need to be diagnosed and treated accordingly. Once we know it is only Colic, then we can kick our plan into action.

    First off learn your baby’s cries and cues. The better you know how to interpret your baby’s needs, the more you can avoid those big emotional pressure build-ups and outbursts. Episodes 1 and 2 of The Easy Baby Podcast focus on these issues so refer to our website and grab that info.

    Secondly, if you or anyone at home smokes…stop.  Smoking increases certain gut hormones that lead to colic attacks. Breastfeeding moms who didn’t smoke through pregnancy and start again after birth put their babies under even more strain because baby has had no time to adapt.

    Thirdly, there is excellent research behind the use of probiotics in newborns. Caesar babies in particular end up with completely the wrong amount of bugs in their systems because they don’t traverse the birth canal and this messes up the fatty acid profile of the intestine which favours colic.

    Fourth, even if your baby doesn’t have any patent food allergies it’s still a good idea to cut out or minimize foods like dairy, citrus, caffeine, leafy green vegetables and beans in your diet. Every mom and baby pair is different but by eliminating the basic irritant foods you take pressure off their digestive systems and make life easier all round.

    As a Chiropractor, excessive crying, niggling and fussing babies make up most of my patients under 3 months old. So if that’s the case then how does manual therapy treat these conditions? Well the short answer is… it doesn’t. Chiropractic treatment of babies is not focused on the symptom of crying (which is where a lot of the misunderstanding in the research happens) but rather on the healthy alignment of the spine and the impact that this has on your baby’s nervous system ability to work effectively.

    Getting the Farts and Burps out is hugely important in treating Colic babies and I teach these techniques to every parent in my practice. Click here to  find out about winding babies.

    Lastly,  click here to find out about the 5 S’s system developed by Dr. Harvey Karp, an American Paediatrician who recreates the womb for babies under 3 months allowing their calming reflex to set in. Following these steps, along with your crying checklist gives you a good base from which to start coping with your Colic baby.

    Finally don’t neglect your local baby clinic, the sisters there work with these kinds of babies all day every day and are invaluable sources of information on just about anything baby related.

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    What is Colic?

    Dr-Mike-MarinusBy Dr Mike Marinus, dad to Megan and James plus a Chiropractor in Blairgowrie with a special interest in family practice and paediatric care. Click here to hear  his podcast. This is the 3rd in our series on babies by Dr Marinus. Find his other articles here.

    It is estimated that 15 – 25% of families with babies deal with colic. I say families on purpose because the effects of a colic baby can be as devastating for the rest of the household and have a lasting effect on the family dynamic long after the crying stops.

    Colic is normal. It’s is not your fault and it’s not your baby’s fault. It happens equally to boys and girls, there is no association between mom’s age and colic or how many children you’ve had previously. Colic can hit with your 1st or 5th child with equal likelihood. Studies also show that breastfed babies are as likely to have colic as formula fed babies and it happens equally in all socioeconomic groups.

    Colic arrives around 2 weeks of age (just around the time you tell your friends how your baby never cries!) it peaks at 6 weeks and then trails off around 3 months. It was defined back in 1954 by Morris Wessel, an American paediatrician, who stated that a Colic baby is “A healthy baby with periods of inconsolable, intense, unexplained crying that lasts more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks”. It is therefore  known as the rule of 3’s, or as bestselling author Harvey Karp explains it: The need for 3 nannies, 3 margaritas and 3 sets of hands.

    On average only 8% of crying babies have Colic
    We have since added to the original Wessel definition by adding criteria such as what the cries sound like and what your child’s body is doing during the crying spell to be more accurate when it comes to excessive crying. When we look at babies through this lens we see that only 8% of excessively crying babies have True Colic and the others are classed as Fussy/ High Needs babies.

    Some differences between these two groups are that between the 3 hour bouts of crying, True Colic babies are happy and relaxed whereas Fussy/High Needs babies look like they are always hard at work, grunting, moaning and changing position frequently. These babies may not even reach the 3 hour crying mark but they always seem uncomfortable. True Colic is also the only type of excessive crying that is not stopped or avoided by lots of physical contact, demand feeding or co sleeping the way the Fussy/High Needs babies are.

    Colic turns out to be something babies do, not something that they have.
    There is no lab test that’s positive for colic or any x-ray to confirm it and that’s because it’s a behaviour not an illness. Organic disease has been linked to less than 5% of Colic cases, these babies  often suffer the effects of an underdeveloped nervous system (explained further in the above linked podcast) making them easily overstimulated and pushing them over the Colic Limit, making soothing difficult. Caeser birth, Infant migraine, hormones and microflora have all been studied as possible causes.

    Colic babies must be checked out by your medical professional to make sure that there is no underlying problem causing the crying. Fever, rapid breathing, bulging fontanelle, copious vomiting, very high pitched cry, diarrhoea and bad weight gain are not colic signs and should be attended to by your doctor.

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    How to help your crying baby


    By Dr Mike Marinus, dad to Megan and James plus a Chiropractor in Blairgowrie with a special interest in family practice and paediatric care. Click here to hear  his podcast. This is the 2nd in our series on babies by Dr Marinus. Part 1 is entitled Why do babies cry?

    Approaching a crying baby can feel a bit like walking into no mans land armed only with a wet wipe and your aunty Betty’s dated advice… but it doesn’t have to.

    Don’t feel bad…they don’t know either

    Brand new babies have no reference as to what it is to be too hot, too cold or what hunger feels like, let alone how to fix it. They just cry when they feel uncomfortable and it’s up to us to identify clues that will help us understand what they are trying to tell us.

    What to look for

    We need to focus on three things when decoding crying.

    1. What does the cry sound like

    Unknowingly babies make noise over reflexive actions their bodies make depending on their needs, for example, when they are hungry they will make noise and suck at the same time and that has a certain, unique sound to it. By spending time on this you can become ‘fluent’ in your child’s secret language.

    2.  When is it happening?breast7

    What are the circumstances around the cry? Is it different to what usually happens at this time of the day? And lastly we need to physically look at our babies. What physical cues are they giving us? Again each need comes along with its own set of physical attributes. Tiredness is associated with eye rubbing, lack of eye contact and yawning, whilst discomfort brings with it squirming and jerky limb movements.

    3. Good Times and bad times

    All babies are different but there are certain times that most babies will generally cry. Before feeds, early evenings and after being in a stimulation heavy environment, are perfectly acceptable times for babies to cry. Be alert if you find your baby cries during feeding, straight after feeds are 10 to 20 minutes after they have been put down to feed. These are times that babies should be at their most comfortable and any crying at these times should be taken further.

    The Cry Journal

    All this information is great to make on the spot decisions but what makes us fluent in our baby’s language is knowing if it’s changing. By keeping a Cry Journal, in which you put down each bout of crying along with: Time cry occurred, duration, intensity, character, physical cues and how you fixed it, you will start to see patterns emerging day by day. If you find the pattern changes suddenly, it is a good indicator that something is up with your baby and you need to look deeper into the cause.

    What to do

    Now its action time! Your initial crying checklist should run something like this…Is my baby: In pain, hungry, tired, uncomfortable, in need of a change in environment. If you get to the end and nothing has worked and you are sure your child is not in pain, sometimes the action to take is…nothing at all, they just need to get rid of the stress of their day and you need to be there with them to lend a caring ear.

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    Why do babies cry?


    By Dr Mike Marinus, dad to Megan and James plus a Chiropractor in Blairgowrie with a special interest in family practice and paediatric care.  Click here to hear  his podcast. This is the first in our series on babies supplied by Dr Marinus.

    There are not many noises that have the ability to send you flying into action more quickly than the sound of a baby crying. To come to the aid of a crying child is so deeply rooted in our genetic code that it is virtually impossible to ignore. I have worked with babies for a little over ten years now and have not yet developed the smallest amount of immunity to it…and that’s exactly what nature intended.

    So what is infant crying? Is it just air moving out of the mouth from the lungs that rattles the vocal chords? Is it a signal? A social behavior? Or perhaps the first steps your baby takes in communicating with you? It is all these things, and more.

    Above all, crying is an opportunity for you and your baby to begin to develop a lifelong bond with each other. When your baby cries and you respond appropriately by meeting her needs, the crying cycle is broken and that leaves you both with a hormonal rush which makes you feel amazing and connected. You have helped your baby and your baby places you in her life as her caregiver.

    How do babies cry?

    Newborns are basically shipwrecked. They have just been removed from the land of milk and honey only to find themselves washed up in a harsh environment in which they have to sing for their supper. The problem is they now have to take in food through their mouths, which could lead to choking. So nature has placed their larynx (organ of speech) high up in the nasal cavity so that it acts like a snorkel allowing them to drink and breathe at the same time! That’s brilliant, but it also means that babies are incapable of making many sounds other than crying. (The larynx does descend at around three months and so starts all the babbling and coo’ing.)stock-photo-beautiful-african-baby-diapers-crying-isolated-on-a-white-background-163430072

    Why do babies cry?

    Human babies aren’t able to move around, they need an effective way of attracting attention. Newborns develop a vague idea that something needs to change for them to be comfortable but don’t have the context or experience to know what it might be or what needs to be done about it. So they need to ‘Borrow your Brain’ (Hijack is probably a more apt description) to be able to get their needs met. Apart from telling you that your baby needs you, crying also has internal effects on your baby. It increases her lung capacity, kick starts her metabolism and because of all the muscle contraction that happens during crying, it keeps babies warm. How clever is that, by crying your baby generates heat and calls you over to give her a warm cuddle!

    Why is crying so effective?

    Research shows that parents are hardwired to respond to baby’s cries. When we become parents we have an increase in a hormone called Prolactin which makes us more sensitive to baby’s cries. Men and women even respond differently to different cries. Woman respond more to hunger cries, which makes sense seeing that they are generally the providers , whilst men respond more to pain cries, which rings true seeing that our job is to protect and keep safe. You may even find that your response to your child’s crying is so strong that it becomes overwhelming and you find it hard to interact positively with your baby. This is when you need to seek help for the benefit of your future relationship with your child.

    Next week Dr Marinus explains how to deal with a crying baby.

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    Beating the baby blues

    Mia Von Scha &kidsby Mia Von SchaTransformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

    Having a baby is a momentous event. The kind of event that kicks you so far out of your comfort zone that you don’t even know what planet you’re on.

    We all know about the nice side of it – the miracle of a new life, the immense and overwhelming love, the snuggling baby at your bosom. In fact, we’re inundated with images and articles and information about how wonderful it is to have a baby. But what about the dark side?

    What people seldom talk about is how tough it is – how those first days and weeks are so overwhelming and scary and strange and intimidating. Nobody tells you how difficult it is to care for another little being when you are trying to recover both physically and emotionally from a birth. Nobody speaks about the terror of leaving the hospital with a stranger in your arms – one that doesn’t even speak your language. Your antenatal classes were unlikely to show you video footage of what prisoners of war look like after a few weeks of sleep deprivation. The magazines are not filled with pictures of mothers crumpled on the floor in their pyjamas weeping.

    We see movies of mothers doting on their newborns, not mothers calling the cops to take their screaming baby away from them before they kill it. We hear stories of overwhelming love, not overwhelming disinterest. We get advice on how to breastfeed not advice on how to not commit suicide.

    And I feel that it is the lack of this other side of life that causes half of the problems with post-natal depression.

    All depression has an element of fantasy in it. We become depressed because we compare reality with how we hoped or wished it would be (the fantasy) and then find our life to be somewhat lacking. Now if you are bombarded with information telling you that motherhood is instantly wonderful, that you will fall in love with your baby at first sight, that your life will be changed forever in wonderful ways, and then this is not your experience, you’re already on the slippery slope to depression.

    A more realistic perspective helps.
    I believe that new mothers ought to have a more balanced perspective and a more realistic picture of what they’re in for. Of course there are good sides to having kids, but they don’t always surface immediately. It is normal, for instance, to not love your baby instantly. You are tired, emotionally and physically recovering, in shock, overwhelmed, confused and often feeling a bit panicky. There may not be space in your internal world for a rush of love and affection. That’s ok. It doesn’t mean you will never love your child or that you won’t care for them, or that there is anything wrong with you.

    It is also normal to really struggle in the first weeks and months. Everyone tells you that caring for your child is a natural instinct, but how many of us are in touch with our natural instincts? Some things you may figure out on your own, some things you’ll mess up and others you may need to ask for help. That’s ok. You are not a bad mother if you don’t know what to do or if you can’t interpret your baby’s every cry.

    It is normal to lose it sometimes. Go and watch those videos of sleep-deprived soldiers! Even the toughest, trained men will fold under the pressure of not getting some much-needed rest. You may collapse in a weeping heap, you may shout at your baby, you may think you’re losing your mind, you may do crazy or irrational things. You are not insane, you are not a bad person, you are not unable to cope.

    Having a baby will turn your world upside down. It takes time to adjust. It takes time to find a rhythm. It takes time to feel like yourself again. You may even go through a period of resenting your baby, your partner, yourself. You may question your choices. You may want to run away. You may throw things.

    It does ultimately settle down. You will eventually find the good side. And if you don’t, there are plenty of people out there who can help you. Find a coach or a therapist or a good friend (particularly one who has gone through what you are going through).

    Most importantly, know that where there is a positive there is a negative and where there is a negative there is a positive. Babies are like life, they come with both sides. The more prepared you are for reality (and not fantasy) the more likely you are to take it in your stride.

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    Breastfeeding and work: Let’s make it work

    Jessica FergusonBy Jessica Ferguson, a dietician, practicing in Randburg, with an interest in paediatrics and nutrition-related medical conditions. She works for a company called Family Kitchen which strives to help people understand more about food and nutrition, and support them in achieving their nutrition goals.

    We all know that breastfeeding is the best option for your baby, but moms often have to return to work while their babies are still breastfeeding. Many moms want to continue to give their babies’ breastmilk once they start work because they don’t want their baby to miss out on the advantages of breastfeeding. So, what’s a mom to do? Most importantly: Carry on breastfeeding your baby whenever you are together. This is emotionally and physically beneficial to both mom and baby. A few weeks before you return to work, invest in a good quality electric breast pump, and start pumping and storing your breastmilk so that you have built up a supply by the time you return to work. Once you are back at work, set aside at least 2 expressing breaks per day.

    Tips on pumping:

  • If you are using an electric pump, use the highest suction level that is comfortable for youmaxresdefault
  • Start off with a high speed, as this will trigger a milk let-down
  • Once your milk starts to flow, turn the speed down to allow long sprays of milk to come out of your breasts
  • Repeat cycles of high and low speed until you no longer get milk flow and your breasts feel well drained
  • If you are using a double electric pump, you can pump both breasts at once and this should take about 10 – 15 minutes
  • If you are using a single electric pump, follow the same guidelines, but switch breasts when the milk flow lessens (after about 5-7 minutes), expressing from both breasts several times during each session. This should take about 20 – 30 minutes
  • Tips to help with a milk let-down

    An important part in breastfeeding and pumping, is the let-down reflex. This causes the milk to be released from the milk glands. When expressing, you can help stimulate the let-down reflex by:

  • Relaxing and taking deep breaths
  • Placing a warm (not too hot) face cloth over the breasts
  • Massaging your breast
  • Focus all your senses on your baby
  • As milk is removed from your breasts, more milk will be made. Your milk supply will depend on how often you express along with how well the breasts are drained
  •  How to store breastmilk

  • Store the milk in BPA free plastic containers that are leak proof. Use the oldest milk first. Mature breast milk can be stored for the following lengths of time:
  • Temperature Length of time
    Room temperature Less than 22‘C: 10 hoursMore than 22‘C: 4 hours
    In a refrigerator (4‘C) 8 days
    In a freezer compartment in a refrigerator 2 weeks
    In a self-contained freezer unit of a fridge 3 – 4 months
    In a deep freeze 6 months
    Colostrum can keep for 12 hours at room temperature

    The Family Kitchen are distributors of the Ameda Breast Pump. Click here to stand a chance to win an Ameda Lactaline Purely Yours double electric breast pump worth over R3000.

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    Introducing a new baby to the family

    Mia Von Scha &kidsBy Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

    We forget sometimes that wonderful events, like a new arrival in the family, can also be pretty stressful. If you look at the scale of life’s most stress-inducing events, the arrival of a new baby is up there with death in the family, divorce and losing a job. And often the one who feels this the most is the older sibling of the new arrival. So how can we help them to cope with this world-changing adaptation to their family?

    1. Accept that this is a stressful event.
    We sometimes become so focused on the positives that we forget that there are downsides, and we forget to discuss these downsides with our existing child. The age of the child will determine what kind of discussion you have, but it can be helpful for a while before bringing up the subject of the new baby to discuss how in life all things have an up and a down side to them. Then when you bring up the topic it can be a continuation of this and you can ask your child to help you to figure out the ups and downs of having a new baby.

    2. Children cope better with all changes if they have some background information.
    Read them books and watch movies about families having a new baby. Discuss with them the reality of a new baby. We sometimes want to brush over this and just focus on how fun it will be for them to have a new playmate, forgetting that children process the world very literally – a child may assume that they will be able to play soccer or snakes and ladders or hopscotch with the new baby from day one and then become bitter and disappointed when confronted by the reality of a crying, sleeping blob!

    3. Take a look at your current situation and how your child is getting their needs met.
    We all need some certainty, variety, to know that we are significant and loved, to have growth and challenges and a sense of contribution. Once you know how they’re currently meeting these needs, look at which needs will be challenged when the new baby comes and start finding alternative ways to meet these needs beforehand. For example, if their need for love and attention is currently all being fulfilled by you and you know you will have to divide your attention, start having a grandparent or friend come round and spend extra time with them long before the baby is born so that this becomes an alternate source of love and attention that they are used to and happy with.


    Photo by Leanne Gundersen Photography

    4. Think about where your child will be when you go to have the birth.
    Will they stay with a grandparent or aunt or friend? Start making this a regular occurrence long before your due date so that they can become comfortable with the arrangement and even have it as something they look forward to.

    5. Start implementing waiting times.
    There will be times with a new baby where your older child will have to wait for something while you are feeding or changing or putting the baby to sleep. Get them used to this beforehand. A realistic waiting time will differ depending on your child, but you can safely say that they can handle about one minute for every year of their age. Ask a one year old to wait a minute, a two year old to wait for two. Start doing this regularly when they ask for something or need your help so that they are used to this and don’t blame your lack of immediate attention on the baby.

    6.  Make sure that you set aside special one-on-one time EVERY DAY with your older child. They will need some extra love and attention. Keep in mind that the baby does not know what it is like to be an only child and will not fuss if they don’t get your undivided attention – your older child will. And never say that you can’t do something because of the baby – find another reason.

    7.  All take turns saying what you do and don’t like about the new baby.
    This is a very helpful exercise to do as a family. It gives your child an opportunity to vent feelings in a safe and open way and reinforces your discussions on the good and bad in all things in life. It can help for parents to go first and to genuinely be open about things they don’t like (for example, dad may say that he doesn’t like the baby taking away all his time with mom) – this shows the child that it is ok to have negative feelings, that he/she is normal, and won’t get into trouble for feeling resentful or angry or unloved. Children who are given an opportunity to express their negativity are less likely to act it out in destructive ways.

    Getting used to a new sibling can be tough, and even if you implement all of these suggestions you may still find your child becoming angry, resentful, jealous, sullen and even regressing in behavior. Know that this is perfectly normal and be patient. Punishing a child for acting out on feelings they don’t know how to process or express only adds to the negativity. When in doubt, add some extra love and kindness. Good luck!

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

    Oh, pretty please for potty parity!

    Tiffany Markman latest feb 13. jpgBy Tiffany Markman, copywriter, editor and mom to an almost-three-year-old, who tries to balance her workaholism with cuddles, books, caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.  

    I’m losing the battle with my husband when it comes to toddler toilet accompaniment in public. And I’m so frustrated that I need to open the issue to the floor, so to speak.

    So, here we go …

    The loo debate

    You see, my three-year-old is in the last stages of potty training. Out of nappies during the day but unable to “hold it” for long. This means that when she expresses a possible need, I grab her and we bolt for the nearest loo — with me yelling “Let’s run! Let’s run!”, dodging passers-by and generally making a large, loud tit of myself.

    The problem is: while we’re out as a family, my husband flatly refuses to take her.

    Because he doesn’t want to take her into the men’s loos (in case she sees a penis there? What’s the problem?) and he will not go into the women’s loo (in case he sees a woman there? What’s the problem?)

    I don’t get it

    I’ve assured him that the kind of women who frequent the kind of places we take my kid don’t really mind if they spot a daddy in the ladies’ (even a large and heavily bearded one who walks the fine aesthetic line between hipster and homeless.)

    I’ve also assured him that our little one is unlikely to be traumatised by the odd public penis in the gents’ (though I wouldn’t put it past her to make a cheeky comment).potty

    But still. No go.

    (Do you think he should take her? Which loo should he take her to? Or should I just man up — what a gender-inappropriate verb — and take her myself … ? Sound off in the Comments. I need some objective guidance here. )

    Family loos

    South Africa, it’s time for family bathrooms. For nappy changing and for potty training. We need potty parity. I’m asking nicely. For the sake of my egalitarian marriage.

    I know that the US is currently engaging in the debate about daddy-friendly changing rooms, with things changing for the better in Miami, San Francisco and New York.

    In fact, I recently read TODAY article quoting a guy I’ve followed forever: Doyin Richards, otherwise known as Daddy Doin’ Work. Richards says that the absence of mom- and dad-friendly changing facilities is “straight up saying only women change diapers … ” He says he doesn’t have a problem with establishments that don’t have baby-changing stations at all — some businesses just cater to adults. His complaint is about places that give mothers access to changing tables, while ignoring fathers.

    The duty roster

    In the States, 90% of dads report that they bathe, change or dress their children every day or several times a week (despite the fact that only 37% of their fathers did).

    My guess — based on no data whatsoever, except social proof via my mates — is that South Africa, with our strongly patriarchal culture, has less egalitarian rosters of bath, dress and toilet duty. But I’d still like to be able to send my daughter off to the loo with her dad, so that I can sip my flat black in peace — before it turns to sludge.

    Just one time in five.

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.