When your first child was born, she was the centre of your universe and will very likely have experienced your full devotion as a validation of her presence. Introducing a new child into the mix will certainly have a very dramatic effect on the family dynamic – your first born will now have to share your attention and time – and her toys! – and she may not respond very well to the idea. Follow these tips on how to prepare your first child for the arrival of new siblings:

 A mother helps toddler adjust to new sibling

1. Timing is everything

It’s best to wait until your pregnancy is progressing smoothly before letting your first born know that a new sibling is on the way. You may even let your bump break the ice on the subject. When you feel your toddler is ready to conceptualise a new baby brother or sister, letting her feel the new baby kick may ground the experience for her.

 Toddler holding his new sibling's hand

2. How to tell your toddler

Whether you sit her down and break the news or you read books together on the subject, you need to give her time to process this important and life-changing information. Ask her how she feels about having a brother or sister so that she has a space to express her feelings and feel heard.

 A toddler lies down with their new sibling

3. Play it cool

As your due date draws near, try not to emphasise the arrival of your child’s little brother or sister too much as she might grow jealous. Relate the baby to his or her older sister, reminding your first born that she was once also that small, didn’t have teeth or hair, and also needed lots of sleep.

 Toddler kissing her little sibling

To prevent your first born from feeling left out, do fun things together so that she associates positivity with her new sibling; and give her responsibilities relating to the baby, which will make her feel important and protective of her new sibling.

Visual courtesy of: vseventhgeneration.com, kidspot.com.au, babynature.co.za, pinkymckay.com, babybedding.com

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From the time that you start to plan for a family, to the time that you are ready to go into labour, there is an incredible amount of preparation involved in the life-changing event of having children. Even before you become pregnant, it’s important to get medical aid quotes as many medical aid providers don’t offer cover for pregnancy and childbirth if you’re already pregnant. During pregnancy you’ll prepare for the baby’s arrival by painting the nursery, buying “baby things”, toys, diapers and everything necessary to make baby’s life as comfortable as possible.

However, the more you prepare and the closer you come to your due date, the more nerve-wracking your thoughts may be over what childbirth will be like. Here are some tips to prepare for childbirth:

Preparing for childbirth

1. Know what you’re in for

Instead of stressing over the unknown, use all the resources at your disposal to learn about what you can expect during childbirth. The less you know, the more fearful the experience may be; and the more you fear the experience, the more your body holds on to the pain of childbirth. If your mind is at ease, your body can relax and cope with labour with less pain.

2. Use yoga, meditation, and visualisations to help you cope

The mind is a powerful tool and you can train your mind to help you cope with the pain of labour. The practice of yoga will help you to release pent-up energy and to also focus on your breathing. The more conscious you are of your breathing, the more present you will be in your body and more able to cope with labour. Meditation and visualisation will help you to relax and endure the pain while openly welcoming the arrival of your new baby.

Meditating3. Do gentle exercise

In the months leading up to the birth of your baby, be sure to get regular gentle exercise. Walking and gradually improving your body’s strength will help you to cope with the physical exertion of childbirth. Being fit is also important to help you to recover faster after labour and be able to spend more time and energy on your newborn.

Visuals courtesy of: gipom.com, modernpregnancytips.com, inhabitots.com

 

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The rise in the prevalence of autism over the last two decades has affected millions of families worldwide. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or “autism” for short describes a spectrum of disorders relating to cognitive and physical developmental problems. And because there are so many different symptoms, autism is difficult to diagnose and treat. It may affect patients physically or developmentally, resulting in a minor social interactive problem or a lifetime of dependency on a family member to simply survive.

AutismBecause it is such a complicated disorder, it’s important to identify the symptoms early – the earlier the disorder is diagnosed, the better the prognosis because treatment and behavioural therapies can start early. Since autism is related to brain and social development, the following symptoms may be indicative of autism:

  • Your child develops normally up to a certain age, but then regresses (between the age of 12 and 24 months). This regression may manifest as a loss of speech ability, fewer gestures, and regressed social skills. This is one of the major red flags of autism and needs to be addressed immediately.
  • Your child doesn’t make eye contact while being fed or while you are trying to interact with him. He also doesn’t follow objects visually, or imitate movements or facial expressions.
  • Your child doesn’t smile, even when smiled at, or doesn’t respond to hearing his name or the sound of what should be a familiar voice.
  • He doesn’t utter any noises to try to get attention or doesn’t reach out his arms – a common gesture to “request” to be picked up.
  • He’s not interested in playing with other people or expressing a sense of enjoyment, and he doesn’t ask for help or make even the most basic of requests.

Child with autismTake note that these are a guideline only. If you suspect that your child has autism, see your paediatrician immediately and get a professional diagnosis.

Visuals courtesy of: newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu, webmd.com, parentcoachingforautism.com

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New parents may want to rush their children to the hospital with every sign or symptom that they display, while more experienced parents will realise that many illnesses or signs of discomfort are simply their children’s growing pains; their immune systems strengthening, and their bodies adjusting to the lifestyle of childhood. However, there are some symptoms that do indeed need to be taken very seriously:

1. No response to loud noises

Your newborn or infant isn’t able to tell you that they cannot hear, so if they don’t respond to loud noises, it’s safe to assume that hearing may be a problem. Medical aid plans cover hearing screenings for babies and small children, so the moment this becomes apparent, get your child the necessary diagnosis to possibly avoid a lifetime of deafness.

Sick child2. Inability to focus

The same goes for vision. If a baby’s vision is blurry, how can they let you know? If you find that your child has a hard time focusing on your hand or objects that are up close, take him to the paediatrician to run some vision tests.

3. Fever and headache

It’s common for children with developing immune systems to run fevers and have headaches, but when these two symptoms are so severe that your child appears to clock out or cannot keep his eyes open, it’s time for the doctor. Meningitis can be fatal, but it is treatable and an early diagnosis can prevent any long-term complications.

Sick child with thermometer4. Extreme thirst

It’s common for kids to become dehydrated on the sports field and to want to drink lots of water and other liquids. However, if your child hasn’t been all that active, but they cannot seem to quench their thirst even after drinking a lot of water, it’s time to ask the doctor about diabetes. The other symptoms of diabetes include extreme hunger, increased urination, unexplained weight loss, as well as fatigue.

Visuals courtesy of: pulsetoday.co.uk, helpingchild.in, cdc.gov

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You may be used to wearing high heels before you got pregnant, perhaps even enjoyed the leg-lengthening effect of your favourite pair, but when you conceive and your belly begins to grow, you need to put those heels to one side and rather opt for shoes with better support before your baby arrives. Here are the reasons why high heels aren’t meant for pregnant women.

Pregnant woman resting

1. You don’t have the strength and support

During pregnancy, your body undergoes a whole array of changes to accommodate your ability to carry the extra weight of the baby, as well as to make the birthing process easier. The ligaments in your lower back loosen and the same hormones that produce this effect can also result in loosened ligaments in the feet, ankles and lower legs. You will not have the same strength and support as before, which means that wearing high heels will not only be uncomfortable, but also painful and dangerous.

Proud mother to be

2. Your balance won’t be what it was

Aside from your lower body’s diminished joint support, your balance is also affected by pregnancy, especially because you need to learn to carry all that additional weight during the second half of your pregnancy. If high heels were a challenge to wear before getting pregnant, they will certainly challenge your stability during pregnancy. If you insist on wearing high heels during pregnancy, then it’s best you get some medical aid quotes and cover yourself for falls and sprains.

Just because you’re pregnant, you don’t have to be frumpy and wear flip-flops or flat boots. The real requirement for the pregnant woman’s feet is that your shoes need to be comfortable (especially when pregnancy fluid retention makes your feet and ankles swell) and they need to offer as much support as possible for your arches, calves, hamstrings and lower back.

Visual courtesy of: intelligent-files.com, graceandsole.ie, belevation.com
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When it comes to raising your family, you only want the best for them, which is why considering your children’s dietary health is so important. Knowing what’s in your baby’s food will help you to make the right choices about her diet and establish the foundation for healthy eating for the rest of her life. Here’s why organic is better than non-organic food for your baby:

 Healthy baby food

1. Say no to pesticides

Large-scale farming requires the use of pesticides to ensure that crops are spared from infestations and the farmer can maximise his production and keep costs low. Even if the food is cleaned before it’s sent to the supermarket or processed into baby food, the pesticides aren’t completely washed away, which means that there’s a good chance that non-organic food contains traces of pesticides. Smaller scale organic farmers don’t use pesticides and while they may lose parts of their output to pests, the food is of a much higher quality and is safer for your baby to eat. You’ll pay more for organic baby food, but your child will grow up with healthy food in her tummy.

 

2. What about hormones?

Farmers who raise livestock for food are under pressure to use minimal time and resources to grow animals to size, which means that growth hormones are used to speed up this process, especially in beef cows. In order to protect the animals from illness and disease, they’re also treated with antibiotics. These hormones and antibiotics find their way into the packed meat in the supermarket and it’s suspected that they can have a negative effect on human development and on our endocrine systems. When selecting a high quality protein for your child, ensure that you can trust the source of the meat and that it comes from an organic farmer that doesn’t employ the same methods of mass production.

Organic baby food

Organic food is healthier, but more expensive than non-organic food. If you want to save costs, one of the best ways to get organic food for less money is to invest in growing your own! There are some great ways to start your own vegetable garden in planter boxes and produce healthy, organic food for your family, right outside your door.

Visual courtesy of: affiliateddentists.com; bdlive.co.za; tibbiyardim.com

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It’s a bit of a misnomer that nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (NVP) is called “morning sickness” because, as many pregnant women know, that green, nauseated feeling can start from the moment you wake up in the morning and last all day. Some women experience such severe vomiting that they may need to be hospitalised (which is fortunately covered by most medical aid plans). If you’re one of the many women who suffers from pregnancy nausea, try these tips to reduce that icky feeling:

Pregnancy morning sickness

If it makes you feel ill, don’t eat it

While you do want to consume a balanced diet to ensure your baby gets all the best nutrients, it’s better to have a smaller range of nutrients in your body than to throw everything up before you’ve had the chance to digest it.

Eat small, frequent snacks

Don’t eat large portions three times a day. Rather opt for smaller, healthy snacks at frequent intervals throughout the day. Keeping something in your stomach could potentially reduce the feelings of nausea (which are more prominent on an empty stomach).

Morning sickness

Avoid trigger foods

One of the causes of pregnancy nausea is linked to a heightened sense of smell. If warm, aromatic foods turn your stomach, steer clear and rather opt for less fragrant foods that you’ll at least be able to eat and digest.

Suffering from morning sickness

Choose liquid calories

If you’re struggling with solid food, get your calories in liquid form in the shape of soups, smoothies, and shakes or other beverages that you can sip on throughout the day.

Stock up on gingerIt’s a commonly held belief that ginger helps to settle the stomach and reduce nausea. While it doesn’t work for every woman, you could try ginger tea, real ginger ale, ginger snaps, or even ginger-based sweets – but make sure they contain real ginger.

Visual courtesy of: huffingtonpost.com, locallyhealthy.co.uk, bparents.com, goodtoknow.co.uk
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From the time your baby is very small, right up to the age of about 10 to 12 years old, you need to ensure their safety in the car by strapping them in to a car seat, even if you’re just going to the shops around the corner. Their safety must come first, but they can only be safe if you know how to use car seats for infants and young children. Follow these basic steps to installing child car seats, but always follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions.

1. Secure the car seat

Child car seats come with a base that needs to be firmly attached to the back seat. Make sure that the base is as tightly secure as possible and cannot move more than a couple of centimeters in either direction. Follow the instructions closely for how to use the seat belts to secure the unit.

2. Strap your little one into the car seat

Place your baby in the car seat and make sure that the harness is used correctly. There may be varying chest, shoulder, and hip harnesses that need to be properly secured so that your baby fits snugly in the seat without the straps being too tight.

Baby in car seat

 3. Attach the seat to the base

When your child is comfortable, attach the car seat to the base, ensuring that it snaps into place and that the seat won’t detach unexpectedly.

Your baby needs to be in a comfortable position when in the baby car seat. He should always be in a semi-reclined position that will allow him to sleep comfortably if he needs to, without his head flopping forward. Even if he is uncomfortable with being restrained by the harness, give him a safe toy or a bottle for the journey to keep him occupied.

visual courtesy of: babydoesnyc.com; publicdomainpictures.com
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When you become pregnant, your whole life will change… starting with your diet. It’s a common myth that pregnant women are now “eating for two” and are able to eat whatever they want – here are some guidelines on what pregnant women should eat to support the healthy growth of their baby.

 Pregnant woman

Proteins

It’s recommended that you eat a good source of animal protein – be it lean meat and chicken, fish, or eggs – while plant-based proteins are just as important. Beans, legumes, lentils, quinoa, nuts and seeds, are not only fantastic plant-based proteins but also provide expecting moms with many other nutrients and iron require for a healthy pregnancy.

 

Fruit and veggies

The more colourful your platter of fruits and veggies, the better for your body and your baby. Different fruits and veggies are packed with all the essential vitamins and minerals and trace elements that will form the building-blocks for your baby’s health. It’s important that fruits and vegetables are eaten fresh, but if you cook the veggies, be sure to not slather them in salt, oils and sugar and try to eat them as naturally as possible.

 Pregnant woman eating

Starches and carbs

While you will benefit from the energy from rice, pasta, and bread, it’s important to also eat natural white carbs like rice and potatoes. However, try the healthier options of brown rice and sweet potatoes too.

 Food for pregnant women

Fats

Fat in your diet is an important element, especially for your growing baby, but fats should not make up more than 30% of your daily intake, and then also only “healthy fats”. You can get these from avocado, nuts, and fatty fish, but try to avoid animal fats.

 

The healthier your diet during pregnancy, the healthier your baby’s own nutritional springboard will be.

Images courtesy of: backfixer1.com; whattoexpect.com; healthfoodxdrinks.com; pregnancy.blogspot.com

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If you’re feeling tired all the time, even when you feel like you’re getting enough sleep, and your doctor has ruled out all the other potential conditions that may leave you feeling sluggish, with low energy, headaches, and even joint and lymph node pain, it may be due to chronic fatigue syndrome. Even though it’s a controversial condition that is difficult to diagnose, good medical aids will provide cover for the doctors’ appointments required to make this diagnosis.

 Chronic Fatigue

What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is classified by its symptoms (as there are no screening tests to determine if you have it or not), which include an intense tiredness and body fatigue that no amount of sleep can cure. It can get worse if you persist with certain mental and physical activities, however, it might not be attributed to any specific cause.

 

The causes of CFS

There are a few different causes of CFS, including viral infection, which may account for the pain the joints and lymph nodes. Other causes include high blood pressure (hypertension) as well as hormonal problems and general immune system impairment. If you are overweight or lead a particularly inactive lifestyle, are prone to the effects of stress, or the right environmental factors for CFS are present, you are considered high-risk for developing chronic fatigue syndrome.

Fatigue

How does CFS manifest?

The first signs of CFS will be a feeling of being tired all the time – so tired that it interferes with your daily ability to function. You may be diagnosed with CFS when you have experienced this intense fatigue that isn’t cured with bed rest, for six months. If this is paired with an inability to concentrate, waking up feeling tired, inexplicable muscle and joint pain (without inflammation), headaches and sore throat, as well as tender lymph nodes in the armpits and neck, it’s very likely that you may have CFS.

 

Because a CFS diagnosis is difficult for doctors to make, it’s important that you persist in finding the cause of your chronic fatigue and help your doctor to rule out any other conditions so that there’s no doubt when he makes a CFS diagnosis. From there, the correct treatment plan can be administered.

Visual courtesy of: mitochondrialdiseases.org; ihwcenter.com; austinholisticdr.com

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