Rise and Shine Feature – Parenting workshop with Heidi Murkoff

Parenting Tips from Heidi Murkoff, from Rise and Shine Expo
Parenting Tips from Heidi Murkoff, from Rise and Shine Expo

From 27 to 29 September 2013, Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children was held in Singapore. There were more than 100 seminars, workshops and trial classes held and I’m privileged to have the front seat to the workshop by Heidi Murkoff, titled ‘What to Expect in the First Year’.

Heidi Murkoff is the author of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’, a book conceived during Heidi’s first pregnancy and her What to Expect series has since sold more than 34 million copies in US alone and published in over 30 languages. It has even been turned into a film, ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’, starring Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Rock, and Elizabeth Banks.

Heidi’s Workshop at Rise and Shine

The workshop was held in a cosy room at Suntec City Convention Centre, and many parents turned up for it despite being on a working day (Friday) at 2.30pm. The workshop was structured in a Question and Answer format, with the expo organiser Josaline Seah asking Heidi questions that have been previously provided by various parents.

Baby Feeding

Q1: How do Mothers who Breastfeed know that their babies are getting enough milk?

Heidi: Breasts don’t come equipped with ML mark – but fortunately healthy babies usually know exactly how much they should eat.  Breastfeeding is based on demand and supply – babies demand what they need to grow, breasts supply it.  Still, many moms worry that their babies are not getting enough to eat.  Since you can’t determine exactly how much is going in – best way to tell if baby’s getting enough is by checking how much comes out.  If baby’s pooping plenty and peeing plenty – and most breastfed babies do plenty of both.  Also keep in mind that babies are very good at what they do – feeding from a breast.  They’re better at extracting breastmilk than a pump is.

Also remember, whether you’re pumping or feeding from the breast, make sure each breast gets drained before you move on to the next.  That way you’ll be sure your baby’s getting both the foremilk (the thirst quencher, which is thinner) and the hindmilk, which is creamier, full of more fat and calories and which helps a baby feel full and satisfied.  Wonder if baby will get enough as he or she grows?  No need to – as baby grows and his or her appetite grows, too – your breastmilk supply will increase to keep pace.

Q2: How can Dads help out in Feeding?

Heidi: First of all, dads can help by being supportive of breastfeeding efforts.  Research shows that when dads are supportive of breastfeeding, it’s much more likely to succeed.  But also keep in mind that moms don’t have a monopoly on nurturing a baby. In fact, here’s an interesting father fact: Dads-to-be and new dads experience a drop in testosterone and a surge in esterone – most likely nature’s way of bringing out their nurturing side.  And those hormonal changes work.  There’s nothing (besides breastfeeding) that a mom can do that a dad can’t do equally well if not better, given the chance. Like a mom, dads can talk to, sing to, hold, rock, cuddle, and hug their babies. And while they can’t breastfeed, they can feed bottles of supplemental formula or expressed breastmilk-and do so with their babies snuggled bare skin-to-skin, to nourish and nurture their babies at the same time.  Can’t find a teat your baby will take? Ask around and shop around-different babies like different styles of nipple. Just make sure it’s slow flow so that it takes more effort, like a breast nipple does.

Q3: Should a 6-month old baby prefer solids to milk, is it ok to provide only solids and milk at night?

Heidi: Breastmilk or formula is still the main source of nutrition for a 6-month old – and will continue to be for most of the first year.  While some babies will take more, about 24 ounces per day is considered the right amount of formula (or if you were expressing your baby’s milk, breastmilk) for this age.  Solids, at least in the first few months of introduction (which should happen at about 6 months) are less for the nutrition, which formula or breastmilk has covered, and more for the experience…getting used to taking different textures and tastes.  But again, solids enough won’t give baby everything that he or she needs at 6 months.  Sometimes babies who don’t take enough milk are drinking too many other calories in the form of juice – so skip the juice altogether, or limit to no more than 4-6 oz a day.

Q4: When should the baby be weaned?

Heidi: You’re actually starting to wean a baby from the very first moment you offer solids.  Start a cup by age 7 months (sooner if baby seems eager to try and is sitting well), but you can continue the bottle until the first birthday – at which point best to graduate to a cup full time.  In the meantime, so baby will be ready for this momentous transition, make sure your little one becomes a sippy or straw cup pro.

For teething babies, sucking on a feeding or teething bag filled with frozen banana, mango, or peaches or chilled avocado can be soothing – but also a great way to feed a fussy baby.  Chilling spoon-fed foods (or even formula or expressed breastmilk) can also spell relief for teethers.

Thank you Heidi for reviewing these Q&A for publishing here; watch out for next week’s post to see Heidi’s reply to baby sleep questions.

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