Preparing for Baby: 4 Items Your Nursery Needs

With all of the advice from your friends, family, and online message boards, it can be hard figure out exactly the best way to prepare for your new addition. Marketing campaigns tend to take advantage of the uncertainty that many new parents feel, but you might be surprised to know that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment.

Of course, we all know that basics like diapers, onesies, bottles, and wipes are necessary. But, what about beyond the basics? Which products make life easier and which are a waste of money?

A quality diaper pail

You really want to put them somewhere out of sight and out of mind. Enough said.

A humidifier

No matter what time of year, those little nasal passages can benefit from easier breathing. And it may be just the thing that helps you both get better sleep at night.

A nursing pillow

Whatever brand you choose, this is likely to be your very best friend for the next year. Invest in a quality product and buy a couple of covers to swap out when they need to be washed.

A sling or baby carrier

Once again, style and fit are based on your personal preference. It may be helpful to wear a few in the store to see whic


Cosmetics and Pregnancy

Women who have undergone cosmetic treatments prior to getting pregnant often wonder if it is safe for them to continue to do so throughout their pregnancy. The ultimate question is whether or not these procedures and ingredients will affect the development of your baby and at what stage in your pregnancy are they safe.

While research is mostly incomplete on a wide range of pregnancy side effects, many healthcare professionals will recommend that you avoid the following while you are pregnant.

  • Restylane and other cosmetic dermal fillers or injectables
  • Pulsed light technology and thread vein reduction
  • Any skincare products that contain tretinoin or hydroquinone
  • Lip enhancement fillers

After your first trimester is complete, however, there are a number of non-surgical cosmetic treatments that you can enjoy during your pregnancy, including:

  • Chemical peels
  • Non-prescription skin care products (except those with ingredients referenced above)
  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Hair coloring

Almost all of the organ development occurs during the first trimester. As such, many healthcare professionals will claim that most procedures and products are safe after that point.

If you are looking for a non-cosmetic way to treat yourself, consider scheduling a prenatal massage. Not only can it relax you, but also it can loosen up any muscle spasms that you have been experiencing and leave you feeling refreshed.

Ultimately, any decision to undergo cosmetic treatments during pregnancy should be discussed with your physician. Talk about all of the benefits and risks before going ahead with the procedure. If your doctor approves and you feel comfortable, go ahead and make that appointment.


Tips for Baby Bathtime

Bringing a new baby home can feel overwhelming at times. From keeping track of your little one’s feeding schedule to mastering the art of swaddling, there is a lot to remember, but the learning curve isn’t as steep as you might think. Bathtime, in particular, can be a breeze. Just follow these helpful tips.

It’s all in the temperature.

Babies aren’t able to regulate their own temperature very well early on. So, be sure that the bath you draw is warm and the room is comfortable. Soaping up and rinsing shouldn’t take too long. That’s why it is always a good idea to have a warm, fluffy towel waiting for you when bathtime is over.

Be gentle.

Babies aren’t doing much to get dirty. So, it doesn’t take much to get them clean. Use mild soap sparingly and wash the hands and diaper area well, taking care to avoid eyes and ears.

Rinse, dry, repeat.

After you are done washing, make sure that all of the suds have rinsed clear before wrapping your baby in a towel. Baby skin is very sensitive. So, it’s always best to avoid fragrances, lotions, and oils, unless your doctor recommends it.

Many doctors will advise parents to delay the first bath until after the umbilical cord has healed and fallen off. If you have any questions about when to start bathing your baby, discuss them with your pediatrician. Always stay with your baby throughout the bath and never go farther than an arm’s length away.

If you keep these tips in mind, you’re sure to have an enjoyable bathtime for you and your baby.


Relief for Pregnancy Symptoms

We all know that pregnancy can be exhausting. Once you add in morning sickness, shortness of breath, and body aches, it can be especially rough. But, there are a few things that you can do along the way to alleviate your symptoms or at least make them more tolerable.

Fight gas, heartburn, and bloating by regularly eating smaller meals. Enjoy small, balanced meals, and avoid eating large amounts of foods that could lead to gas.

Constipation is another pregnancy symptom. You can reduce this unwanted side effect by increasing your water and fiber intake. If that doesn’t work, you might need to talk to your doctor about taking laxatives to provide some relief.

If you find that you are experiencing regular nausea, try keeping crackers on hand. Keeping a little something on your stomach can help combat this symptom. You can also try eating ginger. Use it in your cooking or drink it in your tea to help settle your stomach.

If you can’t fit into your shoes because your feet are so swollen, consider drinking more water and getting more rest. Elevate your feet above your head every night for at least 30 minutes, and drink a lot of fluids throughout the day.

Many women simply suffer through these symptoms, but you don’t have to. If these at-home remedies don’t help, schedule an appointment with your medical professional. Ask your doctor about unwanted pregnancy side effects that you may be experiencing. This is not an exhaustive list, and it is important to consider all of your treatment options.


Bonding with Your Baby in the Womb


After discovering that you’re pregnant, it can be easy to feel anxious about bonding with your baby. Sooner is always better than later, and the good news is that you don’t have to wait until your baby is born to begin the process.

After the 23rd week, your baby is developed enough to hear and respond to outside noises. Many researchers believe that they can actually respond to the sound of your voice even earlier than that. Talk to them often and be mindful of noises that might be too loud for your baby. Many prenatal yoga classes incorporate humming, and some moms-to-be who have participated in these classes have noted that humming has a soothing effect on their babies after being born as a result.

In addition to your baby responding to your voice, they can also respond to music. Play calming music for your baby. Classical tunes are always a good choice. It’s not necessary, but if you want to, you can even put headphones around your baby bump. Just be sure to keep the volume low since amniotic fluid can amplify the music.

Babies also react to your hormones. Research has shown that mothers with stressful pregnancies and anxious personalities are often linked to babies with emotional difficulties. While the direct cause-and-effect link is still a mystery, many experts suspect that it has something to do with the stress hormones that cross the placenta. Stay calm and surround yourself with positive people and positive influences throughout your pregnancy.

Spend time thinking about your baby, talking to him, singing to her, and putting healthy food in your body for both of you. By reducing stress and focusing on the positive aspects of your pregnancy and family, you will also likely have a more enjoyable pregnancy.


When to Introduce Foods to Your Baby

The first year of development is an exciting time for a new baby. There’s so much to see, do, and taste! It is fun to help our children explore their environment by introducing new textures and tastes into their world. However, there are a few general guidelines that can help you and your baby during this time of exploration.

Birth to 4 months

Baby should be enjoying only breast milk or formula at this time. His or her gastrointestinal system is still developing. So, no solid food, juice, or water.

4 to 6 months

Bring on some soft solids! If your baby has started holding their head steady, sitting up, and closing their mouth around a spoon, they may be ready for cereal and pureed foods. Start out simple with sweet potatoes, squash, bananas, or pears. You can also add rice cereal to their formula or breast milk.

6 to 8 months

Expand the horizons of soft, solid foods. You can now add strained fruits and vegetables and pureed meat or tofu on top of the soft solids your little one has been enjoying. While variety is great, be sure to introduce each food one at a time. Space them apart by three days or so in order to help gauge possible allergic reactions.

8 to 12 months

Add finger foods! Now is the time to start placing small pieces of ripe fruit, teething crackers, O-shaped cereal, yogurt, and cooked beans with soft skins in front of your baby. Allow them to experiment with picking up the food and transferring it to their mouth.

If you have any questions or concerns about which foods to introduce to your baby and when, be sure to discuss them with your doctor. He or she will be able to guide your choices based on your baby’s individual needs and your personal preferences.


Finding a Good Daycare or Nanny

Making the decision to return to work after having a baby is complicated. There are a lot of factors to consider. While you might be eagerly anticipating adult conversation and avoiding diaper duty for a full 8 hours a day, it is important to carefully consider all of your childcare options.

You aren’t the first mama to desire (or require) a job outside of the home. From part-time to full-time, countless women have done this before you and there are a number of different childcare options available to choose from. You’ll want to consider your budget, lifestyle, and personal preference before making a final decision.

Identify

Figure out what you and your family want and need. Is it more convenient for you to have a daycare near work? Or do you need a nanny that can accommodate your off-cycle work hours? Are there particular values or religious beliefs you want the childcare center to embody? Would you prefer a classroom-style daycare with structured routine that will prepare them for school or the more casual environment of a home?

Research Reputations

Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to find a daycare or nanny that you trust. If you live in a new city or don’t have those resources, the next best bet is the Internet. Online resources such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children can be great tools. You should be able to find parent reviews (both positive and negative) regarding the daycare or nanny service you are considering by spending a little bit of time conducting some online research.

Visit or Interview

Although word-of-mouth is great, nothing compares to the first impression and gut instinct you can get by visiting a daycare or interviewing a potential nanny. Inquire about the caregiver to child ratio, evaluate the cleanliness of the location, and discuss your personal priorities.

Returning to the workforce should be an enjoyable and rewarding choice for mothers. By taking the time to ensure that your children are in a fun, safe environment during the day, you can free your mind from worry and focus on the beneficial aspects of your job.


Deciding on a Birth Plan

While it can seem like 9 months is an awful long time, your due date can actually sneak up on you. You spend a lot of time preparing for the baby by readying the nursery, buying clothing, and stocking up on diapers. But, have you considered the details of your actual delivery?

It is so important to develop a birth plan ahead of time. It might seem overwhelming at first, but simply answering a few basic questions can be a good starting point.

What is your pain tolerance like?

Do you want pain medication?

Where do you want to give birth?

Who do you want present for the birth?

Discuss these factors with your doctor, and get his or her input. Your doctor should be able to fully inform you of all of your available options and answer any questions that you might have. Many hospitals and birthing centers even offer tours that can help you visualize your experience.

In the end, most physicians will tell you that the best birth plans are ones that are open and flexible to change. Your doctor will want to do what is best for you and the baby, so modifications to the plan may need to be made along the way. By staying flexible, you will avoid disappointment and free yourself to focus on bringing your baby into the world.


Family Game Night

It can be difficult to set aside time to spend together as a family. But, a traditional family game night might be just what you need! Regularly spending time together can help improve communication with your kids, in addition to fostering a positive environment. Here are a few tips for making family game night fun for everyone involved.

Pick an evening that works for everyone.

This is probably going to be the toughest step for some families. It can be difficult to try to coordinate your teenager’s part-time job schedule with you or your spouse’s work schedule. And that doesn’t even take hobbies and the like into account. So, put it on the calendar far in advance and stick to it.

Tell everyone to pick a game.

It is important that all family members are involved in this step. Each week you can play a different game that a different family member suggested. That way, there is plenty of variety and each person’s preferences will be included.

Add food.

Every family event is better with food! Similar to choosing games, have every family member pick a favorite snack. Write all of the recipes on pieces of paper and draw one each week to make.

Include prizes.

Other than bragging rights (which can often be enough), consider creating unique prizes for non-first-place winners. Maybe someone could get a Good Sport prize or a Most Helpful Player award.

Get rid of cell phones.

While the first step may be the toughest, this step is probably the most important. Make sure that your family is actually spending time together by putting those cell phones away!

Start a new tradition in your home this week! Pick a family game night and get your kids involved in the planning process. It may be difficult to get everyone on the same page at first, but the effort will be well worth it in the long run.


Teaching Your Kids Manners

“What do you say when you want something?”
“And what do you say now?”

I feel like I’m forever reminding my toddler to insert “please” and “thank you” into his everyday language. As exhausting and repetitive as it may seem, I am trying my best to enforce a habit that should be automatic. I would love it if my two-year-old really and truly felt thankful that I just poured him another glass of juice, but in the meantime, I’ll have to settle for memorization of the social script.

If you have been trying to teach your kids manners and you are wondering why the lesson isn’t sticking, take a look at your own behavior. One of the best ways to get the behavior you desire is to model it yourself.

Are you saying “please” and “thank you” with family members and strangers? Are your table manners what you would expect of your kids? The “do as I say, not as I do” approach may work when you’re around, but it will definitely lack the foundation to carry through the teenage years and beyond.

Take notice when they remember their manners! Kids who don’t get attention when they are being good could try to get that attention in other, negative ways. Don’t just gloss over the fact that your toddler thanked you for the string cheese. Instead, applaud him or praise her! The lesson is more likely to stick if it is associated with good feelings.

Lastly, make any corrections on the spot. If you think that your mama memory is short, try on toddler shoes for a day. Bringing up the fact that your four-year-old didn’t say “thank you” at the ice cream store will not help to change his behavior. Prompt him at the counter to mind his manners and make sure the ice cream isn’t handed over until he does.

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