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Feeling the Need to Nest? Nine Ways to Satisfy the Urge!

February 18, 2013
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5746913307_410e2740c2_zAs you head into your third trimester, you may start feel a nagging little urge. To make things a bit neater. Prettier. Put things in their place. Finish your to-do list. Prepare. Nesting is a natural tendency during tendence. Here are nine ways to channel your energy!

The Practical:

  1. Install your carseat properly and get your hospital bag in order. These are the two essentials you’ll need when you head to the hospital for the big moment!
  2. Stock up on diapers and wipes and set up your changing station. You’ll be spending a lot of time here!
  3. Launder, sort, and fold all of the baby clothes you’ve purchased and received as gifts and hand-me-downs. You’ll be thankful to have them organized later.

The Fun:

  1. Maybe you have a favorite baby boutique in your neighborhood. Stop by for that little item you’ve been admiring, but haven’t purchased, since it’s not essential. Sometimes that extra something in your nursery or your baby’s wardrobe will unexpectedly make your day.
  2. Do you have a baby book? Take some time to record your feelings and experiences in the pregnancy section.
  3. Take pictures of you and your partner during your days as an expectant couple!

And you’ll thank us for these later:

  1. Make a few large meals like lasagnas, macaroni and cheese, or casseroles, and freeze them. When your family isn’t around to cook, and your takeout budget has dried up, you’ll be glad to have these on hand.
  2. If it’s in your budget, look into having your home professionally cleaned before the baby arrives. It may be months before you even think about cleaning the shower or tub, dusting end tables, or doing a thorough vacuuming.
  3. If there is anything you normally do to keep yourself groomed, do it now. Get a haircut that’s easy to take care of, and take care of any other routines. You might have trouble fitting these things into your schedule in those first months of your baby’s life.

Are any of you nesting right now? Any big projects on the horizon, or tasks you can’t wait to tackle? Tell us about it!

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The Ins and Outs of Baby Wearing: Is It Right for You?

February 15, 2013
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3029610157_4663230353_zThe most traditional way to transport your baby, the stroller, certainly has its advantages. When you’re walking long distances, up and down hills, or transporting more than one child, the stroller is a no-brainer. But baby-wearing has been growing in popularity lately, in part because of its hands-free nature, and because of the closeness many parents feel to their babies when carrying them in this way.

If you’ve never considered wearing your baby as a form of transporting her, think about your lifestyle and how this method might meet your needs. Do you take public transportation frequently? Having your little one close to your body and having two hands available can be a huge asset. If you find yourself making multiple stops on foot throughout your day, and getting the stroller around, in, and out of every location is a hassle, then baby-wearing may work for you. And of course, carrying your baby close to you allows you to feel his movements and heartbeat, and will let him feel yours as well. It can be very calming for babies who don’t like a lot of distance from mom and dad!

Choosing the right baby carrier for you may require a bit of trial and error. There are carriers that position your baby on the front of your body, and strap onto your torso. These will feel very sturdy and will not shift very much when your are in motion, which can be a plus. There are front facing, body-facing, and even backpack models, and some come with waterproofing and sunshield options. But if you find this type of carrier to be a bit too heavy or too hot for you or your baby, you may want to choose a sling. Baby slings are often worn around the home, but many parents wear them outside as well. When worn properly, slings are very stable and are a bit more lightweight and breathable than some carriers. But if you’re a worrier and like the more constructed feel of a carrier, the sling may not be for you.

You may want to take your baby to the store and try out different models of baby carriers and slings before choosing the one that will work for you and your baby. And you may find that your partner prefers a different carrier, so make this shopping trip together! Of course, your stroller will likely remain an important component of your baby gear, but moms and dads are loving the option of holding their baby close and keeping their hands free, so it couldn’t hurt to explore whether an item like this might work for your family.

Photography courtesy of Creative Commons.

 

 

The Newborn Stage: Five Ways it Gets Easier

February 11, 2013

2438220025_3fd5cdb912_zThere’s no denying that the newborn stage is intense. Along with the wonderful highs of meeting your baby for the first time, falling asleep with her on your chest, watching her blossom in those first few weeks and months, there are also a lot of challenges. Between sleep deprivation and the constant feeling that you’re not quite sure what you’re doing, you may have moments when you feel a bit at sea. Happily, some of the more challenging aspects of this phase improve with time.

  1. Sleep. Your sleep will never be as disturbed as during those first few weeks and months. Newborns wake up two or three times each night to be fed, which means that you’re waking up with them. Sleep deprivation can affect your mood, your cognitive abilities, and your overall sense of wellbeing. But with every week that passes, your baby will sleep for longer stretches. When you wake up at 3am to feed your baby in those early days, you can be consoled by the fact that it does, slowly, eventually, get better.
  2. Feeding. Feeding your baby, whether by breast or bottle, can be a wonderful experience and a great way to bond with your baby. But the frequent feedings that newborns require can be a bit taxing at times. Luckily, your baby will eventually need fewer feedings and may also adjust to a more routine feeding schedule, making your days and nights a little easier!
  3. Worrying. The first night you bring your baby home, you may feel a bit of panic. You are now responsible for this new life, and every sigh, twitch, or cry may cause you to worry about your baby’s wellbeing. But as the weeks go by, you’ll become accustomed to your baby’s mannerisms, and more confident your own abilities as a parent. While being a parent means that the worrying never totally ends, you won’t find yourself panicking quite as frequently as time goes by.
  4. Smiling and laughing. In the first month of your baby’s life, you may wonder what is going on in his little head. His facial expressions will change mainly in response to light, sound, and, frankly, gas. But as he enters his second month, you’ll begin to be rewarded with smiles and, eventually, laughter. Those long, sleepless nights can begin to feel much easier to endure when you’re greeted with a big smile during playtime!
  5. Movement. With age, your baby will become more mobile, and therefore, a little bit more fun! She may wave, kiss, and manipulate more objects as she gets a little more mobile. Being able to really “play” and communicate with your baby can be incredibly rewarding.

Cherish those newborn moments, as there’s nothing like those early weeks. But let it be some consolation that your long, sleepless nights, and constant feedings will yield something even more wonderful: a flourishing, happy, and healthy child!

Five Parental Concerns that Your Parents Never Worried About!

February 8, 2013

6774634275_73b52d6267_zIf you’re having children today, chances are that you were brought up in the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s. While the eras of wide collars, oversprayed hair, and grunge may not feel so far away, raising kids is a little different today than it was when you were growing up. While kids today have a lot of advantages that we didn’t, there are also a few developments that call for some extra supervision and concern. Here are five examples of phenomenons your parents never needed to worry about when you were a kid!

  1. Helmets. Remember riding your bike around the neighborhood, your hair and ribbon barrettes flowing in the wind? That feeling is a thing of the past. Bike helmets, essential in protecting your kids from head injury, are ubiquitous, and your kids will grow up sporting them without thinking anything of it. But you won’t just need to buy bike helmets for your kids. Ski helmets for little learners, as well as helmets for skateboarding and snowboarding, are de rigueur as well.
  1. Food allergies. When you were a kid, you probably got to school and popped open your lunchbox many days to find a peanut butter and jelly sandwich inside. But with growing awareness about nut allergies, as well as gluten allergies, lactose intolerance, and other problematic allergies, many schools, daycares, and playgroups are outlawing snacks or lunches which contain nuts, and birthday party menus are sometimes planned with care if a child with a gluten allergy or other intolerance will be in attendance.
  1. Cell phones. When I was a teenager, my friend’s father had a “car phone” in his trunk that plugged into the ignition of his car in order to function, and was only to be used in case of an emergency. Today, fourth-graders have their own cell phones, and 3 year-olds know how to play Angry Birds on an iPhone. While being able to be in touch with your child at any time has its benefits, remember to limit their texting plan and do not allow them to have a password on their phone. Check up on their texts, calls, and app usage, with their knowledge, from time to time to promote mutual trust and good cell phone behavior.
  1. And of course, the phenomenon that has changed all of our lives, parents or not: the Internet. Not only will your child have access to news, learning tools, and study aids, but he’ll also have access to some inappropriate websites as well. Monitor his internet usage, and consider installing software that will inhibit his searches so that he’s only seeing kid-friendly material. And establish some ground rules around social media that protect his identity, safety, and restrict bullying and cruel gossip online.
  1. Different study habits. Instead of checking out books from the library, searching for the right information within the pages, or borrowing class notes from friends, kids are, rightfully, using the Internet to gain access to information that will enhance their book reports, science projects, and history essays. But make sure that your kids are using sources that are reputable and are giving them correct information. And when it comes to homework, completing their assignments without the crutch of the Internet will result in a few more errors, but far greater independence and capacity for learning new concepts and facts.

Each of these items can be a benefit to the safety and the development of your kids. But they’ll also mean a bit of supervision and forethought on your behalf. As parents who are raising children in a different world from the one in which they were raised, we need to learn from each other and develop new ways of coping in an environment that changes by leaps and bounds with every year and every child.

Five Ways of Distracting Your Baby While You Take Ten Minutes of Mom Time

February 4, 2013

iStock_000006304469XSmallWhether you’re on maternity leave with a newborn, or a stay-at-home mom adapting to her first year of motherhood, there is a point in each day when you really need to put the baby down and take just a few minutes to yourself. Maybe it’s been too long since you took a shower. Maybe you need to eat just a few bites for the first time all day. When your baby cries each time you walk away from him, here are a few distractions that may buy you a few minutes to yourself!

  1. The first tactic many moms try is to simply put your baby in her bouncer, and position her in a place where she can see you and vice versa. In the doorway of the bathroom, kitchen, or your bedroom, she can observe you while you get a few minutes of precious time brushing your teeth, getting dressed, or making lunch.
  2. If your baby fusses and cries in her bouncer, you may want to try a baby swing. Many of them are battery-operated and rock your baby gently and rhythmically. The motion, and the snuggly seat of many popular models, may calm your baby and even prompt her to close her eyes and rest.
  3. Your baby may have several toys he always gravitates towards, but consider keeping a few toys out of sight, only to be handed to your baby in these special situations when your attention may be turned from him for a few minutes. The novelty of a new toy may be enough to keep him occupied.
  4. Babies are fascinated by objects in motion. Placing your baby beneath a mobile, or with a ceiling fan in view may be distracting. If you live on a street that sees frequent foot or vehicle traffic, place his bouncer by the window so that he can take a look at the world passing by.
  5. And if all else fails, you may have to get him in the mood for a little nap by feeding him, burping him, and then placing him down. If your baby is a napper, you’re lucky, and this may be your best bet for some free time during your day.

Moms, what are your tricks and tactics for getting a few minutes to yourself throughout the day? New moms need your expert advice!

How Do Celeb Moms Lose the Baby Weight So Quickly? Five Reason Not to Sweat It!

February 1, 2013

iStock_000001667800XSmallEvery few weeks, another new celebrity mom appears on the red carpet and helps to set a dangerous standard for postpartum weight loss. Whether it’s Heidi Klum modeling for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show weeks after giving birth, or Claire Danes showing off her toned physique on the red carpet one month postpartum, it’s easy for new moms to feel some anxiety about how quickly they are taking off the baby weight. But here are five reasons why you shouldn’t compare yourself to these new celebrity moms!

  1. A celebrity may have various qualities such as drive, talent, and focus. But many of them have another attribute in common: they are beautiful and they are thin. In order to score the screen tests, auditions, and roles that make them famous, celebrities must adhere to a nearly impossible standard that usually combines a small build with natural tone and a high metabolism. A woman who is genetically predisposed toward thinness will always have an easier time taking off weight than we mortals will.
  2. Celebrities have trainers. And not only do they train postpartum, but many of them employ the use of a personal trainer throughout their pregnancy to make sure their muscle mass stays consistent, their metabolism stays high, and they remain within a certain weight range. Weeks after giving birth, most of them will continue to train, spending sometimes hours a day working out with an expert whose job it is to return them to their former svelte shape.
  3. Celebrities have nutritionists. Many of them work with a nutritionist during pregnancy to keep their weight under control, and will work with a nutritionist postpartum to make sure that they are eating an optimal diet for weight loss, steady blood sugar, and good metabolism. And the ones who have a huge event or a big movie coming up? They hire personal chefs.
  4. Celebrities have more access to childcare than you do. They have bigger houses and room for staff. They may have a baby nurse, a live-in nanny, and any number of professionals handling the ins and outs of running their households and their careers. It’s a little easier to spend hours at the gym and time preparing and eating healthful meals when you’re not juggling a newborn with only the help of your exhausted spouse and the occasional visit from mom.
  5. Staying “red-carpet ready” is, literally, a celebrity’s job. While no one cares that you’re still wearing your maternity yoga pants to the grocery store two months after delivery, a celebrity has cameras trained on her as she runs out for coffee, when she shows up on the set of her television show, and when she needs to accept an award just after having a baby. Our culture has a punishing idea of what a celebrity must look like, and being thin and fitting into designer clothing is part of that image. It’s little wonder that celebrities go to the great lengths that they do to bounce back to their former body.

So while you should certainly work on eating healthily and developing a realistic fitness regimen that fits into your life, focus on that word: realistic. You may lose all of the baby weight and regain your former shape. Or you may find yourself living healthily, but with slightly different curves than before baby. The most important thing is your health and the wellbeing of you and your new family, so count those as blessings and be thankful that it’s not your job to fit into skintight gowns on a moment’s notice. Sometimes it’s nice to be a normal women who doesn’t need to conform to extraordinary standards of size for her career.

 

 

Germs, Grime, and Sneezes, Oh My! Keep Your Baby Healthy This Winter

January 28, 2013

iStock_000015808098SmallBetween reports of one of the most pervasive flu seasons on record, a norovirus outbreak, and the various colds and other bugs that are running rampant through schools, daycares, doctor’s offices, and workplaces, a new parent could find herself pretty freaked out right about now! You’ll want to protect your new baby from the various germs in circulation right now, and we have are a few tips that will keep your family healthy this season.

  1. Breastfeeding. It is well-documented that breastfeeding boosts your baby’s immune system, as your breast milk contains antibodies that protect against viruses you’ve already fought off throughout your life. Even supplementing formula with breastmilk is better than not breastfeeding at all. And feeding your baby colostrum in the days just after birth can do a lot to foster immunity.
  2. Get vaccinated. When your baby is born, he may be vaccinated for diptheria, tetanus and pertussis. This vaccine is particularly important, as pertussis (whooping cough) is highly contagious; several communities in the U.S. have endured outbreaks in recent years. Your baby can also be vaccinated against rotavirus, a common stomach bug, and may receive a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against bacterial pneumonia. After the age of six months, babes may be vaccinated against the flu as well.
  3. Socialize at your own risk. Keep your new baby away from large crowds in enclosed spaces during those first few weeks and months. Viral particles from coughs and sneezes can travel quite a distance, and your baby can be exposed to a number of different germs in a crowded environment. If any friends or family members have been ill, ask them to refrain from holding or kissing your baby until they are well. And it’s advisable to allow toddlers to smile and wave to your baby rather than kiss and touch. We all know what germ-carriers the typical two year-old can be!
  4. Wash hands frequently. You and your partner should always wash your hands after coming home from being outside. Use plenty of soap and rub your hands together vigorously for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” in your head for the most thorough cleaning. And if you do get sick, wash your hands before changing or feeding your baby to lessen the chances that you’ll infect him.
  5. Keep toys clean. The toys that accompany your baby into public should be washed or wiped down with antibacterial wipes when you get home. Those toys are often thrown on the ground and can pick up plenty of germs. The same goes for pacifiers and teething rings.

With a little diligence and a healthy dose of germaphobia, you can do quite a bit to protect your little one from the cold, flu, and other viral germs that are circulating this season. Stock up on hand sanitizer and keep your pediatrician’s number handy!

 

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