Archive for the ‘How to’ Category

First Foods at the Holidays

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

First Foods at the HolidaysWhen I think of the holidays, I think of all of the yummy food I get to eat. This year will be a little different since I will have newborn and need to calm down on my eating and start focusing on taking care of my postpartum body. If you have a baby who has recently started solids, the holidays can be a fun time of discovery.

According to USA Today, 40 percent of moms start solids before 4 months old. For me, I waited until at least 6 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics now suggests waiting until 6 months.

If your baby has hit this age mark and you feel that he or she is ready, Thanksgiving can be a fun time for baby. Here are some baby-friendly foods for Thanksgiving:

-sweet potatoes (These are loaded in Vitamin A! Skip the sugar and marshmallows and if you have an older baby go for finger food.)

-green beans (If you have the casserole prepared, wash off some of the salty toppings first. This one could get messy!)

-pumpkin (Try adding this to cereal or yogurt. Yum!)

-squash (Like all veggies, this should be mashed, thinned, or blended with breast milk or formula.)

-stuffing (Keep this moist. Finely chop the veggies and even add some breast milk or formula.)

-apples

-cranberries

-potatoes

-turkey (With all meats, make sure this is blended or mashed to a consistency baby can handle easily. If your baby is older, you can do small pieces.)

With all solid foods, make sure to introduce new foods to baby slowly. Don’t just give them a whole plate of new foods and expect it to go well. Remember how sensitive a little baby’s tummy can be. Remember to keep the consistency mushy and easy for baby to digest. My babies loved sweet potatoes at the holidays, just like their momma.

Remember you are the mom. Don’t let family just feed your baby anything. I can remember a family member feeding my daughter chocoalate pie at a holiday gathering before we had started solids. I was mortified. Of course, babies don’t need eat sugary desserts and family should respect your position as mom and ask your permission before offering foods to baby.

Different solid foods are recommended for different ages. There are products now like Baby Brezza and Baby Bullet that make creating your own baby food easy and affordable. I am a fan of the Baby Brezza.

Remember that there will be a lot of food around during the holidays and babies like to grab food. Use safety and precautions with your little one to avoid choking or unnecessary tears.

What are some fun holiday foods you have fed your baby? Did they like them? Have fun during the holidays with food and your little one, just remember to be smart and that you are supermom!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Arkansas where she is now ready to eat turkey and sweet potatoes.

Bedtime Routines for Babies

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

bedtime routines for babiesSleeping at night is a game that we need to teach our babies how to play. A bedtime routine is their cue that their job to go to sleep for hopefully many hours through the night is quickly approaching.

My babies weren’t quick to get the memo that they should sleep during the night. So, we worked very hard (and still do) to make sure they got the message loud and clear by establishing consistent bedtime routines.

Here are some things that you can try to put into your baby’s bedtime routine to let them know it’s time to go to bed:

  • Bath
  • Lotion
  • Massage
  • Nursing or a bottle
  • Singing songs
  • Reading books
  • Putting baby in their bed while they are drowsy but still awake

Our first baby, who is now 3 years old, loves his routine so much that it is still pretty much the same as it was when he was 3 months old. Every night, after getting his pajamas on, he gets three books of his choice read to him, the song “Operator” by Jim Croce is sung to him in his chair and then he hops into bed and gets his back rubbed with one last serenade of “Operator.”

The one thing that did change from the time he was a small baby was the song that we sing. I pushed for songs like “You Are My Sunshine,” but one crazy night after many attempts of calming our screaming child, my husband sealed the deal of getting our son to sleep with the ever so popular lullaby, “Operator.” I’m sure that I have broken some kind of world record of singing “Operator” the most times in a 3-year time period. My 2-year-old daughter also requests this song every night and before naps. So, yes, I win!

Our second child has challenged bedtime routines. Just when we think that we have one set in place, she changes it on us. She has taught us to be flexible and to keep trying. Even though she is set on her favorite song, sometimes she wants books, sometimes she wants to chat, or read to her babies by herself. She’s in charge. And, yes, she still has a difficult time sleeping through the night consistently. We hope to find something that impresses and pleases her before the time she is a teenager.

Sarah Cole is a stay at home mommy to two busy toddlers. She enjoys writing and sleeping through the night.

How to Get a Break This Holiday Season

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

How to Get a BreakI know the feeling of being at breaking point. I’ve had three children in four years. Our budget is tight and can’t afford childcare for the sake of self-care. I’ve worked a full-time job with on-site on-call hours as well as stayed at home with the children. I’ll note I do not have to manage additional challenges of a partner away for long periods, being a single mother, or behavioral, physical, or other particular attributes that some parents must balance in caring for their children. Here’s what has helped me find breaks, sometimes just five minutes in the day, and sometimes more.

Get off Facebook or whatever your social app of choice is. Social media and apps are a great resource as long as they add to your life. Checking for the umpteenth time if I received an email or looking every time my phone dings with a notification wastes time I could use getting a few minutes of solace. When I discipline myself to check my email minimally (maybe once a day or once an hour, depending on your work and situation), I somehow find a half-hour a day because of the five minutes here and there I save. Delete the app, limit the notifications, or simply put your computer and smart devices away for periods of the day to give yourself some space to breathe.

Write down your gratitude. Keep track of when you do get a break. I get more moments to myself than I realize. This is not to say I don’t deserve them, nor is it to deny that I may need more. Somehow, though, being aware of my time allows me to really feel the reprieve those breaks offer, even in retrospect. I keep track of the moments as the day passes. Try on a post it or in your planner or whatever system works for you. At least use a few slow moments of the day or in the evening to reflect back. This doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. Write down a word or phrase (e.g., “all napped at same time” or “15 minutes of quiet Legos”).

Reassess expectations. Figure out what you really need to find a little peace to really get your break. My oldest can help fold or put away the clothes, even though the result is a tad wrinkled, and the toys don’t have to be separated and stored exactly as I’d like so long as they are mostly put away. Also reassess what a break means. Can it be just 2 minutes of quiet? Does it need to be two hours completely away? Likely it’s both, sprinkled throughout the week.

Figure out what pushes your buttons. You can make the most of your break if you understand what you need a break from. My children can be around all day and I’m fine but them sitting on me, or breathing on me, really taxes my need for space. I also ask for “breaks” from requests. I don’t approach the kitchen until a certain time, so they are learning to wait until I’m ready for breakfast requests. Lunch is served at a certain time. This cuts down on the endless requests for food and snacks through the day. You can also put approved snacks within reach of little ones for self-service. Once you know what you need, you are better equipped to get it.

Reach out, and be direct about your needs. I do not claim to know your relationship with your partner, friends, or parents. Given your particulars, speak honestly and clearly about your need. Speaking passively or generally may not prove as effective as speaking clearly. For example:

“I’m so tired!”

Versus

 “Grandma, I’m exhausted with all the sleepless nights from infant teething. Do you have a day coming up when you could watch the kiddos for a few hours?”

Take what’s offered. Even if it’s not exactly what you want, accept it. If you just can’t bear to put your children in someone else’s care, stay home but go in the other room. If your children still come to you, put up a gate, put in earplugs, and let go or take a walk around the block. For me, leaving the kids at home with my hubby means coming home to a messy kitchen or living room, which is more stressful than not getting time alone. So I prefer they go on an adventure to the park. You can also voice how the messy kitchen doesn’t really give you a break, or have them clean up once you return. You can also just accept that whoever offers the help—hubby, parent, friend, church lady—may not be the finely tuned multi-tasking machine that you are. If getting a free hour or two means cleaning up a little extra later, it may be worth it to you.

Let go. You cannot have the space, break, or reprieve if you’re unwilling to let go. I can’t need the break but also need everything to be exactly as I would do it. Someone may pout for a little while, the shirts may not be folded as you would like, or they might get a greasy dinner instead of the well-balanced meal you would provide. If you want a break, you have to actually take a break. Enjoy it.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 7 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Cross-Country Holiday Trip Survival Kit

Friday, November 11th, 2016

holiday road trip survival kitWhether it was in a moment of insanity or bravery, you decided that visiting family this holiday season sounded like a good idea. And after looking at your budget or logistics, you came to the conclusion that driving there would be your best option. “Who wants the hassle of kids in an airport?” you tell yourself. “This way, we can fit all the gifts in the back of the car,” you reason.

Whatever you said to convince yourself this was a good idea, write those things down, and chant them under your breath repeatedly throughout the travelling process, because chances are good your sweet children may cause you to question your life choices at some point during the journey.

Here are some cheap ways to keep their spirits jolly and whole, which is proven to reduce the risk of threats to turn this car around right now, I mean it, as well as outbursts of Santa is watching, goddammit! Keep everyone off the naughty list by incorporating a few of these tricks:

  • Stick to what you know. Now is not the time to try something new. While you may have dreamed of having your children being fully entertained by an audiobook, now is not the time to go rogue. If your kids enjoy a steady repetition of Wreck-it Ralph, rot their brains away. And if/when your parents start to tell you about how “When you were kids, we didn’t have DVD players,” politely affirm their perfect parenting choices while you swallow another Xanax.
  • Raid the dollar store. Fill a gallon sized Ziploc bag for each child full of random trinkets from the dollar store, and hand them something random each hour of the trip. Don’t limit yourself to the standard toy selection: My kids went nuts when I handed them giant calculators. Avoid toys with a lot of pieces, as they will definitely fall down the cracks of the seats immediately, and your child will scream for 37 miles about it. Also avoid objects that could double as swords.
  • Bring snacks for bribing. For every hour they go without fighting, they get a lollipop. While the kids may have a strict no-sweets policy at home, car trips are an appropriate time to deviate from the diet plan. Chocolate protein bars make good bribes as well, and have the bonus of decreasing the opportunities for low-blood-sugar-murderous-rampage.
  • Plan pit stops ahead of time. It’s worth stopping for lunch a little earlier when you see the restaurant with the play-place built in. Anticipate getting to your destination a little later to make time for getting the wiggles out. Exercise your kids ahead of time so you don’t have to exorcise your kids later.
  • If it is about an eight-hour drive, consider taking it at night. Never drive fatigued, but if you can work it out, take advantage of visiting family by driving while the kids sleep, and then getting your sleep in while doting relatives entertain the babes.
  • Take a stretch riding with the kids. If there’s a spare seat in the back, sit with the kiddos. Talk to them about their toys, what they’re excited about with seeing family, and tell them stories about holidays you had when you were young.

Regardless of your strategy, make sure that everyone’s safety comes first, and everyone’s sanity is a close second. Taking the extra care beforehand to increase the potential for comfort and happiness is worth it. Happy travels!

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. 

Sleep Help for the Weary

Monday, November 7th, 2016

importance-of-early-bedtimeNews report that you probably already knew: Your kids need sleep. On the off chance that this idea of an early, consistent bedtime is news to you, let me quickly fill you in. Consistent bedtimes that allow enough sleep for children can contribute to fewer behavioral issues and even physical attributes like obesity later in life. While many often emphasize “early” bedtime, it’s possible one’s particular situation (e.g., wake up at 5 am versus 8 am) could alter what exactly “early” means for each individual family.

This study hits home especially for parents whose work schedule or family particulars don’t fit the classic kids-in-bed-by-8 routine. Early bedtime routines can also be a challenge for some families with multiple children, especially when one child is in the midst of newborn age, experiencing regression, or any number of other challenges come dusk. For some families, irregular or later bedtime routines are a necessity so evidence that early bedtime routines have a positive effect later in life can make them feel a whole bunch of negative.

Still, the most recent research says early bedtime (8 PM or earlier for preschoolers) lessens the likelihood of obesity in teenage years, even when other factors were controlled and accounted for. Researchers point out children who go to bed earlier are less likely to snack late into the night and are more likely to get a full night’s rest, allowing for more restorative sleep. Ultimately getting enough sleep, not the exact time one goes to sleep, is shown in research to be overall most critical for the mind and body.

In case your family struggles, it turns out we’ve got you covered! If you wonder still about how a routine might look, you can read from perspectives of a mom of one or another; mom of two; mom of four or another.

In trying to get that routine, you may consider want to know the ins and outs, dos and don’ts of sleep training. Perhaps you are troubleshooting challenges like crib climbing; whether or not to give up naps for the sake of bedtime routine; or sleep regression.

If you’re at your wits’ end with a sleepless or otherwise challenging night experience, perhaps my ah-ha moment on the great expectations of sleep will give you the feeling of comradery. There was also the time I spoke fondly—yes, fondly—of sleepless nights. Others also offer solidarity on the subject of children and sleep. And last, but possibly most important, two more offer the reality and encouragement to get through the sleepless periods of all mommy lives.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.