Friday, August 24, 2007

Baby Name Quandry

Dear Nanny,

I am expecting my first baby and my husband and I are anxiously awaiting his debut in another month. We have spent much of the past eight months deliberating over baby names and so far have not been able to agree. I’m worried that we’ll be calling this child “Baby” until he graduates from college! Our problem: As a first generation American, with Irish parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and an extended clan on both sides of the Atlantic, I am steeped in my Celtic heritage. I feel quite strongly that we should honor my family heritage in naming our child. My husband is a blue-blood Puritan and he opposes my desire for authentic, ethnic names because he finds them difficult to spell and pronounce. He wants to name the child Charles. Help!

--Celtic traditionalist

Dear Celtic traditionalist,

What a timely inquiry! The Flaherty clan is welcoming its newest member today, as my cousin’s daughter just delivered a darling baby boy into the world. New babies are such a joy! The little guy, however, is still awaiting his name and the topic of conversation around here has focused on naming babies.

As you can imagine, with our Irish roots, many of my grandchildren have very traditional Irish names (Cian, Maeve, Patrick) or Americanized Irish names (Kelly, Ryan). A few, however, have classic names with no particular tie to Ireland (Christopher, Peter, Nicholas). While many members of the youngest generation of our extended clan have very distinct Celtic names (Caileen, Sean, Caitriona, Aidan, Cormac, Daragh, Eamonn, Ronan, Aoife, Orla, Seamus); some do not (Helen, Sophia). I myself have a love for the lyrical sound of many Celtic names, but I also recognize that to American eyes and ears the sights of Irish spelling and the non-instinctive pronunciation are not always easy. Aside from the fact that your husband is uncomfortable with the sound and spelling of the names you love; unless you are raising your child in Ireland, you need to be prepared that many others will be as well. You can read an interesting article about this topic in Psychology Today.

Even the Wall Street Journal has jumped into the baby naming discussion and recently reported the latest trend for parents-to-be: hiring naming consultants and parents’ modern obsession with the “googleability” of their new baby’s moniker. Some recent studies have shown that resumes bearing ethnic names generate fewer interviews than those with more traditional names and comparable skill sets and years of experience.

I, however, do not believe hiring consultants and worrying about resumes or Google searches (in twenty years will we still be googling?) is the answer to your dilemma. I think the most important thing for you and your husband to do is to search for a compromise. Co-parenting takes a lot of communication and some degree of compromise because you and your husband will not always agree. Try to look at your ability to resolve this issue as a dry run for the many others you will face together as you raise "Baby."

The child is certainly going to have Celtic genes and will be gifted with your knowledge and love of that heritage. However, he or she will also share your husband’s “blue blood” and that will be his heritage as well. So on the naming front, perhaps you can pick a strong Celtic name with an anglicized spelling or a Celtic name that is easier to pronounce (a Caileen as opposed to an Aoife); or pair a Celtic first name, with a “blue blood” middle name. My point is not to abandon naming your child in the cultural and familiar tradition that is important to you, but rather to search for something within that tradition that appeals to both you and Daddy-to-be. Perhaps this site will help: Baby Names of Ireland.

Good luck and let me know what you end up naming your bundle of joy!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Relief for a Teething Baby?

Dear Nanny,

Lately my baby seems to have lost her appetite. She has also been drooling a lot and is very cranky. I think she may be teething. Any suggestions?

--Drooler’s Mom

Dear Drooler's Mom,

Sounds to me like she’s teething. Most babies start teething between 4 and 7 months and the first teeth to come in are usually the bottom incisors (in the front of your baby’s mouth.) For most babies the first incisors and the first molars are the most painful; although how painful and disruptive the teething process is certainly varies from baby to baby. And in my family, it ran the gauntlet from a cranky afternoon and a new tooth the next morning to a month-long marathon of sleepless nights and heart-wrenching agony (for both baby and parents!).

In addition to the decreased appetite, drooling and crankiness you note, other symptoms of teething include:

Gum swelling and sensitivity
Biting behavior
Sleep problems
Red cheeks
Ear pulling

There's debate among experts over whether certain problems — like diarrhea, fever, congestion, body rashes, and vomiting — can be caused by teething.

You can't do anything to make your baby’s teeth appear swifter, but you can comfort your baby. Give her something to chew on. While many babies like teething rings, my grandbabies seemed to favor real foods. One granddaughter found relief chewing on a frozen bagel, while one of my grandson’s loved chewing on a whole carrot that had been kept in the freezer, and yet another liked frozen 100% fruit pops. The coolness was comforting and the counter pressure from chewing provided a welcome balance to the pressure the baby feels coming from the buried teeth below. My grandbabies all preferred food to gnaw on, but I have also seen wet washcloths or terrycloth toys fresh from the fridge or freezer work wonders with certain infants in the throes of teething trauma.

When they are teething, babies bring their hands to their mouths precisely because the pressure on the gums brings relief. So, another great way to comfort a teething baby is to rub the gums firmly and gently with a clean finger.

The drooling can also contribute to or cause a chin rash or otherwise irritate your baby’s tender skin, so you may want to wipe your cherub’s chin frequently if she seems to be a heavy drooler.

If none of this helps, your may want to talk to your pediatrician who may suggest giving your baby children's acetaminophen to ease the pain and inflammation. The use of a topical pain relief gel is also an option, though most pediatricians advise against it: If too much is used, the gel can numb the back of your baby's throat and weaken her gag reflex.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Not just Swanky, Cool and Classy, too!

Well readers, July was a banner month for NannyGram. Not only did we win the "So Swanky" Award; NannyGram is also "Classy Mommy Approved" and a "Cool Mom Pick"!

Classy Mommies just love our knit hat and booties set and Cool Moms calls NannyGram a "wonderful source for hand-knit baby togs." I am constantly amazed by the wonderful emails and letters I receive from these modern moms who delight in dressing their sweet babies in all things NannyGram.

Check out my favorite review this month, from Urban Baby---they adored the so-soft cashmere and merino wool in our Nannygrams against baby's so-soft skin.