Archives for April 2015

Baby Shower Games

Playing silly games at a party may not have happened since your youth, but a baby shower is permission to return to parties past.  Baby shower games may feel a bit hooky, but it’s a lighthearted way to mix and mingle friends around a common theme…a baby.

Today we’re sharing 15 cute and simple baby shower games that are sure to be a hit:

  • Pin the Diaper on the Baby: Like the classic pin the tail on the donkey, guests are blindfolded and have to stick a diaper on a blown up picture of a baby.
  • Baby Scenario Charades: Guests select a slip of paper with a common baby situation written on it (crying, breastfeeding, diaper changing) and have to act it out while other guests try to guess the situation.
  • Baby Shower Games

    Don’t Say Baby: Each guest attaches a diaper pin to her shirt when she arrives.  If another guests hears someone say “baby” they can take the diaper pin away.  The guests with the most pins at the end of the party wins.

  • Match the Socks: Divide guests into two teams.  Time each team while they try to match 12 pairs of baby socks.  The fastest team wins.
  • What Flavor is That: Blindfold guests and feed them different flavors of baby food.  Ask them to guess the flavors.  The guest with the most correct answers wins.
  • Which Baby Did What: Ask the parents of the mom-to-be and dad-to-be to give you 5-10 things that the expecting parents did as babies.  Have baby shower guests determine which baby did what.
  • Baby Mad Libs: Write a mad libs story and have guests fill in the blanks.  Then read the story out loud with much hilarity.
  • Melting Baby: Freeze tiny plastic babies in ice cubes.  Drop one baby ice cube in each guests drink and see whose “due date” comes first.
  • Baby Price is Right: Buy 8 baby items and hide the price of each inside a small envelope.  Play “The Price is Right” with several guests and the mom-to-be to see who can guess the prices most accurately.
  • Ironic Onesies: Purchase plain white onesies and fabric markers or paint for each guest to create a onesie with an ironic phrase for the baby.  (Examples:  Are you Talkin’ to Me?, It Wasn’t Me, and Go Ahead, Make My Day)
  • Name the Animal Babies: Test your guests’ knowledge of animal baby names by showing pictures of various animal babies and having them write down what they believe the name to be.  Get creative and tricky with your animal choices!
  • Play-doh Babies: Have each guest create a baby out of play-doh.  Let the mom-to-be select the winner.
  • Diaper Messages: Have each guest write a short but sweet message on a newborn diaper that the baby can wear when she is born.
  • Name that Baby Tune: Play children’s songs without the words and ask guests to guess the song.
  • Bottle Chugging: Fill baby bottles with water or juice and see which guest can guzzle down the bottle contents fastest.

We hope you enjoy these baby shower games at your next baby shower!

How to Establish a Breastfeeding Schedule

Babies are born with the amazing ability to eat.  Just like their lungs are ready to breath and the heart can beat on its own, babies instinctually know how to breastfeed.  It’s an inherent reflex and a very important one indeed.  With that vital skill in place, mothers are often left wondering, how often to feed their babies and how to establish a breastfeeding schedule.

While babies know how to breastfeed immediately, schedules are an entirely different story.  Most breastfed newborns will feed between eight and twelve times daily or every 1½ to 3 hours.  This is more than formula fed babies because breast milk is easier to digest and therefore runs through a baby’s body faster.  Most pediatricians and lactation consultants recommend breastfeeding on demand for the first three to eight weeks of a baby’s life.  This will ensure milk production is stimulated often and exactly when the baby needs it.  It will also help mothers learn cues from their babies and assist in the mother-child bonding process.

How to Establish a Breastfeeding ScheduleUnderstanding hunger cues from your baby is the first step to establish a breastfeeding schedule.  Many parents listen for cries to tell them when babies need to be fed but research indicates that crying is a late sign of hunger.  Feeding your baby before crying begins will keep her satisfied and calm.  Newborn hunger cues include opening the mouth or turning the head and open mouth toward an object or person, tongue and lip smacking and biting clenched fists.  Look for these signs to determine if your baby is ready to feed.

Never allow your newborn to go more than four hours without breastfeeding, even if it means waking him at night.  Babies may deem sleep more vital than food, but that’s not always the case, especially if your baby is underweight or not gaining weight steadily after the first two weeks.  During the first week or two, it is common for breastfed newborns to lose up to 10% of their birth weight.  But don’t worry; they will gain it back soon as long as breastfeeding continues.  Most lactation consultants recommend nearly draining one breast at a time to make sure your baby gets the sugary, protein-filled fore milk followed by the high-fat, satiating hind milk that comes later in a feed.

Many parents worry that their babies are not getting enough breast milk as it is very hard to tell how much a baby is getting.  If babies are fed on demand most new moms will produce enough milk to satiate their babies.  Milk usually arrives within three days after childbirth and constant stimulation from there will ensure babies get plenty of that amazingly nutritious breast milk.  In addition to weight gain, look for wet diapers after every feeding and stools after most feedings.  This means your baby is digesting food properly.

While some new mothers choose to continue an on demand style of feeding, many moms need to find a routine for their own sanity.  If that’s you, follow your baby’s cues.  To establish a breastfeeding schedule, keep track of feeding times and lengths as well as wet and dirty diapers.  After a month or two, a pattern will emerge.  That will help you set schedule that will ensure your baby is nourished and happy and you have a little more control over your time.  But don’t be so rigid that you can’t deviate from the schedule when necessary.  When babies go through a growth spurt or are sick, they may need extra breast milk.  Be aware of these special circumstances and adjust accordingly.

Learning how to establish a breastfeeding schedule takes research, patience, motherly instinct and a lot of love.  Follow your baby’s cues and the schedule will emerge before you know it.

The Best Books to Read during Pregnancy

Knowledge is power and right now you may need to regain some control in your life.  Pregnancy, especially if you are expecting your first baby, induces many questions and fears about an aspect of your life you have never experienced before.  From all the changes to your body and health recommendations during pregnancy, to how to care for a newborn and ensuring your kids get the healthiest start in life, you’re probably swimming in unknowns.

Today we’re recommending the best books to read during pregnancy so you can arm yourself with knowledge…and a few laughs too:

 

The Best Books to Read during PregnancyMayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy (by the pregnancy experts at Mayo Clinic) – From one of the most trusted medical establishments in the country, this book takes you from pregnancy and childbirth through the newborn stage with professional, technical advice.  The book features a week-by-week guide to your pregnancy along with a reference guide to common “troublesome signs and symptoms” and how to handle them at each stage of pregnancy.  Additionally, this book offers different perspectives on parental decision making starting from day 1.

The Best Books to Read during PregnancyThe Mommy Docs’ Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth (by Yvonne Bohn, Allison Hill, Alane Park and Melissa Jo Peltier) – As an alternative practical step-by-step guide to pregnancy and childbirth, this highly regarded resource was written by OBGYNs who are also moms.  Their medical and first-hand expertise offers a comprehensive and thoughtful viewpoint in a friendly manner with sensible mother-to-mother tips.  It’s the next best thing to bringing your doctor and your best friends home with you.

WhThe Best Books to Read during Pregnancyat to Eat Before, During and After Pregnancy (by Judith E. Brown) – This nutritional guide to fertility, pregnancy and beyond helps hopeful and soon-to-be moms keep their diets on track for their best health.  With meal ideas, nutritional tips and advice on addressing common pregnancy and breastfeeding issues with a balanced diet, this book ensures wholesome nutrition for moms and babies.

The Best Books to Read during PregnancyThe Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy (by Vicki Lovine) – Fun, hilarious and not scary, this is a great light-hearted look at all the cool, weird and gross things that are happening to your body during pregnancy that your partner will never understand.  This book is like chatting with a girlfriend about her pregnancy while also learning things along the way.  If anything, it will make you laugh out loud and help you feel you are not alone in your pregnancy feelings.

The Best Books to Read during PregnancyBreastfeeding Made Simple (by Nancy Mohrbacher IBCLC FILCA and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett PhD IBCLC) – This book explores the miracles, challenges and logistical aspects of breastfeeding.  While some may find it “hard core” it is designed as a tool to help new mothers breastfeed and successfully navigate potential roadblocks without giving up.  It is well-organized and thorough, offering practical solutions to everything that may arise along your breastfeeding journey.

The Best Books to Read during PregnancyThe Happiest Baby on the Block (by Harvey Karp) – Now that you’ve read up on pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, you’ll need to know the basics of keeping your little one happy.  This book reveals the anti-crying techniques developed by Dr. Harvey Karp, which include the 5 S’s:  swaddling, positioning baby on his side, swinging, shushing and sucking.  Fussy babies can’t resist these and other soothing methods.

 

 

Prop your feet, grab a mocktail and enjoy the best books to read during pregnancy!

How to Celebrate Earth Day with Kids

Tomorrow is Earth Day and a wonderful opportunity to start teaching your little ones the significance of protecting our environment.  It’s important to celebrate Earth Day with your kids and to start environmental education early.  Most kids love nature because there are endless possibilities for adventure, exploration and play.  A love of nature is a great place to begin educating children about the environment because it is something they can understand and experience.  From there, the conversation and actions can expand and become more complex as your children grow.

Not sure how to get things started?  The best way for kids to learn is by getting them involved…and letting them get their hands dirty!  We’ve got some fun ways to celebrate Earth Day with kids:

How to Celebrate Earth Day with KidsGarden and Plant a Tree

Whether you have a yard full of gardening opportunities or one flower pot to fill, gardening is a fun, kid-friendly activity.  Depending on your children’s ages, you can let them help select the plants, dig in the dirt and water the plants.  Planting flowers, a tree or a vegetable garden will allow kids to see the “fruits” of their labor in a short time.  Begin a discussion of what plants need to grow – sunlight, water and nutrient-rich soil – all parts of the environment that we can protect with responsible practices.

Build a Bird House

While you make your yard a more beautiful place, welcome the birds as well with a new bird house.  If you are especially handy you can cut wood pieces to fashion a bird house.  Otherwise, you can buy a kit of pre-cut pieces.  You can also use an empty milk carton by cutting a large window in the side or the age-old pinecone with peanut butter to help the bird seed stick.  Hang your bird feeder outside a window where your children can watch their bird friends enjoy the new home.

How to Celebrate Earth Day with KidsRead Books about Nature

One of the best ways to get kids in the right mindset for Earth Day is to read books on different nature and environmental topics.  Some of our top picks are The EARTH Book by Todd Pharr; The Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Nuria Roca and Rosa M. Curto; Earth Day, Birthday! by Maureen Wright; Curious George Plants a Tree by Margaret and H.A. Rey; and The Lorax by Dr. Seus.

Talk About and Demonstrate Earth Friendly Behavior

As you know, kids learn so much by watching your habits and behavior.  Set an example by living an environmentally responsible lifestyle.  If you don’t already, Earth Day is a great time to get started recycling, reducing the use of paper and conserving water.  Donate used toys and make a commitment to buy more used items, which cuts out on manufacturing, shipping and packaging costs.  Get your kids involved by having them collect items they no longer use for donation or have them decorate a special reusable grocery tote.

Go on an Earth Day Scavenger Hunt and Pick Up Litter

An Earth Day scavenger hunt takes absolutely no planning and set-up on your part.  All you need is two bags – one for nature items and one for trash.  Find a safe place for a walk, such as a local park, nature trail or around your neighborhood.  Challenge your kids to find certain things in nature, perhaps a leaf, a wildflower, a stick or a rock.  Also have them pick up litter and/or recyclables you may see along your way.

Make an Earth’s Birthday with Meal of Local Foods

While your kids may not understand Earth Day, they certainly know about birthdays.  Celebrate Earth Day with kids by having an Earth Day birthday party with a meal made with local foods.  Teaching the value and environmental advantages of eating local is a fantastic Earth Day lesson.  Plus you can get your kids involved in the cooking process, which may encourage them to try new foods.

Happy Earth Day!  We hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with your kids!

Biting, Hitting and Hair Pulling: How to Stop It

Earlier this week we discussed why babies and toddlers resort to biting, hitting and hair pulling.  It begins as a natural instinct but can become a nasty habit if it is not addressed early.  Parents are often unsure of how to deter these behaviors and teach their children other means of releasing aggression and frustration.  Today we’re offering some helpful tactics for how to stop biting, hitting and hair pulling.

Don’t give in to the behavior.  Showing your child that biting, hitting and hair pulling does NOT give him his desired result will interrupt his socially unacceptable thought process.  If he acts aggressive in an attempt to get a toy from a friend, immediately give the toy back to the friend to make this point.

Repeat the same calm response every time your child misbehaves.  Kids love to get a rise out of their parents.  If you remain calm and repeat “we don’t bite, that hurts” or “no hitting, ouch!” each time, your little one will start to get the picture.  As he learns to speak, make him repeat the phrase so it will sink in even further.

Biting, Hitting and Hair Pulling: How to Stop ItNip the problem immediately.  As soon as you see the behavior, take actions.  If your child is mid yank on a strand of a friend’s hair, pull his hand away.  Swift responses tend to have better results.

Never exhibit the bad behavior as a response.  Biting, hitting or pulling hair to show that it hurts is never a good idea.  Kids imitate their care givers so by you doing the behavior you are teaching them that it may be OK.  Instead, ask your child, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?”  This teaches empathy rather than retaliation.

Create a consequence for misbehavior.  When your child is old enough to understand consequences, enforce a punishment for poor conduct.  This may include time out or taking a toy away.

Discuss the problem.  Once your child has calmed down, talk through the issue.  Ask why he did what he did and listen to the answer.  Then explain why that was wrong.  Tell him how he could have asked for something nicely or waited his turn.  Teach that communicating with words is always the best way to go.

Role play appropriate behavior.  You should always be a role model to your child.  Sometimes reenacting a heated situation with an appropriate response can show your child how to react next time.

Reward positive behavior.  Always point out when your child is doing something right with praise and an occasional reward.  You don’t want to teach that he should act right just for a prize, but periodic encouragement certainly helps.

Know your child’s triggers.  Try to make sure your child is set up for successful playing by ensuring he gets enough sleep, isn’t hungry and feels comfortable in his environment.  If he feels nervous, tired or hungry he may act out.

Give your child attention, respect and love.  Poor behavior is often the result of not enough attention from parents.  Be sure to spend quality time with your kids and give them lots of affection to avoid these negative feelings.  Also, don’t lash out when things get chaotic.  Kids feed off that behavior.

Don’t expect perfection.  As we discussed earlier this week, kids misbehave for a variety of reasons that are completely normal and part of their development into mature people.  Sometimes aggression and frustration gets the best of all of us so tolerance and forgiveness should be part of the process as well.

Biting, Hitting and Hair Pulling: Why it Happens

Biting, hitting and hair pulling are among the top behavioral issues among babies and toddlers.  While it may start innocently in infancy, permitting the behavior can lead to poor conduct as children grow older and know right from wrong.  Many parents are at a loss when it comes to biting, hitting and hair pulling; they don’t know why it happens or how to stop it.  Today we’re sharing the reasons why kids act aggressively and later this week we will review some tactics to resolve these common problems.

 

Biting, Hitting and Hair Pulling: Why it HappensBabies usually begin these misbehaviors as a tactile exploration of the world around them.  They use their mouths and hands to experience their environment and often that includes unwanted biting, hitting and hair pulling.  Sometimes all three behaviors stem from being in pain.  Because babies cannot express themselves with words, they use physical actions to cry out for help, especially if they are not feeling well.  Often babies bite because they are teething and chomping on something makes them feel better.  Babies also bite when they are hungry and may even bite during breastfeeding.

Of course, babies don’t understand that it may hurt someone else and is inappropriate.  Even if babies are unaware of their ethical and social faux pas, they should be redirected so they do not think that biting, hitting or hair pulling are acceptable.  Quashing the behavior at this young stage will help ensure it does not grow into a larger issue later.  Usually the aggressive, controllable misbehavior presents between 1½ and 2½ when language is still a hurdle but the world around them is becoming clearer.

As babies turn to toddlers and become more cognizant of their surroundings and social dynamics, they may resort to biting, hitting and hair pulling for other reasons.  They may be longing for attention or trying to exert some control over their environment.  Toddlerhood is when children begin that they have choices and may rebel against the rules and schedules their parents set forth.  Frustration can build as they are constantly told “no” or forced to do things they would rather not.  Eventually the pent-up anger can explode into aggressive behavior.  Just like adults, toddlers have their breaking points too.

Toddlers also employ biting, hitting and hair pulling to elicit a response.  Sometimes they delight in the reaction from another – seeing someone squeal in pain may be funny to them.  It sounds sadistic but it’s very normal.  Alternatively, they may be defending their territory, usually a toy or food that they want.  Although wrong, toddlers learn that biting, hitting and hair pulling will probably cause their playmate, sibling or parent to stop doing whatever it is that don’t like, even temporarily, such as playing with the toy they want or forcing them to take a bath.

Biting, hitting and pulling hair are a normal part of infancy and toddlerhood.  Understanding why your child does it is the first step to managing the situation.  Next up is employing tactics to stop the behavior and encourage more positive ways to express anger and aggression.  We’ll be exploring that topic later this week so stay tuned!

Ways to Save Money with a Baby

Having a baby is a life experience like no other.  With all the joy and excitement often comes a hefty bill too.  If you don’t already know first hand, babies can be very expensive.  Between medical bills, car seats, cribs and baby gear, having a baby is a huge expenditure.  While some of the costs are unavoidable, there are many ways to save money with a baby.  Usually first time moms aren’t aware of the vast ways to be thrifty, but veteran moms know the drill.

Today we’re bringing you some tips and tricks on ways to save money with a baby from experienced moms:

Ways to Save Money with a Baby

Buy used clothes, toys and baby products.  Babies grow out of clothes and toys so quickly that buying everything new becomes extremely pricey.  Baby consignment is a huge industry as families are looking to save money and live greener.  Look for seasonal pop-up consignment sales through community centers and local organizations and research local children’s consignment stores.  When you are done with the items, sell them back to earn extra money for the next stage in your baby’s development.

Develop a hand-me-down network.  Friends with older children can be the best resources on many levels.  Not only can they give you parenting advice, but they can also share items they no longer need.  Ask several friends with same-sex kids slightly older than yours if you can have or borrow their clothes, toys and gear.  After you are done with them, pay it forward by passing everything along to another family.

Use cloth diapers.  Many families save money by cloth diapering.  Rather than purchasing years worth of diapers, a few adjustable, reusable diapers can last from infancy to toddlerhood.  Modern cloth diapers are easier than ever to use and many can be used with an inner disposable lining to avoid major messes.  Plus, you can use cloth diapers from child-to-child to further reduce costs and help the environment too.

Take advantage of free activities.  Free fun is the best kind of fun.  Look for free story times at local libraries and book stores.  In spring, summer and fall many local parks have festivals with kids’ zones that may include bouncy houses, face painting, live entertainment and other great activities.  Some businesses also offer free activities for kids.  Check with area hardware stores, restaurants and toy stores to find out their complementary offerings.  Lastly, many museums open their doors to the public for free several times a year.  Take advantage of those days before springing for full-price tickets.

Ways to Save Money with a BabyBreastfeed.  Breastfeeding saves a ton of money!  Depending on how long you exclusively breastfeed, this most natural way to nourish your baby can save you between $2,000 and $4,000.  Formula, bottles and other feeding gear can be expensive.  Breastfeeding only requires two priceless elements: your sweet baby and dedication from mom.

Join discount clubs.  While signing up for clubs may feel tedious, it can save you a lot of money.  Most retailers, especially baby superstores, have clubs that offer great member discounts and other special advantages such as free shipping or bulk order discounts.  Discount warehouses are often a good place to stock up on diapers, baby shampoo and other bulk items if you have space to store them.

Use coupons.  Moms are among the best couponers.  Spend some time organizing your coupons and be vigilant about using them at the grocery store and other places you shop frequently.  There are many coupon websites that you can subscribe to that send coupons directly to your inbox for items you use regularly.  One piece of advice: don’t buy items simply because you have a coupon.  Only use them for products you really need.

Try products before you buy them.  Many brands, especially baby products, offer samples.  Try out diaper creams, wipes and baby foods before you purchase them.  If you can’t find a sample, ask a friend to try some of their things to make sure you and your little one really like them.

Ways to Save Money with a BabyUse convertible items.  Many manufacturers are wising up and helping you save money by creating convertible products.  Cribs, car seats and strollers come in convertible options, as well as some grow-with-me toys.  Cribs usually have different mattress height settings depending on your baby’s age.  Many of them convert into a day bed, toddler bed or even double bed as your baby grows.  Infant car seats usually max out at around 30 to 40 lbs but some toddler car seats can be converted into booster seats for older kids.  Strollers also have different settings depending on your child’s age.  Look for these products so you don’t have to start from square one at the next developmental stage.

Make your own baby food.  Once your baby reaches six months of age you can introduce solids along with breast milk.  Store-bought packaged baby food can be quite expensive but buying whole fruits and veggies and pureeing them yourself is much more cost effective.  Plus, you can inspect and select your own produce to ensure it is fresh and wholesome for your little tot.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Pacifiers

Pacifiers may be the must-have soothing item in your new baby’s life.  Many babies (and their parents) find pacifiers magnificently calming and the best fix for an anxious infant.  Or, it may be the bane of your existence as it can interfere with breastfeeding or your baby may become too dependent on it.  There are many advantages and disadvantages of pacifiers that parents should know before deciding whether or not to use them.

Advantages of Pacifiers

The Advantages and Disadvantages of PacifiersBabies have an innate desire to suck.  This natural reflex is why babies are so good at breastfeeding.  Their instinct is to find something soft and smooth to latch onto and suck away.  Some babies have an insatiable desire to suck, which is where pacifiers come in handy.  This non-nutritive sucking prop can replace the breast between feedings to help keep babies soothed and calm…indeed pacified.  Pacifiers help babies learn to comfort themselves without needing a parent to rock, feed or sing to them.  Babies often fall asleep with pacifiers because they are so relaxed.  Calm and rested babies make parenting easier and reduce stress in the household.

Studies also indicate that the use of pacifiers reduces risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Researchers are not exactly sure why, but SIDS is most prevalent under the age of six months when pacifier sucking is highest.  Pacifiers are also useful for stabilizing ear pressure such as on a flight.  And they can be distracting when a baby needs a shot, blood test or other medical probing.

Disadvantages of Pacifiers

Pacifiers have their downside too.  Sometimes pacifiers interfere with breastfeeding because the act of sucking on a pacifier is different than a real nipple.  This confusion can lead to frustration, giving up on breastfeeding or not meeting goals to exclusively breastfeed.  Many experts recommend holding off on introducing a pacifier until three or four weeks after birth when breastfeeding is solidified.  At this point the baby can recognize how to suck differently on the pacifier vs. the breast.

Some babies become too dependent on pacifiers and cannot function without them.  Early in infancy a baby cannot put a pacifier back in his own mouth if it falls out so parents may be left to constantly replace the pacifier, even in the middle of the night.  It’s important for babies to eventually learn how to soothe themselves without props.  Additionally, pacifier usage is linked to higher rates of inner ear infections and can cause dental problems if used well into toddlerhood.

Tips for Pacifiers

If you give the pacifier a go, be sure to select a silicone option.  Keep it clean by running it through the dishwasher and replace it often as cracked pacifiers breed bacteria.  Try to hold off on introducing the pacifier until a breastfeeding relationship has been established.  Don’t force the pacifier.  Rather let your baby decide when and if he needs it.  Also, try other soothing methods before resorting to a pacifier every time your baby is fussy.  Music, rocking, bouncing and breastfeeding may pacify your baby just as well as the pacifier itself.  Have a dialogue with your pediatrician about when to pull the plug on the pacifier before extreme dependency and dental issues may occur.

Babies and Seasonal Allergies

With all the wonderful things that come with spring, allergies are one of everyone’s least favorites.  As leaves reemerge on trees and flowers begin to bud, many of us experience those awful symptoms of springtime allergies.  With a new baby on board, you may see signs of a seasonal allergy in your little one too.  Today we’re discussing babies and seasonal allergies, including how to detect allergens that are affecting your baby and how to treat the symptoms.

Babies and Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies differ from perennial allergies, or those that exist all year round.  Seasonal allergies usually flare up in the spring when pollen is at its height.  Usually April and May have the highest pollen count as that is when trees, flowers, grasses and weeds are showing signs of re-growth.  Grasses continue to affect allergy sufferers throughout the summer and then weeds creep in during the fall months.  Perennial allergies are usually caused by something more constant, such as pet dander, dust or mold.

Allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system.  When the body comes into contact with foreign substances, it forms antibodies to protect itself.  Usually these attacks are from microbes such as bacteria, parasites or viruses.  However, allergens confuse the immune system causing it to react as it would to any other potentially harmful invasion.  Once the body builds a response to an allergen, it usually reacts the same way every time it is confronted with that trigger, making it difficult to break the cycle of allergies.

As miserable as allergies are to you, just think about your baby who can’t communicate or understand why she’s feeling so lousy.  Common symptoms of allergies include a clear, thin, constant runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and a scratchy throat.  If those symptoms sound a lot like a cold, you’re right.  Many parents don’t recognize allergies at first and simply think their baby has developed a cold.  Colds can last for weeks in babies so confusion between colds and allergies is a common mistake.  The best way to determine the cause of your baby’s congestion is to keep a record.  Note when symptoms start and stop, when they are at their worst and if environmental factors affect symptoms.

Treating seasonal allergies in babies is not an exact science.  First, visit your pediatrician to ensure your baby does have allergies and not a true infection.  Bring your log of symptoms to share for a proper diagnosis.  Because antihistamines are not recommended for young children, you may end up treating allergy symptoms similar to a cold.  This includes unclogging nasal congestion with an aspirator, clearing the nose with saline spray, keeping your baby’s head propped for easier breathing and using a humidifier.  You should avoid spending time outdoors during days of extremely high pollen count and make sure doors and windows in your house remain closed.  At this young age, you should do everything you can to keep your baby comfortable as she muddles through allergy season.  Chances are, if your baby has allergies, someone else in your family does too so they can commiserate together.

As your child grows older, you’ll want to manage symptoms more aggressively.  Allergies can lead to other health problems such as not getting a productive night’s sleep.  Nasal congestion can cause disruptive sleep, snoring or mouth breathing.  Mouth breathing can cause teeth to come in at an odd angle.  Many symptoms of allergies drain the body of energy, which makes it difficult to concentrate on learning and playing.  And physical constraints and social issues may arise if children avoid spending time outdoors.  Additionally, untreated allergies increase risk of asthma, sinus infections and ear infections.

Learning the triggers and ways to manage babies and seasonal allergies is important to caring for your baby.  It is estimated that 40% of people suffer from some type of allergy.  Your baby could be one of them.  Know the signs and symptoms to stay on top of how to best treat your little love.