Posts made in November, 2014

How to Make Baby’s First Christmas Stress-Free

Posted by on Nov 28, 2014 in General, Holidays, Toddler, Toddler Tips | Comments Off on How to Make Baby’s First Christmas Stress-Free

babys first christmas

Congratulations new parent, you made it to Christmas! If you celebrate Christmas, it’s probably a holiday you’ve been looking forward to spending with your first child for a long time. As you’ve learned by now, things don’t always go the way you expect or want them to now that you have a baby to tote around. There are naps and feedings to consider, your own sleep-deprived need to rest more, and conflicting requests from family about who gets to see baby and when. In order to make your first Christmas with baby as memorable and enjoyable as possible, we’ve provided a few stress-free alternatives to some pain-in-the-butt traditions. Remember—what works or doesn’t work this year doesn’t have to change forever.

Tradition: Visiting Santa
While a photo featuring your little one with the man in the red suit might be hard to resist, skip it—at least for baby’s first Christmas. Babies under 12 months (and sometimes even older toddlers) already feel anxious being held by strangers and family members they aren’t used to. Instead of waiting in a long, sweaty line only to experience a mega-meltdown when it’s finally your turn, wait until your child is older and understands what’s happening.

Stress-Free Alternative: Family photo for Christmas cards
Since a first-Christmas photo for holiday cards and ornaments is a must, spend an afternoon getting professional photos taken of your family and use these. When your child is older, he’ll appreciate the visual memory and seeing how “young” mom and dad looked—you will too! To make it extra fun for baby, choose a setting for your photos that includes a Christmas light display or magical, wintry location.

Tradition: Visiting multiple houses or traveling
While family and friends may have enjoyed your kid-free willingness to travel or visit more than one house on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, flying out of state, opening presents all day, squeezing in naps, and visiting multiple families with a new baby in tow is exhausting.

Stress-Free Alternative: Creating your new family’s tradition
Your new family is just as valid and important as the established units in your extended family. To make Christmas day as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, do what feels most comfortable this year—and don’t apologize. If your choice to stay home all day or go on a family vacation that includes just Mom, Dad, and Baby rocks everyone’s boat, you can re-consider next year. But the bottom line is that you have your own family now and can start making your own—enjoyable—family traditions.

Tradition: Cookie making marathon
Most new parents can attest to the fact that doing just about anything with a baby in the house is much tougher than when they were kid-free. Baking can be especially difficult because recipes require attention, measuring, and dealing with a hot oven. While your child will love decorating gingerbread men and sugar cookies in a year or two, she probably won’t appreciate all the time and trouble you take making treats this year, and you’ll end up exhausted with a mountain of sweets.

Stress-Free Alternative: Pre-made
If you can’t live without Christmas cookies, just buy some! There are so many small, local bakeries these days that you’d be hard-pressed not to find delicious, beautiful Christmas cookies to indulge in and share this season. Save yourself the time and trouble and let someone else do the work this year!

Tradition: Going crazy buying gifts
It’s so very tempting to shower your new baby with Christmas gifts, but he’ll probably be more interested in the Christmas ornaments and wrapping paper (and watching everyone else open!) this year than the gifts themselves. Plus, friends and relatives will be buying gifts for your little one, too. Your toddler will have a lot more self-awareness and motor skills next Christmas, so save your big bucks until then. Don’t worry—you’ll have plenty of Christmases as your child grows to splurge on mountains of gifts and big-ticket items.

Stress-Free Alternative: Keep the gifts simple, opt for keepsakes instead
Keepsakes, videos, and photo memories will outlast any toy. Instead of buying mountains of toys this year, invest in a special first-Christmas or customized stocking with your child’s name, photo gifts like ornaments and books, or a professionally edited video of your baby’s first Christmas. These are gifts that your whole family will enjoy year after year.



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A Simple Food Guide for Baby’s First Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in General, Holidays, Toddler, Toddler Tips | Comments Off on A Simple Food Guide for Baby’s First Thanksgiving

pumpkin pie

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year—and a busy one! With friends and relatives to see, dishes to make, and a house to prepare for guests (or travel plans to make if you aren’t the one hosting), planning a separate meal for your baby may be a step you’d rather skip. Fortunately, Thanksgiving dishes tend to be very friendly to tiny tummies, especially if you know which foods to avoid and which get the green light. Of course, you know your own baby best—if any of these foods is already on your OK list then offer away, and if there are foods you know your baby might not be ready for, avoid them even if we’ve given them the go-ahead. Read on for what to offer baby at her first Thanksgiving.

YES foods – Generally OK for most babies over 6-8 months

  1. Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are typically one of the first foods babies eat because they are easy on the digestion, tasty, and packed with nutrition. Make sure to scoop the marshmallows off the top if serving from a casserole and mash to a pureed consistency, taking care that they’re runny enough to swallow safely.
  2. Mashed Potatoes – As long as your child doesn’t have a dairy sensitivity or allergy, since most mashed potato dishes are made with butter and/or milk, offer away! Follow the same guidelines as sweet potatoes, making sure potatoes are easy to swallow and don’t contain big chunks.
  3. Green Beans – Green beans are a great choice as long as they’re cooked thoroughly and soft enough for toothless mouths to mash and swallow safely.

What do you have planned for baby’s first Thanksgiving meal?

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How to Get a Break With a New Baby in the House

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in General | Comments Off on How to Get a Break With a New Baby in the House

Break with newborn img

It’s no secret that having a new baby in the house is exhausting, but it’s impossible to imagine how demanding and busy life will become with a baby until you get there yourself. You’ve probably heard passing remarks from new moms that they don’t have time to brush their teeth or take a shower, and before you were a parent may have had assumed that these comments were exaggerations. Now that you have a newborn of your own, however, it’s become painfully evident how impossible it can be to take even two minutes out of your morning to brush your teeth or run a comb through your hair. Needless to say, if you’re a parent you need a break—badly!—but probably have trouble getting one. Here are a few ways to sneak in little breaks. They’re nothing big, but it’s a start and when you’re a sleep deprived new dad or breastfeeding mom even 10 minutes alone can feel like a vacation.

  1. Take a Power Nap
    Taking a nap is a perfect way to get some physical space and restore yourself if you have someone around who can hold your baby for a few minutes. Depending on the temperament of your child, and the person watching her, you may only be able to get away for 10 minutes. I’m guessing that sheer exhaustion will put you right to sleep, in which case a 10 minute nap is not half bad, but even if you can’t fall asleep in that short a time it’s worthwhile to simply lay down and rest. It can be tempting to “get something done” when a friend or family member is over like throw in a load of laundry or take a shower, but what you really need is rest! The best-case scenario involves being able to fall asleep with your baby when she naps so that you get a longer, fuller rest. Understandably, you may need some physical space and if this is the case then the first option is a great one.
  1. Turn on Some Tunes
    On days when no one is around to give you a hand, changing the atmosphere at home can provide a bit of freshness and relief. Switch on the radio to a classical or jazz station to help get the energy up, but not so far up that it gets your baby hyperactive, and move your body a bit or simply relax on the couch with your baby and soak in the music.
  1. Watch a Short Show
    During one of your baby’s many naps, turn on the TV for 20 minutes or stream an episode of your favorite sitcom on Hulu. Taking a mini TV break will allow you to check out for a few minutes and find some restoration. The reason a short TV break is recommended is that, while it can be tempting to leave the TV on all day, the background noise can actually add to your exhaustion and stress level when your baby is awake because you’ll need to focus on other things.
  1. Take 5
    If your baby is old enough and secure enough, i.e. out of the newborn phase or toward the end of it, you can try leaving her in her crib with a soft book or a rattle for five minutes and sitting down in another room. This will allow you to get a little physical space without taking so much time away that your child begins to panic. Keep in mind that newborns have not yet learned that they are separate from mom, so resist the temptation to plop your baby in the crib and leave her for extended periods. If your baby cries for you, however, respond promptly and try again later. During the newborn phase or “fourth trimester” your child is building a very important attachment and trust relationship with you and it’s important that you respond to her needs in a timely manner.

Prioritizing self-care, even in small ways, is essential for new parents. Hopefully these tips will allow you to sneak breaks into your day and keep your energy steady. Please keep in mind: if you ever feel like you desperately need a break or are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, call a trusted neighbor or family member to come over and watch the baby while you take a longer break.

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5 Positive Discipline Tools for Toddlers

Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 in General, Toddler, Toddler Tips | Comments Off on 5 Positive Discipline Tools for Toddlers

Positive Toddler

If you’ve ever been the parent of a toddler, you’ve likely had some tough moments attempting to discipline or control your child mid-meltdown. Parenting toddlers can be tough because they are old enough to know that they have some independence but are too young to communicate their needs and wants in a way that is clearly understandable. Pushing limits and navigating communication barriers are important developmental steps for toddlers. Yet stressful situations can arise when toddlers become frustrated with their inability to communicate and get their needs met. Below are 5 positive tools for disciplining your toddler and calming him before his frustration gets out of control.

  1. Remember: Connection, Not Control
    Contrary to a once-popular belief, discipline is about building the right relationship with your child, rather than attempting to control him. Attempts to control rarely work, especially with children in the toddler age group, and often lead to escalated feelings of anger and frustration for both parent and child. Simply by remembering that each moment, albeit difficult, is an opportunity to connect and get to know your child better you’re already on your way to becoming a more intuitive disciplinarian.
  1. Distract
    While it may seem like your child goes from zero to fit in five seconds flat, most kids experience stages of frustration or helplessness before melting down. Watch your child carefully and learn the more subtle ways he communicates that he’s feeling out of control so that you can intervene early and prevent a full on fit. When you notice the telltale signs, divert his attention to another activity that is less frustrating.
  1. Set Clear Limits
    Even though they will test them, toddlers need and want limits. Setting limits provides structure and security for your child, helping him feel safe while he explores and preventing him from feeling out of control as he familiarizes himself with new skills and knowledge. The limits you set may frustrate your child at first, but he’ll be better off learning and testing them within the safe context of your home before facing the outside world’s many rules and limitations.
  1. Guide Your Child
    When your child breaks a rule, offer an alternative. For example, if he hits the cat you can simply say, “Hitting the cat is not ok. Let me help you pet the cat gently instead.” Just saying “No” and leaving it at that won’t help your child progress.
  1. When All Else Fails, Stay Calm
    If, despite your best parenting efforts, your child starts throwing a mega-fit, take a moment before stepping in. Center yourself and take a deep breath. Speak quietly and calmly to your child and listen. Try to put yourself in his shoes to understand what he’s going through. Keeping your cool will help you get to the bottom of his frustration and diffuse the situation much quicker than yelling, which will only scare your child and raise your blood pressure.

The toddler years are undoubtedly challenging, but by creating a healthy disciplinary dynamic you and your toddler will enjoy your time together much more.


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