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Stress & anxiety in the age of Covid-19

People around the globe are facing uncertainty to a degree not felt within most of our lifetimes. No one knows what the state of the world or their lives will be one year from now. From job loss to the loss of family, friends, or personal health, it’s hard not to feel stressed.

New and expecting parents experience the above challenges and more. The first 12 months of a baby’s life are full of changes and worry. Do you breastfeed or bottle feed? Is baby eating enough? And is their sleep routine normal? Are they meeting their milestones? Starting solids, mastering sleep - it can be the perfect storm! 

At Good Feeding, we’re here to support you and offer guidance. You are not alone, and rest assured, many others are going through this lonely and difficult time. To help you through, we’ve come up with some ideas and tips. 

Why it’s important to manage stress levels

Stress has a ripple effect through families. From the first day they’re born, infants are exceptionally perceptive to stress. You may notice baby acting fussy when you or someone in the family feels anxious. Poor sleep, loss of appetite, and clinginess are ways that infants and young children respond to family stress. 

Mom and dad feeling stressed or overwhelmed can also lead to poor eating habits for the whole family. However, its in times like these that a healthy diet is more important than ever - to bolster immune systems. And this couldn’t be more true during the first year of baby’s life. During this stage, it’s essential to feed baby well. Doing so not only builds a healthy and robust immune system, but also helps the development of a healthy palate for life and reduces the risk of obesity-related diseases.  

To keep baby happy and healthy, parents must take care of their mental health. In the Covid-19 era, relieving stress is important for the entire family’s health and wellbeing. 

Stress relief for you

New moms and dads tend to lose track of their happiness in the business of daily life. Try to schedule time, at least once a day, to do something you enjoy—the laundry, hoovering, the dishes, they can all wait. You deserve it!

Try something simple. Soak in a bubble bath, listen to music out on the porch, carve out time for an early-morning yoga session, or spend extra time under the covers with your partner. 

For the times when you wish you could get out, enjoy the small things you have access to. Organize a Skype coffee date with a friend or go grab takeout from your favorite eatery. 

Exercise can also be a great way to alleviate stress. Simply moving releases feel-good hormones that help you get through the challenging times. Place baby in a stroller and go for a brisk walk around the block or go for a solo jog. It can do wonders for your emotional wellbeing. 

Stress relief for baby

Not every day is going to be perfect. For times when family stress influences baby, take time to sooth him or her. 

Cuddles and touch work wonders. Relish this time to provide plenty of reassurance through touch. Some infants respond well to gentle massage, for others it may be some skin-to-skin time. First thing in the morning in bed can be a great time for extra cuddles. 

Another thing you can do that doesn’t take any extra time is to tune in and be present when feeding. Feeding is such an important time of emotional development and it's essential that these emotions are positive and fulfilling. Baby’s brain is like a little sponge and the emotional connections they associate with food are likely to stay with them well beyond childhood.

Whether you are breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or feeding solids, it’s important to remain present and responsive to baby’s cues. When we respond to baby’s cues of ‘I’ve had enough’ or  ‘I’m hungry and enjoying this,’ we offer them reassurance and connection. 

Responding to baby in a way that they feel heard is essential for emotional development. When possible, show baby that you’re listening. Play a simple game of peek-a-boo, provide an extra cuddle when upset, or take an interest in what they’re babbling about. These can all strengthen the emotional connection.

Finally, if you feel things are just getting too much, it is ok to reach out and ask for help. There is absolutely no shame in sharing frustrations or concerns with a family member or a healthcare professional. As parents, we are often very good at putting everyone else’s needs before our own, but sometimes we just need to take care of the carer.

Disclaimer: The information provided is the opinion of Good Feeding, it has not been evaluated by healthcare professionals, and is for educational purposes only.  Before starting any new foods or feeding practices, please consult your baby's healthcare professional.


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