Tip #14 What is Colic?

January 19th, 2012 → 11:39 am @

My son cried every night from about 10pm to midnight for no apparent reason. I can’t actually remember when it started and ended but it was about for the first 3 months.

We decided to call it “colic” as we couldn’t find any other reason for his crying. He was fed, burped, in our arms – the rest of the day and night he was ok. I could not handle this at all. Luckily, my husband was able to take over at this time of day – he held him, walked with him, let his son know he was safe and not alone. I, on the other hand, had earplugs in and was under my covers feeling extremely helpless and guilty for not being able to “fix” this.

Then one day it stopped.

Here is the answer found in my book:

Colic is a kind of cramp like thing that about 20% of all newborns get.  Some experts think it has to do with the digestive system (gut is immature) not being fully developed but it’s only a theory. Colicky babies can cry suddenly for minutes or for much longer (hours), usually at the same time of day and often in the evening.  There is very little to do for this but staying calm is very important.  Babies can feel our stress.  There are some “anti-colic” remedies on the market that you can look into that sometimes help but generally you’ll have to wait it out with patience.  As long as your baby is eating and sleeping enough you shouldn’t need to worry. It can be hard for a new mother to deal with excessive crying so ask your partner to take over. Colic is usually gone by 3 months of age.

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Tip #13 What can my newborn hear when she’s born?

January 9th, 2012 → 11:43 am @

In Holland, babies hearing is generally checked by a nurse that arrives at your house, usually at a very inconvenient time (I mean, when isn’t during that first week at home with a newborn???) with a sound machine. All of my kids tested positive for good hearing so I’m not sure what would have happened if that hadn’t been the case.  She was in and out in 15 minutes and that was the end of it.

However my youngest daughter Julia did have trouble hearing sometime around her 2nd birthday, though it may have been earlier.  I just added up her “not talking much” and “hard to understand” to being #4 and communicating in other ways.  The specialist checked her ears and saw some red (I’m sure he used a more medical term which I can’t for the life of me remember at the moment) which he said could be causing a change in hearing. He said that he would re-check after the summer as ears often cleared up after a good old fashion dose of heat. And they did. Her speech improved but she’s left with a number of sounds that she just can’t pronounce very well.  The old habits are hard to get rid of.  She is bilingual, English and Dutch and I can tell you that there are some seriously strange sounds one has to learn to speak the Dutch language! Still – she’s getting there with the help of a speech therapist.

The funny thing is that she speaks perfect French…

Here is the answer from my book:

Newborns can hear pretty well though the middle part of their ears are still full of fluid. Their ears are still in an immature stage. Because they heard your voice in the womb, they are apt to respond to you more than others. They also respond better to high pitch, clear and loud voices which is why we tend to automatically speak loudly and clearly when talking to our baby.  In many countries babies have their hearing checked before leaving the hospital. Double check that this was done in the first weeks as a delay in recognizing and treating hearing problems (even delayed by a few months) can lead to speech delays.

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Tip #12 What can my newborn see at birth?

December 19th, 2011 → 11:50 am @

Here’s the answer from my book.

A newborn’s vision is blurred so don’t worry if your baby is a bit cross-eyed.  She just can’t focus yet so she sees shapes and forms but nothing definite. She likes contrast (black and white) and likes to look at faces.  Around 3 months the baby’s focus becomes stronger.  Between 4-6 months she can enjoy colors. By age 1 your baby’s eye’s are fully developed.

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Tip #11 How do I clean my baby’s “new” belly button?

December 12th, 2011 → 11:52 am @

I remember looking at this piece of umbilical cord sticking out of my son’s stomach – another one of those things I hadn’t read about… We were told to keep it dry and clean and that it would eventually fall off.  Luckily it did!

Here is what I wrote in my book about it. This question is linked to Tip #10.

With warm water and mild soap. You can also clean it with an alcohol swab 2 to 3 times a day. If you notice it getting very red or puss forming or has a bad smell, see your doctor.

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Tip #10 When will my newborn’s umbilical cord fall off?

December 5th, 2011 → 11:56 am @

I must say that I was not at all prepared for a lot of this stuff.

While expecting my first, I was mainly focussed on the giving birth part, what was going to happen to me (loss of freedom, controle etc. - I got over that the minute he was born...), my work, what last name our baby would get and a whole bunch of other non-baby stuff.

Luckily….   I already knew how to change diapers and dress babies –  being the oldest of 6 I’d had my fair share of experience – but the umbilical cord – NO idea…



Here’s the answer from my book:

I never thought of my belly button as being the thing that connected me to my mother but since I’ve had babies it has become a more awesome part of my body… Once the umbilical cord has been cut there is a piece that still hangs on the newborn’s stomach. This will eventually fall off, usually between 8-14 days, at which point a scab will form and slowly heal itself and turn into a real belly button.  Make sure to keep it dry and clean during this process. Keep your baby’s diaper off the cord (and the scab) by rolling the diaper underneath it.  Many suggest sponge baths until the cord falls off to avoid infection. If the cord does get a bit wet, gently dry it off.  Once it’s fallen off you can bath your baby normally.  If you see signs of an infection, see your doctor.

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Tip #9 Are some newborns more prone to jaundice?

December 1st, 2011 → 11:58 am @

This was a question I asked when Adam, my first born, started turning yellow…

Here is the answer that I wrote in my book:

Yes, if they were bruised when they were born or if they were premature babies their liver isn’t as developed. If their blood type is different than mommy’s blood type (which is a big cause of babies’ actually needing phototherapy) or if you are breastfeeding and don’t have quite enough milk in the first days, your baby can get dehydrated which can also cause jaundice. Don’t try to figure this out yourself though, see a doctor.

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Tip #8 My newborn has a yellowish tint to her. Is this OK?

November 28th, 2011 → 11:59 am @

This is what I experienced:

Two of my kids had jaundice. My first was born 18 days late (yes, they let it go that far in NL). We were still in the hospital when he turned a yellowish shade so he was given light therapy but was allowed to stay with me. They put what looked like a heating pad on his skin, underneath his pyjama. It was bright light. Couple of days and we were good to go…  My third child Olivia, was however was a different story.  We were sent home a couple of hours after she was born (another typical Dutch thing) – I hadn’t had any complications so off we went. The next day she was very yellow… I had a nurse come over and check on her and we were immediately sent to the hospital.  Olivia had to go into intensive care, naked, with eye patches on and some seriously intense light. That was hard, going back to the hospital and having to let her go.  I remember looking around and seeing the other kids in intensive care and thinking – phew… we are the lucky ones.  They let me spend the night at the hospital but we didn’t sleep together. Took her almost 3 days to return to a normal color and we’ve never looked back.

The other 2 remained pink, except for the occasional yellow face paint that’s impossible to get off. It leaves exactly the yellowish tint that the other 2 had as newborns.

Here’s the answer in my book:

This yellowing of the skin is called jaundice and it affects more than 50% of newborns. Jaundice appears in the first couple of days on the face then on the body and usually disappears on its own during the first weeks.  It can be worse in breastfed newborns in the first days so be sure to feed very often to maintain hydration. Depending on the severity, it may be necessary to stay in (or go back to) the hospital so that your newborn can be given a type of light therapy (phototherapy) treatment.

Jaundice is caused by an excess of Bilirubin which is normally taken out of the body by the liver. In utero, the mother’s liver did the job but after birth it can take the baby’s liver a little time to catch up and take over the process during which time jaundice can occur. This type of jaundice is called “physiologic”.  It can also develop in the second and third week in breastfed newborns via a different mechanism. See a doctor but keep breastfeeding. If you are at home and concerned, see a doctor immediately as untreated jaundice can be dangerous.


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Tip #7 Why on earth is my baby crying???

November 20th, 2011 → 12:10 pm @

Boy did I ask myself this question many times, especially when my son Adam was born. He cried every night around 11pm for about an hour. No idea. My husband would take over and walk around with him, I couldn’t handle it – wanted to cry myself as I was unable to make him stop.

There are so many reasons why babies cry. It’s the only way they can communicate when they are born.


Now my kids communicate like this…

Here is what I wrote in my book about it…

A question you will ask yourself more than once in the next years.  Babies cry when they are hungry,  need a diaper change, are tired, are too hot or too cold etc. It’s the only way they know how to tell you that something needs to happen.  There are other reasons for babies to cry of course including various forms of discomfort such as cramping, colic or being sick.  If your baby has cramps she will usually stretch out or close her fists. As time passes you will learn to hear the difference in types of cries. Most important is to stay calm. Your baby can feel your stress…

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Tip #6 What kind of routine should we create for our baby?

November 17th, 2011 → 12:11 pm @

When my first child was born, I had no idea that we needed a routine. My only focus was feeding him, feeding him and feeding him. He ate all the time and of course, always wanted to be held, which meant that I literally didn’t even have time to make myself a sandwich.  I’ve learned a thing or two since then…

Here’s the answer that is written in my book:

Routine and rest are very important things to give your newborn. Routine doesn’t mean that at a particular time of day something has to happen, more that you keep a rhythm in your patterns. For example: Baby wakes up, change diaper, drinks, is awake, tummy time, sleeps.  Repeat.


In Holland we get what is called “kramzorg” which translates to “someone that comes to your house to take care of you and your baby for the first 7 days after birth”. They help with breastfeeding, take temperatures, teach you the basics, tidy up and make you a sandwich. They come for about 4 hours a day.  I think this was put into place because many Dutch women give birth at home, so they never enter a hospital and often don’t have any contact with an actual doctor – it all goes through the midwives unless there are complications or indications that things might not go well.  I think it also has to do with keeping new moms out of the doctors office as they are being taught by someone less expensive. I’m sure there is a financial reason why they come to your house for 7 days – there usually is in NL.

Still, regardless of the reasons, with the right person (we had 2 wrongs and 2 rights), it can be really helpful.  I’m the oldest of 6 and brought some of that experience with me when I had my first born so didn’t need help with some of the basics (like dressing, diapers, bathing).


When I had my 4th child (above), with 2 others at home and 1 who just started school, my “kraamzorg” stepped up and did things that weren’t “required” such as sorting closets, helping with the other kids so I could get some sleep, cleaning, pick ups etc. I loved her.  It was the first time that I accepted that I needed to recover with bed rest and sleep.

But this whole post is about Routine. It’s the most important thing I learned. Keep a flow, keep it restful, let your baby know what to expect…

And don’t worry if you’re out and can’t keep the Routine. It’s about most of the time.

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Tip #5 Did you think your newborn was the most beautiful in the world?

November 14th, 2011 → 12:15 pm @

“My newborn doesn’t look like I expected”, a friend of mine said to right after the birth of her son. I decided to add this to my Questions in my newborn book because not every newborn looks like the baby on the pampers package when they are born…

Here’s what I wrote about that:

Your newborn’s head may be a bit pointed from coming through the birthing canal, his arms and legs may be a bit crooked having grown in a very tight spot for so many months and some babies are born with a layer of fat like white coating called vernix caseosa which protects their skin from the amniotic fluid. You’ll also notice that your baby’s head is much bigger proportionately than the rest of his body.  The coating gets washed off, the head will return to being round in a couple of days, the legs and arms will straighten out over time and the head/body ratio will balance out as your baby grows.

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