Should Kids Get A Flu Shot?

Flu Shots For Kids - Mommy Makeover NetworkIt’s that time of year again. No, not the holiday season. Flu season. Deciding whether or not to get a flu shot is a personal choice, and  many American’s elect not to get them for themselves. However, while you have the choice to bypass getting vaccinated, you shouldn’t necessarily let your children go without it.

Young children are at a higher risk for catching influenza, and every year, many get sick and end up having life-threatening complications that require immediate medical attention. In order to protect them from this dangerous illness, make an appointment for them to receive a shot or nasal spray. The type of vaccination they receive will primarily depend on their age.

If you’re the mother of a child between 2-7, you can save them from the pain of receiving a shot by electing to have them get vaccinated with a nasal spray. In fact, it is proven to be more effective than a shot for those in this age range. According to a Slate article published on October 3, 2013, kids between the ages of 2-7 who got the spray in 2012 were 83% less likely to get the flu than those who weren’t vaccinated. That efficacy rate dropped to only 48% for kids who got the shot.

Influenza virus image - Flu Shots for kids - Mommy Makeover Network

Well, that thing looks nasty.

Unfortunately, if your child is under two, the nasal spray option is not available, as it hasn’t been approved for children that young. But just because they can’t be vaccinated without a needle doesn’t mean you should avoid it. In fact, influenza complications are most common in kids younger than two, so it’s even more important that you schedule an appointment for them to receive the flu shot. Additionally, those younger than 6 months cannot be vaccinated in any way. The best way to help them avoid getting sick is to ensure everyone around them is vaccinated.

To help your little one overcome their fears of getting a shot, Parents.com suggests telling them the truth about what to expect, applying anesthetic cream that numbs the skin 20 minutes before the appointment and even providing a reward as incentive for them making it through the process. In the case your child overreacts, let the physician take over.

Following the vaccination appointment, be sure to watch out for immediate side effects. While flu vaccines are intended to protect against contracting a season illness, they do pose risks. Some common symptoms included soreness in the area of the shot, headaches, and fever. In rare cases, complications like Guillain-Barre syndrome develop as well as severe allergic reactions. But the chances of these complications occurring are close to one-in-a-million.

In all, the benefits of getting your children vaccinated heavily outweigh the consequences, according to most experts. It is important that those children six months to five years old be vaccinated every flu season, which runs from October through January. Children with asthma, diabetes, and brain or nervous system disorders are especially at high risk to endure complications if they contract the flu, so getting them vaccinated early on each flu season should be a high priority.


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.


Simple Ways to De-stress

It may seem like a contradiction to include the words “simple” and “reduce stress” in the same sentence. However, there are ways that you can learn to relax even in the midst of your seemingly non-stop parenting schedule. If you feel like your day starts too early, ends too late, and is filled with too many errands, soccer games, grocery lists, emails, work responsibilities, and other stressful factors, take a deep breath and read on.

Take a Time Out

If a child is frustrated, throwing himself on the floor, and screaming because he can’t have what he wants, what is one of the most popular parenting tools to deal with the tantrum? You guessed it – a time out! But, this tactic isn’t just for toddlers. A time out can help you calm down, refocus, and deal with your feelings. So, when you’re experiencing a stressful situation, step back, take a few deep breaths, and if possible, go to a quiet area (even if that just means locking yourself in the bathroom!).

Take Care of your Finances

While time outs can help with acutely stressful situations, some of the most common causes of stress in families are more fundamental in nature. Money is one of the things that keep a lot of parents awake at night. So, work with your spouse or partner to eliminate debt and stay on top of monthly bills. For many families, this doesn’t mean the need to make more money. Often, you can improve your situation by simply spending less.

Enjoy Routine

The only way that I can get out of the house each morning with my two toddler boys without stressing about what I’m forgetting to bring or do is to follow a routine. I know what needs to go into each bag that I’m bringing with me, and I always keep my keys in the same place. By setting up a daily routine for your home, you essentially set that part of your brain on autopilot, which allows for a less stressful experience overall.

Eliminating or dealing with these common stressors can make a world of difference in your day-to-day life. So, give these simple tips a try!


Encouraging Your Child to Exercise

Thanks to new technology, today’s kids that are more screen-savvy than ever. At the touch of a button – or tap of an on-screen icon – thousands of books, games, apps, webpages, maps, photos, and other data are available almost instantly. While these advances allow for a world of information to be extremely easily accessible, they can also encourage a sedentary lifestyle.

Too much screen time at a young age can contribute to obesity and foster unhealthy habits. But, there are some ways that you can encourage your youngster to get moving and stay active.

Get Mom and Dad Moving

I’ve always wondered about parents that wished their children read more, but don’t actually read themselves. In the same way, the first and best way to encourage an active lifestyle in your kids is to lead an active lifestyle yourself. When kids are young, there is a natural tendency to want to do whatever mom and dad are doing. Use that to your advantage and go for a walk, get on your bikes, throw the football around, or hit the local park.

Independent vs. Team Activities

While enrolling your son or daughter in a local soccer league may seem like an easy way to increase their activity, it is important to keep in mind that organized team sports aren’t for everyone. Some kids thrive on independent activities such as track, cycling, rock climbing, or swimming. This point is especially important to remember if you have several children. What motivates one kid to get outside and play may not be the same for the others.

Instead of investing in a complicated reward system to limit screen time, simply encourage your child by participating in activities yourself and identifying the things that they most enjoy doing. Plus, being more active as a whole family is good for your health, too!


Reduce Your Stress

It’s no secret that motherhood is one of the most rewarding and most challenging jobs out there. Oftentimes, moms put others’ needs before their own, and they forget how to unwind. Whether you’re balancing a career with your home life or you work around the clock on laundry, diapers, cleaning, and more, there comes a point in every mom’s life when she needs a break.

A rest can benefit both you and your family. So, step back, look at the big picture, and take action to ensure that you’re doing all you can to reduce your stress.

1) Create alone time. This can be challenging for mothers who work at home and don’t have family nearby to help out with small children. Even if it means hiring a babysitter for a few hours or dropping your wee ones at the gym nursery while you workout, it is important to have a block of time that is free of distractions to be used however you like. You can use this time to read a good book, write in a journal, take a hot shower, or just nap.

2) Prepare food in advance. Some mothers take the stress out of deciding what to make for dinner every day by making meals ahead of time and placing them in the freezer. This way, all you have to do is pull out a container to thaw, and dinner is served!

3) Set and maintain boundaries. Whether you work at home or in an office, it is important to learn how to say “no” to extra responsibilities when you need to. The PTA or that board meeting will not fall apart without you. In fact, if you stretch yourself too thin, each area of your life will get less than the best of you, which likely isn’t what you want.

4) Stay connected. Reach out to friends and family often. Many moms who stay at home all day with small children can easily feel isolated and desperate for adult conversation. Don’t hesitate to invite a friend over or call your own mom. You can even turn to social media!

The most important way to reduce stress is to remember that you are not alone. There are many women just like you struggling with the same issues and trying to keep it all together. So, relax and give yourself a break!


Educating Your Child on Healthy Eating

Almost every parent of a toddler-aged child knows how difficult it can be to fight the food battle. Finicky eaters start to emerge as children gain their sense of independence and begin to test the boundaries imposed by mom and dad. You may be winning individual battles about broccoli during dinner, but losing the overall war to promote well-balanced, nutritious meals. In the end, every parent just wants their kids to make healthy food choices.

The best way to encourage healthy eating in your children is to eat healthy yourself. This is true of almost any behavior. On the whole, children are more likely to eat what mom and dad eat. Read on for a few tips for helping your kids learn how to make good choices.

1) Have healthy food on hand. If you want your kids to choose veggies, fruit, and juice over chips, candy, and pop, then you should have those selections accessible in your home. Avoid buying junk food regularly, and save it for special occasions, such as movie night.

2) Eat together. Sit down as a family to eat together as often as possible. This way, you can demonstrate to your kids how to eat slowly and enjoy each bite. You can answer questions about why you eat certain foods and help older kids with portion control. Desserts should be a mealtime treat that incorporate limited portions and healthy ingredients. Avoid TV during mealtimes at all costs, as it takes away from your ability to enjoy the food and engage in beneficial conversation with your kids.

3) Do the grocery shopping together. When exploring your local market, stick to the edge of the store (produce, bakery, butcher) as much as possible, and avoid the processed foods in the aisles. Allow your kids to pick out fruits, veggies, and other healthy snacks or suggest meal ideas that everyone could enjoy.

Through these simple and straightforward tips, you and your children can enjoy many years of creating and enjoying healthy meals together.


Combatting Unhealthy Pregnancy Cravings

Pregnancy is often associated with cravings. If you find yourself longing for ice cream or French fries, you may be wondering if these types of food are healthy for you or your baby. Many pregnant women also fear putting on too many pounds while “eating for two,” since it can be even harder to lose the weight once the baby is born.

While it can be easy to fill up on junk food, it’s really not the best decision that you can make for yourself or your baby. Making healthy choices throughout your pregnancy can not only benefit your baby, but also it can improve your overall health. It’s helpful to keep the following tips in mind.

1) Indulge, but eat smaller portions. Foods with a lot of sugar or fat are, of course, appealing, and while it might seem like they should be off-limits, it is actually okay to eat them in moderation. It’s even better if you can find low-fat versions of your favorite foods. There are also snack-size versions of most types of junk food that can allow you to satisfy your sweet tooth without consuming a lot of extra calories.

2) Eat a balanced diet. Even if you are battling nausea during your first trimester, it is best to eat balanced meals and smaller portions. Eat regularly throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable. Avoid crashes or dips in blood sugar that may tempt you to veer off your healthy eating plan.

3) Exercise regularly. Consult with your doctor about the recommended level of activity for your health and stage of pregnancy. Staying active can help you feel better overall and ward off unhealthy food cravings.

If you surround yourself with fresh food options, you are more likely to make healthy choices on a regular basis, and a little planning ahead can make it much easier on yourself. So, visit our Healthy Meal Ideas Pinterest board for wholesome recipes!


Easy Meal Ideas for Toddlers

It is no secret that toddlers can be very picky eaters. At that age, independence is starting to emerge and your previously agreeable baby may be turning into a handful at the dinner table. It is important to keep in mind that this is not only a completely normal phase, but also an opportunity to instill healthy eating habits in your child. There are a number of simple tips that can help you win this struggle.

1) Offer variety. Toddlers love to make decisions. If you provide a wide range of healthy choices on their plate (or in an ice cube tray), they are bound to like something. While they may choose to only eat fruits one day and dairy products the next, that is okay. It is important to aim for a well-balanced week of nutrition, instead of forcing all of the food groups into one day.

2) Allow grazing. Toddlers are busy, busy! Keeping strict meal times may not be ideal at this age. Instead, place the finger-food tray on a low table, and allow your child to eat over the course of an hour or two. Your son or daughter may stop for a few bites and carry on, only to come back and eat more a little later.

3) Presentation is important. Not only should you offer a variety of foods, but also you should incorporate a variety of methods. Allow your toddler to dip finger foods into peanut butter, preserves, or yogurt. Spread ingredients on top of crackers or blend them into a nutritious drink for a nice change. Often, simply altering the way that you cut or slice a sandwich or pancake can make it more or less appealing to your child. So, mix it up!

Meal ideas for toddlers should not be complex or complicated. Many moms get frustrated when they spend hours working hard on a delicious meal only to have their two-year old turn up their nose at it. Do yourself a favor and keep it simple. In the end, they will be more likely to eat what you offer.


Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

When you fly on a plane with your child, the flight attendant will tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first. This may go against that part of you that wants the best for your child at all costs, but taking good care of yourself first is the very best for your beloved child.

You’ve probably heard it said “if mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.” It’s so true. In order to have the stamina and energy to put your best mothering foot forward, you’re going to have to take proper care of yourself first. How can you nurture yourself so you’ll be the best mom you can be? There are probably thousands of ways, but here are three.

Look And Feel Your Best

Exercise, cut your hair, or get a facial and a massage. Eat nutritious food and get enough sleep. The better you feel in your own body, the happier you will be, and your kids will reap the benefits.

Weave A Network Of Emotional Support

By staying connected to your family members, having lunch dates with your girlfriends, and planning romantic dates with your spouse, you won’t forget that you are more than just a mommy. Plus, how can you miss your little ones when you’re never away from them? Don’t forget to include some solo time with yourself.

Maintain Your Spiritual Well-being

Meditate, do yoga, pray, read enlightening books, and feed yourself spiritually. Having a strong spiritual center to draw from is like having an ample bank account. Make plenty of deposits so you’ll have enough to withdraw on those days you just have no idea what you’re doing.

Love, pamper, and take good care of yourself. Put on your own oxygen mask. Then, and only then, will you have enough to dole out to your kids.


Tips on Staying In-Shape with Toddlers Around

If you still need to lose the baby weight, or simply want to tone up, it is possible to do so with small children around. Just because you are spending the majority of your time watching your kids does not mean you have to ignore your own health. Get some tips on working out with your kids around.

Take Daily Walks

If it is nice out, you can easily go on a walk any time of day. You do not need a jogging stroller to enjoy the great outdoors on a leisurely stroll. In fact, you can even walk at a brisk pace with most strollers. If your baby or toddler does not like riding in a stroller, you can strap a baby carrier to your chest or back instead. The added bonus is that you get an extra challenging workout when you are carrying the weight of your baby. If you have older kids, have them ride their bikes alongside you as you walk.

Dance

Most kids love to dance, and for good reason: It’s fun! You can just turn on your favorite music and do some silly dance moves with your children. You can also watch workout videos that center on dance moves. If your small children cannot keep up with you, pick them up and dance with them in your arms. It will give you a little extra challenge. You can find dance workout videos on cable or on DVD, and there are even video games that encourage you to dance in order to earn a top score.

If you find that it is too distracting to work out with your kids, start looking at gyms and workout classes that offer childcare. Either way, you should be able to fit in a few good workouts a week as you raise your children. This makes staying fit and healthy possible no matter how busy you are.

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