Saturday, April 30, 2005

Planning Your Child's 1st Birthday Party

by Eliza Ferree

Your child is just about to turn a year old and you are getting ready to throw him/her a party. What kind of party? How many kids? Simple or extravagant? Will your child even remember it?

Before you totally stress yourself out on preparing this huge fair like party that many of us do for our 1 year olds lets think about things and ideas. You don't have to have the parade come to town for your one year old, trust me as they get older they'll want it then, not now. Better to save that money for those times.

First if you are not going to make a cake and plan on buying one remember that most stores when you buy one cake you can get the one year old a cake for him/herself. That's right go to your local grocery and ask if they have the special, this way when your child digs in no one has to shy away from the cake. I mean would you eat someone else's cake after seeing their hands all through it? I know I can't and wouldn't expect others to do it.

If you are making a cake, think about your child. You don't have to make it all fancy because within moments it'll be all squished up and on their plates anyways right?

A simple candle or a candle in the shape of a number one will do. You don't have to go in search for that perfect candle and you don't want to get a trick one because your baby isn't going to get the joke.

When it comes time to invitations think about what you want. Do you want everyone on the block to come? Do you want it just to be yourself and immediate family? Just close friends? The daycare center?

If you have chosen to have the kids on the street come over you might want to have something for their older siblings, unless it is strictly little babies. If it is just babies, lay out a blanket and toys and they will probably be just fine. Time it so not all babies are napping. If a blanket isn't going to work you could always pull out the playpen and stick a couple in it at a time, after all most of the babies are going to be clinging to mom and dad.

Just having your own family is a great idea as you don't have to worry about everything getting broke or someone getting hurt. You are only entertaining yourself and your family, total focus on your child.

If you REALLY want to have a theme here are a few ideas:

Teddy Bear Party, this would be a cake in the shape of a teddy bear and lots of decorations of teddy bears throughout the house. If you want to get really crafty you can use a lot of brown and blue or pink balloons, depending on sex would depend on color.

Barney Party, this would be a Barney Cake and lots of purple balloons everywhere.

I know there are other cartoons the babies watch now and maybe your baby always watches it, just think of which ones they LOVE and do it up that way.

If you don't really want to make a cake you can do cupcakes and this way it is already dished out, all you have to do it pass them around.

Remember this your child will probably never remember this event, except from what you tell him/her happened and the pictures you took. Make sure not to forget to take pictures of this day, this will help them to see. Which ever you do, try not to stress over it.

Babies who cannot stop crying in the night taught me plenty

Basically I was extremely fortunate in that none of my two children cried endlessly at night when they were babies. Only that I did not know it then. Well at least until my grandson came along too early and too unexpectedly and made me know another side of babies that I had never experienced before.

But then I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start the story from the beginning.

Both of my wonderful children (a boy and a girl) were rather considerate babies and generally slept through the night most of the time. I remember even on the few occasions when they were ill, they were really not too much of a bother at night. Maybe only waking up very occasionally while running a temperature.

That is a far cry from my grandson. It is a long story how we ended up in the situation where we had to literally bring up our grandson as if he were our own third-born child (many people still think he is), but I will try and sum up that lengthy tale.

Shortly after my daughter had her baby (we advised her very strongly against aborting - but I don't want to get into that debate here) she had to go back to school and so guess who was left to look after her toddler son, barely a few months old?

From the experience of my children I thought that the whole thing was going to be a breeze. That was really the reason why I agreed to it so quickly. To be very honest with you, had I known what I was going to face, I would never have accepted the task. People should carry their own crosses, even when they are your children, should they not?

The baby would wake up at all sorts of odd hours of the night and cry out his small lungs at the top of his voice. Many times, there was visibly nothing wrong and so my wife would have to get up and sit up with him the whole night. The moment she would dare put him down to try and get some sleep, he would abruptly wake up again and scream at the top of his voice.

Other times the young fellow would be genuinely ill. He seemed to have some weak chest and the doctor called it something complicated and assured us that as he grew older, it would vanish (that is exactly what happened. My grandson is now 4 years old and a very healthy chap. You wouldn't believe what he put us through, if you looked at him.)

But at that young age then, he would wake up wheezing and in between breathing difficulties, the young guy would just cry and cry. And of course my wife was exhausted and worried. In fact at one point she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

The whole thing just opened my eyes to the fact that as similar as looking after babies is, different parents have very different experiences

I would wake up and stick around feeling pity for myself and wondering what my daughter was thinking when she went and got herself pregnant at such a young tender age of 17.

After a while I grudgingly decided that since I was being kept awake I would as well try to make use of the time.

I joined an online affiliate program here and there without making too much money. Still I started learning lots of things about the internet.

It is that education that is helping me in my full time online business today.

The point of telling this story is to encourage fathers out there who end up in the sort of situation I did, that they can make use of this extra time forced upon them by a baby who can not stop waking up the neighborhood at night.

Help Your Baby Learn

Your baby's brain is growing and changing each and every day. Baby learns
on a daily basis from all the things baby sees, hears, and touches. Baby is naturally very interested in watching and listening to the people in his life and this helps your baby to learn without even trying.

Your baby has been absorbing information and processing it since birth. Baby has been learning from everything he or she sees, hears, smells, and touches. Babies develop good memories and are able to remember sights, sounds, smells, and touches after they have been exposed to them before.

There are many different types of videos, toys, and accessories on the market today that make the claim of being able to make your baby smarter. Some even claim to be able to help you bring out the genius in your baby. It is important to remember that even though some of these products may be stimulating for baby, they are mostly unnecessary. Baby can
learn and be stimulated by being walked around your home, having, things pointed out to him, and listening to you talk about what you are showing him. Baby may not understand, right away, exactly what you are saying, but in time, he will understand you completely.

Pick your baby up and touch her. Babies feel secure and happy if they know you will attend to their needs, and even, many of their wants. If baby is crying and miserable pick her up and hug and kiss her. Babies learn much more when they feel happy and secure.

Responding to your baby in a loving and attentive way helps baby to learn. Talk to your baby in a regular tone of voice. Talk about everything such as how your day is going, what chore you are doing, how cute she is, what kind of flowers you are looking at, and whatever else comes to mind. Just keep right on talking. There is nothing wrong with baby talk as long as it is not the only way you talk to your baby.

Read to your baby. Start from birth and read and show him a variety of books. Even very young babies enjoy looking at books filled with brightly colored pictures. Your baby will enjoy the sound of your voice as you read to him, even before he understands the words you are saying. Buy some of those books made just for babies and let him touch and play with them. Do not worry if baby tries to chew on or lick the books. This is normal and most books meant for babies can be wiped clean anyway.

Get out and about. Go out for a walk everyday, if possible. Point out interesting things to your baby. Remember, however, that things that may seem boring and normal to you, like a fire hydrant, just may be of interest to your baby who is just learning about the world. Take baby to the park. Trees, grass, and flowers are wonderfully stimulating. Visit friends and
family, go to the mall, visit museums, go to baby story hour. It really does not matter what activity you choose, baby will learn something from it.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Coping With Colic

Colic is described as inconsolable crying for 3 hours or more per day or night. This inconsolable crying happens at least 3 days per week. Typically, colicky babies start showing the prolonged crying of colic when they are around 3 weeks old. The crying, in general, tends to worsen when babies are around 6 weeks old and last until babies are 3 or 4 months old. Unfortunately, the cause of colic is not known for sure. Just as unfortunate, is the fact that there is no known cure for colic. Some theories concerning the cause of colic include an immature nervous system, gas, allergies, and reflux.

To the parents of a colicky baby it may seem as though these 3 to 4 months of constant crying will last forever. Parents can become exhausted and depressed from the demands of dealing with an inconsolable baby for hours on end.

Here are some ways to cope if your baby has colic:

Take some time for you. Enlist the help of family members and friends in getting some time away from baby. You will be a better caretaker for your infant if you are not overstressed, so try to get out once a week and do something just for you. If possible, arrange to have at least a few hours alone with your spouse. You need couple time too!

Put your baby down. If your baby’s crying has been making you feel too frazzled and stressed out, put her down in a safe place, such as a crib, and leave the room. Leaving your colicky baby in her crib for a few minutes will not harm her at all and will allow you a few minutes to calm down.

Seek advice and support. There are many people who will understand just what you are going through and can help by giving advice and support. Look to family, friends, and support groups for help. Do not forget about your baby’s doctor. He or she will usually have some helpful advice for you.

Remember it is not your fault. Feelings of inadequacy are normal and common for parents of a colicky baby. Just remember you are not a bad parent. You did nothing to cause your baby to have colic. Eventually the crying will stop and colic will be a distant memory.

Before deciding your baby has colic, always have your baby’s pediatrician give a thorough examination to rule out underlying medical conditions.

Suggestions to help soothe your baby:

Swaddle your baby. Many babies feel safe and calm when all bundled up

Movement soothes some infants. Wear baby in a sling as you walk around the house. Use an infant swing. Go for a ride in your car. Rock in a rocking chair. Get outside for a walk.

Make white noise. Some infants are calmed by hearing white noise from things such as vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, running water, hair dryers, and fans. These noises remind babies of sounds they heard while in the womb.

Remember, this tough time will pass. Good luck!

Are you too old to have a baby?

So you think you have it all. You have a fulfilling career, a nice house, a great man in your life. But then you wake up one day, somewhere in your mid to late 30's, and you realize that-- whoops-- somewhere along the line you forgot to have a baby.

These days, many women are choosing to postpone motherhood until later in life. While previous generations of women often had several children well before they turned 30, the career-oriented women of today are opting to wait. If you are approaching 35--or maybe even 40--do you feel that you are getting too old to have a baby?

It's a fact that as you get older, it's harder to conceive. Your menstrual cycle may not be as regular as it once was and, because your eggs aren't as young as they used to be, you also have an increased chance of miscarriage once you do conceive. This is not meant to discourage you-- I have three children, two of them born when I was in my late thirties. I am a firm believer that a woman's biological clock does indeed tick-- I heard mine ticking loud and clear.

If you truly want to have a baby, you shouldn't let your age stop you from trying. Try to prepare yourself for a setback in case it happens, but don't obsess over it. Plan ahead by taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid for several months before you start trying to conceive.

Once you do get pregnant (and don't worry, most women do) you may face a bigger problem: are you too old to handle a baby? That is, you're older, maybe a bit more set in your ways, and you probably have a scheduled routine, a way of doing things. Well, a baby will certainly change that! As we get older, we get a little more (dare I say it?) selfish. Suddenly, your time isn't just yours anymore. A little person needs you, relies on you. For everything. It's quite a change.

You need to look at your life and ask yourself why you want a baby. Is it something you've always wanted? Are you still waiting for the right man to come along? Would you be comfortable doing it on your own if things with the father didn't work out? Or, are you doing it just because you think it's what you're supposed to do? Every woman has a different answer. You need to search your soul to figure out what the best answer for you is.

Having a baby is a wonderful experience, an experience that I wish upon anyone who wants it to happen. If you find that it is something you are longing to do, go for it! You may just find that having it all has a whole new meaning.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tooth fairies, special places and losing teeth..

By Eliza Ferree

Children lose their first baby teeth between 5 and 6 so its basically part of nature. However if the tooth fairy comes to town where does your child leave their tooth. Is there a special place your child keeps their tooth? Do you have a special tooth holder?

My daughter recently lost her teeth, a bit early and we weren't prepared for her special place. Thankfully the dentist gave her a special tooth fairy box, it was plastic and looked like a treasure chest. Pink in color and was just small enough for that one tooth to fit in. She loved that box, it snapped closed so it wouldn't fall out as well. It went everywhere she did that day and never once was it out of her sight. Not sure how she'll react once the fairy takes the tooth out though.

Where does the fairy keep that tooth though I've been asked before by my oldest? Hmmm, that's something a mom must really think about, because as the story goes the tooth fairy uses the teeth to build her castle up in the sky. Some say the teeth add to the light up there but you never really know. Others say well she just throws them away, I can't really bring myself to say that to a child that worked so hard at keeping them clean and then to get them out. Could you?

With my son we have used many different special tooth carrying cases. One was using felt and cutting it in the shape of a tooth. Glue the side edges together leaving a tiny pocket that is just small enough for the tooth and some coins or dollars, whichever the fairy may decide to leave them. Another carrying case was just placing the tooth under the pillow, this isn't always a good idea though and I'm still surprised it actually happens. I guess it really depends on your child. Does your child sleep with their mouth open? Does your child move a lot? Think about that first, you don't want them losing the tooth before she gets there and you don't want them swallowing it either.

Make sure to let the fairy know either by writing her a letter or email or by phoning her, as you don't want her to miss your child's big night. Tell your children to go to bed either exactly at bedtime or before bedtime, but not too early as they may wake up and catch her. This will ensure her to come and they will get the visit they desperately want at this point. My son was the hardest one when it came to going to sleep at the right time. The tooth fairy once told me that she was very scared to go into my son's room as he was a light sleeper and woke at the slightest sound. She didn't want to get caught and was worried he may grab a wing or two. She did come late at night but sometimes she'd see him turning and she'd fly away. I let him know this after one tooth and he decided that he'd go to bed exactly at his bedtime and not too early anymore.

My daughter is different; she'll sleep through just about anything. However, she does move around so for the fairy to find her tooth is a bit hard. This last time the tooth fairy actually had to move her. But never once did she wake up according to the fairy. She said she loved the treasure chest because she didn't have to find a tiny tooth, instead when she came across the box that jingled she knew it was the tooth.

The next question is how much does the fairy leave? Well, when I was a child.... I know it makes you think of the time your parents told you they walked hundred of thousands of miles in the snow to school right? Ha ha. But seriously when I was a child I got between a quarter to a dollar for each of my teeth. But today with prices going up it seems to lose a tooth could actually make you rich. I want to say anything from $1-5 is the normal rate these days, however I've heard of children getting 5, 10 or even 20 dollars. I've been told it all depends on the way the tooth falls out. The tooth fairy will feel sorry for a child that has swallowed a tooth and leave them more money, but there are times when the child may not have had a horrible experience and she just loses it like a normal tooth, so they get the normal amount.

My son has lost one of his by swallowing it, he was eating a sandwich and when he was done eating the sandwich he realized the tooth was gone. He'd swallowed it, I'll never forget that day. Another tooth he had was so lose but I couldn't pull it (turns my stomach) and his sister and him were playing around and collided face to face. His tooth fell out. It was so lose it didn't hurt, of course they did have to find the tooth after that.

No we never did use pliers, teeing a string to the tooth or walking into a door to get them out. The teeth just got lose enough to pull, unless you count him swallowing them or banging into his sister. But either way we always got them out and in a safe place for the fairy.

Breastfeeding: Good for Moms and Babies

Here are some tips on breastfeeding for mothers-to-be.

1. Breastfeeding provides the very best food for your baby. Nature's natural food gives the baby all the immune system boosters and nutrients it needs for the big process of growing. No infant formula can completely duplicate mother's milk for the baby. There are big advantages to even breastfeeding your new baby for a few days, since the colustrum, the thin fluid that comes from the breast before the actual milk comes in, provides a jumpstart to the baby's immune system. Many studies have shown that breastfeeding is a great advantage to the baby's health, in many different areas.

2. Many women have problems with breastfeeding, and the first baby is usually the hardest. It's easy to get frustrated when problems occur, but if a mother sticks with it and gets support, most problems can be solved. One would think that if breastfeeding is so natural, it would be instinctual to the mother and the baby, and they should both know just what to do, but that doesn't always seem true. I had four children and nursed all of them. The first baby was very small and it was hard for her to nurse because her mouth was so small. After the milk started coming she would often get choked because she couldn't swallow it as fast as the milk flowed; however, after she got older the problems disappeared. Not giving up at the first problem is important for successful breastfeeding.

3. Support is very important, especially if the mother experiences problems at first. Being reassured that everything is okay, that you're doing it right, and that the baby is being properly nourished are all things that mothers like to hear. Many new mothers have mothers, aunts, grandmothers, or friends who have breastfed and can offer good advice. For those who don't have that, La Leche League is a good support group. This group has been around since the 1950s, and its name means "the milk" in Spanish. There are local chapters all over, with nursing mothers serving as leaders. Meetings are held in which questions about breastfeeding are answered, and nursing mothers can share problems and success stories and receive the support they need. I joined a La Leche League group when breastfeeding was not as popular as today, and the support I received was very reassuring. Just about every problem that I faced had been faced by the other mothers in the group, and I got lots of encouragement from attending meetings. Mothers-to-be can get instruction before having the baby that will make breastfeeding easier after the birth.

4. Breastfeeding is the best way to bond with a new baby. The closeness felt between mother and baby is very special, and the mother must hold and cuddle the baby as it nurses, leading to the baby feeling loved. I used to carry my baby around in a Snugli pak so she could nurse whenever she wanted, and the closeness was very comforting to her. Mothers also get a rest while breastfeeding the baby; a bottle-fed baby can be left in a bed or carrier with a propped-up bottle, but nursing babies have to have mother sitting down and holding the baby, getting its full attention. Babies who are sick are comforted while breastfeeding, and babies on breast milk have a very sweet smell, causing the mother to shower them with kisses. Breast milk also doesn't stain clothes or linens as formula does. The baby will come to see breastfeeding as a comfort when hurt, tired, or sick; many babies don't easily give it up when time to be weaned from the breast.

5. Breastfeeding is very good for the mother as well as the baby. With my first baby, I gained forty pounds; I was shocked when my baby came a little early and only weighed 5 ½ pounds. After subtracting the baby's weight from what I had gained, I was depressed. Nursing the baby, however, caused me to easily lose most of the weight in a short time. It apparently takes lots of calories to make milk, and I could eat lots of food and still not gain weight. Drinking enough fluids is very important to making enough milk for the baby. There are foods that some say are to be avoided while nursing, such as chocolate or garlic, but my babies never seemed to have a problem with any foods I ate. Another plus of breastfeeding is that periods often don't come back for several months after the baby is born. Women who nurse their babies for a long time and space the babies a couple of years apart often don't have periods for years. Some studies show that breastfeeding protects the mother against things like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and other illnesses.

6. What will happen to your breasts when you breastfeed? Some women think that nursing a baby will make their breasts saggy and unattractive, but time does that even without nursing. Most women have an increase in breast size while nursing, sometimes dramatically, and fathers like that. Nursing mothers' figures sometimes change to a very nice shape after birth; larger breasts and increased weight loss from nursing are advantages to breastfeeding a baby.

7. Convenience is a big advantage of breastfeeding a baby. Being basically lazy sometimes, I always found not having to get out of bed and heat bottles a big plus in the middle of the night. I co-slept with my babies on a king-size bed when they were small, and when they were hungry they would just nuzzle up to me and eat. My husband rarely woke up during the process. Going on trips was great since I didn't have to drag along a lot of bottles and other equipment. If I went to the mall or over to see a friend, I took the baby's milk right with me; there was rarely a crying, hungry baby waiting to get home to get fed.

8. The cost of breastfeeding is much less than buying formula. Babies who are successfully breastfeeding do not need solid food as early as babies who are formula-fed, and although the mother may need to eat more as the baby drinks more milk, the cost of baby food is less. Making baby food at home is easy once the baby gets old enough to eat; a small food grinder or a blender can allow the baby to eat much of the food you eat. My babies never really cared for bland baby foods; they much preferred the breast milk even after they began to eat solid foods.

9. Even mothers who have to go back to work can continue to breastfeed. My daughter went back to work about a month after her daughter's birth, and she used an electric breast pump to extract milk for the baby. She continued the process for several months, and of course could nurse the baby once she got home and before leaving for work. While it was a little more trouble for her, it helped both her and the baby, as she gained the extra health benefits and so did the baby. Many women who are convinced breastfeeding is the best thing for their babies are able to successfully continue nursing after returning to work.

10. If you're about to become a new mother, consider breastfeeding. Although breastfeeding used to be something that polite people didn't discuss and was out-of-fashion for awhile, most people now realize that it's the best thing for babies. Consider your baby's health and that of your own as you make the decision whether or not to nurse your baby. Try it, you and your baby will like it!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

It's never too early to start reading to your baby

If you're expecting a baby or are already the parent of a newborn or toddler, you should know that it's never too early to start reading to your baby. In fact, many expectant mothers read aloud to their babies when they are still in the womb.

You can start your newborn off with plush books -- those soft, cuddly books that babies love to hold. Read the story to baby and point to the "pictures" as you go along. Look for textured books that your baby can interact with. Babies love to touch soft, fuzzy surfaces. A great interactive book is "Pat the Bunny" by Dorothy Kunhardt-- your baby will love to follow along with the book and touch and feel as you go along. Look for plush books that feature stuffed animals and pockets-- your baby will love them and will associate reading with fun times!

You can graduate to board books, which are baby-friendly cardboard versions of popular children's stories. Most board books are pretty sturdy and can withstand the gnawing and teething that babies subject them to.

As your baby gets a little older, try to make frequent trips to the library. Let your baby know that the library is a fun place to be-- and let him or her pick out some books. You should also check to see if your local library offers baby story times-- many libraries sponsor great children's programs that feature short stories, songs and finger plays.

Try to set aside a time every day to read to your baby. At bedtime, find a familiar book and read that book to your child every night. Your baby will associate the book with bedtime, which may make it easier for you to get him or her to go to sleep.

Book suggestions-- Some great books for babies include:

"Goodnight, Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown

"Pat the Bunny" by Dorothy Kunhardt

"Silly Little Goose" by Nancy Tafuri

"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin Jr.

"Counting Kisses" by Karen Katz

"I Love You as Much" by Laura Krauss Melmed

Baby's First Bath

You may begin bathing your baby in a bathtub as soon as the umbilical cord stump heals completely and falls off. If you have a baby boy and he has been circumcised you will need to wait until his circumcision site heals completely.

The most important thing to do when giving your baby his or her first bath is to prepare well. Keep your baby's safety in mind. Do not, even for a moment, leave your baby unattended around water. Ignore the phone, turn off the stove, and let any other distractions wait until you can wrap your baby in a towel and take him with you.

Buy a tub that is a good fit for your baby. Although an infant tub is not an absolute necessity it is much easier to use one. You may also use a basin or a small pot for the first six months.

Gather your supplies.

You will need:
Gentle soap and shampoo. There are many varieties, designed just for babies, available.
Clean Washcloths.
Hooded towel. You can use a regular towel but the hooded towels are cute and the hood is useful for keeping baby's head warm.
Baby Lotion
Clean diaper
Clean Clothes.

Place the infant tub inside a regular sink or bathtub. Although a counter top may seem to be an ideal place to bathe baby, a countertop can become wet and slippery creating a hazard. Avoid using a counter top.

Fill the infant tub with a few inches of water. Always be sure to test the temperature of the water before you put your baby in the tub. Test the water using the inside of your wrist or the tip of your elbow. The water should feel warm to the touch, not hot. It is wise to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water to be 100 percent sure it will be comfortable and safe for baby. The temperature of the water should be between less that 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Celsius. For safety, when you have children, it is recommended to keep household water set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

Gently place you baby's body in the water. Lower him slowly, supporting his head, while holding his bottom with the other hand. Keep your babies head up and out of the water. Support your baby's head and neck with one hand while you wash him with the other hand.

Begin by washing your babies face with plain water. You do not, under normal circumstances, need to use soap on your baby's face. Gently wipe each eyelid first, wash around the eyes, and then wash the rest of the face. Wash your baby's ears after you clean the rest of his face.

Wash the rest of your baby's body with soap and water. Be sure to clean in all your baby's folds and crevices. Clean thoroughly, but gently. There is no need to scrub hard. For health's sake, wash your baby's bottom last

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Baby Development: Don't Stress Yourself Out!

If you have friends or siblings who have babies that are about the same age as your own, or if your baby belongs to a playgroup with other children who are about the same age, then you probably know by now how quickly a normal conversation can turn into a somewhat competitive developmental tale of what actions baby can perform. Grandparents, too, seem to enjoy getting in on the fun of inquiring whether or not baby can do certain things yet. While this sort of questioning might seem pretty harmless, it can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress for moms and dads.

Baby development is very important, of course. Any baby reference book you see on the shelves in bookstores contains a developmental timeline with various milestones listed so that you can make sure your baby is progressing "normally." Indeed, if your baby can't do some of the things he or she is supposed to be able to do within a certain time frame, it could point to a problem with motor skills or, in extreme cases, perhaps even a serious medical problem. But, more often than not, there is absolutely no problem at all just because baby didn't sit up the day he or she turned eight months old or just because baby didn't start crawling exactly at nine months.

The truth of the matter is that all babies develop differently. They go at their own pace, and are completely unaware of what they are "supposed" to do just so grandma can brag about their latest accomplishments to her friends at work! Moms and dads should try not to get stressed out if baby is not developing right on schedule. This sounds easy enough, but often it's not -- especially for new parents who lack experience with these issues. It sometimes seems that no matter how hard you try not to fret about what baby can't do yet, you inevitably find yourself checking books or websites that offer tips and tricks (most of which turn out to be nothing but old wives' tales) that supposedly lead to faster development.

I have to admit that I fell into this awful parental trap not too long ago. My baby was developing "normally" and hit all his milestones within a few weeks of the dates that the books spelled out. Sometimes he reached a milestone earlier than expected and sometimes it was a little later than expected, but he always got there within a few weeks. That is, until it came time to walk. Most books say that babies will start taking their first steps before one year of age, and will start to walk longer and stronger a little while after that. Well, my baby didn't follow that timeline. He didn't take his first steps until he was almost 16 months old, which earned him the label of "late walker" according to my baby book.

As the one-year mark came and went without my baby taking his first steps, I didn't really give it much thought. But my mother and a few of my friends kept asking about it. I couldn't get through a single phone call, email, or in-person conversation without the dreaded "So, is he walking yet?" question coming up. When I answered "no", I would invariably be treated to tons of advice about how to get him to walk. Eventually, these kinds of conversations got to me. I started looking at my baby differently, wondering if something was wrong with him. I started looking at myself, wondering if I was a bad parent. I checked books and websites to learn how other parents dealt with this situation. I discovered that there were all sorts of exercises and games that I could be trying that were supposed to encourage babies to walk. Even though I hadn't done anything at all to aid development in other areas, I was so stressed out by my baby not walking that I started trying these (sometimes very strange) activities recommended by other parents. My mother bought a walker and insisted that it would help because it "worked for you when you were a baby."

About two months after trying a bunch of different exercises, games, and devices, my baby started to walk. I doubt that his walking had anything to do with any of the things I tried. There wasn't anything wrong with him, either. I think it was just his time to start walking, so he did it. And even though he was slow to walk, his development in some other areas has been noticeably faster than other babies. For example, he has a much bigger vocabulary than the other children in our playgroup. I think this just reinforces the notion that all babies develop at their own pace in all areas.

So if your baby is not developing according to the usual timelines, don't worry. There's probably no need to buy special gizmos and gadgets or rush to the nearest pediatrician. Everything will happen -- eventually!

Putting Baby On A Schedule

I woke up this morning and realized I had been conquered by a 4-month-old infant. My sweet little baby boy, Alexander, has me wrapped around his chubby little finger.

When I initially learned I was pregnant with my fourth child, I told myself I would handle things differently from the way I handled my other children. I decided I would put the new baby on a schedule and thereby create a way for me to actually have a life without a baby practically glued to my hip. I fantasized about all the things I would be able to do because he would be on a schedule. I would be able to shower for at least 5 minutes per day without the cry of an infant penetrating the walls of the bathroom. I would be allowed to leisurely enjoy at least one meal per day. I would be able to clean the house and cook dinner while my new baby napped on cue. I would be allowed to watch television when I wanted to. I would even get to sleep for more than one hour at a time.

When baby Alex was born, I decided it would be fair to allow him a couple of months to adjust to life outside the womb. Also, in all honesty, I was dead tired after 9 months of pregnancy and just plain did not care about scheduling anything that did not involve me going immediately and blissfully to sleep. So I fed Alex when he cried to be fed. I let him sleep whenever and wherever he wanted. He usually wanted to sleep in my arms, so I began to adapt to sleeping cuddled up with him. I took frantic showers whenever he slept without me for more than 60 seconds. Alex usually only slept without me once per day so if I missed that 60 second window I, unfortunately, missed my shower. I learned to shove bites of food into my mouth in between singing baby songs and patting him on the back. I forgot about watching television because Alex simply did not appreciate the distraction. My house quickly began to resemble a popular toy store after a 90 percent off sale. I quickly rediscovered the joys of preparing frozen meals. I learned what I should have remembered from my when my older children were babies. I learned that baby is the boss.
Alex will be 5 months old tomorrow and I'm planning a rebellion. I want to be the boss again. I hear such wonderful stories of babies who sleep for more than 1 hour at a time. I even hear stories, from well meaning friends, of babies who sleep without their parents. I hear all sorts of great stuff about babies who happily allow themselves to be molded into a routine. When I'm feeling tired I am almost sure these parents are lying through their teeth about having happily scheduled babies, but after getting some rest (with Alex in my arms of course) I always have renewed hope that it just might be true.

So I have decided to put my foot down and retake my throne as the head of the household once more. I will start slowly so I will not cause my charming little dictator too much unrest. I will start by putting Alex to bed at the same time each night. I will then sneak out of my room to enjoy some television. If that works well, I will begin putting him in his crib (he has never spent more than 5 minutes in it so far) and leaving the room while he is actually still awake. Getting Alex on a sleep schedule will, I feel quite sure, be my toughest challenge. If I can manage that I will confidently move forward in helping baby Alex to adapt to my desired schedule.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Welcoming Baby Brother or Sister

The birth of a newborn is a joyous occasion for almost everyone. Relatives and friends come bearing gifts and food. Lavish attention is given to the nearly oblivious little one. Everyone, including complete strangers, wants to see the new baby, hold him, and ooh and aah over him adoringly. Is it any wonder that an older brother and/or sister might feel a little left out? After all, maybe he or she was the baby of the family before this new infant came along. While you shouldn't downplay the birth of your new baby, you should be sensitive to the needs of your other children, regardless of their ages.

If you have small children at home already, you will need to decide how soon to tell them about the new baby before she is born. If your child is just a toddler, she really won't have much concept of time, so it would probably be best if you wait until you are beginning to show signs of your pregnancy before you inform her that she will soon be a big sister.

If your child is older, however, you and your partner may decide to share the news as soon as you find out. Some people prefer to wait until they have surpassed the first three months' mark, while others are eager to share their excitement with their other children. It really is up to you.

No matter how old your other children are, though, you should keep in mind that their will be a period of adjustment both during your pregnancy and after the birth of your baby. As your pregnancy progresses, you may find that you don't have the energy or the physical strength to do some of the activities that you use to do with your other children. While you should explain to your child that you may not have the stamina that you did have, you should also be careful not to make your son or daughter resentful of the impending arrival of a new baby.

Even before your baby is born, you can find ways to help your other child or children begin to look forward to the big event. If someone is going to give you a baby shower, you might want to include your other child. If she is still very young, it may be hard for her to understand why the baby is receiving so many gifts. While she may enjoy opening the gifts for you, you can wrap a few gifts for her, also. You can even use these gifts to help her become more accustomed to the idea of a baby brother or sister.

Why not give her a new baby doll? You could also let her unwrap some small diapers, a play bottle, pacifier, and a few doll clothes. When you are feeding, diapering, and dressing your newborn, you can encourage your older child to do the same with her baby. You could also have a few small gifts for your child that focus on his role as big brother. There are cute hats, t-shirts, and other articles of clothing that have logos such as “I'm a Big Brother!” Give him his own burp cloth, and tell him that he can use it when he is taking care of the baby. The key is to help him look forward to his new role as big brother.

Once the new baby is born, you'll probably have lots of visitors bearing even more gifts. Now, more than ever, it is important that you make your other child feel cherished and loved. When someone comes along with a gift for the new infant, pull out a small gift that you purchased earlier for your other child. The gifts don't have to be expensive. Items such as books, puzzles, stuffed animals, bubbles, crayons, and coloring books make great presents.

Even though the new baby will consume a good deal of your days and nights, you should still carve out time for your other child. If this seems difficult to do, enlist the help of your spouse, friend, or relative. He or she can take care of the newborn while you spend some one-on-one quality time with your other child. You don't want her to have any resentment towards the new baby.

Smaller children aren't the only ones who have to adjust when a new baby comes along. School-aged children, pre-teens, and adolescents will all have to adjust in some way to this new member of the family. You should try to keep your daily schedule as normal as possible. If you typically helped your child with his homework in the afternoon, find a way to continue to do this. Don't use the newborn as an excuse not to do something because this may create tension and resentment in your other child.

The biggest worry your teenager will probably have will be how this new little person will affect her own life. Try to stay as active and involved as you normally do with your teen. Obviously, you may have to slow down for a few weeks, but newborns are surprisingly resilient. If your baby is healthy, plan on taking him with you to ballgames, recitals, performances, school concerts, open houses, school meetings, etc. The more you take him out around other people, the more accustomed he'll become to going from one event to another. If you can attend as many of your child's activities as possible, she will see that she is still important in your eyes, and she will realize that her life really hasn't changed that dramatically.

Finally, encourage your teen to take more responsibility with the new baby. While you shouldn't force her to do things that make her uncomfortable, such as changing a dirty diaper, you can help her to feel more responsible and capable by giving her small jobs. Ask her to hold the baby while you empty the dishwasher or clean the house. Show her how to sit in the rocker and rock the baby to sleep. As he continues to grow, encourage her to feed and play with him. Eventually, you will see evidence of a deeper bond that continues to grow between your two children. The birth of a new baby doesn't have to be that life changing, but it can open up a whole new world of blessings!

By Susie McGee

Babies at the Movies

The last several times I've gone to the movies, I've noticed something a bit different. More and more young parents are bringing their infants to the show. In fact, the screen that is shown before the movie starts now includes admonitions about crying babies. Movie theater etiquette suggestions are no longer limited to whispers and cell phones set on vibrate. The parents are instructed to take noisy babies out of the theater. I can only conclude that my observation is not a limited phenomenon. Increasing numbers of people are hauling very young babies to the theater.

I'm not sure I agree with or condone this trend. I'm particularly concerned about babies being taken into adult movies and those for older children. Parents tell me that the baby will sleep through the show. Sleeping babies won't see or hear anything, they say, and so won't be traumatized by what goes on up on the screen.

I beg to differ. You don't have to think very far back in your own memories to find a time when something in the environment affected your dream. Perhaps the ringing telephone found its way into your dream before you woke up. I remember a time when I dreamed of a sumptuous breakfast, and woke to find my husband fixing bacon nearby. Even when we are asleep, our senses are still functioning and taking in information. Your baby is just the same. The little one can still hear and experience parts of that movie, even if he or she is asleep. What kind of dreams do you think those loud sounds of gunshots, screaming, or explosions will cause? What sort of impressions will the tones that the actors are using leave? I'd rather not take that chance.

Other parents argue that even if the child wakes up, the little one won't understand what is going on anyway. A preverbal baby cannot understand what is being said, they say, and it's not important what the youngster overhears. Again, I think this is absolutely wrong. In the first place, babies learn to understand words long before they can talk. Otherwise your baby wouldn't be able to point to body parts and do many of the other cute tricks that babies do. Also, babies are very sensitive to tones and voices. They are attuned to the voices of those around them. We instinctively take this into account and generally try to keep our voices low when babies are around. Care giving adults use a special voice when talking to baby, too. It's higher pitched and sort of sing-song in nature. Babies are easily frightened and upset by loud or raucous voices, too. Now match that with what baby hears in a movie theater. People on the screen are often upset or excited. That's the way movies work, because conflict moves the plot along and makes for an interesting movie experience. But from your baby's perspective, there are huge adults inexplicably yelling and shouting. Even the normal conversation can be too loud for baby because of the theater's sound system settings.

Babies have also been proven to respond to the emotions of others at a very early age. Even in the hospital nursery, nurses tell us that newborns will cry in sympathy when one in the room is upset. They pick up the general tone of the people around them.

No wonder some babies cry at the theater! No matter what their age, young infants have a pretty scary experience there. The noises are loud, the people on the screen are out of focus and huge, and some of the sounds are very scary. The voices convey deep, strong and sometimes negative emotions. I don't know about you, but I feel that infants are best left in the care of a child care provider, friend or relative when parents want to go to the movies. Taking them puts them at risk for trauma even if you have the best intentions and the movie is relatively calm. It's absolutely out of the question if you are seeing an action/adventure movie or one with a lot of violence. Protect them while you can-they will grow up and be out on their own all too soon.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Traveling With Baby

Just because you have a baby doesn't mean your traveling has come to an end. You just need to adapt your way of thinking and the way you travel, at least in some areas. You might be surprised to discover that babies love to travel almost as much as adults do, maybe even more! You can make traveling with your baby less stressful for you and him, too.

Of course, babies who are different ages have some different traveling needs. In infant may be easier to take on trips simply because she sleeps quite a bit, especially when there is an abundance of stimuli. Sleeping is how she copes with loud sounds and extra commotion. So, once your pediatrician gives you the go ahead, take your newborn on a trip.

Obviously, you'll need to take plenty of supplies. How many supplies really depend upon where you are going and how long you will be there. If you are going to grandma's house, and she has a crib, then that is one less item you'll have to pack. If you are going to be staying in a hotel or some other type of lodging, though, you'll need to plan on bringing something for your baby to sleep in. There are a variety of portable cribs and playpens that you can easily pack up and take, but if your infant is only one or two months old, you can use one of the small, bassinet baskets. Many of these have handles, making them especially easy to travel with. You can pack extra supplies in the basket, and use it as a carrying case until you reach your destination. Remember, you should never place blankets or toys in a crib with an infant, and you should make sure that the sheets fit snugly to lessen the possibility of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Also, you should always lay your baby on his or her back to sleep.

Along with a porta-crib or basket, you will need several other items. If you are breastfeeding, you won't need to bring formula unless you supplement. You may want to invest in a portable breast milk pump, however, in case you are unable to stop to nurse your baby. If you are traveling by car, you will need to stop every time you want to nurse your child. You should never take your baby out of his car seat to nurse him while the car is still moving. This is why pumping can be a good idea. If your baby nurses as frequently as every couple of hours, and you are going to be on the road for most, if not all, of the day, your trip will take much longer if you have to continually pull over to breastfeed.

If you feed your baby with formula, you have a variety of choices. Some formulas are pre-mixed, so that all you have to do is pour it into a bottle. Once you have opened a can of pre-mixed formula, though, you will need to use it up if you can't refrigerate it. You can also buy the powdered formula. You will have to mix this formula with water. It is a good idea to go ahead and boil some water before you leave on your trip. You could add it to the bottles, and then all you have to do is add the formula when you need it. If you have a cooler, you can premix the formula and water and keep it in the cooler till needed. There are several varieties of bottle warmers available, and many have car adapters or are battery operated. You can warm your baby's bottle using one of these.
Diapers are also essential. You will need to make sure you have plenty of diapers at least while you are traveling to your destination. You can always buy more diapers once you've reached your destination. Don't forget plenty of wipes, also. Other necessities include a digital thermometer, nail clippers, diaper cream, Infant Tylenol, and bulb syringe.

You know how often you have to change your baby's clothing, so be sure you pack plenty of extra clothing that is easily accessible in case of spills, spit-ups, and other accidents. You should also pack socks, jackets or sweaters, hats, blankets, burp clothes, and bibs. There are various sizes of portable, throw-away bibs that you can buy, and you might want to use these instead of cloth bibs. You should also throw in several ziplock baggies to hold extra wipes and other items.

If you are traveling with an older baby, you will still need many of these same supplies, but you will have to expand your supply list somewhat. An older baby may enjoy touring new cities and sights in his stroller, but being cooped up in a car seat for several hours is another story. Be sure you have brought plenty of toys and snacks to keep your toddler satisfied for the long ride. You may even want to buy some inexpensive toys right before your trip. You can pull these toys out one by one as your baby begins to get restless. Books are another great item to bring for your child. Pack a few of his favorites to read to him in the car, and add a few new ones that he can spend time examining. You should also pack your older child some jars of baby food, bottles or cups of juice, spoons, and some finger snacks, such as Cheerios or Goldfish.

It is important to try and keep your baby on some semblance of a schedule. While she can go to sleep in her stroller at some point during the day, it is a good idea to go back to your room in the afternoon so that she can have a much needed rest. If she becomes overly tired, it may be more difficult for her to enjoy the trip, and this will make it harder on you, also.

Traveling with baby doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, the more you travel with your baby, the more accustomed she will become, and you may find that you have created a little traveler. You may need a little extra patience, and you will certainly need to realize that everything may not go exactly according to your plan, but you and your baby can have a wonderful time enjoying a new adventure together.

By Susie McGee

The Importance of a Schedule for Baby

When your baby is brand new, setting a schedule is one of the last things on your mind. You're completely occupied with meeting the infant's needs, and rightly so. The way we treat babies in those first few weeks of life can have a profound impact on their later development. So we respond to each and every cry or grunt or grimace, and baby learns that the world is a fairly trustworthy and orderly place. The little one also learns that his or her needs are important and there are adults ready to meet them.

Somewhere along the way, though, your infant needs to learn to become one of the family. Those two a.m. feedings simply cannot last forever! Slowly, you must take steps to conform baby's schedule to that of the rest of the family. It won't happen overnight by flipping a switch, of course, but it does need to happen. If you allow it, your little one will become a toddler, then a preschooler, and finally a strong-willed child who will control every aspect of your family life. It's not pleasant to be around children who are in this state! It's not healthy for the child and it's not healthy for the family. However, it takes work and patience to teach baby that there is such a thing as a schedule. Hang in there! The benefits are well-worth the effort.

The tiniest infants have absolutely no control over when they do what they do. They get hungry and cry and then we feed them. They get wet and uncomfortable and we change them. They get sleepy and they drop off to slumber land no matter what is going on around them. As you get to know your little one, though, you will start to pick up patterns. Maybe she wants to be fed every three hours. Maybe he falls asleep right after a meal. Watch for these patterns and try to keep to them. They are the beginnings of a schedule for your little one.

After the first few weeks, your baby should be pretty predictable. That is, you should be able to know roughly when the little one will want to eat and sleep. Respect that schedule. If the baby seems to sleep a lot in the early afternoon, try to be home or somewhere else where the little one can truly rest. If baby wants to eat at four p.m., try to make sure you're in a position to feed on time. The schedule is reinforced in this way, and will become ever more predictable.

At a few months of age, all of that sleeping and eating that they do will kind of consolidate into defined meals and naps. This is when you want to begin to conform baby's schedule to that of the family. It will be much easier to take care of your baby if you do. You can gradually shift those meals and naptimes by moving them up or back by five or ten minutes every few days. Put baby to bed for naps and bedtime on a schedule, and pretty soon the little one will be sleepy at the appropriate times. Offer food on a schedule, and it won't be long before your baby will be more than willing to eat at the times you've chosen.

As the months fly by, you will be better able to plan your family's commitments with respect to your baby's needs. You won't be caught in the trap of having a child who makes a lot of demands on your time and routine or who is capricious in habits. A steady routine will create a calmer, more smooth family life for you and for everyone else. In addition, your little one will learn important lessons about living with other people. This is the foundation for later learning about empathy, sharing, and consideration of others. These are all very important things for kids to learn, and the foundation for this process happens in infancy.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Friendships and Peer Groups

By Mylea

Friendship, exactly how early do our little ones begin to develop peer relationships?Usually by the age of three or four children start to join other children in play activities that require interacting with one another. However, it has been observed in childcare centers that babies as young as 8 or 9 months old has the ability to establish preferences in peers. This is not to say that friendships are started at this age, but they tend to attach themselves to certain ones of their group more often in play. They lack the ability to form an emotional bond with another child at this point in their life.

In preschool one child may adopt another child as their "best friend", but the relationship is usually one sided. In this age group, the knowledge needed to understand a mutual relationship is not there. However, as they become older around six, they start to spend more and more time with other children and close friendships are formed. The reason being is they are more able to exchange information with each other, establish common ground, even to resolve conflicts, which are important aspects in forming a relationship.

Between the ages of 7 - 9, close relationships are formed with peers of the same sex. Then about in the eight grade, close friendships of the opposite sex start to be formed.
It is also about this time peer group's surface. These groups can be as diverse as a group of teens who feel that getting drunk and smoking is cool to a group of boy scouts. In order to be in a peer group you must agree with the values and goals established therein. This could be for good or bad intentions.

Children who are able to engage in conversation with a new group they just met, their popularity is usually determined by that meeting. Those that are able to make others around them laugh, is often viewed as fun to be around, therefore, accepted. Once accepted by a group, the child is unlikely to be rejected later. Children who never find peer acceptance face loneliness as a child, which continues into his/her adulthood.

It has been observed that children prefer to be with members of their own race and sex because of their similarities. This preference is mostly seen from kindergarten through the sixth grade. Those who are physically attractive are more likely to be accepted into groups of like kind. The child's name is also an important factor in acceptance, so please be careful and choose your child's name wisely.

Unfortunately, peers seem to have the most influences over our children. From shaping their sexual attitudes to directing behaviors, that we see exhibited in them. However, parents who are warm and caring are more likely to have the greater influence on their child. Therefore, friendships play an important role in our children's lives and often times determines their successes or failures. To insure our children make wise decisions in their choice of friends as parents we have to work on not being so over bearing and controlling. All we can do is teach them what we expect of them and encourage them in a positive way and hope that their choice of friends will be those with the same standards and values.

Roll over, baby, roll over

Developmental milestones are helpful. They help doctors and parents watch for any signs that a child may be lagging developmentally. It is useful to identify developmental problems as early as possible, because often intervention can help a child catch up or at least prevent further delays.

On the other hand, developmental milestones have also been known to make parents neurotic and paranoid. Take for example, my daughter when she was seven months old. She was alert, active and happy. She sat early, responded to visual and aural stimuli and seemed on track for nearly all her milestones. Except one. She did not roll over. Ever.

When I would put her on her back, she was content. She did not seem to want to roll over. When placed on her stomach, she would scootch a little, play a little and then screech to be put on her back. She would not roll over herself. When I placed her on her back to sleep in her crib, I knew she would still be on her back in the morning. On the floor, with toys to her side, she would inch her body over, creeping toward them without ever rolling.

At first it was sort of humorous. But then we started to worry. Why wasn't she rolling over? Was she somehow disabled? Laughable considering the muscle strength she displayed when standing on my lap or pulling the toys in her gymini. Yet, still we worried. Why wasn't she rolling over?

We tried coaxing her. We lay on the floor with her, holding toys to one side. My husband demonstrated the rolling action himself, then rolled her over and over. Needless to say, our interventions were to no avail.

One day, when was playing on a blanket on the floor and she saw something she wanted -- the cat, if I remember correctly -- she rolled over. Of course, then she waited a month to do it again, just to torment us. Apparently, she had not read the milestone book.

Help your children to be well adjusted

By Mylea

As parents, we have the responsibility to love, cherish, and take care of our young ones to the best of our ability. In doing so the goal we are trying to accomplish is to rear a healthy, stable, well adjusted individual in society. Nevertheless, how far this should be taken is another story. Loving our children by some is giving them whatever they want, whenever they want. Why is that?

Today, parents in our society are busier than ever. Single parents and two parent families alike. Single mothers, head a large part of the family population. How they came to be in this situation does not matter, the fact and reality is this is their life. Their daily routines day in and day out is to wake up, get the children ready for school or daycare, drop them off and go to work, work and pick the children up again. For some parents, parenting comes natural, they may have had good models from their own growing up experience or may not have and vowed they would do it differently and more effective than their parent or parents did. Either way the child comes out on top.

Because of the quality of time spent with their children, even if it is not a lot, helps the child to develop a sense of security and self-worth. When mom gets home in the afternoon, her work for the day continues with homework for the older children and constructive play for the younger children. There is housework, dinner, and bedtime - and if she is organized, or have the cooperation from her children, some quiet mommy time.

How does she get that, by establishing healthy routines with the children no matter how old or young they may be. Children need consistency. If mom is not consistent with her daily activities, as well as disciplining when needed, often times chaos erupts, even though it starts out slowly for instance with a cute little newborn. How beautiful and precious they are the apple of our eyes. Then they become toddlers in preschool, (still cute as a button) only now they get into more. Being in the childcare business, and in special education before that, I see it everyday. Parents not able to see pass the cuteness in their little darlings. They drop off children and complain about how they behaved at home the night before. They go to work and seek the advice of co-workers, a plethora of information there. Then she determines which part of the information she can use that will be comfortable with her style of parenting. Usually everything remains the same when the child put up a little resistance to the change.

The real problems come in when the at home behavior now follows the child into their daily routines away from home. Many times the child gets into mischief and instead of correcting the behavior and being consistent, helping the child to realize at an early age there are consequences to actions, cuteness set in. We know we need to do something but when we attempt too, they turn on the tears and do something cute, and we let it pass repeatedly. What message have we sent to the child, if I cry, kick scream or holler as if some one is killing me, I can get out of this. I'll just do this, it always makes mommy laugh, soon she will forget about it and I can go back to my normal routine.

True, some of the things our little darlings do are the funniest things we have ever seen. However, remember the goal is to rear a secure and confident person that is an asset to society. There are rules in society that we all have to follow along with acceptable societal behavior. This behavior is learned. You cannot just give in to your child's every whelm. Food is not necessary every time they open their mouth, instead substitute the need to fill some time with an activity. Help them to learn how to entertain themselves and work in a cooperative setting. All of these will help your child to cope better when they are away from you. A lot falls on us as parents, this is true, but it just does not happen by itself. We brought them into this world and it is our responsibility to teach them the ways of the world and not expect others to conform to the ways of our spoiled, yes, I said it spoiled children.

You want to be able to take your child to daycare and know that he/she is going to be fine. Pre-school aged especially get into things, this is normal and I don't think any quality daycare provider will tell you any differently. What we are talking about here is when your child's behavior disrupts the whole daycare class because so much time is spent trying to reason with, brief periods of time out over and over again on a daily basis, constant outburst, all because he/she is not being catered to. This is not fair to the other children or to the parents of these other children that so much time is used on always having to speak to your child constantly. In the defense of the child, it is not fair to he/she either that boundaries have not been set by mommy and daddy. The child sincerely becomes confuse when they are away from mommy and daddy and the rules change. This is a great injustice to the child who has not been taught that not being able to do something at a particular time or have a toy at the very moment they want is o.k. Has not been taught to cope and move on, instead is stuck in the unhappy state of wonderment and everything and everyone around must pay for it.

Love your child by helping them to cope with changes or better yet role-play daily at home. This will help your child to thrive when he knows exactly what is expected of him. When his behavior outside of the home reflects his training from home, it will in turn bring much praise and reward from others. This will be instrumental in building on his/her confidence and acceptance when away from you. Parents, we all in this together, if both parents and the one whom we put trust in to care for our young ones are on the same page a healthy stable child is your result.

When Will Baby Roll Over And Sit Up?

Wondering when your baby will learn to roll over and sit up? Parents often look forward to their babies reaching developmental milestones with great enthusiasm. There is a wide variety of information to be found in books, on the Internet, from medical professionals, and well meaning friends regarding when your baby is most likely to reach different stages of development. It is always important to remember that all babies develop at different rates. Try hard not to get caught up in comparing your baby to charts, statistics, and other infants. Your baby will develop new skills when he or she is ready, not on a preset schedule. Also it is important to remember that premature infants may reach developmental milestones later than other infants.

Infants usually develop the ability to roll over from their bellies to their backs as early as 2 to 3 months old. It often takes a bit longer for babies to be able to roll from their backs to their tummies because rolling in this direction requires the use and development of strong neck and arm muscles. Leg and abdominal muscles develop, as well, through lots of kicking and flexing of toes. Although most babies master the ability to roll from front to back first, all babies develop at different rates and it is perfectly normal for babies to flip from back to front first instead.

Babies develop the ability to roll over by first strengthening the muscles involved in rolling over by lifting their heads and pushing up with their arms. You can help your baby learn to roll over by allowing plenty of time for your baby to lie on his tummy each day, while you are there to watch and ensure his safety. Position yourself next to your baby when he's on his stomach and play with him. This will encourage him to lift his head and even try to reach for you. Give your baby lots of space to kick, whether baby is lying on his back or front, to help strengthen leg and abdominal muscles. Baby gyms are helpful for accomplishing this, as well as being just plain fun for baby. You might even place a toy (safe for baby of course) just out of reach of your baby while he is on the floor. Eventually he may roll or scoot right over to it.

Remember it is never safe to leave your baby unattended on any raised surface. It is amazing just how fast a baby can reach the edge, even if she has not previously been able to roll over.

Most babies are able to sit up for the first time between 7 and 9 months, however many may still require help getting into a sitting position. Some parents like to prop their babies into a sitting position before they are able to sit by themselves. Although you should not prop a baby who is not yet able to control his head and neck well, you can prop a baby who holds his head up well and does not slump over when propped up. Babies will signal you when they have had enough of being propped up by starting to fuss or slump over.

Enjoy your baby's first time reaching these developmental milestones and be sure to take plenty of pictures. Babies grow very quickly and you will definitely want to capture these memories.

Baby-Proofing is a State of Mind

Books and magazines scream "Baby-Proof Your Home!!!" Experienced parents will point to the value of going through the house at baby's eye level and finding the hazards, like uncovered wall outlets and unlocked cabinets that contain hazardous chemicals. It's a big job, trying to find each and every single thing that baby could possibly get into or be hurt by. Over the years, I have concluded that baby-proofing is not a one-step process. There are actually three things that parents must do to protect their children. The easy part is the tour of the house to cover outlets, lock cabinets, block dangerous stairwells, and remove choking hazards like blind cords. Unfortunately, this first step is far from the end of the process. Far too many parents stop with the check of the house and assume their baby is fully protected.

The second step to baby-proofing that many people try hard to avoid is to teach the little one to respond to the word "no." Some believe that saying no to an infant will stifle their creativity or their self-expression. Some believe that gentle correction will damage their self-esteem. They couldn't be farther from the truth! As soon as your baby is old enough to reach for something s/he shouldn't have, it's time to start teaching the word "no." Little ones need our help to learn self-control. They are not born with this skill, but must learn it. One of our jobs as parents is to teach this, and the way it begins is with that n-word. Consistent, gentle correction will help your child develop socially, emotionally, and mentally. It will also ensure that you can help your child stay safe in all circumstances, not just your sterile, baby-proof home environment. Sooner or later, you will need your child to respond to correction instantly and without hesitation. For example, if he or she is thinking of walking into traffic and you are not close enough to physically grab a hand. You need the little one to freeze so that you have a chance to get there in time to physically protect him or her. This kind of response doesn't happen magically when needed. It's the product of months of patient teaching in less potentially dangerous situations. Teach your child the meaning of the word "no" by correcting small infractions, and when you really need it for safety, the baby will respond to the word in the same way.

The third part of a baby-proofing attitude takes a lot of work on the part of parents. I've come to believe that there is no such thing as a completely baby-proof room or home. Little ones will find ways to get into trouble that you can't conceive of before they get mobile. There is absolutely no substitute for watching your infant or toddler 100% of the time. They do not take breaks (except when they sleep!) from finding mischief. They cannot be trusted to use good judgment just because you need to cook dinner in the next room. You have to find a way to keep an eye on them at all times. Sure, it's very inconvenient, but it's certainly better than the alternative-death or injury because you were inattentive.

You also need to train yourself to assess every room, your own or others, for possible hazards to your baby. Even when a room has been "baby-proofed," there is nothing to stop it from becoming "unbaby-proofed" in a matter of moments. People may leave a bucket of water or a cleaning product lay without thinking, or someone could put a potential hazard into a trash can that baby can reach. You must learn to be constantly aware of what is in and around the area that your little one can reach, and you must remember that just because s/he couldn't reach that high last time you checked doesn't mean that the baby won't choose that moment to learn a new skill.

An acquaintance of mine was raising an infant at the same time that I was. One day when I took my young daughter to visit her house, she wanted to show me something in the garage. I was in the process of scooping up my baby to take her with us when she commented, "Oh, I'll just close my boy's door. They can play in here while we run out to the garage. Don't worry, the room is completely baby-proof!" She had completed the first step to keeping her son safe by eliminating the hazards around his room before he started to crawl.

I was using the third step of baby-proofing. I had scanned the room when I first put my daughter down and had noticed that there was an empty plastic diaper bag on the floor and several small choking hazards in the open trash can. I was not about to leave my precious girl unattended, even if I hadn't seen any hazards in the room, either. It's just plain wrong to let the baby out of your sight when she is awake and moving around like that. I'm human, and I could easily miss something dangerous that her sharp eyes might spy and become interested in. Needless to say, the other mom was quite chagrinned when I pointed out the plastic diaper package and the choking hazards that she had overlooked. She knew she'd baby-proofed that room, and so she had turned off her baby-proofing attitude. She had closed her eyes to potential hazards because she was complacent.

Needless to say, both infants were carried out to the garage that day. I hope the other mom took a lesson and developed a baby-proofing attitude in addition to physically baby-proofing the house. I haven't read about her family in the local paper, so I'm assuming she did. Don't let your family cause a headline, either. Baby-proof your home, but also teach your child the word "no" and baby-proof your attitude. Your little one will be much safer, and on the way to learning to be a responsible citizen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Baby pictures

As many candid snapshots and posed home photos we take, there is still the urge to go to the portrait studio for photographs. I suppose the people working at the mall, department and discount store photo studios can loosely be considered professional photographers, but really what do they have that we do not have at home? They do take photos all day, but most of them did not attend photography or art school or training.

The studio has the advantage of an assortment of backdrops with various colors and scenes. They have a high quality professional camera and a selection of chairs, props and other items to set the scene. And, they have an isolated environment. This can be one of the most important things since the photo studio is free of distractions.

On the other hand, there are disadvantages to trying to get pictures in a formal setting. Since you book an appointment and head to the studio, it is hard to time the pictures when baby is in a cooperative mood. Countless parents have had baby fall asleep in the car or stroller on the way to have pictures taken, only to wake up cranky and unwilling to be photographed. Also, since babies are unpredictable they may respond in unexpected ways to the photographer. One baby, who loved most strangers, would howl upon sighting a particular photographer at the mall studio. Another baby only liked male photographers.

It is a good idea to carry the outfit you want your baby to wear for the pictures, and dress her when you get there. Otherwise mishaps such as food spills, spit up and diaper leaks can cause wardrobe malfunctions. Even think about taking a second outfit in case one of these disasters occurs when you have already put your baby into the preferred clothing.

Even worse are the pictures with Santa or other characters. You've stood in line and you really had your heart set on taking the picture to put in with the holiday cards. But, if baby is unhappy, scared or angry, ask yourself if it is really worth it. It is just a photo and in the grand scheme of life, it simply does not matter. If you do want to use photos for a special occasion, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time for retries or to do the photo at home instead.

Finally, keep in mind that there will be days that it simply doesn't work out. As much of a hassle as it is, scoop up your baby, give her a snuggle and head home. Try again in a week or a month, because things change quickly in baby land.

What you should do versus what you need to do

When you have a new baby, you get a lot of advice, and much of it makes sense. However, new parents are often so careful to follow the advice of the experts that they do not listen to their own instincts.

For example, the experts all say that it is important not to do anything else -- watch TV, look at a book -- while breastfeeding your baby initially. They suggest that gazing deeply into your infant's eyes during the 1 am feeding, the 3 am feeding, the 5 am feeding are all necessary for proper bonding. I read the books and heard their advice. I tried to follow it. But then, as I was falling asleep slumped over my suckling baby yet again, I realized something. My baby and I were bonding nicely. And, if watching a late night movie when she wanted to eat/play/sing/cry in the middle of the night helped me keep my sanity, wasn't that more important than following the experts' advice?

The same applies to your baby's behavior as she gets older. While you can read umpteen books on teaching her, soothing her, disciplining her, only you really know what your baby needs. Just like grown people, babies have unique personalities and styles. It is important to customize your parenting to what your baby needs and understands. And, you need to know when to make exceptions.

I cannot count the number of times I took my baby to the doctor, explaining to the nurse that "she just wasn't acting right this morning." No, she hadn't shown a fever. No rashes. No vomiting. Despite the skeptical looks I received, I knew her behavior was that of an ill baby -- not my usually happy, healthy girl. Sure enough, a look into her ears showed infections or a listen to her lungs indicated pneumonia. How did I know? I have no idea, but I knew all was not right with our little world.

Sure, some people do not have good instincts. Whether you do or not, it is a good idea to read up on the research that shows what child rearing techniques are best and to get expert advice when you are unsure. But, at the end of the day, remember you spend more time with your baby than anyone else and listen to yourself.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

baby clothes

Before I actually had a baby, I periodically purchased baby clothes for gifts. I would try to be practical, but ultimately would select items based on their "cute" factor. However, once I actually had a baby, it made me rethink the topic entirely.

Back closures
Several items I received as gifts for my newborn had back closures. In other words, they had buttons, snaps, zippers or other attachments up the back of the garments. Clearly, the people who designed them had not had babies. Newborns spend most of their time lying down. On their backs. So, if you put an infant in a romper that buttons up the back, and then place him on his back! he gets little marks up his back and is surely uncomfortable. Clearly, clothing designers with side and tummy closures were thinking about babies.

Changing
While most baby clothes appear conducive to diaper changing, I received a few gifts that were trying harder to be clever than convenient. Those that open at the crotch but do not release the feet are fine, if you are willing to contort your baby and risk spillage. Those garments that do not open at the crotch at all? Well, unless they are something like soft knit pants or shorts, they are very inconvenient.

Fabric
Babies have delicate skin; delicate skin is easily irritated by rough fabrics. So, when selecting clothing, blankets and towels for babies, look for the softest fabrics available. Brushed cottons, flannels, satins and fleece are all lovely and will usually be gentle on a baby's soft skin. Frankly, I enjoy soft fabrics, why shouldn't a baby?

Washing
I don't even understand why they make dry clean only baby clothes. Babies are inherently messy and their clothes should be easy to wash. While it may seem like a lovely extravagance to give a baby a cashmere sweater, she will outgrow it by the time it returns from the dry cleaner after the first spit-up incident. Get her a cute cotton sweater and put the rest of the money in her college savings account, instead.

Grandma 101

by Leanne Phillips

I am expecting my first grandchild next month, a precious little baby who I have yet to meet, but whom I have seen pictures of courtesy of today's remarkable ultrasound technology. My grandchild is an adorable little baby with whom I have already fallen head over heels in love. As the birth of my first grandchild approaches, I have lately been giving a lot of thought to the kind of grandmother I want to be.

My own mother was a wonderful grandmother to my children. My kids called her "Grandma Lockwood," because she lived in Lockwood, California, as opposed to other grandmas and great-grandmas who lived in other places. (This was true, of course, until she moved to Pine Canyon, whereupon she quickly became Grandma Pine Canyon.)

I watched in awe as my mother completely transformed into another person when her grandchildren were born. This same woman who for some reason refused to let me stay out after dark when I was in junior high school was suddenly open to anything. This same woman who made me do homework and wash dishes and clean my room was suddenly relaxed and had other priorities. This was the same woman who wouldn't let me use the family car to go to a Cheap Trick concert when I was in high school, for the ridiculous reason that it was an hour's drive away in pea soup fog. Now, she was suddenly a proponent of skipping school in favor of going out for breakfast followed by a trip to the toy store.

Grandma Lockwood was happy and bubbly and full of light at all times. She always said the right thing. She always had plenty of love and hugs and snacks on hand. She was always right there when she was needed for even the smallest of emergencies. My children loved her dearly.
Here are some lessons I learned from watching my own mother on how to be a terrific grandmother:

1. Being a grandmother starts before baby is even born. Just as new parents prepare for the arrival of their child, grandmothers also begin preparing for the birth of their new baby grandchildren. Now is the time to stock up on baby supplies so that you are prepared for visits with your grandchild. It is never too early to buy your grandchild that first doll or favorite story book, even if he or she has not yet been born. Grandmothers generally have more disposable cash than moms and dads. Now is the time to put that spending power to work and shop 'til you drop.

2. Being a grandmother means baking. Lots and lots of baking. Grandma Lockwood always had cookies and cakes and pies on hand. She loved it when the grandchildren helped her make batches and batches of waffles from scratch, which were then frozen so they could have homemade toaster waffles for breakfast each morning during their visits. She was famous for her chocolate chip cookies, a recipe I could never quite replicate. (I remain convinced she had a secret ingredient she never disclosed.) Now that you are a grandma, it is time to come up with your own secret, special recipe that you, and only you, can make to perfection. The goal here is to have your grandchildren ask their parents, "How come your chocolate chip cookies never taste as good as Grandma's?"

3. Being a grandmother means being supportive. When your grandchild is born, be ready to be supportive of the newborn baby's parents. Help with housekeeping and meals is always appreciated. Be willing to dispense endless parenting advice as well. Regale the new parents with stories of how difficult they were as children and how adept you were at handling any and every little thing. The new parents will surely appreciate your words of wisdom and take them to heart, despite any protests to the contrary.

4. Being a grandmother means taking sides. As a parent, you can't take sides between your children. You have to be fair and weigh the facts and do what is right. As a grandma, you can always take a side! your grandchild's side. Whatever the argument, the dispute, the controversy, your grandchild is always right and, conversely, his or her parents are always wrong. Whatever your grandchild wants to do, it is perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, whatever reasons your child gives to your grandchild for not allowing him or her to do something are perfectly unreasonable and ridiculous. This is truly one of the most fun aspects of being a grandmother. All those years when your own children were embarrassed by your silly behavior and pretended not to know you will now come back to haunt them!

5. Being a grandmother means relaxing and being yourself. As a parent, you don't always have the luxury of relaxing and being yourself with your children. You have responsibilities and obligations. You have been entrusted with the care and feeding of this tiny little baby. You have to protect this baby from harm. You have to shape this baby's character. You have to set an example. As a grandmother, you are suddenly freed from the constraints of parenting and are able to experience "grandparenting." Grandparenting means setting an example in a different way and playing a different role in your grandchild's life. You get to be the one to teach your grandchild that everything is possible, there are no limits, he or she can do or be anything and everything. You get to be silly or goofy or whatever you want to be. Your children were embarrassed and pretended not to know you when, for example, you wore silly hats, told stupid jokes or sang loudly (and badly) in public. Your grandchildren, on the other hand, will love you for it.

6. Being a grandmother means presents and packages. Grandmothers should always come bearing gifts. When they cannot bring gifts to their grandchildren in person for a special occasion, this is where the United States Postal Service comes into play. Packages received from grandma are always special, no matter what they may contain. Be sure to send packages for every holiday, no matter how small the occasion. Fill them with lots of candy and noisy toys that will drive your grandchild's parents up the wall.

7. Being a grandmother means being available. Grandmothers drop anything and everything for the opportunity to visit with or babysit for their grandchildren. Once you become a grandmother, your sole goal in life is to be there for your grandchildren and to make them happy. There is always time to read a story, listen to your budding comedian tell his or her first jokes or play outside. Everything else can wait. Being available means being available to the new parents as well. You know better than anyone how challenging parenting small children can be. Be available to do whatever you can to help out on a moment's notice.

8. Being a grandmother means never having to say no. As a parent, you have to discipline your children. Sometimes, you have to be the bad guy. And you always, always, always have to say, "No!" For parents, saying no becomes almost a reflex. But (and here's the fun part), when you become a grandmother, you can drop the word no from your vocabulary. Whatever your precious grandchild asks you, the answer is always yes, yes and more yes. You want to skip doing your homework and play outside instead? Sure! You want to stay up until midnight watching television, eating candy and drinking soda? By all means! You want to dress up like a cowboy and lasso the poor, helpless ducks out in the yard? Go for it! The goal here is for your grandchildren to say to their parents, "But why not? Grandma always lets me."

9. Being a grandmother means having your priorities straight. As moms, we are often juggling so many responsibilities to our children, homes, husbands, careers and communities that we can lose sight of what is truly important. By the time grandmotherhood rolls around, we have learned from our mistakes and have our priorities in order. We now know that nothing should ever come before our children or grandchildren and we are ready to walk the walk. Everything else, whether it's housekeeping, husbands, or our next-door neighbor's weekly crisis, takes a back seat where our grandchildren are concerned.

10. Being a grandmother means adoring and being adored. As moms, we certainly adore our children. But when we become grandmothers, we learn the true meaning of the word "adore." As parents, we are forced to acknowledge the faults in our children in order to help them grow. At times, we have to point out our children's mistakes so that we can help them to correct them and to learn from them. However, with our grandchildren, we have a different sort of luxury. Our grandchildren have absolutely no faults and are completely perfect and adored in our eyes. Because we are able to look upon our grandchildren with pure, unadulterated adoration, we are able to receive the same in return. As grandmothers, we assume our rightful place on the matriarchal throne. As grandmothers, we are finally appreciated and adored the way all women deserve to be!

Copyright (c) 2005 by Leni Leanne Phillips

The Games Babies Play

We don't often think of babies playing games, but they do! In fact, baby games are very important to your baby's emotional, social and intellectual development. The games help baby learn a lot about the world and how to interact with other people. It's very important that you find games to play with your baby and that you play them regularly.

Babies can start to play games just as soon as they have enough control over their bodies to interact a little bit with the environment. As soon as they can make intentional movements, however uncoordinated, they can begin playing games. For many babies, this happens at three months of age or even sooner! One of the main developmental tasks of this very young age group is to learn that their actions can affect things outside of themselves. The first lesson is that when they cry, adults take action to fix the problem. Not long after that, they learn that when they smile, adults do all sorts of funny things to get them to smile again. We put on quite a show, don't we? This "smile and get them to act silly" game is one of baby's first attempts at play.

And look out, world! Baby quickly learns to wave arms and legs on purpose. Some of this is for exercise and to learn control, but some of this movement is to play. Babies who are at this stage can learn to cause reactions in the world by flailing and occasionally hitting their target. One game that our daughters all enjoyed immensely at this age was called "Surprise the Daddy." I cradled the girls in my arms and we quietly snuck up behind their father. I held the baby close enough to his back that an arm or leg movement would come in contact, and when it did, Daddy jumped around with a startled "Oooooh!" It wasn't very long before the baby intentionally swung her arm out to surprise her Daddy and elicit that exciting response. Not long after that, the game started causing peals of laughter. It was FUN to make Daddy jump and start! "Surprise the Daddy" remained a favorite game until well after the girls could walk and sneak up on Daddy under their own power, but it started at a very, very young age.

When babies are learning that the world exists even when they can't see it, the game of "Peek-A-Boo" becomes a favorite. This classic has been around since time began, I think. I found over the course of raising three babies that the best way to start is by covering your own face with your hands, then moving your hands and saying the standard "Peek-A-Boo!" Baby will watch you expectantly, then smile and laugh when you "reappear." Later (when the baby has learned to grab things on purpose), try putting a cloth gently over the baby's face, and the little one will pull it aside. That's your cue to say "Peek-A-Boo!" again. This trick doesn't work out very well, however, if your little one is frightened by it! Take your cue from the baby. If it's not fun, put the idea aside and try again in a few weeks. Before you know it, "Peek-A-Boo" will turn into hide and seek!

Baby clapping games are loads of fun when your little one can hold hands in place to be gently tapped and has learned to clap hands alone. "Pat-A-Cake" is the classic hand-clapper, but you can easily make up your own! Finger plays are fun learning experiences, too, for the little ones who are able to imitate your movements. Many nursery rhymes have movements that you can use, and there are a host of toddler finger plays available at your local library.

Each developmental stage has its games that practice and support whatever baby is learning. Babies studying the concepts of inside and outside will spend hours filling and emptying containers. Babies learning about possession will give you an item and then snatch it away with a grin. Some of your best games will be those that are matched to these cognitive developments.

And each time you play games with baby, you are teaching lessons about social interactions. Babies who play games with their parents and caregivers are learning about taking turns, sharing, and many other concepts that will be very important later in life. Don't miss out, and be sure to do your part-it's tough for baby to play many of these games alone! One of your jobs as a parent is to play, and play, and play some more.