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Tips for Newborn Parents

newborn

Having a baby is a life-changing experience. Not only will having a baby completely change your world, but they are also expensive. The constant diaper changes, cleaning products, food and clothing from each stage of your baby’s growth will go into the thousands of dollars.

Here are a few tips for raising a healthy newborn baby, while also saving you some money.

Healthy Food Choices for a Newborn Baby

Obviously, babies need milk and food to grow. Manufacturers have seemingly made it easy for parents in today’s society, as they promise that all of the nutrition a newborn baby needs is available in a jar of food, or from a powdered milk source. However, according to many experts, breast milk is the best source of nutrition for a newborn baby. It is the richest source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which supports the brain development in a baby.

Some experts recommend that breast milk exclusively be fed for the first six months, then alternate between breastfeeding and food until the age of two; however, some mothers continue to breastfeed their baby for longer. Breast milk is the perfect temperature for a baby, plus it saves a mother time, energy and money. After all, it’s free!

As your baby gets a bit older and you want to ensure they receive the highest levels of nutrition possible, then fresh food is best. Cook meals from scratch. Blend chicken, potatoes, carrots, and gravy for a tasty meal that your baby will grow to love. Pureed fruit, including apples and mixed berries, is a healthy dessert choice to feed your baby. Another good choice is rice pudding. Remember that meals cooked from scratch do not contain preservatives, and are much less expensive than manufactured foods.

Safe Products to Use on a Newborn Baby

It is very important that a baby receives healthy fats during their growth. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is abundant in breast milk. A rich source of monolaurin (immune boosting properties) is coconut oil. Rubbing this nourishing oil into your baby’s skin will heal rashes and skin irritations. It is important that you remember the skin is the largest organ in the human body and the skin of a baby is precious.

Baby oil contains mineral oil, plus synthetic fragrance. When applied to the skin, mineral oil blocks the pores and does not allow the skin to breathe. The skin must release toxins through perspiration and if a baby is unable to release toxins, they may be more prone to illness and infection. Healthier oils to use on a baby include coconut oil, shea butter, and Vitamin E oil. Stick to gentle products that are paraben and fragrance-free, made with nourishing oils, including sunflower seed, wheat germ, grape seed, and canola oil.

Using a jogging stroller could be great for you and your baby. It maintains your active lifestyle and will get you out of the house at a time in your life when you may be overwhelmed through responsibility.

To help your newborn baby getting better sleep, use the Baby Shusher. It works like magic, and will save you hours of frustration trying to get your newborn baby to sleep. Swaddling can also help your baby sleep better and longer. Your baby may jerk in their sleep. This is normal and is their startle reflex. Swaddling can help prevent your baby from waking themselves up when they jerk.

Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

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Establishing a Sleeping Routine

baby sleeping routine

It’s not unusual for newborns to have strange sleeping habits, particularly for them to want to sleep during the day and stay awake at night. If you are a new parent, you’ve likely received advice from many parents on how to achieve a sleeping schedule. If your baby’s sleeping habits need some adjustment, here are some ways to get your baby on track.

  1. Don’t keep quiet during the day when he’s sleeping – When your baby sleeps during the day (and all babies will) leave the door to his room open, and go about your normal daily routine. Keep the television or stereo on. This will accomplish two things. First, he will learn to sleep even through the noise, which is important, since this child will be taking naps in your home for four or five years. Secondly, he will get the idea that the daytime is not the right time for long periods of sleep.
  2. Start slow. Your baby doesn’t need a bedtime routine right away. A newborn will sleep a lot when first brought home. They will not sleep for several hours in a row because of their eating needs. After a month or so, try starting a nightly routine. For example, bath time, massaging, feeding, and then singing a lullaby.
  3. If your baby sleeps more than three hours at a stretch, wake them. Babies should nap during the day, of course, but more than three hours is not a nap. Once your baby is awake, sing or talk to your baby to keep them awake. This is a great time to put him on a mat for some tummy time if it’s not feeding time. Now, of course, the second half of this problem is the staying awake at night. This is going to take some time, and babies usually make some significant adjustments within about three weeks, though you will be getting up for feedings at least once at night for a bit longer.
  4. Put him in bassinet or cradle for the first few weeks. A crib can seem huge to a newborn, so you might find that he sleeps much better in the coziness of a smaller space.
  5. Give him some soothing sounds. Not only will this act as a sort of “white noise” to block out other sounds, it will also be soothing to him. Soft, classical music works well, but so can the constant hum of a fan or the Baby Shusher.
  6. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature. If your baby too cold or too warm, just like the rest of us, they will not sleep as well.
  7. Establishing a routine. Your child will sleep better if they have an established sleeping routine for day and night. Put your baby down for naps at the same time each day, and put them down for bed at the same time each night. Create some bedtime habits that will signal to the baby that bedtime is near. A bath or a story can be a nice way to wind down and get ready for restful sleep.

Sleeping habits are a challenge for most new parents, primarily because you’re so tired yourself. One word of advice – don’t try to make baby sleep at night by not allowing him to nap during the day. It will backfire. Babies need lots of sleep, and naps are a critical part of this. Just don’t let your baby sleep for too long at a stretch during the day. Give it some time, and take some naps yourself, and before you know it, everyone will be sleeping soundly through the night.

Photo by Carlo Navarro on Unsplash

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Protecting your Child from Heat Exhaustion

playground

What is Heat Exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is when the internal temperature of the body overheats passed the normal body temperature about of 98.6°F. This can happen when a person is outdoors, in the sun, for too long, dehydration, wearing clothes that prevent your sweat from evaporating from your body. Your body sweats in order to cool your body’s temperature. Children 5 and under are at a higher risk of overheating.

What are the Signs or Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion in Children?

Signs of overheating are slightly different in young children than in adults. For adults, symptoms can include muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and more. As for children, look for these warning signs:

  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid breathing
  • Irritability
  • Clammy skin
  • Dehydration

Treatment for Heat Exhaustion in Children

If you believe your child is at risk of heat exhaustion, take your child inside where it is air-conditioned or move them to the shade. Have them drink a sports drink to increase electrolytes. To cool their internal temperature quicker, give them a cool bath or wipe their body down with a cool washcloth. After you wipe them down, sit them in front of a fan. You may need to remove clothing so that their body can cool quicker.

As always, seek medical attention if needed. If your child’s temperature reaches 105°F seek medical attention immediately.

How can I prevent Heat Exhaustion?

  • Take plenty of breaks in the shade or inside
  • Drink lots of fluids (especially water)
  • Wear light, airy clothing

Photo by Ostap Senyuk on Unsplash

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Awareness on the Dangers of Forgetting Kids in Cars

driving

You may be thinking, “I’ll never forget that I have my child with me in the car.” Most deaths related to hot cars are not intentional. Parents who have had these accidents happen to them probably said the same thing before. It is human nature to forget things from time to time. And, it is better to be safe than sorry. It only takes forgetting your child one time for a fatal accident to happen. Afterall, your child is irreplaceable. A few states have even made it illegal to leave children in the car unattended.

On average, 37 children die from a heat stroke from being trapped in hot vehicles a year according to kidsandcars.org. We’ve put together a list of ways you can prevent accidentally forgetting about your child in the backseat.

  1. Leave your left shoe in the backseat.
  2. Place your cell phone, purse, bag, etc. in the backseat.
  3. Put the diaper bag in the front seat after putting your baby in their car seat.
  4. Talk to your child while driving to your destination.
  5. The BackSeat App
  6. Kars4Kids Safety App
  7. Car seat alarms, reminder key fobs, etc.

All of these tips and ideas remind you to check your backseat before leaving your car.

More backseat reminder technologies can be found at fatherly.com.

Photo by Samuel Foster on Unsplash

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Hacks for Kids on Family Roadtrips

roadtrip

Let’s be frank. Kids + traveling can be a headache sometimes! In their defense, it isn’t their fault. They’re not used to being confined to sitting in their carseats for long hours at a time. We have gathered a list of essentials you need to make your family roadtrips easier and keep your sanity!

Portable DVD Player or Tablet

Purchasing a portable DVD player may be the best investment of your life. All jokes aside, your kids can watch their favorite movies (on repeat if necessary) and will be totally content doing so. This could buy you at least an hour or more into your trip, and by then, someone will likely need a potty break.

If your kids have their own tablets or can use yours, download fun children’s games for them to play. Or, download the endless amounts of kids movies for them to watch on Netflix.

Baby Shusher

Packing your Baby Shusher is a great idea because it helps calm, soothe, and end their crying spell. The device is Doctor approved and tested too! It will help keep your baby calm if you need to find a place to pull over to check on your baby.

Favorite Toy

Bringing their favorite toy on the trip is a no-brainer. Your kids can play with their favorite toy for a good chunk of time.

Bottle or Sippy Cup Strap

Keeping your kid’s bottle or sippy cup close and easy for them to reach is a must! It saves you from having to pull over and find where their drink rolled to in the car. The Dropper Stopper is perfect for the job!

Pacifier Clip

If your baby uses a pacifier, you know very well how frequently and easy it can fall out of their mouth. Much like the Dropper Stopper, the Binki Band clips to your baby’s clothes so the pacifier isn’t going anywhere!

Activity Books

These are so much fun for kids! You can make your own (thank you Pinterest!) or buy them from places like Walmart, Target, Barnes and Noble, or even Amazon. Kids especially enjoy the no-mess painting books. Another idea, pack their favorite coloring books and a handful of crayons.

Diaper and Wipe Clutch

Using a diaper and wipe clutch can save you from having to lug the entire diaper bag into a changing room or station in a restroom. The Tushy Tote can hold diapers, wipes, and any cream or ointment you may need. Aside from diaper changes, the Tushy Tote can also hold small toys, books, crayons, and more!

Kids Music/Podcasts/Stories

Load up your phone with plenty of kids music, podcasts, or books to listen to! Music-hack: download their favorite cartoon/TV show theme song. This is sure to keep them happy! You can download children books via Audible or another service you may use already.

Favorite Blanket and Pillow

Packing their favorite blanket and pillow is just like their favorite toy. Your kids will likely fall asleep if they have the blanket and pillow they’re used to sleeping with already. This will also help to make them more comfortable in the car ride.

Snacks and Drinks

Bring plenty of snacks and drinks! Buying these from a gas station or convenience store can get expensive. Packing some you may already have at home, or buying them in bulk at the store can save you time and money!

 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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Father’s Day Gifts Kids can Make

father's day

This Father’s Day, let your kids handmake their gifts for Dad! Arts and crafts are a wonderful way for your child to stretch their imagination and creativity. We’ve compiled a list of crafts your kids can make and have a blast doing so!

Paint a Picture

Pinterest has a ton of ideas if you need help thinking of an idea. Give your child a paintbrush, paint, paper, and let them paint freely. Or, have a more structured painting by using painters tape to write the word ‘Dad’. Once your child has painted their picture, peel the tape off, and voila, a gift for Dad!

Photoshoot

Take photos of your kids holding the letters ‘D-A-D’ or ‘We love you’. Print them out, frame it, and it’s a quick and easy gift.

Candy Jar

If you are pressed for time, fill a jar full of Dad’s favorite sweet treat and tie some ribbon around the lid.

Why We Love You

Let your kids made a card by using paper and crayons or paint. Have your children tell you reasons they love their Dad and write them down on the card, or if they can write on their own, ask them to write them on the card.

Cook a Meal or Bake a Sweet

Your kids can help you cook Dad’s favorite meal for dinner or his favorite dessert. They can help stir the pot or mix the cookie dough!

Plan a Scavenger Hunt

Your kids can make small gifts for Dad and help you hide them around the house. Write down a list of clues that Dad can follow to find each of his Father’s Day gifts.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

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Babyproofing your Home Before they Start Crawling

babyproof, childproof

When babies are able to crawl or pull themselves up, their curious hands are into everything they can grab. Before you start babyproofing your home, make a list of areas or things that will need to be rearranged or covered. Making a list will help keep track of the danger areas and save you from forgetting. Here is a list of areas that you may want to consider babyproofing.

Cabinets, Drawers, and Furniture

If it can be opened, your baby will open it. Make sure lower level cabinets are free from kitchenware that is breakable, has small parts, or sharp. This could be items such as a glass measuring cup or a food processor blade. Or, make sure your cleaning supplies are removed from under the kitchen sink and stored in a higher cabinet that only you can access.

If there are any drawers your baby can open, make sure the items in the drawer are not harmful. Your baby may also use drawers to help them climb. To give you peace of mind, make sure all furniture is secured to the wall to prevent the furniture from falling on your child. If you have a cabinet or drawer that you do not want your baby to have access to, you can buy locks to prevent your baby from opening it.

Crib

When your baby can pull themselves up or crawl, it is time to lower the crib to its lowest setting. Remove anything that you think your baby may use to help them climb out of their crib. This could be items such as crib toys or crib bumpers. Babies can suffer serious injuries if they successfully climb their way to fall out of their crib.

Pets

If your family has pets, make sure their food and water are put in a place your baby cannot access. Keep the cat’s litter box in an area your baby cannot access as well.

Electrical Outlets

Small parts, toys, or little fingers may find their way to an electrical outlet. To prevent a fatal accident, use outlet plug covers to keep your baby safe.

Stairs

If your home has stairs, consider getting a baby gate to prevent them from taking a tumble down the stairs. Consequently, serious injuries can come from falling down the stairs, and a baby gate can give you an extra layer of security in your home.

Sharp-edged Tables

Unfortunately, babies are likely to bang their head against the edges of coffee tables, dining tables, dressers, counters, and more. Prevent this from hurting your baby by using corner guards or padding to cushion their head.

As always, let your baby explore, get into things, and make messes as this is how they learn and grow. However, be cognizant or aware of your baby’s surroundings and keep a close eye on them. It is a good idea to keep emergency phone numbers in a place you can locate quickly and efficiently.

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Baby Food- Making Your Own

baby eating

Making your own baby food at home can be an exciting and fun process. There are many benefits to making your own baby food as well. Contrary to popular belief, making your own baby food can be inexpensive.

When your baby is ready to start incorporating solids into their diet, this is the perfect way to introduce new foods, flavors, and get them used to eating what the rest of your family is eating too. Babies can normally start having solids when they are around 4 to 6 months old, but it is always the best idea to ask your pediatrician for clearance.

There are several commercialized at-home baby food making tools such as blenders, mills, mashers all specifically for making your own baby food. However, if you do not want to make an investment into a kitchen gadget, you can simply use a fork, potato masher, or another utensil for mashing.

How To Prepare Your Own Baby Food

Before starting the process, please make sure any cookware, utensils, surfaces, and your hands are clean and free of germs. If you are planning on using produce such as apples or sweet potatoes, please make sure those are washed as you normally would before consuming them. Of course, you will want to remove any seeds, peels, pits, etc. from the produce. Herbs and spices such as cinnamon can be added to enhance the flavor, but be sure to ask your pediatrician before incorporating any herbs and spices. Things such as salt, pepper, butter, or sugars should not be added to any baby food.

Applesauce Recipe

1: Peel the apple(s), remove the seeds and core, and then cut into small pieces

2: Put the small apple pieces into a pot and fill with water until the apple pieces are completely underwater

3: Boil/steam until tender, check the water level and stir frequently

4: Apples may be mashed with a potato masher or fork until they have an applesauce-like consistency. If your masher or fork does not achieve a puree type of consistency, then follow steps 5-7

5: Reserve any left over water to use for thinning out the apples

6: Place the boiled or steamed apples into a food processor, blender, or other appliance to puree the fruit

7: Add the reserved water as needed to achieve a thin puree

Any grains or baby cereals will need to be ground first and then cooked as directed. Liquids such as water or breast milk can be added to thin out the grains as needed.

Meat and poultry should be trimmed of any fat or skin and remove the bones. Meat and poultry can be cooked, pureed, and added to vegetable purees that your baby already loves such as peas or sweet potatoes.

Storing Homemade Baby Food

Baby food will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and in the freezer for 3 months. For easy serving, store baby food in single serving containers or silicone ice cube trays. Pop the single serving into the microwave and defrost, or place the baby food in the fridge to defrost overnight the prior day. Never refreeze food once it has been thawed.

Benefits of Making your Own Baby Food

The primary benefit of making your own baby food is knowing what exactly you will be feeding your baby. It is no secret that pre-packaged consumables at grocery stores have some type of preservatives to help the product last longer on the shelves.

Another benefit that gives peace of mind is that you get to choose your own produce to put into your baby’s food.

By making your own baby food, your baby can try eating new things that pre-packaged baby food does not have such as avocado or melons.

Saving your family money could be another benefit of making your own baby food. This all depends on what you buy, season, or even location.

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9 Signs of a Gifted Child

Being the parent of and raising a gifted child can be very exciting and rewarding — yet just as daunting as well. But first, how do you as a parent recognize the signs of a gifted child? Definitions and perceptions of what exactly constitutes a gifted child vary among those experts in this field of child development and education.

Gifted children will generally not only require some modifications to the teaching they receive, but will also require parenting modification as well in order to develop optimally. Many times because gifted children will still develop physically and emotionally at an average rate, this will present some interesting dilemmas for both parents and teachers.

However, as with any child that would have special needs, early recognition and proper intervention play a key role in supporting a gifted child.

Some early signs of giftedness may include:

  1. Has an advanced specific talent with numbers and math or perhaps can draw exceptionally realistic pictures.
  2. Early and advanced language, vocabulary, and memory skills.
  3. An advanced or intense sense of curiosity.
  4. A long attention span.
  5. High level of activity (although hyperactive children display high levels of activity, theirs is usually one combined with a short attention span).
  6. Reaches child development skills well ahead of their peers.
  7. Functions at a high level not needing as much sleep (infancy).
  8. At an early age easily reacts to (recognize) their caregiver.
  9. At some point the child may begin to sense they are different and display signs of withdrawal.

The child could possibly show signs of frustrations as their ability to express themselves (emotional development) isn’t on par with their mental capabilities. Frequent anger and frustration is a watch point, and could warrant seeking professional advice.

If your child consistently exhibits several of these characteristics (if your child is gifted, many of these characteristics go hand in hand) you may want to have your child assessed by a child development professional.

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5 Steps to Raising Optimistic Children

Why should you want your child to be an optimist? Because, as Dr. Martin Seligman explains: “Pessimism (the opposite of optimism) is an entrenched habit of mind that has sweeping and disastrous consequences: depressed mood, resignation, underachievement and even unexpectedly poor physical health.”

Children with optimistic thinking skills are better able to interpret failure, have a stronger sense of personal mastery and are better able to bounce back when things go wrong in their lives.

Because parents are a major contributor to the thinking styles of their children’s developing minds, it is important to adhere to the following five steps to ensure healthy mental habits in your children.

How Parents Can Help

Step 1: Learn to think optimistically yourself. What children see and hear indirectly from you as you lead your life and interact with others influences them much more than what you try to ‘teach’ them.

You can model optimism for your child by incorporating optimistic mental skills into your own way of thinking. This is not easy and does not occur over night. But with practice, almost everyone can learn to think differently about life’s events – even parents!

Step 2: Teach your child that there is a connection between how they think and how they feel. You can do this most easily by saying aloud how your own thoughts about adversity create negative feelings in you.

For example, if you are driving your child to school and a driver cuts you off, verbalize the link between your thoughts and feelings by saying something like “I wonder why I’m feeling so angry; I guess I was saying to myself: ‘Now I’m going to be late because the guy in front of me is going so darn slow. If he is going to drive like that he shouldn’t drive during rush hour. How rude.’”

Step 3: Create a game called ‘thought catching.’ This helps your child learn to identify the thoughts that flit across his or her mind at the times they feel worst. These thoughts, although barely noticeable, greatly affect mood and behavior.

For instance, if your child received a poor grade, ask: “When you got your grade, what did you say to yourself?”

Step 4: Teach your child how to evaluate automatic thoughts. This means acknowledging that they things you say to yourself are not necessarily accurate.

For instance, after receiving the poor grade your child may be telling himself he is a failure, he is not as smart as other kids; he will never be able to succeed in school, etc. Many of these self-statements may not be accurate, but they are ‘automatic’ in that situation.

Step 5: Instruct your child on how to generate more accurate explanations (to themselves) when bad things happen and use them to challenge your child’s automatic but inaccurate thoughts. Part of this process involves looking for evidence to the contrary (good grades in the past, success in other life areas, etc).

Another skill to teach your child to help him or her think optimistically is to ‘decatastrophize’ the situation – that is – help your child see that the bad event may not be as bad or will not have the adverse consequences imagined. Few things in life are as devastating as we fear, yet we blow them up in our minds.

Parents can influence the thinking styles of their children by modeling the principals of optimistic thinking.