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.


Maternity Clothing Tips & Tricks

As your pregnancy progresses, you may find that your favorite pants no longer fit. Or, perhaps your shirts are getting tighter. While some women are initially hesitant when it comes to the idea of maternity clothes, they may actually help you feel more comfortable.

Plus, maternity clothes have come a long way in recent years. Forget shapeless tent dresses and oversized panel pants. Nowadays, you can dress cute and comfortably at any stage of your pregnancy.

Frugal

Many women can’t afford to spend a lot of money on clothes that they will only wear for a few months. If this is the case for you, consider shopping for second-hand maternity clothes. Chances are the woman that wore the clothes before you only used them for a few months too!

Fashionable

A lot of maternity clothes are designed in such a way that they can also be worn after the baby is born. Choose dresses and skirts that flow and pair them with loose tops that will still look great on you after you deliver.

Fun

Use this time to take advantage of accessories that you haven’t worn in the past. Indulge in pretty scarves, dangly earrings, dramatic necklaces, and cute shoes to complement your outfit.

Flaunt

One of the biggest style mistakes that a pregnant woman can make is to buy oversized regular clothes in an attempt to hide her shape instead of embracing form-fitting maternity fashions. Show off your growing belly with pride!

Keep these tips in mind throughout your pregnancy. After all, the way that you feel about how you look can have a big impact on your overall mood. And when you decide that your family is complete, consider passing along your cute maternity items to a family member or friend.


Balancing Your Career and a New Baby

For many women, the first year after their baby is born can be a confusing, isolating, and exhausting time. I have two boys under the age of three and each of their births and my subsequent return to work was different.

With the first, I stayed home for almost a year, and I really struggled with depression. I put my second child in daycare by 6 weeks of age and enjoyed a part-time to full-time transition back into my rewarding career. Whether you choose to return to the workforce because your family needs the money, you want the sanity, or you simply love your job, it is important to realize that it is not only possible, but it can also be fulfilling and downright rewarding.

Set Your Expectations

It is helpful to figure out your priorities early on. Are you going to continue to try to climb the corporate ladder? Or are you going to take weekends off and not bring work home in the evenings? Are you going to continue traveling for business trips? Or are you going to pass on that promotion and stay closer to home for a while?

Find Great Child Care

The trick to being able to focus on work while you’re at work is to not worry about your baby during the day. I also decided to choose child care close to my work so I can visit on my lunch break to nurse and play.

Manage Your Time

My husband and I now have shared iPhone calendars. He resisted it for the longest time, but it helps us stay coordinated even when we’re busy. And, it will hopefully help us avoid the dreaded “I thought you were picking them up from daycare” moment.

In the end, there is no secret to balancing work and a new baby. In fact, what works in one family may be completely different than what works for you. If your expectations about what you can accomplish at home and at the office are realistic, you won’t have to compromise your role as a professional or professional mama.


Pregnancy Pains

It’s no secret that pregnancy is hard on your body. Your baby is growing daily, and it can take a toll on you. While some aches and pains are to be expected, it’s important to know when to contact your doctor.

Pregnant women often experience back and hip pain, in addition to a variety of other symptoms. Ask your doctor to go over the most common problems with you so that you can know what to expect ahead of time. If you have any of the following issues, contact your doctor right away, as it could be a sign of a more serious condition.

While many causes of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy may not lead to long-term problems, it is something that should be checked out as soon as possible. Your doctor will want to know when it started, how long it has gone on, how many pads you are using, and whether you recently experienced any abdominal trauma or sexual intercourse.

During the second and third trimester, development of a severe headache with swelling all over (including the hands and face) can be a dangerous sign of impending preeclampsia. This can be dangerous for both you and your baby and should be evaluated promptly. Foot and leg swelling with occasional mild headaches during your first trimester are normal and may be alleviated by drinking more water.

Early in pregnancy, intense abdominal pain may indicate an ectopic pregnancy. Late in pregnancy, intense abdominal pain may signal contractions. It is normal for the uterus to “practice” contracting, so this isn’t necessarily a sign of labor. However, if you have contractions that come regularly every 3 to 5 minutes for more than an hour, you should contact your doctor.

If this isn’t your first pregnancy, it’s important to keep in mind that things may be different this time around. No two pregnancies are exactly alike, and you may experience different symptoms than you had with a previous child. This blog is, of course, not all-inclusive. So, if you are unsure whether or not you should make an appointment with your doctor, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.


Taking Time for Yourself During Naptime

You bounce, coddle, rock, nurse, burp, coddle some more, soothe, and pacify. This routine may take minutes or hours. It may frustrate you to no end, but skipping it can make the rest of the day a nightmare. You read books on the best way to get it done. You commiserate with other parents on how hard it is. You listen to doctors that tell you how important it is. And the next day, you do it all over again.

Getting your child to nap during the day is often a difficult task. However, it is important for both their development and your sanity. Whether they sleep for minutes or hours, it is essential that you use the time while they are asleep to take care of yourself. For some parents, this reprieve is brief, and it can help to plan ahead in order not to miss out on this valuable window of time.

Basic

Depending on the rest of your daily schedule and the age of your child, you may need to use this time to shower, brush your teeth, eat, or perform other simple daily tasks. A luxurious shower that lasts more than five minutes can be like a full day at the spa for some busy parents. So, enjoy it!

Intermediate

Okay, so you had time to shower in the morning, and you have brushed your teeth after a quick breakfast. Now that your little one is asleep, you may qualify for a few other activities. Put the dishes in the dishwasher, start another load of laundry, work on that grocery list, or sweep the floor. While it may seem like you’re wasting the valuable “nap window” on more work, it can often be a huge relief to get these tasks out of the way without a little one hanging on you. Plus, it will free you up to spend more time playing with them when they wake up.

Advanced

Wow! You must be a pro at this napping stuff if your baby has been asleep for more than an hour. Take extra time for yourself by painting your toenails, enjoying a quiet cup of coffee, calling a friend on the phone, or reading a book. You may even want to spend part of this time taking a nap yourself!

However you spend those precious minutes or hours, use it as a way to recharge your batteries for the rest of the day. After all, that’s what your child is doing during their naptime!


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!


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!


How Your Life Changes After Motherhood

You spend nine months painting the nursery, folding tiny clothes, researching online, and buying must-have gear, but nothing can truly prepare you for all of the changes that occur once your bundle of joy arrives. Motherhood has been described as one of the most challenging and most rewarding occupations on the planet. There are a number of big changes ahead. So, buckle up and prepare for the ride.

It is important to point out, first and foremost, how the phrase “sleep like a baby” is very often misused. You likely picture a sweetly sleeping babe with their delicate eyelashes against perfectly round cheeks. Many newborns do experience a brief period right after birth where they sleep for extended stretches, but most need to wake up often to feed. And “often” is not an exaggeration. Sleep deprivation becomes a norm for most mothers. Whether or not you get used to it, you eventually learn to live with it.

Regardless of if you decide to go back to work after your little one arrives, your overall scheduling and priorities will change. There will no longer be as much time available to spend with your significant other, and they may end up feeling neglected. It is important to remember to pencil-in time for them to ensure that they realize what a priority they still are in your life. Motherhood makes you more of a mom, but it should not make you less of a partner.

You may be surprised to find yourself making conversation about things you never thought you would. Who knew you had so much to say about spit up? Well, as your activities and priorities change, topics of conversation are sure to shift. It is often best to seek out friends with similarly aged children to help make this transition easier.

This is not an exhaustive list, as there really is no way to describe all of the changes that occur once you become a mother. Many claim that throughout motherhood, the days (and nights) are long, but the years are short. It is important to embrace the journey and enjoy the ride.

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