Rise and Shine Feature – Attachment Parenting with Dr Sears

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Listening to the esteemed Dr Sears speak on healthy child is a privilege!

Rise and Shine Expo, an informative expo to raise happy and healthy children, was held in Singapore last year. There were more than 100 seminars, workshops and trial classes, conducted by renowned experts around the world, including Dr Bill Sears who gave a seminar on ‘Keeping Your Child Healthy’.

Dr. Bill Sears, one of America’s most renowned pediatricians, is the father of eight children, and author of over 40 books on childcare. He is the Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Dr Sears Lean has a series on this blog, covering many aspects of raising healthy kids.

Last week, we covered Dr Sears’ talk on colic and attachment parenting, the latter we will explore more in-depth today.

Dr Sears shared in the workshop at Rise and Shine Expo ‘Attachment Parenting and Handling Gassy and High-Need Babies’ that during his first venture into parenthood, he decided to make a checklist of desired qualities in children who he helped in his practice and asked what the parents do. It turned out that the parents were practising attachment parenting!

To help us all understand what attachment parenting is, especially important given all the misinformation on what it is, Dr Sears shared the Baby B’s of Attachment Parenting:

Birth bonding – keep baby with the mother after birth

Breastfeeding – breast milk recommended for baby’s nutrition

Baby wearing – sling is preferred so that baby can be close to the parent (either dad or mom can baby wear)

Bed sharing – sleeping beside the baby has been studied to lead to better physiology, and the baby experienced more even breathing, better growth, less stress hormones, lower glucocorticoids neurotoxicity.

Believe Baby’s Cries – leaving the baby to cry it out alone leads to prolonged stress, which can damage the hippocampus. It risks neonatal glucocorticoid neurotoxicity which can carry over into adulthood. During infancy, a baby who is carried by parents cries less and has lower risk of this toxicity. Interestingly, babies who cry but do so in the arms of others do not suffer from this effect.

Beware of Baby Trainers – for the same reason above, methods that sought to train babies are to be wary of.

Balance – Dr Sears shared that babies whose parents practiced the above (as much as they can, need not be all if not possible), have been observed to have the Childhood Cs.

Caring kids – play better with other children

Compassionate

Communicative

Connected

Comfortable with intimacy – better lovers

Confident kids – as well as better behaved and more resilient, resourceful, respectiful and thoughtful

Confident parents – these children become confident parents who connect better to their children

I raised a question on how long the Baby Bs can be practised, in particular sleeping with the baby. Case in point – I’ve been sleeping with mine ever since she can’t be swaddled just to watch over the scratching of eczema at night. Marcie is now 4, and we are still sleeping together. Will there be any developmental issues associated with sleeping with a child, who is no longer a baby?

Dr Sears and Martha: Dr Sears and his wife Martha shared that they do not purposely shift their children (they have eight!) out of their bed or bedroom but let the transition comes naturally as an older child start to want to have their own bed/room. This has not been studied and the best arrangement is the one that works for the whole family.

Dr Sears also shared that given that working mothers had less time with their children, practising attachment parenting is even more important. And as an ending comment, Parenting is Giving our Children the Tools to Succeed in Life.

I didn’t get to have Dr Sears vet through this post before publishing, any and all mistakes mine; next week we will tackle more health issues, such as nutrition, colic and vaccinations.

Friday Q&A with Sue Atkins – Weaning Co-Sleeping

Interview with Sue Atkins, The Parenting Expert

Parenting children with eczema does bring unique challenges, such as scratching (till bloody) when being disciplined or guilty when eczema worsens (yet again). MarcieMom has the privilege of asking The Parenting Expert, Sue Atkins, on her advice for dealing with these challenges. Sue is the author of the best-selling book ‘Parenting Made Easy – How to Raise Happy Children’ and also regularly appears on BBC Breakfast television, The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and has her own regular “Ask Sue” Parenting Q & A phone-in on BBC Radio Surrey and Sussex.

MarcieMom: Thank Sue for helping me with sleeping advice!

Many moms who have children with eczema do co-sleep part of the night with their baby or toddler. I co-sleep with Marcie but aware that there’re pros and cons; related to eczema, co-sleeping may help the parent to check on the child’s scratching at night but also possible to increase dead skin cells and overheat (both dust mites and heat can trigger eczema flares). What I commonly hear from other moms (without eczema children) is that babies should be taught independence from young and sleep in their own cots. There is of course little couple time with a toddler in our bed and we’ve tried to wean her off co-sleeping so many times, but once we’re on holiday and sleep together, or if she had chickenpox/ HFMD and her skin was really affected, we would switch back to co-sleeping. It’s impossible to get her off our bed now at 2.5 year old, is there any technique you recommend? We couldn’t do it the ‘tough’ way as she’d end up scratching!

Sue Atkins: It helps to think about the message you are sending to you child if you co sleep indefinitely – so this issue is usually around the clarity and confidence of the parent when they decide to change the co sleeping habit. Here is an article I wrote when I was coaching a mum on my ITV Parenting Power slot on “This Morning”

http://sueatkinsparentingcoach.com/oh-pleeeeeeasssee-help-me-i-am-a-walking-zombie-with-no-sleep/

The simple secret is routine and consistency and not giving in too soon! Think long term and keep the bigger picture of success in your mind at all time and don’t send out mixed messages.

MarcieMom: Thanks Sue; your point about what message co-sleeping is sending to the child does make me ponder if my toddler thinks Daddy is ‘banished’ to the other room! Next week, we’ll check back with you on another difficult issue -TV!

Friday Feature – Co-Sleeping Q&A with Dr. B

Q&A with Dr Christopher Bridgett

MarcieMom (@MarcieMom) met Dr Christopher Bridgett (@ckbridgett) through Twitter – and learnt that he had a special interest of using behavioural interventions to help people with atopic eczema. DrB trained in medicine at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, then as a psychiatrist in Oxford. He now works in private practice in London. He has co-authored several publications on The Combined Approach, that proposes using habit reversal to stop habitual scratching in atopic eczema. To find out more about behavioural dermatology, click http://www.atopicskindisease.com/articles/PeterNoren to read DrB’s interview with Peter Norén MD, the Swedish dermatologist who created The Combined Approach.

Marcie Mom: Good morning Dr B; today’s question is one related to attachment parenting. There’s much discussion about co-sleeping, some of the pros and cons in this post. Do you think co-sleeping is positive emotionally for the baby? Is it positive for the parent? I’ve read that co-sleeping reduces scratching by eczema child as they feel more comforted, is it true?

Dr B: Yes, co-sleeping is being promoted isn’t it? I am cautious about it: remember, for those with atopic eczema one of the hazards of the bed-room can be the house dust mite. They feed on discarded skin cells, and their droppings are everywhere, and especially in bedding.

Picture of dust mite, contributed by Dr. B

It is easier to keep a cot clean & relatively free from the house dust mite – with special bedding, and use of a urine-proof under-sheet – it is difficult achieving the same with a big bed shared with Mum and Dad! DrB

Questions I asked Dr Sears, hosted by USAWeekend

Dr Jim Sears (picture taken from askdrsears.com)

Wow, it’s the first time I participated in a live Q&A over twitter, and I’m so glad it’s such a fruitful one answered by Dr Jim Sears and hosted by USAWeekend. A recap of all the things learnt from the one-hour Q&A will be published on usaweekend.com, I’ve listed the questions I asked Dr Jim and his answers below for you!

Marcie Mom: My baby’s eczema improved after a one time oral steroid at 7 month old, another mom told me her baby got worse. What’s her option now?
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Dr Jim Sears: Remember that eczema is chronic allergic problem. Trigger avoidance, moisturizing and anti-inflammatory creams.
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Marcie Mom: Everytime I use naughty corner on my eczema baby, she’d be scratching. How should I discipline her? She’s 2 year old.
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Dr Jim Sears: Time-out (naughty corner) will probably need to be on your lap so you can keep her from scratching the eczema.
 
Marice Mom: After shower, my eczema baby always scratches her head, whether using cradlecap/organic shampoo, even water. Why?
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Dr Jim Sears: Why head itches? MAYBE water too warm?
 
Marcie Mom: Water not warm, mindful that will reduce moisture. Really a puzzle! Other moms told me likewise!
(p.s. a mom asked Dr Jim what’s the best way to get rid of cradle cap for her 16 month old, his reply was to use OTC dandruff shampoo, just be careful to keep out of the eyes. Use 2x per week for few weeks)
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Marcie Mom: Many parents of eczema children cosleep to stop scratching at nite. Does cosleeping reduce stress?
 
Dr Jim Sears: Here is more about baby eczema: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/skin-care/eczema
 
Marcie Mom: Thanks! Btw my baby loves watching TheDoctors. We think she likes the male doctors!
p.s. 1: When I’m a SAHM, The Doctors was aired at noon and my baby always stopped her scratching and crankiness and got very excited once the male doctors appeared, particularly Dr Travis Stork.
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p.s. 2: There’s a section on attachment parenting on Dr Sears’ website. I also read on this page of his website that addresses co-sleeping concerns that  “Infants who sleep near to parents have more stable temperatures, regular heart rhythms, and fewer long pauses in breathing compared to babies who sleep alone.  This means baby sleeps physiologically safer.”
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Here’re some more questions I asked but didn’t get answered, anyone has comments?
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Marcie Mom: Is oral steroid safe if used once for 0-3 year old? So if under a doc it didn’t work, another doc can’t prescribe?
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Marcie Mom: My baby has eczema, so does my hubby (family tree) will my 2nd child have? Will taking LGG help?
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Marcie Mom: Baby scratches most at bedtime and her body also feels warmer. She doesn’t sleep for more than 3 hrs though her eczema is well controlled, why?
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Marcie Mom: What’s the earliest age for skin prick test? 2 weeks old too early?

Weaning off Eczema Baby from Co-Sleeping

Baby Marcie thought the cot is a fun place to walk around -> Baby Marcie found out that she’s staying in the cot for the night

 2 hours later, at 1 a.m.

My hubby was comforting Marcie, while I pretended to be dead -> Finally, out of exhaustion, everyone’s asleep

Hi! Last night was such a major milestone that I had to update you all; my baby Marcie spent the first night sleeping by herself in her cot! If you’ve seen my previous posts (here and here), you’d know that I’ve been co-sleeping with my baby. But for the past month, I’ve had a bad cough and Marcie sleeping on me made it worse. Last night, we cleared the clutter in her cot, vacuumed her mattress and resolved to regain our bodies (and sanity) at night.

2 of the 101 things that Moms with Eczema Child do Differently – Co-Sleeping

Co-Sleeping = Sleeping Poorly Alone

When It is Bedtime

Eczema Mom is the bed, pillow and bolster for baby. Hubby has long been sleeping (gladly?) in the study room. Eczema Mom is wondering when baby will wake up scratching and how long it will take to comfort baby back to sleep… another long night with poor sleep lies ahead.

This is the second of my “101 Things that Moms with Eczema Child Do Differently“, a tongue-in-cheek look at the many unique situations that we face. For more cartoons, click here to view.

Is Co-Sleeping good or bad for eczema baby?

Sound asleep baby

There is a whole debate out there on whether co-sleeping is good or not. Generally speaking, the ‘against-side’ has more support citing early independence for the baby. Personally, I am for co-sleeping with my baby, mainly because A LOT of scratches have been prevented as I can hold her hands anytime she scratches at night. Of course, the sacrifice is huge – lack of good sleep for me and almost no couple time with my hubby. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons in the context of taking care of eczema children:

For Co-Sleeping

1. Help baby sleep better. I believe this is true and especially important for an eczema baby whose itch may be preventing her from sleeping well.

2. Help build a stronger bond with parents. I think this is true too. When I was a stay at home mom and my hubby worked, after a few months, Marcie didn’t seem to get too excited when daddy came home. But if daddy co-sleep with her for two nights in a row, Marcie would display much more warmth towards daddy. For me, I just love to look at my baby’s face when she’s asleep and smelling her milk-breath!

Against Co-Sleeping

1. Risk suffocating baby. The verdict is still not out on this one. Some say the risk is higher while some say lower. My personal suggestion is to let your baby sleep alone in a very cool air-conditioned room but wrap her up to prevent scratching. When Marcie got too big to be swaddled, we tied her hands to her legs for a few nights but she couldn’t sleep well. That’s when we decided she’s big enough to not get suffocated/ crushed by us on our bed and it’s also the only way we know whether she’s scratching. Marcie started scratching ‘covertly’ at about 7 months old, when it became more difficult to know that she’s scratching as practically no sound was made. So the only way I knew was sleeping with her and detecting her scratching fingers move.

2. No good sleep for parents. That is so true especially when Marcie has eczema flare or teething which causes her body temperature to rise and somehow causes her skin to be more sensitive and itchy. For me, it’s a sacrifice I make and I compensate by sleeping earlier with Marcie.

3. Increase heat to baby. That is also true. I give off less heat compared to my hubby and I’m more aware when Marcie scratches. So I co-sleep with Marcie more often. Regarding the additional heat, you can compensate by turning the air-con cooler and dressing your baby light.

4. Make it difficult for baby to sleep if parent isn’t co-sleeping. Good news is babies adapt quickly and Marcie has no problem sleeping at infant care now. This was a great relief for me as I was worried whether Marcie could nap in school.

5. Prevent baby to be independent. No research results cast in stone for this one. Some studies now believe that making babies feel more secure will enable them to be more independent at an older age.

6. Prevent parents from their own couple time. This is true. Again we compromise by letting Marcie sleep alone first, and when she wakes up, I will then stop whatever I’m doing (usually watching dvd with my hubby) and quickly hop into the bed with her. We used to put Marcie in her cot but realise that she sleeps better on our bed.

I do take precaution though. Marcie likes to lie flat on her stomach but she has good neck muscles at an early 3 month age. She’s always in the centre of our bed, without the possibility of wedging between the wall and the bed and our bed has no bed frame that may trap her.

There’re also going to be a lot of objections from people around you if you choose to co-sleep. I think for parents with eczema children, it goes back to being confident about how you are helping your child with her eczema.

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