Archive for the ‘How to’ Category

Baby-led Feeding

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Baby-led feedingPerhaps your baby shows signs of being ready for table food. Maybe he or she hit that magic age where solids are to be introduced. Perhaps you find yourself strolling down the baby aisle at the store and considering all those pouches of puree that seem to be all the craze these days.

Baby-led feeding is generally referred to as baby-led weaning because the introduction of table food is the beginning of a longer process of transitioning baby to table foods full-time. Of course this process takes many months (or even years). Weaning, then, is not a loss so much as a transition in the relationship that occurs overtime.

Numerous resources already exist if you’re looking for more information about the process, if you and your child are ready to begin baby-led weaning, and ideas for recipes and general tips to make the messy transition as simple as possible.

KellyMom is a well-known resource on breastfeeding but they don’t leave you cold when it comes time to shift. offers numerous articles written by those knowledgeable in the field about weaning. Specific situations for mothers who primarily pump are also included. The website continues beyond recognizing if your child is ready to also include information about timing the weaning process, ensuring you do not move too quickly or cut out other needs your child might not have as often with decreased breastfeeding (like cuddle time or other one-on-one attention).

If you are working through your own feelings on the subject know you aren’t alone! Le Leche offers insight into a variety of feelings and thoughts that moms might need to process as the consider or are in the midst of baby-led feeding. They also offer specialty articles such as weaning twins or anxiety associated with this transition.

When it comes to the food Wholesome Baby Food at Momtastic offers a number of recipes and weekly menu ideas to help get you started or out of the “bananas and avocado again” slump. The site also includes age-specific information for weaning. Of course if you prefer holding a book to read up on the subject, several primers exist on the subject.

Simple Bites is a mommy-driven website that incorporates baby-led weaning to the table with their general interest in including the whole family around unprocessed meals. Mama Natural also speaks with similar interest and authority found mostly in personal experience and research. Both sites offer numerous ideas and recipes to help introduce anyone to the concept of BLW.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 8 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

A Guide to Giving From a Former Domestic Violence Shelter Worker

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

A guide to givingWhen I used to work at a domestic violence shelter, there was little in this world that was more heartwarming than to see the members of the community reach out to try to provide a Christmas for those who were in undesirable situations. For some, though, there can be some questions about what can be expected of those hoping to help these families during the holidays, so here is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you:


  • Call your local domestic violence shelter and ask how you can help. Some offer Sub for Santa programs, where they can match you up with a family staying in the shelter and give you a list of the things they might want/need this holiday season.
  • Offer to purchase gift cards for the shelter or the women staying there. Gift cards are great to use for planning holiday parties, or can be used by the women to purchase gifts on their own to provide for their children. As wonderful as the Sub for Santa programs are, it can help the self esteem of a shelter resident to actually go to the store and be able to purchase the items herself.
  • If baking is more your speed, contact your local shelter and see if they can accept homemade goods. Sometimes due to allergies and safety reasons, some shelters can only accept store purchased food. Find out what works for them, and see where you can drop off treats to share to help boost the morale of those living there.
  • Call the shelter to see if they have a list of items they might need. Shelters often rely heavily on donations, and can run low on things like tampons, toilet paper, and diapers. At your next holiday party, request on the invitation that your guests bring one of these items to donate.


  • Request to be there when the kids open the presents that you purchased for the Sub for Santa. This was a frequent request, and understandably so—part of the joy of buying presents is seeing the happiness on the faces of those you purchased them for. As a parent, though, one can imagine how difficult it can be to know that your child wants or needs something, and you aren’t in a position to provide it for them. While these women are not technically providing the gifts, they are doing an incredibly brave and difficult thing by choosing to leave what was likely a more financially secure situation because of the abuse they would no longer endure. What greater gift could you offer them than their pride on Christmas morning?
  • Forget the dignity of the people you are donating to. The saying is, “Beggars can’t be choosers,” but there is also the saying, “Don’t add insult to injury.” We would receive wrapped packages with requests that they be given to the residents, and the staff had to open them for safety reasons first. We would find partially used rolls of toilet paper, wrapped individually to be given as gifts. We would open boxes with an item of clothing inside, with food spilled on it that had not been laundered.
  • Overextend yourself with offers to volunteer. Spreading yourself too thin is an easy thing to do during the holidays, with all of the opportunities to do so that are presented. When an organization depends so heavily on volunteers, it can make the difference between an organized event being successful or stressful when a volunteer does not show up. It is wonderful if you can; but don’t pencil yourself in if you aren’t certain you can be there.

When in doubt, call and ask. And when you do, be pleasant to the person who answers the phone. It could easily be a new volunteer answering phones for the first time, and I can say from experience, little is more terrifying than answering a potential crisis call when you haven’t before. Thank you for caring to help; the world could use a lot more of that.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

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. 

Daily Planks: Progress or Falling Flat?

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

3-=day plank challengeThe 30-day Plank Challenge: have a stronger core, relieve back pain, and flatten your tummy in just 30 days! I totally signed on for this one. Before the plank challenge, it was the 30-day Squat Challenge, where the number of air squats done increased each day for a month, and at the end, you are rewarded with a really nice hiney. So I hear.

I’ve never actually finished one of these. I’m not sure why. They take such a tiny bite out of a day, and you can do planks, or squats, just about anywhere. These challenges could be an easy way to build fitness into my everyday routine, and as a side benefit, demonstrate for my kids the importance of physical fitness and exercise.

Here’s how the plank challenge went for me:

Day 1: Forgot to start on day one, remembered on day three.

Day 3 1: Goal: 20 seconds. Actual: I’m a superstar, I don’t need to start with 20 … I’ll do 30 seconds. Last 9 ½ seconds spent regretting that decision.

Day 2: Remember to plank right before bed. Husband sends eye-rolls my way as I plank 30 seconds before climbing into bed.

Day 3: What is it with day three? It’s jinxed, I say. Forgot to plank. Will make up for it tomorrow.

Day 4: OK, 45 seconds, done and done. Feel like I really have my life together. Then I remember I was supposed to add on yesterday’s forgotten seconds as well.

Day 5: Start planned 45-second plank, get called away by screaming kids. Never make it back to finish.

Day 6: There was no day six. Or seven. I like to say that I’m such an advanced planker (is that even a word?), that I finished the 30-day plank challenge in five days. But the reality is, I want to succeed and add this into my daily routine, and so far have not been successful. Years of momming, not to mention running, have done a number on my back and abs. (Note to non-runners: it’s true, running is just terrible for you. Just kidding! You should join a running club!)

For those of you that have been successful with a 30-day challenge, what are some tips that can help the quitters of the world (me) stick with the challenge?

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three little boys. She stays sane by running. And her back hurtssssssss.

I’m Not Going to Stress-Eat the Holidays This Year

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

holiday health

I make a mean chocolate chip pumpkin bread. Totally tooting my own horn, I know, but it’s fine. It’s worth it. Because that bread is amazing. And because I grind the flour myself, and it has pumpkin in it, I convince myself that it’s practically a vitamin.

Vitamins are good for you, right? So it’s okay to eat it for every meal of the day.

It’s a lot easier to convince myself of this misguided truth when I am feeling the stress of the holidays. It seems that the shortened days filled with grayness and bitter cold are never ending, and yet there is no time to do all the things that need to happen between Halloween and Christmas. So while I’m engaging into the fourth hour of a 30-minute craft that we both know won’t turn out, desperately trying to give the perfect neighbor/teacher present, those baked goods scream that they will offer validation and comfort in my distress. So I eat, and I numb, and I eat, and I numb, and then I wonder why I don’t have any energy to get the things done that I need to.

This holiday season, it will be different. We will be different! Because we are going to health-up the crap out of this season. Here is my plan.

  1. Drink all the water. If part of your winter routine means putting on a Costco sized bottle of lotion each day, chances are pretty good that you aren’t drinking enough water. Shoot for half an ounce for every pound of body weight. You may pee every three seconds, but eventually, your body becomes accustomed to the increased water volume, and you return to your normal peeing patterns.
  2. Do an emotional inventory to identify what you feel like when you’re stressed. Sometimes during the holidays, we go into panic autopilot, where we just do things to get them done because we know we have to, and then we end up crashing and burning once our checklist is complete (or even when it isn’t). If you aren’t sure what your stress cues are, ask someone who knows you well what they notice about you when you’re stressed. Figure out what those are, and take a time-out when those cues pop up.
  3. Give yourself the gift of physical activity before the holidays start. Been eyeballing that Zumba class that meets at the rec down the street? Sign yourself up. Perhaps yoga is more your speed, or you’ve been wanting to try weightlifting. Find out what’s available in your area, and do what you can to treat yourself to this. Getting out and seeing other people who are taking care of themselves can be therapeutic in itself, and it will also give you the endorphins to make the stress more manageable. If nothing is available nearby, get a new DVD to work out with.
  4. Give yourself permission to say “no.” If someone asks you to do something and you don’t immediately want to respond with a resounding “yes!”, opt to take a beat to think it over. Practice saying no in the mirror until it feels comfortable. Decide that pleasing yourself is at least as important as pleasing others.
  5. Go ahead. Eat the pumpkin bread. Ask yourself first, though, if you’re eating to feel the joy inherent in delicious pumpkin bread, or if you’re eating to numb the stress and despair that can come with the season. Because when we eat treats to enjoy the treat, we are more likely to enjoy them, and we are satisfied a lot sooner. But if we eat them to stop feeling the difficult feelings, we tend to keep eating, and eating some more, and our poor emotional health starts to impact our physical health.

Enjoy the good things about this holiday season, because you deserve to experience joy. Seek out those things in your every day. And when it starts to feel like it’s getting difficult to find the joy, take a break. Watch some garbage television. Go to a spin class. Put the “me” back into “merry.”

Treat yo’self.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway.