Tag Archives: motherhood

Making My Own Baby Food - SmartMom

Why Making My Own Baby Food Was The Best Decision I Made

When it comes to feeding your baby, it seems as though there are endless options to choose from. In the beginning, it was formula feeding vs breastfeeding and when my baby started to eat solids, it was making my own baby food vs. buying baby food from the store. Whatever your choice, the options a new parent faces can seem overwhelming.

When my son was four months old, and I got the go-ahead from the doctor, I decided to start solid foods with him. However, I didn’t go to the grocery and buy jars of food, I was excited to try making my son’s food. I cook for myself every day, so how hard could it be to cook for him too?

Before I started making his food, I read The Wholesome Baby Food Guide from cover to cover, I learned about what foods were safe at what ages, allergies, and got some delicious sounding recipes. Looking back on these past seven months of making my son’s food, I can easily say that making my own baby food was the best decision I ever made. It allowed for me to make sure my son got all the nutrition he needed, all the while getting to experience and enjoy new flavors, spices, textures, and food groups.

What To Cook

I started my son on sweet potato first. I washed and baked the potato and when it was done, I pureed it in the food processor with some of his formula. He loved the sweetness of it and I was thrilled that his first experience with food was positive. It bolstered my confidence to try more foods. As an added bonus, one sweet potato was only .88 cents and lasted many meals for my son.  As he grew, I started to give him the same foods I was eating, just pureed or mashed up.

Making his food enabled me to have control over the ingredients. I could make sure that his food was made without sugar or salt, but added lots of spices that he grew to love, like cinnamon and curry. If I didn’t have the fresh fruit or vegetables in the house, I bought frozen organic fruit, such as blueberries or peas. I also stocked up on canned coconut milk and cans of pureed pumpkin, squash and sweet potato (Farmer’s Market Foods does not use BPA in their cans, and their food is organic). By not having baby food jars in the house, I always had to be one step ahead and make sure I had shelf-stable back up food.

The Adjustment Period

I found that my son easily adjusted to new foods, as long as I mixed them in with his old favorites. A mash of avocado and banana, which took approximately one minute to make, became a favorite for him. This made traveling easy, for all I had to do was throw easy to mash food, such as an avocado or banana, in his diaper bag, and no matter where we were, he had food to eat. If I we were headed to a restaurant, I would simply order my salad with extra avocado and mash that for him.

The Bottom Line

The main reason why making my own baby food was the best decision I made, however, is that by sharing food with my son, it gave us a shared experience at the table. Because I gave my son the same food I was eating, he got to experience all the same smells, tastes, and flavors that I did.

Now that he is older, I am still giving him the same food as I eat, however now I cut it into tiny cubes for him to pick up and feed to himself. However, the food is still the same favorites he has been eating since he was tiny, just in a different form. I want my son to enjoy eating and to eat healthy and nutritious food. By making the decision to make his food this early in his life, I hope it sets him up for a lifetime of enjoying the same healthful and delicious foods he ate as a baby.

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Siblings Sharing a Room - SmartMom

Siblings Sharing a Room: How to Avoid the Drama

Earlier this summer our family made a big move: from Connecticut to Maine. After accepting a job (my dream job!) at a newspaper, I decided that we’d have to temporarily downsize to make the move work, which means my young son and daughter are sharing a bedroom for the first time since they were toddlers. While siblings sharing a room is not ideal, we are figuring it out and have a few tips about how to make co-habitation work. 

Personal Space 101

My kids share bunk beds. My son has the top bunk, where he has his trusty star comforter and his favorite stuffies, which include a snake and a turkey. My daughter has the bottom bunk, which is covered in her pink patchwork quilt, a ton of pillows and a few dolls. These spaces are sacred – and each one can keep what they want on their beds (within reason!).

We also have two dressers, two bookcases and two toy boxes – because siblings sharing a room still each need their own space within the shared space.

Stick to Routines

We’re lucky that the kids have always had the same bedtime. That’s eased the transition into a shared room, since it’s easy to keep up our routines. When I say it’s time for bed, they both go…and usually with minimal fuss. Each child loves to read to themselves before drifting off, so I just remind them that it’s not talk or playtime. That helps too.

Set Boundaries

One important thing to remember is to share boundaries for everything from bedtime rules to modesty. For my kids, that means that only one can change in the bedroom at a time (the other can change in the bathroom or my bedroom). Also, they both know that each other’s personal space is sacred so they don’t go through it.

Be Flexible

What if one night one of the kids just wants to sleep alone? I have a backup plan in place – and a backup to the backup. Between air mattresses, sleeping bags and cozy spots around the house, there are a few options for the kids if they need a night away from their shared room. But shh! I haven’t told them that yet.

Make it Fun

A close friend gave my kids lava lamps for their new room and that fun touch has taken the space to a whole new level of fun. Whether it’s something special like a reading nook corner or something whimsical like artwork that touches on each child’s interests, making the room a fun space helps make the transition to a shared space easier on everyone. I mean who doesn’t want to live in a fun room?

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Parenting a Child with Autism - SmartMom

When Your Friend is Parenting a Child with Autism

We’ve all heard what the media says about the diets, the vaccines, and the swarm of attention that autism has gained. And it’s not surprising, considering that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (commonly known as ASD).

As a SmartMom, you will encounter friends, co-workers, or fellow volunteers who are parenting a child with autism. Or, perhaps you yourself are parenting a child with autism.

Either way, here’s what’s important to know about ASD (and how to talk to friends who are parenting a child with autism).

When you’ve met a child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.

There is no perfectly accurate profile of a child with ASD because they are all so different. Autism entails diagnostic criteria of impaired social interaction, disturbed communication, and stereotypical behavior, interests, and activities. However, autism is a spectrum disorder, and these criteria can greatly differ from child to child.

For this reason, it’s important not to pretend that you understand a child simply by knowing their diagnosis.

Avoid saying: “Yeah, I know all autistic kids love Thomas the Train.
Instead say: “How can I help? How are you doing?

It’s especially critical that you listen to those parenting a child with autism, because they know the most about their child. Therefore, avoid comparing their child to other children with (or without) ASD. Your friend is likely already highly aware of the typical developmental norms in which their child doesn’t fall, and they don’t really need your reminders. Letting your friend know that you are there to listen helps her feel less isolated in her parenting.

You may be asking, “I know what not to say, but what can I say?” Many parents of children with autism are overwhelmed. Can you offer a couple of hours to help them with laundry or meals? Letting your friend know that you desire to help and come alongside her in this journey may be the greatest gift you can offer (and then actually follow through).

If you’re a researcher, be an informed one.

Believe me, your friend is doing everything she can to stay informed and to take care of her child in the best way. Many people will give her suggestions, advice, and tips–most of which will be taken from non- reliable or non-credible sources. If you’re interested in autism, it’s not wrong to do research, but be selective about what you choose to believe. Remember that the Internet is an open forum, and autism is a highly publicized topic.

If you have the research bug, I’ve found Google Scholar to be a great place to easily find credible research articles. I choose to read articles that are peer-reviewed and published within the past 10 years. Now, just because you’ve done your research, it doesn’t mean that you need to prepare a presentation for those parenting a child with autism. Likely, your friend works with a team of therapists and doctors who are informed with the latest research. You have the unique opportunity to be a supportive friend; don’t trade that awesome role for being the worried Internet researcher.

Avoid saying:I read on a blog that you should…
Instead say: Nothing–unless your friend has huge respect for your Google Scholar researching skills.

When you’re referring to a child with autism, use people-first language.

You may not notice the subtle difference, but the parents of children with autism likely will. When you use people-first language, the diagnosed condition doesn’t describe their child. Instead, ASD is something about their child, but not the identifying component.

Even though your intentions may be admirable, it’s important to know how what you say can be perceived. Here’s an example:

Avoid saying: “My friend has an autistic child.”
Instead say: “My friend has a child with autism.”

It’s important to keep this in mind with any child that you talk about. Ultimately, a diagnosis doesn’t define us, but it does affect us. Most parents don’t appreciate when their child is defined by autism, but also don’t appreciate when their child’s differences are ignored.

As a friend, valuing their child may mean recognizing their differences and caring for them despite these differences. Be open to hearing her experiences, and be willing to offer help and continual friendship.

For more information about ASD visit:
Autism Speaks for a great overview and introduction to ASD, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for information about
geared towards the speech and language component of ASD or National Autism Center for those interested in the research behind ASD treatments.

 

Parents also have a role in a child’s development, read this post to see what you can do.

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

My son is 2 years old. He is not talking yet..psychologist told us that he has mild autism. What should I do?

I just found out my daughter has autism and I want to cry. I just don’t want life to be hard for her. Any advice?

My 10 year old son has an autism disorder, a mood disorder and ADHD, and is bullied..

My 2 year old was diagnosed with autism. On different sites people recommend camel milk for improvement. Anyone have experience with camel milk?

My son sometimes freaks out when he is off his routine..he has been tested before and there’s no sign. My sister insists I need to get a second opinion. Any advice?

Moms of children with autism: Prior to your child being diagnosed, did you have any inklings that something wasn’t right?

My 6.5 month is so fidgety. My BF keeps saying that he has autism or some developmental problem causing him to do this..

I am currently convinced my daughter has mild autism. Any moms of autistic children with tips, advise, etc.?

My daughter was recently assessed as having a language delay..she is also being evaluated for any other developmental delays.. can having such a label negatively impact her?
 

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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 be a Successful Stay at Home Mom - SmartMom

How to Be a Successful Stay at Home Mom

Photo by Marapytta

When my oldest child was born, I stayed home with her while her dad worked. Half of it was great, the other half… well… not so great. I was frustrated, lonely, and in all honesty, pretty lost. I tried filling the days with activities, volunteer efforts and projects around the house, but let’s face it: there’s only so much you can do with a seven month old.

Just as I was really getting comfortable with how to be a successful stay at home mom, I went back to work. I thought I would love going back to work and that it would make me an even better mom.

I was wrong. I struggled with that too. 

It’s not because I was better at staying home, or better at working. It’s not because I’m a good or bad mom. I just wasn’t good at being happy with where I was. The grass always seemed greener, you know?

Anyway, the whole transition from stay at home mom to full time working mom (and now to work at home mom) has given me a lot of perspective on what it takes to manage each of those roles. All of them are demanding in their own ways and it’s critical to know the challenges going in so you can be prepared for them.

Looking back on my own experience and talking with other stay at home moms has shown me that there are three keys that help women learn how to be a successful stay at home mom:

Have structure.

I finally learned that it was better for me to have a set schedule rather than trying to figure out what I was going to do each day. I set up designated days for different events or activities. For instance, Monday was grocery day, Wednesday was errand day and Friday was “field trip” day where we did something fun in our neighborhood. I scheduled out tasks and projects and set weekly goals for myself. I got up at the same time everyday even if the baby was sleeping in and I went to bed at a reasonable hour. I provided our daily routine with a lot of structure, which was great for me and, of course, the baby too.

Have a social life.

There’s a reason why there are so many “Mommy & Me” groups out there: moms crave socializing. They don’t just want to sing nursery rhymes and finger paint all day, every day. They want adult conversation. Once I found some girlfriends that I could really hang with, I felt more comfortable in my own skin on a regular basis.

Have a sense of self.

I love being “mom.” It’s one of my favorite things in the world. The cuddles, the hugs, the tears, the craziness… I love it all. I relish being a mom. But I’m also Angela. I had to learn (and sometimes re-learn) what I like and what I don’t like. I’ve tried (and dropped) hobbies to keep me interested in things outside of my kids. The more I have balance in my life between “mom” and “Angela” the better I am at being both. I read, I knit, I watch sappy movies. And it’s all good stuff. Need more motivation? Having a balanced mom makes life easier for kids too! They can see that you have a variety of interests and thereby encourage them to seek out their own likes and dislikes, too.

Being a stay at home mom is hard. I have the utmost respect for women who do it and do it well. If you are a stay at home mom, what helped you learn how to be a successful stay at home mom? Share your tips and experiences below. Who knows? Maybe you’ll help someone else out.

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

How do SAHMS have it all together?
How many moms on here enjoy being a stay at home mommy?
How do you stay at home moms afford to do so?
How many of you are SAHMs? Do you ever sometimes just feel like you need a little me time?
How do SAHMs do it? I’ve been jobless for a year now..
How can I help my wife who is a SAHM feel less lonely and disconnected…
How do all you sahms do everything? My husband is about to go back to work…
How do you sahms manage the never ending pile of laundry?
How do you mommies meet and make friends with other mommies as a SAHM?
How many SAHMs on here and loving it?
 

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playrooms for kids

Playrooms for Kids That Inspire Learning and Creativity

Photo by Kalon Studios featuring their Caravan Conversion Kit

Everybody needs a place to call their own. It could be an office, garage, bathroom, or bedroom, but wherever it is, we need a place where we can feel safe and comfortable. Often, for our little ones, those places are playrooms for kids.

A playroom is a place for our children to learn and grow on their own, a place where they can guide themselves and learn from their environment. Playrooms for kids are important places for a child and as such, special attention should be paid to items we put in our children’s’ playroom and how we set up the environment.

When designing a playroom, there are four main factors which should be taken into account: safety, educational value, fun and appearance. If done well, these factors can work together to become a great place for child to play and grow.

Safety

Make sure that the room is well lit and all outlets are covered. Book shelves and other items that could fall over should be anchored to the wall. It is important to leave space on the floor for the child to move around and not pack the room too tightly with so many toys that the child cannot move. This creates a safe environment for the child to play, but also allows the child to exercise and progress in their muscle control. Extra space also allows room for the parent to play with the child.

Educational Value

Make sure that the playroom is well stocked with toys and games that stimulate a child’s mind in a way that appropriate to their age and developmental stage. For infants and young toddlers, make sure that soft interactive toys with bright colors are available. Play mats and stuffed animals are good at this stage. For older toddlers, puzzles and blocks should be plentiful and easy to reach. Set aside a “special” section for reading which is pleasant and comfortable and spend time in this section reading with you kid.

Fun

Don’t spend all of your time in the playroom, instead make sure that the child wants to be in the room and engaged in play. Make sure the room has bright colors and toys the child enjoys.

Try your best to make sure that the kid can’t get into too much trouble in the room so that they think of it a pleasant place to spend time. This is done by keeping out items that the child should not be playing with, or items which you limit the child’s exposure to (such as iPads or video games). That way you don’t have to take the items away from the child in the room.

Appearance

Make sure the room is pleasing to the child as well as adaptable to the child’s tastes and developmental ability. It is best not to pick a theme for the room (such as cowboy or princes). Instead, paint the walls brightly and as the child grows, adjust the room accordingly so that it remains fun and interesting for the child.

Shared Space

Finally, get in the room with the child. More and more research comes out that shows children benefit greatly from playing with their parents. Make sure the playroom is comfortable for both you and the child and get in there with them. Nothing will make the playroom a better and more inviting environment than your child knowing this is a place they will get to play with mom or dad.

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sick baby - SmartMom

10 Ways to Help Your Sick Baby Feel Better

You know your baby better than anyone. You know what she’s like when she’s happy, you know what she’s like when she’s sad, and you’ll be the first to know if she’s feeling under the weather.

Here are 10 ways you can help a sick baby feel better a little faster.

Make applesauce “lollipops” to soothe sore gums.

By the time we celebrated my daughter’s first birthday it honestly felt like she had been teething for 90% of her life. Cutting teeth can be an extremely miserable experience (for everyone involved!) but there are a few things you can do to help your baby feel more comfortable. One of my favorite teething-survival methods is to spread a spoonful of applesauce in the center of a clean washcloth, then fold and twist it up so that it resembles a lollipop. Stick it in the freezer for 20 minutes or so and then let your little chew on it. It will soothe their aching gums, and the yummy applesauce will keep them interested.

Serve frozen treats to sooth sore gums.

Once my babies are old enough, I let them chomp down on frozen peas or frozen blueberries when they’re teething. This works like a charm and my kids totally love it. But I will warn you- blueberries stain. Bad. One time I even tried to outsmart the blueberries by stripping my baby down to his diaper before letting him loose, and he was purple for 2 days. You have been warned.

Use a pillow to help relieve congestion.

If your baby is congested you can help her get some sleep by placing a pillow under the crib mattress so that it’s slightly inclined. (Just slightly. You don’t want her rolling down it.) This will help the mucus drain better, and she’ll have an easier time breathing.

Use saline solution for stuffy nose relief.

Saline solution can work wonders on a stuffy nose. Just put a few drops in each nostril before using an aspirator to remove the mucus.

Avoid bulb syringes.

Speaking of aspirators, those blue bulb syringes are a mom’s worst enemy. My 11 month old has developed a burning hatred of them. It takes 3 fully grown adults to tackle him, pin his arms to his side, hold his head still, and try to stick the thing up his nose without accidently taking his eye out. And even after all that work, the results leave something to be desired… if one can in fact desire mucus. In search of a better alternative I stumbled across this device. It has rave reviews but I haven’t been able to bring myself to try it yet. What are your thoughts? Have you ever used one? I’d love to hear about it!

Use essential oils.

We love oils at our house. The ones we use the most on the kids are peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, melaluca, and wild orange. We use them for everything from ear infections and bronchitis to a sore throat. Coconut and olive oil can both be used to treat cradle cap. Just be sure to do your research on how to use essential oils properly. Some of them will need to be diluted before you can safely use them on your baby.

Practice infant massage.

This kind of goes hand in hand with essential oils. When my babies have an ear infection I like to use a drop of diluted lavender and eucalyptus oil and massage in a downward direction behind their ear, on their neck. Then I apply gentle inward pressure in front of the ear toward their cheek (where their sideburns would be). It’s relaxing, and seems to help their infections clear up quickly.

Use rice packs.

I know I’ve mentioned our obsession with rice packs before, but seriously… they are fantastic! We use them on sore muscles, upset tummies, and earaches. It’s always the first thing our kids ask for if they are sick.

Talk to your pediatrician about baby Tylenol.

If your baby has a fever Tylenol can help make him a little more comfortable. Depending on your child’s age you may need to check with your pediatrician first. He may even tell you to alternate between Ibuprofen and Tylenol.

SNUGGLES.

Last but not least,  forget your daily list of things to do and spend some quality down time with your baby. It will help him feel more comfortable, and guaranteed you’ll enjoy the cuddling too.

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

Would any mom leave work or call in if their baby was sick?? Even if the job doesn’t take doctor excuses..

11 weeks pregnant and I can’t hardly eat anything.. anything I can do to fix this? And is it going to affect my baby?

My twins are so congested from nose and now my 3 month baby is sick as well..help please

A family member was sick for two weeks.. would it be okay to bring them around my baby?

I hate that I am sick and I have to literally ask for help..

My baby girl is sick for the first time..

My baby has been going to daycare since he was 6 weeks old and is now sick.. Is this something that should be expected because he is in daycare?!

My poor baby girl woke up and has gotten sick.. Should I take her to the doctor? What can I do to help her get better?

My 9 month old baby is sick for the first time with what seems to be a common cold..

My daughter has had a high fever since yesterday.. no sneezing or runny nose, nothing..

 

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Best Jobs for Stay at Home Moms in 2014 - SmartMom

Best Jobs for Stay at Home Moms in 2014

The decision to be a stay at home parent is never one that is arrived at easily. But for moms who want to be home with the kids and contribute to the household income at the same time, we have found some of the best jobs for stay at home moms in 2014.

There are multitudes of logistics to consider before informing your boss, that yes, you would prefer to spend time with your adorable children rather than stare at a computer screen all day (really?).  However, there often comes a moment a few months into the new gig one looks at the bank account and realizes that along with all the pros that can come with staying at home, there is one glaringly obvious negative: less income.

So what’s a parent to do?   If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself Googling “best work from home jobs” or “best jobs for stay at home moms” or “I will do anything for money as long as I can do it from the comfort of my home in yoga pants.”

There are entire websites dedicated to this subject matter, but I’ve come to the realization that if it looks like a pig and smells like a pig…it’s probably too good to be true.   The one exception I’ve found is an article on Forbes.com from April, which in all honesty I trust solely because it’s on Forbes.com.

With that being said, there are a few avenues that one can explore to find the best jobs for stay at home moms that can yield promising careers, while also allowing for the flexibility and prioritization that being the primary caregiver for a child requires.

Childcare

Since you’re already taking care of one kid, why not add a few to the mix?  I mean, at least you’ll be getting paid to wipe snot rather than do it for free.

I jest, but in all honesty, if you have the temperament/patience to take care of additional children, this is a fantastic way to make money.   You already have most if not all the gear.   You can set your own schedule and salary.   And at the end of the day, when you send all the other children home, you will feel like your own child is the most perfect and well-behaved child of all time.

Church

Churches are often flexible and understanding when it comes to part-time employees with children.  You might be able to bring your child with you while you serve as a secretary or education coordinator.  You’ll most likely get the added bonus of discounted preschool expenses if the church has that program.

Freelance Writing

While this can take a great deal of effort and time to begin (and obviously, you need to have an interest/capacity for the written word), the flexibility of being a “professional writer” is beyond compare.   I thrive with deadlines, and am thrilled by the rush I feel when sending off an article that could be potentially thrown back at me and considered “rubbish” by an editor.  This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, however.  This path does allow you to work when you can, from wherever you can.

Customer Service

This is definitely not everyone’s idea of a good time, but if you’re able to patiently respond to the needs of a whiny toddler, you probably are already overly qualified for these positions.  You need to have the ability to be “on call and available” for chunks of the day which isn’t always possible with young children, but if you have a reliable nap schedule, answering the phone and telling people how to install their printer could be an easy paycheck.

Direct Selling

Whether it’s books, knives, jewelry, makeup, or cooking utensils, there is a company that will allow you to sell directly.  Think of those boozy gatherings your mom had at her house where there were tons of women and tons of Tupperware. This route really depends on how much you are willing to put into selling to your network (and how willing they are to put up with you).   I mean, some people have been so successful they’ve ended up with pink cars.  Dreams really do come true…

All in all, there are very few of us who are able to find the happy medium between totally fulfilled career whilst simultaneously a totally present stay at home parent.   Most likely, one area will give a little.   The options listed above may not feel like they are furthering your career, but they will allow you to make some money while being present for those first steps, sloppy kisses, and endless giggles.

 

If you’re a stay at home mom, you may be thinking about homeschooling. Here’s some information.

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

I’m a new mom. I’m 31. I’ve worked my whole life. My husband wants me to quit my job and stay at home with the baby…
I’m looking into Advocare so I can stay at home. Does anybody know anything about it or any other jobs for a SAHM?
I am a stay at home mom! What kind of jobs so you mammas do if your working?
I want to be a stay at home mom so I’ve been trying to look at jobs I can do from home. Any ideas?
I think hubby wants me to eventually quit my job, once we have the baby. For a number of reasons it scares me to DEATH. Anyone out there been a working woman…
So my fiancé was talking today and wants to get a second night job and for me to be a SAHM. I’ve been at my job for 4 years…
I am a stay at home mom to one 7 month old baby boy! I love it but would like to make some extra money…
Got a stay at home job! Do training next Tuesday! Get to be the Case Manager for my old boss for her Metabolic Mapping…
Anyone had to give up a stable high paying job to be a stay at home mom?
Any moms find jobs where they can stay at home?
 

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