Archive for March, 2014

Pregnancy Week 19: Hello Heartburn

Monday, March 31st, 2014
Heartburn due to baby with lots of hair? Not for this mama.

Heartburn due to baby with lots of hair? Not for this mama.

As I’m enjoying my second trimester, I have become good friends with the pregnancy symptom known as heartburn. This is quite inconvenient when I am craving spicy, hot foods. Chicken wings and pico de gallo are on the top of my list this week. As many as 50 percent of expecting moms will experience heartburn during their second trimester.

What Causes Heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning sensation that can go from the bottom of your throat to your breastbone. It’s caused by the acid in your stomach rising. There are a number of factors that cause heartburn in pregnancy, including increased levels of progesterone, which will slow down digestion and cause food to sit longer. Progesterone also causes your muscles to relax more, including the one that keeps everything in your stomach and out of your throat. Your stomach also has less space now, thanks to baby.

Easy Cures

You can decrease heartburn if you pay attention to what you are eating and drinking. Are you eating large meals? Eating smaller meals and more frequently will help. Be careful when you eat. I really enjoy eating snacks before bedtime, but this can cause heartburn easily. Elevating your head while you sleep is an easy fix. Try sitting or standing after mealtimes. Drinking small amounts of liquids will help, too. Ginger, apple cider vinegar, and coconut water are recommended as natural cures. If all else fails, turn to a safe antacid. I have been chewing Tums quite frequently. If you’re still uncomfortable, talk to your midwife or provider about other ideas. A food journal could also help you keep a record of what your food triggers may be. Natural cures for heartburn in pregnancy are preferred to acid-reducers and prescription medications. This is because pregnancy is a temporary condition, and taking medications could alter your body’s production of acid in the long term, not just during pregnancy.

What Could Heartburn Really Mean?

We’ve all heard that a lot of heartburn means a baby with a head full of hair. I had a fair amount of heartburn with my daughter, and she still doesn’t have much hair at 19 months. I have seen some babies born with tons of hair, and their moms claim they really suffered with heartburn. Most likely, heartburn just means that your hormones are going crazy and you need to pay attention to what you’re eating.

So, mommas, did you suffer much with heartburn during your pregnancies? To me, heartburn is one of the least uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy.  If it means I can still eat my pico de gallo, I will just be more careful with when I eat it and how much I’m consuming. Who knows? Maybe I will have a baby with a full head of hair?

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 1 and 1 on the way. She lives and writes in Northeast Indiana. She could eat Mexican food every day if her family would let her. 

Great Toys for Grasping and Pinching

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Great Toys for Grasping and PinchingIn the sixth month of babyhood, your little one is discovering how to unfurl his or her hands and start to use them actively.

Babies begin to reach for toys close in sight and grasp at toys placed in their hands. They’ll begin to pass toys back and forth from one hand to the other and move toys around to explore the movement and objects from different sides. There is no shortage for baby toys marketed to this age, but some are better than others for encouraging this developing motor skill of grasping.

Activity Gyms

For babies that are not yet sitting up, activity gyms are a great way to encourage grasping at an object. Simple toys can be hung from the bars of the activity gyms, which usually incorporate crisscrossing bars over a play mat. Initially it is difficult for babies to grasp with accuracy, especially if the object of their aim is moving. An activity gym allows babies to set their sights on a toy and reach for it, successfully swiping or grasping it.

Simple Toys

Very first toys should be simple and minimal. Babies do not need, and may actually be over stimulated by, complex multi-colored toys. Montessori Interlocking Discs are the perfect first toy to introduce to your three month old to encourage grasping. They are sized well for grasping, and encourage the baby to move his or her wrist in order to pass the toy to the other hand. A simple rattle is another great first toy, allowing your baby to explore cause and effect while they shake it and pass it from hand to hand.

Stuffed ToysGreat Toys for Grasping and Pinching

Some babies enjoy small stuffed animals at this age and may begin to attach to a favorite. For the three to six month age, a stuffed animal no larger than eight inches is ideal, simply to ensure that they can grab it and manipulate it. There are a number of small, simple, and organic options available, like this  Baby Doll. Another great stuffed toy for this age is the animal lovey, which combines a small stuffed animal and a small blanket. At this age children are beginning to identify differences in texture, and may start to show preferences for especially soft items. Be sure to avoid stuffed toys with plastic eyes or buttons, ribbons, yarn, or bells to eliminate potential choking hazards.

Textured Play Mats

Homemade quilts or manufactured play mats often incorporate different fabric textures and have rings or hooks sewn into the edging, allowing you to attach a familiar toy for baby for grasping while baby is on his or her stomach. High contrast mats, think black, white, and red, are great for giving baby something interesting to look at during tummy time. Textured play mats are also convenient for travel, allowing you to transport baby’s entertainment to a hotel or family member’s home easily. For those crafty mamas, here’s an awesome tree play mat, and here’s an example of a high contrast play mat.

Texture Books

You can never start reading out loud to your baby too early. Babies learn language from hearing the unique inflections, pitch, and varying sounds as they hear you speak and read. Reading gives children the opportunity to hear vocabulary they may not hear from typical conversations, and allows them to hear the unique rhymes and cadences common in children’s books.

Choosing books that have unique textured pages is an excellent way for babies to learn how to interact with a book, helps keep their interest, and gives them tactile stimulation as well. Simple baby ‘touch and feel’ board books are a great place to start and will encourage grasping at the different textures on the page. Books with predictable rhyme patterns and repeated phrases are also fantastic first books for babies.

Teething Rings

Simple wooden or silicone rings are a necessity to have on hand at this age. The typical three-inch diameter ring is the perfect size for baby’s newly grasping hands. The three to six month age is often marked by the initial signs of teething; you might notice extra drooling and gnawing on fingers.  Simple wooden teethers are great for giving baby a little bit of relieving pressure on those sore gums!

Claire Dodge is a wife and mother of two toddlers living in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. She is a Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth instructor and helps her husband part-time in his prenatal and pediatric chiropractic office. She loves all things natural living and attachment parenting, and loves to get lost in books, yarn, and a good run.


Parenting Siblings: Preparing yourself for the arrival of a second or third child.

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Six years ago we celebrated the birth of our first child. His arrival ushered in the start of a new season for my husband and I, but we anticipated that change. There would be sleepless nights, exhausted days, a stretching and a pressing like we’d never experienced, but we expected much of that. We were bracing for nothing short of a radical upheaval in our lives.

Parenting Siblings: Preparing yourself for the arrival of a second or third child.

Fast-forward 18 months later, and we discovered we were expecting baby number two. Having logged a year and a half as parents, we assumed we had this parenting thing down. We’d navigated the waters of first-time parenthood, and we had learned to love with a capacity we didn’t know we possessed. Thus, we didn’t really expect baby number two to be a life-changer.

But then she was born, and the transition impacted me in a way I never anticipated. Suddenly, the demands on my time were doubled and my energy reserves were halved. I no longer had to meet the needs of one child; instead I had to meet the needs of one child with a squalling baby in hand. I was waking at night with our daughter only to be woken with the sunrise by our son. I was exhausted, poured out.

I vividly remember sitting in the rocker shortly after she was born, sobbing. I had expected the transition to be peaceful. Instead, it was stretching me in ways I never imagined.

That was three years ago. We’ve since welcomed baby number three, and I’ve learned a thing or two about making the transition from one child to siblings. Here’s what I wished I’d known then:

Every pregnancy, every birth, every child is unique. Don’t expect your postpartum recovery with number two to be like your recovery with your first. It may be similar, but there’s also a chance it will be drastically different.

Be prepared for the hardships of a newborn all over again. That seems obvious, but I think it’s important to be mentally prepared for your life to be turned upside down, again. Only this time, you’ll have an older child in the mix.

Know that you’re not robbing your firstborn of something, you’re giving them a gift. In the months leading up to your second child’s birth, you may feel guilty about the fact that you will be upsetting the only family dynamic your first child has ever known. That’s a common emotional response. I felt like I was cheating my son in some way, but I also quickly learned that instead of cheating him, I was giving him the gift of a sibling.

Plan some one-on-one time with your firstborn. Whether it’s a special date or simply extra cuddle time and a story when the baby is napping, plan some dedicated time for just you and your first during the day or week as needed.

Embrace baby wearing. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to get a quality baby carrier. They are fantastic when you have one child; they are a lifesaver when you have two or three.

Enlist help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and receive it graciously. If you need a few moments to rest, another set of hands, or help with meals, ask a family member, a neighbor, or a friend to assist you. They will likely consider it a privilege, and you’ll get some much-needed assistance or a quick break to breathe.

Give yourself grace. You didn’t parent one child perfectly–you’re certainly not going to parent multiples perfectly. It’s OK. Give yourself grace when the days are hard, and extend that grace to your children.

Shalene Roberts is a writer, photographer and mom to three. She blogs at Faith & Composition where she muses on gracious homemaking, intentional mothering and inspired living. Her ϋber popular post, When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees, received 500,000 hits. Her heart yearns to inspire mothers to see the beauty in the everyday mess, and the magnificent in the mundane. 

Becoming a Big Brother or Sister

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Becoming a Big Brother or Sister

My daughter was about seventeen months old and still nursing when we found out she would become a big sister. She was nine days shy of being two years old when her baby brother was born. Our pregnancy was not planned, but was welcomed, though all I could think about was my sweet daughter poking the newborn in the eye and proudly saying, “Eye!”

We made sure her routine was not changed when he arrived; grandparents came and stayed at our house to make this easier. We let her be the first person other than mom and dad to meet her baby brother; she was excited to meet him and constantly loved on him. Once we brought him home we made sure to give her plenty attention anytime he was sleeping.  It did not hurt having a birthday just nine days after he was born, either. We made a big deal about it, and she loved the day being all about her.

We let them interact together under close supervision on the floor. She got to give lots of kisses, give him toys, or help mom get a new diaper. You could tell he adored her from the start.

If you’re worried about the arrival of a new baby and how becoming a big brother or sister will affect your older child, here are some tips to make the transition a smooth one:

  • Go through your child’s baby pictures with them and explain that they used to be a baby, too. Tell them stories about things they did when they were a baby.
  • Read developmentally appropriate books about childbirth/new babies with your child.
  • Visit friends or relative who have new babies with your child to help them get used to the idea and learn how to act around and treat babies.
  • Take your child to a doctor’s appointment so they can hear the baby’s heartbeat.
  • Make a space low enough for your child to reach with baby things like diapers, wipes, extra baby clothes and toys, so that they can help you with diapers changes or retrieving baby items.
  • Keep books or toys near your nursing/feeding area that the older child can play with during feedings. Don’t feel bad about using the TV or iPad to keep your older child entertained during feedings, either. There will come a time when you don’t have to do this as much.

I think the hardest time for her (and me) was when I nursed the baby and really could not play with her. I used the TV so that I could make it through a feeding without having to clean up a new mess. She chose these times to get into something she was not supposed to, a cry for attention when she knew I could not focus on her alone.

Today she is just over three and he is fifteen months. I get so much joy from listening them play together. The best sound is the belly laughs–they can get each other laughing over the smallest things. The tables have turned now; I am now worried about him poking her in the eye and saying, “eye.” I am so thankful for my blessings and that she became “the Big” when she did.

Kristen Beggs is a mom of two who enjoyed watching her daughter transition from being the only child to the big sister.

Can Music Make Your Baby Smarter?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Can Music Make Your Baby Smarter?Of all the activities my three-year-old daughter and I have done together music classes have been one of the most enjoyable. When she was four months old I enrolled her for a summer session of Music Together. We’re just finishing up our fourth semester, and I have already signed up for the next one.

The classes themselves have been a lot of fun, but watching her flourish musically has been amazing. She bops to the music, memorizes all the songs, makes up her own words and loves playing instruments. One of the great things about most music classes is that there’s usually no age restriction, so you can start as soon as you feel ready. Even though most of the classes are somewhat structured, children are encouraged to participate and have fun so you don’t have to worry about a short attention span.

Some of the most popular music classes are Music Together, Musikgarten, Kindermusic and Gymboree. While they’re all slightly different, they tend to follow the same basic style. Each class focuses on parent-child involvement, letting them play instruments, vocalize at different pitches, sing fun songs with accompanying movements, and make rhythm a whole-body sensory experience.

The babies and toddlers are just having fun, but they’re doing so much more. Babies will respond to music by making their own sounds, advancing language and vocal development. Lots of movement, including dancing, rolling, marching and kicking helps develop gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are used when they grasp and release instruments and move them from hand to hand. Being around other babies and parents also gives them an opportunity for social development.  Studies have shown that babies who participate in interactive music classes smile more, communicate better, and show a more sophisticated brain response to music.

Some of the music programs have strict start and stop dates, but others will let you join at any point in time. Gymboree even offers a free trial class so you can see how your baby responds to music before signing up. Music is such a fun way to learn– you’ll both have a great time making music together.

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.