Archive for August, 2014

When Big Brother or Sister Goes Off to School

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

When Big Brother or Sister Goes off to SchoolThis summer, my soon-to-be kindergartener went to summer school to get ready for the big K. It was only two hours a day, but I was curious to see how my other kids would react to having her gone. We have all been home together for most of my kids’ lives, so I anticipated a big change.

I did see some big changes, but they weren’t what I expected.

  • Some kids may not notice. My toddler just isn’t old enough to express any changes she noticed in our day, and really, not much changed. We still went to the park, she still took naps, we still ate lunch together.
  • Some kids may ask about them. My three year old definitely missed older sister. She wasn’t upset by the change, but she did ask where Maisie was several times a day. It was so fun to see her run to greet Maisie when the bus came, but I had to be very careful about pick up and not letting little sister get too close to the bus lest she think she could hitch a ride with sister.
  • Some things will be easier without your oldest around. The younger kids don’t realize that they can ask for snacks, drinks, to go places and do other things. They are more used to just coming along for the ride and doing what they’re told. So I found I was more easily able to set them up with an activity and get things started, and then step away to get things done around the house or work on the computer for a bit without being interrupted. Of course, we’re talking about 10 minutes at a time or so, but I’ll take it.
  • Some things are actually much harder without your oldest. I did think maybe the grocery store would be easier with fewer kids, but I was wrong. So wrong. I highly underestimated how much calming, negotiating and entertaining my oldest did on trips to the store. She often convinced the three year old to stay put and entertained her by singing songs or making up stories while I flew through the store as fast as humanly possible. Without the distraction of big sister, the store was much harder.
  • It brings new energy to your house. Having someone come home in the middle of the afternoon makes the day a little different. Sometimes big sister would come home bubbly and full of things to tell me and ideas to play and pretend, and sometimes she would come home completely pooped and drained of energy. I found an afterschool snack helped mitigate the ulcer hour-ness of this time. (We generally don’t snack because with three kids in the house, I’d be playing waiter ALL day long.) It also helped bring a little routine to this time when I didn’t know what to expect from the day at school.

Here’s how you can help a toddler who really misses big brother or sister or is upset by the new change in routine:

  • Include them in the big celebration. When big brother or sister goes back to school shopping, grab some items for little brother or sister, too. Coloring books, crayons, maybe even a “back to school” shirt that they can wear the first day of school to see off their older sibling. Kids hate feeling left out, no matter how young they are.
  • Keep a routine. Routines are so helpful for toddlers and preschoolers. Have a general order in which you do things each day, and including seeing off your older child in that routine. Whether it’s going by the park after pick-up or getting out the crayons after the bus comes, giving your little something to look forward to makes them feel happy rather than sad when big brother or sister leaves.
  • Listen. You don’t have to make everything better. If your little one is old enough to put their feelings into words, listen to them. Tell them that you miss your big kid too, but that you are so glad to have big-kid time alone with them! I know so many of us experience mama-guilt when we have baby number two because we don’t have as much time to devote just to them. This is that time! Find a way for both of you to make the most of it.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.   

Is MILKY Supply Booster Worth the Hype?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Is MILKY Supply Booster Worth the Hype?

Oddly enough, I happened to be watching the Tia and Tamera show in which they came up with the Milky product. I immediately fell in love with the idea. So many women have a hard time breastfeeding and give up so easily and this is such a simple, easy to use product. On the show, the idea was to bottle an organic tea that featured fenugreek as the main ingredient, but  then infuse it with different herbs to make it taste better since neither of them liked the taste of fenugreek.

My question was would they stay true to the product being organic or would the final product be just a memory of what they had originally envisioned?I personally experienced a dip in supply when I went back to work after maternity leave, and then again once I started to do CrossFit. I used the teas, pills, tinctures, milk-boosting foods and everything else I could think of. While I did have success, none of them were as simple and straightforward as Milky claims to be–although I haven’t tried it since I’m no longer breastfeeding, I hear it tastes pretty good.

It contains: Purified water, Organic Herbal Blend, Organic Cane Sugar, Citric Acid, Organic Strawberry Flavor, Potassium Sorbate & Sodium Benzoate (To Preserve Freshness) and Organic Stevia (Reb A, Natural Sweetner). The only questionable ingredients are
 potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate, both of which are preservatives.

Unfortunately sodium benzoate, used to prevent drinks from becoming moldy, has been linked to hyperactivity and DNA damage. While not much research has been done on it here, other European countries have deemed it to be unsafe. It is so controversial that even the Coca-Cola Company removed it from their products in the UK back in 2008. Even though the rest of the ingredients are organic, I wouldn’t feel good about ingesting this preservative twice a day, especially since it can be passed through breastmilk.

The good news is that since all the other ingredients are ones you can buy at any health food store, you can make your own tea at home. Just brew a large batch of fenugreek tea with some of your other favorite flavors and keep it in the fridge. It’s not as convenient as throwing a tiny plastic bottle into your diaper bag, but it is safer for both you and your baby.

Jacqueline Banks is a board certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. To learn more about living a vibrant, healthy life, visit her website at

Escaping the Crib

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Some children never do it. Some children are born knowing how. But once they’ve done it, there’s no going back.

The first thing you need to know about cribs is that if your child can stand, the crib needs to be set all the way down, and you need to make sure all blind cords, curtains, furniture and décor is at least three feet away from the top of the crib. You will be absolutely astonished how determined they are to reach anything dangerous. If you don’t believe me, watch this video:

There are a few ways you make the transition to the big-kid bed, but one thing is sure: once they can get out of the crib, they can’t sleep there anymore. I know it sucks. It was safe, they could play themselves to sleep, and it was guaranteed worry-free naptime. Sorry, but that’s over. Grab a glass of wine and mourn it properly, and then get over it.

Escaping the Crib

Toddler rail: Many cribs either come with a toddler rail or have one you can buy separately. This screws right into the crib ends with hardware—it’s not removable. While it won’t keep your child in bed, it will keep them from rolling out while they sleep.

Toddler bed: A toddler bed is a mini-bed that your crib mattress will fit in nicely. This isn’t the best option if you are trying to clear out the crib to make way for the next child though, because you’ll be out a crib mattress. The benefit to these is that they offer the feel of a big kid bed while staying low to the ground.

Big bed with bedrail: If you don’t want to have to transition your child twice, or if you already have a big bed ready to use, there’s no need to get a toddler bed. Bed rails run about $30 and you can get them at any store that sells baby furniture. They also come in a variety of sizes, including extra long. I liked that you can fold them down during the day to avoid injuries from kids playing on it, and also to keep your child’s room from looking like a hospital suite, if that matters (for me it did). There are also double rails if you need them for both sides.

You may have also seen crib tents or crib canopies for sale online or in stores, but Consumer Reports lists them as a strangulation hazard and also reccomends removing baby from the crib as soon as they are able to get out.

No matter what option to you chose to transition your child, going to bed will not be the same. There is no more putting baby down and walking out of the room. We did have issues with our kids getting up. With our first, we chose to keep putting her back to bed over and over and over and over until she fell asleep. With our second, we’ve chosen to cuddle her to sleep as a more efficient option for both time and our patience levels.

Many parents I asked advised me to reverse the locks on my child’s door as a way to keep them in bed when I was having issues. This guy even says it saved his marriage after six months of sleeplessness (he threatened to leave his wife if she didn’t do it, so make your own judgment there). The fire department will recommend against this as a fire hazard. If you have stairs in your home, you will want to make sure you have a reliable and toddler-proof baby gate in front of them in case your toddler does get up in the night. It’s also wise to keep doors to the outside baby proofed as well.

TV is the bedroom is another solution I heard often. I would rather snuggle to sleep than try this because of the fact that light in the form of nightlights or TV disturbs the child’s circadian rhythms. Although it may help in the short-term, in the long run it can lead to lifelong sleep issues. I don’t know any adults who still need their parents to sleep, but I know lots of adults who need the TV on.  Not to mention it being a hazard if your toddler gets curious and tries.

My kids still get up some nights. Rather than do bedtime over again in the middle of the night, we just let them get in bed with us. My oldest has already outgrown this need and sleeps through the night most nights. Not because anything we’ve done, but because she feels secure going back to sleep when she does wake up. I am confident the same will be true of our three-year-old. The baby has been sleeping through the night since she was about 10 months old. She’s just weird.

Whether it’s nursing to sleep, waking at night, or during a meltdown, when my children need security, I don’t hesitate. To me it’s important that my kids know that I am there when they are scared and they need me, even at night. It’s my most important function as a parent. And if I do my job right, one day they wont need me anymore, because the security I have given them will be inside them. It will be confidence.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.




Pregnancy Week 40: What I Wish I Would Have Known Before Becoming a Mom

Monday, August 25th, 2014

It’s week 40! My due date has approached, and here I am ready for baby boy’s arrival. Hopefully, my next blog will be a birth story, not week 41. However, I thought I would end these blog posts with what I wish I would have known before I earned the title of mom. It’s not a title I take lightly. To me, it’s the highest calling.

Nursing a Baby is a 24/7 job: Of course I wanted to breastfeed my daughter. I read the books, went to the classes, and had an aunt who worked as a lactation nurse ready to be on-call.

Enter my newborn daughter. She was tiny, and the first baby I had really ever held for an extended period of time. We had trouble latching on, two weeks on a nipple shield, and had to go back for help. No one told me nursing was going to be uncomfortable for a bit. No one told me that I would be a frequent customer of my town’s local Starbucks, and I would try to replace my tired eyes and lack of sleep for a white chocolate mocha. Let me say that after all of the ups and downs we had with nursing, it was a fabulous journey. Thirteen months of bonding. Yes, I was the only one who could feed my baby and put her to bed. But what a privilege! Those wee hours of the night felt like our time. She needed mommy. You are made to take care of your baby, momma. Trust your body and your instincts. Don’t worry about the bumps along the way.

It’s Okay to Ask for Help: You need other moms. You need other people to go through this crazy journey with. Don’t be ashamed if you need help. Maybe your baby won’t quit crying? Maybe you need help trying to figure out how to get your little one to sleep at night? Maybe you need a babysitter so you can go to Target for an hour before you absolutely lose your sanity on a Monday? Whatever you need, it’s okay to ask for help. Where we live, we don’t have family. We have a small group of friends, and luckily, these people are like family to me. We have a great church with a huge nursery where my daughter can play. I have learned that it’s okay to ask for help. I don’t have to have it all figured out on my own or try to do it all alone. My husband is my biggest support.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Moms: Being a mom is definitely the best thing to ever happen in my life. It is also the hardest adventure I have ever set out on. It makes training for a half marathon, moving 33 hours away from my family, and teaching middle school seem like the easiest things I’ve done. There are so many happy days, but there are also many, many hard days. I am still learning. Don’t get caught comparing yourself to other moms. We are all on this journey together. Don’t compare your kids to other kids. Be yourself. Let your kids be themselves. Enjoy the ride.

Well, week 40, let’s have a baby! I can’t wait to explore new mom adventures with a little boy in tow.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of one and one on-the-way. She lives, writes, and explores motherhood in Northeast Indiana. Let’s meet this little boy!


Depression When You’re Weaning

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Depression When You're WeanThere is a wealth of evidence that many mothers experience the baby blues and post-partum depression after childbirth. But researchers have rarely studied the effect that weaning has on mom’s mood and well-being.

While you’re breastfeeding, your body is making more oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin is responsible for the muscle contractions that carry us through life: it plays a part in orgasm, birth, and breastfeeding. Truly amazing, complex stuff– and no wonder why the man-made copy, Pitocin, falls extremely short.

The window for postpartum depression has been greatly expanded in recent years, with studies showing that moms can experience symptoms starting just days or weeks after birth up to a year afterwards.

Scientists theorize that once the oxytocin levels return to pre-pregnancy levels after weaning, mom may experience a drop in mood levels because in addition to its contributions to creating life, oxytocin is also responsible for relaxation and psychological stability in our brains. But researchers don’t know for sure—because there is no data on oxytocin levels in women who wean naturally.

In 2012, a study was released linking depression with failed lactation, but that was centered around women who are forced to wean for one reason or another. Even then, it was hard for scientists to determine which problem was driving the other. Were these women weaning because the depression was too much, or was the weaning causing the depression? Most pregnancy research is baby-centered, admits Dr. Alison Stuebe, an OBGYN and assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina, who co-authored the study. “The mom kind of disappears from the radar” after that, she says. (Any new mom would probably agree that’s not just limited to research!)

Doctors say it’s normal to feel sad about the loss of the nursing relationship, even if you are ready to be done nursing. Many women say they feel tired, irritated, and sad, and experience mood swings similar to PMS.  These symptoms are completely normal and tend to disappear as quickly as they crop up. What you should watch for, say researchers, are symptoms that last more than a few days, change your daily activities, or your sleep patterns. If you don’t enjoy things that you used to, or find yourself lying awake at night when the kids are all sleeping peacefully, that should be a red flag.

I first became aware of post-weaning depression anecdotally. Mom friends from online group posted about having depressive symptoms, not after childbirth but after weaning, and I read a few mommy bloggers who talked about it. It was something I noted so I could be prepared for it with my second child. I hadn’t made it to a year with my first child, and hoped to nurse at least a year this time. However, I became pregnant when she was 10 months and she weaned in a few days when I started employing don’t offer/don’t refuse in a pregnancy panic. I was already awash with pregnancy hormones, and I never experienced weaning depression.

But now, I am in the process of weaning my third and final nursling. I’m not sure where in the process we are.

IMG_5789We moved a month after she turned one, so I committed to keeping it up for at least six more months so she could adjust completely to the change, and here we are at 18 months. Currently, she nurses first thing in the morning, and then on demand during the day. Sometimes it’s a few times, sometimes it’s just once that day. The sessions are very short and snacky, and she has to be extremely tired to actually nurse to sleep.

A month or two after she cut out regular pre-nap and pre-bedtime sessions in favor of reading books instead, I noticed a change in my mood. I would lose my temper and yell at the older kids. I didn’t want to go running, which I normally love to do. I quit caring if I got a shower or got dressed that day. I was putting off writing assignments until the last minute because I didn’t have the energy to do them. I felt hopeless and convinced that everything was going wrong in every area of my life. Sometimes I felt like everyone would be better off without me, even though I knew that wasn’t true. These feelings would last a day or two, and then I would feel like myself again.

I would love for someone to really study the effects of weaning on moms who wean naturally or purposefully. It’s confusing when you’re going through it because of how suddenly it stops and starts, and how the smallest thing can bring on such intense feelings. I feel crazy, because nursing is so hard, and you do look forward to not being confined to blocks of a few hours of freedom, to your children being independent and not needing you so much, and even to losing that layer of nursing fat that seems to hide all over your body. But then, when it comes down to really losing that relationship and never having that closeness again, it’s sad. It represents more than not nursing anymore; it’s you and your baby growing older and growing up.

I’m trying to work through my sporadic depression by taking the last placenta capsules saved from the birth of my last child, and committing to getting outside and running even when I have no desire to go. I know the sunshine, fresh air and the stimulation exercise gives my body will help. But at the same time, I am also committing to getting help and talking to someone if I can’t pull myself out of it, or if the symptoms last for more than a day or two.

If your child is weaning and you don’t feel like yourself, complete this depression checklist, which you can print and take with you to the doctor. Talk to your significant other, friends or family about how you are feeling, regardless of whether or not you think your feelings are warranted. If your doctor doesn’t understand, find one who will.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.