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Infants with CF > Ages and Stages: The Early Years

Ages and Stages: The Early Years

Caring for Your Infant with CF

by Lisa C. Greene and Foster Cline, MD 

If sleepless nights and dirty diapers has you down, there's good news! Children change quickly. And if you don’t particularly like the challenges unique to the stage that your child is currently in, just hang in there. He or she will soon move on and give you some new challenges that you will hopefully find easier to cope with! 

All kidding aside, as you might already know, each age and stage has its very own joys and challenges. The trick is to maximize the joy and minimize the challenges. And, with a handful of effective parenting skills and a basic understanding of child development, you’ll find it much easier to enjoy your kids at all stages of life- including the teen years. 

Let’s start with the early years. The first six months are critical for bonding and attachment. Attachment takes place when an infant’s needs for food, love, and comfort are consistently met. Each time a loving caregiver meets the child’s needs, the child develops trust: “Whenever I need something, there is someone there for me.” And the cycle goes around and around thousands of times in an infant’s life. 

Building a deep bond with your infant will help lay the foundation for good emotional and physical health in the years to come. Ways to bond with your baby include holding, rocking, talking, singing, eye-contact, smiles, touch, play and meeting needs for food, cleanliness, comfort, and medical requirements.  

Contrary to what you might read in some parenting books, you can’t spoil an infant. Letting an infant “cry it out” isn’t good advice, especially for babies with medical issues. In the case of CF, pancreatic insufficiency and malabsorption can cause discomfort so it’s important to do what you can to comfort your baby. When my (Lisa’s) son was a baby, he had a lot of tummy aches from both food allergies and CF. I found that rocking, holding him upright, and walking around with him really helped. 

When babies and toddlers have CF, we have to get very creative about getting the pancreatic enzymes down the old hatch. Be sure the enzyme beads aren’t sitting in the folds of your baby’s skin under the neck or in the diaper area. They can cause a painful rash. Also watch for severe diaper rashes that can be common with CF. 

We also have to get creative about how to effectively handle breathing treatments and chest physical therapy. Getting ideas from your CF Team as well as other parents is helpful both to learn proper techniques and to know you are not alone. 

Caring for your baby can be exhausting so you’ll need support from others. It’s also important that you take good care of yourself. Infants mirror the parent’s emotions: when daddy smiles, baby smiles. So if you're happy, odds are good your baby will be, too. 

Research shows that the parents' emotional state is vitally important.  Children of depressed mothers have been shown to end up with more behavioral and developmental problems than non-depressed moms. And, when a baby is diagnosed with CF, many moms become depressed. If you are depressed for more than a month, it is important to get help. Your CF clinic has people who are trained to help you with this. Hang in there- things will get easier as your baby gets older. 

As babies get older, they start to have both needs and wants. Maybe your baby is crying in her bed at night and you can’t tell whether she really needs you because she has a tummy ache or just wants you to pick her up because she doesn't want to miss any of the action! 

When a child is younger than one year of age, we suggest that if you can’t distinguish between a need or a want, then meet the need. It is much easier to “course correct” a spoiled toddler than one who has attachment issues. 

That being said, letting your baby cry for a few minutes every now and then is not going to cause a problem. It’s chronically unmet needs that can cause challenges in an infant’s development. So if you are responding to your infant’s cries and giving food, love and comfort most of the time, then you are building a strong foundation that will help in the stages ahead.


Lisa C. Greene is the mom of two kids with CF and a parent educator. Foster W. Cline, MD, is a child psychiatrist and co-founder of Love and Logic (www.loveandlogic.com). Together they have written the award-winning Love and Logic book “Parenting Children with Health Issues.” See www.ParentingChildrenWithHealthIssues.comfor more information.  

This website is the sole property of Lisa C. Greene, M.A., CFLE. Lisa is a certified parent coach, certified family life educator, public speaker, and a mom. She is also the co-author with Foster Cline, MD of the award-winning Love and Logic® book “Parenting Children with Health Issues.” For more information,  visit visit www.PCWHI.com.  
© 2007 – 2020 All materials on this website are copyrighted by Lisa C. Greene dba Happy Heart Famillies unless otherwise noted. 
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The information published on this website or in any connected material is the opinion of Lisa C. Greene dba Happy Heart Families only and is not meant to replace professional medical or mental health care.  Persons should always seek the advice of a medical professional when making decisions about personal healthcare or treatment.

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