Dear Helen, how to help my husband overcome his fear of holding the baby?

“Dear Harper family, my husband is still afraid of holding our 5 months old baby. I tried to help him overcome his fear of holding babies, since I have already learned despite us both initially being afraid of improperly holding the baby, but he doesn’t want to learn. I am not sure if this is a rejection of his new parental role, fear of hurting the baby or fear of not holding it properly. I know that he loves both the baby and me, but I am really frustrated by this situation. How can I help him overcome his fear?  ”

Dear Mom,

Try being patient with him in spite of being frustrated by the situation. Some fathers feel ready and competent for their new role from the very beginning, but some do not.

Research shows that fathers’ involvement largely depends on the mother’s confidence in the competence of the father, so the fathers that receive positive feedback from the mother are getting involved faster.

From what I can tell, you are already sending him positive messages and helping him overcome his fear – just continue to be consistent with that behavior.

The baby is soon going to become stronger (able to hold up its head and torso, sit up on its own, etc.), which will work in your favor, as your husband’s sense of the baby’s fragility will gradually change, which will certainly help him overcome his fear.

Sometimes, fear is simply due to a lack of knowledge, so it would be helpful to talk with a professional who will further explain that babies are not as fragile and weak as the parent may think.

Sometimes, external authority has more of an effect on the change of beliefs, so it doesn’t hurt to try this option, as well.

Dear Helen, how to make my baby fall asleep?

“ Dear Harper family, I recently noticed that lately my baby is nervous before going to sleep. Before, my son would fall asleep within a few minutes, but he is now crying and really loudly. He is 15 months old. Do you have any advice? ”

Dear Mom,

Under the assumption that all doubts about potential health problems are removed (such as teeth growth, infection, etc.) which, according to an unwritten rule, generally amplify during night, the mentioned behavior is quite normal and a perfectly natural reaction for a child of his age.

At this age, most children are reluctant to go to sleep. The underlying reasons are the child’s fear that he will not be with parents, that he is wasting his playing time, fear of the dark and that parents will not be there when he wakes up. If allowed, the child will hold off sleep in hundreds of ways all night.

However, if a daily rhythm is established and there is a certain time for going to sleep, there will be less of a problem.

In other words, consistency will provide a child with a comforting sense of security, so if you establish a regular rhythm in his life, he will learn that there is an appropriate place, time and procedure for everything.

Although there are many methods for getting the baby to fall asleep, the method of establishing a sleeping routine is considered one of the most effective, but it requires the most time and effort.

This method implies introducing an evening ritual of going to bed, eventually making it clear to the child when it is time for sleep.

The usual evening ritual, which has good results, is bathing, dressing, feeding, a good night story, kissing and putting to bed. The preparation itself needs to be conducted in a calm atmosphere.

In order to somehow overcome the child’s distress and give him a certain sense of self-control, as a part of the ritual, have him choose his pajamas, the bedtime story or the toy he will bring to bed.

By satisfying your child’s needs, you will help him overcome the anxiety of separating from you. If your baby continues to cry even after you leave the room, stay beside your child for an additional amount of time, until he calms down and falls asleep.

If the crying reoccurs after a few minutes, go and kiss him, tell him that you are there, but it’s time to sleep.

You must not allow yourself to be frustrated, angry with your child, nor to punish him. Of course, you must have a sense of balance and can’t let the child be the boss.

Be gentle and warm, but firm. The moment he realizes that you have set clear boundaries and you are not giving up, he will feel that he can have more confidence and therefore security in you.

Also, it is important to know that the child’s sleeping habits largely depend on the entire family. Your little one will certainly not fall asleep for a while if it is still busy in the house at that time.

It is therefore essential that it is silent during the evenings and nights, so that the child can learn to do nothing but sleep at night.

If you remain consistent and continue to follow your procedures from night to night, your child will gradually begin to give up this behavior and accept sleep in a way that suits both him and you.

Dear Helen, is it normal that my baby is still not crawling?

“Dear Harper family, is it normal that my baby, who is 9 months old already, is still not crawling? When I put her on her stomach, she started crying. It has been that way ever since she was born. As soon as I put her on her stomach, she starts crying and she makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be on her stomach. What should I do?”

Dear Mom,

The motor development of a child takes place according to a certain order and regularity.

While the age at which a particular motor activity is mastered can vary from child to child (e.g., some kids start walking sooner and some start later), the order of occurrence of these skills is universal.

This means that motor skills develop in the same order for each child (e.g., all children first master holding up their head and torso before sitting; all children master sitting and then walking, etc.).

The only motor skill that is not universal and does not occur in every child is crawling.

In fact, about 6% of children simply skip this phase, and instead of crawling, use other methods – rolling, relying on their stomachs, even crawling with the butt (known as a monkey crawl).

So, if your child of nine months is still not crawling, there is no need to worry or force this motor activity.

It is possible that this phase will soon appear (it usually occurs between the 7th and 9th month) or it will simply skip it.

What is important, however, is to make sure that the child’s development of motor skills is proper and in accordance with its age.

This can be determined through a detailed examination by a pediatrician.

During this period, it is mostly important that a child is able to explore its environment in its own way and that it is strengthening the body for walking.

Generally, by the ninth month the baby should be able to sit completely independently and without support.

It is possible that occasionally it loses stability, but it should be able to balance itself by relying on its hands.

Also, at this age, children begin using their legs and knees, making hopping movements, which is a preparatory action for crawling and straightening up, and finally walking.

Dear Helen, how to tell if my baby is sleeping correctly?

“Dear Harper family, can you help me with a dilemma – if a baby is sleeping on the same side can it create a dent in its head? I place my boy to sleep on his stomach, but he is already big and he turns around on his own, so he often wants to sleep on his back. Should I worry and listen to other moms who say that the head can flatten?”

Dear Mom,

A baby’s head can hardly flatten from the sleeping position, especially nowadays, when we are all maximally present in a baby’s life and fully follow their growth and development.

The problem can only arise if the baby has “soft” bones (rhinitis), which any pediatrician can recognize.

You just have to take your baby regularly to a clinic where they will be under expert supervision, and you don’t have to worry.

As for the sleeping position, babies quickly choose the position that suits them, and we are there to support them.

Dear Helen, how to tell if my baby is trying to attract our attention?

“Dear Harper Family, my son is 4 years old, and he is still not pronouncing words very well. Lately he has been inverting words even more than before. I wonder if the underlying reason is jealousy as we have another baby in the family – my sister-in-law’s baby. I am thinking this may be his way of trying to attract our attention?”

Dear Mom,

Any change in the behavior of a child requires inquiring for an underlying reason.

Sometimes, it may be helpful to observe the circumstances that change the child’s behavior, or what precedes it (what was said to whom and in what way, who else was present, etc.).

To determine whether this is indeed a case of jealousy, pay attention to whether the change in speech occurs only in situations when the other baby is present or when others are talking about the other baby.

What is the reaction of family members in the presence of the baby, (Is he neglected? Does he feel neglected?) and what are the reactions of the environment to his behavior in these situations.

If you find that this behavior is site specific (occurring only under these circumstances), it is probably a case of regressive behavior, which occurs as a reaction to the loss of the position that the child previously had, and the loss of attention it had received from adults.

These reactions, however, are quite common and normal for children of this age (and even older children).

What is important is to give him enough time to adapt to the new situation in which he must share the attention of the adults with a baby, and to keep letting him know how important he is to everyone and that his place in the family is not threatened.

Regressive behavior usually lasts only some time and withdraws when a child retrieves a sense of security and stability of its status.

However, it is important that this behavior is not encouraged by giving the child special attention in these situations, but rather you should indicate that his position is safe (you love him, he is important, etc.) in other circumstances (when he behaves as usual).

It is also very important that you never criticize him for regressive behavior, but emphasize the benefits of
being an older cousin (e.g., he is a big boy, and he can do many things that little babies can’t).

If, however, you find that it is not a site-specific behavior, it would certainly be useful (and necessary) to contact a speech specialist in order to determine the most effective ways of overcoming difficulties in speech.

Dear Helen, how can I help my baby eat more and start having solid food?

“ Dear Harper family, my baby is eating very poorly. The pediatrician told me that, since he is six months old, he can and should already start chewing solid food. But whenever I give him anything that has been squashed with a fork and not with a blender, he starts choking. He also has a very poor appetite. What should I do? Thank you in advance for your help. ”

Dear Mom,

Your pediatrician is right because a 6-month-old baby should eat solid food.

I understand your concern since this is your first baby, so you have no experience, but what is more important is what you do have – patience and will.

Place your baby in the semi-sitting position, place a smaller number of small solids (pieces of zucchini, polenta, bananas) in the blended food, and feed your baby with a scoop that will initially have just one or two pieces of small solids.

If your baby starts choking a bit, do not be afraid, you are there for her/him.

Lean him/her forward and use a small spoon to remove the piece of food.

Immediately afterwards, soothe your baby (talk to and smile at them) and then continue to feed them.

During the next meals and days, gradually reduce the amount of blended food in favor of the pieces of solids.

You will succeed, I believe in you!

As far as appetite is concerned, we are all different and if your baby is adequately gaining weight, you have no reason for concern.

Dear Helen, how can I stop worrying when feeding my baby?

Dear Harper family, my baby is 6 months old and still hasn’t started eating solid foods. However, even the thought of solids makes me insanely afraid. I’m afraid that he will choke. Even when he chokes on my milk, I get overwhelmed because I don’t know how to react. I think my constant fear is not realistic, but I cannot resist the terrible concern that torments me. How can I stop worrying?   

Dear mom,

While feeding your baby, make sure it is in a semi-sitting position.

If the baby starts choking, gently pull the food out of the mouth with a spoon or your fingers.

After doing so, calm your baby down, give them some water or tea.

If it seems as though he has choked a bit more, that is if he coughs, quickly tilt him forward, remove the food pieces again and then calm him down.