Archive for May, 2015

Nursing-friendly Ballparks

Friday, May 29th, 2015

IMG_0250Most of us breastfeeding moms have been there. For me, this is a yearly event. I’m married to a baseball fanatic who loves to travel to different stadiums around the country. We have traveled to seven different stadiums since we got married, and that was almost eight years ago. Breastfeeding has been my way of nourishing my babies, so naturally, I have had to nurse at a couple of stadiums. Here are some of the best stadiums to nurse at.

Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, Ohio:

Wow. Have you seen the new nursing suite the Reds fans have been blessed with? It’s amazing. I have been to a Reds game with a baby and had a less than pleasant nursing experience. It was either the family restroom, which was gross, or in your seat. My baby girl was in a carrier so I had some freedom, but it wasn’t easy or pleasant. This nursing suite is complete with rocking chairs, a refrigerator, changing station, activities for older children, and a flat-screen TV. I really want to go back to this stadium now and sit in one of the amazing chairs. Nursing and taking care of your baby at the Reds game is now easy and something that moms can do while enjoying the game. So amazing.

Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri:

I’ll admit I have never nursed at this ballpark, but it is my favorite team–the Cardinals. I have several friends who I talked to who have nursed comfortably at Busch Stadium. Most of them did nurse their babies in their seats, but they didn’t run into any problems or uncomfortable situations. According to the A-Z guide on their website, moms can nurse anywhere- in public, in a first-aid station, or in a family restroom. Busch Stadium has a family pavilion, also, where older siblings can play and be entertained.

Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington:

I used to live near Seattle and I have been to a Mariner’s game, although I didn’t have children at the time.  I was pleased to see that this ballpark has a Nursing Mother’s lounge! Chairs and comfortable resources are available for moms and babies. You can change baby’s diaper in a clean restroom and not have to worry about nursing in a crowded corner, your car, or in the family restroom.

Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland:

I have never been to a baseball game on the East Coast. It is something I would like to do someday. This ballpark does get a lot of praise for its resources for moms online, however. The ballpark has a nursing/privacy room for moms to use. Dempsey’s restaurant in the stadium has highchairs and tvs where you can sit and feed baby while watching the game. The ballpark will even give out fun goodies for baby’s first ballgame. How cute!

So mom, you can nurse at a MLB game. Just be prepared and do some research beforehand if you want to find those fancy nursing areas. Remember, the availability of a nursing suite never means you are required to nurse only there. It’s a great perk, but in every state except West Virginia and Idaho, nursing moms have the right to nurse anywhere they are legally allowed to be. Baby wearing always makes it easier, too. If you’re a pro, nurse in your carrier and save yourself the trip!

We are planning a trip to see the Cardinals and Indians play in Cleveland. Looks like I will be nursing there. Guess I better get busy researching!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana. She loves her family, her cat, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Things You Can Do with Your 3-6 Month Old

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

DSCN1166Congratulations–you made it! Now that he’s three months old, your baby is now considered an infant. You may have already noticed your child is becoming more and more aware of his surroundings and is no longer just an eating/pooping/sleeping machine. Now you two can enjoy more activities together.

Between three and six months, babies are perfecting their grab, gaining strength in preparation for crawling and walking (ahhhh!), and their brains are learning at an incredible rate. You can encourage all of this growth in a lot of different ways. Tummy time is still necessary; if you haven’t tried yet, place some toys at your child’s periphery. She can look at them and when intrigued, try to grab for them.

Floor gyms are nice at this age. They provide gross and fine motor skill development as well as visual and mental stimulation. Your child will also likely be starting the long teething process. You will want to have a few safe teething toys; my boys both loved their Sophie the Giraffe, but there are tons of different options out there (including chewable mommy jewelry).

This is a fun age to begin mommy/baby music classes, too. Babies generally really enjoy listening to music, and these classes often introduce a number of different types of music as well as include fun sensory activities and gross motor development. My oldest son really enjoyed Kindermusik, but there are lots of different options available depending on where you live.

This is a great age to introduce water play at your local swimming pool as well, if you haven’t already been. They can splash and enjoy bonding time with a parent and also start getting accustomed to the water (getting comfortable in the water early can help stave off fears of water in later childhood).

Finally, board and cloth books are awesome for infants. Children of all ages benefit from you reading to them, but at this age your child will also begin to be interested in handling the book themselves (and attempting to take bites of them too).

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

Going Back to Work

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Going back to workWith my first child, I didn’t feel guilty at all about going back to work. I didn’t even cry when I dropped her off that first morning like I had read that I would on pretty much every mommy blog. I  felt like maybe something was wrong with me. Was I a sociopath? Didn’t I have feelings? I figured I must be the worst mom ever.

In hindsight, I know exactly why I felt fine going back to work—I had no idea what I was doing as a mom. My daughter was colicky and wanted to be held 24/7. She didn’t sleep well. I had no idea that was normal (or that baby carriers were a thing), so I felt like a failure. I was tired and overwhelmed by motherhood. Leaving her with a professional felt like the best thing I could possibly do at this point, and walking into work where I knew what to do and people listened, well, that was heaven.

The other thing that helped was that while I was still pregnant, I negotiated a more gentle plan for coming back to work than I would have had if I had not asked for one. I took my 6 weeks of paid short-term disability, and then asked to work half days from home each morning for six more weeks. My boss agreed, and so the first time I went back to work full time was when my daughter was 4 months old.

Strangely, when I went back to work after my second daughter —only part time this time, and when she was 10 months old, not 4—it was so much harder. I feel like it had a lot to do with my greater confidence as a mother this time. I really felt like I was the best person to meet her needs, so I was understandably nervous about being away, even though I had a very close friend watching her and now big sister to protect her, too.

Going back to work is such an individual decision. For some families, money just really doesn’t matter as long as they are together. For others, money stress is the worst possible kind and puts an unbearable strain on things. This can be true no matter what your socioeconomic status.

For other moms, the push to return to work may not be about money at all, but about reaching a goal you had before kids, or continuing the successful path you were on. We can be good parents in all different ways. I think when we get into trouble is when we try to be something we are not. When you are unhappy or stressed, your kids know. They see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice.

If there’s nothing else parenting has taught me, it’s that someone is always going to think you are making the wrong choice. You can’t please everyone, especially not every stranger you run into, every friend on the Internet or every family member who thinks they know best. So why try? Make the best decisions for you and your family, even if it looks a little different than what your parents did or what your generation are doing.

What I have learned is that being a mom gives me the drive to do what I need to do for my family. Whether that’s making the budget work so I can stay at home, working full time so I can focus only on my kids when I am with them, or writing blogs while they wiggle in my lap.

What we do at any one time may not be for everyone, but it works for us; that’s what’s important.

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

Nursing Friendly Clothes on a Budget

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

nursing friendly clothes on a budgetWhen my daughter was born, I was woefully unprepared for the requirements of a nursing wardrobe. Somehow, I hadn’t thought about it much during my pregnancy and once nursing was a reality, I was shocked at the prices of clothing specifically marketed as “nursing wear.” I couldn’t afford them, so instead I went with whatever I had on hand that worked. Needless to say, I spent most of the next 16 months in a rather bland, limited, repetitive wardrobe.

Should I have the chance to do it again, I now know a whole bunch of tricks for rocking some stylish nursing clothes without breaking the budget. The key is all in what you buy and where you buy it.

First, let’s start with the “what”:

  • Inexpensive camisoles. Nursing tank tops are great, and can sometimes be found at decent prices. Another option, though, are basic, inexpensive camisoles. I absolutely love the two packs that you can get at Costco for about $12. Layer the cami under any other shirt. When nursing, outer shirt goes up, cami neckline goes down, baby goes on. If they’re worn out by the time your nursing journey ends, you won’t feel guilt over their price tag when you toss them.
  • Button-down tops. Sometimes, you want a garment that gives you a bit more shape or visual interest than your basic t-shirt. A few button down tops are great for this. They open for nursing access and then button right back up!
  • Wrap-style tops or dresses. Wrap dresses, or those with the overlapping V neckline, are great for nursing! The neckline adjusts however you need without really stretching out of shape. Drapey necklines work just as well. A plus, wrap dresses are generally thought to flatter pretty much any body type!

Now that we’ve talked about what types of clothes to look for, let’s talk about where to get them.

  • Thrift Stores. Secondhand or consignment shops are excellent places to look for a nursing wardrobe. My personal favorites are Goodwill and Just Between Friends Sales. Not only do these stores often have a specific maternity/nursing wear section, you can also pick up all of the “what” items of clothing off of the normal racks for far less than retail. Don’t forget to look at baby resale shops, as they also often have a mom section. Along with being more affordable, you again don’t have to feel so bad should a top become stretched out, stained, or otherwise ruined during your time nursing.
  • Zulilly. Now, zulilly has the drawback of being a no-returns discount site, but if you choose your purchases wisely, you can pick up a great nursing wardrobe for less. They often offer stylish clothing that is specifically designed for nursing, so you’ll have those options in addition to what you’ve managed out of normal clothes. Tip: Many items you see on Zulilly are on sale on Amazon at the same time, so check both sites for the better deal.
  • Big-Box Stores. Sometimes you may have to shop online only, but large brand names like Gap often have a few nursing items available at reasonable prices. Even better are the sales racks at stores like Target. Between the specifically nursing/maternity items and the normal sales racks, you’ve got a lot to choose from.

So, you are now armed with the information I really wish I’d had when my daughter was born. Let’s get out there and show the world that a nursing mom can be a stylish mom too (without breaking the bank)!

Kate Cunha is a Pacific NW mom of a nearly 3 year old little girl. She can’t quite manage to be the better clothed one in their relationship!


Family Activities with Baby

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Family Activities with BabyOnce I was comfortable being out and about with baby, I found myself dragging my husband to all sorts of family activities that we’d never had reason to attend before. I remember one particular event, a family fall harvest sort of thing that we went to when my daughter was just 5 months old. There were kid’s games, face painting, vendor booths advertising local preschools, stilt walkers, and generally all of the fun things you might find at such an event. As my husband pointed out, most of the activities weren’t really for adults and my daughter certainly wasn’t old enough to get what she was looking at, let alone participate, but he humored me. The truth is, though, that these types of family activities are important, long before baby has any clue of where you are.

For baby, these types of activities provide a wealth of new experiences that help promote cognitive and emotional growth, along with social understanding. They hear new sounds, see new sights, and smell new aromas. They are introduced to the idea that there are lots of people in the world, not just mom and dad, while being in a secure environment (stroller/baby carrier/arms) with their parents. Talking about what you see and pointing out new sights engages baby with language and facial emotion. Stimulation at this age is critical for brain growth. Of course, always be aware that too much stimulation can be a bad thing for baby, so be prepared to give them a break should they need it. Oh, and fresh air is healthy!

Additionally, this a great chance to bond with baby. Showing them everything there is to see is more than likely a happy moment for you too. It’s exciting to show baby their first carved pumpkin, first Easter egg hunt, or first parade. Your excitement will likely rub off on them. Seeing mom smile usually makes for a smiley baby!

For you, getting out and about is critical. Whether you have just one young baby at home or multiple children, it’s very important for mom to feel like a normal, social human being. Sometimes after long days of Daniel Tiger, cutting up meat, teaching the toddler to “use your words” and finding you’ve had dry spit up down your back for who knows how long, a mom just needs a bit of social interaction. Heading out to those family places and activities, even if baby is far too young to participate, is an easy way to get in some adult interaction and change of pace while still being in a kid friendly atmosphere. You can chat with your partner, shop a bit if there are vendors present, and maybe even meet new mom friends. Even just the sights and sounds around you will offer a break from the everyday routine and refresh your mind set.

I know that for me personally, going to those events helped solidify in my mind our new status as family of three. It was fun to see the other families with older children running around and get a glimpse of what we had to look forward to. It was a great way to get out and about when the sudden removal of our formerly “free” lifestyle weighed heavily on my psyche. It allowed me to show the world to my baby and my baby to the world. So go, get out and join in on the next parade, festival, or what have you. You’re laying the groundwork for strong family bonds and demonstrating the importance of family time. Don’t worry if you’re toting a 3 month old who doesn’t have a clue yet. That’s not important. Getting out and enjoying life is!

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her daughter and husband. She loves where she lives and the abundance of family friendly activities that it offers.