Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Caring for Dry Skin and Hair in the Winter

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Seven Ways to Keep Your Toddler Busy Indoors

Going into the winter months (of course, winter means different things in different areas), you probably notice that your grooming habits change a bit. This is no different for babies; as the air gets cooler and dryer, making a few tweaks to your child’s bath and skin care can make life a little more comfortable for them.

If you don’t already, a moisturizing baby wash or soap is a good swap to start with in the bath. If the air is especially dry in your home, adding a bit of oil to the bath can help as well. If you can, avoid bathing everyday as that can excessively dry out skin and even negatively effect their immune systems. If your child has curls, skipping shampoo sometimes and using just conditioner (co-washing) can help keep delicate hair from getting too dry. Using a conditioner on hair can help with fly-aways and static in dry, winter hair as well. If your child has very fine hair, there are many lightweight conditioners that won’t weigh their hair down.

After bathing, make it a point, if you don’t already, to always moisturize. You may find that the lotion you used all summer and fall is no longer cutting the mustard during the dry winter months. A heavier lotion, body oil, or cream can help, and for dry patches, a balm type product (or even diaper cream) will help seal in the skin’s moisture and prevent it from drying out. A spray-in de-tangler or conditioner can help hair stay tangle and static-free while hair is still wet. Curly haired babies may need more moisture in their hair; coconut oil or leave-in conditioner applied sparingly can be a big help.

If you live somewhere that gets very cold, consider applying a body cream or balm to your baby’s cheeks before going outdoors as well. Winter winds can chap sensitive skin incredibly fast; a balm or ointment is an effective barrier.

Finally, if you live someplace cold, furnaces and heaters can make the air in your home even dryer than it already was. A humidifier can be helpful for everyone in the house and can make breathing easier, too.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three little boys. She and her family are currently enjoying living overseas and exploring their new little corner of the world. 

The Best Infographics for Understanding Infants

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Being a mom is hard when your kids are fully verbal and can tell you exactly what they need, so when you meet a friend or someone in your family has just had their first, you have a whole new appreciation for how hard that stage is. Even harder than the stage is all the crappy advice you get from other people on sleeping, feeding and generally caring for an infant.

What no one ever tells you is how much you’ll realize that personality has to do with their behavior, but you won’t even realize the huge role it plays until your child is a toddler. Then you smack yourself in the forehead and go, “THAT’S why they refused to nap!” or “THAT’S why they hated the (insert world-renowned baby-soothing device that never worked on your child here)!”

The best thing you can do as a first-time mom is just understand what you’re dealing with on a biological level. There are some things that are the same from baby to baby, always, no matter what the popular wisdom of the time is. For instance, tummy size:

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This is such a brilliant visual. As a mom new to nursing, especially if you are one whose family has no personal experience with breastfeeding, you totally freak out that you aren’t making enough milk. Because if you were, why would baby want to eat ALL THE TIME? This thought is bad enough, but then it’s echoed by all your family members, and you begin to think the problem really is you. Some moms don’t make enough milk, and that’s a for-real but pretty rare condition. For most, it just feels that way because baby wants to eat so frequently. And when you see this graphic, it makes sense. If I could only fit one side-salad at a time in my stomach, but I could have as many as I wanted, I would probably be eating every hour, too.

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I remember not knowing what an early feeding cue was until my second child. No wonder breastfeeding never went smoothly with my first! As heartbreaking as it is to pick up a baby who, the the untrained eye, appears to still be sleeping, it really works out so much better to grab them before they wake up and realize they are HANGRY. That extra five minutes you have until they wake up crying? Not worth it.

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I’ll confess: I’m a crunchy mom and I never read this book! Although it may have more wonderful information, this alone was a lifesaver. The 5′s worked and they were our go-to for those all-out freak-out crying spells. My first baby did use a paci, but my other two would never take one. The pad of your finger works well for non-paci babies. Why not nurse instead? Well, if your baby is freaking out enough to need these steps, they are also likely too worked up to nurse. Calm them using this method, then try to nurse.

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Another thing that will never, ever change, no matter how much we learn about babies: the latch. I know we struggled with getting a good latch until I knew what that was and felt like. My first baby wanted to curl her lips in and it left me with bloody nipples and a baby who was losing weight fast. After meeting with a lactation consultant (Who made housecalls!) I learned to flip that lip out, and I ended up having to do it repeatedly with all three of my kids until they got the hang of latching. Without flat lips, baby just can’t get the suction right, and it leads to slurpy sounding, ineffective nursing.

I hope these infographics help you as much as they did me! Biology, man, it never goes out of fashion.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three who lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

Sensory Activities for Baby

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

sensory activities for babySo your baby is 3 months old now.  She seems to be ready to play and learn about her world.  But how do you play with a 3-month-old? Providing her with sensory activities each day helps her develop cognitively, begin to learn language, and gives you the opportunity to play with your baby. Initially, I was hesitant to start using sensory activities because activities that create a big mess are overwhelming to me. However with a little research, I discovered that with slight modifications, many everyday activities turn into sensory activities, becoming opportunities to play with your baby, build foundations for language development, and encourage exploration of her world.

The following are 10 activities I used with both my girls to address the five senses.

  1. Reading touch and feel books together (The That’s Not My… series are my girls’ favorite touch and feel books)
  2. Creating scent jars by filling empty spice jars with strong smelling objects (basil, orange, lemon, lavender, etc)
  3. Creating a ribbon box by attaching ribbons at the opening of an old box (one that is large enough for your baby to lay in/under)
  4. Allowing them to squish and play with their food once they start solids
  5. Providing toys that crinkle, make other sounds, and have many textures (Melissa and Doug’s Flip Fish was one of Juniper’s favorites from about 4 to 7 months old)
  6. Walking outside while talking to your baby about things you see, sounds you hear, and smells you smell
  7. Playing peek-a-boo and other songs that use scarfs
  8. Going to baby storytime and other age-appropriate mommy and me classes
  9. Looking at and making silly faces in mirrors
  10. Talking to your baby while grocery shopping about what color, shape, etc of the items you’re purchasing (sometimes I accidentally do this on solo shopping trips and get weird looks!).  In the produce section, I let my girls touch and smell the produce we intend to purchase as I’m talking about it.

Having your baby do sensory activities does not require a huge mess or a lot of prep before hand.  With little extra effort, you can maximize your baby’s opportunity to use their senses and learn about the world.

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.

Unapologetic Parenting

Monday, September 26th, 2016

img_1145I take it for granted that when my kids grow up and ask me questions about their childhood, I’m going to end up apologizing for something. I’ll tell the oldest I’m sorry I didn’t hold her enough. The middle child will get apologies because I didn’t enjoy her enough while she was the baby because I was too freaked out about getting pregnant again so soon. The youngest, for not getting to go to preschool, story time, playgroups, or dance class like her oldest sister did at her age, because I was too busy carting around the older ones.

This approach has come to guide my daily decision making. I think about it frequently, like when I’m tired, when I’m tempted to say no automatically instead of thinking about each situation specifically, or when I’m out in public. I try and really think about my decisions because I don’t want to make decisions I’m going to have to apologize to my kids for someday if I don’t have to.

But now, in an age of frequent parent-shaming, I’ve come to think of parenting decisions in public also as public-relations problems. How will I defend myself if someone videotapes me or turns me in to authorities for something I think is perfectly reasonable or low-risk but they think is not? (I honestly had examples here but was too worried someone would shame me for doing those things, so I took them out.)

I feel like any small parenting decision can have very public consequences. Once when my husband was out of town, I had just put both kids to bed and decided to have a glass of wine now that I was alone. But then I thought: What if the house catches fire? What if someone breaks in or I have to take a child to the emergency room? All it takes is for someone to smell alcohol on my breath and that becomes a story. I dumped out my wine and spent the night tossing and turning in the dark, waiting for one of the kids to cry.

I’ve seen friends get called CPS on them because someone thought their house was too messy in a Facebook photo–Hoarder! Or because they joked in a post about running away from it all–Call the police! There was the mom in Houston who was going for help because she locked her kids in her car and got accused of getting her hair done while her children baked in a hot car. (She’s now suing the TV station for $200,000 and fears for her family because people were so vile over it.) There’s the couple in Sandusky, Ohio, who walked a few feet away from their baby, who was in a car seat, to grab food at a buffet, and had a complete stranger shame them on social media and call them terrible parents. (He didn’t call 911 or do anything about it at the time because the baby was in no danger.) A recent study showed that individuals in a focus group judged parents on the perceived moral rightness of their actions when stepping away from their child even for a moment.

Read that again.

The article says that “moral attitudes toward parenting have changed, such that leaving children unsupervised is now judged morally wrong. And because it’s judged morally wrong, people overestimate the risk.” It’s much more exciting for some Facebook acquaintance or stranger to call the local news station than give you a call and ask if you’re OK or if you need help. What a hero.

So what started as a pledge to not have to apologize to my kids one day in the future has become of a way of living in public. I have to make the best possible decisions I can not only for my family, but now also to the defense of my integrity in the public eye, even when my kids are unaffected. You’d think raising tiny humans to be decent adults is enough pressure. It’s an exhausting proposition. It puts me on edge in public, and sometimes I have the feeling that everyone I see is judging me. But that’s an advantage, I guess. Because someone always is. At least now I am prepared to confront them.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

Babies and Big Groups

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Babies and Big GroupsWe visit family often. By family, I mean a moderately-sized group of twenty or so people. The trick is we often stay in my parent’s or my in-law’s home where all of these twenty people are also around for prolonged periods of time. Sometimes they are also staying at my parents, or in the case of my in-laws grandma babysits many of the kids and we spend the weekends doing things together. Our visits are from a few days to as much as six weeks sometimes during summer and winter school breaks.

With our first child, our first long visit at five and again at twelve months, I really tried to stay rigid. We napped when we were “supposed” to nap; when a little taste of icing was offered I refused it on his behalf though; I apologized for his grumpiness at times. By now with the three kiddos in tow I’ve settled into a little confidence and competence on managing my babies in these big group situations.

Most important for us was to know our children’s individual needs. One child gets overwhelmed more quickly with sensory overload and crying fits occur more often. He needs a quiet room. For another we look for cues of needing more cuddles or neediness though he is not as acutely aware of noise. He needs more hugs. Knowing your child’s needs allows you to best advocate for them. Advocacy does not require shouting out defensively so much as just providing, as the adult, for your child’s needs and giving space for their voice in the context of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. We visit for weeks at a time, and I recognize that being far from home—away from bed, toys, the grocery store and church, even the streets and all the other familiar things—can be taxing.

Be ok with standing up for what your children need. We love our families very much and enjoy their company. I recall one day when additional family arrived unexpectedly to visit just as my children were waking from their naps (possibly having woken one of them from his nap). As we see them regularly during our long visits, I didn’t feel any pressure to “make every moment count.” In fact, ensuring my children’s emotional stability for the day allowed for the remaining moments to be most enjoyed. I politely and quietly ushered my kids into our bedroom and closed the door. There was no big explanation or curiosity about it. I could tell my children needed a few minutes to transition from nap to unexpected socialization. Those twenty minutes secured my children’s ability to cope and enjoy the remainder of the day with family.

Advocating also means finding trust within you. I make mistakes but generally believe I take the time to balance what everyone needs with what my children need. Just because we are far from home doesn’t mean they always get their way or even always get their needs met. Sometimes we don’t get our needs met. But I try to find a little grace for them and me when I don’t read a situation most accurately or my expectations (of myself or others) aren’t met. Though rare, any comment someone makes about their behavior I try not to engage it as a criticism. That comment doesn’t matter as a judgment on my parenting, but it is insightful in how I might be a better house guest or how someone else is experiencing their time with us. Again, it’s a constant negotiation of being present for everyone I can and not just my children.

I try to balance time with the larger family and friends with just my little family of five. For some of that time we are a family of four while hubby works. I build in days of just down time or little adventures (to the donut shop or park) where it is only us even though they have many cousins who would love to join us. We spend much time with the cousins and I find it grounding and rejuvenating for my kids (and me) to just be together alone. This means extra cuddle time and quiet time together, which I usually build in early in the morning before others wake up or arrive.

Last, I let things slide. I find it important to keep structure but my kids usually eat a little less healthy on any of our vacations. They take in a little more technology, sometimes stay up a little later, and their nap schedule becomes a little less concrete. After trekking 1,600 miles each way in a mini-van with three little ones you learn to bend a little to adapt and make the time as enjoyable as possible.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 3 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.