A Memorable (and cheap) Baltimore Winter

Winter days are frigid and short but children still seem to find the energy to
bounce off the wall. They don’t quite understand the beauty of a slow and relaxing
morning with a good book and big cup of coffee! Dreamy, right?
Ever wondered how to make the most of those blustery, winter months without
feeling those claustrophobic blues? This winter, let Baltimore (and the surrounding
area) surprise you with events and places to explore!

The Miracle of 34 th Street
If you don’t already know about Baltimore’s best kept Christmas secret, then
it truly is a best kept secret. Peruse the quirky neighborhood of Hampden while
sipping some of the Charmery’s hot cocoa. A crowd pleaser, for sure. Pop into Trovh
for some local gift ideas. Make your way to 34 th Street as the Christmas block truly
does shine for miles. The lights are on from November 29-January 1. It is free to the
public and makes for a great photo op.

Highlandtown’s Train Garden
Take a trip to Baltimore’s very own little neighborhood of Highlandtown this
holiday season. An impressive toy train set geared to awe any child. You will be
surprised at the attention to detail and Baltimore charm this little train garden
holds. The train runs from November 24- January 1 and is located at #41 Engine
House on Conkling Ave. Wrap up your event with dinner at the century-old Italian
kitchen and market, Di Pasquales. You will not be disappointed.
This is a free event but does accept and appreciate donations.

Holiday Festival of Trains
Got a train lover on your hands? Here’s another event promising to please.
While not in Baltimore city, this event claims to be the largest train display in the
area. Held in Ellicott City’s B&O Railroad museum, this set up includes a multilevel
Lego layout with interactive elements. This toy train is in operation November 28-
January 25 and costs $6-8 for admission.

12 Days of Science
The Maryland Science Center has incorporated activities this winter that go
far beyond checking the weather. Solstice-themed planetarium show, toy-making
workshops, “Christmas Bulb Drop Challenge” are bound to please all ages. Drop in
December 20-31 to have some interactive hands-on learning experiences. All extra,
holiday themed exhibits are free with paid admission.

It’s a Waterfront Life
This December, visit Baltimore’s very own Inner Harbor for an array of
festivities. Ice-skating (open until January 21), Christmas Village and photos with
Santa (both open until December 24) make every child excited for the upcoming holiday. Pop into Barnes and Noble for some hot chocolate and a cozy spot to read
and warm your toes. Events range in cost.

Baltimore Museum of Art
Free of charge and open all year round, this museum is an attraction worth
exploring. Browse colorful art and roam through rooms of talent. The sculpture
garden outside is interesting as well. Children will love to visualize, detect, and
discover through an artist’s eyes. Also, every Sunday from 2-5, the BMA hosts a craft
making event for children that is FREE. All materials provided. A family event that
guarantees to encourage a creative mind.

Babywearing: The Holiday Helper

babywearing

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.

Avoid Overstimulation
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?

spanking

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.”

 

An Encapsulator’s Journey

“So what do you do?”
“I encapsulate placentas.”
Conversation just got awkward.

It began around April 2016 when I was 27 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I had absolutely no idea what motherhood would entail, however, knew for certain I did not want to experience what I had heard referred as “postpartum depression.” That just sounded horrific and being the planner that I am, I knew I had to gather my knowledge and referrals and come up with a proactive strategy. That is when google led me to consuming my placenta. WHAT?!?

So I thought on it more, talked to my skeptical husband about it, polled my mama friends and decided to try it.

I stumbled upon The Nurturing Root after only a few minutes of searching via the web. I mean, what on earth did our parents do without the internet?!?

I called Carmen (in a public place) then realized that this conversation is probably best suited for the privacy of my home. So I whisper inquired about her services.

She was incredibly easy to connect with over the phone and my due date was put into her calendar. BAM! It was set. I would have my placenta encapsulated days after the birth of my baby girl.

She came. We connected. She encapsulated. She left.

I took the pills. I never experienced postpartum depression and was able to successfully breastfeed for 14 months. I had energy and felt like myself.

Fast-forward to 2017 when I found out I was pregnant again. Obviously, I would encapsulate because why change something that unfolded so beautifully.

This time, my best friend was able to encapsulate for me through The Nurturing Root because she was now an encapsulator herself! Again, this postpartum period was beautiful. I had energy. My milk came in successfully. And most importantly, I felt like myself.

Today, I am 4 months postpartum with my second and just completed the training on placenta encapsulation.

I am a firm believer. While it may not be the best dinner conversation, I am confident in my ability to give mamas a tool to help their body, mind, and spirit recover from such an earth-shattering shift in their lives.

And that is the end of the tale. A public school teacher turned placenta encapsulator.

YUM! Milk Boosting Horchata

We’ve taken a timeless Mexican Horchata recipe and adapted it to support lactation in new mothers.  By substituting the rice for oats and using a plant-based milk, this recipe may be helpful with milk production in breastfeeding mothers.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup of uncooked oats

5 cups of water

1 cup of coconut, rice, or almond milk

1/2 T vanilla extract

2 cinnamon sticks

1/3 cup of sugar (more or less to taste)

 

Directions:

1. Place 2 cups of water, oats, and cinnamon sticks in the blender until the oats and cinnamon sticks are roughly ground.

2. Add additional water and place mixture in the fridge to soak overnight (or 4 hours minimum).

3. Strain mixture and discard solid contents.

4. Add vanilla, milk, and sugar.

Serve cold.

 

**This recipe is not intended as a fix for supply issues or breastfeeding challenges.  For mothers struggling with breastfeeding or milk production, we encourage you to reach out to one of our recommended IBCLCs for guidance and support.** 

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