back-to-school

Back to School Anxiety – Tips to Help Kids With School Stress

Back to school can be an exciting and anxious time for our kids. After summer holidays, they are not always eager to get back into the school routine. Even being excited to see friends they haven’t seen since the end of the last school year can add stress. For some, toss a new school into the mix, and, well, you get the idea.

We want our children to have positive experiences at school. We also don’t want them to feel overly anxious and nervous. So, how do we help them ease into the new school year?

Tips to Help Kids With School Stress

  1. Remind them they are not alone: While it may seem to them as though everyone else is comfortable and confident, let your kids know that most kids are actually anxious about the return to school. The nervousness they feel is completely normal.
  2. Sleep, sleep, sleep: Make sure your child is getting enough sleep, not just during the school year, but in the days leading up to the start of school too. Start to get into a regular bed time routine before your kids’ first day. Also, remember that your child may be extra tired and a bit cranky the first days or weeks of school. You may need to exercise more patience with them!
  3.  Give them healthy fuel: Start the day off with a good, healthy breakfast. Going to school with an empty stomach won’t give them the strength they need both physically and mentally. Make sure they have enough for snacks and lunch too.
  4. Listen… A LOT: If your child is experiencing stress and talks to you about it, let them talk. Listen to what they have to say and remember that issues that may not seem important to you may be very important to them.
  5. Talk to them: You can relay your own experience, but remember, you are sharing your experience to help them understand that their fears are normal and not minimize their feelings. Say things like, “I remember what it was like, and yes it is hard” rather than “I remember what it was like, but now I see it’s not a big deal” will go a long way. Make sure your kids know that they can come to you with any problem they may have.
  6. Be Prepared: Make sure you have all the supplies they need ahead of time. A day or two ahead, help your child decide what to wear and make sure those items are clean and ready to go for their first day. Make sure they know the routine for getting to and from school.
  7. Keep a close eye on them: You know your child. If you think they may be experiencing anxiety that is unusual or severe, it may be time to seek professional help for them.

Checking in with your child routinely on how they’re feeling about school can help you identify any issues that are being to boil. School can be challenging, but it should be a fun place to go.

What ways will you help your kids? Tell us in the comments below!

drowning prevention

Prevent Drowning- This Summer and Always

Recently I watched a story on our local TV news about a toddler that fell into his family’s backyard pond. The mother was close by and only had her back turned for a moment. Fortunately, this mother was able to retrieve her son from the bottom of the pond and, since she had CPR training, revive him before the ambulance arrived. This story has a happy ending; the little boy is fine and the pond is now a sandbox.

Not Always a Happy Ending

All too often though, stories like this end in tragedy. Drowning is the second most common cause of death for small children from 1 to 4 years old! The little ones are at risk because they are usually unaware of potential dangers and they move so darn fast! As parents and caregivers, we need to minimize the dangers.

The bathtub and backyard pools account for most drowning accidents involving small children. It only takes 2 ½ inches of water to drown a child. Even if the child does not drown, near drownings can leave a child with permanent brain damage. Most drownings are preventable with a little diligence and planning.

What You Can Do to Prevent Drowning

  1. Watch Your Child: The most important thing is to watch your children constantly around any water, inside or out. Never leave them alone in or near water for even a moment. Keep your eyes on them and be within arms reach of small children at all times – really! It only takes a split second for tragedy to occur.
    I’ve observed little ones playing at the waters edge while the parents were about 5 feet away – but with their backs to their child. That child could drown and they wouldn’t hear a thing – even if only looking away for a minute, that is all it takes.
  2. Be Aware of Standing Water: When bath time is done, empty the tub right away. That also goes for any wading pools and buckets of water too (even the dirty water in a cleaning bucket can be a temptation and a hazard for a child). The toilet can also be dangerous; keep toilet lids down or get a toilet seat lock.
  3. Teach Your Kids to Swim: A great defence against drowning is swimming lessons. Many of these lessons do not just teach your child to swim, but also teach different water skills and safety. However, swimming lessons will not ‘drown-proof’ your child and there is no substitute for direct supervision. You still need to watch them very closely.
  4. Enclose Your Swimming Pool or Pond: If you have a swimming pool at home, you should completely enclose it on all sides and have a lock on the gate. CPR training can really save lives. If you have a hot tub, ensure that it is covered securely when you are not using it. Backyard ponds and other water features should also either be fenced in or have a grate covering them – or, like the woman at the beginning of this article, turn them into a sandbox or play area while your children (or grandchildren) are young.
  5. Learn CPR: CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is an important lifesaving technique that anyone who plans to spend time around the water should know – particularly if you are in charge of the care of children.  While CPR can sometimes save drowning victims’ lives, it can also help stave off death until emergency personnel can be on scene.

Water play can be great fun — please play safe!

 

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Father’s Day Barbecue Ideas

Father’s day is coming up and many women and kids are wondering just how to make the day special for the dad’s in their lives. Tacky ties and soap on a rope (anyone else remember soap on a rope?) aside, the best gift that we can give to the dad’s is a great day spent together doing things that they love – whatever that is! Golf, fishing, cycling, camping, movies… it doesn’t matter as long as you do it together.

Wondering what food to serve when you are all done playing? Guys typically like barbecue, and it is a good time of year to do just that! After all, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right?

Here are a couple of recipes to try – the beauty of these is that it can all be prepared ahead of time and cooked on the barbeque together. Add your favourite salad, buns or garlic bread, and your meal will be complete.

Barbecue Beer Pork Ribs Recipe

Marinade Ingredients

  • ½ cup beer
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup beer (use whatever you like, but the darker the beer, the more flavor)
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4  tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste or ketchup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Directions

Trim excess fat and remove membrane from ribs. Marinate ribs in ½ cup of the beer and 1 of the minced garlic cloves for anywhere from 4 to 24 hours. Pour off excess liquid before the next step.

Mix remaining ingredients for sauce (or, use your favourite barbecue sauce). Place the ribs in foil with ½ of the sauce. Place on the barbecue on low heat (if you have 2 burners, light one side and place ribs on the other) for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Remove ribs from foil and place on rack for 10 minutes at medium heat. Brush with remaining sauce and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes, turning once.

Barbecue Potatoes

  • 6 potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion (sliced so you have rings)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • ½ tsp basil
  • 1 tbsp parsley

Directions

Cut potatoes into slices about ¼ inch thick or into 1 inch cubes. Mix other ingredients in a bowl. Add potatoes and stir until they are coated.

Coat a large piece of aluminum foil with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Place potatoes on foil and bake in the barbeque on low or medium heat for about 1 hour.

You can also add other root vegetables if you like (carrots, squash, beets).

Super Easy Baked Pineapple Beans Recipe

People often ask for my recipe when I serve these – don’t let the simplicity fool you! They are really good.

  • 2 cans of beans (just good old regular pork and beans or beans with molasses or tomato)
  • 1 can pineapple tidbits

Mix beans and pineapple in a barbecue safe cooking dish. Bake in the barbecue on low heat for about ½ hour, or until hot throughout, stirring occasionally.

Also, try a great grilled caesar salad!

Wishing you and the men in your lives a happy father’s day! Bon Appetite!

 

Baby in a back seat located child safety seat

Preventing Children’s Deaths in Hot Cars

children-are-still-dying-in-hot-cars--dont-let-it-happenA parent’s worst nightmare is something happening to their child.

Compound that nightmare by knowing it was preventable and was their own fault? Already this summer, numerous children have died after being left in a vehicle. The outside temperature does not even have to be hot in order for a car to become too hot to live in for even a short period of time. Even in mild temperatures, the interior of a car can become hot enough to lead to death during an extended period of time. What is so frustrating is this happens every single summer.

The excuses for leaving a child in the car vary: my baby was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him up…or I thought I’d only be gone a few minutes. Perhaps the most heartbreaking is I forgot my child was in the back seat. While some say they can never imagine forgetting their child was in the vehicle, it can happen with a change of routine, sleeping child, fatigue, and a host of other reasons. My heart breaks for these people and their families, and I hope with these tips it will never happen to another family.

Tips to Help Prevent Leaving Children Behind:

  • Make a habit of always looking in the back seat when you get out of your car – even when you know your child is not with you
  • When arriving home, get your kids out of the car first before getting your groceries or whatever out of the car
  • Put one of your children’s toys on the front seat as a reminder that they are in the back seat
  • Put your cell phone, briefcase, or purse in the backseat on the floor in front of your child
  • Put a sticky note on your dashboard to remind you
  • Use one of those child safety mirrors in the back window so that each time you look in your rear-view mirror you see your child as well
  • Set an alarm on your cellphone for your anticipated arrival time at your destination with a reminder about your child

Some of you may think that this is all common sense and we don’t need reminders like this. But children are still being left behind in cars during hot weather with fatal effects. I

If you see a child in a car, don’t hesitate – call 911.

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Puberty And Sexuality In Adolescents With Disabilities

Sexuality is a part of everyone’s life.

All too often the perception is that people with developmental and/or cognitive disabilities are not interested in or have the ability to be involved in intimate relationships that most of us take for granted. This is not true.

For example, the National Down Syndrome Society indicates that creating an environment conducive to healthy sexual expression must be considered in designing educational, vocational, social, recreational and residential programs. Positive sexual awareness can only develop through personal empowerment, self-esteem, understanding of social relationships and personal interaction/communication skills. All these factors influence how intimacy needs are met.

Teaching Everyone

The emotional ups and downs that are common in adolescence are also present in pre-teens and teens with disabilities. As with all children, they will have questions and wonder about some of the feelings they are experiencing and the changes their bodies are going through. We do a real disservice to them if we ignore these facts.

Without any knowledge or explanations, they may develop fears and anxiety about what is really perfectly normal. It is vital for children to have the facts so that they are not vulnerable to unintended pregnancy, sexual abuse, and sexually transmitted infections.

It is a sad truth that those in our society with disabilities are often targets of sexual predators. Arming them with information and confidence can help lessen their risk. The more you talk openly and honestly with them about sexuality, the safer they will be.

Children with disabilities need the same information and education about puberty and sexuality as other pre-teens and teens. When talking to youth about sex, their ability to understand the material needs to be taken into consideration. However, it is important to cover all the bases and not skip over anything. Many teenagers and adults with disabilities understand more about sexual development, sexual activity and pregnancy than their parents and others would expect. One must be mindful to focus on not just the physical sexual act and reproduction, but also with decision-making, cultural norms, peer pressure, relationships, and social skills. The conversations can take place over a period of time and some of the information may need to be repeated.

Knowing “No”

All children need to be taught the difference between good touch and bad touch. They also need to understand that it is ok to say no to anything that makes them feel uncomfortable – not just with strangers, but with acquaintances and friends too! “No” and “Stop” can be very powerful (and empowering) words and they need to know that they can use them. They also need to know that it is not their fault if someone makes them uncomfortable and that they should also tell a trusted adult if something happens. In addition, they need to learn boundaries for their touching others. Sadly, since many children with disabilities are not taught boundaries, they can get into trouble surrounding inappropriate touch.

Building healthy relationships is key to happiness and satisfaction for so many; it is no different for many kids with disabilities.

It is my thought that we should approach the teaching of issues and information surrounding puberty and sexuality for youth with disabilities much the same way we do for other youth – with honesty, compassion, and understanding. Factual information about their bodies, what is happening (or will be happening) will help them through what is a challenging time.

With an understanding of the changes they are going to encounter, the feelings they may experience, and what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, they will have the tools they need to be healthy and safe both physically and emotionally.

ability

Taking the Dis out of Disability

Imagine the birth of your baby. You anticipated the baby’s arrival and dreamt about how life will be when he or she is born. You love your baby with all your heart, even before birth. Now, imagine your baby is born with a disability. Imagine further the doctor or nurse wanting to take your baby from you and send him away before you even hold him. Sound unbelievable? Not so long ago, if someone was born with a disability, the family was encouraged to send them away. It was viewed that disabilities were something to be ashamed of and families couldn’t possibly be equipped to care for someone with a physical or cognitive disability. So, our society built special homes and schools and locked people away in institutions.

Saying No to INSTITUTIONS

A few brave souls determinedly said “no, I will not send my child away”, but they were the minority. There was often no help, support, or understanding for them from the community.
I do not for one minute want anyone to think I blame the parents who did send their children away. For the most part, they were told, and believed, that what they were doing was for the best for their child. I have spoken with some of these parents and know the heartbreak they went through. I have also talked with some of the grown children who were raised in institutions, and know their story too. I have not heard a story yet of a happy childhood in an institution. The stories are ones of neglect, abuse, loneliness, and hopelessness.

Changes Still Coming

Thankfully, our society has changed, and these institutions are no more. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Talk to 10 people about what a disability is and I bet you will get 10 different answers! Ask them about the place of people with disabilities in our society, and that’s when things get even trickier.

There is still a lot of fear and misconceptions surrounding many types of disabilities that people face. There are still children at school who will call a child with a learning disability “a retard”. There are still adults who call someone in a wheelchair “a cripple”. There are those who feel that the disabled have no place in our schools or workplaces. People with disabilities are often the victims of bullying and feel lonely and isolated. Many pity those with a disability.

Look at Abilities

We need to take the dis out of disability and look to what abilities people have! Just because someone thinks or processes information differently, or because they move through the word differently does not mean it is a bad thing. It is just different and we need to embrace the differences in all of us. Look at the person first, not the disability.

When it comes down to it, people with a disability just want to be loved and accepted for who they are – is this any different than what you want for yourself or your children? With compassion and understanding, we can make it a better world for all of us.

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Teaching Your Children – Honesty

Have you ever caught your children in a lie? Have you ever told a lie?

If you answered no, well, I think you are lying!

I am sure we have all told some little white lies in our time to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. We may have even found ourselves in a situation when a lie seemed like a good idea at the time and told a doozy that we regretted later (or not!).

And you can bet that at some point when you were growing up, you lied to your parents to do something you were not supposed to do or to not get into trouble for something you did. Why would you think your kids would be any different?
Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny

I’m not talking about the “lies” about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy either. Although, some people do classify these as harmful lies we should never tell our children; I don’t believe that.

Compulsive Lying

What I want to talk about is the compulsive liar; the ones who lie about the important things, the ones that lie so much they no longer seem to be able to tell the truth or keep their lies straight or the ones who lie to cover up their other lies. This happens with both children and adults. I think we have a responsibility to our children to be honest with them and teach them the importance of honesty.

Encouraging Your Children to Lie?

I know a parent who had her child lie for her to her husband (also the child’s father) about where they were and who they were with.  If you want to lie, well then as an adult I guess that is your prerogative. But having your child lie to their other parent for you? What is this teaching the child? How must this make the child feel? I think it teaches two things. First, that it is ok to do things you are not supposed to do, and second, that it’s ok to lie about it.

When Would the Lies Stop?

Many say that one of the most important things in our love relationships is honesty. When our kids grow up and are in relationships of their own, how will they know what this looks like if they did not experience it growing up? If we do not teach our kids honesty, are we setting them up for failure in their future relationships?

Teaching About Honesty

I think the best way to teach honesty to our children is by example. If they see us being truthful, that is what they learn; if they see us being deceitful, that is what they learn.

If we are truthful with our children, they will learn to be truthful with us and with others.

Sometimes this is not easy! Kids ask tough questions and sometimes the truth may not be pleasant. Also, sometimes the truth will not shed the best light on us! If we mess up, we should admit it, not lie try to cover it up. I think aside from teaching honesty, seeing that their parents are not perfect and are willing to own up to their shortcomings teaches them a lot too.

Besides, telling the truth makes life much easier. As Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” How do some people keep all the lies straight? Maybe they have told them so often that they actually believe them to be true. I don’t know.

dad-christmas

Fathers and Holidays

This year, it’s going to be different. Like many fathers, I’ve felt a bit disconnected from the holiday season. It’s not that I don’t buy my presents and help with decorations. And it’s not that I don’t spend some wonderful time with my kids. It’s something deeper than that.

My eight-year-old daughter ran up to me the other day with great excitement and anticipation. “This Christmas is going to be the best ever!’ she shouted. I marvelled at her excitement, and I wished I could match her enthusiasm. She’d already found the spirit of the holidays, while I was mired in “things that I must to do.” The list was long. This holiday season, I’d be buying presents, coordinating family visits, updating lists and writing cards, doing decorations outside the house and in, volunteering, running a business, etc. etc.

There are times when it all seems like too much.

Fathers (and males in general) have a tendency to focus on goals. Rather than looking at the “big picture” of the holidays, we break things down into “what tasks need to be accomplished.” When one task is done, we move on to the next. And while this style does get some things accomplished, it reduces our capacity to capture the “spirit” of the holidays. The result is that many fathers have a sense of being on the periphery” of their families during the holidays. The tasks are done, but the spirit isn’t captured.

This scenario mirrors what happens to many fathers in their families-they feel outside of the “emotional core” of the family, and aren’t able to experience the depth of warmth, closeness, and love they want. They don’t have the skills of “emotional intelligence” that women have been learning from a very early age. And this dilemma is further complicated by the fact that fathers are working longer hours than ever before. According to the International Labor Organization, Americans work 1,978 hours per year, or a full nine weeks more that the average Western European. Thirty-eight percent of fathers reported that they usually worked fifty or more hours per week.

It’s easy to see why fathers can have a difficult time capturing the spirit of the holidays.

And while this may be a challenging dilemma for fathers, there are a number of things that fathers can do to enrich their experience this holiday season:

  • Shift your thinking away from a “things to do” mentality to a “what does the family need this holiday” mentality. See things with a wider lens. Give this approach a week and see what happens.
  • Volunteer to help someone in need this holiday. Take the kids and spend time enriching the life of someone who needs it. There’s no greater way to capture the spirit of the holidays than being of service to others. And your kids will experience something they’ll never forget.
  • Do something this holiday that you haven’t done before. Bake some holiday cookies or create your own cards to send out. Expanding your creative skills can help you to “receive” the spirit of the holidays.
  • Simply choose to have more joy, openness, and spirit this holiday. After all, most of it is choice! And, your kids are watching you very closely!

I crept up behind my daughter and tackled her, pinning her down onto the couch. “We’re going to have an amazing Christmas this year, you’re right!’ I told her. “What do you want your Christmas to be like?” She sat up and began to tell me all the things she wanted to do for Christmas, and about all the presents she wanted. I sat there with her and listened, forgetting all of the work and the errands that had been on my mind most of the day. She could sense that I was right there with her as she spoke.

And as I sat there listening to her, I felt like a spark of the holiday spirit was already on its way.
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, is a relationship coach. He is the author of “25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers” http://www.markbrandenburg.com/father.htm For a FREE ecourse for fathers, articles, and a FREE bi-weekly newsletter, “Dads, Don’t Fix Your Kids,” go to http://www.markbrandenburg.com.

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Fun Kid’s Party Games

Not only do kids of all ages love to play games, games are a creative and inexpensive way to entertain children. With a little imagination you will soon have them making up their own games! Whether you’re looking for birthday party games or just something to keep the little ones busy for a little while, I think you’ll find these games easy to learn and fun for all ages.

Bean in Your Shoe
One player goes out of the room. A dried bean is given to one of the players to put in his or her shoe. Play some music and have all the players dance, each child pretending to have a bean in their shoe. The player that left the room comes back and tries to guess who has the bean in their shoe. If they guess right, the person with the bean in their shoe gets to guess next. If they guess wrong, they get to leave the room again and try again. If they guess wrong a second time, they get to choose who gets to leave the room next.

Grin or Bear It
All players except one line up in a row. One player moves down the line, making faces to try to make each player in line laugh. The children standing in line try not to laugh. The first player to laugh gets to take the next turn trying to make the other players laugh.

Living Sculptures
Divide the children up into pairs. One person gets to be the clay, and the other person gets to be the sculptor. The sculptor molds the clay into any shape they want to (without hurting the clay). Faces can be arranged into odd expressions, arms and legs can be bent and arranged, and heads can be turned or tipped. When all the sculptors are finished with their creations, they get to put their sculptures on display. The pairs get to switch places after the exhibit.

Nursery Rhyme Game
Divide the players into teams. The leader assigns a nursery rhyme to each team. The teams take turns acting out their nursery rhymes. Whichever team guesses the nursery rhyme correctly gets to act out the next one. Continue for as many nursery rhymes as you can think of.

About the Author: Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of the Creative Homemaking Recipe of the Week Club Cookbook, a cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For recipes, tips to organize your home, home decorating, crafts, frugal living, and family fun, visit Creative Homemaking.

end-friendship

Breaking up with a Friend

Ending a Friendship

I am fortunate to have many great friends in my life. I know that they will be there for me, and that I will be there for them through good times and not so good times. We can laugh and cry together. These are people I enjoy spending time with, and enjoy spending time with me. Sadly, I have also had friendships that were not so great. I’m sure this is true for most of us.

Sometimes we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships – and often we are not sure how we got there or when it happened. Sometimes friendships start out great and then over time things change. Other times, we just don’t see the dysfunction for a long time. Many times we keep up with these friendships because we have invested a lot of ourselves into the relationship. How do you know when to just walk away?

First thing, it’s ok to end a friendship. Just like it is ok to get out of a romantic relationship if things are not working for you, it is ok to end a friendship too. It hurts (a lot!), it doesn’t feel good (that’s an understatement!), but in the end you will be better for it.

Break the Habit

Sometimes we remain friends with someone because we have been friends for so long. Long time friendships can be wonderful and very rewarding. It is natural for any long term relationship to go through ups and downs and periods of closeness and distance. We may have friends that we don’t see often, but when we do see them, it is like no time has passed. There is a closeness and connection!

However, there may be times when you just don’t have any connection to the person anymore and you just see each other out of habit. It’s ok to break the habit if you don’t feel you want to spend time with that person anymore. It’s doesn’t need to be drastic, sometimes these relationships can just gradually fade away.

Feeling Unvalued

Have you ever found yourself remaining friends with someone even though you no longer feel good about spending time in their company or feel that you are not valued? You are not alone by any means. It can be heartbreaking! When you realise this, it’s ok to distance yourself from that person or end the friendship all together.

One sided friendships

Have you ever been in a friendship where you feel as though you are the only one really making an effort to maintain the friendship? Are you the one initiating contact most of the time? Does being this persons friend make you sad, wondering why they don’t make an effort? If so, it’s ok to stop making contact. You may not even need to ‘break up” as often the friendship will just fade away without you making all the effort.

Negativity Bringing You Down

If you find that you are brought down by being with someone because of a negative attitude, or are brought down by listening to them talk negatively about others, it is time to look for more positive people to spend your time with.

Feeling Judged

It’s ok for people to have different viewpoints, beliefs, and values. It is not ok is when someone is judging you for being different from them. You don’t need this person in your life.

How to End it?

Sometimes you can just let a friendship fade away. Other times, you may have to just be blunt and let the person know you do not wish to spend time with them. Be honest with yourself and with them, and try not to blame. Try to not let your emotions run wild; if you can be matter-of-fact and not get into an emotional roller coaster ride with your friend, you will feel better for it in the long run.

Enjoy the Good Friendships

When you stop being friends with people who are not good for you, you will have more time to enjoy the healthy relationships in your life!

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Is it Spying or Just Good Parenting?

Is it spying or just good parenting? Monitoring kids and their cell phone activity.
We have all heard a lot about keeping our kids safe on their cell phones – monitor their activities, check out what they are looking at, and keeping tabs on who they are talking to and texting with on their phones.

The question is: When does it cross the line and become a total invasion of their privacy?

I know if my parents had wanted to read every note I wrote to a friend (yes, I am of the generation before cell phones and texting where we used to pass written notes in class and write letters to distant friends) I would have been furious! If they had followed me around to see what I was up to every minute of the day, I would have gone bonkers! If they had listened in on every (or any for that matter) phone conversation I had, I would have blown a gasket for sure. Was I doing anything wrong? No, but that doesn’t mean I wanted my parents to see or hear everything! I am sure there were things that they would have found not appropriate, but that is all part of the growing process for kids.

Why is it that different for our kids and their means of communication? Reading all their texts? Checking their browsing history?

In most ways, it is not. Kids should have some privacy.

Many have concerns that all the technology today has made it a more dangerous place for our kids. The thought is that it has made it easier for them to fall victim to bullying, abuse, or worse because communication tools are at their fingertips at all times and there is little escape. Perhaps there is some truth to this. However, in a lot of ways, technology had made the world safer for our kids.

I remember receiving prank phone calls that were quite upsetting. I was in grade 7. There was no call display, no *69 to call the last number that called you – nothing! It got so bad that we had to involve the police and put a tracer on our phone. The next time this boy called, we left the phone off the hook and a couple of hours later, the police and the phone company were able to trace the call. I’m sure this boy had no idea his call could even be traced. Kids don’t make these kinds of calls now because they would be caught in an instant due to the current technology. Technology has made it harder for those who would bully or harass to remain anonymous.

Talk to your kids
If you are monitoring your kids phones, make sure they know it. If they know you are checking their interactions and activities, they may be less likely to get into mischief – at least on their own phones where they know they are being watched! Some say that letting our kids know you are checking in them may encourage them to be sneaky and just figure out a way around the snooping. But I think it is still better to be honest with your kids than sneaking around and spying on them. Imagine the trust that would be broken if they found out (and eventually, they will find out!).

I think it is better to have conversations well before your child gets a cell phone, and continuing the conversation over time in order to give them the tools they need to help keep themselves safe.

Your kids also need to know they can always come to you with any concerns or problems (and that you would not punish them or take their phone away from them as punishment).

Does your child even need a cell phone?

Maybe the question to ask if you are really worried about your child’s cell phone use is does your child even need a cell phone? Not want, but need?

Ultimately it really depends on the parent, the child, their age and maturity level, and a host of other factors. If you don’t think they can handle having a phone without constant snooping on your part, maybe they are not ready for the responsibility of a cell phone. Do they really need one?

Hopefully you will ensure that your kids will use their technology responsibly and won’t feel the need to spy on them…. Well, not too much anyways. 😉

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When Men Experience Labour Pain

If you had the chance to have your husband or boyfriend experience what it was like to give birth, would you? Sure, many women who have given birth will tell you it is a pain like no other. And, I am sure there are many men who think it can’t be as bad as we make it out to be and that they would endure it better than the women. The screams and cries of a woman in labour have elicited fear and have been the topic of movies,comedy routines, and more.

Well, here are a couple of men who thought women exaggerate the pain. They were up for the challenge – with their wives are by their side.

Me? I think my husband has a solid appreciation for the pain of childbirth, and why would I want to inflict that pain on him (he’s a pretty darn good guy, after all)? What do you think?

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First-Born Jealousy

Question: Our first-born is showing extreme jealousy towards the new baby. He’s obviously mad at us for disrupting the predictable flow of his life with this new challenger for our attention. How can we smooth things out?

Think about it: Before the baby entered your family, your toddler was told he’d have a wonderful little brother to play with, and how much fun it would be. Then the little brother is born and your toddler is thinking, “Are you kidding me? This squirming, red-faced baby that takes up all your time and attention is supposed to be FUN?” He then “plays” with the baby in the only ways he knows how. He plays catch. You yell at him for throwing toys at the baby. He plays hide-and-seek. You yell at him to get the blanket off the baby. He gives the kid a hug, and you admonish him to be more careful. Is it any wonder that your toddler is confused?

Teach: Your first goal is to protect the baby. Your second, to teach your older child how to interact with his new sibling in proper ways. You can teach your toddler how to play with the baby in the same way you teach him anything else. Talk to him, demonstrate, guide and encourage. Until you feel confident that you’ve achieved your second goal, however, do not leave the children alone together. Yes, I know. It isn’t convenient. But it is necessary, maybe even critical.

Hover: Whenever the children are together, “hover” close by. If you see your child about to get rough, pick up the baby and distract the older sibling with a song, a toy, an activity or a snack. This action protects the baby while helping you avoid a constant string of “Nos,” which may actually encourage the aggressive behavior.

Teach soft touches: Teach the older sibling how to give the baby a back rub. Tell how this kind of touching calms the baby, and praise the older child for a job well done. This lesson teaches the child how to be physical with the baby in a positive way.

Act quickly: Every time you see your child hit, or act roughly with the baby, act quickly. You might firmly announce, “No hitting, time out.” Place the child in a time-out chair with the statement, “You can get up when you can use your hands in the right way.” Allow him to get right up if he wants – as long as he is careful and gentle with the baby. This isn’t punishment, after all. It’s just helping him learn that rough actions aren’t going to be permitted.

Demonstrate: Children learn what they live. Your older child will be watching as you handle the baby and learning from your actions. You are your child’s most important teacher. You are demonstrating in everything you do, and your child will learn most from watching you.
Praise: Whenever you see the older child touching the baby gently, make a positive comment. Make a big fuss about the important “older brother.” Hug and kiss your older child and tell him how proud you are.

Watch your words: Don’t blame everything on the baby. “We can’t go to the park; the baby’s sleeping.” “Be quiet, you’ll wake the baby.” “After I change the baby I’ll help you.” At this point, your child would just as soon sell the baby! Instead, use alternate reasons. “My hands are busy now.” “We’ll go after lunch.” “I’ll help you in three minutes.”

Be supportive: Acknowledge your child’s unspoken feelings, such as “Things sure have changed with the new baby here. It’s going to take us all some time to get used to this.” Keep your comments mild and general. Don’t say, “I bet you hate the new baby.” Instead, say, “It must be hard to have Mommy spending so much time with the baby.” or “I bet you wish we could go to the park now, and not have to wait for the baby to wake up.” When your child knows that you understand her feelings, she’ll have less need to act up to get your attention.
Give extra love: Increase your little demonstrations of love for your child. Say extra I love yous, increase your daily dose of hugs, and find time to read a book or play a game. Temporary regressions or behavior problems are normal, and can be eased with an extra dose of time and attention.

Get ’em involved: Teach the older sibling how to be helpful with the baby or how to entertain the baby. Let the older sibling open the baby gifts and use the camera to take pictures of the baby. Teach him how to put the baby’s socks on. Let him sprinkle the powder. Praise and encourage whenever possible.

Making each feel special: Avoid comparing siblings, even about seemingly innocent topics such as birth weight, when each first crawled or walked, or who had more hair! Children can interpret these comments as criticisms.

Take a deep breath and be calm. This is a time of adjustment for everyone in the family. Reduce outside activities, relax your housekeeping standards, and focus on your current priority, adjusting to your new family size.

Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting , The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999

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Why Victims of Sexual Assault Stay Quiet

Bill Cosby and Jian Gomeshi (and now Donald Trump)… Why did the victims not come forward sooner?

Warning: Contains descriptions of sexual assault.

Bill Cosby and Jian Gomeshi are making the news these days, but not for good reasons. Both are accused of sexual assault and the accusations go back years. This has a lot of people talking, and a lot of people asking the question of why these women didn’t come forward years ago. Some doubt their stories because of this.

I am not going to comment on the guilt (or innocence) of the two accused. What I am going to talk about is why these women may have waited so long to tell their story based on my experience… this is the first time I will tell my story.

My Personal Story

When I was 11 (maybe 12) years old, a work acquaintance of my father’s came over to visit. It was a sunny spring afternoon, and the adults were outside. I was in the living room – I don’t really remember if I was watching TV, reading, or doing homework. What I remember very vividly was this man coming into the room, sitting beside me, talking to me, and then touching me where he had no business touching me. When he went to lift my shirt, I ran and locked myself in the bathroom until I heard him go back outdoors. I never said a word. I was shocked and confused. I didn’t know what to think as I had never heard of anything like this (when I was a kid, no one talked about child molestation). I somehow thought it was my fault or that I would be in trouble. I don’t know.

Fast forward to when I was 18. A cute boy that a lot of girls liked cornered me alone at my house. Several friends were in the other room. He pushed me down, and then got on top of me. He put his hands around my throat and was choking me. I slapped at him, kicked at him, and told him to stop. Thankfully, he did. Again, I never said a word about this to anyone.

There have been more incidents over the years, but I won’t go into them all. I consider myself fortunate that my experiences were not worse. I can’t imagine the horrors that so many have gone through…

Point is, I never ‘went public’ until now. Even at that, I am not naming names. Why? I think the first man is likely long dead. I have had to forgive myself for not telling anyone because I wonder how many little girls didn’t get up and run away. I don’t even remember his name (just a last name) as he was only at our home once.

The second man is married now with two children. I see him around town, we have a friendly rapport (you may think that is very strange, and I suppose it is!)and I wonder if he even remembers that afternoon. Maybe my experience was an isolated incident, but I doubt it. No one has said otherwise though. If they did, I am not even sure I would come forward now. I guess I won’t know unless it happens.

Courage or Cowardice?

Am I a coward for not coming forward? Maybe. I am being very honest with you about my feelings – right or wrong, it is how I feel at this point. Maybe someday my feelings will change. But if I do come forward, will be believed or scorned and ridiculed?

Time to COme forward

Why don’t women (and girls) come forward immediately after an assault?  The reasons are varied. Fear of not being believed. Fear that they were somehow to blame. Self doubt. Fear that people will look at them differently.

So, why do women come forward many years after an assault? Their reasons are as individual as they are. It takes a lot of courage. Sometimes, things happens that makes them want to speak out.  However, I suspect that when one woman bravely comes forward, it gives others the courage to come forward and say it happened to them too.

Talk to Your Kids

Talk to your kids. Let them know that it is OK to tell! Let them know that there is no shame to them for having been mistreated or assaulted. If you have been assaulted in any way, talk to someone – anyone – about it. You are not alone and it is not your fault. This was something that took me a while to learn.

 

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The Importance of Teaching Your Kids About Money

We raise or kids the best we can. We teach them what we think they will need to know to be good people and be self-sufficient. One thing we need to be sure they have an understanding of is personal finance, and it’s never too early to start the lesson.

I overheard a conversation recently while standing in line that had me shaking my head. It was between a young university student and her friends.
“I’m essentially fiscally independent from my parents.”
“Wait, who pays for your car?”
“Oh, well, my dad is paying for my car, and my cell phone, but that’s all.”

How is this fiscal independence? Further conversation revealed that this young woman was also not paying her own tuition. If she thinks she is paying her own way, how will she manage when she really has to do it? This young woman was studying to be a doctor. I sure hope she understands medicine better than she understands finance!

Start Early

One way to start teaching your child about finances is by giving them an allowance – even very young children can start to learn about money. Make the amount reasonable for their age and let them decide how to spend the money, but once the allowance is gone, it’s gone until the next time. They will learn they need to save more in order to buy something else. This gives your child actual money to learn about and handle.

You can also teach them the value of money by comparing what different amounts of money can buy. Take your child shopping with you and compare the prices of two similar items and talk about why the cost may be different.

When they are a bit older, show your child how much money comes in each month, and how much goes out through the family expenses. How much is left? What happens to that money? If there isn’t anything left, then what?

The point is, get them to understand basic household finances. This will help equip them for the day when they will be on their own and need to be responsible for their own fiscal situation. These lessons can last a lifetime.

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How Long Should You Breastfeed?

Unfortunately, how long a mother should nurse her baby does not have an easy answer. Advice given by people, whether it’s doctors, a breastfeeding counsellor or your mother,  is often confusing and contradictory. Everyone you talk to has different advice for you. Combine this with the fact that every mom & baby are different, and you have good reason to be wondering what is the best thing to do.

Breastfeeding is by far the best way to feed your baby. Even many manufacturers of baby formula are saying this! Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby’s development for the first year or more. It contains antibodies which may protect your baby against some infections. Breastfeeding also helps reduce the risk of allergies in infants who have a family history of asthma, food allergy, or eczema. It is easily digested and contains just the right amount of fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. It is inexpensive and require no special equipment or preparation.

Breastmilk changes as your baby grows and is the only food needed for the first 4 to 6 months. So does that mean you should only breastfeed for the first 4 to 6 months and then stop? Wean your baby at one year? Yes? No? Maybe?

There are so many factors involved along with so many pressures from others. Some will pressure you to breastfeed into the second year and beyond. Others will argue that your baby should be weaned to a bottle after a couple of months. Some will say you have to wean before you return to work. Others will tell you that going back to work doesn’t mean you have to wean. Who’s right? Most proponents of breastfeeding and many of the experts recommend breastfeeding at least for the first year (and many up to two years or longer). While I totally agree with this in principle, I say you should breastfeed for as long as you feel it is the best thing for you and your baby. This is something only you can decide.

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Breastfeeding in Public

In many parts of the world, the sight of a nursing mother is an ordinary aspect of daily life. In our society, however, some people are still uncomfortable seeing a mother breastfeed in public. Slowly but surely, though, people are coming to see breastfeeding as the natural, normal way of feeding a baby that it is. And thanks to public education campaigns, people are becoming more knowledgeable about the many benefits of breastfeeding.

Your legal right to breastfeed
Society has conditioned many people to view breasts only from a sexual standpoint and not as a body part with a crucial biological function – to feed a baby. Breastfeeding is the natural default for baby feeding — not bottlefeeding — yet no one harangues a woman who is feeding her baby from a bottle in a public place. If anyone even suggests that you shouldn’t be feeding your baby in public, be aware that you are well within your rights. Keep in mind that it’s the onlooker’s problem, not yours.

From a legal perspective, you have a right to breastfeed your baby in public anywhere in the United States. Some states have gone so far as to implement specific legislation to that effect to protect the rights of both babies and their mothers; these states have set out legal consequences for violations, too. As of this writing, 17 states have passed laws that say you can breastfeed your baby in any public or private location; thirteen more exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. This may lead you to believe that the act is legal only in those states with legislation. The fact is, you have a legal right to breastfeed your baby in public even without a specific law. Don’t be shy about letting an impolite person know this. For more information about the legal aspects of breastfeeding in public, check out the website of Elizabeth N. Baldwin, an attorney who specializes in this issue [www.compromisesolutions.com].

In Canada, the Human Rights Code protects women from discrimination on the basis of sex. Breastfeeding in public is not specifically labeled as a protected activity; however, many people are lobbying to explicitly include breastfeeding under this human rights code.

What about breastfeeding when in foreign countries?
It’s best to respect the customs native to the country you are visiting. Even if you think you should breastfeed wherever you please, it’s important to understand and adhere to local customs. If you don’t see other women breastfeeding their babies, then ask around. Talk to a woman with young children, ask a health professional, or do a little research. Once you know what is typically acceptable, then you can proceed confidently without risk of offending anyone, breaking a law, or embarrassing yourself.

Getting comfortable breastfeeding in public
Although you have the right to feed your baby in public, there is still the issue of your feelings about doing so. Each woman has her own comfort level. Most women want to find the right balance of pride and modesty — not overly exposing themselves, while feeling comfortable knowing that people are aware that they are breastfeeding. You’ll probably need some practice with the particulars, simply because breastfeeding is a function that involves a private part of your anatomy that is normally not exposed in public. Wanting to be discreet doesn’t mean that you are embarrassed or ashamed to feed your baby; it simply means that you don’t want to cause yourself or others social discomfort.

The biggest issue for most new mothers is learning how to get settled with your baby modestly. Even a new mother who is breastfeeding with ease at home may fumble and struggle when she perceives that she has an audience; her tension then causes her impatient baby to cry. That only deepens the feeling that all eyes are on her. The reality is that most people are paying attention to their own activities and their own private conversations, by and large ignorant of what’s happening with other people. Once you become adept breastfeeding discreetly, you’ll be able to comfortably nurse your baby anywhere. All it takes is a little practice.

PARENT TIP
“Always remember that what you are doing is necessary, beautiful, and miraculous. Breastfeed your baby with pride.”
~ Deborah, mother to Peter (five), Jeremy (three), and Claire (one)

Tips for breastfeeding in public
Give yourself permission to feel comfortable about nursing your baby in public. Feeding your baby is a natural, normal part of mothering, whether you are at home or out in public.
Dress for breastfeeding. Wear a shirt or sweater that can be lifted up or unbuttoned from the bottom. When you lift from the bottom, the top portion of your shirt helps cover you from the top, and your baby covers you from the bottom. Whatever portion of your breast is shown while feeding your baby is certainly much less than is shown in the typical television show, magazine or at your local beach or public swimming pool.

Try a nursing cover-up or a breastfeeding garment with a built-in flap. Many are so beautifully made that even under the most careful scrutiny, they don’t look like nursing clothes. Most stores that sell maternity clothing also sell nursing apparel. Even if you don’t use these at home, they may help you feel more comfortable when in public.

Bring along a small baby blanket. Some babies are fine with having a blanket thrown over your shoulder and over their heads, but many are very good at pulling such a blanket off. A good alternative is to bring the blanket up from below, and tent it around your baby, to cover you as you settle your little one to the breast. The blanket can be loosely placed to create privacy, or even removed once you’re settled.

Use your sling as a nursing cover-up. Baby slings are wonderful for nursing your baby on the go because they hold your baby perfectly in the nursing position while providing extra fabric for a screen. Some brands have a “tail” at the end that doubles as an extra blanket to keep the baby from trying to peek out while nursing.

Feed your baby at the first sign of hunger, because hungry babies aren’t quietly patient! If you wait until your baby is crying to be fed, then you may become nervous; your baby may move about and make the latch-on difficult. Instead, if you nurse him promptly, you can be more relaxed about getting him settled.

Remember that the alternative to public breastfeeding is usually public crying. Whether you’re in a restaurant, at church, or on an airplane, people typically would prefer that you feed your baby than let him cry, fuss or otherwise disrupt the peace. I remember once attending a live play with a very antsy two-year-old: my son, David. When I finally settled him on my lap to breastfeed, the gentleman sitting beside me actually said, “Thank you!”
 This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

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Adopting a Baby? You May Be Able to Breastfeed!

Induced Lactation – Adoptive Breastfeeding
I have the wonderful privilege of breastfeeding (induced lactation) my adopted daughter Haley. We began this journey when she was 18 hours old. It is a day I will always remember looking into the eyes of this precious angel as her birth mom sat there and watched us. She later told a social worker that it helped her so much to see Haley and I bond at that moment.

When we began that day I was producing 3 or 4 ounces a day. By the time she was 6 months old I had achieved a full supply of breast milk for her. Her doctor told me that even 2 ounces a day would greatly benefit her over formula alone. She would receive my antibodies. Today she is a healthy happy walking nursing 1 year old.

I have so many who wonder about the details of adoptive breastfeeding/induced lactation I thought I would give you all a mini course in it. It has been going on for many centuries. In biblical days it was called wet nursing. In 3rd world countries women will induce lactate to care for orphans. Here we do it for adopted children. WHY? Why not! It is better for the babies. They receive antibodies, better nutrients and enzymes, bonding and much more. It is a wonderful way to bond with a newly adopted child. Many have successfully nursed an older adopted child too. I know of several who have gotten 6-9 month old’s to nurse after being adopted.

Pregnancy is not necessary for breastfeeding. Prolactin (a hormone) is. Pregnancy does change the breast tissue so helps but is not necessary. Many adoptive moms who have never been pregnant have produced 30-100% of the breast milk their child needs. Pumping, sucking, herbs and drugs all help raise the prolactin level.

I started by pumping every 3-4 hours with a Hospital grade breast pump (Medela Lactina double pump). The light weight pumps available at most stores will not do the job of Induced Lactation. The Lactina is expensive to buy so I rented it for 3 months.

I also started taking herbs: 9 Fenugreek (an Indian spice that makes your sweat smell like maple syrup), 6 Blessed Thistle (NOT Milk Thistle), 6 Marshmallow Root (make the milk thicker and higher in calorie). I also drank Mothers Milk Tea and lots of water. Eating oatmeal. pineapple, and Henry Weinhart’s Rootbeer will also help.

I got milk drops 10 days after starting the pumping/herbs routine. By 4 weeks I was getting enough to freeze an ounce a day. By the time she was born I was freezing 2-3 ounces a day.
When she was born I nursed first, 10 minutes each side, switching sides 4 times (YES 45 minutes of nursing) then I would give her 1-2 OZ of formula or donated breast milk in a Lact-aid supplementer. The Lactaid allows the formula to go thru a tiny tube at my breast so she got my milk and formula at the same time. This also stimulated me to produce more milk. I chose to nurse first without the supplementer because I wanted her to nurse both with and without the supplementer. She was always willing to nurse 45 minutes without the supplementer so I would often times offer the extra 1-2 OZ in a bottle.

There are two drugs available that many choose to help with milk supply. DOMPERIDONE is one. It is not available in the USA. It is available in Mexico $102 a month, Canada $50 a month and New Zealand $25 a month. It is used for stomach/digestion problems with a side effect of my milk production. You need to take it the whole time you nurse or your supply will probably drop.
RAGLAN is the other drug. It is available very inexpensively from your local doctor. It is also used for stomach issues. You take it for only 4 weeks. I chose not to take either drug since I had nursed 3 bio children before (even if 12 years earlier).

I hope this answers your questions and you can tell a friend about the wonders of adoptive breastfeeding! Spread the word! I would also be happy to talk with others interested in adoption and adoptive breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding an adopted child is a great way to give them better nutrition and antibodies but it is an even better way to bond with them. I know I have a special connection with my nursing angel Haley. She loves her mama’s milk.
Copyright 2005 My Precious Kid – See our many other safety and travel items for your special child. We offer back packs, sports packs, safety books, baby sling, adult safety products, pet safety products, TAGGIES, First Aid Kits and much more. We also have some combination packs of these items for even better pricing.
Kay Green is a Christian homeschool mom to Melissa 22, Jordan 19, Allison 17, Haley 4. Her and her husband of 25 years live in rural Oregon with their children. Kay owns My Precious Kid, http://www.mypreciouskid.com Kay Green All rights reserved.

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Diapers – Wet or Dry Pail Method

Cloth diapering has come a long way! However, unless you use a diaper service, you will need to launder the diapers – but what do you do with them in the mean time?

WET PAIL METHOD (SOAKING)
This method allows you to soak your diapers until ready to wash. The benefit to this method is easier stain removal, and less frequent laundering.
HOW TO DO IT:
Fill your pail 1/2 full with cold water and 1/4 cup of vinegar or baking soda.
Dispose of flushable liner or shake off excess poop into toilet. No rinsing is necessary (especially if your baby is breastfed exclusively).
After 3-4 days or at about 2 – 3 dozen dirty diapers – empty the contents of your diaper pail into the washer and spin out the excess liquid.
Proceed with washing instructions.
Please make sure if you are using this method that your pail is securely fastened and out of reach of children.

DRY PAIL METHOD (NO SOAKING)
The benefit of this method is a lighter pail and no diaper soup!
HOW TO DO IT:
Sprinkle baking soda at bottom of pail and line your pail with a washable bag for easy transport to washing machine.
Dispose of flushable liner or shake off excess poop into toilet. No rinsing necessary (especially if your baby is breastfed exclusively).
Put wet or soiled diapers in the pail
Do a quick cold-water rinse cycle before your regular wash cycle so as not to set any stains in the hot water wash.
Proceed with washing instructions.
If you use this method you will need to wash about every 2 days or your diapers will stink!

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Breastfeeding – Handling Criticism

Feelings about how to parent seem to shift with every generation. A new way of parenting, sometimes called attachment parenting, has emerged and it challenges many of the rigid teachings of our mother’s generation. Although breastfeeding is on the rise now, women are still dealing with the repercussions of previous generations. Not too long ago mainstream women did not breastfeed at all and the ones that did were taught to follow strict schedules. Some thought of breastfeeding as primitive. Formula was touted as being equal to or superior to breast milk. Only recently, has the fact that “breast is best” been acknowledged. Other women were in the workforce. They may have felt that breastfeeding was not an option for them. They did not have the modern breast pump available to them. The medical community may not have encouraged breastfeeding at the time. It is not hard to imagine. After all, even with all the knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding there are still many health professionals today that are uneducated and unsupportive of breastfeeding. With all the challenges in the way of breastfeeding, it is understandable why many women of yesterday did not choose to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding has come a long way but still many of the old thinking still carries on. Women are more educated on the subject; however, even with the many books and other information available, people are often most influenced by their immediate family and friends.

Having the support of friends and family can boost the chances of having a successful breastfeeding experience. On the other hand, having to deal with criticism and misinformation from the people you are close to can sabotage a new mom trying to breastfeed.

There are many ways to deal with the negativity of others. One of the best things you can do is to try to understand why the person feels the way they do. Is it because they were taught differently about breastfeeding? Were they indoctrinated with the ideas that breastfeeding is primitive or inferior? Or is it that they feel breasts are a sexual object? Maybe they have never seen someone breastfeed and it makes them uncomfortable. This is the case with a lot of people. Once breastfeeding in public becomes more commonplace, perhaps, this will become less of a problem. Whatever the case, finding out the root of the person’s issues with breastfeeding may help to resolve the tension.

Here are some things you can do to deal with criticism.
Be positive: It is hard for someone to argue with a happy, positive person. If you are excited and enthusiastic about breastfeeding it can be contagious.

Try to educate them: Find information on the benefits of breastfeeding to mom and baby and share this with them. You don’t have to “push this down their throat”. Just be enthusiastic about your decision to breastfeed and share with them why you decided to.

Be sympathetic: A lot of times women are defensive because breastfeeding did not work out for them. If you sit and talk with any woman that really wanted to breastfeed, you can hear the sadness in her story. Try to be sympathetic and non-judgmental. Don’t say things like “you could have or should have”. Share your experience, be positive, and let them know you care.

Try not to get angry: Breastfeeding conversations can get very heated. Getting angry with someone is not likely to change her feelings. It will just make you and her upset. If you don’t feel like you can talk about breastfeeding with this person change the subject or avoid talking about it.

Use your doctor as your advocate: Sometimes the best thing you can do is tell someone that this is what your doctor recommends. What you think means very little to some people but a doctor’s word carries weight. Use that as your defence.

Don’t be sarcastic or insulting: Belittling someone is likely to make someone defensive. It is not a good approach to winning someone over. You may turn an opportunity to educate someone into a personal attack.

Stand your ground: Do not let someone else decide how you are going to parent. If they are uncomfortable then they will have to come to terms with it. You do not have to change the way you parent to suit someone else.

If nothing is working then you may just let the person know that you do not want to discuss the issue with them any more. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to this.

Patty Hone is a wife and mommy to three kids. She is also co-owner of Justmommies.com. Justmommies is a community for mommies to make friends and find support. Please visit Justmommies at http://www.justmommies.com.

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Breastfeeding Isn’t Easy

Breastfeeding is Hard
Before becoming a mother, I had very little interaction with breastfeeding women. Like many of my generation, I was not breastfed as a child. I was once one of many who thought breastfeeding in public was gross. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I spent two years in Cameroon, West Africa where breastfeeding was the norm. Breastfeeding women were everywhere I went and soon it seemed completely normal and natural for me to see a woman feeding her child anywhere, anytime. When I returned from Africa, I also had the pleasure of seeing my twin sister nurse her two children.

Much later, when I was ready to have children of my own, I was saw two of my best friends nurse their children as well. Despite all of this, I still felt nervous and wondered if I would be able to do it. While pregnant, the thought of anyone touching my breasts or sucking on my nipples for an extended period of time was extremely unappealing. Luckily, I had a lot of support from my husband, my friends, my midwives, and my online community of other pregnant women and mothers. Eventually, I felt confident enough to give away every formula sample that came in the mail and to stock up on breastfeeding books and nursing bras.

Despite being 100% convinced that breastfeeding was the normal and natural thing to do, I still found getting started to be a bit difficult. For me, it wasn’t easy from the start, and I did have a few minor struggles. I had to remind myself that it was important for me to know that this too was normal and that a little difficulty in the beginning should not prevent me from continuing.

Breastfeeding is an art. It takes study, practice, and a bit of skill. All of these things do come with time. Breastfeeding, like raising a child, is a major commitment that requires a lot of time and energy on the mother’s part. And yes, sometimes breastfeeding is hard, especially at first. I don’t say this to discourage new mothers from doing it, but rather to prepare them. I think the more realistic picture a person has of breastfeeding the better prepared she will be to succeed at it. And for the record, bottle-feeding also requires a lot of time, energy, and money.

Many women seem to already know the benefits of breastfeeding and are committed to doing it, but still may be a bit surprised by the reality of it, especially in the first few days/weeks. Whether you have seen others breastfeed or read every book there is, like giving birth, breastfeeding may not be what you expected. I want women to know that there are several things you can do to ease into breastfeeding an infant, and that it does get easier (and enjoyable) with time. You’ll be a pro before you know it and will whip out your breasts easily and readily anywhere and anytime you need to. Breastfeeding is absolutely the most wonderful gift you can give yourself and your baby, and it is worth sticking it out through the rough times. For me, breastfeeding became a special time between me and my son. It improved my confidence as a mother and as a woman. On the rare occasion that my son was sick and uninterested in food or water, he would always breastfeed. This helped ease my mind and speed his recovery.

Your family and friends may think it is strange that you want to breastfeed. My sister breastfed her two children way before I ever became pregnant, so my family was pretty nonplussed by it. (My homebirth, however, was a different story.) I found that my mother was fascinated by my breastfeeding and would often stare longingly at me and Satchel. Until you have done it yourself or known someone who has, breastfeeding is hard to understand. Many people are threatened by unfamiliar things. People will stare. People may say stupid and insensitive things to you. People might even try to scare you by saying your baby won’t get enough food or you’ll destroy your beautiful breasts forever. My grandmother loves to tell me that at 19 months, Satchel is too old to breastfeed. (I like to tell her how many things have changed in the last 96 years.) There is an incredible amount of information on the benefits of breastfeeding on the Internet and at the library. Keep some brochures handy, email links to people, or just smile and ignore everyone.

It is important to build a breastfeeding support network for yourself. Talk to experienced breastfeeding women in your circle of friends or at work. Go to a local La Leche League meeting. (At the very least, have the leader’s phone number handy.) Join an online mothering community where you can get support/advice at the touch of a button. Having someone to talk to when times are hard is extremely important and will help through the first days of breastfeeding. My best friend and midwives checked in on me regularly after delivery and were instrumental in my success. Many hospitals now have lactation consultants to offer breastfeeding support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

After delivery, your baby may or may not latch on right away. If s/he does, then congratulations! You are off to a great start. If not, then don’t panic. You will soon either become amazed at your patience level, extremely frustrated, or maybe even familiar with breast shields or other breastfeeding gadgets. Chances are you won’t need anything except patience and support. Some babies need a little more time to learn how to latch on. Call your midwife, friend, LLL leader, or lactation consultant. Make sure you have a breastfeeding book on hand to help you with the finer details. (I recommend LLL’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding or So That’s What They’re For: Breastfeeding Basics by Janet Tamaro.) Once the latch is achieved, you will probably experience something between mild discomfort and actual hellish pain. A lot of books say if it hurts then you are doing it wrong, but sometimes it does hurt! But only at first. Your nipples will toughen up over time. (One day your baby will do a full 360 on your nipple and you’ll barely notice.) PurLan was a lifesaver for me, but you can also use your own breastmilk to soothe sore nipples.

There are several different breastfeeding “holds”. Some work better than others for different women. It is a very individual thing. Again a good breastfeeding book should outline the varied holds. It is also helpful to have a nursing pillow, like the Boppy, to assist you in positioning your baby. (Many other companies, and work at home mothers make nursing pillows if the Boppy is not for you.) I kept one Boppy by the TV and one by the computer. I love my Boppies. The fact that they were machine washable was extra nice, considering the number of milk stains they sustained. I cannot pass a Boppy in a store or at a yard sale without having a strong urge to purchase it!

Engorgement is another early stumbling block. I remember visiting a friend who was four days post partum. She was engorged beyond belief and in a lot of pain, but hiding it well. Her massage therapist friend came over with a head of cabbage and began stuffing her bra and massaging her breasts. My friend was being a trooper, but I left in tears, terrified of ever having a baby. However, one year later, I myself was engorged and in pain and not hiding it well, with my midwife massaging one breast and my best friend pumping the other. Since then, I do my best to try and prepare my friends for the day their milk comes in. I personally think a breastpump is indispensable for those first few days. By pumping or hand expressing extra milk you will not only give your breasts much needed relief, but you will also help fend off clogged ducts and possible mastitis. It is important to pump just enough to relieve the engorgement or you will continue to make too much milk because your body produces milk under the laws of supply and demand. If you are at risk for thrush (i.e. if you had antibiotics in labor, or if you or the baby have taken them since the birth), try to eat some yogurt everyday to help ward it off. Since becoming pregnant with Satchel, I have made a yogurt, tofu, flax oil, and fruit smoothie a part of my morning ritual.

Once engorgement ceases, leakage ensues. (Not all women leak, if you don’t, consider yourself lucky, not a failure.) You may find yourself sleeping in your nursing bra or a soaked t-shirt. Breastpads will soon pile up next to your maxi pads/gladrags. You may not be able to leave the house without them. As soon as you get used to leaking all the time and feeling full, your body will regulate itself and you will be convinced that your supply has run out. But do not fear, as long as your baby is thriving and creating a wet diaper every few hours, things are fine. Trust your body. Do not worry about the number of ounces you are producing or fall prey to the free formula samples that come in your mailbox. Your baby and your milk supply are working together toward a common goal. If your supply really is decreasing, there are plenty of herbal remedies and natural teas such as Mothers Milk to help you. If you do end up supplementing a bit, it isn’t the end of the world. Just do your best to work with the laws of supply and demand. Too much supplementing can decrease your milk supply permanently. Your body can produce enough milk for your baby. You don’t need to give him/her extra water or rice cereal despite what well-meaning family members/old school pediatricians may tell you.

You will also become familiar with a strange sensation in your breasts called the “let-down” which signals the release of milk. Some women never actually feel the let-down, while others compare it to having contractions during labor. Hopefully you will fall somewhere in the middle. I experienced the let-down as a build up of pressure followed by a feeling of relief, similar to the feeling one gets after emptying a very full bladder. I have also heard it described as a tingling sensation.

Some women have a “dominant” breast. My right breast was a fountain of milk and seemed to produce twice as much as my left breast. This was especially noticeable when pumping. I don’t know if the dominant breast is a result of unconsciously favoring one breast over the other, but it does seem to be fairly common and no cause for worry. If you have a dominant breast, be mindful of how it affects your baby. Sometimes the milk may be too much to ingest at once or it may be just right.

While breastfeeding you may have to change your diet to suit your baby’s brand new digestive system. (However, breastfeeding on a diet of McDonalds is still more nutritionally beneficial to the baby than formula.) You probably already made changes while pregnant, so it isn’t too hard. But what you eat will now directly affect your baby, so it is important to be mindful of the food choices you make. Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco are still major no-no’s. (Finding new ways to deal with stress are very important.) An occasional beer or glass of wine, one coke or coffee a day, maybe a secret cigarette now and then won’t make you the “worst.mother.ever.,” but breastfeeding may require you to give up some bad habits. Try to remind yourself of all the breastfeeding benefits to your baby—increased immunity to illness, optimal nourishment, mother-child bonding, etc.—when you feel overwhelmed. After a few weeks/months what you eat will affect your baby less and less and you can resume eating your favorite spicy, dairy, and gassy foods. (Also when you feel up to it, you can treat yourself to a night out and “pump and dump” any “contaminated” milk.)

You will find yourself spending a lot of time in your favorite chair or in your bed with a small child attached to your breast. (You may even find yourself on the toilet with a small child on your breast!) Make yourself a breastfeeding basket to carry around with you. Include a snack, a book, some mama zines, a tube of PurLan, a bottle of water, the remote control, and the phone. Enjoy this time with your baby and relax. (You will long for it when you are busy chasing a toddler.) After awhile you can upgrade to a sling or other baby carrier. You may soon find yourself nursing your babe while doing dishes or weeding your garden. There are several different styles of slings out there, so find the one that works best for you. I started off with a Baby Bjorn and moved to a Hip Hammock later, however I always envied the mamas with their Maya Wraps.

Consider sleeping with your baby to maximize your sleep at night. Once I mastered the side lying position I was a happy woman. After a few months you will be able to nurse in your sleep without you or your baby completely waking up. You will also have the added benefit of knowing your baby is safe and sound right next to you. I know sleeping next to Satchel and hearing him breathe steadily throughout the night really helped me to get a good night’s sleep.

Whether or not you return to work while breastfeeding, you may want to invest in a pump. (However, there are certainly lots of mamas who survive just fine without pumps!) Not only do pumps help ease engorgement for the first few days, but when your baby is a few months old, you can pump breastmilk into a bottle and let daddy or grandma feed the baby while you sleep, go see a movie, or go for a swim. If you do return to work, consider getting an electric pump so you don’t end up with carpal tunnel. In most states, your employer is legally required to provide a place and time for you to express milk. I pumped in the morning and afternoon and went to the daycare at lunch to nurse my son in person for 8 months. I quit pumping at a year, but continue to nurse him in the mornings, evenings, and on demand on the weekends. Working a full time job does not mean you have to give up breastfeeding. With a little planning, and determination you can succeed. Be sure and alert your coworkers to what you are doing so an air of mystery isn’t created. I once had a man call security when I didn’t answer my door or phone.

By six months or so you will be a breastfeeding pro, able to whip out your breasts at a moment’s notice without leaking on your blouse (or lactivist t-shirt). Your supply will have regulated to the point that your breasts feel almost normal and you will probably be breastpad free. In addition, you will probably feel comfortable enough to feed your baby anywhere you like—at the park, in the mall, at the bookstore, or in a restaurant. Don’t let anyone discourage you. In most states, breastfeeding is legally allowed anywhere a mother is legally allowed to be. Breastfeeding is normal and natural and NOT the equivalent of using the bathroom in public. Breastfeeding has the word FEEDING in it for a reason. I’ve yet to have a bad experience while breastfeeding in public, even with a squirming toddler doing the feeding.

After an extended period of breastfeeding, especially if you are still breastfeeding throughout the night, you may start to feel a little burnt out. Some days you may bask in the glory that is your baby and smile upon every suckle, but some days you may feel like tearing off your breasts and throwing them across the room. If it is the latter, be honest with yourself and make any changes you feel necessary. You may want to cut out a feeding or two and replace it with cow’s milk (if it is after one year) or more solids (if it is after six months), you may want to nightwean, etc. It is ok to set limits for your own sanity. Everyone has her own breaking point. Many women choose to stop nursing when they become pregnant, at the two year mark, when their child begins walking, weans him/herself, etc. It is up to you.

Breastfeeding can be hard at times, but it is worth the time and effort. Prepare yourself to succeed.

By Stacy Greenburg
Mothersville http://www.mothersville.com

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Secrets to Working and Pumping

When I had my first son I hadn’t planned to go back to work. I suddenly had to return to the workforce when he was three months old. I was completely unprepared and my son went from an exclusively breastfeeding baby to a mostly formula baby within a short period of time. I learned a lot from my experience with him and was much more prepared when I had my daughter. I was able to exclusively breastfeed her and work full time. Because of what I went through, the emotions of trying to pump enough milk for the next day, I wanted to gather up all my tips and write them down for others to use. I hope that you find these tips helpful.

1. Plan ahead if possible. Get a freezer stash going before you go back to work.
2. Do not just pump at work. Pump at home on your days off and before and after work.
3. Pump while nursing. Pump on one side while nursing on the other.
4. Find a good place to pump, where you are comfortable and can relax.
5. Make sure everyone at work knows how important breastfeeding is and not to interrupt you.
6. Drink plenty of fluids through out the day. Drink a large glass of water about an hour before you are going to pump.
7. Use a good quality double breast pump.
8. If your supply is dwindling rent a hospital grade pump.
9. Find other moms to talk to that are breastfeeding and pumping.
10. Do not get discouraged if you don’t pump a large volume at once. Most moms pump around three oz per pumping.
11. Pump frequently. Pumping frequently is more important than how long you pump.
12. Try to pump at least every three hours.
13. Pumping is NOT as efficient as nursing. Do not gauge your milk supply by how much you pump. Your baby will get more milk from nursing than you will make from pumping.
14. Before you nurse, relax and do a quick breast massage. This will help you get a better let down.
15. Any time you give your baby a bottle make sure you pump in place of that.
16. Nurse frequently at night or try reverse cycling. Reverse cycling is when baby nurses more at night than during the day.
17. Co-sleep with baby if you are comfortable so he can nurse more at night. Nursing at night will help your supply.
18. Try drinking Mothers Milk tea.
19. Eat a bowl of oatmeal in the morning. Oatmeal is really good for boosting milk supply.
20. Avoid giving bottle to baby before he is three weeks.
21. Use a slow flow nipple for your bottles.
22. Find a day care provider that is a breastfeeding supporter. An uneducated day care provider can sabotage your success.
23. Take Fenugreek or Blessed Thistle
24. If you need to supplement when you are home use a Supplemental Nursing System.
25. Do not assume because baby is fussing it is your supply. Many times baby will fuss for other reasons.
26. When preparing bottles for day care, store them in three oz portions. Your baby will likely only need three oz at a time. If he needs more up it to four.
27. Send small 2 oz bottles of breast milk for day care provider to give to baby if you will be picking him up soon. This way baby will be ready to nurse when you get him home.
28. Nurse on your lunch break if you can.
29. Take picture of baby with you to work. Look at your baby when you are pumping. It will help with your let down.
30. Have a nurse in. On the weekend spend the entire weekend in bed with your baby and nurse as frequently as you can.
31. During pumping session, take a break when your milk stops flowing. Massage your breast and use nipple stimulation to get a second let down. You will usually get another oz or so if you can get a second let down.
32. Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine will hinder your supply
33. Don’t do extreme dieting. Eat a healthy diet.
34. Contact a La Leche League Leader or lactation consultant for advice.
35. Avoid using bottles and pacifiers when you are home.
36. Try switch nursing when you are home. Nurse on one side then switch to the other when baby seems to be getting fussy. Switch sides two or three times while nursing.
37. Remind yourself of all the benefits your baby is getting and that it’s worth it!
38. Keep your pump pre-assembled so that you can keep your pumping breaks shorter.
39. If your using a pump with horns put them in a Ziploc bag and store them in the freezer between pumpings. This way you can just wash them when you get home.
40. If you can, do paperwork while pumping. This way you can have more pumping breaks and you will relax more if you are not focused on pumping.
41. Don’t watch the pump. Staring at the pump watching for milk will make your session more stressful.
42. Adjust the suction controls, experiment with the speed and suction until you find what works best for you.
43. Keep spare parts readily available for your pump so you don’t have any emergencies.
44. Massage your breasts while you pump.
45. Pump in the morning. Your supply is best in the morning.
46. Bring a baby blanket or item of clothing that smells like baby. Use your senses to visualize your baby.
47. Close your eyes and picture baby nursing.
48. Keep a back up pump at work or in your car in case you forget.
49. Pat yourself on the back for giving your baby the best!
Patty Hone is a wife and mommy to three kids. She is also the owner of Mommiesmall.com. For quality breast pumps, slings, and other attachment parenting products please visit her site at http://www.mommiesmall.com

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Are You a Lactivist?

Take our Lactivist Quiz!

1. Why do women breastfeed?
a. Because they enjoy getting horrified stares in public.
b. Because bottles are too hard to keep track of.
c. Because it’s provides excellent nutrition for the baby and aids in building a healthy attachment to the mother.

2. How do you know your newborn baby is getting enough breast milk?
a. Breast milk alone is not sufficient, you must supplement with formula.
b. Weigh him/her on a scale before and after feedings.
c. Pay attention to your baby’s cues and the contents of his/her diapers.

3. When is the best time to wean your child?
a. At birth.
b. At one year.
c. Whenever you and/or your child feel it is mutually beneficial.

4. Where is the best place to nurse?
a. At home, in your bedroom, with the curtains drawn.
b. In a discreet location, like a bathroom.
c. Where ever you damned well please!

5. If someone says something inappropriate or judgmental to you while you’re nursing in public….
a. Listen to them.
b. Squirt milk in their eye.
c. Inform them that it is your legal right to nurse in public and that you are feeding and caring for your child.

6. What does breast milk taste like?
a. Ew!
b. Like cow’s milk?
c. Mild, sweet, and delicious.

7. Who benefits from breastfeeding?
a. Formula Companies.
b. Babies.
c. Mothers, Fathers, Babies, and Society as a whole.

8. What’s the best way to deal with a nursling who bites?
a. When a baby has teeth, it’s time to quit nursing!
b. Bite the baby back.
c. Remove him/her from the breast while sternly saying no.

9. You’re nursing your easily distracted toddler in the mall. Something catches her eye, and she pops off the breast to see, leaving you bare-breasted and squirting. You:
a. Are still nursing a toddler?
b. Immediately crawl under your bench and hope death comes swiftly and soon.
c. Make sure your excited baby doesn’t hurl herself on the floor and then guide her back to nursing.

10. What should you do about nursing your baby after you return to work?
a. Wean now so your baby will be used to formula.
b. Breastfeeding and working do not mix.
c. Bring your baby to work with you if possible, visit during the day, or get yourself a high quality breast pump. (Your work place is legally required to provide a place for you to express milk.)

11. What do formula companies do to undermine the breastfeeding process?
a. Mail free formula samples & coupons to pregnant women.
b. Mail free formula samples & coupons to doctors and hospitals.
c. Publish free magazines with formula ads and coupons on every page.
d. Mail these magazines to pregnant women, new mothers, doctors, and hospitals.
e. Perpetuate the image of babies using bottles as natural.
f. Put profits before nutrition.
g. All of the above.

12. What is a Lactivist (Lactation Activist)?
a. Someone who breastfeeds.
b. Someone who breastfeeds in public.
c. Someone who smiles at a breastfeeding woman.
d. Someone who provides a comfortable place for women to breastfeed.
e. Someone who educates others on the benefits of breastfeeding.
f. Someone who lobbies for pro-breastfeeding legislation.
g. All of the above.

Scoring:
For questions 1-10 give yourself 0 points for every a answer, 5 points for every b answer, and 10 points for every c answer. For questions 11 and 12, give yourself 5 points if you answered a-f and 10 points if you answered g.

100+ Congratulations! You are a Lactivist! You are well informed on the benefits & politics of breastfeeding and believe that breast is best! Time to order your Lactivist t-shirt and tell the world!

50-100 You’re getting there. Maybe you like the idea of breastfeeding, but don’t fully understand what it entails and its impact on society. Do some research, talk to women who breastfeed, and learn more.

0-50 Wake up and smell the breast milk. I hope that this quiz sparked your curiosity and you will take it upon yourself to find out what all the hooplah is about.

By Stacy Greenburg
Mothersville http://www.mothersville.com

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Nursing in Style

Many women are uncomfortable nursing in public. But today’s nursing fashions can help you nurse with confidence, comfort, and style — anytime, anywhere!

The basics
A good breastfeeding nightgown or pajamas will help you with those first days in the hospital or at home. Learning to breastfeed can be a challenge in itself; you don’t want to be struggling with your clothing too! You will also be glad for the convenience for those night feedings and those days when you just don’t get dressed (and yes, there will be some of those!)

Chances are you probably needed several different bra sizes throughout your pregnancy. And often even your best guess at your post-partum bra size was not quite right. No matter which type of bra you choose, a good fit is important. Your bra needs to provide adequate support while providing easy access to your breasts for feeding. Have fun with your nursing bras — there are so many options available!

Out and About
Every nursing mother should own at least two tops (or 1 top and 1 dress) to give her the ease of nursing access and overall comfort. A nursing tank top, even in cold months, is also a good basic as it can be worn under a sweater or other non-nursing garment. If you plan on nursing for a long period of time, treat yourself to a few more tops as time goes by (after all, you are saving a fortune by not buying baby formula!). Pair your top with your favorite jeans, dress slacks or skirt and you are all set! Most people won’t even know that you are wearing nursing clothing!

Some of the more popular access options include:
Crop Over Top – Dual Slits: The crop overtop lifts to gain breastfeeding access to two vertical slits on lower panel.
Dual Side Panels – Central Slits: Side panels open to gain breastfeeding access to one or two slits on the lower panel.
Vest Front – Dual Split Or Extended Arm Holes: Vest front lifts or opens to access breastfeeding opening (dual slits or extended armholes)
Central Pleat Dual Slits: Central pleat parts to gain breastfeeding access to slits on lower layer.
Wrap: The top wraps around the front.

One option is not necessarily better than the other; it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Enjoy your baby and the breastfeeding experience.

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Cloth Diapers and Detergent Residue

Detergent residue is a film left on fabric by detergent. Detergent residue builds up on all items that are laundered, but usually you will notice it only when dealing with a fabric that is supposed to be either waterproof or absorbent. Problems with wicking and leaking are often the result of detergent residue and is a widespread issue throughout the cloth diapering industry.

Because there are so many additives (both natural and synthetic) that can cause problems with fabrics, it is impossible to list them all here. However, here are some to look out for:

  • Fabric softeners
  • Brighteners
  • Stain Guards
  • “Natural” Soaps

What problems can a detergent residue cause?

WICKING & LEAKING: Wicking is the spreading of fluid across a fabric. How does that residue cause waterproofing to wick?
There are two ways that residue can cause wicking.
One way is that the detergents leave a film on the cover which works as a transport for the liquid to travel along the inside of the cover, along to the edges then across the front. It appears like the fluid went right through the cover but it actually went around!
The second way is that a cover with a laminate works by not allowing a “whole” water molecule to pass through the membrane and one possible way this is done is through water tension. The water molecules bind to each other and do not penetrate fabric. Detergents have wetting agents that break water tension, which allows the detergent to dissolve and disperse and allows clothes to get cleaner. When residue from detergent is left on the covers, the fluid loses its water tension and can saturate the fabric. This appears as a general wetness of the cover, not a specific leak like at the thighs or tummy. Unfortunately, most people will assume their covers are worn out or defective before realizing that they have a detergent residue problem – a problem that can usually be remedied!

REPELLING: This is an issue for diapers. If diaper fabric fibers get coated in detergent residue they will begin repelling the urine like a duck’s plumage repels water. Residue is not the only culprit here, but it is a common one that can be remedied.

STINKY DIAPERS: There are numerous causes of stinky diapers or covers, detergent residue being among them. This is because the residue will trap or “bind” the odor to the fabric. With our diaper covers, detergent residue is the number one reason that the product may smell. Luckily, residue can be removed- in a process you might hear referred to as “stripping.”

RASHES: As can be expected, if your diapers are covered with a chemical residue, they can be expected to cause skin irritation in babies with sensitive skin.

YELLOWING OR GRAYING OF WHITES: Notice your whites aren’t very white any more? The most common cause is detergent residue…

So, now what?
The good news is that products that have been damaged by detergent residue can usually be saved! If the residue is not too extensive, it can often be resolved by doing a couple hot water rinses with no detergent, then throwing the diapers and covers in the dryer.
If this does not resolve the issue, a more intense “stripping” may be necessary. Repeat the following process twice:

  • Run your covers and diapers through a wash with only hot water (if allowed by manufacturer’s washing instructions).
  • Run a second wash using 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar in this second wash.
    1/2 cup vinegar again in first rinse cycle.
  • Run a second rinse cycle with plain hot water.
  • Dry covers in dryer.With proper care, cloth diapers will work very well and last a long time!
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How to Wash Cloth Diapers

diaper1Washing diapers is so easy these days! Please note that you should always follow the manufacturer’s care and washing guidelines for your particular diapering products, if they vary from the following!

BASIC WASHING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Wash diapers in hot or warm water with about 1/2 the recommended amount of laundry detergent.
  • Dry in dryer or outside on a clothesline, as sunlight is a natural brightener and disinfectant!
    In order for your diapers to be fully absorbent – always wash NEW diapers 2-3 times before using to “fluff up” the fibers.
  • Always follow manufacturers washing and care guidelines! Outcomes may vary depending on water, detergent, washing machine, etc.

    Important tips:

  • Don’t use bleach or whitening agents. They will breakdown the fibers of fabrics and destroy your diaper covers. Not to mention that they are very harsh on your baby’s skin and the environment…
  • When washing or soaking diapers (do not soak covers), a good alternative to chlorine bleach is the environmentally friendly oxygenated bleach. But be careful, not all are created equal…make sure the product you choose contains no additives beyond sodium carbonate.
  • Don’t use fabric softeners. They will leave a waxy residue on your diapers and covers and lead to leaking. Even using dry sheets in the regular laundry can leave a residue in the dryer, which can effect your diapering.
  • Don’t use any natural cleaning products that contain oils or softeners which may coat the fibers of your diapers or covers. People have reported problems with the following cleaning agents:
    All Free and Clear (and other Free and Clear detergents)
    Dr. Bronner’s Soap
    Some versions of Bio-Kleen
    7Th Generation
    Dreft
    Ivory Snow
    Most “pure soap” products

    Products that have been damaged by natural cleaning products can sometimes be saved! Repeat the following process twice: Run your covers and diapers through a wash with only hot water (if allowed by manufacturer’s washing instructions). Run a second wash using 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar in the wash – and 1/2 cup vinegar again in first rinse cycle. Run a second rinse cycle with plain water.

  • Don’t use laundry detergents that contain perfumes, dyes, chlorine bleaching agents or any stain guard ingredients.
  • Don’t use too much detergent in your wash as this can lead to stinky ineffective diapers and covers and skin irritations. A little goes a long way!
  • Do be careful when using diaper rash ointments, especially those containing fish oils. These can stain your diapers and covers, make them smelly and ruin their performance. Use all ointments sparingly. Flushable liners act as a good barrier for creams.
  • Do use the highest water levels in your washing machine to ensure complete rinsing of diapers and covers. Any detergent residue will affect the performance of diaper products!
  • Do unfold your diapers before soaking or washing to allow complete cleaning.
  • Do add occasionally a 1/2 cup of vinegar to the first rinse cycle in order to remove any residual detergent. This deodorizes, sanitizes and brightens. Don’t overuse or use in final rinse, as this will have the opposite effect! Your diapers may become smelly. Don’t use vinegar on diaper covers except one time when you are trying to strip detergent residue off.
  • Do use an extra spin cycle after washing. This will reduce drying time up to 25%!
  • Do throw a dry towel in the dryer with your diapers. This will reduce drying time as well!
  • Make sure that your covers fit snugly and that you are using the correct size of diaper and cover for your baby.
  • Smell your diapers and covers after they are washed! If they smell stinky or like detergent – wash them again with less detergent and more water.

    With the proper care, your diapers will be very effective and last a very long time!

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Baby Bottles – Which Ones Are Safe?

Reports over the past several years have many parents wondering just which bottles are safe for their babies — and even their older children. The main reason is because of a chemical called Bisphenol A – or BHA. While BHA isn’t used in baby bottles anymore, there are lots of people who still have these bottles around. Also, it may still be found in other plastic products.

Bisphenol A is used in the production of epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics (many of them used for baby bottles and sports bottles) and is a hormone-disrupting chemical considered to be potentially harmful to human health and the environment. Depending on whom you talk to, BPA is either perfectly safe or a dangerous health risk. The plastics industry says it is harmless, but a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that human exposure to BHA is very low and strongly supports the conclusion that exposure to BHA poses no known risk to human health.

What to believe?
I’m not here to make that conclusion for you, but what I will do is provide information and alternatives so you can make your own decisions.

What are Polycarbonates?
Polycarbonates are used in thousands of consumer products such as reusable food containers, lifesaving medical devices and sport safety equipment. Manufacturers of such products, including baby bottles use polycarbonate because it prevents cracking, shattering and other hazards that can lead to injuries.

Bisphenol A is now deeply imbedded in the products of modern consumer society because not only it is used in the manufacture of polycarbonates, epoxy resins and other plastics, including polysulfone, alkylphenolic, polyalylate, polyester-styrene, and certain polyester resins — it is also used as an inert ingredient in pesticides (although in the US this has apparently been halted), as a fungicide, antioxidant, flame retardant, rubber chemical, and polyvinyl chloride stabilizer.

Who is exposed to Bisphenol A?
Everyone! Bisphenol A is found in many everyday products including food cans, plastic water containers and baby bottles. A study in the US found that 95% of people tested had been exposed to BPA.

Why is it a concern?
Bisphenol A is a hormone disruptor. Studies have linked low-dose BPA exposure with such effects as: permanent changes to genital tract; increase prostate weight; decline in testosterone; breast cells predisposed to cancer; prostate cells more sensitive to hormones and cancer; and hyperactivity.

The key concern for parents is whether BPA can get into their child’s food through leaching from polycarbonate bottles and containers.

What are hormone disruptors?
Hormone or endocrine disruptors are substances that can interfere with the normal functioning of the hormone system of both people and wildlife in a number of ways to produce a wide range of adverse effects including reproductive, developmental and behavioural problems.

Who is most at risk?
Fetuses, infants and children around puberty. Fetuses are especially sensitive groups as their immature detoxification systems make them more vulnerable and they are at a delicate stage of development.

How can you tell the difference between plastics with BHA ans those without?
If you decide to stay away from baby bottles with BHA, you need to know how to tell which ones have this chemical and which ones don’t. The easiest way to tell is to look for the triangular recycling imprint on the bottles. Polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers that contain BPA will be labeled with the recycling symbol #7. However, not all recycling symbol #7 containers will be made with BPA.

What are the alternatives?
#5 Plastic baby bottles are non-toxic, recyclable and do not leach any harmful chemicals into your baby’s food. One example of a #5 plastic bottle is the Medela baby bottle.
Another alternative is glass or stainless steel bottles.

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From ‘Jennifer’ To ‘Jennafur’ – The Search For A Unique Baby Name

How many times have you heard an expectant Mom or Dad say something like “we’re trying to come up with a unique baby name – you know, something a little different…”

Many expectant parents, when they’re trying to choose a baby name, start at that very point. But where does “a little different” end, and disaster begin? With Abbygale? Cayllinn? Machenzie? Kal-El? Pilot Inspektor? Little Bigfoot?

You get the picture. Taken to its extreme, which it often is, the search for a “unique baby name” is a slippery road that can end with a name that the teacher can’t spell, friends can’t pronounce, and no-one can understand. When baby gets bigger, he or she is not going to be pleased, being the only kid in the class named after a remote Siberian village, or a brand of shaving cream, or whatever Mom and Dad seized on in desperation some five or six years previously.

What exactly do parents mean by “a unique baby name?” The dictionary defines “unique” as: “the only one, or the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics.” In order to be truly unique, a name would have to be the only one of its kind, which leads you to the Moxie Crimefighters (Penn Jillette’s daughter’s name) and the ‘Jennafurs’ of the world. But what most people probably mean, when they say “unique,” is that they’re actually looking for a baby name that is individualistic, a bit different, somewhat unusual, and memorable.

If you really want to make up a baby name, thereby ensuring its uniqueness, there are a number of simple strategies. The most popular method is to use alternative spelling, turning ‘Kaylee’ into ‘Kayleigh’ for example. But in your search for the truly unique, don’t fall into the trap of turning ‘Jennifer’ into ‘Jennafur,’ or some such abomination. A recent news story noted that in 2006, according to statistics from a leading baby names website, there were at least 45 variations of the name Mackenzie, including such strange variants as ‘Machenzie’ and ‘Mackynzi’.

Another trick is to use unique punctuation, turning ‘Maxwell’ into the odd name ‘Max-Well’. Then there is the anagram method, turning a name like ‘James’ into ‘Smeja.’ And finally there is the method that makes traditionalists see red — the combination method, by which parents named Mary and Donald will name their boy or girl ‘Mardon.’ Get it?

The point is, anyone can mangle any word in the dictionary into something else, and call it a name. And sure, it will be ‘unique.’ But will it be desirable? Not if you’re named Gnataleigh. Is there another way to come up with a name that is unusual and individual? There is. Probably the surest method is to look through baby names lists for names that do have some heritage, some history, but have not been used in recent years, and try to find an unusual name that fits your personal tastes and desires.

Baby name websites and baby name books are rich sources of unusual, often forgotten, yet ‘real’ names – names that often have fascinating and beautiful origins and meanings. Here are just a few of the lists or categories you could look at: biblical names, floral names, Victorian names, place names, Royal names, Shakespearean names, mythology names, sports figures names, ethnic names, top names from the 1920s (or any decade you like), early film star names, and so forth. There are literally hundreds of categories of names, and each one can be a good starting place to find an unusual, meaningful name.

The trend towards “made-up” names has really picked up steam in recent years. Judging by the 45 variations on Mackenzie alone, it seems to be getting to the logical conclusion, where you’ll need to come up with some really strange variations to stay “unique.” If you do go down this road, try to avoid being Mackenzie variant number 46.

If you still end up stumped, you can always do what a Michigan couple did a couple of years ago – they named their son ‘Version 2.0.’ There’s no question it’s a unique name.
About The Author:
Neil Street is co-publisher of Baby Names Garden, at http://www.babynamesgarden.com, a website dedicated to helping parents choose the perfect baby name. His work on unique baby names can be found at http://www.babynamesgarden.com/uniquebabynames.aspx

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Sleep Sacks for a Safer Sleep

SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants who are one month to one year old. Despite years of research and studies, SIDS is still unpredictable and largely unpreventable. However, research into the causes of SIDS has led doctors to recommend steps parents can take to reduce the risk of SIDS.

In a typical situation parents check on their sleeping baby to find him or her dead. It goes without saying that this is possibly the worse tragedy parents can face and it can impact their lives forever.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the incidence of SIDS is greatest in infants younger than 6 months of age and increases during cold weather. Potential risk factors include:
smoking, drinking, or drug use during pregnancy
poor prenatal care
premature birth or low birth-weight
mothers younger than 20
smoke exposure following birth
baby sleeping on their stomach

Unfortunately, all SIDS deaths are not preventable. However, there are things that can be done to reduce the risk of SIDS. Thankfully the number of deaths from SIDS is dropping as parents follow these recommendations.

Perhaps the most widely recognized recommendation is that infants sleep on their backs. Infants who sleep on their stomachs and sides have a higher rate of SIDS than infants who sleep on their backs. Heavy covers are also associated with the risk for SIDS. Therefore, there should be nothing in the bed but the baby — no quilts, comforters, blankets, pillows, bumper pads or toys.

What is a Sleep Sack?
The sleep sack is a wearable blanket that replaces loose blankets and top sheets in the crib for a safer sleep. It also encourages baby to sleep on its back. It is a well-known fact that babies should be put to sleep on their backs, but not so well known are the potential dangers of loose bedding going over baby’s head and overheating by using too much bedding. The sleep sack will keep baby’s head uncovered, therefore reducing the risk of suffocation. With no loose covers in the bed, the risk for SIDS is reduced.

Baby sleep sacks have been safely used in Europe for over 20 years. Clinical studies in Holland have concluded that baby sleep sacks are potentially the safest form of bedding for babies, provided that baby is placed in the correct size sack and is wearing suitable sleepwear. Therefore, baby can sleep safely at a pleasant and constant temperature throughout the night.

What should baby wear underneath the Sleep Sack?
This will depend on the type of Sleep Sack (flannel or quilted) and the temperature of baby’s bedroom. Health professionals recommend that baby sleeps in a room that is approximately 18°C (65°F). If the nursery is warmer or colder, simply adjust the level of clothing baby is wearing, i.e. short sleeved or long sleeved bodysuit, pajamas. (In the same way as you would adjust your own nightclothes).

Visit the SIDS Canada website for more information.

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Bath Time with Baby

Those first few days home with a newborn can be a scary time for any parent. You question everything and wonder if you are really capable of this job of parenting. There isn’t much that is scarier than those first few baths. Wet hands, slippery baby, hard floor and an anxious new mom. But, bath time doesn’t have to be scary and it will probably come to be one of baby’s favorite times of the day. Here are some tips to help you relax and enjoy this special time with your new little one.

*Make sure your water heater is set at 120F degrees so that baby (or you) don’t get scalded by burning water. Babies have very delicate skin and it can burn very quickly. Invest in a bathtub thermometer so that you can easily check the water temperature before putting your baby in the water. Even with a thermometer, the water may be too hot, so we recommend sticking the inside of your wrist into the water to better test. You will quickly find that your wrist has many uses, from testing formula temperature to testing the temperature on your toddler’s forehead!!

*Air temperature is also important during bath time. If it is summer and you have the air conditioning on, it’s a good idea to turn it off for a few minutes to let the air warm up. You don’t want baby to get too cold during his bath. After baby is dried and dressed you can turn it back on. If it is in the winter, make sure the room is warm. You may wish to turn the heat up a few degrees until bath time is over.

*Buy a pair of bath gloves. Bath gloves are terry cloth gloves that will help you hold on to a slippery newborn while washing them. No need for an additional washcloth with these gloves. Just put the soap on and wash.

*Wash baby quickly. If you have a baby boy, make sure that you clean all areas of his penis. For a girl, get in all the crevices. This too, can be scary for a new parent but don’t worry it will become more natural. Make sure to keep a washcloth over a little boy’s penis so you don’t get your own shower while bathing him.

*As baby gets bigger and moves to a tub, make sure that you have a bathmat. You don’t want baby to move and slip.

*NEVER turn your back on your baby while giving a bath. Have all supplies within your reach around the tub before the bath starts. If you are taking pictures of baby’s bath time, make sure your camera is there and ready. Hold onto baby until you get ready to actually snap the picture then move hand quickly and replace. An even better idea for this is to have someone else with you to take the pictures for you.

*After the bath is over, quickly wrap baby in a towel, covering his head. If your baby is still a newborn, you will need to clean the cord and circumcision as recommended by the hospital or doctor. This is also a great time for an infant massage or for applying lotion to baby. Some parents enjoy cuddling with their baby while he is wrapped in a towel, but this usually is not recommended for a newborn as they need their body temperature regulated more and need to be dressed more quickly. In the near future, this may become part of your routine.

*Most of all enjoy this time. As baby gets older, splash and play with them in the water. It’s a great learning experience for them.

List of recommended bath supplies:
Following is a list of recommended bath supplies. You may modify the list to suit your needs, but make sure you have all you need with you before baby’s bath so you do not have to leave baby for even a second because you forgot something.
*Baby shampoo
*Baby soap
*Washcloth or terry cloth bath gloves
*Infant bathtub (such as the Daphne Bath Seat or Tummy Tub)
*Bathtub seat (for baby’s who can sit on their own)
*Hooded towels
*Bathtub thermometer
*Baby lotion or oil
*Cotton balls/q-tips (for circumcision and umbilical cord care)
*Alcohol (for circumcision and umbilical cord care)

about the author: Kelly Milano is a SAHM mom to 4. Her and her husband live in Michigan, where he is a home inspector and she owns two websites. www.friendsandfamilies.com and www.shopNswap.net

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Choosing a Baby Carrier

By Elizabeth Pantley

Most parents find a baby carrier to be invaluable during the first year of their baby’s life. There are many types and styles to choose from. The different types of baby carriers fall into three main categories: slings, front packs and backpacks.

Slings
These are made of fabric and are available in a wide variety of styles. They “sling” sash-style over your shoulder to hold baby in front of you. Slings offer many benefits to both baby and parent.

Here are some of the most commonly cited by experienced sling-users:
A sling is perfect for the newborn months, when Baby needs to be held often in your arms, as opposed to being pushed at arm’s length in a stroller.
A sling is an excellent way to carry your baby around the house because it keeps your baby happy while leaving your two arms free to go about your daily tasks.
Sling carriers are multi-purpose. You can use them to carry your baby, to create privacy for breastfeeding, and to cover your sleeping baby. Some feature a tail that can double as a blanket or coverup.
Putting your baby into (and getting him back out of) a sling is a breeze. You can even get a sleeping baby in and out of one of these soft carriers without waking her.
You can carry your baby in a variety of positions.
Slings are small, lightweight and easy to transport.
Slings are wonderful to use when a stroller would be inconvenient, such as up stairs, through large crowds or narrow aisle ways, or over rough terrain – or when you’ll be going in and out of the car frequently.
Slings put your baby at the height of people’s faces instead of at their knees.
You can use a sling right up through toddlerhood, when little legs get tired of walking.

An important note about baby slings: They can be confusing to use at first, and your baby can slide out of the bottom if not positioned correctly. Try to find an experienced sling-user, a how-to video, or a knowledgeable sales clerk to help you master the art of baby slinging. Your local La Leche League leader may be able to offer pointers, too.
Slings are very much worth the effort. I bought a sling when my second baby, Vanessa, was born. I couldn’t figure it out, so I left it in the closet. When my third baby, David, was born, I attended a mother-baby class, learned how to use my sling and was immediately hooked! I used slings extensively with my third and fourth babies and found them to be a marvelous baby care tool.

PARENT TIP
“I put my newborn in the sling so I could sit in bed at night with my toddler and read books. It kept us all together, my hands free and gave reading time to BOTH boys!”
Amy, mother of AJ (4) and Ryder (2)

Front packs
Front pack carriers are similar to slings in use but are more complex in their structure. They have a seat that attaches to the front of you with straps that crisscross behind you; these straps secure the carrier to your body.

Here’s what you need to know about front packs:
The benefits of front packs are similar to many of those of slings, such as their light weight and portability, and the fact that you can carry your baby while keeping your arms and hands free.
Some allow you to choose between carrying your baby facing inward toward you or outward, facing the world – which is often fun for older babies.
Settling the baby into and out of the carrier require more steps than a sling does.
Moving a sleeping baby into or out of the carrier is difficult, unless the seat unbuckles separately from the harness.
Front packs are better suited to a baby who is strong enough to hold his head upright.

Backpacks
A back carrier is similar to a camping backpack. It has a seat for your baby that attaches to your back with a frame and straps that cross over your shoulders.

A few things to know about backpacks:
They’re perfect for an older baby who loves to look around and be carried high on your shoulders.
Many backpacks have pouches for holding supplies.
Some models have a canopy for inclement weather or sun protection.
Getting a backpack off (and putting it on) are typically two-person tasks.
Backpacks are best for an older baby who can sit up well.
They’re great for an all-day trip, such as hiking, shopping or visiting an amusement park

How do you decide which carrier to use?
No single baby carrier is perfect for all parents. Every parent has different needs, preferences and proportions. Many people actually begin with one type of carrier and move on to another when their babies get older.
First, think about how you plan to use a carrier. Will you use it primarily at home, instead of a stroller while away from home, or both? Do you already have a stroller, or must your carrier fill all your baby-carrying needs? Defining its purpose will help you choose which carrier is best for you. Read the information (or talk to other parents who own a similar carrier) to learn which purposes it serves best and to determine if it matches your needs.
The very best way to decide? Try carriers on either at the store or with a friend who owns one. Actually putting your baby in the carrier will give you the best idea as to fit, but if you are shopping without your baby (or don’t have your baby yet!) try using a stuffed animal from the toy department.

PARENT TIP
“A baby carrier can help new adoptive parents to decline politely those who want to hold your baby while he still needs exclusive Mommy or Daddy contact. The carrier can be especially helpful in difficult situations such as visits to your child’s orphanage or former foster parents.”*
Laurel, mother of 16-month-old Crystal
* This is also an excellent idea for parents who blanch at the thought of their tiny newborn being passed around the room from person to person!

Points to consider when purchasing a carrier:
Comfort. Does the carrier feel good to you?
Fit for your baby. Does it seem to suit your baby well?
Fit for you. Does it fit your size and body type? Can you carry the baby without strain?
Safety. Will the baby be secure and well supported?
Features. Does it meet your needs?
Usability. Can you easily get your baby in and out of the carrier? How about putting it on and taking it off? Keep in mind that some models require practice.
Construction. Does the fabric suit your wardrobe, climate and needs (i.e., lightweight for summer, weatherproof for outdoor use)?
Care. Is it machine-washable or easy to wipe clean?
Flexibility. Can you carry your baby in various positions?
Adjustability. Can it be tightened or adjusted to fit you when you are at home in indoor clothing or outside wearing a coat? Can you adjust it easily for use by others?
Adaptability. Will it work for your baby now as well as six months from now?
Appearance. Do you like the style? Will you enjoy wearing it?

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

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Benefits of Making your Own Homemade Baby Food

by Bridget Mwape

Making your own homemade baby food will ensure that what your child is eating is fresh, nutritious and free of additives. By making your own baby food, you’ll be saving money. Also, you will have total control over what is put into your baby’s food. You can therefore take the extra steps to ensure that only high quality foods are selected and used. You will be able to feed your baby according to his or her needs because you will know what foods are best suited for your baby from experience.

Making your own baby food also ensures that your baby is exposed to a greater variety of tastes and textures. This will help your baby when making the transition to table foods and also help him or her develop healthy eating habits.

Baby Food Preparation Tips
1. As babies are susceptible to digestive upsets, always work with clean hands and use clean cooking utensils, preparation surfaces, pots and pans etc., when making home made baby food. Prepare foods immediately upon removing them from the refrigerator and freeze immediately after cooking any foods you want to store.
2. Steaming vegetables is the best method of preparation. This softens them, makes them easier to chew, and preserves more of the vitamins and minerals than boiling. A steamer basket is cheap and by cooking fruits and vegetables in it, you’ll be sure of keeping the nutrients in the food, instead of in the cooking water.

3. To puree your foods, you can use a fork, a food mill or blender. A blender quickly purees almost anything into the finest consistency. When your baby first starts on solids, you’ll be pureeing things to a very fine consistency and, as baby gets a little older, you will make foods a little coarser. You may wish to buy a food mill which comes in large and small sizes. It is very handy and inexpensive. The food mill strains most cooked foods to a very smooth consistency, although meats can be a problem as they will have a coarser texture. Remember all the tools you need to make baby food are probably already in your kitchen.

4. You can prepare large amounts of foods at once and freeze them.
Take your prepared foods and plop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Freeze the plops right away and then take them off the sheet when they are frozen and put them into plastic bags. You can also freeze the food in plastic “pop out” ice cube trays. Small tupperware jars with lids serve the same purpose and stack easily. Special Baby Food Cubes are also available. Label and date the packages rotate them putting the most recently frozen foods behind the previously frozen ones. Frozen baby foods can be stored for up to two months.

5. When you take frozen foods out for baby, warm the food in a cup placed in a saucepan of boiling water with a lid on. If you use a microwave to thaw or warm baby food, be sure to stir the food well to avoid hot pockets.

6. Cereals are typically the first foods given to a baby because they contain lots of iron. You can prepare your own, by running oatmeal through your blender. Fruits are generally given next. Except for raw, mashed banana, you will need to cook all other fruits till they are soft.

7. Try making your own apple sauce and pear sauce; don’t add any sugar, as these fruits are sweet enough on their own. You can also peel peaches, plums and apricots and boil or steam them.

8. Buy and use organic fruits and vegetables. Use fresh and organic vegetables whenever possible in order to provide the best nutrition and flavor for your baby. Your baby deserves pesticide-free foods. Frozen vegetables are better to use than canned.

9. Yogurt, mashed cottage cheese, mashed pumpkin, baked potato, avocado and tofu (oriental soy bean curd) are all popular with babies. One good idea is to blend together cottage cheese, banana and fresh orange juice – delicious!

10. Meats should be added slowly. They can be boiled or broiled, then put in the blender with a little milk and perhaps banana or cream of rice to get the right consistency. Chicken is generally the first meat baby is introduced to and usually goes down fairly well.

11. There is no rush to start your baby on solid foods. Milk is his most important food. Your doctor’s recommendations and your own intuition will help you to know when to begin introducing solids to your baby’s diet. Introducing solids prepares the baby for the transition to adult food and offers further vitamins and minerals as the baby grows. Always remember to be patient with your baby and allow at least a few days between newly added foods to make sure the baby doesn’t suffer any reactions.

Copyright © 2005, Bridget Mwape writes for the Baby Shop UK: http://www.baby-shop.org.uk/ which features baby information including articles and discounts on baby products, gifts and advice from other parents.

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3 Simple Steps in Searching for a Baby Name

by Joy Oneisis

1) BRAINSTORM
It is a good idea to pick a baby boy, girl, or a unisex baby name, even if the sonogram has already shown you the sex of your baby, after all, surprises do happen. Set aside time with no interruptions to clear your mind and brainstorm names that appeal to you and write them on a piece of paper. You may want to honor an endeared relative, or choose a name with religious meaning. Or perhaps you have heard a name before and said to yourself `Hey, that’s a cool baby name’. If you want the name to have a specific meaning, for example `strong’, do an internet search, or look it up in a book. Check out the most popular baby names list for the last few years. It is surprising how many names you thought were unique are actually very popular. If you want an unusual baby name, skim the dictionary or a favorite book to see what pops out at you. Surf the internet for sites with free or paid baby name wizards, usually you answer a few questions and the wizard suggests possible baby names, for more ideas.

2) ELIMINATE
Hopefully you have a good-sized list of possible baby names by now. Takes a few days break after your brainstorming session to clear your mind. Then, write your names neatly on another sheet of paper,
including all combinations of possible first and middle names with your last name. You may be able to automatically eliminate a few that may have sounded appealing when you were brainstorming, but now you
wonder `what was I thinking?’
Now, eliminate names in which the last letter of either the first or middle name ends with the first letter of the last name, for example Allison Newman, or Allison Ann Newman (makes pronunciation difficult because there is no clear distinction where the last name begins and the first name ends). Eliminate names whose initials spell undesired acronyms, for example Richard Arthur Turner = RAT, unless you want to make it as easy as possible for other children to poke fun at your child in school. Do some internet or book research to find out the meanings of remaining names. You may want to eliminate names with undesired meanings, for example `naïve’, while you may discover others that are definitely keepers, for example `brave’.

3) DECIDE
I know, deciding on a baby name is easier said than done. Give yourself a few days break again, and then reassess your list. You should be able to eliminate a few more. Ask friends and family for their opinions, or post your finalists on an internet poll. You can do this for free on many sites nowadays.
And you also have to decide how you want to spell it! Many people nowadays are creating exotic ways to spell traditional names for example Kaysey or Caisee, and like most things, this has pros and cons. It gives originality and uniqueness to your childs name, however your child will go through life constantly correcting the spelling of his or her name.
And remember, the most important thing is that YOU are happy with whatever baby name you choose. Happy Hunting!

Joy is the webmaster at http://www.babynamesetc.com – home of the free and unique baby name generator.

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Unique and Unusual Baby Names

by Susan Harkavy

Today one of the biggest trends in naming is choosing a unique name. Those of us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s undoubtedly knew multiple Jennifers, Amys, Michaels and Johns, and many parents want their child to have a more unusual name. Parents have dusted off old classics, combined names and altered spellings in the hopes of saving their child from the fate of being known throughout their school years as “Amy with a Y” or “Michael R, the one with brown hair.”

So how do you find a name that is unique and unusual? Here are some suggestions, along with a few warnings.

1. If you live in the US, look through the top 100 names from the Social Security lists for the past few years to get a sense of what names are currently popular. You may be surprised at just how many children share a name that sounds fresh and unusual to you.

2. Look for unused classics. Literature is a great source of names that were once popular but have since fallen down the charts. Read the names in your family tree or look at Social Security lists from the early 1900’s and you may just fall in love with a forgotten classic.

3. Anticipate the trends. Right now, names from the 1900’s-1930’s are very hot for girls. In another decade, that will probably move forward to names from the 1940’s and 1950’s. Look at those names now and see if any appeal to you.

4. Create your own name by combining two family names or altering a name that you love. Be cautious in this, however, as not all created names sound appealing. You may want to ask family and friends for opinions before committing to an invented name.

And now for the warnings:
1. Keep in mind that names used in popular television series or films are likely to skyrocket in popularity, as are names of celebrity children. For example, the name Ella and its variants have become extremely popular since a few celebrities used it and it appeared as a baby’s name on the show ER.

2. Beware of creative spellings. While it’s true that Keightl’nne looks very different from Caitlin or Katelyn, it is still pronounced the same way and is still ultimately the same name. You may be causing your child a lifetime of confusion as she attempts to spell her name over the phone, while she is still one of five or six Caitlins in her class.

3. Beware of punctuation in names, which could cause problems when filling out computerized forms.

4. Be careful not to take the hunt for creative names too far. Imagine the name as your own, or try the “profession test”. Would you wish to be known forever as Egwene? Can you picture The Honorable Judge Tequila Mad’y’syn being called to the bench?

5. Above all, remember that what really matters is finding a name you love, one that grows well with your child. Even the top names are being given to fewer and fewer children these days, so if you fall in love with Emma or Jacob, don’t let fears of popularity force you to use another name you don’t really care for.

Written by Susan Harkavy for StorkNet.com’s Baby Names Cubby (http://www.storknet.com/babynames ) . . . a one-stop shop for all things baby names including featured names and a babynames database. Visit StorkNet for support and information on all topics related to preconception, pregnancy, and parenting including childbirth, breastfeeding, pregnancy loss and more.

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Why Modern Moms Are Going Back to the Basics – The Evolution of the Cloth Diaper

by Tiffany Washko

Having a baby is one of the most exciting times of your life. It is also one of the most stressful. So many decisions have to be made about nearly every aspect of your baby’s comfort, safety, and happiness. You spend hours pouring over pregnancy and child rearing books, picking out the perfect crib, finding the most adorable and comfortable clothing, and envisioning the safest and most peaceful birth for your baby as possible. No doubt somewhere in your planning you have thought about how many diapers you will need for your new little one and perhaps you have even purchased some in advance. If you are like the majority of parents out there, then you have automatically decided upon disposable diapers without ever giving it a second thought.

Stop right there! There is an alternative; consider using cloth diapers.

Cloth diapering today is not what it used to be. When many parents think of cloth diapers they think of flat diapers that need to be folded in several, origami-like folds and fastened with diaper pins before they are covered with plastic pull on pants. Generally they also think that the clean-up involved with using cloth diapers would be tedious and messy. Cloth diapers have been stereotyped and it seems as though many parents have missed the total evolution of the cloth diaper that has occurred over the past decade or so. I know, because I was one of them.
My own personal decision to use cloth actually came with my second child. With my first child I used disposable diapers, as most do, and thought nothing of it. When I became pregnant a second time I joined a pregnancy discussion group online and in one particular discussion I saw a signature line that contained a link to a work at home mother that sold handcrafted cloth diapers. It was an “Ahaaa” moment for me. I had no idea how far cloth diapers had come. I had dismissed all previous thoughts about using cloth diapers with an exaggerated “Ewwww!” I didn’t want to clean messy diapers and I didn’t want to stick my baby with safety pins. But these diapers were fitted, they had Velcro-like closures, and they were CUTE. I search far and wide for adorable clothing for my babies so how could I resist adorable diapers?

New choices in materials and high tech fabrics are causing an increasing number of parents to reconsider whether disposable diapers are the best choice. We have options now that provide us with cloth diapers that are elasticized so that they are fitted and snug, waterproof many instances, and manageable with Velcro-like closures or snaps, making them just as easy and convenient to use as disposables. It is not just their functionality and convenience that has been affected by this evolution either. Cloth diapers available today are infinitely more attractive. They are available in a variety of different colors, prints, and textures. Cloth diapers made from silk and cashmere are not uncommon. This is a big selling point for many parents because there is nothing cute about a disposable diaper. Quite simply, cloth diapers are convenient, cost effective, healthier for our children, and better for the environment. I feel as though the real question parents should be asking themselves is why use disposables?

As a general rule, it is almost always cheaper to reuse than to buy new every time. This is no different with cloth diapers. Most parents go through 6 to 8 thousand diapers per child, from birth to about age three. If we take an average of what those diapers cost, that equates to between 2000 and 3000 dollars per baby. Once those children are potty trained those diapers are gone. They can’t be re-used. So a significant chunk of our hard earned money has gone to buying, what is essentially, garbage. In comparison, enough cloth diapers to last for three years will usually cost between 3 to 8 hundred dollars. At minimum that is about a 1200 dollar savings. But wait, consider too, that those cloth diapers may last for one or more successive children and your savings doubles and even triples.

What should also be of serious concern to all parents are the toxic chemicals present in disposable diapers. Dioxin, which in various forms has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, skin diseases, and genetic damage, is a by-product of the paper-bleaching process used in manufacturing disposable diapers, and trace quantities may exist in the diapers themselves. Dioxin is listed by the EPA as the most toxic of cancer related chemicals. Disposable diapers also contain sodium polyacrylate. If you have ever seen the gel-like, super absorbent crystals in a disposable diaper then you have seen this substance first hand. Sodium polyacrylate is the same substance that was removed from tampons because of its link to toxic shock syndrome. No studies have been done on the long-term effects of this chemical being in contact with a baby’s reproductive organs 24 hours a day for upwards of two years. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are free of the many chemicals contained in disposable diapers.

Then there are the environmental reasons for using cloth. According to the Sustainability Institute eighty percent of the diaperings in this nation are done with disposables. That comes to 18 BILLION diapers a year, just in the US. They require thousands of tons of plastic and hundreds of thousands of trees to manufacture. After a few hours of active service these materials are trucked away, primarily to landfills, where they sit, entombed or mummified, undegraded for several hundred years. The idea of a “disposable” diaper is a myth. The ramifications of that myth will stay with us for centuries to come. They are the 3rd largest single product in the waste stream behind newspapers and beverage containers. The urine and faeces in disposable diapers enter landfills untreated, possibly contaminating the ground water supply. When you consider the unnecessary depletion of our valuable forests, the huge volume of garbage created, the toxic air and water pollution and the potential health risks to children, it is very difficult to comprehend how washing and reusing cloth diapers could ever be considered an inconvenience. No, they are a rewarding investment all around; a financial investment, an investment in our children’s health, and an investment in our planet.
Tiffany Washko is president of Jelly Bean Diapers, http://www.jellybeandiapers.com. After working several years in corporate healthcare marketing and public relations, she took time away to be a mother. This new pursuit lead her to a new passion, helping new moms make the decision to return to the basics and use cloth diapers.

 

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Should We Have Another Baby?

Deciding whether to expand your family by one more — whether this would be your second child or your sixth — is one of the most significant decisions you will make in your lifetime. There is no crystal ball to show the consequences of your decision in the future. A great number of variables come into play here, and the answer to the question, “How many children?” is vastly different for every family.

The questions to ask yourself
The key to making this decision is to ask the right questions, and to take the time to search your soul and figure out the answers. There are no “right” answers here, because we are all very different human beings.

Why do I want another child?
Reasons may run the gamut from wanting a sibling for your child, to simply loving to raise children. Consider what you know of yourself, your view of family life, your own upbringing & the countless reasons of the heart. If it’s the amazing experiences of pregnancy and childbirth you miss, remember that your commitment only begins with these and continues long after the baby’s arrival. If you’re considering another child due to pressure from your parents, in-laws, other relations or friends, tune their voices out for a bit and listen only to those of yourself and your mate. This decision must come from the two people who know your situation best, and who will have to live the day-to-day realities of another child.

How will another baby change our economic position? Are we willing to make that change? You’ll note that the question is not, “Can we afford another baby?” The issue runs deeper than that, because many families are more than willing to make the necessary financial compromises. You need to be realistic: Adding a child does add expenses. But “economics” addresses resources beyond the strictly financial. You also need to consider your time, your patience, and your attention & all essentials that will have to be divvied up among more than one child. Most people find that there’s plenty to go around because of one related, easily renewable resource: love.

How will life change, and are we ready for that change?
Since you already have a baby, you know how much time a new baby demands in his first few years. A second (or third or ninth) is no different and will tug at your hours along with his siblings. While you shouldn’t base a major life decision on the next 24 months, you do need to remember that one year follows another: each year builds on the one previous. So make a realistic assessment of how this will change your lives both now and in the future that follows.

How will a new baby affect the lives of your other children?
Babies have an effect on the whole house, not just mom and dad. How a new sibling will affect the child you do have isn’t a reason to have (or not have) more children, but the unique characteristics of the child you already have should factor in to your decision.

Are you and your partner on the same page?
The two of you must discuss your thoughts about another baby and come to an agreement, one way or the other, that both can be happy with.

Is this a question of when? Perhaps you know that you want another child, but you’re not certain if now is the right time. Here are some points to consider:

  • The impact of pregnancy. Studies demonstrate that waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies gives you the best odds for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and baby. This isn’t a guarantee, of course, and many women who have babies 10 months apart have normal pregnancies and healthy babies. Generally speaking, however, ample time between pregnancies gives your body a chance to recover fully.
  • §The waiting time for adoption. Depending on the situation under which you adopt, a long period may elapse between when you first make your decision and when your new baby actually joins your family.
  • The age gap issue. How far apart in age should your children be? No perfect answer there either… I’ve experienced both sides of the issue: My first three children are all two years apart, and then there was an eight-year gap before my fourth child arrived. I can clearly see that both situations have advantages. The bottom line is that the personalities of your children and your family patterns will have more to do with their short- and long-term relationships than anything as simple as the number of months or years that separate their birthdays.
  • The biological clock and fertility issues. In today’s world, many couples are starting their families later in life. If pregnancy is your route to your next baby, you’ll certainly want to investigate the factors involved in conception. While women can have babies in their forties (my son Coleton arrived when I was 41), fertility rates drop dramatically after the age of 35. Achieving pregnancy (and finally meeting that new family addition) may take longer than you expect.

What’s in your heart?
If you’ve thoroughly examined all the issues involved in adding another baby to your family, and your heart and soul continue to have an empty spot that craves another child (or conversely, the doubt and fear are overwhelming), then perhaps you already have your answer.

 

This article is a copyrighted excerpt from Gentle Toddler Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2006)

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Is Playtime a Lost Art?

Today’s world is filled with violence – from wars – to crimes committed – every day – in every country. There are bombings, explosions, and murders. Our television programs bring up subjects that are “not suitable” for children and certainly “not suitable” as entertainment for adults.

But the world today has taken this violence one step further – they have incorporated it in a child’s playthings. The “shoot ’em up, blow ’em up” mentality has permeated even the toy aisles in every city. While being vigilant or “street smart” is, of course, a major concern for parents of children, the old adage of “What came first – the chicken or the egg” seems to emerge. Was the idea of these recent violent crimes always out there – in the reality world – or was it nurtured and fed by violent TV, movies and now toys?

When a child is placed in a situation of making a choice when angry with another child, does he/she make the decision based on knowing that he/she can’t make them disappear into cyberspace by using a laser gun, jumping over tall buildings and dis- appearing, or eradicating them by all sorts of other means? It seems to be getting harder and harder as toys portray violence from cars turning into robots or bugs, viscious looking creatures that permeate a person’s worse nightmares, and now are sold for $29.99, packed in cellopane and ready for a child to create their own “nightmare.”

As parents, the responsibility of helping a child grow into maturity with a “right” sense of preservation and protection for person and property seems to be swaying to the side with help from “ad” agencies and toy manufacturers. Toys – meant to be an extension of a child’s imaginative world – one of finding out what things are made of, and how they can be used – should not be filled with violence that solves all problems and leaves the “hero” surrounded by smoldering buildings and disintegrated opponents. Yes, the world is a violent place at times – but that should be the adults’ responsibility to cope and deal with the circumstances.

Our children can be made aware of certain dangers as their age allows them the maturity to understand, but why heap on violence and destruction during their recreational times as well. Will problem solving, peaceful negotiation, or finding solutions that benefit both sides without any violent act be lost forever? Will today’s child grow up with “beating” the other guy at any expense, and showing no mercy? Are parents ready to cope with the problems that anger and violence can nurture as a child is confounded by news, television, movies, and even playthings that prove that the most cunning, and violent victor is really the victor? Will a child learn reasoning, negotiation, and partnership when toys in bright packages are grotesque and chilling?

We certainly want all our children safe, but in our endeavors towards this safety, have we robbed our children of having playtime that shows love, respect, friendship, and just plain fun? Are we, as parents, giving them a choice, or directing their feelings and emotions to victory at all cost? Childhood, holidays, and playtime were times to “get away” for a while and enjoy being a child. We can’t rightfully rob our children of this under the guise that they have the right to know what is really “out there.” Yes, in time and with each appropriate age, they will find out and they will deal with the situations because they have had a solid background of knowing right from wrong, peaceful means from violent, and doing the right thing – at all costs. Isn’t this the legacy worth aiming for – and letting toys be toys – and not the elements of bad dreams and viscious plots? Cars do not turn into laser yielding mean robots, and bugs are not taking over the world – to a child – or to an adult. There is a time and place for instructing our children to be vigilant and protect themselves, but there is also time for play and imagination. They need both.

©Arleen M. Kaptur 2003 October Arleen Kaptur has written numerous books and articles. For a free newsletter – recipes, gardening, lifestyle – please visit – http://www.arleenssite.com

cyber-bullying

Cyber Bullying

Bullying occurs everywhere– in our schools, our workplaces and on the playgrounds. A new place for bullies to torment their victims has come about in the last several years– online. Social media (websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace etc.) have exploded in popularity and given bullies a whole new platform from which to spew their nastiness. Sometimes, the victim has never even met their tormentors in person.

Cyber bullying is every bit as serious as any other type of bullying, and sometimes cyber bullying can also lead to other types of bullying with very serious consequences. It isn’t as simple as stepping away from the computer or cell phone to make it go away.

Help Prevent Your Child from Becoming a Victim
As a parent, what can you do to help prevent your child from becoming a victim? Unfortunately, anytime your child spends online puts them at risk. If they are chatting with strangers, this takes the risks to a whole new level. Talk to your kids and make sure they understand the dangers. Everything they say or do online is out there forever for everyone to see, not just the intended recipient. Some kids don’t realize this, or if they do, they don’t quite get the implications of it. Give them the skills to be safe while online so that they can have positive experiences and interactions.

How to Tell if Your Child is Being Bullied Online
One big way is to observe your child’s attitude towards technology; if they once loved their cellphone, computer, ipod, tablet and now are not using them like they used to, or even avoid them, that could be a big clue that something is going on. Sometimes, their personality changes too, much as it would if they were being bullied in person. They can become withdrawn, sullen, and depressed. If you think something isn’t right, listen to that instinct and resist the urge to chalk it up to them just being cranky or normal teen angst.

How to Stop Cyber Bullying
The best way to help stop any bullying is to speak out, and cyber bullying is no exception. Make sure your kids know they can come to you with anything, anytime. However, lots of kids won’t talk to their parents because that wouldn’t be cool. Make sure they know that you understand this, and if they are not comfortable talking to you about it, they can talk to a teacher, their principal, or a friend’s parents– really any adult they trust– and keep talking to as many of them as possible! Speaking out is the key here, and help is available. As a parent, stand by your kids and talk to others, including the police.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Cyber Bullying
The best way to start the conversation is to just ask! It’s amazing what kids will tell us when we just ask. Something as simple as “What can you tell me about cyber bullying? Is this something that goes on in your school?” can get the conversation started.

How to Make Sure Your Child is Not a Cyber Bully
Talk to your kids about bullying, including cyber bullying, and let them know what behaviours are not ok! Let your kids know that if you ever see them bullying someone, that the consequences will be severe. You know your child best, so you would know what would be the best punishment– from taking their cell phone or computer away from them to taking them to having them volunteer for community service– and be sure you follow through. If you are concerned that it is an ongoing problem, you may want to have them see a counsellor.
To take it one step further, we need to know why a child is a bully. Sometimes it is an isolated incident to “be cool” with other kids, or to boost themselves up by putting someone else down. However, if a kid is a bully in the classroom or online, there’s usually something else behind it, and unfortunately it may be a cry for help. It could be that they are being abused or neglected at home. It’s a big issue and a lot of times, people don’t even think of that. We are often quick to want to punish, when sometimes the bully also needs help.

Talk to Other Parents
Talking to other parents can help you all understand what may be going on with your kids. Communication is the key, and other parents may have ideas and insights that hadn’t occurred to you. Share your ideas in the comments below!

Be part of the solution and help put a stop to cyber-bullying!

5yearold

Bullying – The View from a Five-Year-Old

I was working at the school where I went to kindergarten today. It is funny how so much has changed, and so much is the same! As I was walking around outside, I saw that the same treed lot is still across the street from the school. When I was 5 years old, it seemed like an entire forest! Now, I see it is just a small city lot.

But, this treed lot was so much more to me back then. It was a place to hide from the older kids who bullied me every day on the way home from school.

Why Me?
I don’t know why they chose me to pick on me – looking back and talking to others, I think that they picked on a lot of kids, but of course I didn’t know this at the time. I guess I was a handy target as I walked home the same way that they did. At first, they seemed nice and I thought maybe they were my friends. I was very confused when they would tease me, push me down, and pull me up by my bag strap only to push me down again. I didn’t understand this at all! I wondered what was wrong with me and it took me a long time before I told my parents about any of it. My mom started walking to the school to meet me every day to walk home with me. I don’t think anything was ever done to the bullies and I bet they continued bullying other kids. While I don’t think bullying was accepted back then, I think it was seen as a part of life and not something you could do a whole lot about.

Is Bullying Different Today?
Things are so different today. People speak up about bullying more and we are teaching our kids that it is not ok and to talk to a trusted adult if they are being bullied. We have bullying awareness campaigns and the schools play an active role in bullying prevention.
However, bullying still happens. At least when I was home, I knew I was safe from the bullies; this is not always the case for kids today. With the Internet and social media, our kids are exposed to bullying in different forms. If they are being bullied, they often cannot get away from it. It follows them into their homes through their computers, phones, or other electronics.

Get Involved and Stop Bullying
People have asked me why I am so involved in our anti-bullying campaign here. I guess it is my hope that no child will feel they have to hide from the bullies and that they will see that they are not alone. And if we can help the kids with bullying, maybe those bullies won’t grow up to be bullies, because bullying is not just a problem in our schools, but in our workplaces as well. We encourage you all to wear pink on Pink T-Shirt Day to help bring awareness to the issue of bullying and give support to those who have found themselves the victim of bullying — now, or at any time in their lives. Remember the message all year, and if you see someone being bullied, speak up.
I, and my 5-year-old self, thank you.

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Why Babies Cry

Babies cry — it’s just a fact of life with a baby! And while it can be frustrating for parents, it’s the only real way that your baby can communicate with you for the first few months of life. So, just why do babies cry?

Dirty or Wet Diaper?
While not all babies mind a wet or dirty diaper, most do, and a clean diaper will stop the crying.

Hunger?
Possibly the most common reason for crying. Is your baby hungry? Even if it seems like they just ate, bebies sometimes feed more frequently than others.

Looking for a Cuddle?
Most babies like to be cuddled. Sometimes all that they need is someone to hold them. I am a firm believer that you can not spoil a baby by holding them too much.

Temperature?
Your baby may be to hot — or too cold. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby much as you are dressed, and maybe one layer more (ie: a little undershirt).

Stress?
Sometimes adults feel “I can’t take it anymore” and need a break. Well, babies are no different. Sometimes a change of scene into a quiet place will calm your baby.

Just Fussy?
Many babies just have times where they will fuss and are not easily soothed. This can range from a few minutes of hard-to-console crying to full-blown colic. Colic is usually defined as inconsolable crying for at least three hours per day, three days per week or more.

Sick?
Other than the crying, is your baby acting differently? Is the cry different than usual (weak or sickly sounding?) Does he or she feel like they have a fever? If you are unsure, call your doctor or the hospital. My philosophy is it’s better to check with them and have nothing be wrong than it is to have your baby get very sick because you were worried about needlessly calling the doctor and wait to call.

Ok, you’ve done all these things and your baby is still crying! Now what?

Swaddling
Wrap and hold your baby close. If you have trouble swaddling a baby as I did, a swaddle blanket is a great thing to have. Mind you, some babies find swaddling or cuddling too constrictive and will respond better to other forms of comfort.

Rhythm and Sound
Babies are used to the sound of your heartbeat and all the other swooshing and swishing sounds that were heard while in your womb. There are things available that will mimic these sounds but I found the vacuum cleaner also worked well! Many times my son would fall asleep in his Baby Bjorn while I was vaccuming! If you had a bola ball during your pregnancy, wear it now too! It may help soothe your baby wonderfully.

Movement
Sometimes just carrying your baby around the house will be enough to calm the crying. Rocking chairs, car rides, or baby swings are also good things to try. A great way to carry your baby for extended periods of time is with a carrier or sling. Sometimes a bit of a gentle bounce in your set can help too.

Sucking
Babies also like to suck. Nurse your baby or offer a pacifier or one of your fingers to suck on. There were times I felt like a human pacifier, but if nursing was what would calm my son, then that’s what I did.

Rubbing
Rubbing your baby’s back or tummy can be very soothing. Try this while sitting, lying down, or walking around with your baby.

Remember, crying in itself will not hurt your baby. If you have tried everything and are feeling very frustrated, sometimes it is a good idea to call someone to come and help you out. If there isn’t anyone to take over for you for a time and you are at the end of your rope, calmly place the baby in a safe place such as their crib or on a mat on the floor and leave the room for a few minutes. Take some time out for yourself. Whatever you do, never ever shake your baby.

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Using Music To Calm Your Baby

Music is a wonderful way for you to calm and soothe your baby, especially during the first year. How many times have your heard parents say that there was nothing that they could do with their crying, fussing baby until they tried music. This is because music does indeed soothe the savage beast, or in this case, the baby.

There are certain distinct sounds that have been proven to calm even fussy babies: the sounds of nature, white noise, and music. Even if your baby isn’t fussing or crying you may want to use music as often as you can to encourage that feeling of calm and peacefulness. All it takes is a few minutes every day and before you know it your baby will be looking forward to hearing that certain song emanating from the CD player.

There is nothing complicated or mysterious about introducing your baby to music from day one. You don?t need to search for the perfect song or a certain type of music. All you have to do is start by having your baby listen to your favorite songs and music. If jazz is on the top of your list, let your baby listen to the sounds of John Coltrane as he sits in his baby seat watching you in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter if you play the schmaltzy songs of the eighties or some wicked African beat, your baby is going to listen and his mood is going to be altered by any musical sound that he hears.

Besides the music that you yourself can introduce your baby to, there are hundreds of CDs on the market today that are filled with baby songs and lullabies. At the end of the day you may want to play a CD of quiet baby songs that have a slower beat. There are so many CDs for you to choose from that you will have a hard time making up your mind. Choose something that interests you. Many baby CDs will have lullabies and faster beat songs on the same CD.

Playing music has other benefits besides soothing your fussy, crying baby.
These benefits include:

– Babies are introduced to musical sounds.
– Music enhances your baby’s behavior and cognitive skills.
– Relieves stress for the entire family.
– Will stimulate curiosity and an interest in music.

Take time to find a variety of music CDs for your baby to listen to. You’ll soon notice which music your baby is most drawn to and can use that music when he is particularly fussy or is crying.

Emanuele Accenti is the author of the best-selling Ebook “Babies First Year – What Every Parents Need To Know” – and offers a free newsletter for new parents at http://www.babies1styear.com

 

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The Importance of Routines

At 8:30 p.m. at the Osborne family house in Burlington, Vermont, an exemplary bedtime process is underway. The three children are upstairs changing into their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and settling into their beds to read. There is remarkably little protest or variation. “Bedtime is the one area where our routine has not wavered,” says mom Eleanor. “Since the boys were toddlers, we’ve been doing the same thing, and now it’s automatic. This is usually the calmest period our day.”

Regular schedules provide the day with a framework that orders a young child’s world. Although predictability can be tedious for adults, children thrive on sameness and repetition. “Knowing what to expect from relationships and activities helps children become more confident,” says Dr. Peter Gorski, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachussetts.

Routines begin from the first days of life, says Susan Newman, a social psychologist in New Jersey, affecting the relationship between parent and child, setting the stage for rocky or smooth sailing as your child gets older. Babies, especially, need regular sleep and meal schedules and even routines leading up to those activities (a story every day before nap- or bedtime, for example).

As she gets older, when a child knows what is going to happen and who is going to be there, it allows her to think and feel more boldly and freely, Gorski adds. When a child does not know what to expect, his internal alarms go off. Ultimately, parents benefit as well: “Knowing what is expected cuts down on parenting struggles,” says Jodi Mindell, child psychologist and author of Sleeping through the Night (HarperCollins).

Tips for Implementing Routines
Plan regular mealtimes: “It is so valuable to the developing spirit of children to have one meal together each day as a family,” Gorski says. Sitting together at the dinner table gives children the opportunity to share their day’s experience and get support for whatever they’re feeling. The emphasis is on togetherness, so if your children need to eat earlier, at least give them dessert while you eat your meal. This is also an ideal time to introduce routines that give children responsibility, such as setting or clearing the table. Older children can be pre-dinner helpers and washer-uppers.

Wind down before bed: Consistent nightly rituals are soothing and take the battle out of bedtime. But after an exhausting day, it’s tempting to skip the preliminaries when bedtime finally approaches. Don’t, stresses Mindell: “About 20 to 30 minutes of calm, soothing, and consistent activities get children ready.” Find what works best for your child—some children are revved up by a bath or fidgety when listening to a story. Yours may prefer doing a puzzle together or listening to music. For older children, bedtime is an ideal time for conversation. My 12-year-old son likes me to sit on his bed and talk for a few minutes before he goes to sleep.

In general, make the room conducive for sleep. Set aside a time each week for room cleanup (another important routine!), when your child puts away toys and books and you change the linens.

Be consistent but flexible: Routines are essential, but allow some room for flexibility. Although the Osborne family thought their bedtime routine was a blessing, there have been some problems recently. “I was completely rigid about my oldest son’s bedtime, and he is now incapable of veering from that routine. If we are out later than his bedtime, he becomes upset,” Eleanor says.

Unexpected events, like surprise guests or errands that cannot be postponed, may result in a nap in the car seat or a skipped meal. But if we react with frustration when this happens, our kids will, too. Try to prepare your child ahead of time for the change and reassure them that things will return to normal tomorrow.

Liza Asher is a mother of four and writes on parenting issues for national magazines. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey. Copyright © 1999-2004 ClubMom, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Taking a Road Trip with Your Baby

To Grandmother’s house we go! And you’ll be in the car for five whole hours – how can you make the trip enjoyable with a baby along?

Learn about it
There’s no question: Marathon car trips with a baby on board take a good amount of planning and organization. But it can be done – and yes, it can even be fun!

Planning the trip
In the hustle that precedes a trip, it can be easy to let things happen, instead of make things happen. Be proactive in making your trip decisions. Contemplating these questions, and coming up with the right answers, can help make your trip more successful:

  • Does your baby sleep well in the car? If yes, plan your travel time to coincide with a nap or bedtime so your baby can sleep through part of the journey. If not, plan to leave immediately after a nap or upon waking in the morning. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your baby will behave differently than usual in the car just because it’s a special occasion.
  • Is it necessary to make the trip all at once, or can you break it up with stops along the way? The longer your baby is strapped in the carseat, the more likely he’ll become fussy. Planning a few breaks can keep everyone in a better frame of mind.
  • When estimating an arrival time, have you factored in plenty of extra time for unplanned surprises? A diaper explosion that requires a complete change of clothes or a baby whose inconsolable crying requires an unexpected 20-minute stop are just two of the things that can easily happen.
  • Do you have everything you need to make the trip pleasant?
    Items like:
    -Window shades to protect your baby from the sun and create a darker, nap-inducing atmosphere.
    -A cooler for cold drinks; a bottle warmer if needed.
    -Plenty of toys that are new or forgotten favorites saved just for the trip.
    -Baby-friendly music on tape or CD.
    -A rear-view baby mirror to keep on eye on baby (unless a second person will be sitting with your little one)
    -Books to read to your baby.

Preparing the car
Take plenty of time to get the car ready for your trip. If two adults are traveling, consider yourself lucky and arrange for one person to sit in the backseat next to the baby. If you are traveling alone with your little one, you’ll need to be more creative in setting up the car, and you’ll need to plan for more frequent stops along the way.

Here are a few tips for making the car a traveling entertainment center for your baby:

  • Use ribbon or yarn and safety pins or tape to hang an array of lightweight toys from the ceiling of the car to hang over your baby. An alternative is to string a line from one side of the car to the other with an array of toys attached by ribbons. Bring along an assortment of new toys that can be exchanged when you stop the car for a rest. Just be sure to use small toys and keep them out of the driver’s line of view.
  • Tape brightly colored pictures of toys on the back of the seat that your baby will be facing.
  • If no one will be sitting next to your baby and your child is old enough to reach for toys, set up an upside-down box next to the car seat with a shallow box or a tray with ledges on top of it. Fill this with toys that your baby can reach for by himself. You might also shop around for a baby activity center that attaches directly to the carseat.
  • If you plan to have someone sitting next to baby, then provide that person with a gigantic box of toys with which to entertain the little one – distraction works wonders to keep a baby happy in the car. One of the best activities for long car rides is book reading. Check your library’s early reading section; it typically features a large collection of baby-pleasing titles in paperback that are easier to tote along than board books.
  • Bring along an assortment of snacks and drinks for your older baby who’s regularly eating solids, and remember to bring food for yourself, too. Even if you plan to stop for meals, you may decide to drive on through if your baby is sleeping or content – saving the stops for fussy times.
  • Bring books on tape or quiet music for the adults for times when your baby is sleeping. The voice on tape may help keep your baby relaxed, and it will be something you can enjoy.
  • If you’ll be traveling in the dark, bring along a battery-operated nightlight or flashlight.
  • Car travel checklist
    Well-stocked diaper bag
    Baby’s blanket
    Carseat pillow or head support
    Window shades (sun screens)
    Change of clothes for your baby
    Enormous box of toys and books
    Music or books on tape or CDs
    Baby food, snacks, and drinks for your baby
    Sipper cups
    Snacks and drinks for the adults
    Cooler
    Wet washcloths in bags, or moist towelettes
    Empty plastic bags for leftovers and trash
    Bottle warmer
    Cell phone
    Baby’s regular sleep music or white noise (if needed, bring extra batteries)
    First aid kit/prescriptions/medications
    Jumper cables
    Money/wallet/purse/ID
    Medical and insurance information/emergency phone numbers
    Maps/driving directions
    Baby carrier/sling/stroller
    Camera and film
    Suitcases

During the journey
If you’ve carefully planned your trip and prepared your vehicle, you’ve already started out on the right foot. Now keep these things in mind as you make your way down the road:

  • Be flexible. When traveling with a baby, even the best-laid plans can be disrupted. Try to stay relaxed, accept changes, and go with the flow.
  • Stop when you need to. Trying to push “just a little farther” with a crying baby in the car can be dangerous, as you’re distracted and nervous. Take the time to stop and calm your baby.
  • Put safety first. Make sure that you keep your baby in his carseat. Many nursing mothers breastfeed their babies during trips. This can be dangerous in a moving car, even if you are both securely belted: You can’t foresee an accident, and your body could slam forcefully into your baby. Instead, pull over and nurse your baby while he’s still in his carseat. That way, when he falls asleep, you won’t wake him up moving him back into his seat.
  • Remember: Never, ever leave your baby alone in the car – not even for a minute.

On the way home
You may be so relieved that you lived through your trip that you sort of forget the other trip ahead of you: the trip home. You’ll need to organize the trip home as well as you did the trip out. A few days in advance, make certain that all your supplies are refilled and ready to go. Think about the best time to leave, and plan accordingly. In addition, think about what you learned on the trip to your destination that might make the trip home even easier. Is there something you wish you would have had but didn’t? Something you felt you could have done differently? Did you find yourself saying, “I wish we would have…”? Now’s the time to make any adjustments to your original travel plan so that your trip back home is pleasant and relaxed.

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

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Bullying – When the Teacher is the Bully

There is a lot of talk about bullying these days — and thank goodness there is! I have been heading up our local Pink T-Shirt Day campaign (www.pinktshirtday.ca) for the past several years in an effort to get people talking about bullying and to teach kids skills for helping to deal with things when they encounter bullying. I will be sure to talk about some of these skills in other posts as they are so very important.

One of the things we tell our children is to talk to a teacher when they feel they are being bullied or see someone else being bullied at school. But what do you do when the bully is one of the teachers?

When the Bully is the Teacher

Now, before anyone gets too excited, I do know that the majority of teachers are wonderful and have the best interests of their students at heart. However, a new friend of mine was relaying a story about when she was is school, and I realized as the story progressed that her teacher had bullied her. This really got me thinking! Looking back, I can also remember several times in my school days when kids were bullied by teachers. I really remember one boy in my class who really went through so much one year in school because our teacher really picked on him. I was young, naive, and it never would have occurred to me to tell my parents or another teacher what was happening. I doubt this little boy did either.

I know kids will often complain about their teachers, but there is a big difference between a teacher being firm, expecting the kids to pay attention, and insisting that there work be done and handed in on time, and a teacher who ridicules, taunts, or continually chastises a child. We need to be sure we really understand what is behind the complaints.

Understanding Bullying

As parents, we can help our children by letting them know that it is not ok for anyone to treat them or anyone else in a manner that feels like bullying. Make sure they know that bullying can be a combination of many different things. According to www.bullying.org, bullying is doing, saying or acting in a way that hurts someone else or makes him or her feel bad on purpose. Make sure they understand that it is not ok for a teacher or any adult to call them names, tell them they are stupid, or push them around. Make sure your kids know that they can tell you or another adult they trust if they feel their teacher is a bully.

Dealing with Bullies

So, what do we do if our child comes to us and we realize that the bully is one of their teachers? I would suggest (after you’ve had some time to calm down — I know my initial reaction would be to freak out and want to slap someone up side the head, but this would be neither appropriate or productive) talk to a few of the other parents you know and see if they have heard similar complaints from their child. Call the school and set up a meeting with the principal (and ask other parents to join you if they have the same concern) and possibly the teacher in question. Calmly and objectively tell them what your child has told you. If the principal doesn’t want take any action, or you are not satisfied with their suggested resolution, you may wish to take your concerns to the school board.

That’s my opinion, anyway. What would you do? Let me know

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Winter Time Fun with Kids!

Winter is the time of year when many of us, due to inclement weather, are forced to stay inside. If you have kids underfoot during this time of year, you are all likely to suffer a bout of cabin fever. If the winter season has left you feeling a bit down, here are a few activities to brighten your mood, and lift your spirits!

Let’s go skating!

Your little ones may be too young to ice skate, but they can enjoy an afternoon of skating right in your own home. Just slip some socks onto your child’s feet and find a non-carpeted floor. Turn on some holiday music and “skate” around the floor together. (Someone has also suggested tying coloring books to the child’s feet and “skate” on the carpeting, but I would stick to the non-carpeted method! Also, this could be a unique way to clean the floor, too!)

Match the pictures!

Find some holiday stickers. Place two identical stickers on the left and right sides of an index card and then cut the card in half, in a jig-jag form. Use a highlighter to highlight the edges. Do this with a variety of stickers. Have your child match the stickers and line up the two halves of the index cards.

Play in the snow!

If you live in an area where you get snow and you are feeling adventurous, bundle up your child and head outdoors for some snow building! You don’t have to build the traditional snowman — be creative! Try to build an animal or a house! Let your child decide what to build and then jump right in and get to work! Be sure to have a camera on hand for the finished product! Who knows? This might be a fantastic time to get that perfect holiday picture for those holiday cards you send.

Make your own cards!

You don’t have to rush out to your nearest card shop for the best holiday cards in town. Gather up some art materials, such as wrapping paper, construction paper, ribbons, bows, glitter, crayons, stickers, and more, and let your child create a personal holiday card. Help them prepare it, for mailing to that special relative or friend.

Make a holiday video!

Videotape your child while asking him or her a variety of questions. “What is your favorite holiday song?” “What is your favorite holiday food?” “What would be the best present you would like to get this year?” “How do you make holiday cookies?” You can come up with your own assortment of questions. You will be surprised and tickled by the response. This videotape would make a great gift for that out-of-town relative who does not often get the chance to see your child! What a precious keepsake, too. Imagine looking at the tape again in ten or twenty years!

Build a snowman….inside!

Grab some cotton balls and some construction paper and glue and let your child make a snowman on paper. Older children can add beads for the nose, eyes, mouth, and buttons.

Have an indoor picnic!

If you traditionally decorate your home for the holidays, spend an evening in the family room and spread out a blanket on the floor. Pack a picnic basket and enjoy the holiday spirit.

Get up and move!

I am not telling you to pack your bags! I am only telling you to re-energize yourself and get some of that excess energy out of your kids by turning on some holiday music and dancing to the beat. My three boys love to do stretching exercises with me to music. We will also do jumping jacks, run in place, and play Follow the Leader, to the beat of the music.

Wrap it up!

Too many presents to wrap and not enough time? Have your child help you wrap the gifts! (Just be sure none of the gifts you are wrapping are for your child!) My boys love to place bows on the packages and attach the gift cards. They even enjoy putting stickers on the packages. For more fun, buy plain paper and let your child decorate the paper with crayons, markers, stickers, etc., and see the joy on his or her face as you wrap gifts in the paper your child has designed!

It’s cookie time!

While making that holiday assortment of cookies, cakes, and pies, let your child sit close-by and make his or her own “treats” with Play-Doh. Your child can imitate what you are making and come up with some pretty fascinating treats, too! (Just make sure they do not eat the treats they made!)

Wintertime can be a fun time! Just look around you. There are plenty of things to do. Sometimes, you might get lucky enough and find the temperature rising to a place where you and your child can comfortably dash outside. But, once those cold winter winds come around again, just enjoy the precious time you and your child will have together. These days come around only once. Be creative. Let your child have some input as to what he or she wants to do. Sometimes, they can be much more creative than we can!

Have a beautiful and blessed holiday season!

Ann E Butenas is a stay-at-home mom of three preschool-age boys. She has an undergraduate degree in Communications, a post-bachelor paralegal certificate, and a Master’s in Business Management. She earned the latter during her first two pregnancies while running an at-home business at the same time. She has been professionally published as a writer since the age of 12. Ann currently owns and operates ANZ Publications, a publications business specializing in family-riented projects. Her most recent project includes a very unique medical and dental records binder….a great way to keep track of a child’s complete medical history from birth through adolescence. Visit the site at http://www.anzpublications.com. ANZ is an acronym, by the way, for her son’s Alec, Noah, and Zach. It is pronounced as “Ann’s,” for her first name, but spelled as such to include the boys! Her website showcases her new book.

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First Week Home with Baby

The first week of your baby’s life brings big adjustments for both of you. You are adjusting to being a mother and caring for your baby and your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb. It is a time of great joy — and possibly immense fear! Although you’ve been preparing for the birth of your baby for months, now he is here and depending on you for everything which can seem overwhelming. Don’t expect too much of yourself during these first days! If anyone offers you help — take it!

During your baby’s first few weeks of life, he will be concentrating on getting to know you and his surroundings. Your baby needs to be handled so that life outside the womb seems as little different as possible to life inside the womb. Your baby’s needs, while they may seem overwhelming to you, are really simple: food, warmth and comfort from cuddling. Wrap him snugly and warmly, hold him closely, handle him slowly, and feed him when he’s hungry. Your baby will have the routing and sucking reflexes as well as tongue thrust. These are needed to get nourishment from the breast or bottle. You can also use this time to bond with your baby with lots of skin to skin contact.

Whether you decide to breast or bottle feed, feeding in the first few weeks is not an effortless process. Try to have early feeding sessions in a quiet setting with as few distractions as possible. Make sure you are in a comfortable position as it takes new babies a while to eat and you don’t want to end up stiff and sore. Cuddle and caress your baby as feeding time is a wonderful opportunity to show your baby how much he is loved.

If you are breastfeeding, be patient while you and your baby are getting the hang of it! The benefits of breastfeeding are many and in order for it to be successful, it is important to start out right. Keep in mind though it may take several weeks until you both feel comfortable and get a feeding schedule down.

Most new moms feel and experience:

  • Exhaustion!
  • Bloody vaginal discharge for the first week or so
  • Discomfort or pain in the perineal area if you had a vaginal delivery
  • Incision pain or numbness if you had a cesarean delivery
  • Abdominal cramping (afterpains) as the uterus contracts
  • Elation or depression or swings between both
  • Breast discomfort or engorgement
  • Fears about your adequacy as a mother
  • Profuse sweating after the first couple of days

Although it may be tempting to try to be a ‘supermom’, now is not the time. The best advice that I received as an new mom was to accept the help of others, eat regular meals and sleep when the baby sleeps. Now it’s my turn to pass that advice on to you.

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The Importance of the Father/Child Bond

One of the most magical moments of my life was being at the birth of my child. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I remember watching him squirm and cry as he met the world. I remember how he paused to listen to my voice as I whispered my love for him and commitment to him. To this day, spending time with my kids continues to be one of my favorite activities. To not spend time with my children is unfathomable.

For many fathers, this isn’t the case. They sit in hospital waiting rooms, clapping each other on the back and congratulating one another on a job well done, while their child enters the world without their father next to them. The day after the delivery and every day after are filled with missed opportunities to bond with their child and influence the directions they will take in life. They rationalize that they are sacrificing for their family by working long hours and justify their emotional distance as modeling how to survive in the “cold, cruel world.” Food on the table and a roof over head is nice but nothing makes up for loving, nurturing relationships with one’s father.

How do fathers build this bond? What barriers stand in the way? And, what are some practical tools to help fathers strengthen their children intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically? To help me answer these questions, I asked for advice from dad’s who have a close bond with their children. How do I know they have a close bond? I asked their wives!

How do you bond with your child?

In response to this question, all of the fathers answered alike. They stated that the best way to bond was simply to spend time with a child. What you do is not as important as doing something.

They divided activities up into four main areas: Physical, Intellectual, Social, and Spiritual. A balance of these four areas would result in a child having a happier, healthier life. Physical activities are the most familiar to fathers and include working around the house together, sharing a hobby, coaching an athletic team, exercising together, and going places together. Intellectual activities focus on being involved in a child’s academics, participating in school related activities, encouraging hard work, and modeling yourself as a their primary teacher of life. Social activities centered on talking with children, sharing feelings and thoughts, demonstrating appropriate affection and manners, and getting to know your child’s friends. Spiritual activities are used the least by dad’s but have the most power to influence a child. These activities incorporate reading spiritual stories together, going to church or the synagogue, praying with children, establishing rules and order, being consistent and available, and exploring the mysteries of nature.

What is difference between the father/child bond and the mother/child bond?

It was quickly apparent from the surveys that dad’s have a different approach or style to bonding than mom’s. Dad’s have a more rough and tumble approach to physical interaction or may spend time in more physical activities such as play or working on a project together. Competition was also seen more in father/child bonding and was considered healthy if used in small doses and with sensitivity to a child’s temperament and abilities. Sportsmanship, but not necessary sports activities, was regarded as an essential ingredient in the development of a child’s characters. While the approach may differ, the need for bonding with mom and dad is equally significant. One dad joked that other than a couple of biological differences (e.g., giving birth or breastfeeding) he couldn’t see one as more important than the other.

What barriers prevent fathers from achieving a bond with their child?

All of the fathers agreed that work and the mismanagement of time were the biggest robbers of relationships with children. No one discounted a father’s responsibility to provide for his family, but all of them maintained that a healthy balance is needed between work and family. They felt that society makes it easy to use one’s career as an escape. Social influences tend to value the bond a child has with mom to be more important than with dad. But none of the dad’s questioned felt this barrier to be insurmountable. Eliminating barriers in society begins in the home. Dads must demonstrate that being involved in the home is important to them before society will start treating dads as important to the home. Dads need to take the initiative to change a diaper, clean up after dinner, give the kids their bath, and do the laundry. The collective effect of these “small” acts will ripple out into society to create “bigger” change.

Can a father bond with a child if they did not have a father growing up?

The entire group affirmed that not having a father would make it more difficult but not impossible to bond with a child. According to one dad, bonding is more of an innate need or spiritual drive, than simply a learned behavior. Therefore, fatherless fathers are not doomed to repeat their own childhood experiences. Another dad suggested “getting excited” by the little things that make a child excited or happy. Getting down on the child’s level, regressing to those early moments in life when you were a child, and sharing simple pleasures with your child will foster the bonding missed the first time around.

In summary, it is clear that the bond between a father and a child is an important one. Barriers, such as social values and absent fathers make bonding with children difficult but not impossible. Children need the unique style of bonding that fathers can provide and fathers can build that bond by spending time engaging in physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual activities.

Ron Huxley is a licensed family therapist, author, speaker, and father of four! Get more power tools for dad to build up your family relationships today at http://parentingtoolbox.com or http://angertoolbox.com

“Real” Fathers Day Gifts for Dads

by Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC

Fathers are becoming more involved in their families today. They have a deep desire to connect emotionally with their families. However, they often lack the skills to do so. Here are ten “gift ideas” for Father’s Day to help the father in your life to relax, enjoy, and to connect with other loved ones:

1. Admire what they do
Fathers do need to have their ego stroked and to have their families notice the quality of their work or other accomplishments. Letting them know will have their spirits soar.

2. Encourage them to share their life with their families.
Fathers often don’t easily share their everyday life within their families. It may seem “boring” to them to share the events of the day. Encouraging Dad to share will help others feel closer to him. And, it will be more likely they’ll share their lives with him!

3. Give him the gift of food
Are their Dads out there who don’t love to eat? Cook him a great meal, or take him out to dinner. A father with good food in front of him is a happy father.

4. Talk to him using a “bottom line” approach
Fathers like to get to the point. It’s harder for them to follow long, detailed stories. At least for one day, get right to the point concerning what you’re telling him. He’ll appreciate it, and he won’t stress about missing the details!

5. Be patient with him as he learns to raise his kids
Fathers aren’t always the most skilled at effective parenting, especially during the early stages. Be patient with him as he makes mistakes. If he feels criticized, he may lose hope and give up an opportunity to learn and grow. Gentle encouragement helps.

6. Ask him to get involved in an activity
Fathers love to be active, and they often connect with others by “doing something.” Ask the Dad in your family to go on a bike ride or go to a game. As long as their active, Dads are pretty happy.

7. Provide him with “vegetable time”
We don’t mean gardening here! Yes, dads like to be active, but they also like to vegetate sometimes. Give Dad some time to do nothing, and he’ll curl up and do nothing with the best of them!

8. Give him a romantic evening.
Fathers feel like handymen in their homes at times. Nothing will snap them out of that as quickly as a romantic evening. And, this isn’t over when the dinner or movie ends. It ends when he has permission to follow his biological urge after making love—sleeping!

9. Touch him
Dads love to be hugged and touched by their family members. And even if they don’t act like they do, hug them anyway! It helps them to leave their heads and enter their hearts.

10. Give him new power tools
OK, this one doesn’t really help him connect with others, but it does satisfy some deep urge within him. And if it makes him feel good, why not?

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches busy parents by phone to balance their life and improve their family relationships. For a FREE twenty minute sample session by phone; ebooks, courses, articles, and a FREE newsletter, go to http://www.markbrandenburg.com. or email him at mark@markbrandenburg.com.

When Kids Cooperate

By Rae Pica

Given a choice, preschoolers prefer cooperative activities to competitive ones. Indeed, Scott Scheer, an associate professor at Ohio State University, contends humans actually have a “cooperative imperative” – a desire to work with others toward mutual goals that can run the spectrum from conceiving a child to sending a rocket to the moon.

In fact, using MRI technology to determine the effects of both competition and cooperation, scientists at Emory University recently found that when people collaborate, the brain sends out pleasure responses. Alfie Kohn, in No Contest: The Case Against Competition, identifies a great deal of research demonstrating cooperation’s positive effects on both social and emotional development.

He says cooperation:

  • is more conducive to psychological health.
  • leads to friendlier feelings among participants.
  • promotes a feeling of being in control of one’s life.
  • increases self-esteem.
  • results in greater sensitivity and trust toward others.
  • increases motivation.

When children are given the chance to work together toward a solution or common goal – whether creating a game or building a human pyramid – they know they each contribute to the success of the venture. Each child realizes he or she plays a vital role in the outcome, and each accepts the responsibility of fulfilling that role. They also learn to become tolerant of others’ ideas and to accept the similarities and differences of other children.

Furthermore, cooperative activities seldom cause the feelings of inferiority that can result from the comparisons made during competition. On the contrary, because cooperative and noncompetitive activities lead to a greater chance for success, they generate greater confidence in children.

Unlike competition, which research shows can foster antisocial behavior, cooperation has been determined to promote prosocial behaviors. Steve Grineski, author of Cooperative Learning in Physical Education, says the social skills needed for cooperative learning include:

  • listening to others
  • resolving conflict
  • supporting and encouraging others
  • taking turns
  • expressing enjoyment in the success of others
  • demonstrating the ability to criticize ideas, not individuals.

Nature or Nurture?

Is the drive to compete human nature, as is commonly believed; or is it learned?

One study indicates gender identify, which is typically established by the age of 3, plays a role in whether children are naturally cooperative or competitive. Preschool girls, according to the study, are cooperative, caring, and supportive of one another when learning new movement skills. They aren’t interested in competing or succeeding at someone else’s expense and actually seem to learn less efficiently when competition is introduced.

Preschool boys, on the other hand, are interested in how well they perform and in how their abilities compare to those of their classmates. However, the study further indicates the differences in the boys’ and girls’ behavior may indeed be dictated by society and culture, as Asian preschoolers of both genders tended to be cooperative and supportive.

An essay by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times supports this latter contention. Kristof tells a hilarious story about trying to teach the game of musical chairs to a group of five-year-old Japanese children, who kept politely stepping out of the way so others could sit in their chairs. This would certainly seem to indicate that “dog-eat-dog” is taught in some societies — and not taught in others.

About Cooperative Games

Terry Orlick, author of The Second Cooperative Sports and Games Book, has long been a proponent of cooperative games. He writes that games can be “a beautiful way to bring people together. However, if you distort children’s play by rewarding excessive competition, physical aggression against others, cheating, and unfair play, you distort children’s lives.” On the other hand, about cooperative games, he says the concept is simple: “People play with one another rather than against one another; they play to overcome challenges, not to overcome other people; and they are freed by the very structure of the games to enjoy the play experience itself. No player need find himself or herself a bench warmer nursing a bruised self-image. Since the games are designed so that cooperation among payers is necessary to achieve the objective(s) of the game, children play together for common ends rather than against one another for mutually exclusive ends. In the process, they learn in a fun way how to become more considerate of one another, more aware of how other people are feeling, and more willing to operate in one another’s best interests.”

Rae Pica is a children’s movement specialist and the author of Your Active Child: How to Boost Physical, Emotional, and Cognitive Development through Age-Appropriate Activity (McGraw-Hill, 2003). You can visit Rae at www.movingandlearning.com.

Newborn Babies and Sleep

By Elizabeth Pantley

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby. This is a glorious time in your life. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, you will find this a time of recovery, adjustment, sometimes confusion and frustration, but – most wonderfully – of falling in love.

Babies younger than four months old have very different sleep needs than older babies. This article will help you understand your newborn baby’s developing sleep patterns, and will help you develop reasonable expectations when it comes to your baby and sleep.

Read, Learn, and Beware of Bad Advice
babyAbsolutely everyone has an opinion about how you should handle sleep issues with your new baby. The danger to a new parent is that these tidbits of misguided advice (no matter how well-intentioned) can truly have a negative effect on our parenting skills and, by extension, our babies’ development…if we are not aware of the facts. The more knowledge you have the less likely that other people will make you doubt your parenting decisions.

When you have your facts straight, and when you have a parenting plan, you will be able to respond with confidence to those who are well-meaning but offering contrary or incorrect advice. So, your first step is to get smart! Know what you are doing, and know why you are doing it. Read books and magazines, attend classes or support groups – it all helps.

The Biology of Newborn Sleep
During the early months of your baby’s life, he sleeps when he is tired, it’s really that simple. You can do very little to force a new baby to sleep when he doesn’t want to sleep, and conversely, you can do little to wake him up when he is sleeping soundly.

A very important point to understand about newborn babies is that they have very, very tiny tummies. New babies grow rapidly, their diet is liquid, and it digests quickly. Formula digests quickly and breast milk digests even more rapidly. Although it would be nice to lay your little bundle down at a predetermined bedtime and not hear a peep from him until morning, even the most naïve among us know that this is not a realistic goal for a tiny baby. Newborns need to be fed every two to four hours – and sometimes more.

During those early months, your baby will have tremendous growth spurts that affect not only daytime, but also nighttime feeding as well, sometimes pushing that two- to four-hour schedule to a one- to two-hour schedule around the clock.

Sleeping “through the night”
You have probably heard that babies should start “sleeping through the night” at about two to four months of age. What you must understand is that, for a new baby, a five-hour stretch is a full night. Many (but nowhere near all) babies at this age can sleep uninterrupted from midnight to 5 a.m. (Not that they always do.) A far cry from what you may have thought “sleeping through the night” meant!

What’s more, while the scientific definition of “sleeping through the night” is five hours, most of us wouldn’t consider that anywhere near a full night’s sleep for ourselves. Also, some of these sleep-through-the-nighters will suddenly begin waking more frequently, and it’s often a full year or even two until your little one will settle into a mature, all-night, every night sleep pattern.

Falling Asleep at the Breast or Bottle
It is very natural for a newborn to fall asleep while sucking at the breast, a bottle, or a pacifier. When a baby always falls asleep this way, he learns to associate sucking with falling asleep; over time, he cannot fall asleep any other way. I have heard a number of sleep experts refer to this as a “negative sleep association.” I certainly disagree, and so would my baby. It is probably the most positive, natural, pleasant sleep association a baby can have. However, a large percentage of parents who are struggling with older babies who cannot fall asleep or stay asleep are fighting this natural and powerful sucking-to-sleep association.

Therefore, if you want your baby to be able to fall asleep without your help, it is essential that you sometimes let your newborn baby suck until he is sleepy, but not totally asleep. When you can, remove the breast, bottle, or pacifier from his mouth and let him finish falling asleep without something in his mouth. When you do this, your baby may resist, root, and fuss to regain the nipple. It’s perfectly okay to give him back the breast, bottle, or pacifier and start over a few minutes later. If you do this often enough, he will eventually learn how to fall asleep without sucking.

Waking for Night Feedings
Many pediatricians recommend that parents shouldn’t let a newborn sleep longer than three or four hours without feeding, and the vast majority of babies wake far more frequently than that. (There are a few exceptional babies who can go longer.) No matter what, your baby will wake up during the night. The key is to learn when you should pick her up for a night feeding and when you can let her go back to sleep on her own.

This is a time when you need to focus your instincts and intuition. This is when you should try very hard to learn how to read your baby’s signals. Here’s a tip that is critically important for you to know. Babies make many sleeping sounds, from grunts to whimpers to outright cries, and these noises don’t always signal awakening. These are what I call sleeping noises, and your baby is nearly or even totally asleep during these episodes. I remember when my first baby, Angela, was a newborn. Her cry awakened me many times, yet she was asleep in my arms before I even made it from cradle to rocking chair. She was making sleeping noises. In my desire to respond to my baby’s every cry, I actually taught her to wake up more often!

You need to listen and watch your baby carefully. Learn to differentiate between these sleeping sounds and awake and hungry sounds. If she is awake and hungry, you’ll want to feed her as quickly as possible. If you respond immediately when she is hungry, she will most likely go back to sleep quickly. But, if you let her cry escalate, she will wake herself up totally, and it will be harder and take longer for her to go back to sleep. Not to mention that you will then be wide awake, too!

Help Your Baby Distinguish Day from Night
A newborn baby sleeps about sixteen to eighteen hours per day, and this sleep is distributed evenly over six to seven brief sleep periods. You can help your baby distinguish between nighttime sleep and daytime sleep, and thus help him sleep longer periods at night.

Begin by having your baby take his daytime naps in a lit room where he can hear the noises of the day, perhaps a bassinet or cradle located in the main area of your home. Make nighttime sleep dark and quiet. You can also help your baby differentiate day naps from night sleep by using a nightly bath and a change into sleeping pajamas to signal the difference between the two.

Watch for Signs of Tiredness
One way to encourage good sleep is to get familiar with your baby’s sleepy signals and put her down to sleep as soon as she seems tired. A baby cannot put herself to sleep, nor can she understand her own sleepy signs. Yet a baby who is encouraged to stay awake when her body is craving sleep is typically an unhappy baby. Over time, this pattern develops into sleep deprivation, which further complicates your baby’s developing sleep maturity. Learn to read your baby’s sleepy signs — such as quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, and fussing — and put her to bed when that window of opportunity presents itself.

Make Yourself Comfortable
I’ve yet to hear a parent tell me that she or he loves getting up throughout the night to tend to a baby’s needs. As much as we adore our little bundles, it’s tough when you’re woken up over and over again, night after night. Since it’s a fact that your baby will be waking you up, you may as well make yourself as comfortable as possible. The first step is to learn to relax about night wakings right now. Being stressed or frustrated about having to get up won’t change a thing. The situation will improve day by day; and before you know it, your little newborn won’t be so little anymore – she’ll be walking and talking and getting into everything in sight…during the day, and sleeping peacefully all night long.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No Cry Sleep Solution Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002 Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth