Surviving Separation Anxiety

Surviving Separation AnxietySeparation anxiety is a normal part of infancy, toddlerhood and preschool years; however that doesn’t make it any less torturous for everyone involved. Surviving separation anxiety takes a few tried and true techniques and coping skills.

Separation anxiety usually rears its head at around 9 months when your baby becomes aware of object permanence. That is, she realizes that you still exist even when you are not present. And if you exist without being with her, she’s upset. Separation anxiety can escalate throughout toddlerhood and continue into the preschool years as well. For the worst cases, spending four or five years dealing with unpleasant good-byes can be stressful. But for most, the brunt of separation anxiety subsides by the time a child enters elementary school.

Your child’s extreme reaction to your departure is truly a sign of a meaningful and deep connection – one that your child is not ready to sever physically for even a moment. And the bond can be even stronger for breastfed babies. Remember that when you question yourself about your exit strategies or whether or not you should ever leave your child again. Because the cries, screams and full-on tantrums are enough to make any parent want to cave.

But the experts say, never cave. Standing firm is the key to surviving separation anxiety. Your child will eventually realize that you’re going to leave no matter what she does, and sometimes that relieves immediate anxiety and reduces separation anxiety overall. If anything, you can at least feel OK about proceeding with your plans – whether that’s leaving for work, going to a PTA meeting or having a much-needed night-off from parenting duty. You are not ruining your child by leaving, you are setting appropriate boundaries.

Try these tips for surviving separation anxiety in the early years:

  • Leave after a feeding or nap so your baby will not be dealing with intense emotions while tired or hungry.
  • Develop a consistent routine for your departure and try to avoid any unexpected elements that may throw your baby into a tizzy. Little ones do better when they know and understand what to expect.
  • Create a meaningful and attentive but short good-bye routine such as a hug, kiss, wave and reminder that mommy always comes back.
  • Practice separation before you do it for an extended period of time or start a new routine. For example, if you are returning to work when your baby is a year old, start by leaving her with caregivers for a few hours at a time several months in advance.
  • If you don’t leave your baby often or if you are leaving for a longer period than usual, talk to your child about what is going to happen well before you leave. Build anticipation and excitement for the fun your child is going to have while you are away.
  • Whenever possible stick to a few well-liked childcare providers such as a regular babysitter or grandparents. Always being looked after by new people can be unnerving to children.
  • Encourage childcare providers to stick with your routine and have familiar objects around if your baby is not staying in your home.
  • For older children, explain when you will return in their own terms such as before lunchtime or after 2 sleeps.
  • Always say goodbye to your child. Sneaking out may make you feel better but it creates a lack of trust and may exacerbate future separation anxiety.

Sources: Healthy Children, Help Guide and Parents

Picky Eater or Personality Trait?

Having a picky eater in your household can be frustrating. Before you blame your tot for being plain-old difficult, consider this: it may be a personality trait.

In the first of its kind, a new study found that dislike of certain new foods may actually be a personality trait.  And it was all done through play.

Picky Eater or Personality Trait?Researchers found a direct correlation between an infant and toddler’s acceptance of new toys and their interest in new foods at both six and 12 months of age. Then at 18-months toddlers returned to explore new objects. Those who were not deemed picky eaters were more likely to enjoy the new objects.

The researchers described baby’s personalities as either approaching – more willing to try new toys – and withdrawing – less open to new experiences with toys. Those who were more approaching were not considered picky eaters. Those who were withdrawing were pickier eaters.

This study was the first to connect personality traits and eating behaviors. It was based on a broader study about temperament. A person’s temperament impacts how they see and experience the world. Each of us falls somewhere on a scale of exuberant to inhibited.

Even if you have a baby whose temperament is not conducive to trying new foods, it’s important to continue to offer a variety of healthy food choices. Just as adults can learn to adapt their personality instincts, babies can learn to enjoy new foods. It may take many attempts but if they are introduced enough, children will likely learn to eat a wide selection of foods.

Remember: be patient and compassionate with your children as they experience the world of eating, especially for those whose personality may be a driving force.

Sources: U.S. News and World Report and Futurity

 

The Importance of Chores for Kids

The Importance of Chores for KidsMost adults grew up doing chores but only 28% of kids today do chores, according to a Braun Research study. What happened to chores? Perhaps parents don’t realize the importance of chores for kids and aren’t sure how to implement age-appropriate responsibilities.

Why Chores for Kids are Important

If just getting some help around the house isn’t enough to convince you of the importance of chores for kids, get this: one study showed that the leading indicator of children growing into adults with meaningful personal relationships, a completed education and having a solid career is having done chores as a child. And a Harvard Grant study that has been ongoing for nearly 80 years links work ethic among the crucial contributors to being a stable adult. That’s some pretty strong evidence!

The Lessons Kids Learn from Chores

There’s a lot to be learned by doing chores. Of course your child might learn a skill, such as washing dishes or folding laundry. But there’s more to it than that. Children learn a sense of responsibility by doing chores.

You are a family unit and things in your home must get done. They might be unpleasant, time-consuming, gross, boring, and many other negative things but they must be done and someone in your home has to do them. Much of life fits into this same category so it’s a good idea to teach your kids this type of responsibility early.

Additionally, kids learn time-management by doing chores. When something is a daily or weekly responsibility, kids will learn to prioritize it in order to move along to more enjoyable activities. This essential executive function skill will serve them well throughout life.

Plus they are contributing as a valuable part of your family team. While they may hate their chores at the time, there will eventually be a sense of accomplishment for having helped out.

How to Implement Age-Appropriate Chores for Kids

Assigning chores can start earlier than you think. The first step is ensuring your kids, even babies, help clean up their toys and belongings. Some babies and toddlers love the idea of collecting items and enjoy clean-up time. Others don’t care for it at all. But this initial responsibility for their own belongings is an important step in instituting chores for kids.

Kids can usually handle meaningful chores by around three years of age. Before then, involve your little ones in household responsibilities through observation and other small ways to lend a hand. For example, your toddler may be playing while you fold laundry, mop the floors or unload the dishwasher, but she will take notice of these jobs around the house. Seeing you do chores is the first step to understanding that there’s a lot of hard work to be done to run a household.

Starting at age three you can come up with small ways to involve your kids in chores, such as clearing the table after meals, pulling clothes out of the dryer and helping in the yard with things like raking leaves or pulling weeds. As your child grows, so can their responsibilities. Washing dishes, setting the table, collecting trash from waste baskets around the house, mowing the lawn and similar tasks are all ways your kids can help out around the house.

Chores shouldn’t take hours every day, but 10-20 minutes of housework will help establish a sense of responsibility, contribution to the household and work ethic that will serve your child well into adulthood.

Source: SheKnows

 

Pregnancy is a Gas

Many pregnant women find themselves in the embarrassing situation of being rather gassy. It is among the less-than-pleasant things that happen during pregnancy thanks to an increase in hormones. And sometimes you just have to laugh it off and say pregnancy is a gas.

Being pregnant and then giving birth makes women intimately aware of their bodies in ways they have never experienced before. In many cases, the process of having children strips away modesty and welcomes a host of seemingly horrifying things that come from your body. While you may not hear much about it from your veteran mom friends, most moms have gone through it in varying degrees and you should take comfort in knowing that it is all completely normal.

Understanding you’re not alone may not take away the embarrassment of passing gas in public, however. That’s when you have to put on your bravest new mom face and remember pregnancy is a gas. If you can laugh off pregnancy gas, you are on your way to being a great mom because there are so many times when you have to swallow your pride and let it go. In this case, we mean this quite literally!

Causes of Pregnancy GasPregnancy is a Gas

Like many of the miraculous and torturous aspects of pregnancy, hormones are to blame. During pregnancy your progesterone levels increase, which relaxes all of the muscles in your body including your intestinal muscles. This slows the digestive process by up to 30%. Delays in digestion cause the build-up of gas in the body, making you feel bloated and increasing burping and flatulence.

If that’s not bad enough, as your uterus grows throughout pregnancy, it puts pressure on your intestines and slows digestion even further. You guessed it, more gas!

Then, if you get constipated, a common side effect during pregnancy, gas can increase as well because food and waste are sitting in your body even longer than normal. Food choices and prenatal vitamins, especially those high in iron, can cause constipation.

Dealing with Pregnancy Gas

If pregnancy gas is really bothering you due to discomfort or embarrassment try these methods for curbing some of your gas:

  • Chew your food thoroughly to allow both your teeth and the enzymes in your saliva to help break it down before it gets to your stomach and intestines. This pre-digestive process can prevent gassiness.
  • Drink plenty of water to aid digestion and avoid constipation. Experts recommend 10 8-oz. servings per day during pregnancy.
  • Watch your diet and avoid foods that tend to make you gassy. Unfortunately, many healthy vegetables like broccoli, asparagus and spinach can contribute to gas. Weigh the options or consider the time of day you eat these foods before completely eliminating them from your diet.
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day to allow your body time to process them fully.
  • Exercise helps circulate oxygenated blood to improve digestion and decrease constipation.
  • Try natural digestive aids like ginger and mint, which you can add to your food or drink in tea.
  • Eat more fiber to avoid constipation.
  • Don’t drink from a straw. Swallowing more air may lead to gas.
  • Avoid tight clothing on your abdomen because it might trap gas.
  • Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to use a stool softener or heartburn medication to reduce flatulence and burping.
  • Develop coping techniques for stress and anxiety like deep breaths. Swallowing too much air under pressure can contribute to gassiness.

Sources: Romper, American Pregnancy and Healthline

 

Why Kids Are Worst When Mom is Around

When you became a mom you may not have been completely informed of your job description. It’s hard to cover 18+ years of 24/7 parenting responsibilities. One of the most shocking and hard-to-understand roles of being a mom is the dumping ground you become for their emotions, and many other things as well. Today we’re exploring why kids are worst when mom is around.

Why Kids Are Worst When Mom is AroundDoes this sound familiar: You are excited to pick up your baby/toddler/children from daycare/preschool/school or return home after the babysitter/nanny/grandparents have been watching your kiddos. As you kneel down with outstretched arms and a huge smile waiting for that moment you’ve longed for all day – a warm hug, kiss from your kids, the simple words “oh mommy, I missed you!” – you are unexpectedly met with a full-on meltdown of tears, kicks, nasty attitudes and maybe even the release of  bowels. What happened?!?!

Your caregivers (and even dad sometimes) say they were perfect angels until you showed up. Surely they must be lying. This doesn’t just happen out of the blue, does it?

Moms around the world experience this phenomenon to be true but still wonder why kids are worst when mom is around. The answer is rather simple and, although often an unpleasant experience, should be flattering.

You are the safety zone, the one comfortable spot in this great big world where your kids can release it all. Every emotion, every moment of fear, anxiety, anger, overwhelm, excitement and more, is also vomited on you the moment your kids see you after being away.

While you are grateful that your kids were well-behaved for your caregivers, it feels painful in the moment. All you want is happiness as you reunite and finally get to spend time together. When it is marked with utter disaster you can’t help but feel sad, disappointed and unsure if you should ever leave your kids again.

You should. You should go to work, or volunteer, or get your hair cut or have a date with your husband when you need it. Your kids need to experience a range of emotions as uncomfortable as they may be for everyone. This is how to raise emotionally intelligent people. Be their safe space. Absorb their every emotion. Let them know it is OK. All the while, take peace in the fact that you are the only one in the world they trust enough with these raw feelings.

By now you’ve probably witnessed the extreme highs and the extreme lows of your children’s behavior. Lucky for you, that is one of the phenomenal gifts of being a mom. Yes, you have to deal with all the deplorable tantrums, inexplicable quirks and ridiculous messes you never would have imagined possible. But then you get to see your children in their shiniest moments of brilliants, creativity, silliness, curiosity and kindness – the ones you wish that you could broadcast to world…except no, you want to hold them in your heart as your own special secret.

While you hold your breath through your children’s thunderstorms, soak up their rainbows. These are the true moments of parenting when your kids are sharing their souls with the one they love most.

Sources: Popsugar, Kate Surfs and Simple Most

 

How To Get Kids to Open Up about Their Day

How To Get Kids to Open Up about Their DayIt probably happens millions of times every day across America. A caring, hopeful parent asks, “What did you do today at school?” only to get a response like “nothing” or “I don’t know.” It is utterly frustrating to those who truly want the details about their child’s day. We’re here to help with tips on how to get kids to open up about their day to reduce some of the tension from this scenario.

For those of you with children too young to talk or who stick with you all day, there’s a message in here for you as well. The trust required to get kids to open up about their day begins in infancy. When your baby or toddler cries or seeks affection and you are there for him, he knows you care and you are a sounding board for all sorts of emotions, observations and eventually retelling events. Building this bond in infancy is vital to maintaining it as your child grows.

Here are our tips to get kids to open up about their day:

Tip #1: Don’t Ask Right Away

Your child has just spent hours being “on” where he had to focus, behave and follow directions. If you bombard him with questions immediately, he may feel overwhelmed. Instead, give him some space and let him lead the conversation. Or if he just wants some peace and quiet for awhile, that’s fine too. Use this time to show him you’re in his corner, by giving him a snack or asking what activity he wants to do in the afternoon or evening. After about 30 minutes, you can begin employing some of our other tips to get kids to open up about their day and you’ll probably have more success.

Tip #2: Ask Specific Questions

You’ve probably heard this one before. Rather than asking “how was your day” or “what did you do today,” which are very broad and require a lot of work to boil down into a few short sentences, ask something specific like “what made you laugh today” or “what questions did you ask today.” If you know your child’s schedule or are keeping up with the curriculum, ask about those things, such as what games he played in PE, what book was read in the library or what he learned about telling time or the solar system. These more specific items can trigger his memory and get the conversation going.

Tip #3: Ask about Feelings Rather Than Events

Sometimes the feelings are more important than the events of the day. You’ll probably get a vibe from your child immediately when you reunite. If your child seems upbeat or wired you can use that as a conversation starter such as, “wow you seem really excited about something – what gave you all of this energy today?” On the flip side, if your child seems sad or nervous, after some time try saying something like “it seems like something is bothering you, do you want to talk about it?”

Tip #4: Encourage and Engage

Once you find a way to start the conversation, keep it going by giving your child as much direct attention as possible. Stop what you are doing, look him in the eyes, get at his level, sit next to him. Use interested words like “wow,” really?” “so cool” and “you’re so lucky you got to do that.” If he shares new things he learned, thank him for teaching you too. Sometimes repeating what your child says also encourages more dialogue. Try to avoid any negative or judgmental commentary and don’t overreact to anything either.

Tip #5: Find Ways to Connect

Your child opening up about his day is really about his connection to you. While you certainly have a lifelong bond, he may not always feel the immediate connection due to the hustle and bustle of your lives. Try to find a way to connect by doing something fun or special, even if only for a few minutes. These are the times your child will feel close and want to open up. Plus, when you’re working on something together – say building a cardboard car or doing a puzzle – your child will feel more at ease and parts of his day can slip into conversation.

Sources: Today’s Parent, Michele Borba and Aha Parenting

How to Pick a High Chair

Before you had your baby you probably spent a lot of time figuring out the best cribs, changing stations, car seats and other important baby gear. As your baby approaches the middle of her first year, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do some serious research on high chairs. Today we’re sharing tips on how to pick a high chair.

Before you put your baby in a high chair for her first meal, make sure she’s ready for her new thrown. In order to sit in a high chair your baby should be able to sit upright with support (that means no flopping to one side or falling forward). Also, pediatricians recommend starting solids between four and six months of age. But don’t worry mamas, breastfeeding can continue for as long as you and your baby desire.

High chairs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, functionalities and price ranges. You’ll want to select one that works best for your needs including the space where your family eats. Keep these tips in mind for how to pick a high chair:

How to Pick a High ChairSafety Rating – First and foremost make sure your high chair has a good safety rating. Much like cribs and car seats, high chairs must meet safety requirements.

Easy to Clean – Your baby’s high chair is going to get messy. Very very messy!  The easier it is to clean, the better. High chairs with easy-to-wipe fabric seats or seat covers that are washable are ideal. Also, nooks and crannies are excellent places for food crumbs and germs to hide so the less of those the better.

Straps – Straps are essential for your baby’s safety. Test the difficulty of straps on the high chairs you are considering. Secure is good but Fort Knox may be unrealistic for daily use.

Tray – Many modern high chairs have removable trays that help you seat your baby and allow for simple washing. Some trays are even dishwasher safe. Others offer several layers so you can feed your baby a few meals without needing to clean trays.

Wheels – Being able to move your high chair around the kitchen can be helpful if you plan to multi-task during your baby’s meal times. Wheels help you cart your baby around without having to lift the chair.

Adjustability – If you plan to move your high chair to different areas of your home, adjustability may be an important feature. This allows you to lift or lower your baby to different heights. Some seats also slightly recline for babies who like to lounge.

Collapsible – Folding up your high chair when it is not in use might be a huge plus for you. High chairs can take up a lot of space so being able to tuck it away can declutter your kitchen. Also, this is a great feature if you plan to store your high chair for a few years between children.

Convertible High Chairs – Several models of high chairs convert from traditional baby high chairs to toddler booster seats. Although it may be initially more expensive, it could save you money in the long run.

Sources: Parents and BabyCenter

5 Things All Breastfeeding Moms Should Have in Her Bag

5 Things All Breastfeeding Moms Should Have in Her BagThere are many AMAZING things about breastfeeding and one of them is that you don’t need a lot of “stuff.” You and your baby, that’s all you really need to breastfeed. Chances are you’re together quite often anyways so this works out great for breastfeeding moms!

By not needing a lot of “stuff” you can eliminate an entire category of things to pack in your ever-growing mommy bag. Because, of course, you DO need 7 packages of wipes, 4 extra adorable baby outfits with matching booties, and 12 stimulating baby toys (we’re exaggerating…a little), but you DON’T need bottles, formula and special water to mix the formula.

With that said, there are a few things all breastfeeding moms should have in her bag for those all-too-often “just in case” moments. Here’s what you should tuck away in your mommy bag to always be on the safe side.

Nursing Cover: Nursing covers are great for those who prefer modesty, but they are also very useful for other reasons as well. Even if you have no qualms about breastfeeding in public, a nursing cover may be a lifesaver if your baby is easily distracted. Or if you’re outside and need to protect your baby from the sun, insects or whatever other elements are in your vicinity.

Our lightweight, breathable nursing cover is fantastic for keeping your baby on task while ensuring she gets enough air. The sheer design even allows you to maintain eye contact. Plus it doubles as a fashion scarf!

A Snack: Breastfeeding moms know that extreme hunger that suddenly consumes you when you’re nursing. Regardless of the tremendous amount of pancakes and power-packed smoothie you had for breakfast, breastfeeding can make you famished. Always have a little snack – such as nuts, dried fruit, a protein bar or crackers – in your bag.

Water: Snacking and breastfeeding can make you thirsty…very thirsty. Staying hydrated is essential to your milk supply and your own wellbeing too. Keep a refillable water bottle in your bag so you can grab some water wherever you are.

Nursing Pads: Embarrassing leaks happen at the most inopportune times, like job interviews, PTA meetings and shopping trips. Be prepared with an extra set of washable nursing pads in your bag. If you leak, simply replace your nursing pads and go on with your day. Don’t forget to take the soaked pair out and wash them when you get home.

A Change for Mom: While it’s true that breastfed babies have less digestive issues and their poop is not as stinky, spit-up and diaper leaks still happen. When you’re holding your baby in a close breastfeeding embrace, some form of bodily fluid is bound to get you from time-to-time. Be prepared with an extra outfit for yourself so you don’t have to spend the rest of your day turning heads for all the wrong reasons.

The Job of Parenting

If you feel like the job of parenting has swallowed your time and energy, you are among the majority of working moms. And if parenting were a paid job, you’d probably be rolling in dough.

A new survey shows that most working mothers clock in around 98 hours a week between their paid position and parenting, leaving just around one hour of non-sleeping “me” time. On average, moms start their day around 6:23 a.m. and finish up parenting responsibilities by 8:31 p.m., a 14-hour work day. Yes, the job of parenting is endless, tiring, demanding and complicated.

One aspect of the survey highlighted the seemingly constant and indefinite list of tasks required in the job of parenting, much of which are repetitive, tedious and mundane. For example, preparing food, cleaning the house and doing laundry are never-ending tasks that nearly every parent faces. And it’s probably not going to stop for about 18 or more years.

The Job of ParentingAlthough the survey focused on parents with children 5 to 12 years old, the results certainly apply to moms of younger tots as well. In fact, the repetitiveness and physical demands of parenting may be even more stressful with younger children who need you for every aspect of their daily lives.

Breastfeeding alone can be one of the most challenging facets to being a new mom. From worrying if your baby is getting enough milk and latching properly, to being tethered to your baby (or your breast pump) for potentially years on end. Add sleep deprivation to the mix and you’ll really understand why they say parenting is the hardest job in the world.

Of course there are also many other parts of parenting that make it extremely difficult too. The responsibility of molding a human being into a productive member of society, for example, is not something most parents take lightly. And the constant worry about your children’s safety, health and wellbeing is always on the top of your mind.

Despite the hardships, exhaustion and selflessness involved in the job of parenting, the paycheck, as it could be called, is priceless. Everyday may not feel like you’ve hit the jackpot but you are the winner. You GET to be the mom of your amazing children. The heart-stopping, overwhelming, extraordinary love you feel and you receive in return is your reward.

The survey rings true for many moms around the country – the job of parenting is HARD. But it also yields the most powerful reward you could ever imagine – LOVE.

Sources: Working Mother, The Bump, Huffington Post and Motherhood and More

 

Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer: FAQ

Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer: FAQBreast Cancer Awareness Month brings extra pause to mothers who are pregnant and breastfeeding. As you share your body to nurture your baby, it’s hard not to think about the impact that breast cancer, or any other type of cancer, may have on you or your little one. Today we’re sharing FAQ about breastfeeding and breast cancer:

Does Breastfeeding Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer?

Yes! Studies show that breastfeeding does indeed lower a mother’s risk of breast cancer for the rest of her life. Breastfeeding for any amount of time reduces risk of breast cancer but breastfeeding for more than two years (lifetime total) more than doubled the risk reduction of breast cancer. Breastfeeding may be especially helpful at reducing risk of estrogen receptor negative, including triple negative, breast cancers.

How does Breastfeeding Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer?

No one knows for sure why breastfeeding reduces risk of breast cancer. Some experts believe it is because mothers who are pregnant and then breastfeed have less menstrual cycles in their lifetime and are therefore exposed to less estrogen, a hormone that contributes to breast cancer. Breastfeeding also changes breast cells and tissue which may make them less receptive to the spread of cancer. Additionally, women who breastfeed tend to make better lifestyle choices for the health of their own bodies and their babies, such as not smoking, not drinking excessive alcohol and eating a healthier diet.

Can you Breastfeed if You Have Breast Cancer?

You cannot transfer breast cancer through breast milk therefore it is completely fine to breastfeed if you have breast cancer. The taste of your breast milk and milk supply may change due to alterations in the breast tissue. That does not necessarily mean your baby will reject the breast, however.

Can you Breastfeed if You are Being Tested for Breast Cancer?

In most cases diagnostic tests for breast cancer, including a mammogram, MRI, X-ray, CAT scan, PET scan or CT scan, do not affect the safety or quantity of breast milk. Even local and general anesthesia is acceptable during breastfeeding. A biopsy may interfere with milk ducts or nerves that are essential to breastfeeding, but the procedure is not categorically unsafe during breastfeeding. Unless instructed by your physician, there is no need to wean for diagnostic testing. If weaning is recommended but you are not ready to stop breastfeeding, discuss other options with your doctor.

Can you Breastfeed if you are Being Treated for Breast Cancer?

Often treatment for breast cancer is not compatible with safe breastfeeding. This includes chemotherapy and radioactive isotopes.

Does Breastfeeding Reduce Risk of Other Types of Cancer?

Yes! Studies show that breastfeeding for at least the recommended six months reduces risk of both ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer (uterine cancer).

Sources: La Leche League, Mayo Clinic, Reuters, Fit Pregnancy and Susan G. Komen