We were lucky enough to get some time with Dorothy Waide, sleep consultant to the stars, AKA the Baby Whisperer. Dorothy provides newborn advice for parents on everything from feeding to settling, from natural remedies to cloth diapers!

We ask Dorothy about her experience with babies overseas, as well as some tips for first-time Mums. We also collected some questions from our awesome community, and we throw those at Dorothy too.

Dorothy’s advice is steadfast, yet flexible, and comes from a HUGE depth of experience and an innate ability to understand how babies communicate with us. Enjoy!

Newborn advice with Dorothy Waide

KF: Dorothy, you’ve spent more than 20 years caring for babies around the world. Is there anything different or unique about raising babies in New Zealand? Or are babies much the same the world over? 

Dorothy: In New Zealand we’re more laid back to parenting. Babies are much the same worldwide, but every culture has their own unique way of supporting families with newborns. Babies are all individuals and no two babies are the same.

KF: One thing we know is unique in New Zealand is our support network for babies. Midwifes, and Plunket, Karitane or Kaiawhina nurses work to support Kiwi kids over those first few months and years. How do we compare to other countries, and what sort of difference do you think this support network makes?

Dorothy: In the UK they have a similar service with their Healthcare nurses. In the United States there are more private organisations popping up along these lines.

I think with support, especially with large organisations, we need to listen and be more flexible in dealing with different families and their needs. What works for one family won’t always work for the next.

KF: As first-time parents with an unsettled baby, we got hopelessly confused reading about colic, reflux, silent reflux, etc. In the end, I don’t think any of the ‘help’ we read was that helpful. Would we have been better off just being showed how to burp our baby properly? Why isn’t this being taught in antenatal classes?

Dorothy: Welcome to the world of parenting!

No one situation or answer suits all and this is why we need a wider range of what we offer in support. As parents in todays world you’re really lucky, you have all the information at your finger tips. But then you need to sit back and make an informed decision for your family – and trust me every family’s answer will be different.

I have a video on my website that shows different burping techniques. The reason why it gets confusing is most babies who have reflux, will also have colic. And then the colic babies tend to be refluxy. And then for some families their babies will be both reflux and colic! Even doctors have trouble diagnosing both at times,

There’s more to this then just burping. The way you hold your baby when feeding, how your baby is attached, the type of formula you’re using, what you’re eating. There isn’t really a one answer that fits all, but find someone who’s a professional you trust, and be guided by them.

KF: We discovered mastitis the hard way. The first time we used antibiotics to cure it, but this had a terrible constipation/diarrahea side-effect on our little one. The 2nd and 3rd time we cured it naturally (the advice came from our midwife). As a health professional, do you think there’s a place for natural remedies?

Dorothy: Absolutely. I use natural remedies as much as possible, however the right mix is best as well i.e. both medical and natural. Also when working with families that suffer mastitis I look at how you’re feeding and whether you are pumping.

KF: And, how do you suggest parents find out what natural remedies really work, and what’s just pseudo-science? 

Dorothy: Yes, do your research and find out what works for you – again some natural remedies work better than others for some families.

Some I have used in the past are Lecithin, heat, potatoes, garlic, rest, and compresses. I also look to see if the Mum has a bleb and deal with this, rather than not go there. With anything it depends on when you respond to the effectiveness of the natural remedy.

Questions from our community

Nicci: What settling and burping techniques for colicky babies work? And, what advice do you have for the stressed out parents?

Dorothy: Hi Nicci. My engulf position is what I first started using when I had my first reflux baby that just screamed in pain. No matter what I did I only made it worse, and I found just engulfing and holding and intervening every so often with cupping and shushing she calmed a lot quicker and was able to find her sleep.

Some families say that there isn’t enough out there about co-sleeping. However my engulf hold is in fact a step to this as they’re on your body.

All babies are different, but again I would look at the feeding side first and then using a product that works. My clients often try all different types of products before they find the one that works for their baby and in fact sometimes use a combination of products.

My favourites are Dorothy Drops and Woodward’s Grip Water. Again, there’s some many products out there, you just have to find the one that works for you. Also, no product will work unless you use it for every feed and then you need to figure out how to use in each feed.

Then we get to burping techniques and there are so many of them. I have a video on my website showing you different positions, and I tend to use this sequence on most babies. However, there are many other different positions or techniques I will use as well.

Helen: I’ve read that 8 week old babies can biologically manage 2-2.5 hours of awake time. Is this true, and what’s a good sleeping schedule for this age?

Dorothy: In my experience babies at this age don’t stay up this long. But sometimes it’s due to families struggling to understand what their baby is saying to them. My rule of thumb is as follows:

0 to 6 weeks – 45 minutes to an hour

6 to 12 weeks – 1 hour to 1-½ hours

4 months – 2 hours

5 months – 2 ½ hours

6 months – 3 hours

Some families struggle getting their older babies to stay awake for long periods thinking they’re tired as they show tired signs. In my work I don’t look at tired signs, as tired and hunger signs are very similar, and sometimes our babies just need more food then they’re happy campers again.

Don’t we get cranky and irritable when we’re hungry? And what’s not widely discussed is the gastric emptying of babies. A breastfed baby’s gastric emptying after 120 minutes is 16 to 18%.

Families are also concerned about feeding before naps due to this feed-to-sleep combo. Again I encourage parents to do a FSS, which is Feed, Swaddle, then sleep, this helps to avoid the feed-to-sleep association.

Shuan: Dorothy, what’s your thinking around reusable diapers? Should we be doing more to prevent these heading into landfills?

Dorothy: Hi Shuan. Oh, I’m the wrong person for this. If I take you back to when disposables first came in I was so anti them. I was Huggies reps biggest nightmare when they visited the family homes I was working in as a Karitane nurse.

However, I eventually took it all on board. When I went overseas my first job was in St Johns, who used disposables. My second job was with a first time Mum in the countryside, and it was harvest time, and I encouraged her to do cloth nappies when everyone was doing disposables.

Within a few days I quickly realised how convenient disposables were and of course I haven’t looked back! I love the new cloth nappies around now, and the best person to talk to about this is Kate Meads, from Waste Free Parenting.

KF: Thank you so much for your time Dorothy. If there’s one piece of sage advice you can give first-time parents to help them through, what can sometimes be a really tough first year, what would that be?

Dorothy: These are some of my favourite expressions:

Try not to do anything in the arms you can’t replicate in a cot.

Crying is communication – crying is words. We stop, listen and respond.

If your baby cries inconsolably, don’t get palmed off by the professionals who say you have ‘that type’ of baby – there is no such thing. Crying = talking, and your baby is trying to tell you something.

TACT – it takes Time, Acceptance, Consistency (80%) and Touch (presence).

You can’t spoil a newborn.

Listen to everyone. Then step back and let what you choose to do sit well on your shoulders, rather than just do it because someone said so.

Enjoy this time. Stop and enjoy holding your baby to sleep, and letting your baby be on you. So many parents’ main regret is not stopping, and just spending time to ‘be’ with their baby on them.

Catch Dorothy Waide speaking at the Baby Show, New Zealand’s biggest baby event of the year. The Baby Show takes place at the ASB Showgrounds 18-20 August 2017. Dorothy is one of 10 expert speakers and over 230 exhibitors taking place. And make sure to enter our competition to win tix and a huge hamper of Baby Show goodies.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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