The benefits of skin-to-skin contact for newborn babies are well documented. Yet few people think to share that intimate experience with siblings. A photo of a big brother giving "kangaroo care" to his newborn sibling has melted hearts all over social.
The image of the Danish boy and his dad cradling the premature twins against their respective bare chests went viral after it was posted on Facebook by the South African birth organization, Neuroscience for Improved Neonatal Outcomes (NINO).
Taking preemie babies out incubators for skin-to-skin contact is common practice in the Netherlands, as it regulates heartbeat, temperature, breathing, encourages feeding, and reduces stress. For some reason, the practice is rarely seen practiced with siblings. But it should be.
Incubators obviously serve a purpose, but medical staff should never underestimate the importance of frequent skin-to-skin contact.
Babies aren't the only ones who benefit from this interaction. Parents desperately need this early connection, too, particularly in cases where premature babies are removed and placed in neonatal units. Giving birth then immediately being told that you can't hold your baby is an acutely painful experience for moms and dads, one that can even lead to PTSD symptoms.
But too often siblings are overlooked completely. So many kids harbour insecure and resentful feelings about welcoming a new baby to the family fold. Will the new baby get all the attention, all the love? Will they be forgotten?
Some parents buy proud big brother or sister T-shirts or merch so the sibling won't feel left out. But an even better way to introduce the new baby is involving the older sibling in caring for a new sibling. Creating that bond and intimacy right from the start will surely carry over when the babies eventually are healthy enough to go home.
Many of us were clumsy kids who have grown into clumsy adults. But is clumsiness actually a disorder?
It can be, according to Dr. John Cairney, a prof of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. Cairney and his colleagues run a website all about "developmental coordination disorder," which can translate from trouble with handwriting to riding a bicycle.
For referring pediatricians, diagnosing a child with a coordination disorder is problematic. On one hand, with any label comes the risk of “pathologizing” or stigmatizing kids. On the other hand, without calling a spade a spade, children risk not getting the help they need.
In the case of the "clumsy disorder," kids benefit from occupational therapy to build life skills such as tying shoelaces and using cutlery.
Quite often, however, it's parental anxiety driving the diagnosis.
So what if Johnny trips over his feet at soccer? Not everyone is destined for a career in athletics. And sometimes a delay is just that, a delay. Does this awkwardness warrant a clinical diagnosis?
In cases where a child's development is compromised, then absolutely. When motor skills lag well behind what's age appropriate - when a child struggles to get dressed, eat or write - a parent or teacher is right to intervene.
Moreover, self-esteem can plummet for clumsy kids who, claims Dr. Cairney, are likely to "get bullied, called stupid or klutzy.”
The problem is not motivational with such kids, but physiological.
The evaluation process is vital because other medical conditions may be ruled out. Quite often, coordination challenges exist in tandem with other disorders like autism and ADHD.
So while on the face of it being clumsy isn't a big deal, it can prove limiting to children. Practice may not make for perfection, but it will make for more confident kids - provided the label doesn't define or isolate them.
“We need to do more to support children’s global motor development,” said Dr. Cairney, “not to ensure they become athletes, but to ensure they can participate in a range of activities.” Beyond clicking and swiping, that is.
Being a new parent is challenging in five thousand ways. One of which requires a steely stomach, as California dad Ben Patterson discovered.
Nothing prepares you for the violent and spontaneous onslaught of bodily fluids that come for the littlest creatures and invariably wind up all over your hands, face, clothes. It seriously baffles the mind. Let's be real, babies do disgusting things at will. Having a child is not for the meek or the faint hearted.
In the first year of new life alone, none of us is immune. We collect and swap poop and puke stories, racking up points for the most explosive, most disastrous incidents.
I concede though, Patterson may have the rest of us beat. While he was driving his son Declan home recently, the tot suddenly projectile vomited in his car seat.
With mom hanging with friends for the evening, dad was forced to take matters into his own hands. There's nothing worse than the smell of fresh vomit in the confines of a car.
Unfortunately for queasy Patterson, he couldn't simply offload the unpleasant task on his other half.
He had to man up and clean up.
Trouble is, Patterson is what you would call a "sympathetic vomiter" - that is to say, just the sound and smell and sight of sick is enough to incite the urge to gag and heave in another person.
Patterson tried to overcome, and failed. He wound up puking by the side of the road. Even more unfortunate for him: a bystander happened to witness the grown man upchucking in broad daylight and came to the natural conclusion that he must be drunk - and driving.
One thing led to another, and the cops were called. Patterson was submitted to a breathalyzer test.
"YOU OWE ME SO BIG," Patterson texted. He has since admitted the breathalyzer bit was added for effect (no doubt to make his wife feel extra guilty).
Still, a grown man upchucking by the side of road is pretty classy.
My son wasn't a vomiter. That's not to say we escaped his early years unscathed. Once upon a day we were enjoying a meal at a small Middle Eastern restaurant. The diaper failed to contain the explosion. It was like Vesuvius, travelling down the inside of my son's leg. The stench was legendary. Then we discovered this particular restaurant had no baby changing facilities.
We could not get out of there fast enough. The experience ruined baba ghanoush for me forever.