Tag Archives: babies

How to Deal With Picky Eaters - SmartMom

How To Deal With Picky Eaters  

It all started with an innocent looking jar of green beans, a six-month-old, and a white oxford shirt.  With the first spoonful, my crisp work shirt was covered in green, like a paint-splattered canvas, and my baby girl had her lips puckered, her mouth locked, and refused to eat another bite. I had a picky eater on my hands. The problem? I didn’t yet know how to deal with picky eaters.

Baby girl did not like anything green, anything orange, anything with an odd texture, basically anything that was healthy for her.  As a parent, having picky eaters can be very frustrating and worrisome.  Are they eating enoughAre they getting the nutrition they need?  Are their bad habits going to be a problem in the future?

The good news is that child development research says not to worry too much about how to deal with picky eaters. Selective eating often occurs during ages one to three.  While significant growth occurs in the first year of a baby’s life, growing slows down during the second year.  On top of that, toddlers are learning so many other fun new skills, like walking, running, and climbing, which are much more interesting than eating.  Plus, with a stomach the size of her clenched fist, your toddler isn’t capable of eating large amounts at a time.

However, don’t make the mistake of becoming a short-order cook for the picky eaters in your family.  You’ll exhaust your time, energy, and patience trying to appease everyone.  Instead, here are a few tips you can use to help your family deal with picky eaters:

Don’t Force the Issue  

Avoid bribery or force to get your child to clean his plate or eat certain foods.  You don’t want your child to associate eating with frustration, anxiety, or a power struggle.  Minimize distractions, like the television or toys at the table, so that your child can focus on eating.  Even if he doesn’t eat, encourage your toddler to stay at the table until the family is done eating.

Let Kids Help

Letting children pick out healthy items at the grocery store and help to prepare a meal gives them ownership and familiarity with all types of foods.  When toddlers lend a hand with the measuring, pouring, and stirring, they will most likely try to taste the final product as well.

Offer Healthy Options

Stock your fridge with items like yogurt, cheese, fruits, and vegetables.  Make sure there are more healthy options in your pantry than unhealthy ones, like whole grain crackers, pretzels, and dried fruits.  Try to eat healthy foods yourself, and make sure your child sees you eating healthy foods.

Drink Fruits and Vegetables

Sometimes, drinking essential vitamins and nutrients can be much easier than eating them.  Smoothies are fast, easy, and packed with nutrition vital to your child’s health.  Try some of these yummy smoothie recipes to get picky eaters to drink their fruits and veggies (psst…you can’t even taste the spinach!),

Serve Food on a Stick

When trying to get my daughter to eat, I discovered something brilliant that was right under my nose: toothpicks!  It’s amazing what kids will eat when it is skewered on a stick.  A favorite in our house is apple and cheese cube kabobs.  You can also try other fruits, vegetables, lunch meat, chicken, small meatballs, pasta noodles, or some of these variations here.

Be Sneaky

As parents, we’re entitled to a little subterfuge and when it comes to getting kids to eat things like cauliflower and kale, sometimes we have to be downright sneaky.  Ever heard of black bean brownies?  How about carrot mac and cheese?   These popular books are sure to get your picky eater eating all kinds of nutritious foods, without even knowing it. 

Never Give Up

Don’t give up trying to introduce new foods.  Stick to a routine of breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same times every day.  Make sure that at each meal, there is something your toddler likes and recognizes, plus a few new, healthy foods on the same plate.  She may not try them, but children need to be offered a new food as many as 15 times before they will eat them.  Make sure to give your toddler small portions of whatever you are eating as well—a good example goes a long way.

Baby girl is now five years old and heading to Kindergarten.  Although she is still a little more selective than her younger siblings, the good news is that her eating habits have gotten much better.  Every meal gets easier and she is trying new things and discovering that she actually likes them.  Green beans, however…we’re still working on.

 

Holidays can present some of the hardest times for picky eaters. Here’s some help.

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How to Treat Cradle Cap in Infants - SmartMom

How to Treat Cradle Cap in Infants

Photo from Mini Republic

Cradle cap is a term used for the flaky, dandruff-like spots which can appear on a new baby’s scalp. Often the cradle cap manifests as yellow or brown patches of crust on the skin. Doctors call it infantile seborrheic dermatitis and though the name sounds intimidating, cradle cap is harmless to babies. Most babies lose their cradle cap between 3-12 months old, however, in the meantime if you’re wondering how to treat cradle cap in infants, there are some easy and natural home remedies to try. 

Though it may be tempting,  never pick at the affected areas of your baby’s cradle cap. Picking at the skin could cause infection in the baby’s sensitive skin. Further, steer clear of any shampoos or treatments that contain harsh chemicals or ingredients. Avoid skin irritants and instead, look to a few of the wonderful, completely natural and harmless methods that explain how to treat cradle cap in infants.

Coconut Oil

The most successful and popular natural treatment for cradle cap is to use coconut oil on the scalp. Coconut oil smells wonderful, has natural antibacterial properties and is a natural moisturizer.

Coconut oil can be found at most major groceries or online. Note that coconut oil comes in solid form, so you will want to take some in your hands first to soften before rubbing on the scalp.

Apply a small amount of coconut oil to your baby’s scalp and massage in well. Let it sit for a few hours, or even overnight. This will soften up the dry skin, and make it easier to rub off.

Use a mitt or brush made for rubbing off cradle cap, a cradle cap sterile bristle brush or even a baby washcloth to gently rub the areas of cradle cap on the scalp.  Between the oil and the gentle exfoliation, you should be able to remove most of the dry skin.

To finish, wash your baby’s hair with some warm water and normal shampoo.

Olive Oil

If you don’t have coconut oil in the house, olive oil is a second best bet. It may not have the antibacterial properties like coconut oil does, but if you rub it in, and brush it off, it is sure to reduce cradle cap.

Shea Butter

Shea butter is a safe and natural method for parents looking for tips on how to tread cradle cap in infants. It is easily absorbed into the scalp and does not leave a greasy residue. If you want to let the treatment sit overnight on the scalp, it will be less greasy than other options.

Massage shea butter into scalp, let sit for a minimum of 20 minutes, and then gently rub the patches of cradle cap, until it flakes off. To finish, rinse the baby’s head with warm water. It may take a few times to get most of the dry skin off, so be patient and repeat process daily.

Baking Soda

Also a successful and natural method for new moms wondering how to treat cradle cap in infants, baking soda can be made into a gentle cream. To make a baking soda cream, mix 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda with a small amount of water or oil (coconut or olive).

This will form a paste to apply to the affected areas of the scalp, let it sit for around twenty minutes, use a soft brush or washcloth to rub off flakes, and then rinse.

Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another cure-all treatment, which also is a tried and true treatment for baby’s cradle cap. Mix two teaspoons of water with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (or any 2:1 water/vinegar ratio), massage into baby’s scalp (be mindful to not get into baby’s eyes), leave for ten minutes and then wash off with baby’s normal shampoo.

 

For information about natural treatments for other baby illnesses, check out this post.

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

Cradle cap won’t go away! I’ve tried shea butter, coconut oil, healing balm..any thoughts?

Cradle cap help please! I have a one month old and I am noticing dry, flaky skin on top of her scalp.

My son is almost 3 months old and I believe he has cradle cap. The peds didn’t prescribe him anything..

Hey mommas anyone have any tips on cradle cap? I know about olive oil and I have hydrocortisone..

Coconut oil for cradle cap?

My LO is bathed every night before bedtime and I scrub it gently but nothing helps. Any suggestions?

Any of your babies have or had cradle cap? What can you/did you do for it?

I think my LO has cradle cap..Scalp is dry and flaking…What can I do?

My son had cradle cap for the first 6 weeks..Now at 10 weeks it’s starting to come back..

My LO has severe cradle cap and now it’s on his face too. I have tried oil and brush treatments. Any advice?

 

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natural remedies for teething babies - SmartMom

Natural Remedies for Teething Babies That Actually Work

Most babies begin teething between four and six months old. Though you may not see any tooth buds appearing in your baby’s mouth, it does not mean that they are not in pain trying to cut that tooth. Teething can be very painful for infants and can cause sleepless nights (for parent and baby), congestion, and fussiness. However, there are natural remedies for teething babies which all parents can feel safe administering to their little one in order to relieve some teething pain.

Cold Washcloth

Have nothing on hand but a freezer and a washcloth? You’re in luck! A very simple, but proactive way, to curb teething pain is by sticking a wet washcloth in the freezer. Let the little one suck on the cold towel and it is bound to alleviate some of their gum soreness. Some moms soak the towel in chamomile tea and then freeze it, as chamomile is known to ease pain.

Mesh Feeders

All the rage now are the popular mesh feeders, which resemble pacifiers, but have a mesh pocket for the baby to suck on. Mesh feeders are perfect natural remedies for teething babies, as you can insert some frozen fruit or ice cubes into the mesh pocket and there is no harm of baby choking. You can buy the baby safe feeders here.

Ice The Bottle

The freezer has a plethora of natural tricks for helping ease teething pain, such as icing the baby’s bottle. Fill the bottle with water, turn upside down, and freeze. When it’s frozen the baby can gnaw on the frozen nipple and rub it against their sore gums.

Facial Massage

Often you will notice your little one is teething because they rub their ears or cheeks. If they are in a relaxed state, try a gentle facial massage to calm their nerves and settle them down. Not sure how to give your baby a face massage? Check out this easy tutorial video and see if it helps soothe your teething baby.

Biter Biscuits

Sometimes it helps a teething baby to chomp down on something to relieve some of the pressure of the cutting tooth. Biter biscuits are historically a wonderful natural teething method. When it comes to teething biscuits there are many options: you could buy them, or make them. These Earth’s Best Organic Teething Biscuits are made from non-genetically modified ingredients and are a great option for babies 12 months and older.

If you need a gluten free teething biscuit, the Suzie’s Rice and Gluten Free Teething Biscuits are made from all real ingredients and a delicious cookie for a teething baby. If you’re into baking, check out this recipe for homemade teething biscuits that only has four ingredients. Steering clear of wheat? This recipe is easily adaptable for any flour and oil, which suits your baby’s needs.

Frozen Food

If your baby has tried different fruits and shows no allergy, than a simple teething solution is to freeze the fruit. Frozen pineapple rings make a perfect teether, as do slices of watermelon, and frozen bananas.

Your little one will love rubbing the cold fruit on their budding teeth, as well as tasting the natural sweetness.  Always monitor babies when eating in case they break off a chunk of food, which could be a choking hazard.

Teething Rings

If you need quick natural remedies for teething babies that involve neither food nor freezers, invest in some healthy teething rings for your baby. Wooden teething rings are a fantastic option, as they are healthier than plastic, just ensure that they aren’t coated with any toxic finishes.

These Waldorf teething rings are made from maple wood and are hand sanded to a smooth texture, with no coating or finish applied. This bear shaped teething ring is made from organic cotton and is sure to be soothing to pained gums.

Want to make teething a little more palatable for mama and baby? Check out these gorgeous chewable necklaces for mamas from Chewbeads. They are made from 100% silicone, so they are safe for both mama to wear, and baby to gnaw on, also a great gift for a new mom.

 

Once your little one’s teeth have grown in, here are some tips about getting them to brush those teeth! 

RELATED QUESTIONS

Any other moms sometimes leery or hesitant about using all natural or homeopathic remedies for teething and cough?

My 3 month old is teething so badly and I’ve tried everything and nothing is working. Any ideas?

What can you do to ease teething pain and how long does it take before they cut through? And also has anyone used an amber teething necklace?

Any tips on pain reliever for teething that is not meds or orajel or tablets?

Any natural suggestions for teething that is not tylenol?

My baby is teething and miserable. Has anyone given tylenol?

Any natural remedies for teething that anyone has tried?

My 2.5 month old is chewing on everything lately. Could he be teething this early and what are some tips I can use to help soothe his pain?

My 6 month old just cut her first tooth and we are having a hard time coming up with natural teething remedies. Any ideas?

Has anyone tried orajel naturals?
 

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Introducing Solids to Babies: A Complete Guide - SmartMom

Introducing Solids to Babies: A Complete Guide

There is no subject that divides parents more significantly than introducing solids to babies.   Whether it’s the time (4 months vs. 1 year?), the method (purees vs. food in its original form?), the food (organic and homemade vs. jarred?), the location (in a high chair vs. on the floor?), controversy looms around every corner of the solid food terrain.  

With all that being said, I’m aware that no matter what I say, someone will disagree with something in this article.  So, let’s acknowledge that and move on.

Here are some tips for introducing solids to babies that have worked for my family.

Timing

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that’s babies be breastfed exclusively for at least six months.  This is obviously something that varies from family to family, but if you use the APA as your guide, you can begin introducing solids around the six month mark.

Holding fast to a date on the calendar is not necessarily as effective as watching your baby’s cues for readiness.  These cues are: your baby can sit up relatively well and hold his/her head up, he/she no longer thrusts their tongue when something is placed in their mouth, your child is doing some sort of motion that looks like chewing (even though there isn’t a tooth in sight), and  your child takes an interest in what you are eating.   These are all signals that it might be time to start introducing solids to babies.

With that being said, it’s also acceptable to delay introducing solids beyond 6 months if you do not think your child is ready.  For the majority of the first year, your child is getting most of his/her nutrients from milk, so they won’t go hungry. We always tried to feed our son after I had nursed him just so we would not be replacing a meal.   This ensured that my supply didn’t decrease at all.

Method

We started off with purees.   I relied heavily on the book “The Wholesome Baby Food Guide: Over 150 Easy, Delicious, and Healthy Recipes from Purees to Solids” by Maggie Meade.   Not only did this book have great recipes, but it also had information about the entire process of introducing solids.   Offering a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables was important to me, and this book helped me plan and prepare for something way outside of my realm of understanding.

We used a regular old food processor to make the purees which was just fine, oftentimes thinning out the puree with breastmilk or water.   We also gave our son soft finger foods to experiment with.  He loved bananas and puffs since they were easy to grasp and he could gum them down.

Food

I tried to stick to organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible, but the cost and effort often got in the way.  We always tried to make sure we bought organic for the “dirty dozen” (fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticides).

We bought a lot of frozen fruits and vegetables since they are quite nutritious as they are flash frozen at their peak ripeness.   This also allowed for us to stock up and cook when we could rather than feel the rush to prepare the purees before the food spoiled.  We froze the purees in ice cube trays or silicone baby food containers that created individual servings that we would defrost and serve.   This worked swimmingly.

Location

We always had our son sit in the high chair, even if he only played with cheerios.  The act of sitting down and eating together was something we wanted him to get comfortable with (mostly because we did not want to give up going out to dinner on the weekends!).   He now knows to expect food when he sits in his high chair and can communicate to us that he’s hungry just by going to the chair.

Overall, introducing solids to babies is not very complicated. Your child will let you know when they’re ready and what they’re ready to eat.  Watch for their cues and resist the urge to rush.  Once you have introduced solids, you’ve opened your floor up to a whole new level of filth that you will be scrubbing at until your child goes off to college.

RELATED QUESTIONS

My 6 1/2 month is eating some solids and is BF. I know I’m supposed to BF first then feed solids but after he nurses, he is full and not wanting the solids. What am I doing wrong? Also since he’s BF, I have no clue how much milk he’s getting each day. Especially since he’s on the breast every 2-3 hours still, is that normal?

I’m just trying to understand: why is there such a rush to introduce solids? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until 6 months, with a few exceptions, of course…

Any moms start their LO’s on “solids” (rice, oatmeal, baby food) sooner than the recommended 5-6 months? DD is just not satisfied with milk anymore, the amount she drinks to get full is ridiculous.

Hi moms! How do you guys feel about giving a 7month old Cheerios? He doesn’t have any teeth yet but he shows so much interest in solids besides his baby food that I feel bad…he even eats beans…

When did all you mommies start your babies on solids? Jar food, cereal, oatmeal, fruit? How often and what age? Also any suggestions on what’s most healthy for them and what they liked best? I have a 4 month old. Is it too early?

When did you stop breastfeeding? LO is 6 1/2 months and has never had formula or anything but after starting solids breastfeeding has become so difficult….

I started feeding my 8 month old solids and so far she’s had applesauce, sweet potato, zucchini, carrots, banana, green beans, pear, tortillas (corn and flour), avocado, and baby cereal. Of all that, she did not like carrots, banana, baby cereal, pear, applesauce, and green beans. What else can I add to her diet? She’s EBF.

What was your baby’s favorite new food once you started introducing solids?

How long did you continue breast feeding once solids were introduced? There is so much literature but what do moms actually do?

When introducing solids, (I have 5.5 months old son), I hear you’re supposed to introduce one type of food at a time and wait for three days. I guess that means only formula or breast milk for those 3 days?
 

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Natural Cures for Diaper Rash - SmartMom

Seven Simple and Natural Cures for Diaper Rash

There is a common misconception that babies’ bottoms are supposed to be smooth skin and rash free. However, most babies have sensitive skin on their behinds and add to that the fact that they sit in a diaper all day long, it’s practically a recipe for diaper rash.

Diaper rash is very common for babies and toddlers of all ages and though it is harmless, it can be uncomfortable, and if not treated, can cause yeast or bacterial infections. Luckily there are natural cures for diaper rash, which are perfect for your baby’s sensitive skin.

Change the Diaper

One of the easiest natural cures for diaper rash is to make sure that you change your baby’s diaper as soon as they go to the bathroom. The longer the baby sits in the dampness of the diaper, the more likely it is that bacteria or yeast can grow in the moist environment. When putting a diaper back on a baby, make sure that their bottom is as dry as possible. After wiping, use tissues to blot the wetness off the baby and then diaper.

Check the Wipes

When changing the baby, especially if changing the baby’s diaper often, make sure to use very sensitive diaper wipes, or simply use plain water to wash their behind. Often baby wipes have chemicals or harsh ingredients in them, which can perpetuate irritation on the baby’s sensitive skin.

Go Diaper Free

If changing the diaper often or using sensitive baby wipes fails to help prevent diaper rash in your little one, try going without a diaper completely. The diaper provides a moist environment of urine or feces, pressed up against the baby’s sensitive skin. This can make the skin raw, irritated, and breed yeast or bacteria. Let your baby go diaper free for as much time as possible.

This will allow the skin to air out and breath. Worried about the baby messing up the house? Try letting them run around sans diaper outside, or use rubber mats, towels, or plastic tablecloths under them inside the house.

Breast Milk

Yes, breast milk is one of the most unsung natural cures for diaper rash. Apply a few drops of breast milk to your baby’s bottom and rub in gently. Breast milk is not just a great way to heal diaper rash, but a completely safe way to prevent diaper rash, as well. After application, let air dry, and then diaper.

Coconut Oil

Another cure-all for babies is coconut oil. It’s one of the most perfect natural cures for diaper rash, as it’s safe for baby skin, contains antibacterial properties and above all, smells delicious. Apply a thin coat of organic coconut oil either to heal diaper rash or prevent it. Coconut oil is a fantastic wetness barrier for a baby’s behind, so it is wonderful at preventing too much moisture from accumulating on the baby’s skin.

Oatmeal

Oats have long been a cure for skin ailments, as it has soothing properties that can heal irritation and itching, one of the best natural cures for diaper rash. Place some oats in a blender until they form a fine powder; mix into a warm bath until the bath looks milky. Let the baby soak in the bath for 15-20 minutes, and then pat dry. This will help ease and diaper rash redness and irritation, and thus allow the skin to start the healing process.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Another kitchen staple that has natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties is apple cider vinegar. Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with half a cup of warm water; dip a clean washcloth in the mixture and dab on baby’s bottom. Let dry thoroughly before diapering. This will help prevent any yeast or bacteria from growing, as well as helping the raw skin heal.

RELATED QUESTIONS

HELP! Diaper rash is the pits! My poor red bottom, 8 month old little girl! I’ve tried everything I can think of and then some. Any mommy’s out there know something I don’t? I hate seeing her in pain.

Hi Moms! My 9 month old little girl is continuously getting diaper rash & heat boils on her bottom. I consulted with her doctor and he prescribed ointments which help but don’t eliminate it all together. Do you have ladies know of any other ways I could be helping her?

I know I can google this and trust me I have but I need real moms responses, what is the best thing to do for diaper rash?

Diaper rash question! What’s the best way to help it? My son and I both just got over the stomach bug but from pooping so much my son now has a really bad diaper rash where it’s got a little blood. I use Desitin rapid relief and the second I noticed it I started putting it on him. Any suggestions?

My LO has a horribly diaper rash. I’ve been using extra strength Desitin but it’s not working. Any tips on what I could use to help it?

My daughter has a horrible red, angry diaper rash and I don’t know what it’s from! She hasn’t changed foods or anything. Nothing has helped clear it up in 3 days. Any suggestions?

What do you mommies do for newborn diaper rash? It was so bad on my LO that he bled. We used Desitin but it really didn’t work…

Are there any other reason why babies get diaper rash? I thought they get because the diaper brand or baby wipes brand aren’t right for their skin…

Any moms out there love a specific diaper rash cream? We use Aquaphor regularly however, my son has a very bad rash right now…

HELP! My daughter has had a diaper rash for over a month I was using Desitin for about 3 weeks. It wasn’t working then I took her to her doctor…
 

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How to Prepare for a Newborn - SmartMom

How to Prepare for a Newborn: Month By Month

Photo from Barefoot Blonde

Nothing can prepare you for the shock of bringing home a newborn.   Whether it’s your first or your fourth, each child has a different personality and therefore a different set of realities are needed for their arrival home. Regardless, there are some basic tips about how to prepare for a newborn that can help ease the transition from hospital to home. Tackle these steps month-by-month during your pregnancy.

First Trimester: Prepare Yourself

Month 1: Get Through the Month

Sleep (when you can), eat (when you can), and begin to wrap your head around the fact that you will be adding a newborn to your family in less than a year.   Once you are able to acknowledge that all of this is happening, you can get on to the planning stage.

Month 2: Get Healthy

One key piece of advice about how to prepare for a newborn is not for the baby, but for you.  You cannot provide for a child if you are unhealthy, so getting in the habit of eating well, sleeping well and exercising are crucial for making it easy to maintain these habits after the baby comes home. Learn about the best foods to eat while pregnant and load up on leafy greens and whole grains.  Prenatal yoga is also a positive way to stay fit and toned and help prepare your body for labor and delivery.

Month 3: Start Telling People

Once the world knows, things seem to happen.   Second hand items arrive at your home, advice on what items you need (or don’t need) to prepare for a newborn start flowing in. It all becomes real. When it comes time to reveal the gender of your new little one, we have some tips on your party too!

Second Trimester: Prepare Your Life

Month 4: Educate Your Family

Now is the time to start educating your family about how to prepare for a newborn.  If you have other children, invest in books or games that talk about new babies.  Start talking about where the baby will sleep and how things will change.  Make sure the child knows that nothing bad is going to happen when the baby comes home. If you have a pet, start planning a smooth transition for them.   Have a doll that you carry around and treat like a baby.  Expose the pet to other children.  Keep certain areas off limits to the pet.

Month 5: Start Talking About Maternity Leave

Have conversations with your partner about childcare scenarios following your leave.  Sit down and budget so that you can see what needs to change.   If you are thinking of making any career moves (i.e. shifting to staying at home or going to part-time), now is the time to have the conversations with your family and then your employer about how to prepare for a newborn and balance your career.

Month 6 – Take Stock of What Your Need for the Newborn

If this is your first child, create a registry.   If this isn’t your first time around the block, see what you need and reach out to friends to see if you can borrow or use secondhand.  Otherwise, head to the stores to pick up necessary items.

Third Trimester: Prepare for Baby

Month 7: Prepare Your Home

Wash baby clothes and stock up on lotion, wipes and diapers. Disinfect baby toys that may have been in storage for a few years.   Baby proof your home so you don’t have to do it when the baby is mobile.   Channel your urge to nest into dealing with all of the details needed to prepare a space for the newborn in your home. Now is also a good time to pack your hospital bag, too.

Month 8: Install the Car Seat

It’s important to have this done prior to being full-term since you never know when the baby will arrive.   Put together any gear or toys that have directions and could be considered time-consuming.   Start cooking meals to keep in the freezer for easy preparation once the baby is here.

Month 9: Clean Your House

We never said learning how to prepare for a newborn would be all fun and games. This may be one of the last times you will be able to really clean your house (now, granted, you will be huge, so this may not qualify as the most thorough cleanings possible).   Scrub the floors.  Wash the sheets.  Complete any tasks in the house that you’ve been putting off (framing pictures, hanging curtains, etc.).

Not only will attacking these projects help keep your mind off of the pending arrival of your child, it will help you tie up loose ends before the newborn arrives and all focus shifts to the task at hand.

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

Hello! I’m a first time soon to be mommy! I’m 35 weeks and starting to prepare for my baby boys arrival. What laundry detergent is good to wash newborn and infant clothes? Thanks!

So I’m due in March.. Any tips on how to budget for a newborn? What are must haves for the baby and what can wait until later on ?

I’m being induced on Thursday. Anyone have tips? Schedule for a newborn?

Anyone start getting extra nervous in the weeks before their due date? I’m mostly prepared but so afraid of being a new parent! I’ve honestly only held a newborn a couple of times and worry that I’ll accidentally hurt him. When he cries I know it’s gonna break my heart as well. Becoming a new parent is just soooo much to take in and I don’t know what to expect. But it makes me happy to know my son depends on me too. I love him so much.

Hi moms. I’m going to having my second baby here within two weeks or less depending on when my doc plans to induce me. And it just hit me how scary it’s going to be with a newborn and a two year old. I’ve been overwhelmed with how hard it is now being pregnant and raising my daughter. So I was just looking for advise and tips to make this less scary for all of us and a little less hard. I don’t want my daughter to feel left out or forgotten

 

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Health During Pregnancy - SmartMom

Sleep Routines for Babies: Difficult, but not Impossible

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Photo by Dulcet Photography The roughest part of having a new baby is, debatably, the sleepless nights.  “How to get your baby to sleep” is, I’m sure, one of the top Google searches at 3 in the morning. Hoping and wishing and praying that your sweet new bundle of joy will just sleep for more than three hours in a row is a nightly ritual for many new parents. So how do you get your kids to sleep? Here are three tips that apply to all families setting sleep routines for babies for the first time.

Set the Routine

As a mother of three young kids, getting my children to sleep was at the top of my priority list and all three of them were different. My oldest started sleeping through the night at about 5 ½ weeks and soon she was sleeping from 10 pm to 10 am every day. My youngest also started early, around 7 weeks and she typically sleeps from 8 pm until 7 am everyday. My middle child? He didn’t start sleeping through the night. But I know exactly what happened: I set a bad routine. Since he and my oldest were sharing a room, as soon as he fussed, I got him up. That became our routine.  Once you determine what works best for your family, stick with it. That routine might include a bath, bedtime and a set feeding schedule, but no matter what you do, try not to veer from that routine.

Don’t Quiet Down

When my oldest was an infant, it was really tempting to turn the phone off, put a sign up on the front door and tiptoe from room to room. I’m glad I didn’t. I carried on as normal throughout the house, cleaning, organizing, having friends call or stop by whether she was asleep or not. It taught her to sleep through the noise.  This was a total blessing because it meant that she could sleep anywhere when she was tired — including one afternoon when she slept through a dirt track race and a local speedway!

Teach Them to Put Themselves to Sleep

Without a doubt, the best advice I heard was to let my kids put themselves to sleep. When they wake up and fuss, let them cry it out for a while instead of rushing to get them up. It teaches them that I don’t have to be there for them to go to sleep. At first, I felt horribly guilty. My baby was crying and I wasn’t comforting her! But when I saw that she had to learn to put herself to sleep and that by doing so she was actually becoming more rested, I felt a lot better. I gave myself time limits: let her cry for 10 minutes (assuming she was not in actual distress) and then go get her if she was still pretty upset. This absolutely works. My sanity swears by it. When trying to find the best routine for your baby, the key here is just that: find a routine. With a routine, your baby will know what to expect and how bedtime works. If a routine doesn’t work, change it, but you have to give routines time to be able to tell if it will or won’t.

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newborn sleep tips

Newborn Sleep Tips for a Better Night’s Rest

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When you’re a parent, the only thing you can accurately predict is that when you have a newborn, you’re going to lose some sleep. Though some parents will joke that once you have a baby, “you’ll never get a full night’s sleep again,” Dr. Harvey Karp, M.D., creator of the DVD and book, The Happiest Baby on the Block believes that it’s important to have realistic expectations during the first three months.

“It’s a given that babies get up a lot during the first three months,” Karp told Parents Magazine. Even though there are strategies that you can put into play to make those 4 a.m. wake-up calls more bearable, there are a number of lesser-known nighttime survival strategies that you can try to help everyone at home get more shut-eye.  Here are some newborn sleep tips for a better night’s rest.

Keep Your Cool.

Most adults can sleep better when the room is a little cooler, and babies are no different. Keep your baby’s room warmer during the day and cooler at night. The optimal temperature for infant sleep is between 65 and 70°F. If you don’t have a thermostat you can control, leave the window slightly open or use a fan at night – just don’t position the baby directly in front of the fan or open window.

Don’t make eye contact.

You probably know to avoid singing, dancing, and playing during late-night or early-morning feedings, as it will overstimulate your baby.  Also avoid gazing into your baby’s eyes late at night.  Alan Greene, M.D., author of From First Kicks to First Steps, says that eye contact will boost brain development and bonding, which will stimulate the baby and keep her awake. Instead, make plenty of eye contact during the day so she knows it’s time to be awake.

Dim the lights.

Until your baby’s circadian rhythm, or the body’s internal clock, learns to regulate itself, you can help keep your baby on a schedule. Plug your lamps into dimmer units and lower the lights when the sun goes down in the evening.  This will help your baby learn that evening and nighttime are time for sleep.

Make some noise.

According to Dr. Karp, babies love and need strong rhythmic noise. Some parents rely on a white-noise machine, a radio tuned to transmit static, or a nature-sounds CD. Others take a more organic approach and let the baby sleep near a running dishwasher or washing machine.

Swing it.

If you swaddle your baby and use gentle noise, but she still wakes up every hour or two, let her sleep buckled in a reclined baby swing. Dr. Karp says that fewer than 5 percent of babies need the swing technique and that parents can gradually stop as the baby learns how to self-soothe.

Feed strategically.

Beginning in the early evening, decrease the time between your baby’s feedings. If you usually feed her every three hours, do so every two hours as you approach bedtime.  Some parents report that it will help your baby feel fuller, without relying on frequent nighttime feedings.

Take a break from diaper duty.

When you wake up with the baby in the middle of the night, you might be able to skip the diaper change, which tends to stimulate your baby and keep them from falling back asleep quickly.  If baby’s diaper is not soaked through or soiled, you can skip the change. Use absorbent nighttime diapers and a thick diaper cream to protect the skin until morning.

Hit the bottle.

If you are breastfeeding your newborn and she wakes up often, try to get her used to drinking pumped breast milk from a bottle at night. This allows you and your partner to switch feeding shifts so you can both benefit from more sleep.

Make over your room.

You may already have heavy curtains or blackout shades hanging in your baby’s room, but if you frequently co-sleep – or if nighttime feedings have you sleeping late in the morning or napping throughout the day, you’ll be able to snooze more easily – and longer.

Breathe easy.

Babies take cues from their parents, so if you want him to relax, you should too. Slow down your breathing to send signals to the baby that it’s time to calm down. To help pace your breathing, listen to music with a rhythm that’s slower than your heart beat and set your breath to it. If you prefer to meditate, that is also a calming practice – both for you and your little one!

Trade in the crib.

Even if you have a large, comfortable crib, your baby might sleep better in a bassinet or co-sleeper during his early days. Because babies feel safer and more enclosed in a smaller space, they might sleep sounder and longer…and so will you.

Make it bright.

As soon as your baby wakes up for the day, brighten your lights or open windows as soon as possible. Exposure to the light will help both of you grow more alert and awake. Sit near a sunny window or take a brief walk outside to help develop your baby’s internal clock

 

Keeping a schedule can also be super helpful! And if your little one still can’t sleep after all of this, here are some tips for your sleepless baby!

RELATED QUESTIONS

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My baby is almost 11 months and still doesn’t sleep through the night. Any tips…I am exhausted!

My 7 week old is overtired, any tips on how to get him to fall asleep and STAY asleep?

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What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher, Writer

What I’ve Learned: Julie Schumacher, Writer

Julie Schumacher is the founder of Well Turned Words, copywriting and editing studio. She’s also the co-founder of Forth Chicago which seeks to celebrate and connect creative, entrepreneurial women in Chicago. 

Tell us about your family!

We have one daughter, Loie Jane, who is 3. She’s a copper top and is very into ’80s music and feta cheese. 

What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher As a first time mom, I thought that I was going to knock it out of the park. I wasn’t super nervous and felt that, if our daughter was born healthy, I was going to be one of those “at ease” awesome moms.

I didn’t. I wasn’t. I got knocked on my ass. I didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, and worried incessantly those first few weeks. I’m wired anxious and assumed I’d rally…because I always rally. At about 8 weeks postpartum, I was hospitalized with postpartum depression. It was just the worst.  My mom moved in from Philadelphia, we brought in an incredible post partum doula, my husband protected and provided like a beast, and we got me in to see an incredible therapist in conjunction with a smart medication plan through a psychiatrist.

It is so, so, so humbling to have gone through that. I’ve never failed at something so spectacularly before, or so publicly. Now, I’m not saying I failed at motherhood. My kid’s great and we’re super bonded and all that and I think I’m a pretty great mom. But in the moment and the months after there was a significant amount of self-confidence and identity rebuilding that had to happen. I had to relearn to love myself, accept way more help than I’d ever been willing to take in a lifetime, and was forced to figure out what it would take to claw my way toWhat I've Learned - Julie Schumacher happiness. And on top of that, I had this wee little beastie I wanted to love and get to know and take care of and felt like it was happening with a hand tied behind my back (and blindfolded and while balancing on a very small, wiggly beam). We fought back hard and I was very quickly back on my feet (which is not to discount any woman whose fight is longer. Go mama, go!).

That’s a pretty big shadow, though, to walk out of. Even now I have to explain that PPD doesn’t mean I ever tried to harm myself, or our daughter, and I am not convinced everyone believes me. Sounds awful, right? It’s one of the reasons I’m vocal and open about my experience. More women need help and more people need to know how to help them.

The collaterals, though, are remarkably all positive. I saw how strong my marriage was. I saw how rad my mom and husband are. Seriously. My mom was indefatigable and my husband’s shoulders carried way more than I assumed a human could. They never doubted me those many nights I loudly announced I would never get better.

Our new neighbors in Oak Park stepped up and carried us through. Friends sat with me while I wept on the porch and one friend was charged with dragging me to movies so I’d leave the house…those are some damn fine friends. What I've Learned - Julie SchumacherIt was through therapy and talking with my husband and closest of friends (a mom entrepreneur champion Jill Salzman of the Founding Moms) that I took the years of research and teaching of writing and launched Well Turned Words. I was given time and permission and support to do something I always kind of thought I could do but would likely have never done…because who actually gets paid to write? Now, our world makes so much sense on this path. Our family is happy and strong. It was a slog. No doubt. But hot damn, I’m happy and our family is thriving.

I sometimes wonder if a single part of my body, mind, worldview, approach to life, or future goals have not been touched by parenthood. On a very basic scale, having a kid is a nice swift kick to the shins of whatever routines you enjoyed pre-kids. On a larger scale, I think more about modeling for her an expansive life. If I let fear, regret, guilt dictate how I move through the world, she’ll see that. If I don’t do something because I’m just too tired or if I don’t handle a relationship with care, she’ll see that. If I lead with a strong partnership, good friendships, grace, confidence, humor, sass, joy, and a dash of “well, I guess we’ll see what happens!” she’ll see that. I want her to know she can have many acts, be many women, and do many things in a single lifetime. So I have to live that first. When I need parenting advice, first and foremost, I talk to my husband.

What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher We share what we see, strategize, offer gentle suggestions on something that worked for one of us. He’s the person I chose to parent with so his opinion or ideas matter more than anyone else’s to me. Then, I have a phenomenal community of women. I highly recommend surrounding yourself with women better than you. My mom and sister are awesome and talented mothers (and great overall) as are some close friends who I’ve known since college and met as a mom. I also have plenty of dad friends I think are just phenomenal parents. I don’t just talk to other people with girl parts. A good parent is a good parent.

I have an online community as well. I have the SpitfireMom Society, which I started with a design partner in Denver and appreciate the conversations there about business and family life. I adore Ask Moxie and the community she’s built. I also have a top secret group of women from a birth board now connected on Facebook. We all have kids the same age and were bonded over those first months. We’re all over the country and about as different as can be but it’s a safe, warm space to say out loud the stuff that goes through my head. We call ourselves the Mamascenti. It’s silly and awesome. What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher

My favorite thing about being a parent is the forced intentionality. I have to be more purposeful and thoughtful about what I say and do, both around her but also in general. The selflessness is hard but great creativity emerges through constriction, I think. There’s also the heart-explodingly-huge amount of love I get to experience when she says “Mama?” and then asks me something weird. For my marriage, I love having a whole new way to fall in love with my husband. I knew he was great. Watching him as a father? Wow. Watching Lo, my favorite thing is her acquisition of language. It’s like watching civilization evolve. That sounds ridiculous. But it’s really incredible to witness and hear how our intonations and expressions regenerate in her. She says “awesome” a lot. Not surprising.

Are there routines that you’ve set up in your family to help things run more smoothly?

Yup. M/W/F I get up with Loie and get her ready for school. T/Th my husband gets up with her and I sleep in. I say once a month I am going to start getting up to work out. I will let you know if that ever happens. We tend to each sleep in one weekend day, which is superb. We encourage each other to spend time out at night with friends. I’m home with her on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We do a play date or go to the library or play outside in the mornings. Sometimes we just hang around the house in our PJs all morning. We host a toddler music class here on Thursday afternoons. One of us takes her to school, the other picks her up. Whoever is putting her down for bed, theWhat I've Learned - Julie Schumacher other person is prepping a late dinner or tidying up. We try to keep the house in good shape because we both work from home and my husband is a neatnik. We’re pretty rigid about her sleep. A well-rested kid makes the whole world sunnier and protecting her sleep 85% of the time means we can be flexible the other times. We have a weird kid who sleeps in so we get her up at 7 so she’ll take a nap. And we wake her up from her nap 90% of the time so she’ll fall asleep at night. Please don’t throw things at us. I know most moms would kill to have a 7am wakeup. We all seem to thrive on routine. We talk about whether she’s a creature of habit (she yawns at 1:15 if we’re late putting her down for a nap) because it’s in her DNA or in the air of the home.

What do you know now that you wish you knew back then? (as a first time mom) 

That you’ll find a way. That any thing your kid is doing that feels unsolvable, untenable, or totally bizarre will likely be replaced by something that feels equally permanent, annoying, or odd. And you’ll be so busy worrying about the new thing that you will forget to realize that the previous worry has resolved itself. That cyclicality of parenthood is both comic and infuriating to me now. That no one gives you a reward or medal if you refuse to ask for help or refuse help that is offered. Even now, after being knocked on my rump, I still want to do it all myself. That’s lame. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. And if someone offers to hold the baby so you can pee in peace or take a nap? JUST SAY YES. What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher

When it comes to fun, I always crave travel. My husband and I like to cook together, I love baking. The fun of chopping and stirring and seasoning as a couple was a huge piece of our courtship. As counterintuitive as it sounds, the meticulousness of baking is very calming for me. Give me some flour to sift and something to level and I’m in heaven.

I like to talk. A lot. So talking with my friends and husband about things inconsequential and grand. Plan and scheme for the next phases and iterations of our life. If I’m not talking, I’m reading. I’m in an excellent book club of smarter-than-me women who actually read the books. Our neighborhood is ripe with families so we do things locally, the Farmer’s Market, the park. Because we like the parents of the kids our kid knows even toddler birthday parties at jumpy places can be fun. Forth Chicago, a creative salon I run with two other Smart Moms, is so much fun but not super unwind-y. It does connect me to other women who like to talk about all sorts of things. And I What I've Learned - Julie Schumacherget to try out new parts of my brain through the beauty of our events and revisit the parts of my brain that love facilitating conversations.

With my daughter, I love reading. I will read the same damn story over and over and over. And there is nothing a 3 year old likes to do more than read the same story over and over and over. When it comes to values, we talk about wanting our daughter to move confidently and with empathy and awareness through the world. To have a chance to try many things she might like and to fail miserably at some and experience success in others and to realize there’s value in each. To cultivate community and to be civically minded. To be an excellent friend. To be able to speak her mind and to listen with equal measure. To have a strong moral compass rooted in global and progressive values. I want her to have a social sport she can play with friends into adulthood (that is one of those “because I don’t” things). I want her to be a good communicator, always put her shopping cart away, and to vote (because I do).

Photo by Kelly Allison

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baby proof your home

How to Baby Proof Your Home

Photo by Jamie Jones

When your little bundle of joy becomes a baby on-the-go, you’ll sleep better knowing that your home is baby-proofed.  Most parents wait until their children start to crawl before baby-proofing the home, but to avoid a last-minute panic, you can begin the baby-proofing process  before your baby even arrives.

Whether you’re a first time parent or a veteran looking for a few more savvy tips, here’s everything you need to know about how to baby proof your home.

Straighten up with the “Toilet Paper Rule.” 

Once your baby can crawl, she’ll want to put everything in her mouth. Before your baby arrives, make sure that everything small enough to fit in a toilet paper roll is placed securely out of reach. Who has time to clean once the baby arrives anyway?

Cover Outlets and Install Latches.

Once your baby is here and you become consumed with late-night feeding schedules, it’s going to be harder to remember some of the most minute details. Simple outlet covers are available at your local hardware store or you can reduce clutter with a version equipped with cord shortener. You can also place child-guard latches on every drawer and cabinet that your little one can reach. It might be an annoyance at first, but you’ll be glad this is taken care of once they’re crawling or even taking first steps.

Place Potential Dangerous Items Out of Reach

You’re already nesting, so in between cleaning the house and stocking your the freezer, take a moment to assess what items could pose potential danger for a crawling infant. Place your cleaning agents, medicines, hand sanitizer, vitamins, toiletries and other potentially toxic items out of reach, such as on a high shelf or tall cabinet. Remove any houseplants that could contain potential toxins (such as philodendron) and move them out of reach.

Secure Unstable Furniture

Sometimes, the most fashionable and modern furniture for homes can be the most unstable and dangerous for babies. Attach corner and edge guards to any sharp corners, such as on your coffee table or bookshelves. If you have tall shelving units or chests of drawers that could topple over, anchor them to the walls. Anchor your flat-screen TVs or heavy lamps to sturdy furniture with safety straps so that they don’t fall over and keep additional heavy items as far from the edge as possible.

Check Loose Cords or Drapes

If your child can reach any cords or drapes in your home, replace or shorten them to avoid strangulation. If you can’t replace them, tie them so that they begin at a higher length and avoid placing your baby’s crib or play space nearby.

Are you baby proofing while pregnant? Here are a few helpful ways to prepare for a newborn from your mom friends at SmartMom.

RELATED QUESTIONS

My daughter has recently started crawling. Does anybody know how we can baby proof our fireplace? It’s brick and I’m nervous about the corners.

Any advice on baby proofing your house?

Tips on baby proofing the house what is most beneficial?

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What are some ways that you moms have baby proofed your houses?

I have not baby proofed my house yet. We moved to our house in November and may be moving into a different house again. (My husband is military). What are the basic necessities I will need? No stairs in this house currently, but our next one will. My son is turning 6 months on tues.

I have a wine rack built into the end of our cupboards. Our baby is now very mobile, I’m trying really hard to just teach him no instead of baby proofing, but I was hoping somebody might have some great ideas as to how to baby proof the wine to stay in the rack so he can’t pull it out.

Any baby proofing tips/tricks? I have twin boys who are about to start walking. Also, we live in a townhouse and the bottom level has concrete floors. I’ve already purchased a couple baby gates

I was so excited when Eli became mobile….then this happened. Guess I need to do some more baby proofing!

My 8 1/2 month old boy is crawling full time and pulling himself up. What are some things I need to watch out for that I may have missed. And what are some suggestions on baby proofing the house?

 

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