Ways to Embrace Winter Weather with a Baby

Ways to Embrace Winter Weather with a BabyYour mom might have warned you not to play outdoors in the cold but now we know that kids need fresh air, exercise and freedom even when it’s chilly out. Today we’re helping you embrace winter weather with a baby so you both enjoy the season and stay safe.

Playing outside during a blizzard or when it’s well below freezing may not be the best idea, but a gentle breeze and a few snowflakes shouldn’t deter you from some winter fun outside. In fact, getting some fresh air may help your baby. Most of us tend to stay inside where the air is dry during the winter, which can wreak havoc on a baby’s sensitive skin. Also, germs re-circulate indoors, especially in public spaces or childcare facilities.

Going outside in the wintertime with your baby just takes a few safety measures. Babies under six months of age have a hard time regulating their temperatures and like us, they lose heat through their heads. Therefore, dress your baby in several warm layers and always put on a winter hat. Children 12 months or older should be dressed in the same number of layers you would wear comfortably outside.

Be sure to protect your baby’s hands and feet too. Warm gloves, socks and shoes are in order for outdoor play. Once your baby is walking, waterproof shoes are best for snowy weather and rain.

Stepping outside for a few 15-20 minutes play sessions is ideal when it is cold. Your little one can enjoy the freedom to explore without getting too chilly. Once you come inside, dry off and warm up immediately.

Blue lips or paleness of the ears, fingertips and nose are signs that your baby is too cold. You may have overdone it on the layers if your baby starts sweating or breaks out in a heat rash on her chest.

Ways to Embrace Winter Weather with a BabyMake the most of your outdoor time by embracing the season. Make piles of twigs, pinecones and acorns. Build with the snow or lie in it to make snow angels. Watch your breath in the cold air. Feel the wind dance in your hair. These are wonderful sensory activities for your baby during wintertime outings.

If solids are already on the menu, embrace winter weather with your baby by trying new seasonal foods like pureed or clear-broth soups, roasted vegetables and warm hearty whole grains.

At nighttime, keep it safe in your baby’s crib. It’s tempting to cover your baby with a warm blanket but adding anything to the sleep setting increases risk of SIDS. Instead, dress your baby in warm pajamas with feet or add socks. Put your baby in a sleep sack if you think she may need extra warmth.

Embrace winter weather with your baby but play it safe as well. Enjoy this wondrous season and many more to come!

Sources: Parents and CNN

STEM Toys for Babies

Almost every object imaginable is a learning tool for your baby but with the emergence of an emphasis on STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – kids are learning in new and exciting ways. STEM toys for babies, many of which are great for other concepts as well, can help your little one develop these valuable skills and a love for critical thinking.

Experts agree that no one is too young to explore STEM toys but you should keep a few things in mind when shopping for your baby and other children as well: STEM toys should be interactive, age appropriate for your child, and stimulate their individual interests.

This holiday season, consider these STEM toys for babies:STEM Toys for Babies

Stackable Toys: Those classic stacking rings and cups are beautiful STEM toys for babies. While your baby may first enjoy touching and chewing on them, eventually she will understand that they belong in a certain order and will learn to stack them properly time and time again.

Blocks: Age-old blocks are the original STEM toys for babies. Now there are hundreds (possibly thousands) of types of blocks ranging from soft to super high-tech. For babies, simple varieties for stacking, building and sorting are best. Blocks with interesting colors and pictures may make them more fun. As your baby gets older, introduce connecting blocks. Eventually working up to building more elaborate structures and adding electronics to the mix will be appropriate.

STEM Toys for BabiesConnectors: Blocks have evolved into many other toys where young minds can connect pieces using a variety of different pieces. From mechanical concepts that use screws and bolts, to snapping shapes, gears, pipes and joints, connectors are a fun way for babies to explore how pieces fit together.

Kiddie Cash Registers: This fun and interactive toy allows kids to swipe items and insert fake money while learning matching, following directions and basic number concepts. Plus this type of “playing with your food” is a lot less messy!

Puzzles: Basic puzzles with large wooden or foam pieces are excellent for developing a STEM-oriented mind. With the problem or task set before her, your little one has to make predictions and calculations about which pieces go where. At first it will be trial and error but eventually she will wrap her brain around it and know exactly how to solve the puzzle.

Sources: The Bump, PopSugar and Time

Holiday Traditions to Start with Your Baby

Holiday Traditions to Start with Your Baby

Holiday traditions are a wonderful way to add meaning and joy to the season. You probably grew up with a few and so did your hubby. Now that you have your own family there are tons of special holiday traditions to start with your baby. We’re sharing a few of our favorite ideas to get you in the spirit:

 

 

Share a Keepsake

Each year of your baby’s life brings new and exciting milestones. Commemorate the years with a keepsake collection that will grow along with your baby. Items may include ornaments, snow globes, angels, stuffed animals, dolls or other collectables. Be sure to date each one so you and your little one can look back at the treasures in years to come.

Cruise Holiday Lights

Babies, children and adults alike enjoy beautiful holiday lights. Take a scenic joy ride to view some of the best light displays in your area. Bright and colorful twinkles along with elaborate scenes will surely dazzle your little one.

Bake Together

Even the littlest family members can help bake delicious holiday treats if you prepare in advance. Pre-measure ingredients and let your baby help you pour them into a big bowl. Then let her stir up the mixture. While you’re putting on the finishing touches and popping your scrumptious dessert in the oven, secure your baby in her high chair with some fun cooking scraps and utensils.

Read a Holiday Story

Select a book that is meaningful to your family’s holiday season and make a point to read it each year. At the beginning it may be too advanced for your baby and by the time your kids are teenagers they may roll their eyes at it. But this tradition of reading together symbolizes togetherness and enrichment for your family.

Build a Gingerbread House

Engineering and food meet when you engage the entire family in a gingerbread house construction project. Consider non-traditional designs that allow your baby to get creative with icing and candies. But do be careful about small pieces that may be choking hazards.

Send a Holiday Card

Surely you’re not shy about sharing photos of your adorable baby. Sending a holiday card is one of the most acceptable ways to show off your baby’s undeniable cuteness while also sharing holiday greetings with loved ones.

Deliver Holiday Cheer

Involve your baby in delivering holiday cheer to friends, family, neighbors and community helpers. Little ones are excellent at sorting and putting items into bags or containers. This is an early stage of teaching your children the value of giving.

Incorporate Your Family Traditions

You and your husband likely each have fond memories of holiday traditions from your childhoods. Select one or two from each of your families and incorporate them into your holiday season, especially if they have historical or cultural significance to your heritage.

Holiday traditions to start with your baby should be personal and meaningful. We wish you a warm, festive and special holiday season!

Sources: Everyday Family, PopSugar, Parents and Parenting

Gender Mindset Bias: 3 Ways to Break the Cycle

New research shows that girls as young as 6-years-old believe boys are smarter. Researchers point to three distinct areas that may help break the cycle of gender mindset bias that begins in early childhood.

Gender Mindset Bias: 3 Ways to Break the CycleThrough several experiments done earlier this year, girls at age 6 and above repeatedly indicated that they think boys are smarter. The first activity required girls and boys to draw a picture of a “really really smart” person. Girls 6+ were more likely to draw a man than a woman.

The second activity asked girls and boys to select a game: One was for people who are “really really smart” and one was for people who try hard. Girls were more likely to pick the game for people who try hard.

This research included girls and boys ages 5-7. Interestingly, the girls and boys at age 5 did not show any gender mindset bias. It was at age six when the differentiation started.

But gender mindset bias clearly continues to impact girls well beyond childhood. Far fewer women graduate with degrees in science and engineering, two highly regarded fields that require greater than average intelligence.

Knowing that gender mindset bias begins by age 6 told researchers that children are influenced on this subject throughout their early childhood. They identified three areas that may be able to break the cycle and build more intellectual confidence among girls:

Placing emphasis on learning and effort rather than innate intelligence. Children often say, “I’m not good at this or that.” When those words come out of your child’s mouth, you have the opportunity to show your child she can become good at something if she works hard and puts in the effort. This goes hand-and-hand with the concept that she can do anything she wants if she puts her heart and mind in it.

Setting a good example for your children. When you put yourself or others down for their appearance or intelligence, you’re teaching this behavior to your children, especially daughters. Show your kids how smart mommy is every day, even if you don’t head out the door to work like daddy does. Also, dividing traditional household chores among all genders in your family can help break the gender mindset bias.

Experiencing positive female role models. In addition to being a role model to your children, teach them about amazing, accomplished women. Point them out when you see them on TV or meet them in person. Read about them in books. Go to events that spotlight powerful women. These are inspirational women your children can look up to as they develop their sense of self-worth.

Sources: WebMD, NY Times and The Atlantic

 

Why Men Should Care about Breastfeeding

Why Men Should Care about BreastfeedingBreastfeeding may occur between a mom and a baby, but its relevance and benefit in our society goes well beyond the two participants. Men may not partake in breastfeeding first hand, but men should care about breastfeeding a great deal because it affects their lives almost as much as moms and babies.

Breastfeeding is far more than a two-person sport. It’s a natural and life-changing form or nourishment that every woman has the right to offer her baby. Everyone – regardless of gender or being a parent – should respect and uphold that right not only because it’s as normal as eating a sandwich or slurping down a smoothie, but also because breastfeeding benefits everyone in the community.

It may seem that men are distant from breastfeeding. Perhaps at one point that was true, although it should never have been the case. Now, we know more and we know better. Men should care about breastfeeding because it’s good for their babies, their wives, their families, their sisters, their daughters, their co-workers, their employees, and the list could go on. Breastfeeding touches every aspect of the community from healthcare to economics. These are people issues, not just concerns for mothers with babies.

In the beautiful cycle of health and wellbeing, breastfeeding makes babies healthier, stronger, smarter and more accomplished, according to many studies. Babies who are not sick very often take less of a toll on the healthcare system and healthcare expenses for their families, and in general, are lower. Mothers and fathers of babies who are healthier are healthier themselves and miss less work and can be more productive in society because of it.

Babies who grow up to be better behaved, smarter and more accomplished are dynamic and helpful members of communities. They achieve more and contribute in positive ways. Ultimately this creates a more financially stable, creative, collaborative and accepting environment for everyone.

In most states women have the right to breastfeed anywhere at any time, despite the countless stories about women being asked to leave public places for breastfeeding openly. Why Men Should Care about BreastfeedingThis lack of understanding of the rights of women to breastfeed and the ignorance about how breastfeeding benefits everyone sets breastfeeding back each time it occurs.

Breastfeeding support can come from anywhere. Certainly it should come from medical experts who know the recommendations and research behind the incredible health benefits of breastfeeding for moms and babies. And it should come from any father, family member or friend who wants the best for the new baby in their lives.

But beyond being a direct relative of a baby, men should care about breastfeeding to support a healthier and more productive community, to support the rights of women and children, and to uphold the moral value that a baby who needs to eat – a basic need – should be allowed to do so anywhere at any time.

Breastfeeding is a human cause. It saves lives, it changes lives and it uplifts lives. That means men, women, children, employers, government officials, friends, family, and everyone in society should support this vital health movement.

Sources: The Good Men Project and US Breastfeeding Committee

Hair Tips for New Moms

Hair Tips for New MomsIf you’re like most new moms, you’re pulling out clumps of hair every time your brush or shampoo. What’s that all about? Your hair was in a major growth period during pregnancy but now your hormones have triggered a release of the strands that made your hair look so full and lustrous just a few months ago. Between hair loss and general exhaustion, bad hair days may feel like the norm with a baby.

Check out these hair tips for new moms to help you look top notch in your new role as mom:

Cut Wisely

The emotions of pregnancy can make you want to do drastic things to your hair like cut it all off or get a super trendy do. But after your baby arrives you may regret the decision, especially if it requires a lot of styling to look halfway decent. Keep changes to a minimum until you see what motherhood will be like for you. As you decide on the right cut for you, ask your stylist for some ideas that will work with your natural hair texture so you don’t always need to blow and style it.

Long is OK

Many new moms think they should have shorter hair to make it easier to manage. But being able to wear a pony tail or throw your hair into an up-do with a claw clip quickly is a major advantage.

Wash Less

Washing your hair every day is probably not necessary (unless it got doused in major spit-up). You can train your hair to become less oily by gradually extending the days between washes. And on days when you need a boost, try dry shampoo.

Wisp Away

It’s normal for new moms to have baby wisps in the front as hair begins to grow back, but you may not enjoy the way it looks. Slick back the wisps with serums or gel, or wear a headband to keep them down.

Take your Prenatal Vitamins

Your OBGYN probably advised you to continue taking prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding to support the nutritional needs of you and your baby but they are also great for your hair. Along with a wholesome diet, you can nourish your hair with vitamins and minerals through supplements.

Invest in a Great Hairdryer

It may seem absurd to spend hundreds on a hairdryer but if you really want to save time and reduce damage on your hair, you can get a salon-quality hairdryer. It will work faster and help maintain moisture in your hair. Holiday gift, anyone?

Keratin Treatment

For easier blowouts you may want to consider a keratin treatment that will nourish and straighten your hair.

To Color or Not

While color may add some va-va-voom back into your hair, maintaining it every 6-8 weeks may be too much of a commitment. If you do decide to color your hair, don’t stray too far from your natural color to give yourself a little wiggle room if you can’t get to the salon as often as you’d like.

Wishing all our new mom friends excellent hair days to come!

Sources: PopSugar and Baby Center

Your Immune System During Pregnancy

Just like the rest of your body, your immune system is constantly changing during pregnancy. For years it was believed that your immune system during pregnancy was weak to ensure your body didn’t reject the growing embryo and to put more bodily energy into the developing baby. But new research shows that may not be true.

The immune system is complex in the most normal of circumstances so you can imagine that it is all the more complicated when pregnancy is involved. Studies now show that immune cells are present at the implantation site after an egg is fertilized, not to attack it, but to help it survive.

Your Immune System During PregnancyAccording to recent research from the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University, throughout the first trimester, immune cells create an inflammatory response to encourage the success rate of an embryo. This is much the same way your body creates inflammation while healing a wound. It’s a protective measure and it shows the body is working properly.

During the second trimester and early third trimester anti-inflammatory immune cells take over to protect the growing baby. Some fetal cells express an antibody that comes from the father. Under normal circumstances a mother’s body might find this to be a foreign attack. During pregnancy it forms specialized anti-inflammatory white blood cells called Tregs that help protect the fetus.

Towards the end of pregnancy a mother’s body goes back into pro-inflammatory mode, which allows labor and delivery to occur. The researchers at Stanford believe premature birth can occur if there is a mix-up in immune system responses. And if that’s the case, perhaps there is a way to determine risk of premature birth from a simple blood test.

Despite the evolving immune system during pregnancy, experts still agree pregnant women are more susceptible to colds, coughs and the flu during pregnancy. In the case of the flu, researchers at Stanford found that the immune cells in pregnant women go into overdrive to attack and get rid of the virus, at least in a petrie dish. Although this shows great immune strength, the ferocity in which the immune system attacks could be harmful to mothers and babies.

That is one reason why getting a flu shot is so important during pregnancy. It not only protects mothers from getting sick and avoiding an over-the-top immune response, it also protects unborn babies who will be too young to get the shots themselves when they are born.

Your immune system during pregnancy may not be as strong as usual but you can do a few things to keep yourself as healthy as possible. The first is washing your hands often and staying away from people who are sick. Also, eat vitamin-rich whole foods such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, exercise and take a prenatal vitamin too.

Sources: Medical News Today, Science News and She Knows

 

Budgeting for the Holidays: Part 2

The holiday season is a busy time for celebrations and giving. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending on everything from travel to winter break activities. Yesterday we shared gift-giving tips for budgeting for the holidays. Today we’re helping keep the rest of your holiday season on budget with even more savvy wallet-friendly advice.

Travel

We all know traveling over the holidays can be extra expensive between airlines jacking up ticket prices and gas hikes as well.

Budgeting for the Holidays: Part 2For air travel, use discount travel websites to find the lowest fares and purchase at non-peak times when you may get the best deals. Traveling with a baby is good for your budget because children under two do not need their own tickets!

When traveling by car, get your car tuned up before the trip to ensure it is as gas efficient as possible. Pack your own food and snacks to avoid unnecessary convenience store expenses. Also, fill up on gas in rural locations where the prices won’t be as high. Use apps to help you find the best gas prices on your route.

When budgeting for the holidays, consider other travel expenses too such as boarding pets, baggage fees, parking and car transportation to your destination.

Holiday Celebrations

If you’re hosting a holiday party or meal this year, plan wisely. Pot luck is a great way to cut down on food costs and take some of the burden of meal prep off of you. As tempting as it may be to use paper and plastic goods for your holiday celebrations, it is more economical to use regular dishes and silverware that you can run through the dishwasher, even if it means you have some mis-matched pieces.

Don’t forget to budget for the little things such as carpet or house cleaning after a big event or activities for kids so they don’t wreak havoc on your house.

If you will be attending several holiday parties this year, pick out one new outfit that will work for all occasions. If you need a variety of outfits, ask to borrow from friends or get something tailored that you haven’t worn for years.

Family Activities

When school is out it’s tempting to enjoy a few indulgent family activities like going to the movies, an ice skating rink or bowling alley. These can be fun but make sure you budget for them and limit them to only a few over the holiday break. It’s also tempting to eat out a lot over the holidays, especially if you’ve slaved away on several big meals lately.

Come up with free activities including parks, game nights and cooking a family meal together. These can be just a fun and easier on your budget.

Budgeting for the holidays takes some prep work but it can help you save big bucks in the long run. We wish you a happy and budget-friendly holiday season!

Sources: Huffington Post, The Today Show and Dave Ramsey

 

Budgeting for the Holidays: Part 1

Budgeting for the Holidays: Part 1With holiday gift-giving, traveling and partying approaching, budgeting for the holidays is a smart idea, especially when you have kids. In the spirit of joy and giving, it’s so easy to overdo it to make your kiddos, friends and family happy. But if breaking the bank over the holiday season will have serious consequences for you come January, budgeting for the holidays is a must.

As you plan ahead for the season, keep these gifting tips in mind when budgeting for the holidays:

Make a List and Set a Budget Per Person

Lists will ensure you have everyone covered and allow you to visually see expected expenses as a whole. Create a simple spreadsheet to keep track of who you’re buying for, what you want to buy and how much you expect it to cost. Keeping a running tab will help you not go over-budget and stick to what’s on the list.

Have a Family Meeting

For kids who are old enough to have a wish list, hold a family meeting to discuss gift priorities including tangible items and experiences. Set the expectation that your kids will not get everything on their list and some items can be saved for other times like birthdays and other holidays. Since your littlest family members may not be able to tell you what they want, take note of toys they gravitate towards at a friend’s house or daycare. These actions can help you select items that meet your baby’s interests.

Share Your Wish List

If you know grandparents and other family members will be buying holiday gifts for you and your kids, be specific about what everyone wants. This will take some of the burden off of budgeting for the holidays and will help everyone get what they really desire.

Draw Names

If you have a large extended family, group of friends or close co-workers, draw names and set a price limit rather than purchasing something for each person. This can help everyone’s budget and ensure each person gets something special of equal value.

Shop Smart

Now’s the time to pull out all of your budget shopping tricks including signing up for newsletter discounts, scouting coupons, using rebate websites and price checking everything for the best deal. Consider buying gently used items for your kids, who probably won’t know the difference.

Get Creative

Not all gifts have to be expensive. Gift experiences or DIY projects that allow your family to spend time together in a meaningful way. If you can make it rather than buy it, go that route this year.

Gift Necessities and Educational Items

If your kids are in need of new clothing, a new backpack or bed sheets that you were going to have to buy anyways, use the holidays as an opportunity to gift them instead. Perhaps you spring for something slightly more expensive with characters or designs that your kids like to make it a fun, yet useful, gift. The same can be true of gifts for adults – If you are your husband need a new bed, dining table or washing machine, make it a joint holiday present to one another rather than spending money on other items.

Give Charitably

Make a charitable donation in honor of each family member in lieu of one present you may have otherwise purchased. Let your family members select the charity of their choice to make it a special gift on their behalf.

That’s not all the advice we have on budgeting for the holidays! Tomorrow we’ll share even more tips for staying on budget this holiday season.

Sources: Huffington Post, The Today Show and Dave Ramsey

Baby’s First Thanksgiving: Photo Ops

Baby’s First Thanksgiving: Photo OpsEvery “first” in the first year is an exciting milestone for new parents. And if you’re like most, you’re going to want to have your camera ready for photo ops. If your baby’s first Thanksgiving is coming up, check out these adorable photo ops you won’t want to miss.

Dressed Turkey

Your little gobbler is sure to look absolutely adorable in baby’s first Thanksgiving outfit. Whether it’s an ironic bodysuit, pilgrim costume, colorful tutu, suit and tie, or custom t-shirt, be sure to snap “gobs” of pictures in the outfit you’ve selected.

Family Fun

For many families, holidays like baby’s first Thanksgiving are met with new introductions to many members of the family tree. Taking photos of family fun and meaningful multi-generational shots of baby, parents, grandparents and (for those lucky enough) great-grandparents is a wonderful way to commemorate the holiday.

Pucker Up

Is your baby trying a new food during your Thanksgiving meal? If so, have your camera ready to capture the moment the turkey, cranberries or pumpkin pie meets the taste buds. It could be an uproarious scene that you’re going to want to a picture of.

Hats Off

Pilgrim top hat, knitted turkey cap, pumpkin topper or a colorful fall-themed ribbons and bows headband are all cute adornments for your baby’s head. Of course you’ll need lots of pictures of baby in hats or headbands to remember baby’s first Thanksgiving.

Rolling in Fall

Spend some time outdoors enjoying the beautiful fall weather. Let your baby explore the scenery and changing leaf colors down on the ground. Leaf photos are usually vibrant and with the addition of your baby they’ll also be cute as a button.

Pumpkin in a Pumpkin

For those who are carving up their own pumpkins for fresh pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread, give the pumpkin an extra scraping to make a fun seat for your little love. You can place your smaller baby in the hollowed pumpkin, or for babies who can sit upright, cut out leg holes for your photo op. She’ll probably love sitting in her cool new orange gourd chair.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We wish you many wonderful memories and photo ops of baby’s first Thanksgiving!