Archives for December 2014

What’s the Deal with Cloth Diapers?

When you begin your parenting journey, diapers may be one of the first things that come to mind.  Many eco-friendly parents are choosing a greener way of diapering with cloth diapers.  It’s not for everyone, but cloth diapering has some advantages that you may not have considered, including helping you save money, keeping your baby safe from toxins and supporting the environment.

What's the deal with cloth diapers?

Photo by MissMessie via Wikimedia Commons

If you still think cloth diapers are a burp cloth fastened with a safety pin, you’re living in the dark ages.  Cloth diapers have come a long way since your great-grandma used them.  Today cloth diapers come in a variety of styles and are actually pretty cute.  Some are self-contained all-in-one systems that include absorbent pads and fit snugly at the waist and legs with a water-proof outer layer.  Others contain removable or disposable pads.  Most modern cloth diapers have built-in fasteners in the form of snaps or Velcro.  And get this, they come in some really fun colors and patterns that are much more appealing than the average disposable diaper.

Many parents are fear cloth diapers because of the mess.  It may seem much easier and sanitary to throw away the waste.  But with a little effort, you can keep everyone and everything just as clean.  With cloth diapers, you simply dump solid waste into the toilet and rinse them before putting them in a laundry bin.  On laundry day, tip the bag of cloth diapers into the washing machine and wash twice with regular detergent.  Running two cycles will ensure your diapers are residue free and all of the waste has drained from your washer.  If you use a washable inner lining, you may only need to wash the lining if waste hasn’t spilled into the shell of the diaper.  When using a disposable inner lining, you may only need to toss the liner and replace it to continue using the same diaper. This cuts down on laundry.

Despite a few extra loads of laundry every week, there’s no doubt about it: cloth diapers save money.  For a first child, cloth diapers can cut your diapering bill in half, saving you around $1,000 over three years.  For additional children, you save much more as you can reuse your cloth diapers from child-to-child.  And you’ll never run out of diapers if you use cloth.  Just run a load of laundry and you’ve immediately restocked.

Beyond the financial benefits, your baby may benefit from cloth diapers too.  Many disposable diapers contain toxic chemicals that are constantly rubbing against your baby’s skin and therefore being absorbed into the body.  These chemicals, including chlorine, perfumes and polyacrylate, are a result of the manufacturing process, are used to make disposable diapers more absorbent and may be added as color dyes for the outer aesthetics.  They can reduce healthy bacteria that protect the pH balance of skin and may cause skin dryness and irritation leading to diaper rashes and even more serious long-term conditions.  While the toxicity of disposable diapers may be minimal on an individual basis, consider the number of diapers you use daily, weekly and monthly.  The accumulation of toxins is what can have a damaging effect on children.  Additionally, many parents believe cloth diapers help potty train children because they are better able feel a damp sensation when they urinate.  This leads to an easier connection between the urge to go to the bathroom and the need to get to a toilet.

 

Of course the most obvious reason for cloth diapering is that you are producing less waste and it is better for the environment.  Disposable diapers are one of the most prevalent items that take a long time to biodegrade in landfills.  It may be hard to see how your contribution can make a difference but the cumulative results of many families making the choice to use cloth diapers can make a big impact on the environment.  Plus, teaching eco-friendly practices to your children, including reducing waste and reusing items, is a wonderful lesson from day one.  You don’t have to be a green fanatic to choose cloth diapering.  But it does show you really care about being a thoughtful citizen of the world and it’s a great way to be a role model to your children.

Cloth diapering is certainly a personal choice.  Knowing the advantages can help you make that decision for your family, your baby and the world around you.

Holiday Crafts

Holiday Crafts

The holidays are upon us and that can only mean a few things: family, friends, food and good cheer! Chances are your house is bright with lights, your decorations are up and your family holiday cards have been sent. With such hectic events and activities, it can be hard to find some downtime to spend with your little ones that doesn’t involve napping.

In between all the present wrapping and cookie baking, easily set aside some imaginative time with your children by creating fun and quick crafts, perfect for those last minute decorations!

We have found two cheap, quick, and heartwarming activities that will have your children more excited for the holidays than ever before!

 

Candy Cane Reindeer

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen! Flying reindeer are one of the most magical parts of the holiday season. Entertain your child’s imagination by encouraging them to create reindeer crafts to hang up on the tree!

You will need:

2 candy canes per reindeer

2 googly eyes per reindeer

Brown pipe cleaners

Small red pompoms

Glue

Directions:

Take the two candy canes and place them against one another so the curved ends are sticking out. Help your little one wrap one brown pipe cleaner around the center of these candy canes to keep them together and form the base of a face. Put two small dots of glue towards the top of the pipe cleaners and have your child stick on the googly eyes! Additionally, put one dot of glue in the center of the pipe cleaners and have your child press on the red pompom for a nose. And voila: one Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to either hang up on the tree, give away as a gift, place around the house, or leave for Santa Clause!

 

Paper Plate Snowman

“Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say, he was made of snow but the children know how he came to life one day!” Create your own Frosty the Snowman out of a couple paper plates and construction paper! It doesn’t hurt to sing along the lyrics while you’re crafting, either!

You will need:

2 paper plates per snowman

Orange, black, and 2 other colors of construction paper

Glue or tape

Scissors

Pencil or Pen

Large googly eyes

Directions:

Begin by placing one plate face up and one plate face down and taping (or gluing) these together to form the head and body. This will probably require a lot of tape! Next, help your child cut out a nose from the orange construction paper, some buttons from the black construction paper, and some boots, gloves and a scarf with the construction paper of your choice! Using tape or glue, attach these pieces to their appropriate spot and add the large googly eyes! Finish off your paper snowman with a big smile and remember to let your child be as creative as they want! If they want their snowman to only have one eyes then let them! If they want their snowman to have feet for hands then let them!

 

This holiday season is perfect for some quality family time. Turn off the phones and television and break out the construction paper and safety scissors for some fun, cheap and easy winter crafting!

Bra Fitting

Bra Fitting

Although most women are not aware of it, experts claim that between 70-80% of us have been wearing the wrong bra size for years. How is that possible, you ask? That can’t be true, you shout!

But it is true.

Many of us only get fitted once in our life when, in reality, we are constantly changing shape. We gain weight and lose it, build muscle, have children, train for half-marathons, travel, take cooking classes etc. With such active lifestyles, our size will never truly remain the same.

So what do we do? We grab our wallets, a few friends, and set out on bra hunting trips with only one factor in mind: our cup size.  Unfortunately for us, one of the most common mistakes in bra shopping is purchasing a cup size too small and a band size too large. Small cups promote side spillage and unsightly lumps and bumps while a loose band causes straps to dig into the shoulders without the appropriate support and lift. Despite the fact these are all common problems, women seem to simply accept them. A proper fitting is necessary and, while it is not an exact science, it will be a starting point to help you find that perfect fit.

Many stores that sell bras have employees with the knowledge to help out. But, if you have a measuring tape at home, you can easily find your sizes yourself!

We have collected a few helpful steps to assist you through the process:

Band Size Steps:

  1. Wear your best fitting structured bra
  2. Stretch your measuring tape around your back to your front
  3. Keep your measuring tape under your arms and bringing it up across to the middle of your chest
  4. Locate band size on measuring tape
  5. If you are an odd number, round up to the following even number
  6. This even number will be your band size.

Cup Size Steps:

  1. Wear your best fitting structured bra
  2. Pull your tape measure around your back and to your front.
  3. Holding it snug but not tight, measure around the fullest part of your bust.
  4. Subtract your band measurement from your bust measurement.
  5. The difference will be your cup size.

Each inch of this difference represents a different cup size. A difference of 1 inch is an A cup size, 2 inches a B cup size, 3 inches a C cup size, and so on.

For example, if you measure at a 38 inch band size and a 36 inch cup size, the difference equals 2, which would make you a B cup size.

 

Our bras support us every day of our lives: we shouldn’t have to settle! Measure yourself today and find the perfect fit for you!

It is important to remember that bras stretch over time so, when new, you should fit firmly and comfortably on the last hook.

When Will I Feel my Baby Move?

One of the most exciting moments of pregnancy is feeling your little one move within you. Not only does this reinforce the bond you have as mother and child, but it shows that your baby is continuing to develop. These little kicks, tumbles and jabs will become distinct as your pregnancy progresses but most movements will begin between 16 and 26 weeks. Although, some women with their second child claim they feel movement after only 13 weeks!

For first time mothers, these activities can be hard to distinguish from traditional bodily functions, especially towards the beginning of your pregnancy. Hunger pains and other internal tasks can feel very similar; but don’t worry. By your second and third semester, your little one will make sure to let you know they’re there! Their movements will become much more intense and frequent.

When Will I Feel my Baby Move?To help you along the way, we have created an easy guide to recognize your little one’s activity:

12th Week: Your growing child is probably beginning to move at this point! But, as they are still very small, you will most likely not begin to feel anything just yet.

16th Week: Around sixteen weeks women have claimed to feel tiny flutters! While there is a decent chance this is a regular bodily function, it just as well may by your little one moving around!

20th Week: This far into your child’s development you will probably start to feel more distinct fetal movements, which is better known as quickening.

24th Week: The movements within you are becoming more and more distinct and frequent. Additionally, you may occasionally feel your growing baby hiccup! This will feel like gentle twitching and is a cause for smiles.

28th Week: As your tummy and child grow bigger, their movements grow in strength and regularity. While this can be sudden and slightly painful, it is a sign of good health and progress!

36th Week: The larger your baby grows, the less room they will have in your uterus. This will slow down their movements until you have given birth and welcome them into the world.

These little kicks, tumbles and jabs will help bring you closer to the life growing within you. Enjoy every moment and, if you like, monitor them! Keep a tally or scrapbook and engage in motherhood in every way you can!

 

It is important to remember that fetal movements will grow more distinctive over time. Just because you cannot recognize them initially does not mean they are not occurring. However, it is always beneficial to set up appointments with your doctor and discuss your pregnancy!

Should Your Baby Get a Flu Shot?

It’s the season of giving, including sharing germs.  Babies and children are most susceptible to serious cases of the flu that can lead to greater health problems like pneumonia.  In fact, on average, 20,000 children under 5 are hospitalized due to the flu every year, but most of them are under 2.  Babies are most vulnerable because their immune systems are still immature due to their continuously developing bodies and their lack of worldly exposure to microbes.  Additionally, infants tend to put things in their mouths without regard for sanitation.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that anyone over the age of 6 months should get a yearly flu shot. It is most effective at the beginning of the season, in the fall.  However if you or your little one haven’t gotten it yet, it’s not too late.  You can still get it up to February, which is helpful if your little one is not yet 6 months or if you had a particular reason preventing your baby from getting it earlier.

Should Your Baby Get a Flu Shot?The flu vaccine comes in both an injection and a nasal spray.  Children ages 2 or older who do not have a history of asthma or wheezing can get the nasal spray.  Otherwise, infants under 2 should get the injection.  If your baby is getting her flu shot for the first time, she may need two doses 1 month apart.  Your pediatrician can determine whether your baby needs a second dose as is recommended for some children under age 9.  Usually the flu shot or mist takes around two weeks to take effect.

Flu vaccinations can have side-effects, although usually mild.  Typical side effects include a low-grade fever, muscle aches, headaches, soreness or redness at the injection site (for those who get the shot) and a runny nose or cough (for those who get the nasal spray).  If your children experience any extreme reactions including high fever, prolonged flu-like symptoms and swelling of the throat or at the injection site, consult your physician immediately.  It is rare for children to react adversely to the flu shot but it can happen.

There are a few exceptions to the rule on who should get the flu shot.  You should consult your pediatrician if your child has been sick recently or had other vaccines recently.  Children with existing medical conditions including asthma, immune deficiencies or nerve disorders may not be eligible for the flu shot.  Additionally, children who are allergic to eggs can have side-effects from the flu vaccine because it contains egg protein.  Your doctor may still recommend it but may ask to monitor your child after the vaccine.  For infants who have just reached the eligibility age of 6 months, you may not know whether your baby is allergic to eggs so take extra caution.

The flu shot helps protect people from various strains of the flu that scientists believe will be most prevalent during the winter flu season.  Therefore, each year the flu shot defends against different strains of the illness.  That’s why we need one each year.  For the 2014-2015 season, the flu vaccine contains H1N1, H3N2 and two strains of influenza B.

The flu shot is not only recommended for babies, but also adults who are around babies.  That means you, mom and dad.  So take a family trip to the doctor or a clinic to get those flu shots together.

Developmental Milestones

Before we dive in, what exactly are developmental milestones?

Developmental milestones are age-specific tasks that the majority of children can achieve within that particular age group.  However, while each milestone has been assigned a general stage, the actual age children accomplish each task may differ. Just remember that every child is an individual that will develop at their own rate, and you should always remain positive, excited and encouraging!

We have collected a few examples of developmental milestones that can be realistically expected from 2-18 months of age:

Developmental Milestones

In 2-5 months of age, you can expect to see your child smiling, laughing, grasping onto a rattle or a similarly shaped object, and becoming startled by sudden noises.

In 6-9 months of age, your child may begin rolling over, crawling, adorably babbling, turning and shifting to locate sources of sounds, and performing vowel consonant combinations, such as “dada”.

Developmental Milestones

 

In 10-12 months of age, your little one will probably be cruising (shuffled walking) across the room with support from an adult or the furniture, finding mobile ways to reach desired objects across the room, pointing at specific objects and people, using their thumb and fingers to pick up small objects, and physically and visually exploring their toys!

In 13-18 months of age, your child will be walking by themselves, walking up and down stairs with one hand held by an adult, easily throwing lightweight objects such as a ball, using a small vocabulary of about four to ten words, following simple directions, and acknowledging and responding to his or her name.

It is important to remember that your little one may experience these stages at different times. In fact, they may take an entirely different course! But don’t worry, it’s their uniqueness that truly makes them shine!

 

If you are concerned about your child’s development, make sure to set up an appointment with their Doctor.

When Do Babies Crawl?

When Do Babies Crawl?Crawling is perhaps your child’s first great milestone! But, as wonderful a moment as it is, make sure to keep a sharp eye: before you know it they will be across the room and out of your sight!

Traditionally, your child will learn to crawl by beginning to balance on their knees and hands. After a while, they will start pushing off with their knees and realize they have the ability to move forward or backward. Although most parents aren’t aware of it, crawling helps to strengthen the very same muscles they will soon use for walking!

The majority of babies will begin crawling between 7 and 10 months. Granting, all babies are different and your little one may prefer a slightly different method of transportation: using a hand behind and foot in front to push forward, sliding on their stomach, scooting around on their bottom, or rolling all over the room!

As long as they are figuring out a way to get around, you have nothing to worry about. Mobility is what’s important, no matter their method of choice! In certain cases some babies won’t crawl at all. They will directly shift from pulling themselves up, to standing, to using the furniture for balance, to finally walking.

Just remember, they’re quicker than you think!

Baby Skin Care: Caring for Baby’s Sensitive Skin

The soft, smooth feel of newborn skin is pretty much irresistible.  The purity of every inch of your baby’s skin – from her teensy tiny toes to her squishy cheeks – is one of the things most new parents fall in love with first.  So it’s important to take good care of that precious skin to keep your baby’s soft and healthy throughout infancy and childhood.

Newborn skin is very delicate as their bodies are still developing outside of the womb.  Their skin-based immune system, oil secretions and temperature regulation are all volatile as they acclimate to their new environment in the world.  Skin problems such as baby acne, dryness, eczema and other sensitivities are not uncommon for newborns.  Some newborn skin conditions cannot be avoided and will fade away over time.  Others can be managed through a few baby skin care practices.

Today we’re sharing some baby skin care tips for taking special care of your newborn baby’s sensitive skin:

Baby Skin Care:  Caring for Baby’s Sensitive Skin

Wash Your Newborn A Few Times a Week:  Newborns really don’t get very dirty.  If you’re changing diapers regularly and keeping your baby in mild temperatures, your newborn isn’t collecting much sweat or microbes that need daily scrubbing.  Plus her skin is still developing and isn’t suited for constant washing.  Instead, bathe your babe two or three times a week.  Spot clean with a warm wash cloth the other days to remove any impurities around the face, folds of baby fat and diaper area.  This will prevent drying out your baby’s skin.

Moisturize Often:  Because baby’s skin is prone to dryness, moisturize with a lotion specifically formulated for babies.  Do this immediately after bath-time and a few other times a week, especially if the air where you live has low-humidity.  In addition to moisturizing your baby, body massages help develop your baby’s sense of touch and makes her feel secure and loved.  Avoid baby powders, however.  They really aren’t great for skin and can be very dangerous when inhaled.

Use Natural Baby Bath and Skin Care Products:  When it comes to your baby, use the good stuff.  Never use a product designed for adults as it may be too harsh for a baby’s new skin.  Stick to natural baby bath and skin care products, including shampoos, bubble bath gel, body washes, hair care products and lotions.  Natural products will ensure you are not squirting on a dose of toxins on your wholesome little tot.

Use Sensitive Skin Products as Necessary:  While using products meant for babies is important, the baby products industry will have you believe that all newborns require products formulated for sensitive skin, and they charge a premium for them.  Discuss sensitive skin products with your pediatrician for a recommendation.  Most babies are fine with regular diapers, wipes and laundry detergent.  If you see your baby is having a reaction, then you may want to invest in sensitive skin products.  Otherwise, use your discretion.  In most cases, you can’t go wrong either way so act according to your comfort level.

Wash Clothes and Baby Items Before Using:  Whether you shop regular retail, consignment or hand-me-downs, wash all of your baby’s clothes before she wears them.  Between industrial toxins or your neighbor’s baby’s crusted spit-up, your baby deserves a fresh start when getting dressed for the day.  She’ll have plenty of opportunity to spread her own germs on her clothes. Be sure to wash other items that will come in to contact with your baby too, such as bath towels, wash clothes, linens, blankets, your new nursing bras and your shirts and blouses that may touch baby’s skin while breastfeeding.  Also, you may want to soak stuffed animals in warm water and detergent and wipe down plastic toys before handing them over to baby.

Keep Your Baby Away from Skin Toxins:  The sun, air pollution and cigarette smoke are some of the worst toxins for baby’s skin and entire bodies.  Keep your baby safe from UV rays with lightweight protective clothes.  Don’t let your baby overheat as sweat can damage a baby’s skin or cause heat rash.  It is best not to use sunscreen on newborns, but if sun exposure is unavoidable, use a broad spectrum SPF 30 or above.  Mineral sunscreen may be the safest way to go.  Keep your baby away from engine exhaust, gas fumes, manufacturing emissions and cigarette smoke as much as possible. All of these pollutants can be absorbed through the skin, causing skin problems and other health risks.

Diaper Rash is the Most Common Baby Skin Condition:  More than facial skin problems, diaper rash is the leading skin condition for infants.  Usually diaper rash can be managed by changing your baby’s diaper often – as soon as you know your baby has a wet or dirty diaper.  Also, use a diaper cream to avoid rashes or to treat them as soon as they occur.

FamilyMake Sure Mom Isn’t Causing Skin Sensitivities:  Unknowingly, moms can sometimes cause skin sensitivities in their newborns by wearing skin-irritating perfume, makeup or lotions that transfer to baby’s skin while cuddling or breastfeeding.  Additionally, mom may be eating something that a newborn’s un-evolved digestive system cannot handle, causing a skin rash.  Be vigilant for signs that indicate your own habits may be triggering skin problems in your baby.

Most newborn skin problems don’t require a visit to the pediatrician unless you notice purplish pustules, skin irregularities coupled with fever or other health issues, or the problem is persistent or recurring.  But if mentioning the problems to your pediatrician makes you feel better, do it.  Otherwise, use these baby skin care tips to keep your newborns skin kissably smooth throughout infancy.

Baby Names

Picking the name of your future child is pretty overwhelming. Not only do you want to like the way it sounds but you want it to have meaning; and you want it to be unique; and you want it to have something to do with the seasons; and you want it to come with a cute nickname; and you want no one else in Mommy & Me to have it. That’s a long list to fill and chances are you’ll come up with a bunch that you love and your partner does not, and vice versa.

Honestly, with all the options out there, it can be a little stressful. Not to mention the fact that all your relatives, friends, new acquaintances, and basically anyone that knows your pregnant will be offering up their own ideas. It never hurts to be open to their thoughts but remember that the choice comes down to you and your spouse. Begin discussing the topic immediately and it wouldn’t hurt to set some initial rules to stick to. Also, keep a list of names you love that you can continue adding to as your pregnancy progresses!

Here are some thinks to keep in mind when considering your future child’s name:

 

baby namesWell-matched Sound:

It is important to choose a name that flows agreeably with your last name. More often than not, long first names sound better with short last names. Likewise, short first names sound better with long last names. Try to avoid puns and a first name that rhymes with your last name. They may be fun for the first couple days but your child will be forced to stick with it for the rest of their life.

 

Friends and Family:

Many children are named after a close family member or friend and this can give you a relatively decent sized list to consider. However, never allow yourself to be pressured into choosing a name you and your partner don’t like. Listen to everyone’s ideas and decide on your own time; and don’t tell anyone the name until after your baby is born.

 

Meaning:

Not many people will immediately know the meaning of your child’s name but that does not mean it can’t play a part in helping you choose. Search some name indexes and try your best to stick to the positive. Your little one may not be happy to learn their handsome name Braxton actually means: “from a brown farm”.

 

Uniqueness:

A unique name choice can help your child stand out from the traditional crowd of normal names. Yet, it is important to remember that a name that is hard to pronounce may bring unwanted attention. Try and find an appropriate balance: if you have a traditional last name, try an interesting first, and vice versa.

 

Nicknames:

An ugly or cruel nickname has the capability to follow a child all throughout school so consider any potential issues with your name choice. Do your best to rule out anything obvious and remember that just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean one of your child’s classmates won’t.

 

Ancestry:

Ancestors make up who we are and some parents find it fun to explore their past and choose a name to mirror this. Frequently, the names discovered will end up serving as ideal middle names.

 

Remember, these guidelines are not set in stone. The only real thing that matters is that you and your partner agree upon a name you truly love.

Birth Plan

Most expecting moms will have heard about the necessity of a birth plan, but may not know what it’s actually for. In fact, it is much more than a simple delivery strategy for you and your spouse. A birth plan is an actual printed document that explains your birthing preferences, such as labor pain, to your assigned medical team.

The majority of birthing centers and hospitals will provide you with a printed worksheet that explains your hospital’s philosophy, policies and procedures. In addition to this, it will describe the potential labor and delivery options you may face when giving birth. This information can help when facing difficult choices along the way by assisting you through a discussion with your healthcare provider about your preferences prior to labor; later, this conversation can be the foundation for your birth plan.

birth planA printed birth plan will also help your healthcare provider when you’re in active labor by reminding your labor-and-delivery nurses of your wishes. The majority of templates will include numerous situations regarding to labor pains, cesarean birth, vaginal birth, potential circumcision, placenta removal, and much more. 

 

Keep in mind that the unexpected can always happen and you won’t be able to control every aspect of your labor and delivery. Because of this, you will need to remain flexible. Your assigned birthing team may have to depart from your original plan in order to do what is best for both you and your baby.

As a side note, remember to provide copies of your plan for the hospital nurses!