Nostalgic Toys to Introduce to your Kids
Months upon months of staying at home may find your children bored and reliant on screens to entertain. No shame in it, survival mode is on in full-force for most of us these days. If you’re looking to introduce something novel to break up the monotony and want to reminisce about your own childhood at the same time, here are some retro toys your kids may be into as much as you were back in the day.
With a classic like Lite Brite, you’re guaranteed to bring some excitement to your little ones. Recommended for children 4 years and above, this slimmer version of what you may remember to be much bulkier, is still full of shining fun for your kids. Bonus: it offers great fine motor skills practice!
What could be more fun than magical shrinking capabilities? Shrinky Dinks are available in pre-created drawings ready for coloring and in blank sheet-form to create your own images, but the most fun happens after they’ve been colored! You pop them in the oven for a few minutes and your child can watch as they curl up, shrink down to a third of their original size, then magically flatten out ready to be your next key chain, charm, or other decoration.
Have a child who is at least 7 years old who loves jumping around and has energy to burn? MoonShoes are made to simulate anti-gravity environments. They’re also great for helping develop balance and coordination.
I can still remember the fun I had as a kid on this simple but entertaining toy! A gross motor toy made for children as young as 18 months, this one is always a good time. The name Sit’N Spin is all the guidance one needs to enjoy this toy! Sit down, use the center as leverage and spin to your heart’s content. Your little one is sure to enjoy it!
Advertised as being best for children 8 and older, the spirograph is a set of gears and wheels that helps create beautiful drawn designs. It could be just the thing you need to keep your kiddo busy while you log in to that next Zoom meeting.
While this summer may be a bit more lowkey than past ones, introducing your children to some retro-toys could be just the thing to help you spark your own inner-child and make the best of current circumstances. You’re sure to make some positive memories too!
Favorite Books for Babies & Young Children
As a mother of six young children, I’ve read my fair share of children’s books. It would truly be impossible for me to pick one solid favorite for each age-range but I do have particular books both my children and I enjoy greatly. Read-on to see my top-picks.
Ages 0-2 Years Old
While not a single specific book, but rather a collection of books written for the very young, Priddy Books are the best! With the brightly colored yet simple photographs and the large board-book format, these are an amazing introduction to reading for even the youngest child. Book-choices range from everyday vocabulary to construction vehicles and jungle animals. It’s amazing to witness your baby/toddler learn new words and bridge the gap, over time, between being able to identify the pictures as you read the labels aloud, to actually verbalizing the words on his/her own. Your toddler will love being able to “read” this book to you as his/her vocabulary expands.
Ages 3-4 Years Old
I Love You, Stinky Face, written by Linda McCourt, is a wonderful, whimsical story that follows a young child who wants to know “what if…?” as Mom says, “goodnight.” The illustrations bring to life the imaginings of a boy who wants to know if fantastical physical changes (for instance, being a monster or an alien) would change his mother’s love for him. With an equal level of imagination, his mother reassures him that her love could never waiver, even if she has to live near a swamp or pack bugs in his lunch. It’s funny, it’s sweet, and it’s the perfect bedtime story to share with your preschooler.
Ages 5-7 Years Old
A classic book with simple words and even simpler drawings, The Giving Tree, written by Shel Silverstein, has deep content and acts as a great conversation-starter about friendship, selfishness, love, and the seasons of one’s life.
I’m sure that both you and your child will enjoy these picture books. Curl up next to your little one and read one of these today. Reading together is such a cozy way to interact with your children and it seems for many, to be one of those positive memories that imprints for a lifetime.
5 Car Seat “Don’ts” You Want Avoid
Parents-to-be have so much information to absorb. It’s difficult to keep track of it all. Then, baby
arrives and the sleep deprivation sets in. It’s easy to mistakenly do something dangerous,
especially when it seems that the safety recommendations are constantly in flux. Even if this
isn’t your first go-round, it’s likely things have changed since the last time you had an infant in a
car seat. Keep on reading to be sure you’re avoiding these common car seat mistakes.
Don’t put the Car Seat on top of a Shopping Cart
There’s no doubt you’ve seen lots of babies in car seats perched atop shopping carts. It’s a very
common practice but it’s not a safe one for baby nor is it a good move for the integrity of the car
seat itself. The major safety issue at play here is the potential for the shopping cart to tip over
due to becoming top-heavy from the weight of your baby and baby’s car seat. This could then
cause the car seat to topple over which could harm the baby. Additionally, car seats are not
designed to clip on to shopping carts even though you may be able to clip your seat onto the
cart. This is actually warned against in car seat manuals and can damage the mechanism in the
car seat that holds it securely to the base. Either scenario, a fall from the top of the cart or
unknowingly continuing to use a seat that has been damaged, could end tragically so it’s best to
avoid this practice altogether.
Don’t use Aftermarket Products
There are boatloads of aftermarket products sold for car seat use. Everything from hanger toys
for the infant seat’s handle to fancy headrests and infant inserts. Since they’re sold at leading
retailers and because they often have a stamp of “approval” listed on the packaging, parents
often figure they’re totally safe for use. The truth of the matter is that the car seat you own has
only been tested and proven safe to use with the items that are originally included with the seat
(or those sold by the manufacturer that are listed as safe in the instruction manual). So, while
those little teddy bear strap huggers are adorable, it’s better to leave them on the shelf and stick
with the products from the manufacturer of your seat designed for your specific seat.
Don’t put Baby in a Bulky Winter Coat
When the temperatures drop, it’s only natural to want to keep your baby warm and cozy,
especially when heading outside. It seems the sensible thing to do would be to bundle baby up
in a sweet, fuzzy bunting or a warm, puffy coat before strapping them into the car seat. The
thing is, car seat harness safety depends upon the snugness of the harness against baby’s
body. This means that in a collision, particularly at high speeds, the “fluff” of a winter coat
compresses, leaving baby loosely strapped in, and vulnerable to being ejected from the seat,
even if the harness had been pulled tautly over the coat at the onset of the ride. With small
babies, a blanket tucked around them or a “shower cap” style seat cover are the best options for
keeping baby warm in the car seat. With older children, simply having them put the coat on
backwards once strapped in their seats or using the coat as a blanket are the easy alternatives.
Don’t Leave Baby in Car Seat when not in Transit
With the convenience of a carrying handle, it seems that infant seats are designed to help
parents avoid having to remove your sleeping newborn from the seat once you’ve exited your
vehicle. However, the most recent recommendations warn against this practice, citing examples
of cases where infants have died when left to sleep in a car seat when not in-transit. They
believe this is a result of the angle of the seat and the position of the baby when the seat isn’t in
the vehicle versus its safe and proper angle when it is properly secured in the vehicle. So, while
it may seem counter-intuitive to disrupt a sleeping baby by removing him/her from the car seat
upon arrival to your destination, this is exactly the recommendation given for optimal safety.
Don’t Skip Reading the Manual
Perhaps this should go without saying, but with the constant need to maximize the use of our
time and the seemingly easy installation of car seats, it would be faster to skip reading the
manual and still feel confident that you have installed your car seat correctly. However, there
are so many nuances to the seats themselves as well as the vehicle in which the seat is being
installed, that failing to both read the manual and follow the instructions accordingly, could truly
be an endangerment to your child.
Keeping track of all the “rules” can be overwhelming when it comes to childrearing. However,
car seat safety is something that just cannot be glossed over. Car travel is so commonplace in
our society that we tend to overlook the inherent risks; but the proper safety measures must be
taken to keep your baby secure and out of harm’s way.
For car seat installation and support in the Baltimore area, please contact Sheena Hill, CPST at Parenting Works.
5 Ways to Bring Your Photos to Life
Guest post by Niki Jones
If I asked you to guess how many photos are on your phone, what would you say? 500? 1,000? More?
If I asked you how many of those photos have lived anywhere other than your phone or social media, what would you say? A few? Maybe 10?
There’s a major disconnect there!
It’s so, so important to print your photos. Get them off your phone. Let them live among you! No one is hanging tablets on the wall, no one is pinning iPhones to refrigerators.
Over the years I’ve found some fun and EASY ways to get my photos off my phone and into my home and office. Here are five fun ways I like to give my photos life beyond my phone.
Artifact Uprising offers a mix of photo products, but my favorite is their square prints. They come in three sizes, you can include a border or not, and crop your photos or not. They are printed on thick paper and I think that’s my favorite part. They have an iOS app for easy ordering, too, and my prints always come super fast.
Chatbooks offers prints and a mix of photobook options. One of the coolest photobooks they offer is an “ongoing” book, which prints photos from your camera roll, Instagram, or Facebook. Each book has 60 photos, and you can edit it before printing in case there’s a photo on your social media you don’t want to save. If you have kids, check out the mini option. They are SO CUTE. The prices for these books are super affordable, too. They have an app for iOS and Google Play!
These photo magnets are a lot of fun. They come in sets of 9, and you can pick photos right from your phone’s camera roll. These ship from the UK so it takes a little time to get to you, but they’re worth the wait.
These magnets are a fun alternative. They’re a little bigger and you can add a fun word or two at the bottom. I don’t believe Pinhole Press has an app, or at least not that I’ve seen at the time of writing this, so there is that to consider!
I have to admit that I have not yet ordered this product, but I love the idea of making an annual book, especially now that we have a baby! I think this would be a really fun way to capture the highlights of a year. This particular product is also from Pinhole Press, so again, this would have to be created on a computer.
Niki Jones is a family and newborn photographer serving sweet families in Baltimore, MD. To see her work, visit www.nikijonesphoto.com or visit her on Facebook.
Veterans Moms Tell All: Advice for Moms-to-Be
In today's information age, preparing for motherhood can sometimes be an overwhelming and daunting experience. It can be incredibly challenging to find unbiased information for many topics related to pregnancy, birth, infant care, and the postpartum period, and it seems like just when you think you have the answers you're seeking, someone in your life contradicts it.
In an effort to get real life advice from moms who have been there and done it, we took to our local Facebook group, Baltimore Birth, Babies & Breastfeeding and asked the following question:
What is the most important piece of advice you could give to a person who is about to welcome their first baby?
We got an outpouring of responses to share with you. Below you will find very honest, candid, and wise feedback about those early postpartum days from moms throughout Baltimore. If you're looking for a place to ask your own questions related to the childbearing year, join us on Facebook!
- Trust your gut- Katy Linda
- Don't be too proud to ask for help. Stephanie S.
- Beware of the mythical “perfect mother.” She’s fraudulent. She’ll make you think you aren’t good enough. You are. I want her to know that irritation, resentment, and boredom are common but rarely spoken (because, “perfect mothers” don’t feel these things). There is so much joy in blowouts, endless feedings, days without showering, and loss of autonomy. Oh, and I’d want her to remember that we were intended to raise children in communities. With others. Who can help with a capital H. Sara Nett
- Try to do one kind thing for yourself each day, Mama. Lily Dwyer Begg
- You’re gonna be okay. Melissa L.
- It’s OK to be scared. Christan M.
- Stay off of google. Pace A.
- Use a postpartum doula. Melissa K.
- Sometimes pediatricians give bad advice!! Amanda W.
- Trust your instincts, only you know how to best parent your baby. Haleigh F.
- Let people help. Call the after hours pediatrician. Hire a doula and/or postpartum doula if you can. Call the nurses line. Invite trusted friends and family in. Let people clean. Let people buy your dinner. Tell your midwife or ob what still hurts. It doesn't make you weak and it doesn't make you a bad or worthless mother. Trish B.
- Some days and nights may seem long, but enjoy the snuggles while you can! In a blink, they’ll be a toddler!! Kate
- Build a support network before baby arrives. Someone you can call who will just stay on the phone with you while you cry. Someone experienced who will talk you down when your baby has its first fever. Someone wise who can reassure you that what you’re going through is normal and your feelings are valid. Someone single who can come watch the baby when you desperately need even half a freaking moment to yourself. It takes a village and in this day and age, we have to build that village for ourselves. Facebook isn’t enough. Also, stay off Instagram. Caitlyn D.
- Don't be afraid to tell people they can't come over. Jessica M.
- Some days the anxiety around “are you doing the right thing” will crush you and turn you into Dr. Google, but you’re doing an amazing job and your baby is perfect. Jeana D.
- Don’t allow people to kiss your baby! Amanda B.
- Get ready to jump in to what my sister and I like to call the "newborn hole" where you don't know which way is up or the way out. Focus on survival, you're learning how to keep a human alive and that's enough. The hole can last up to 3 to 4 months and that's okay, you're doing great. Alexis B.
- You don’t have to “enjoy” every moment. They do grow up fast, but mothering a newborn can be grueling. Be gentle with yourself and your feelings. Danielle S.
- Find a provider you trust and jive with. Becky R.
- This is probably the hardest thing you’ll ever do and you likely aren’t doing it wrong, it just really is that hard. Megan R.
- Having a mama tribe is so important. I wouldn’t have gotten through my SAHM time without them. And if I could go back and do it all over, I’d have done placenta encapsulation all 3 times. Ah-mazing. Colleen C.
- Don’t be afraid to limit visitors the first couple of weeks to only those near and dear (or to those you know will give you the support you want and need). Prioritize the needs of your new family and getting into a rhythm, including the time it takes for you and baby to learn how to breastfeed, over saying yes to everyone that wants to call text or visit. It is ok to set some boundaries and say no if you need to. And on the flip side of that, splurge the money on a postpartum doula. I didn’t, but wish I did. Everything is a phase. And it gets easier. Stephanie P
- Don’t compare yourself or your baby to anyone else. You are doing the best you can do, one day at a time! Meg R.
- It’s OK if it’s not love at first sight! You aren’t going to enjoy every minute and anyone who tells you to can step off. Everything with a baby is temporary- the good and the bad. Try to bask in the good and endure the bad. This too shall pass! Becky K.
- Childbirth is ...not necessarily the “best day of your life.” Having a newborn and exclusively breastfeeding is hard and can be lonely and isolating. It’s OK to feel that way about it and love your little one so much it hurts at the same time. Rachel N.
- Ask for and accept help. Know you are not alone in your fear, pain, sadness, confusion, overwhelmed-ness. You gotta do whatever works for you, your baby, your family. Healthy, happy mama...healthy, happy baby. Pregnancy, delivery, postpartum...MOTHERHOOD is NOT one size fits all. Don’t be hard on yourself if your experience isn’t exactly what you thought it would be or what someone else’s is. Nora B.
- Just because things are "natural" doesn't mean they can't be hard, or take work, and that's okay. It took time to grow a person, it can take time to find your rhythm afterwards (for breastfeeding, sleep, pretty much everything) and that isn't a personal failure. Maureen B.
- Trust your mama instincts, you often know what is best for your baby. If your parenting choices work for you and baby, then no one else’s opinion matters. Mom shaming is sadly very real and can make you second guess yourself. Try not to let it. Instead embrace your parenting choices and trust that you are doing your very best and no one is a better mom to your baby than you. Also be kind to yourself! You just created a true miracle. The miracle of life. Your body is strong and beautiful even if it never looks the same again. Remember to love yourself too even when it’s hard and you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror. You deserve love too, you are a miracle maker after all. Katelynn A.
- Do not have any expectations of yourself for the first six months. Just be with your baby and heal. Esther B.
- Be patient with yourself allow yourself time to heal. You and your baby are both learning each other. Give yourself time and love adjusting to your new roles. Megan P.
- Stop reading the books and start reading the baby. Tova B.
- Make sure you have all the support you need and know that you have people around you all the time. Make sure you have supplies and make sure to be there for that little one because as soon as they are born you are their go-to person. Anonymous
- If they are planning to breastfeed- it might end up being really painful and really difficult. If it is, reach out to a good lactation consultant because this means something’s not going the way it should be. Some hospital lactation consultants aren’t good unfortunately. If you want to get everything figured out and continue on your nursing journey, a good IBCLC is your best friend! And you can get it figured out if you want to. But no matter what, know that you have to decide to do what is right for you, be it nursing, pumping, switching to formula. You have to feel good about your decision, whatever it may be. If you feel good about it, then it’s the right decision. Caitlin S.
- Don’t worry about “bad habits”. I wish I could get back the time when I was on maternity leave with my first that I spent desperately trying to put him down drowsy but awake because everyone said i was supposed to. I stressed so much because he wouldn’t sleep on his own without being held because of the so called “bad habit” I was creating. And I’ve done that with so many things since. Now I try to live by the motto “do what works until it doesn’t work”. Especially in infancy, children change so fast that the “bad habit” you are pandering to today will look totally different tomorrow. If I could do it all again I would just make sure the remote was in reach and hold that baby all day long! Alyssa L.
- Don't be afraid to say exactly what you need...whether it be to your partner, family, friends...whoever. This is a struggle for me but I'm trying to be better about it. And if you're going to breastfeed, definitely meet with a lactation consultant...best thing I ever did. Catrina M.
- Always, always follow you gut instinct! If you have a feeling something isn’t right, don’t ignore that feeling. There are specialists out there for a reason. Also, sleep when baby sleeps. Seriously! Jenna S.
- My friend’s dad’s advice was that everyone else’s advice is wrong. Two years later, true that. Kate S.
- It’s OK to cry. A lot. Anna R.
- You know what’s best for your baby and you have a community of mamas who will support you-many of whom you don’t know, but we are here. Clare G.
- 1. Things will get better. 2. Be honest with your partner about what you are going through. Don’t try to hide your fears or tears. Jenna W.
- Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, even if it’s venting to a friend/loved one. You’ll love this little human more than anyone could ever explain, but the newborn phase is just as much frustrating and unnerving as it is beautiful and exciting. Also, sleep when baby does. It took until #2 until I no longer felt less than about this. Brittany S.
- Everything is temporary- it doesn't feel that way but it is! Fussiness, non sleep, pain - as much as it sucks at 2am. that your baby still wont sleep, just get through that moment and it will be over soon. Sarah R.
- It's okay to not be in love with your new role. April B.
- Caring for a newborn is really hard. Hard doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong though. It’s just hard. But it gets easier. Heidi D.
- Trust your instincts, if you feel like letting your baby cry themselves to sleep is wrong, or that people who say you hold your baby too much are wrong, or people make you feel bad for using formula or nursing on demand without a schedule.... Everyone has an opinion. None of them matter but yours. Drown them out. Danylle S.
- Ask a friend to set up a MealTrain for you so that you have nourishing meals and don’t have to think about meal prep do you or your partner in those first weeks. Claire C.
- Your relationship with your partner is going to be different, and sometimes you might resent them because you are giving so much of yourself, but IT GETS EASIER. Jeana D.
- Sometimes the bonding is not immediate. Of course you love your new baby, but you may not experience it like you see on Facebook or in the movies. Also, everyone has a different experience. Some people are very lucky and some experience many complications that may break you down. Be your own advocate if you think something is wrong. Doctors, although often wonderful, do not know everything and you are not their only patient. Don’t give up and trust your gut. You can’t control your body during or after pregnancy and you may not be able to control your anxiety. Just keep reminding yourself that this is temporary and any medical or emotional issues can be fixed in time. It is not one size fits all. Your child will love you. Be a germaphobe. Focus on getting healthy emotionally and physically so you can be your best version of motherhood. We are all fortunate to have made it through with a healthy child. Melissa O.
- It’s all about the mind! Prepare Your Mind. Odile P.
- The lactation consultant is everything! I had no idea what I was doing and her reassurance and advice helped me continue breastfeeding. Becca W.
- Have confidence in your instincts! You may feel like you have no idea what you're doing but they are always guiding you if you will only listen. Autumn B.
- Take advise and help once the baby arrives. You cant do it all on your own. And use that help to have time and space for the new mom to recover and do self care. Janine D.
- You will get tons of advice and expert opinions but ultimately your mama instinct can be the best for your baby. Sonya L.
- Hold that baby!! Don’t worry about the house, the cooking, cleaning, laundry... eat up every precious minute and second you can!! Rest with them and don’t stress. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help!! And don’t feel guilty for saying yes when someone offers! Let them bring you food, do a grocery run, put a load of dishes or clothes in for you! Kim P.
- Accept help. All of the help. Brea L.
- No one and I repeat no one has it all together. No matter how good they make it look. We are all winging it and when all else fails just add water. My mom told me that with my first 15 years ago and she was right. It's amazing what a bath can do for a crazy situation. Ashley H.
- You will know your baby better than anybody, trust yourself and your instincts. There is no “right” way to parent, only the way which feels the most in alignment with your deepest self. Trust that, it’s so hard because so many people will have opinions about how you “should” do it. Kindly thank them and do it the way that feels right for you. As a new mom, you will be learning as much as your baby, be gentle with yourself, its harder than you can imagine. But you have everything you need to mother your child, and don’t be afraid to get support. But never let that support person override your gut. Leslie L.
- Be gentle with yourself. Your whole world has just changed. Kara B.
- Nobody else knows what they're doing either. Reilly P.
- The sleepless nights will end and its worth every second. Staci Blitz
Real Talk: Screen Time Struggles
Let’s real talk. I’m a mom of two under three. It’s the dead of winter. I live in a
two bedroom Baltimore City row home. I have no yard. Not telling you this to
commiserate with me, although I’ll take any pity you sling my way. But simply
saying the screen time struggle is real. Every. Single. Day.
Sesame Street is boss in our house. But I try really hard to keep it at an hour a
day for my two-nager (see AAP recommendations below). When that hour is spent,
the creativity unravels. I’m here to share a few ideas I have up my sleeve to spark
some creativity and limit screen time use.
1. I bought a simple shoe organizer that hangs over the door (via
Amazon) that I keep all of our craft/ sensory play in. Because it brings
me JOY. #Kondo. In these compartments are things like play dough,
water beads, markers, glue, paint, kid safe scissors, paper, pom poms,
pipe cleaners, beads, wiki sticks, etc. We have a letter of the week and
focus on sorting and color/ shape identification mostly these days.
2. Also, busytoddler on Instagram is a wonderful resource with fantastic
ideas. The creator is a big proponent of sensory bins so there’s a
plethora of different bins to create that are easy and affordable.
3. I allow my daughter to help a lot in the kitchen. We prep lunch and
dinner together. She enjoys simple tasks such as shaking the
cinnamon on the sweet potatoes and tearing off the cilantro leaves for
the pizza topping (who likes that job anyway?). Word to the wise: This
will slow down the process quite a bit… so don’t expect that 15 minute
dinner Rachel Ray promised if your toddler is meddling in it. BUT… on
the bright side… I notice that she is much more willing to try
something new (think radish and mushrooms) when I am allowing
her to help.
4. Storyville. This is probably not new information but this place is such
a delight on a rainy, snowy day. Both locations (one in Rosedale, MD
and Woodlawn, MD) are bound to brighten any toddler’s mood.
Seeking to create an early literacy environment, this interactive real-
world play will have all of you wanting to return.
5. Check out Nature Centers near you. These are great outings in the
winter because it gets everyone exploring a little outside. Fresh air
and also interacting with nature. Even in the winter, things are
happening outdoors and its fun to get out there and learn about them
• For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-
chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media
should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them
understand what they'e seeing.
• For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality
programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they
are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
Babywearing: The Holiday Helper
With the holiday season in full-tilt, those of you with new babies may be feeling a bit hesitant about taking your little ones to holiday gatherings or to community events. Concerns range from not wanting Aunt Susan to sneak your baby a taste of that pumpkin pie to trying to avoid kisses from every well-meaning friend and family member.
Prevent the Pass-Around
Of course you want to show off your little bundle, but you want to do it on your terms. It feels uncomfortable to have baby being passed around from person-to-person. Cue babywearing! People are far less likely to reach out for baby when baby is snugly wrapped or strapped to Mom or Dad. It offers an unspoken barrier stopping people from requesting a chance to hold baby since it’s clear that baby is very comfortable and secure. This gives the caregiver the ability to offer baby up for a snuggle if one so desires rather than having to refuse the request or even worse, oblige the request even though it’s not what you want to do.
Don’t Miss Feedings
With the hustle and bustle of holiday events, it’s far easier to accidentally skip a feeding. As babies get a bit older and more easily distracted, all the noise and goings-on of a holiday celebration could result in baby bypassing her typical feeding cues. While baby might not even fuss at the missed feeding, a nursing mom may experience engorged breasts and even risk mastitis. With baby held closely in a wrap, sling, or carrier, the physical proximity helps keep caregiver and baby attuned to feeding needs.
Do Miss Unwanted Feedings
There’s always that one relative who feels it necessary to give baby “just a little taste” of the whipped cream or “just a pinch” of Grandma’s beloved holiday cookie. It’s frustrating to find out, after-the-fact, that your baby has been given something that his sensitive gut might not be ready for yet. Thankfully, with baby comfortably enjoying the party secured to your chest, no one can sneak an unwanted taste to your baby.
Babywearing provides a grounding experience for baby: the rhythmic sound of the wearer’s breathing, the steady heartbeat, and the gentle movement. All these things offer baby a familiar, safe, and comfortable environment even when the surroundings may be totally unfamiliar. It even allows baby to snuggle in for a much-needed nap with music and laughter and chatting in the background.
Babywearing is the ultimate holiday helper. You can attend your holiday event with the peace of mind knowing baby is cozy, comfortable, and insulated from unwelcomed circumstances. Even better, you can keep baby close with your hands totally free. That means more trips through the buffet line for you. That alone is a reason to celebrate! Happy holidays!
Spanking: What’s the Research Say?
The age-old debate has recently surfaced yet again. The hot topic issue of spanking as a means of discipline continues to divide parents across our country. While most Americans think that spanking is simultaneous with parenting, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) points to insurmountable evidence that spanking may actually be harmful for a child’s brain development and may in fact lead to aggression and mental health disorders. This loud cry from the AAP may be just what it takes to shift the tides and decline the spanking era.
A recent study asked 758 children between the ages of 19-20 years old how often they had been spanked, slapped or hit with an object as a form of punishment as a child. The author of the study, Jeff Temple, connected children that admitted to experiencing corporal punishment were more likely to have recently committed dating violence.
“For children, their parents are the most important people in the world, and they learn from them what are social norms and how people should behave towards one another. Corporal punishment confuses the boundaries between love and violence for children while they are learning how to treat others,” claims Dr. Bob Sege, a spokesman for the AAP who specializes in the prevention of childhood violence.
An expert in partner violence, Emily Rothman, also claims that being hit by a parent can elevate stress and can reduce a child’s ability to cope. This, in turn, leads them to lash out when they are angry or upset. The UN Committee of the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.”
The latest data shows that 73.6% of parents strongly agree that spanking is sometimes necessary to discipline a child. Most of these parents argue “they turned out just fine” and continue with the behavior. AAP spokesman contradicts that our goal in parenting is not to have children that “turn out just fine” but that are “healthier and happier” than the previous generation. "There's no benefit to spanking," Dr. Sege said. "We know that children grow and develop better with positive role modeling and by setting healthy limits. We can do better."
We've asked Baltimore parenting educator, Sheena Hill of Parenting Works for an alternative to physical punishment for poor behavior. "We're beyond thrilled that the AAP has strengthened it's position on spanking. But the new recommendations fall short of helping parents understand their most important tool for gaining cooperation: your relationship with your child. As social creatures, the limbic system of humans is literally built with responsive interactions with other brains (and the people they belong to). This means that your child's top need when behavior is off-track is connection with you! Remember that all behavior is communication and children are attachment-seeking (not attention-seeking), so focus on providing authentic connection prior to any type of correction and lesson-teaching. This ensures that your child's brain feels calm and secure enough to be receptive to learning and thinking more clearly (because you can't learn when you're in distress). In my experience as a responsive parent coach, I've found that most parents don't want to spank, but they struggle to know what what to do when kids just aren't listening. How can you focus on connection in the heat of the moment?
1. Take 3 slow breaths, so you are ready and open to connection with them.
2. Put your phone down (or whatever else is in your hand) and get close to them, if possible. Soften your body (if you're still feeling tense) and make eye contact as you offer a loving touch or gently say the child's name.
3. Don't worry about stopping their feelings or fixing the situation. Instead, just offer your presence, touch, and voice to confidently validate their experience and emotions. Your only job is to help your child feel understood enough that the body naturally resets.
4. Once the child is calm and back to the thinking part of the brain, you can restate your limit and follow through, by empowering the child with choices ("it's bath time--would you like to walk up the stairs or be carried?") Or by using play to build a bridge and keep them calm and ready for cooperation ("it's time to get in the car. Let's walk like robots out the door!" Or "it's time to clean up. What toy would you like to bring to the car with you?").
5. If you notice a pattern of repeated not listening, use connection as a proactive tool to help them feel more regulated as a baseline."
Confessions of a Potty Training Mom
Never in my 33 years would I think that potty training a human would require so
much thought and insight. I began thinking of and dreading this milestone shortly
after my first was born. I made every excuse possible. I thought my husband would
support the argument that if we never trained her, she would never get married and
he would never have to give up his diaper butt princess. But he thought it still
The second birthday gave me a host of mixed emotions. Half of me dreaded this day
because I knew what was soon to come. A friend of mine lent me “Oh Crap! Potty
Training” and I began reading it. Several excerpts in this book convinced me that my
daughter was more than ready and I just needed to rip off the Band-Aid (or diaper)
So we did just that. We are 7 days diaper free and I am here to share my
Day 1 was an absolute crap shoot or pee shoot really. My daughter was completely
unaware of her bodily functions and had little to no control of her bladder. We were
pretty much chasing her around with a roll of paper towels and a potty. The book
talks of pushing through and teaching her that pee-pee goes on the potty. Honestly, I
did not see an end in sight and I was quite astounded at the emotional toll it took to
do nothing but watch her the entire day.
Day 2 was slightly better but not by much. My daughter was still naked this day as
the book claims this will teach her how to feel the sensation of having to go. Our
trashcan was filled with urine and poop paper towels. This task was not for the
weary. I began becoming obsessed with it. I was prompting her around the clock
every 15 minutes. We were both tense. Finally at the end of day 2, her heightened
frustration erupted and she physically kicked the potty. I then read the chapter on
“Over Prompting” and decided Day 3 would need a little more chill from Mama Bear.
Day 3 & 4 called for clothes (but no undies). More and more pee was making into the
potty and my hope began to rise. We decided to incorporate short walks around the
block because our two-bedroom row home was beginning to close in on us. At the
tail end of day 4, my daughter had her weekly music class to attend. I was on the
fence about weather or not we should go. We took a leap of faith and brought a little
port-a-potty. Minutes before the class ended, she had an accident and another kid
stepped in it. I was frantically cleaning up and trying my best to get us out of there.
To top off my embarrassment, I received an email later that evening about my
daughter wearing panties to the next class to prevent other participants from being
Day 5 & 6 were by far the best days. We got out of the house and went on long
outings. She began to control those little muscles and get such a sense of pride at throwing away her pee pee in Mr. Big Toilet. Success after success made me one proud mama. Who would have known putting pee in the potty could make you feel so emotional?
Day 7 and beyond. If you would have asked me on Day 1 if I saw her accomplishing
this in such a short period of time, I would have never thought it possible. But for
the last 30 hours, we have been accident free. I am rarely prompting and she
surprises me with her ability to hold it for long periods of time.
While I know this is not the end of our potty adventures, I am pleased with what the Oh Crap! Method of
potty training offered my little one this week. A sense of accomplishment and pride in such a small amount of time.
New Recommendations From The American Academy Of Pediatrics
The American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP) 2016 National Conference and Exhibition concluded last week. During their annual meeting, the AAP discussed a wide array of topics, and presented studies regarding children’s health and wellness. During the conference, the AAP released updated recommendations on two important topics: healthy media use, and safe sleep practices for infants.
Healthy Media Use
The new media use policy released last week acknowledges most American families are using screen-time on a daily basis. While digital media can have a positive impact on a child’s development, it needs to be used correctly. To help your family make smart media choices, here are the updated rules and tools for screen-time.
Infants and Toddlers: No screens (This includes phones, tablets, computers, and televisions) for children under 18 months. Previously the ‘zero media’ recommendation was up to two years old. AAP recognizes that many families use video chatting apps, like FaceTime, to connect better with relatives. Easing the age restriction ales it more manageable for younger kids to begin using limited digital media. If you would like to introduce your child, aged 18-24 months, to screens only view ‘high quality’ programming or video chat for short durations. You should always be present to help your toddler understand what they are seeing.
Preschool, Ages 2-5 Years Preschoolers should watch no more that one hour of media per day. Previously, it was recommended that children of all ages, have no more than two hours of screen-time per day. The AAP also clarifies that you should continue to co-view high quality programming with younger kids, whenever possible.
Children, 6 Years+ The advice for older kids is more ambiguous. The AAP recognizes that setting a universally specific digital media limit does not work for families. The new suggestions are to use good judgement; be consistent and clear with screen-time rules. Also make sure that your older child is getting plenty of play, rest, study, and conversation time throughout the day. A new and really important aspect of the guidelines, is communicating regularly with your kids about good online citizenship and treating others with respect.
This family media planner is a great new tool that can help you thoughtfully integrate screen-time boundaries and limits specific to your needs.
Safe Sleep Recommendations
The sleep guidelines released Monday are the updated recommendations for creating optimal circumstances and ideal infant sleep environments to reduce sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths.
With this goal, the American Academy Of Pediatrics advises:
- Immediate skin-to-skin contact, for at least one hour uninterrupted, after birth. Skin-to-skin contact helps regulate your newborn’s neurological systems.
- Exclusively breastfeeding your baby for at least the first six months. Nursing your baby reduces her risk of sleep-related death by nearly fifty percent.
- Infants be placed only on their back, in a crib, bed, or bassinet with a firm mattress, covered only with a fitted sheet for naps and at bedtime. The surface should be free from pillows, blankets, bumpers, and toys.
- Avoid using sleep positioners, such as sleep wedges, foam pillows, car seats, ‘Rock ‘n Play’ sleepers, and automated infant swings. These surfaces can be too unstructured, soft, or inclined for young babies.
- Do not swaddle or bundle baby while asleep. Swaddling may contribute to positional asphyxiation and is not proven to reduce SIDS.
- Your infant should sleep in the same room, on a separate surface from you, until baby turns one year old. Room-sharing, sometimes called co-sleeping, has shown to reduce the risk of SIDS by fifty percent. In-bed and bedside co-sleepers, in addition to more traditional infant cots, bassinets, and cribs are all acceptable sleep surfaces.
The new policies also discuss best breastfeeding practices at night. The AAP now advises mothers to bring baby to bed to nurse. Insure all blankets, pillows, and flat sheets are removed. When you are finished breastfeeding, or baby is sleeping, place your infant back in her co-sleeper. Bringing baby to a couch or rocking chair to nurse is not recommended. The concern being mom and baby falling asleep in an unsafe position that could lead to positional asphyxiation. Mom and baby falling asleep while breastfeeding in bed is the safer option. The AAP does not endorse bed-sharing, rather ‘bed-nursing’ as an alternative.
The new AAP guidelines for media and SIDS reduction provide advice for what they consider optimal. There are also other organizations with different or more nuanced guidelines regarding screen-time and safe sleep practices. Ultimately, as a parent, it is your responsibility to research which policies and recommendations work best for your family.
If you live in the Baltimore area and are looking to learn more about infant sleep, consider attending this event, on November 6th, 2016, hosted by Thrive Chiropractic and Parenting Works.
Introducing Solids With Baby Led Weaning
Both the World Health Organization and the American Academy Of Pediatrics recommend exclusively breastfeeding your infant for the first six months. As you approach this milestone, you’re probably thinking about introducing solids to baby. There are two ‘schools of thought’ regarding the the addition of complementary foods. Feeding milled cereals and puréed foods by spoon is the traditional approach. Another way to offer solids is through Baby Led Weaning (BLW). This style encourages baby to feed herself and skip the spoon, completely. The following is a guide to help you learn about, and decide if, a baby-led approach is right for your family.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
BLW is a theory originated by Gill Rapley, a British health nurse. The word ‘weaning’ is the UK equivalent of Americans saying ‘starting solids’. With BLW, you forgo spoon feeding, a parent initiated method, and trust your baby to nourish herself, a baby initiated approach
When is my baby ready to feed herself?
Spoon feeding is so popular and almost unchallenged in our culture. Many families choose to introduce solids prior to six months. Before this age, babies are not developmentally ready to feed themselves. With BLW, you wait until baby is developmentally ready to eat. When your infant reaches the following milestones, she is ready to start exploring food:
- is at least six months of age
- has lost the tongue thrust reflex
- can sit with little or no assistance
- reaches and bring objects to her mouth accurately
- shows focused interest in food and your eating
Why choose BLW?
It’s progressive and instinctual! A baby initiated approach to food is an extension of breastfeeding. A healthy, full-term baby can feed herself as soon as she is born. Baby tells you when she is hungry, she nurses at her pace, and knows when she is full. BLW builds on this philosophy and applies it to complementary foods. This style is also easier. Your baby enjoys the foods you cook for the entire family. There is no need to prepare separate recipes for you infant.
How safe is BLW?
‘I am worried my baby will choke on food!’ The BLW philosophy makes sense in theory, but many parents are nervous to try this approach for fear of choking. BLW is as safe, or safer than traditional spoon feeding. As long as your baby is ready to feed herself, as listed above, she can engage in BLW.
What food should baby eat?
For safety, foods should be served in large chunks that baby can easily grasp in hand. These are a good start:
- Soft fruits cut in big pieces - bananas, peaches, ripe melon, avocado
- Steamed vegetables - sweet potato, summer squash, pumpkin, broccoli
- Buttered toast cut in slices
- Mini muffins
- Steamed fish
- Well cooked steak
Here are an additional 100+ foods and recipes to enjoy.
To learn more about Baby Led Weaning, check out Rapley’s series of books.
5 Ways Partners Can Bond With Their Breastfed Baby
By Alayna Spratley
During this first week of August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. This global awareness initiative is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), an international network of organizations working to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. Learn about World Breastfeeding Week 2016 here.
In honor of World Breastfeeding Week here are five ways fathers and non-nursing parents can bond with their breastfed babies:
- Skin To Skin Contact
Holding a newborn baby on your bare chest has so many benefits beyond the obvious snuggles. Skin to skin contact helps normalize baby’s body temperature and glucose levels; heart and respiratory rates also stabilize.
Successfully carrying an infant in a sling, wrap, or a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) is life changing! Most babies love to nestle on mom or dad’s chest. Wearing baby provides the physical closeness infants need while freeing a caregiver’s hands to participate in daily activities. It is so empowering to accomplish any task while babywearing.
Co-sleeping is a superb way to feel deeply connected to baby, while getting a more restful night’s sleep.
Inside mom, babies spend approximately nine months in motion. So it is no surprise that they crave similar movement once born. Rock, sway, or bounce (I suggest using a Pilates ball) that baby! You will help soothe, calm, and lull your infant to sleep.
When baby starts having a more predictable rhythm, have dad start a short daily routine. A morning ritual could include taking baby upon waking, changing a diaper and clothes, and wearing her while making breakfast. An evening routine, that implements several bonding strategies, could include a taking a bath, enjoying some skin to skin time, and having a cuddle in the rocking chair.
Supporting breastfeeding is a cultural responsibility that begins in the home.
We want all families committed to breastfeeding to succeed. If you reside in the Baltimore area, we offer postpartum services to help all family members be included, confident, and supported throughout the nursing journey.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!