Posts Tagged ‘milestones’

My Pregnancy: Week 7

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

My Pregnancy Week 7We’ve made it to another week! The miscarriage rate is dropping day by day and my excitement and attachment rises in response. With my first pregnancy, less than five years ago, I followed my pregnancy chapter-by-chapter reading through two renowned baby books. I am not as avid a follower this time around. As my doctor said, “This isn’t my first rodeo,” or perhaps time management just looks a little different with a toddler and preschooler running about.

Baby is a blueberry this week, according to the informational websites. I don’t know why we reference produce to understand the size of our growing babe. For a while we called our first “Ping Pong” because “Medium-sized Strawberry” just didn’t have the right ring to it. Especially once you get to the size of a bowling ball that category seems fitting because it certainly felt like I was carrying a bowling ball at one point.

These sites over-use phrases about how your body changing, the big news of the week, your bundle of joy, and how everything is just ah-mazing with an exclamation point! And don’t get me wrong, it is! I certainly appreciate the reminders as I’ve forgotten these details since last pregnant 2 years ago but the pep is comical. I wonder where my lack of enthusiasm comes from. I wouldn’t qualify it as cynical or mocking, but I’ve got something going on inside me.

Maybe it is that this isn’t my first rodeo. We’ve been married nearing a decade, this is baby number three, hubby has been in the same steady job for five years now, we have a life plan that is coming to fruition in time. All these things are so regular, expected.

Likewise, it’s not only within that the excitement seemed to have waned. When we were pregnant with our first we felt like front page news. Now everyone just says congrats in passing, or may offer a mildly rude comment like, “Don’t you know how pregnancy happens?” or “I hope you have a girl!” That’s it.

We found out someone we dearly love is getting married and so much joy and excitement and the unknown is happening around them. And before someone goes and comments I’m ungrateful or selfish or stealing some else’s thunder, I’m totally and completely happy for all those people approaching exciting milestones that many of us dream about and look forward to for so long. I think what no one talks about is the sadness that comes with passing milestones. It’s the empty house when your last child moves off to school, the empty reception hall when the bride and groom leave. It’s the realization that life is quite ordinary.

There is an old Clay Walker song that says “ordinary people have extraordinary love, a million little miracles far beneath the stars above.”  My ordinary is quite extraordinary. I’m very happy with our long days and pleasant nights. But I can’t ignore the little, tiny piece of me currently grieving while living in the midst of what I always wanted. I think the best way to say it is we’re just as happy when all those milestones came—possibly even happier—but the excitement is a little different this time around. It’s not our first rodeo.

The second and third and fourth kiddos come with perks too. There is the comfort of knowing, somewhat, what to expect. At the same time there is still excitement—will we be a family of all boys? Two boys and a girl? How will we manage being outnumbered? How will our family change with the newest addition? How exciting indeed!

Annie is a mom of two toddlers with a baseball on the way. This just in—she and baby almost find vegetables edible again! That’s a good thing when you’re a vegetarian.

Celebrating the First Birthday

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Celebrating the first birthdayIf your child’s first birthday is quickly approaching, party planning might be lurking in the back of your head. Birthday parties often are a genuine outpouring of love and joy with underlying motivation and pressure to live up to expectations mixed in.

Every family has different constraints they work with. For some, the budget causes stress; others may feel a need to “make up” for not being as present as they’d like (due to work, travel, sickness, divorce, or many other factors). Many families grapple with how to kindly refuse gifts upon gifts from doting family and friends. I’ve also heard some mothers talk about the need to live up to what their friends did for their children’s birthdays.

Pinterest offers endless ideas and variations on everything from decorations and favors to birthday cake design and thematic games. Attending parties that are catered or otherwise dressed to the nines also can set up an expectation among parents and children that all birthdays are decked-out parties.

Parties can create interesting tensions. The tendency to invite all students in a child’s classroom to his or her birthday party adds bulk to the guest list and presents to the pile. The celebration of milestones seems to have increased, even now celebrating finding out the sex of a baby still in utero or milestone developments after birth.

These things, along with other factors, give recent rise to what I call the “celibracation” of everything. We have many reasons to celebrate our children every day. This may feel especially true for families who waited for years to have their babe in their lives or have a loved one living far away, in the military or otherwise.

I think what kind of party you have ultimately comes down to motivation, which only you can know. Once you know your motivation for your party, you know what you need to plan. If you are a social butterfly, maybe the large guest list makes sense but the fancy décor is not necessary. If you are particularly crafty and love attention to detail, perhaps the theme and articulation of it is part of the way you express your love. If you want your child to feel special, especially when things have been hard this year for x, y, or z reasons, talk to your kiddo about what would really make them feel special. Maybe instead of catering for thirty, your kiddo just wants a special day out with you.

No matter what you decide, here are a few ideas that can tailor to your own family traditions for years to come:

  • Write an annual birthday letter that encapsulates the notable moments of the year. Involve the whole family if possible, giving siblings an opportunity to share a reason why the birthday child is loved.
  • Prepare for receiving by giving. Rummage through the year’s toys and belongings in your kiddo’s room to make way for the coming year. Depending on your child’s age you can find ways to incorporate a spirit of giving and gratitude before the birthday arrives.
  • Small decorations, big bang. Keep it simple but effective with dĂ©cor. Filling a room with balloons or placing streamers across their door during the night is one way to start a birthday with a pow (or pop!). Decorate your/their vehicle with the age-old “honk for my birthday” sort of fun.
  • Have a special meal. It could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but let your birthday kid choose. If it’s a school day, wrap up each part of their lunch as a gift to unwrap.
  • Celebrate the real day. Maybe it’s easiest to have your get-together the weekend before or after the actual birthdate. Still make the birthdate special by having a cupcake or other treat.
  • Use a special dish each year. Instead of ushering in mega usage of disposable plates, let the birthday kid use a special celebration plate for the day. It could be a beautiful plate that looks of gold or a crafty handmade ceramic at the local clay-activity store.
  • Count down to the minute of birth! Build the suspense up almost like the celebration of New Year’s. Or you can countdown to the actual day on a chalkboard or poster—“3 days until Jimmy’s birthday.”
  • Consider gifts that aren’t purchased. Yes, this could be homemade items. Expand beyond that to consider giving a later bedtime or a “big kid” serving of cake as a way to mark the milestone of birth.
  • Match the pep of the party to your individual child. If your child needs quiet, stay low key. If your kid wants to invite strangers to the party, then maybe a more sociable gathering is a good fit. Children can become quickly overwhelmed by celebrations, so keep their interests in mind to ensure everyone has a good day. If possible, consider the needs of your child’s close friends. If there are those who have special needs, talk with parents to ensure your child’s friend will have a great time too.

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.

Is Crawling Important?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Is Crawling Important?We all want our babies to reach milestones “on time” and can sometimes forget that babies move at their own pace. Crawling is one of the major milestones that we can easily compare with other babies the same age and having a late crawler can be a little disheartening or worrisome. It’s important to remember that babies have their own time line and we can encourage them but they won’t hit milestones until they’re ready.  Is crawling really important or is going straight to walking perfectly fine?

Crawling is a lot more than just getting from point A to point B. The actual mechanics of it stimulates different areas of the brain, organizing neurons, creating important pathways and increasing communication between the left and right side of the brain.  It also happens to be their first attempt at hand eye coordination, which is especially important, as they get older for reading, writing and sports.

According to an article by Ohio Health many children are meeting their motor milestones later because of the push by the American Academy of Pediatrics to discourage letting babies sleep on their tummies. Since babies spend less time on their bellies their upper bodies aren’t developing enough strength for traditional hand and knee crawling.  The only way to strengthen those muscles are to spend more time doing tummy time and trying to make it as enjoyable as possible for them to be on their belly.

If your baby is a late crawler, don’t fret, there are lots of things you can do to encourage them to crawl. Babies love going through things, so those fun tunnels you’ve seen around serve a great purpose, or you can make your own tunnel obstacle course out of cardboard boxes. Playing hide and seek and chase are also fun games that encourage crawling. Keep on trying and making it fun for both of you!

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.



Milestones: 3 to 6 Months

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Milestones: 3-6 MonthsWhen my daughter first smiled at me–a real, honest-to-goodness smile, not just gas–it melted my heart. Of course, I like to believe she’s far advanced above other children, and take pride that my third grader reads at a high-school level and has the math skills of an average fifth grader. Her cousin was born three months early and had cardiothoracic surgery at just 5 days old, and yet he is now academically on schedule if not ahead of the curve. That said, there are other areas of his development that did not fit within what most literature considers “normal.”

This is typical for most kids. They fit the curve in some areas, lag behind in others. What seems like a huge difference in abilities at a few months old is forgotten when they are 5. At 3 to 6 months, what is considered typical may depend on your child and the circumstances of their birth.

A good guide for typical developmental milestones for 3 to 6 month olds includes the following:

  • Startle reflex
  • Holding up head
  • Smiling
  • Verbalizing/Cooing
  • Raising head during tummy time
  • Gumming hands
  • Reaching/grabbing
  • Eyes follow people and objects
  • Sitting/Rolling over/Scooting
  • Raising to crawl position

For a child born with a serious health condition, like my nephew, speech may lag. If your baby isn’t cooing or smiling at 3 to 6 months, or is not responsive to loud noises a trip to the ENT may be in order. The development of the inner ear plays a vital role in forming sounds and eventually words. If your baby doesn’t support his head without assistance, or is difficult to soothe you might consider reporting these things to your pediatrician.

Your role as a parent is to identify instances of what might be considered atypical. You know your baby best and are your baby’s best advocate. Keep in mind not every baby develops at the same rate and what is right for one baby is not necessarily right for your baby. Trust your instincts and keep your camera handy. You won’t want to miss it when your little bundle of joy takes those first steps, which are just around the corner.

Gretchen Latham is a mother of one and lives and writes in Oklahoma City.

Starting Solid Foods with Baby

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The introduction of solid foods into your baby’s diet can be an exciting time! Like with many milestones with baby, it is fun to experience something new together and enjoyable to see baby’s reaction to the experience. However it can also be a somewhat confusing time as well. Unlike physical milestones, such as rolling over, crawling, or cruising, that are driven by baby’s own development, feeding baby relies on a external source (parent or caregiver) to guide the process.

How do I know my baby is ready for solid foods?

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and La Leche League all recommend an exclusive breast milk diet until a baby is at least six months old. However there is no ”magic age” as to when to start solids. Optimally the process of introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet, will be initiated by following their own readiness cues. Some readiness indicators include:

  • able to sit up well by him/herself
  • has develop a pincer grasp
  • increased frequency in breastfeeding (unrelated to other factors such as teething or illness)
  • seeming less satisfied or satiated by breast milk
  • has lost the tongue-thrusting reflex

One common misconception is that when a baby starts grabbing at other’s food he/she is ready to start eating food. Grabbing at objects is more of a physical and cognitive milestone, than an expression of nutritional need. Around five to six months old babies become more adept at using their hands and become more engaged and curious about their environment. Additionally one important way babies explore their environment is through their senses which includes putting objects in their mouth. When my first son was about six months old he grabbed a piece of food out of my hand and put it into his mouth. A well meaning family member said “get that baby some food…he’s hungry”.  And I remember thinking “but he’d grab a dirty sock out of my hand and put that into his mouth too”.  :)

What do I feed my baby?

Just as it is important for young children and adults to eat whole foods, it is equally important for babies to eat whole foods! While jars of commercially made baby food can be convenient in a pinch, you might reconsider reducing or perhaps eliminating them from your baby’s diet all together. They are heavily processed resulting in a depletion of valuable vitamins and nutrients as well as flavor. Additionally they are expensive and produce an excess amount of packaging. A mashed avocado or banana can be a simple, nutritious and delicious first food to “prepare” for your baby. Steam, pureed carrots or sweet potato are another great option. Or if the readiness indicators as listed above are present, you might consider skipping pureed foods all together and go straight into finger foods, encouraging baby to self feed. Sticking with low-allergen whole foods in their purest form as possible (no added spices, flavoring, etc) will be easiest for baby to digest as their gut/body gets accustom to new foods. Also it is generally recommended to go slow and only introduce one or two new foods at a time so any possible food reactions can be easily detected.

How does introducing solids effect breastfeeding?

One important factor to consider is that the introduction of solids is the very beginning of the weaning process. This is one reason why delaying solids is a common practice among breastfeeding mothers. Another common practice is to breastfeed baby right before giving him/her food to ensure he/she is still getting a bulk of their nutritional needs met through breast milk. Another consideration to be aware of is the potential impact of introducing solid foods on a mother’s milk supply and/or menses. For some women the introduction of solids into baby’s diet initiates ovulation, particularly if baby is suddenly nursing less frequent or efficiently. Generally the transition to solids begins with more exploration of foods rather than actual consumption of food in quantities that would replace a nursing session. Gradually over time solid food will replace the nutrients and calories in breast milk.

Most importantly try to keep meals with baby stress free and fun for the whole family. Not only are you establishing important life-long patterns of eating for baby, you are also teaching him/her the social fundamentals of foods.

What was your baby’s first food experience like? Any tips to share when it comes to transitioning to solids? Would love to hear from you! :)