Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Naturopathic Pediatrics Series: Holistic Baby Care

Caring for a newborn infant takes time and detailed specifics. Ideally the whole immediate family will participate in the care and nurturing of the baby to create a balance of energy and support for both mother and child. The key focus areas in naturopathic infant care provide a formula to grow healthy children that are physically strong, mentally positive, emotionally secure and spiritually progressive. There is no certain time to introduce infants to the holistic way of living, as they grow it would be ideal if that is the way of life that is taught to them from the very beginning."  

Feeding and Nutrition
When babies emerge from the womb if given the opportunity the very first thing they do is feed and establish a latch to the mother’s breast. Even if the mother is not 100% healthy, her body can still produce the antibodies needed for the baby to begi n proper growth and disease fighting agents. This involuntary response only requires that mother be willing to make the breast available. In the nursing stages, healthy mothers are able to breastfeed until the baby voluntarily weans, which take place between one and five years old. When mothers are lactating the following should be considered for holistic health: 
A. No detox therapy during lactation.
B. Avoid these herbs that may have an effect on milk flow and baby’s system like aloe, basil,  comfrey, garlic, parsley, sage, tobacco and thyme.
C. Relaxation and hydration therapies are best during breastfeeding.

Steps to Transitioning  an Infant to Solid Foods
a. Choose raw single fruits and vegetables that are naturally soft and easy to swallow. 
b. Prepare foods by smashing or blending.
c. Do not use seasonings: salt, sugar, honey, etc.
d. Monitor child for 24 hours for reactions with the introduction of each food. 
e. Train the child to drink 30 minutes to an hour after solid meals.
f. When introducing staple or starchy foods use foods that are non-constipating, rice, oats, sweet potato, spelt, plantain, etc. Avoid potato, yam, pasta, white bread and all types of meats.
g. When introducing cooked foods make sure the child is old enough, with teeth, to chew properly.

Children learn their eating habits from their surroundings. Provide an example of good and balanced eating to the child so that they have a clear understanding of what it is to have proper nutrition. A diet of live vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes is especially important for growing and developing children. Sugar, dairy, animal fats and excessively salty foods break down the body’s immune system and sets up the foundation for a life of disease and discomfort. Eliminate dairy products, chocolate, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and wheat. Include dietary supplements like spirulina and lecithin.

Bonding for Your Baby
Creating the necessary bond for the infant and family is the source of the security needed to grow up strong and healthy. Infants should never be left to feel afraid, painful or insecure. The primary bonding takes place with the mother and it is vital that she submits herself to the unconditional presence that is needed for complete security. The presence of other relatives is also important as the infant grows into their environment to become a fully functioning member of the family. Holistically there is no such thing as spoiling a child. Because this world is new, strange and overwhelming on most levels to an infant, their need to be close to the familiar actually builds up their confidence to explore their world at a pace that does not create fear. Parents are encouraged to keep their baby close to them, to consistently touch them with positive loving snuggles, and always be available. Children who are neglected in this way develop a cold nature and often have social and family issues as they grow older. One of the most enduring ways of creating that security is what is popularly known as “baby wear.” 

Physical Deveopment
The holistic physical care of an infant is centered on stabilizing the environment to prevent disease and injury. This is another reason why infants should remain in close proximity to their primary care providers. Everything intended for the infant should be clean, functional and age appropriate. Knowing physical development markers are also important. For example, at one month a healthy baby can lift their head, maintain face to face contact, can follow a large object, will respond to familiar voices such as the father’s voice, laughs, smiles and react to sounds. In the final stages of infancy, from seven to twelve months, babies will sit without support, begin to crawl, pull up to stand and walk holding on to something, excel in hand eye coordination, speech will begin to develop with words like mama, dada, bye-bye, hot, uh oh, along with gibberish “conversations,” pointing, grasping objects, clapping hands, waves goodbye, and passes objects from hand to hand. 

Engaging in age appropriate physical activity with the child can help ensure these markers are a part of the child’s development. Parents should be encouraged to constantly interact with their child through physical manipulation, verbal encouragement, and be a good example of how to act. Most parents are naturals at this, but just in case a few techniques are needed review the following:
1. Daily full body massage after each bath
2. Reflexology on the hands and feet
3. Sitting the child up in the lap
4. Exercising arms and legs
5. Talk to the baby about everything so they hear voice and language
6. Infants should go outside for sun exposure daily to play ball or just take a brief walk

Mental Development
Assisting an infant in developing their mental skills begins immediately after birth. Helping them adapt to the world should be accomplished with loving care, patience and a constant flow of mental stimulation that feeds the rapidly growing brain cells. Mental development includes attention, creativity, concentration, identifying, imagination, memory, perception, and speech. 

Emotional Development
In the early stages of caring for an infant it is common for there to be an outpour of love to the new arrival, however as time moves along and the tasks involved in caring for the infant become more evident to the family, sometimes it can bring about stress that an unprepared family has a hard time dealing with. The goal for emotional development in the first year of life is to establish security and a peaceful existence. Some techniques to nurture the infant emotionally include:

Always speak softly
Always touch softly                    
Always respond quickly
Maintain closeness                
Give lots of hugs and kisses       
Always make eye contact
Immediately sooth anxiety
Avoid negative interactions around the baby
It’s ok to hold the baby all the time

These gestures of love and bonding will eliminate a fussy baby, create a happy infant that trusts and gives them the security to be unafraid of the world around them.

Spiritual Development
The spiritual development of an infant is simple. Surround them with positive energy. Live a balanced life or a life of good character as a reservoir of strength. Infants can be a part of the parent’s spiritual routines as well. Pray and meditate while holding the baby, attend a baby and parent yoga class, take the baby out into nature and allow them to learn about their connection to the earth, basically the baby can participate in everything that the parents do to consistently nurture their spiritual health. 

Remember to love and care for your babies with all you have. They grow up so fast!

Light and love,
Dr. Akua
March 19, 2019
Cape Coast, Ghana

About the Author: Dr. Akua Gray, ND is the author of numerous books on wellness, naturopathy and vegan nutrition. Her latest series of education manuals include Naturopathic Reiki Volumes 1, 2 and 3 and Detox Therapy: Detoxing Should Feel Good Too are available through bojakazhealthnetwork.combojakazhealthnetwork.com or Amazon. She is currently the primary curriculum developer for A Life Of Peace Wellness Education Institute and teaches an annual series of Naturopathic courses online and in person. Visit www.alifeofpeace.org