Wednesday 16 March 2016

Handling your picky-eater baby

Time to introduce your about six months old baby to solids and you gradually introduce baby foods to your baby, but he/she will have none of it. Try as much as you can, your baby will not eat unless force-fed. Calm down! Many mothers have been there. And we at TIM have done our research and hereby present tested ways of handling your child who just wouldn't eat.

(1)    No matter what, do not force-feed. Force-feeding not only makes a baby averse to feeding times but can also choke your baby. News recently went round about a mum whose baby choked on the food she was being force-fed. We do not want such fates to befall our little ones so we need to quit force-feeding. Sing, play, dance if need be, to see if it would make your baby eat but do not force-feed.

(2)     Find out if your baby's attitude to food is because of your environment. At about the age of 6 months when it is recommended solid foods be introduced, babies also get easily distracted by things happening around. Find out if your baby wouldn't eat because he/she is distracted and then resort to feeding him/her in quiet places at quiet times.

(3)     Does your baby eat a little and then refuse? Then let it dictate its portion size. You may only need to feed it more frequently. 

(4)    Your child wouldn't eat any of the food options you offer and neither 2 nor 3 above apply? Then try variety. Besides the packaged and branded cereals and other baby foods like Nutrend, Cerelac and Frisocream, are fruits and Cereals you can whip up at home and find out which one your baby prefers. Fruits like banana, avocado and pawpaw can be pureed and fed a baby. You can also try pap, mashed potatoes, yam and rice. Our good, old 'swallow' with soup can also be tried. Simply find out your baby's 'swallow' of choice and try varieties of soups. Health experts recommend you do not add salt to baby's food especially those aged one year and below. So it is better to make soups meant specifically for your baby and store in the freezer in one-portion sizes (that if you have a freezer and electricity at your disposal) There just has to be one food that would strike a chord with your baby. (We would be dedicating an entire section to baby meal ideas so watch out for it).

(5)     Be creative; try different varieties of same food. Maybe today you give just mashed potatoes, next time you add milk or any vegetables of your choice. You could also add fishes like the one popularly known as 'titus' in Nigeria.

(6)     When you do find out your baby's preference, enrich it the much you can as suggested in (5) above. You can also improve the aesthetic value of the food. For example, preparing a meal of mashed carrots and potatoes gives the food a delightful colour, as compared to just potatoes alone.

(7)    It is necessary you do not wean picky-eater babies off breast milk early, especially if they are yet to get to age two. They need the breast milk to help sustain the little extra food they eat.

Note: introduce foods one at a time to check which one would agree with your baby's system. And whenever you introduce a new food, wait for like 48 hours before introducing another new one. This ensures one notices the effect any particular food has on your baby.

See Baby meal ideas for suggestions on what foods you can offer your child. 

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Steps mums should take in protecting the girl child from sexual abuse and molestation

Image result for child sexual molestation
Sometime last year, Nigerians were greeted with the shocking news about Ese Oruru; an intriguing tale of abduction, child marriage and islamization. The media hype probably led to her release.  Hardly had the news died down than we learnt of a similar case in Benue, and then others. These exclude the so many told and untold stories of paedophilia often perpetrated by close family members and friends. Not many of us have forgotten the Sugarbelly saga. I am not sure the girl child has ever been as threatened as she is today.
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While little girls can do little or nothing to protect themselves from  predators, parents; mothers especially, can do so much to ensure their girls do not get their childhood stolen from them. We cannot always be around them, but what we teach them can protect them even in our absence.

Teach your girl child the different parts of her body and which parts are very private; parts which no one, not even you the mother is allowed to touch. Paedophiles are often family members or close associates who often intimidate the child into letting them 'explore' their body parts. Let your girl child know no one has the right to touch her inappropriately.

Teach her to confide in you. Let her know she can trust you. Let her know she won't be punished for telling.  Sexually abused children usually express the fear of who to talk to.  Mothers need to build close relationships with their daughters and make themselves approachable. Mothers need to make their daughters know they would always be on their side when they need them. Your child should be able to tell you whenever someone is making inappropriate advances at her. And when your girl child talks to you, please listen.
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Whenever you notice your child's discomfort around any person (child or adult alike because a child can abuse another), do not take it at face value, put your investigating abilities to work and find out exactly why. Also, do not let an adult get away with an off-colour remark about or around your child.

Whenever you notice your child with extras; extra sweets, extra clothes, extra cash and in fact anything beyond what you gave, find out the source and the reason behind the gift.

Know the terms you use for different parts of the body. It is okay to use buzzwords to name the private parts, but take note whenever your child adopts another name for her privates and get her to tell you where she picked it up from.

Believe your child whenever she reports abuse. Most times (statistics put it at 90-95%) it is the truth and you need to swing into action immediately no matter who is involved.

When your child reports an abuse or molestation, the first thing to do is take the child to a paediatrician for further investigation. Every other action should come after that.

Most importantly, ensure the molester is punished and kept away from the child. If a relation, severe all ties, if a neighbour, there may be need to move out of the neighbourhood even if temporarily.   It gives your child some sort of closure knowing that her parents fought for her and that the 'bad' person was punished. It may not bring the stolen innocence back, but it would help ensure your child doesn't become dysfunctional as a result of that experience.

Never blame a child who has been abused/molested. Children are by nature so trusting and should never be held responsible for the action of the molester especially if the molester is an adult. In fact, an abused child needs to be reassured of her parents' love and affection.

Child molesters are known to display certain antics like threats, showering the child with goodies and so on. They often threaten the child with death or terrible things if they attempt telling anyone. Let your child know about such antics and teach her not to fear subtle threats.

No matter how bad situations at home become, do not let it affect your child, at least try cushioning the effects. It is easier to molest a child whose parents are always busy, usually fighting, divorced or separated. Anything out of the norm increases your child's risk and so should increase your closeness and access to your child.

Monitor your children. In as much as your child will not love being monitored, you need to do so, especially when they venture into their teens. Know who they associate with. There may be need to periodically invade their privacy. Read their SMS, chats, emails once in a while. They cannot always be trusted with doing the right things.

And when a molester claims your child enjoyed it or initiated it, please ensure the person rots in jail.

Parents should note that male children get molested too. While we protect our daughters, our sons should not be left out as the above can also apply to them. May God help us as we do the much we can in protecting the precious gifts given to us.