When Should I Start Reading to My Baby?

When should I start reading to my baby?When should I start reading to my baby?  Today.

It is never too early to read to your baby.  In fact, I started reading to my babies as soon as I found out I was pregnant.  Reading was my way to connect with my baby from the start.  I went to the library on a weekly basis to keep it interesting for us.

What books are best for infants? In my opinion, the content doesn’t matter. You could read a picture book, the newspaper, or this blog to your baby. Babies love to hear the sound of your voice. They love the special time and attention that is shared with them while they listen to you read.

Tips for reading to infants:

  • Choose books that you enjoy.  How about a book that you loved when you were a child?  Show your baby that reading is a fun and pleasant thing to do.  They will learn this by your tone and excitement for books.
  • Point to pictures and talk about them.  Your audience will be paying attention whether they interact with you or not. They are always learning.
  • Pay attention to your baby’s cues of what they enjoy.  They may enjoy rhyming, pictures, or certain authors or illustrations.
  • Use your local library as a resource and you will have an endless supply of books and reading materials to choose from.
  • Read the same books regularly. It is amazing to see babies recognize books that they remember and enjoy. I rotate through books and love to see what my children remember about them when they are reunited with a book they haven’t seen in a while. Many times, they do the reading.
  • Have babies help you turn pages. This is a part of teaching them how to read. You may want to use board books when you first start out.

There are so many benefits of reading to infants. Reading helps babies develop listening skills, learn about words and pictures, stimulate their imagination as they get older, and so much more.

Sarah Cole is a stay at home mommy to two busy toddlers.  She enjoys spending time reading to her kids and loves watching her children’s relationship with books and reading grow.

Friday, November 25, 2016
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I’m Not Going to Stress-Eat the Holidays This Year

holiday health

I make a mean chocolate chip pumpkin bread. Totally tooting my own horn, I know, but it’s fine. It’s worth it. Because that bread is amazing. And because I grind the flour myself, and it has pumpkin in it, I convince myself that it’s practically a vitamin.

Vitamins are good for you, right? So it’s okay to eat it for every meal of the day.

It’s a lot easier to convince myself of this misguided truth when I am feeling the stress of the holidays. It seems that the shortened days filled with grayness and bitter cold are never ending, and yet there is no time to do all the things that need to happen between Halloween and Christmas. So while I’m engaging into the fourth hour of a 30-minute craft that we both know won’t turn out, desperately trying to give the perfect neighbor/teacher present, those baked goods scream that they will offer validation and comfort in my distress. So I eat, and I numb, and I eat, and I numb, and then I wonder why I don’t have any energy to get the things done that I need to.

This holiday season, it will be different. We will be different! Because we are going to health-up the crap out of this season. Here is my plan.

  1. Drink all the water. If part of your winter routine means putting on a Costco sized bottle of lotion each day, chances are pretty good that you aren’t drinking enough water. Shoot for half an ounce for every pound of body weight. You may pee every three seconds, but eventually, your body becomes accustomed to the increased water volume, and you return to your normal peeing patterns.
  2. Do an emotional inventory to identify what you feel like when you’re stressed. Sometimes during the holidays, we go into panic autopilot, where we just do things to get them done because we know we have to, and then we end up crashing and burning once our checklist is complete (or even when it isn’t). If you aren’t sure what your stress cues are, ask someone who knows you well what they notice about you when you’re stressed. Figure out what those are, and take a time-out when those cues pop up.
  3. Give yourself the gift of physical activity before the holidays start. Been eyeballing that Zumba class that meets at the rec down the street? Sign yourself up. Perhaps yoga is more your speed, or you’ve been wanting to try weightlifting. Find out what’s available in your area, and do what you can to treat yourself to this. Getting out and seeing other people who are taking care of themselves can be therapeutic in itself, and it will also give you the endorphins to make the stress more manageable. If nothing is available nearby, get a new DVD to work out with.
  4. Give yourself permission to say “no.” If someone asks you to do something and you don’t immediately want to respond with a resounding “yes!”, opt to take a beat to think it over. Practice saying no in the mirror until it feels comfortable. Decide that pleasing yourself is at least as important as pleasing others.
  5. Go ahead. Eat the pumpkin bread. Ask yourself first, though, if you’re eating to feel the joy inherent in delicious pumpkin bread, or if you’re eating to numb the stress and despair that can come with the season. Because when we eat treats to enjoy the treat, we are more likely to enjoy them, and we are satisfied a lot sooner. But if we eat them to stop feeling the difficult feelings, we tend to keep eating, and eating some more, and our poor emotional health starts to impact our physical health.

Enjoy the good things about this holiday season, because you deserve to experience joy. Seek out those things in your every day. And when it starts to feel like it’s getting difficult to find the joy, take a break. Watch some garbage television. Go to a spin class. Put the “me” back into “merry.”

Treat yo’self.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

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First Foods at the Holidays

First Foods at the HolidaysWhen I think of the holidays, I think of all of the yummy food I get to eat. This year will be a little different since I will have newborn and need to calm down on my eating and start focusing on taking care of my postpartum body. If you have a baby who has recently started solids, the holidays can be a fun time of discovery.

According to USA Today, 40 percent of moms start solids before 4 months old. For me, I waited until at least 6 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics now suggests waiting until 6 months.

If your baby has hit this age mark and you feel that he or she is ready, Thanksgiving can be a fun time for baby. Here are some baby-friendly foods for Thanksgiving:

-sweet potatoes (These are loaded in Vitamin A! Skip the sugar and marshmallows and if you have an older baby go for finger food.)

-green beans (If you have the casserole prepared, wash off some of the salty toppings first. This one could get messy!)

-pumpkin (Try adding this to cereal or yogurt. Yum!)

-squash (Like all veggies, this should be mashed, thinned, or blended with breast milk or formula.)

-stuffing (Keep this moist. Finely chop the veggies and even add some breast milk or formula.)

-apples

-cranberries

-potatoes

-turkey (With all meats, make sure this is blended or mashed to a consistency baby can handle easily. If your baby is older, you can do small pieces.)

With all solid foods, make sure to introduce new foods to baby slowly. Don’t just give them a whole plate of new foods and expect it to go well. Remember how sensitive a little baby’s tummy can be. Remember to keep the consistency mushy and easy for baby to digest. My babies loved sweet potatoes at the holidays, just like their momma.

Remember you are the mom. Don’t let family just feed your baby anything. I can remember a family member feeding my daughter chocoalate pie at a holiday gathering before we had started solids. I was mortified. Of course, babies don’t need eat sugary desserts and family should respect your position as mom and ask your permission before offering foods to baby.

Different solid foods are recommended for different ages. There are products now like Baby Brezza and Baby Bullet that make creating your own baby food easy and affordable. I am a fan of the Baby Brezza.

Remember that there will be a lot of food around during the holidays and babies like to grab food. Use safety and precautions with your little one to avoid choking or unnecessary tears.

What are some fun holiday foods you have fed your baby? Did they like them? Have fun during the holidays with food and your little one, just remember to be smart and that you are supermom!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Arkansas where she is now ready to eat turkey and sweet potatoes.

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Getting Over the Fear of Not Making Enough Milk While Breastfeeding

getting over the fear that you aren't making enough milk

“When a baby is hungry, he tends to clench his fists tightly and bring them toward his face. If he falls asleep hungry, his fists usually stay clenched. But when he gets milk, he relaxes starting with his face. Then his shoulders relax, and finally those fists unclench. Eventually they’re as limp as the rest of him. Thing of his hands as a built-in fuel gauge.” p.120 Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

When my son was first born, we had a difficult time figuring out breastfeeding. It was challenging and stressful for both of us. In the very beginning, he lost weight instead of gaining and was extremely fussy. I contacted my acupuncturist and told her I thought my milk supply had decreased significantly. I didn’t think that I was making the amount that my baby needed and didn’t know what to do because my goal was to breastfeed until he was 12 months old. She had me come right in and she worked her magic with her needles to help get the milk flowing again, if it was true that I was having issues with my milk supply.

The amount of milk that a baby consumes while breastfeeding can be such a mystery, especially if they are exclusively breastfed like both of my children who refused bottles. It can be nerve-wracking wondering if an extra fussy baby means that they are actually starving because they are not getting enough milk. Since it was my first experience with breastfeeding, I was always seeking proof that my body was making the correct amount of milk that my baby needed.  These are some ways that eventually helped me feel confident that body was doing the job that it was supposed to, so I could get over my fear that I was not producing enough milk:

  • At breastfeeding support groups, lactation consultants weighed my baby right before I breastfed him and then immediately after.  The number of ounces that he gained was proof that he was consuming a good amount.
  • Regular wet diapers proved to me that the process was working.
  • Appropriate weight gaining was on track and was proven at regular doctor check-ups.
  • Pumping milk into baby bottles to maintain a back-up supply showed me the number of ounces that my body was producing.

With my second baby, I learned to trust the process and reminded myself regularly that my body knew how to do it and would get the job done.

Sarah Cole is a stay at home mommy to two busy toddlers.  She nursed both of her babies until they were almost 2 years-old.  Now, she wonders if her picky eaters are getting enough food at each meal.

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A Food-Allergy Friendly Thanksgiving

A food allergy friendly thanksgivingLast Thanksgiving, I made a gluten, soy, and dairy-free meal to accommodate my husband’s celiac disease and my younger daughter’s milk and soy intolerances. We still had the traditional dinner–I just made minor adjustments to each dish to meet our dietary requirements. The following are the alterations I made to accommodate my family’s food allergies.

Turkey
Surprisingly, the turkey is where I found hidden dairy in the ingredients! I looked at four different brands of turkeys before finding one that did not contain any dairy. I then brined and prepared my turkey as I normally would, except I used olive oil instead of butter.

Stuffing
To make the stuffing allergen friendly, I used Udi’s white bread  for the bread and used homemade chicken stock in my recipe.  All the brands of chicken stock or broth my grocery store carries contained soy, so I subbed in my homemade broth.

Sweet Potato Casserole
I found a paleo version of sweet potato casserole that uses canned coconut milk and coconut oil to make this dish allergen friendly.

Cranberry Sauce
This dish is naturally allergen friendly, so I did not have to make any modifications to my recipe.

Green beans with Cranberries and Almonds
With a 3 month old and a 2 year old, there was no way I was going to make a green bean casserole from scratch (including frying gluten-free onions and making a dairy-free cream of mushroom base) so I simply roasted green beans with olive oil, salt, and pepper. When the beans looked like they were getting close to being done, I tossed in some dried cranberries and sliced almonds.

Pumpkin Custard
My mother-in-law has perfected making gluten-free pie crusts. Me, not so much, so I made the filling for the pie and baked it in ramekins instead. I subbed in full-fat canned coconut milk for the milk in my pie filling recipe. I used SoDelicious’s Cocowhip as a topping.

Unfortunately, I am a mashed potato purest and have not found a dairy-free recipe for mashed potatoes that meets my standards, so we went without.  With a few minor modifications I was able to make a Thanksgiving dinner that included almost all our favorite dishes and met all our dietary restrictions.

Becky Nagel is a stay-at-home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

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