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Is there something you can do for the newborn’s hiccups in a breastfeeding baby?

Hiccups occur in utero even before the fetal breathing movements become evident. Hiccups begin between 22 to 25 weeks before birth (15 to 18 weeks gestational age). Hiccups are brief twitches of the diaphragm, the large, flat muscle separating the chest from the abdominal cavity.

The diaphragm contracts evenly for breathing, but a rapid twitch causes a sudden, small intake of air that we recognize as a hiccup. You hear a sound when the hiccup occurs because the vocal cords briefly snap closed during the hiccup – this is likely to be the body’s precaution to avoid inhaling food or liquid while hiccupping. The medical term for hiccups is singultus.

Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to stop hiccups in a young infant or anyone else. It’s not clear why hiccups occur. Babies certainly hiccup much more frequently than older children or adults. Often hiccups develop after eating. In an effort to minimize the likelihood of hiccups, many parents concentrate on frequent burping and minimizing the amount air swallowed while the baby is eating.

When the baby starts to hiccup, further attempts at burping may not help. A drink of water may be tried, but this also is unlikely to work well. Medications don’t seem to be very helpful, either. Unfortunately, once hiccups begin, there is little you can do other than comfort or distract your baby with an interesting activity while you wait for the hiccups to subside.

I have a three–year–old boy. I’ve been working on his potty training for some time now. I just found out that his former child care teacher had been yelling at him for not using the potty. My son now tries to hold it, even in his diaper. I believe he is afraid to go, thinking he’ll get punished. My question is, how can I make or get him to realize that it is OK to use the potty? I don’t want him to have “Medical” problems from holding it.

The first order of business is creating a less stressful atmosphere for your child to “Go” whether in diapers or the potty. Holding stools is common behavior for children as a reaction to painful passage of stools or if they feel embarrassed about going to the bathroom, of course, holding it too long leads to constipation, which only compounds the problem of painful bowel movements.

Your first goal is making your son’s bowel movements less stressful. Start by relaxing the push for potty training. Tell him that you won’t remind him to go to the potty and that it’s his decision alone. Don’t mention the potty for a couple of weeks. If the stools are very firm, so hard that they are uncomfortable for him to pass, ask for your health care provider’s recommendation for a stool softener such as flavored mineral oil.

After a few weeks, begin to encourage using the potty in a positive way. Buy your son a colorful calendar. Tell him that he’ll get a shiny sticker to place on the calendar every day that he uses the toilet successfully. Praise him liberally as he places the stickers on his calendar. Reserve a special treat – perhaps a trip to the zoo or a meal at his favorite restaurant – when he fills up a week with several stickers. Now you’re shifting toilet–training from punishment to rewards. When there is an “Accident”, instead of scolding, enlist your son’s help in cleaning up. For example, ask him to hold the lid of the trash can open while you throw away a soiled diaper, then wash your hands together. Toilet training is a big hurdle for children and parents. If there are persistent difficulties or frustrations, check with your child’s health care provider.

Are there benefits of breastfeeding over bottle–feeding?

Both breast milk and formula are safe, healthy foods for your baby, but there currently is no formula substitute for the immunity factors and some of the nutrients found in colostrum and breast milk.

How often should I feed my baby?

Each breast–fed baby has her own nursing style – some prefer short but frequent feedings, while others prefer lengthy, less frequent feedings. In general, many babies feed infrequently during the first 24 hours, but you should offer nursing when the baby arouses. By the second day, babies should feed at least every three to four hours with a one four to six hour stretch of sleep. Breast milk is digested more rapidly than formula, so breast–fed babies will need to nurse at least eight times a day in the first three months.

Formula fed babies will feed one half to two ounces eight to 12 times a day in the first few days. By six to seven days of age, formula fed babies will drink 16 to 24 ounces a day and should finish these feedings within 30 minutes. Be sure to burp your baby two to three times during each feeding.

How long should I let my baby nurse?

Breastfeeding mothers do not need to limit the length of time your babies nurse, but you do need to be sure that your breasts are emptied regularly to maintain your milk supply. For this reason, most feedings should be from both breasts. Nurse your baby on one breast for at least 10 to 15 minutes on each side until she starts to squirm or pauses frequently. Then, gently break her suction by putting your finger between her gums. Burp her and change her diaper if needed, then let her nurse on the other breast as long as she wishes. If she is rooting or seems to want to nurse more, continue to alternate breasts. The more frequently your baby nurses, the more milk you will produce.

How can I tell my baby is getting enough milk?

See your baby as she nurses and look for her to swallow after every two to three suckles. Your baby should be vigorously suckling and swallowing for a minimum of five minutes. By two weeks of age, your baby should be at or above her birth weight and then begin gaining five or more ounces per week. Keeping track of the number of wet diapers and stools also can help you to gauge if your baby is getting enough nourishment. Look for softening of your breasts after each feeding once your initial engorgement has passed.

Who in their right mind would use cloth diapers anyway?

There are two types of people who use cloth diapers. The first type are those who wish to save bunches of money and aren’t afraid of a little work. The second type are those who are very concerned with the environment and their baby’s health. Sometimes a person has a little of both inside of them.

I’ve never used cloth diapers before, and I’m wondering: How often do you change your baby’s diapers?

You should change them once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once before bed, and after they poop. One needs to change diapers in the middle of the night when they’re little. As they grow older they become more comfortable and used to their diaper situation.

Should the mother of a 5 1/2 year–old boy be concerned about frequent fevers, sore throats and stomach aches?

It is not unusual for children to have, on an average, nine upper respiratory tract infections a year. Children in day care or preschool tend to have more. Fever that goes away without other symptoms or signs of disease is likely to be viral in origin. Fever is one of the body’s defenses against viruses. Sore throats are commonly viral, but may be caused by Group A streptococcus which may also cause fever and stomachache. Streptococcus requires a throat culture to confirm it. Coughing may be indicative of a viral infection, or of asthma. Prolonged and deep coughing may cause secondary stomach discomfort. In children who do not have serious infections (pneumonia, meningitis, skin infections, bone infections, etc.), and who recover quickly, I would not be overly concerned about eight to 10 episodes per year. If there is a serious problem, the symptoms normally will not disappear.

Our eight–year–old son wets the bed almost every night. He has had surgery to increase the diameter of the meatus opening (of the penis), which helped decrease the pressure when he urinates, but it didn’t help the bedwetting. We then tried the nasal spray that is supposed to decrease the output of urine, but there was no noticeable improvement. Do you have any suggestions at all?

Bedwetting in children over six years of age is a very common but complex pediatric problem. Persistent bedwetting is called nocturnal enuresis. Often there is a family history of bedwetting in one or both parents, who are now hopeful to minimize the same problem for their child.

It was once thought that nocturnal enuresis occurred because the child slept too soundly or had a small–sized bladder. Research has cast doubt on these explanations. Another common belief was that enuresis resulted from emotional stress. Although it’s true that emotional stress might be associated with brief episodes of bedwetting, enuresis is more likely a cause than a result of emotional stress. Most parents should respond to bedwetting with several simple steps. Limit liquids in the evening and ask the child to urinate before bed–time. Place a waterproof covering over the mattress. Work out simple arrangements for handling wet sheets and blankets. A common approach is to have the child place the wet linen in the laundry; the parents should remake the bed without comment. Remember that children don’t wet their bed on purpose. They can’t help it – scolding or teasing will not help. Begin a diary, emphasizing the number of dry nights.

The medical management of nocturnal enuresis might include alarm systems and/or medication. Alarm systems have sensors attached to your child’s underwear or a sleeping pad. The alarms sound when they detect urine, giving your child a signal to get up and go to the bathroom. It may take a few weeks, but the idea behind the alarms is to reinforce the habit of getting up to use the bathroom. You may give your child some type of reward for responding to the alarm. Difficult–to–manage enuresis often is referred to for evaluation by a pediatric urologist. Sometimes, pediatric psychologists can be helpful, especially if the child or family become frustrated. Usually, your child’s regular medical care giver is the best place to begin. If referrals are needed, he or she can assist in making arrangements.

While I was pregnant, I contracted chickenpox in my first trimester. I was concerned that the fetus would be adversely affected by the disease. Fortunately, there were no apparent problems. My little girl is now seven years old. My question is this: Are there any long term problems that could occur (e.g., heart disorders, cancer, etc.) that would affect my child as she grows older? Thank you for any information you can give me.

When a pregnant woman develops chicken pox, it can pose risk to the fetus. If a pregnant woman suspects exposure and has no prior history of chickenpox, she should contact her physician for possible testing and/or medications which might modify or prevent the course of chickenpox.

It seems unlikely that your daughter will have problems related to your chicken pox that would not have been apparent earlier in her life. Most consequences of fetal chicken pox infection are readily apparent in early infancy. Heart problems, cancer, etc. are unlikely to be related to chickenpox.