Easy Baby Sign Language

Communication is essential in life. With babies and toddlers, there can be frustration where there is a communication barrier. Your baby can’t talk just yet, unless you count da-da, ma-ma, and gurgles. Laura Berg, founder of “My Smart Hands,” a sign language program, believes the best age to start signing is 4-8 months. 

As your baby gets older, the need to communicate becomes more urgent. For example, my son, Levi, just started eating solids. It would be nice if he could tell me when he wants me to continue feeding him or to stop. There are several easy baby signs you can introduce to your infant.

More - This was a lifesaver for my daughter. It is easy to teach to your little one so that they can tell you if they are still hungry. This sign is done by taking your hands and tapping your fingertips together.

All Done - With feeding, it is also nice to know when baby has had enough. All done is another first sign to teach your little one. This sign is done by holding your forearms up and rotating your hands back and forth.

Milk - Whether your baby is breastfed or formula fed, it is important for them to be able to ask for milk. Think of a cow. Simply open and close your hand like you are milking a cow and you’ve done this sign.

Click the link to see pictures and videos for these signs. Easy enough!

Thank you - This sign is often used for older infants, but it’s never too early to start teaching proper manners. To do this sign, extend your fingers and thumb. Bring your fingers to your chin and extend your fingers forward. Think of blowing a kiss to someone in slow motion.

Please - This sign is also better for older infants. Take your fingers and separate them from your thumb. Rub your hand in a circle on your chest with your palm facing out.

Repetition will help your baby learn, so use the sign each time you say the word. You can start using signs as early as you’d like. Lately, my daughter Johanna and I have been showing my little Levi how to sign “more.” It’s a fun way for her to be included in his mealtime, as well.

Sign language is a great way to reinforce language at a young age. There are so many valuable resources for moms online with sign language. Charts, videos, and even group classes exist to aid you in your sign language adventure. Have fun with it and teach your baby something new. You will be glad you did and feel super proud when your baby signs to you for the first time.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana. She loves being a mom and teaching her kids new things.

Thursday, May 21, 2015
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Summer Essentials for Baby

Summer essentials for babyOh, glorious sun! The joys of warm weather seem almost believable now after inches of snow and ice. I’m so excited, I don’t even want to waste my time with words about it. I put away sweaters and pulled out summer clothes this week. I also made a few purchases. Technically, you don’t need anything to get through summer except a few good tunes, sunscreen, and sunglasses, and maybe even those aren’t “needs.” That said, there are a number of things that excite and inspire me to make it through these last few cool nights.

I think our sons would live outside day and night if we allowed them. Sunscreen is a must and your kids will thank you later! We have a cream for the body and a stick for their faces and the diaper bag. Also consider things like a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) shirt, shorts, or tankini! That’s less sunscreen you have to rub on the kiddos before they head out. We have two swim diapers that we rotate for our youngest instead of disposable swim diapers. They save us money, save diapers from the landfill, and are absolutely adorable.

Don’t forget to protect sweet little eyes (and your own!) with sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection too! For any who dread the challenge of pool hair, also consider California Baby’s Swimmer Defense shampoo, body wash, and conditioner. Aside from smelling delicious, the unique blend of emollients, herbs, and natural sunscreens protect your hair and will keep you shining long past when summer rays make way for the fall.

Don’t forget to protect skin from bugs with a low-hazard spray as well. The Environmental Working Group provides a database of common skin products and their hazard level. Episencial and Balm! Baby are two reputable brands that pack a punch against bugs. Clothing that provides extra coverage, like UPF shirts or tankinis, also help as they cover more skin.

I found no-slip sandals have proven a worthy investment for our kids as they often play in a water table on the patio many summer days. The slippery patio (or pool area) is the last thing I want to worry with when we’re basking in the warmth. You can purchase water sandals or a hybrid sandal that is suitable for public pools and also find use for them at the lake, beach, and general time out and about.

A water friendly baby carrier is a total treat for mom and babe. I’m not interested in taking a soft-shell carrier or most any wrap into the sandy beach or chlorine-filled water of the pool. The Wrap DuO offers a light, water-friendly support for keeping your baby near you with cool ease these summer months.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
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Cherishing Motherhood Even When It’s Hard

Potty Training Dos and Don’tsMotherhood. How would you define it?  Is it a blissful adventure for you where you teach your kids amazing life lessons and do finger paint art? Is it a crazy journey that often looks like a hot mess? To me, motherhood is my calling. Yes, I do have hobbies and I do have other things in my life that are precious to me. But, motherhood is my calling. I was made to be a mom. I can’t imagine my life without that title.

Motherhood can be amazing. It can be fun. My days are sometimes filled with laughter. As a mom of two children 2 years old and under, we have lots of giggles. Sometimes, the giggles are over things I don’t even understand. Running to the grocery store can be an exciting adventure to us. Snuggles on the couch and songs at bedtime are daily routine. Having my daughter tell me she loves me and that I’m her best friend can easily turn any frown upside down.

But what do we do when motherhood is hard? How do we still cherish it? Bad news, moms. I don’t have the answer.  I do know that it’s important to learn how to do it, however.

As the mom of an infant, you face struggles daily. Some of these you handle well, and others are just plain hard. What do you do when your labor and delivery don’t go as planned? What do you do when your baby is born with a birth defect or other life changing issue? How do you cope when your baby won’t stop crying or sleep at night? My son Levi is 7 months old, and for the past week, I have been up with him hourly in the night. This usually starts about 10 p.m., and let’s just say I need some coffee by morning. Babies need their mommies. They need your embrace, soft touch, voice, smell, you name it. They need their mommies. Cherish that.

What about with toddlers? To me, this has been a whole new ball game. The struggles of a 2 year old are real in my house daily. Just picking out clothes can lead to a tantrum. What do you do when your toddler decides to start hitting, and this includes hitting other children? This lasted with my daughter for a few weeks. I wanted to hide in my house and never go on a play date ever again. I felt like a failure as a mom.

What do you do when your child’s personality isn’t exactly easy or how you had dreamed it would be? What do you do when your toddler turns into a difficult child that you just don’t know what to do with? Once again, I don’t have the answer, moms. I would say that we have to remember how precious our children are, though. My daughter is by far one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Tantrums aside, her smile can melt my heart. She cares about helping others and making them laugh more than any other little person I know.

Having other moms to confide in, lean on, and just share this crazy journey with help us cherish it. I’m working on it, and I know as my children grow, I will face more and more obstacles. I will hold onto these days and remember to cherish each moment. Embrace the mess. The cookie crumbs and laundry may pile up, but the memories are what is important. There are so many women who would give anything to be called mom. Cherish your children. You are mom. You are loved.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana where she lives, plays, writes, and dreams of who her children will become.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
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Baby-friendly Jobs

Baby-friendly jobsI returned to work when my daughter was around 3 or 4 months old. While I was primarily a stay-at-home-mom, my employers offered me a small amount of work that I could do from home in the evenings. I wrote blogs, managed their social media and website, that sort of thing. While the work could be done at home, it was hard to stay connected and up to date that way, so I started going to the office meeting every Monday morning. My daughter came with me.

As young as she was, she was no trouble during the few hours that I was there. I’d wear her in a ring sling or settle her in between us all in her bouncer. This allowed me to stay in touch with the current workings of the office without sacrificing my time with her. I’m fortunate to work for wonderfully understanding and accommodating employers, but I’ve come to find that I’m not the only mom who made bringing baby to work work for them.

A good friend of mine works in the back office of a yarn shop that a family member manages. Her daughter has gone to work with her every day since she was just under 3 months old. She’s now nearly 2. When she was very small, her mom generally wore her while she worked. Now that she’s older, she stays with mom in the office or out in the main shop, where there are nearly always grandmother-type women who are more than happy to keep an eye on her. It’s like one big family. Benefit of a community yarn shop, I suppose!

I’ve heard of a woman who returned to work part time at the front desk of a gym. Since she was only working a few hours at a time and mainly was interacting with gym members, her bosses didn’t see an issue with her wearing baby during that time. The baby boutiques in our area are also places I frequently see children accompanying working moms. In that atmosphere, you almost expect it! Another friend of mine does this, working two days a week with her little one right there by her side.

What I’ve seemed to notice is that family-owned and other small businesses seem to be more open to the idea of working with baby.  If you worked for somewhere like that before baby and want to return, talk to your bosses and see what they think. They very well may come up with an option that suits everyone.

If you’re looking for some new part time work, the atmosphere I would look for is that of a smaller company, a job that may not have a lot of direct customer contact or phone work, and a job that may already cater to families, women or parents. Quiet office work (book keeping, etc), baby boutiques, locations that offer on-site child care (YMCA’s, JCC’s, etc), or even something like house cleaning can be potential baby friendly positions. Nannying for other children is another great way to earn income while still staying at home with your own child. Yet another option to consider is pet services. Walking, yard clean up, and/or pet sitting may also be ways to incorporate work and baby. There are even large companies that welcome babies!

As baby grows it may not be as easy to continue to take them to work with you. Much depends on where you work and what the temperament of your child is. At that point, you may need to consider child care during work hours. But it sure is nice to know that many women manage to stay in the work force and bring extra income in for their family while keeping their littles at their side.

I know I’ve only scratched the surface here on mom/baby friendly options, so if you’ve got a suggestion, let’s hear it!

Kate Cunha is a mostly stay-at-home mom in the Pacific NW. She’s in favor of anything that supports a strong family and the mother/baby relationship and hopes to see many more mom friendly jobs in the future.

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Tips for Nursing in Public

Tips for Nursing in PublicWhen you have a baby and master nursing, you feel like a champion. There’s nothing you can’t do. Nursing is an amazing journey you embark on with your baby that sometimes comes with several obstacles. It hurts. It’s awkward. It’s not always easy to get your baby to latch. But then, you conquer them all. Then, there’s the whole thing of nursing your baby in the presence of others. How do you do it while still being comfortable?

Here are a few tips I have learned through my two nursing journeys.

Nursing covers are your friend.

I had a nursing cover with my firstborn. It sat in my house. I never used it, because I never truly nursed her in public. Of course, I guess you could count the awkward meal I had at a beachside restaurant when she was only 3 weeks old. I did flash my girls to several Floridians. However, after that experience, I felt like it was too hard and I fell into a rut. I nursed in the car–a lot. I nursed in bathrooms when I was insecure.

This time around, I have loved my Hooter Hiders nursing cover. The loop that goes around your neck was a lifesaver when I needed to get past my awkward handling of the cover. The fabric is soft, easy to wash in the washing machine, and it gets compliments. Don’t be afraid of nursing covers. Use them while your baby is little and doesn’t notice. They are inexpensive enough that you can get a couple if you have the funds.

Lately, an Aden + Anais swaddle blanket has been my BFF. It’s light enough that I can partially cover myself without my little guy noticing. These blankets are adorable and so multi-functional.  It’s a no-brainer to use it as a nursing cover if you opt for a blanket.

Layer up.

I am by no means a fashionable girl. For me, jeans and converse shoes is dressed up. With nursing, it is important to be comfortable in your clothes. For me, a long, stretchy tank top under my regular shirt is perfect. Glamourmom makes some super stylish nursing tanks. I can pull my shirt up and still have coverage on my postpartum belly–which is still lurking there 7 months later. I find myself wearing hoodies often to have extra coverage in case my little guy just needs the boob quickly. This way, I can pull my shirt down around my breast and cover with the hoodie.

Do what’s comfortable for you.

The best advice I ever received about nursing in public was just to do what’s comfortable for me. We all have different levels of comfort, and I feel like that is something to respect. Some moms don’t feel comfortable feeding in public. Other moms don’t need to cover and are super comfortable. I am somewhere in the middle. The main thing is that you are responding to your baby and his or her needs. Any onlooker would much rather see you feed the baby than hear a screaming, ravenously hungry infant. Just do what comes naturally.

Practice feeding your baby in the mirror. Ask your spouse or a friend to give you feedback if you need it. If someone is uncomfortable, like say your father-in-law or a friend who doesn’t support nursing, they will most likely leave the room. If you babywear, learn to nurse while wearing your baby. Youtube is a great resource for how-to videos. Nursing in public can be done easily and comfortably.

What has worked for you, momma?

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two little ones in Northeast Indiana. She loves nursing and the older she gets, the more she is comfortable in her own skin.

 

Friday, May 15, 2015
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