Friday, March 31, 2006

The Importance of Starting Your Baby on a Schedule

Everybody in the world runs on some sort of schedule, weather they are five and in kindergarten, or fifty five and running for president. A schedule is the way to keep your life in good order and to make sure that you are doing everything that needs to be done. If when you were a child, your mother and father let you go to bed at any hour you wanted, do your homework whenever you wanted too, and go to school whenever you wanted too, you probably would not have amounted to much later in life. This would not have been your fault; it would have been your parents fault for not teaching you the importance of a schedule. The easiest way to start a child on a schedule is to start them from the day they are born.

When your first baby is born, you may be overwhelmed, but the best thing for you to do would be to start a schedule for you and your baby. Do not write down a schedule, but keep track of when your baby falls asleep, how much he eats, and when he takes his naps for the first couple of days. Let him help you make a schedule that is the best for both of you. After you have a schedule down, you can start going back to your regular life. You can make important phone calls and pay your bills when you know your baby is going to be napping. You can plan to give him a bath when you know that he will be awake. And, most important of all, you can take a nap when he is napping! You and your baby will find it much easier to stick to a schedule as he is growing up, and it will make the rest of your life much easier.

When your baby turns into a toddler, and maybe starts pre-school, your schedule will help him adapt to waking up early, eating breakfast, and taking a nap at school. A few months before your toddler starts pre-school, start waking him up at the time he would need to be woken up to go to school. This way, your child will not be cranky for school; he will be used to it. Your toddler's teacher and all of the other children will be thankful. Always make sure that your toddler is eating enough and sleeping enough. If he is not getting enough of these two things, it might make it harder for you to stick to the schedule.

Once your toddler turns into a young child, he will start regular school, and his schedule may need to change. Usually toddlers get to have a naptime in pre-school, and most kids in kindergarten do not get to take a nap. Work with your child if he is used to taking a nap in the mid afternoon. It might be better if you let your child take a short nap when he is finished with school, rather than not taking a nap at all. It is important to keep a schedule though, do not give it up altogether, and just change it around to make it work for you. When your child starts kindergarten, it is time to set up one or two hours a night to do homework. Make sure that you are available to your child during this time, so if he needs help, he will get it. It is best if you help your child after dinner, when he has a full stomach and is content. He will be able to focus on the task in front of him better.

When you think your child is ready for a written schedule, tell him that you are going to do a project together. When it is time, sit down with your child, take out a big piece of tag board, and write a schedule for you and him together. Start with waking up, brushing teeth, and go throughout his school day until he comes home. Write what time dinner will be, when he has time for homework, and if your child has any after school activities, write what day they are, and what time he needs to be there. This will be a good reference chart for both of you. You can also use this chart to reward your child when he sticks to his schedule. You can reward him by taking him to the park, to the movies, or maybe buying a new toy that he wants. Rewards are a good incentive to young children.

If you start your baby on a schedule, and stick to it throughout his childhood, his teenage years will be much easier on the both of you. Time management is a huge, important part of every person's life, and it is one of the best things that you can teach your child. When your teenager does not need to ask you what time he needs to be at band or football practice, but tells you what time he needs to be there, you will know that you have done your job in teaching your child a schedule and time management. Schedules and time management will help your child grow into a strong, willful adult who will accomplish many great things in his life. The child that has a schedule from early life will most likely accomplish everything he puts his mind to, and he will thank you for it!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Keeping your Baby Entertained in the Car

If you have ever traveled for a long distance with a young child or an infant, you know that the ride can seem longer than it actually is! Most children or babies get uncomfortable or bored in the car, and they will let you know it by screaming, crying, or whining. My husband used to travel for his work, and our son and I used to travel with him. We would be in the car from eight o'clock in the morning to ten o'clock at night a couple of times a month. When we first started this, our son was only a couple of months old, but he still needed time to transition to the changes. Once our son was a year old, we knew the things that would keep him comfortable and content.

If you are traveling with an infant or a young baby and they are having a hard time with the ride, it could be for a couple of different reasons. One reason may be that they are not being held enough. Young babies are used to being held a lot, so you may want to try wrapping them tightly in a blanket to give them the feeling that they are being held. Another thing you can do is sit beside your baby and hold his hand, talk to him, or sing to him. This lets him know that you are close to him without holding him. Never take your child out of his car seat, no matter how upset he is. If your baby is still in an infant car seat, there are toys that strap onto the handle of the car seat. You can buy these toys at any large retail store. Most of the toys light up, sing, and have colorful and toys that make different sounds when you touch them. My son had one that sang different songs every time he spun the sun around the bar. It also lit up and had mirrors on it. Babies love toys like this, and they will keep any baby entertained for long periods of time. Another thing you can do to keep your baby content is read or talk to him. Also, make sure that you stop often enough to keep your baby's diaper changed. A dirty or wet diaper can make your child very uncomfortable, and it can cause a rash that will make your baby very irritable.

If you have a toddler or a young child traveling with you, there are a lot of different toys and games that you can buy for your car that will keep your child entertained. If you go to any large retail store, you can find a pack that hangs on the back of a car seat, and it will sit near your child's lap when it is unzipped. Inside of these packs, you can store different things like color books, markers, reading books, and small toys. Your child will be quite and content for a long time if you pack it with the right contents. Let your child pick out a few things to place inside of it, such as his favorite books and action figures. If you do not allow your child to play with markers while unattended, only pack crayons in the pack.

TV's and DVD players now come small and compact enough to put in your car. You can buy hook up's for your car for them also. If you limit your child's time for watching TV, buy educational DVD's for your child to watch, so he is not only being entertained, but he is also learning. If you do not want to listen to the show that your child is watching, most of the TV's and DVD players come with a spot to plug in earphones. Besides watching movies in the players, most of them can also be used as CD players. You can let your child listen to his favorite music while traveling!

One more thing that you can do to help keep your child quite and content in the car is pack him snacks that he likes. Buy plastic containers with lids and straw tops to pack apple slices, baby carrots, sandwiches, and juice for your child. This will also help you keep your stops at a minimum. Also, let your child bring with his favorite blanket, pillow, or stuffed animal, so he can sleep better in the vehicle. The best thing you can do for your young child while you are traveling is pay lots of attention to him, and try to make him as comfortable as possible!

Being a Guest at a Baby Shower

If you know anybody who is pregnant, or are close to somebody who has a pregnant relative or friend, there is a chance that you are going to get invited to a baby shower for that person. Usually people only have a baby shower for their first child, or if there is a big age gap between their children. When you get invited to a baby shower, whether it is from a relative or a friend, there are actually a lot of different things you have to do if you are planning on going to the shower. You need to buy a card, a gift, and you also need to ask the hostess if she would like you to bring any kind of food or help with the preparations of the shower.

If you are not close to the person who is having the baby, you should not feel obligated to go to the baby shower. If you think that you will not know anyone, or you think that you might feel uncomfortable and out of place, do not feel like you have to attend. If there is an R.S.V.P. in the invitation, be polite and call to let the hostess know that you will not be able to make it. You should not have to give a reason as to why you are not going. If you want to, you may ask for the address of the person the baby shower is for, and then send a card or a gift at a later date, but you also should not feel obligated to do this.

If you are close to the person who is having the baby, you should be excited to go to the baby shower. A baby shower is a place to celebrate a new life coming into the world, and it is also a time for the new mother to see all of her friends and family together before her big day! Before the baby shower, you can ask the hostess if she would like you to bring plate of food to pass, a desert, or any other small things like napkins, utensils, or table clothes. Most likely, the hostess will tell you no, but thank you. If she does ask you to bring something, be polite and tell her you would love to. A baby shower is a big event to plan for, and even if the hostess has everything planned, she probably will not turn down help if someone offers it to her. Do not offer your help if you do not plan on following through.

When you decide to go shopping for a present for the shower, there are a few things to consider. Remember, this is a party for the new baby, but also for the pregnant mother. A lot of people forget this. It is nice if you bring a small gift for the mother to be also. You can bring something small like lotion, bath bubbles, socks, or anything else small that you can think of. The new mother will love it, and also appreciate your thought. If you would like, you can also bring a card or small gift for the hostess, but it is not necessary. Do not feel obligated to bring any presents at all if you cannot afford it, or if you have already brought a gift to the mother to be. A card with a little note inside is a great gift.

If you decide to buy a present for the arriving baby, look inside the invitation to see if the mother to be has registered at any stores near you. When somebody registers for gifts, all you have to do is bring the small piece of paper to the store with you, scan it at the gift registry, and out will come a list of all of the presents she would like to receive. Do not feel like you have to buy a lot of things from the list. One or two small things will do. If you know if the baby is a boy or girl, go with blue for a boy, and pink for a girl if you decide to buy clothes as a gift. If you are not sure of the sex of the baby, buy green or yellow, which are neutral baby colors. If you know a few other girls going to the baby shower, you may all want to pitch in for a bigger gift such as a swing, a rocking chair, a car seat, a crib, or anything else that is a little expensive. If someone else asks you to pitch in, but you do not want to, tell them that you have already spent what you planned to on the baby, but thank you for including you.

Remember to buy a card to go along with your baby shower gift. If you have a family, you can write in the card that the present is from your whole family, even if your husband and children were not invited. Many people that receive gifts at parties keep the cards with the gifts so that they know who gave them what. It makes it much easier for them to write thank you cards to everyone who came to the party and also to thank the right person for each gift.

Baby showers are a time for fun and celebration. There will be games and food, and you will see many friends and family. Have a great time at the party, and thank the hostess for inviting you!

Changing a Nursery to a Toddler Room

If you have ever had a baby, you probably spent a large part of your pregnancy setting up a nursery for your new arrival. You probably painted in pastel colors, set up a changing table and crib, bought a new rocking chair, and filled the room with stuffed animals, and everything else you could find for your new baby. Well, time goes by fast, and sooner than later, your new baby is now a toddler. When this happens, your nursery will probably not suit your needs any longer. Your toddler will start climbing out of his crib, climbing up on his changing table, standing in the rocking chair, and finding many other ways to try to give you a heart attack. But, do not worry; every toddler does that to their parents! They are actually telling you that it is time for you to change their room from a baby nursery to a big kid room! You should be excited about this, it means that your child is becoming independent, and starting to make decisions on his own! It is a very exciting time in you and your child's life.

When you decide to start changing your baby's nursery to a big kid room, there are a few pieces of furniture that you will need to change. One thing you will have to take out is the changing table. Your toddler should no longer need one in his room, and it will just be taking up space. Another thing you can take out is the rocking chair if you have one. Rocking chairs can be dangerous for toddlers who like to crawl on top of everything. It is easy for them to lose their balance on a rocking chair, causing them to fall off and hurt themselves. The biggest piece of furniture you will have to change is the crib. When you went shopping for cribs, you may have bought one that turns into a toddler bed. If you did, you are lucky. You will only have to convert it to a toddler bed instead of buying a new one. If you end up needing to buy a toddler bed, saving your crib mattress instead of buying a new one will save you money. Some people decide to buy a twin bed instead of a toddler bed. This will save you from having to switch beds in a couple of years. If you decide to do this, make sure the twin bed you pick out is not too high off of the ground. Toddlers are sometimes used to rolling around in their crib, but the bars keep them from falling out.

One thing you can do to change your toddler's room is painting it. If you have painted the nursery a pastel color, such as blue, you might want to think about just adding a border around the room instead of painting the entire room. It will save you time and money. By adding some additional pieces to the room such as different curtains, lamps, a toy box, shelves, and other things like that, you can change the feel of the whole room. You may also want to think about adding a small desk or table and chairs, or you can also add a wooden toy box and a matching dresser. If your toddler likes a specific cartoon character, you can decorate the room around that cartoon character. If your child likes Sponge Bob Square Pants, you can add a Sponge Bob light cover, Sponge Bob sheets and comforter, and a Sponge Bob border around the room. You can then decorate with red and blue lamps and curtains. The whole room will revolve around Sponge Bob without everything in the room having a picture of him on it. You could put Sponge Bob stickers on your child's toy box or dresser if you want, but then if your child decides he does not like him anymore, you will have a harder time changing the look of the room.

Besides adding different furniture and painting the room, there are a few other small things you can do to change the feel of the room. You can add a small book area and some small step stools for your little toddler, which will make him more independent. You can also start clearing out his baby toys little by little, and replacing them with big kid toys. This may be hard for you, but your toddler will love his new room.

Have a fun time rearranging and changing your nursery into a toddler room. Make it a family ordeal, and make sure you let your toddler put his ideas into his new big kid room! This will ensure that he likes his room and that he will spend a lot of time playing and having fun in it!

Documenting Your Baby's Growth and Achievements

As children start growing up, and parents start looking back in the past, they sometimes wish that they had documented their baby's achievements and growth better. Parents sometimes start to forget things that they never thought they would, like how old their baby was when he started to crawl, what their baby's first word was, and what their baby's favorite first food was. Although it was all you could think about at first, when your baby starts school and new things like sports, your new memories kind of push out the old ones. It happens to everybody, but there are many fun ways to preserve your old memories. Your children will love to look back and see themselves as babies, and see what they were like, and also what you were like when they were babies.

One thing you can do to preserve your memories of your baby is by starting a baby book when your baby is first born. Baby books have many places for pictures and journaling, and many different things to fill in such as baby's first food, first time crawling, first steps, and many baby books have charts to fill in for when and which teeth come in first. I have a Noah's Ark themed baby book by Inspirio. It comes in a sturdy box to keep the book safe in, and also has a little bit of space for extra pictures and papers. The box has a Noah's Ark themed picture on it, and reads, "A baby is a blessing from above." The baby book features the same picture and caption. Both the box and the book also have different sayings on them. The first page has an area for your baby's first picture, name, birthday, and also the parents' name. This book is great because it has spaces to fill in about the day your baby is born, the baby's family, the family tree, family traditions, the baby shower, doctor visits and preparations, our world and the things that were happening around the time of baby's birth, the arrival of the baby, what happened during labor, and visitors that came when baby was born. There is also a page where you can ink your baby's hand and foot prints. Besides all of that, there are pages for birth announcements, leaving the hospital, the trip home, and an area for photos of special people involved in baby's life. There is a page for baby's schedule during the first months of his life, first days and weeks, famous firsts, baby's favorite things, keeping baby healthy, baby's first teeth, special ceremony's, first holiday's, first birthday's, and loving thoughts. After that there is a page for every year, where you can place pictures and thoughts, up until first and second grade. Then there are a few pages that your child can fill in on his own when he is old enough. At the very end of the book are eight photo album pages. Many baby books are alike, and if you keep up with them, you will have documented most of your baby's life.

Besides keeping a baby book for your baby, you can start a scrapbook. Scrapbooks are great because you get to put whatever you want in them. You can put pictures, journaling, trinkets, and other embellishments that you like. You can put hair from your baby's first haircut in your scrapbook, or the first tooth that your child ever lost. You can put envelopes, letters, drawings, certificates, and many other things that you want to keep for when your baby grows up. Everybody enjoys looking at their baby book, and your child will be grateful that you put so much thought and time into something for them. If you have more than one child, they will like to compare their scrapbooks to one another's to see who did what first. You can also do scrapbooks of your children together. You can do different scrapbooks such as baby's firsts, holiday scrapbooks, and vacation scrapbooks. You can do scrapbooks alone or as a family.

If you do not have time to do a scrapbook, keeping a photo album is also a fun way to document your baby's achievements. Snapping a picture for your baby's first step, or the first time your baby eats solid food is easy and non-time consuming. You can then place them in order in a cute photo album for your child.

There are many ways to document your baby's growth and achievements. Even doing something simple like writing in a tablet about your baby is better than nothing. Take fun photographs of happy times, and enjoy your baby's life!

Fun Things to do with Your Baby on Easter

Easter is a fun holiday and even more fun if you have a baby or toddler to share the holiday with. There are many activities and different things going on all over the world for Easter, and it is a great time for a parent and a child to spend time together, and do lots of fun things together. There are a lot of preparations that need to be done in most homes for Easter, and it is best if you start early. This will ensure that you have a fun and happy Easter holiday.

The first thing that parents should do for Easter is pick out their children's Easter outfits. Most little girls get frilly and flowered pink and yellow dresses, and boys like light colored suits. Baby's will wear anything that you put them in, but toddlers can be a little more picky about what they wear, and you may want to let them help you pick their outfits out. You will be grateful when it is time to put the outfit on your child and he or she does not throw a huge tantrum. An Easter outfit is very important because it will be the outfit they wear for pictures if you get them, the outfit they will wear to church if you go, and the outfit that your child will wear for Easter day in front of family and guests. You will want to make sure that the outfit fits well and is very comfortable if your child will be wearing it for any long periods of time. You will also want to make sure that your child can walk well in the shoes that you pick out for them, and that the shoes are also very comfortable.

If you decide to get Easter pictures for your child, there are a few things to think about. Some people like to get bunnies in their child's pictures, which is very cute. If you decide to do this, you may want to introduce your child to a bunny before picture day. If your child has never been around a bunny before, he or she may become scared, and then your pictures will not turn out very well. Think about the kind of props and backgrounds you want for your child's pictures before you go to get the pictures done. This will make your time go a lot faster when you are getting the pictures taken. Your child will be less likely to get bored during the pictures if they get done fast. You might also want to think about getting family pictures, or if you have more than one child, you have to think about if you want to get your child's pictures done alone, or together. Another thing you can do for Easter pictures is get your child's pictures taken with a person dressed as the Easter Bunny. It will be a great picture and memory that will be cherished by you and all of your family members. You can send your child's pictures in Easter cards, which your family and friends will love.

If your family decorates and hides Easter eggs, set aside a few hours one night before Easter. If you use real eggs, do not decorate those weeks before Easter, because they will not stay good. If you decorate fake eggs, you can do them whenever you want, and you can also use them as decorations around your house. You can decorate fake eggs with stickers and glitter, and fill them with candy and treats for your baby or toddlers to find. That will definitely keep them interested in finding more. Set up an Easter egg hunt for your children, and if you want, you can even invite their friends over. If it is nice outside, you can have the hunt in your backyard. If it is cold or rainy, the children will have as much fun inside. Make a game out of the hunt by telling the children that whoever finds the most eggs gets an extra prize. Some people like to dress in an Easter Bunny outfit, which your children will love. You could also rent or buy bunnies for your baby's special day. Take a lot of pictures of your family during their egg hunt, and send them later in the thank you notes that you send to people who helped you during the day.

One thing that a lot of families do not do is explain the Easter holiday to their children. If you can come up with a story of how Easter became, and explain it to your baby, your baby and children will understand Easter better, and have a lot more fun. You could make a family tradition of telling the story of Easter every year before Easter dinner or before the Easter egg hunt. Children love tradition, and it is a great time for your family to all be together. A lot of families love to go to church together on Easter also. If you do not go to church, but would like to start, Easter might be the right time.

Remember, Easter is a great family holiday, and a time for families to celebrate and be together. If it is your baby's first Easter, make it extra special. Take a lot of pictures, and make a scrapbook or picture book with all of your holiday pictures in it. Your babies will love to look at them when they are all grown up!

Activities for You and Your Baby to Stay Fit

If you have ever had a baby, and went home not feeling great about yourself, you are not alone. I for one, was a size three when I got pregnant, but nine months and one baby later, I was a size eight. Many new mothers do not feel great about their body and the shape that they are in. Although every new mother needs to give herself time, and have a little patience, some new mothers are a little harder on themselves than they should be. No new mother comes out of the hospital looking as good as they did nine months ago, although some would like to think they did. Your body is going to need time, exercise, and relaxation to get into shape once again. Now may even be the time to get into better shape than you were before you were pregnant. It is understandable if you do not want to give time up with your baby to get into shape, but there are a few things that you and your baby can do together to get into shape. You can have fun, get into shape, and spend a lot of time with your new baby at the same time.

One thing you can do to start getting into shape is looking into a mother and baby exercise class. When you are at the hospital after having your baby, ask a nurse about it, and she can recommend a class that will suit you and your baby. There are many different types of classes like mother and baby yoga, mother and baby gym, and in some towns, mothers and babies can just start their own group if there is not already an organized group in your area. If this is the case, you can ask any new mothers you know about starting a group with you, or you can organize a group yourself by putting up signs or advertising on the internet. Usually in these groups and classes, there is an instructor that teaches you fun and safe exercises that you and your baby can do together. This will help the growth of your child, and help you get your body back into shape.

Besides going to a class to get into shape, you can also try jogging with your baby. You can go to any large retail store, such as Wal-Mart or Target, or even a sports store, such as Dunham's, and buy a stroller that is made for jogging or running. These strollers are usually made with one large wheel in the front, and two large wheels in the back. It is very easy to run and control this kind of stroller at the same time. Your baby will love the scenery and the fresh air and you can listen to your headphones and enjoy the scenery as well. It is a great time to stop at a park and have a light snack or picnic with your child. You can even invite a friend or spouse along with you. Besides jogging or running with a stroller, you can buy a regular stroller and take your baby for walks. You can walk around a lake or park or even down the road near your home. Walking is also a great way to get back into the shape that you want to be in. If you decide to walk or run, make a schedule and try to stick to it. You do not have to do it every day, but try to keep it to at least twice a week, or maybe even more.

Another way to bring exercise into you and your baby's life is walking. If you have a baby sling or something like it, you can place your baby inside of it, and take a walk or a nature hike. This is a great way to keep your baby close to you and still exercise. Many babies do not get enough fresh air, and this is a great opportunity for you and your baby to get outside, and not be cooped up in your home. If you like to visit the library or the malls, take your baby with you in his sling. By taking the stairs in the malls instead of the escalator, you are getting extra exercise also. You can also take your baby to the stores, post office and other errands in his stroller or baby sling if you live near town. It is a great time to get out on a nice day and spend some time outside. Instead of driving in between errands, try to walk as much as you can.

Many mothers think that they have to stay home for weeks after they bring their baby home from the hospital, but that is not true. The sooner you get out of the house, and start back to your regular life, the sooner you are going to get healthy and back into shape. Do not be hard on yourself if you do not get back to your pre-baby clothes, because most likely you will not. Your body has went through a lot of big changes in the last nine months, and whatever your body ends up looking like, learn to love it. Your spouse and your baby will love you no matter what you look like! Your child is the most important person in your life now, so have fun and try to be as healthy as you can be, for you and your child's sake!

Food for Babies Besides Jarred Food

Have you ever been down the baby food aisle of your local grocery store? If you have you probably have noticed that there are about a hundred different brands, flavors, and kinds to pick from. When I first started my son on baby food, I was kind of overwhelmed, and I did not know if I was giving my baby everything that he needed. When I asked my mother what I should be feeding him everyday, she told me that I did not even need to buy baby food! I thought that she was joking at first, but she was definitely serious. Every person needs to eat from all the food groups to be healthy, and a baby is no different. You can feed your baby food that you eat, just the same as you can feed them baby food. All you need is a blender, plastic containers, and a refrigerator.

You can start out by going to the grocery store, and going into the fresh fruit and vegetable section. Pick out the kinds of fruits and vegetables you want your baby to try, such as bananas, strawberries, apples, or any other kind of fruit you think your baby would enjoy. When you are picking out vegetables, it is a good idea to buy green beans, carrots, and squash. Corn might be kind of hard to mash up for your baby, as will some other fruits and vegetables, but you can try if you want to. When you get home with all of the fruits and vegetables that you bought, the first thing you should do is wash them thoroughly. You do not want your baby ingesting any kind of sprays or anything that farmers put on their crops. After you wash them thoroughly, cut them into small pieces, and if they need to be, cook them. After you are done washing and boiling them if they need to be, place them into the blender until they are blended into a sauce. If it still has chunks in it, your baby might choke if he is not used to solids.

Once your baby is used to eating solid foods, you can even mix more than one fruit or vegetable together. You can try mixing bananas and strawberries, peaches and apples, or any of your baby's other favorite foods. You can also try mixing milk with some of your fruits, or maybe even some yogurt. This will keep your baby interested, and he will not grow tired of eating the same things every day. You can mix more than your child can eat in one day, and keep them in plastic containers in your refrigerator. Remember to write the date onto the container, so that you do not feed your baby food that is no longer fresh.

Besides fruits and vegetables, there are other foods that your baby can eat besides jarred baby food. One thing you can feed your baby is yogurt. At most grocery stores, next to the regular yogurt, they sell yogurt that is specially made for babies. This is a tasty and healthy treat that your baby will surely love, and it is also soft and easy for your baby to swallow and digest. You can also try feeding your baby mashed potatoes. You should hold off for awhile on the gravy since it is very greasy. Your baby may get a stomach ache, or an upset stomach. Another thing you can try feeding your baby is cooked pasta noodles. Whenever you open a can of chicken noodle soup, or any kind of soup like that, try taking out the cooked noodles if they are small enough. They are easy to mash up with a fork, and very tasty from the soup broth. Once your baby is a bit older, you will not even need to mash the noodles up.

If you would like to try to give your baby meat, try a meat that is very tender and that you can grind up in the blender. It is easier for your baby to swallow the meat if you blend it with something else that will make it more like liquid. You can try blending it with tomatoes, or a vegetable like green beans. The water content in the vegetables will make the meal easier for your baby to digest. Remember, if you are cooking the meat, make sure it is well done and safe for your baby to eat.

When people think there baby is ready to start on solid foods, most of them run to the grocery store to buy jars of pre-made baby food. It can sometimes get a little expensive, but if you have the time and the patience, you can easily start your baby on solids without having to buy jarred food.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Taking Care of A Sick Child

Last week, my mom got a call from my younger brother's school nurse. The nurse said that my mother needed to come and pick him up because he was sick. Since my mom was babysitting my son, she brought him with her to pick my little brother up. My brother was really sick, and the next day, so was my son. My mom ended up bringing my little brother to the hospital, and sure enough, he had influenza. The doctor told my mom to keep him out of school for at least a week, which my brother was ecstatic about, but I was not. My son had to stay at my mom's house for the next two days, and I did not want him to get any sicker than he already was. However, there was nothing I could do about it, so my son ended up staying with my mother and sick brother. For the next two days, my son ran a low temperature and was a little irritable, but nothing serious. When he was at home with me at night, he seemed fine also.

The first day that my son was back at home, he seemed to be doing well during the day, when he was up and running around. He did not act sick, and he ate and played like normal. I thought that he was over being sick. Once he laid down that night though, it was a different story. He spiked a high fever, started coughing and sneezing, and his nose was uncontrollably runny. The first thing I did for him was give him some infant Motrin. This was the kind of over the counter medicine that my doctor had recommended for any kind of fever or aches or pains. Soon after I gave him the Motrin, he fell asleep. I was overjoyed, but it did not last long. He soon woke up asking for something to drink. Obviously, he had a sore throat, but I did not want to give him any more medicine than I already had, so I gave him a drink of Gatorade, and he fell back asleep for about a half hour. He then woke up again, complaining that he was hot and that he needed to blow his nose. I changed him into shorts and a tank top and gave him a drink again, and he soon fell back asleep. That time, he slept until morning.

When he woke up in the morning, I gave him some more Motrin after taking his temperature. I decided to call my doctor instead of taking him in, to ask for some advice. I talked to a nurse at my son's doctor office, and she gave me some good pointers to follow. She said to watch the inside of his throat for any redness and blistering. Strep throat can be very serious for a young child, and it is easy for a young child to catch when his immune system is low. She also said to give my son popsicles or ice cream pops to keep his temperature down, and also to give him a cool bath if I was having a hard time keeping his temperature down. Another thing she said was to follow the directions on his medication carefully and not to mix medicines without consulting a doctor or nurse. Taking your child's temperature often will keep you informed on the way he is feeling, and also you will know if your child's temperature gets too high. If you are doubtful about your child needing to see a doctor, either call your doctor or make an appointment. Your doctor would rather see you, even if it were for something minor.

If you have a sick child at home, there are a few things you should have ready. Keep popsicles around, and also Pedialyte, which is a drink that will keep your child hydrated when he is ill. Also, keep Motrin or any fever and pain reducer and a working thermometer in your medicine cabinet. If your child is hard to give medicine to, make sure you have a medicine spoon or a medicine dropper to keep your child from spilling his medicine. Always let your child hold a stuffed animal or something else he likes if he does not like taking medicine. It will calm him down and make him feel safe and relaxed.

The best thing you can do for a sick child is love him. Sick babies love to be rocked, held, and read to. Keep your child dressed for the weather and away from other sick children if you can. Try to do everything you can to keep him from getting sick, but if he does get sick, do your best to make him comfortable!

Transitioning From One Child to Two

My daughter was 2 and a half years old when my son was born. She loved him to pieces-- she would hug him and hold him and say "I love my baby brudder" over and over again. Of course, this all occurred while I was still in the hospital and able to fully supervise all of their activities. Once we brought the new baby home, it was a different story.

When my husband went back to work a week after I gave birth, I remember saying I was afraid to even go to the bathroom, for fear of leaving my older toddler and my newborn baby unattended for even a minute. Because by this time, my sweet, angelic 2 and a half year old was prone to giving her baby brother a quick little smack here and there. She was downright sick of all of the attention he was getting.

Luckily the first few weeks were peppered with visitors who would help break up the routine. Always bearing gifts for the new baby, a few extra thoughtful visitors brought gifts for my 2 ½ year old as well. Opening her own little goody bag filled with sidewalk chalk, bubbles and the book "I'm a Big Sister ", my little girl happily retreated into her own little world-- for a least a few minutes.

Of course all of this wore off after a while. My daughter is 5 years old now and she simply adores her almost 3 year old little brother. They play together-- and they fight together too, but at least now he's old enough to defend himself. Still, those first few weeks 3 years ago were a bit rough for all of us, so here are a few tips for making those first few weeks at your house a little bit easier.

-- Prepare your older child for the baby's arrival. Rent a heartbeat monitor and let you child be a part of your pregnancy by letting him or her hear the baby's heartbeat. Also, show you child the baby's ultrasound pictures and let the child help pick out items for the nursery or for the baby's layette. In addition, most hospitals offer sibling preparation classes so you can enroll your child for a day of learning about what it will be like to be a big brother or a big sister.

-- Read to your child. "I'm a Big Sister" or "I'm a Big Brother'" are two books by Joanna Cole, which will help you child understand what it means to have a new baby in the house. Other recommended titles include "When I'm a Big Sister" by Bruce Lansky, "There's a Brand New Baby at our House-- and I'm the Big Brother" by Susan Ligon (there is also a "Big Sister" version available), "My New Baby" by Annie Kubler and "The New Baby" by Mercer Mayer. If you're looking for a familiar face, "Big Sister Dora" by Alison Inches features the beloved Nickelodeon TV character, Dora the Explorer, and her adventures as a big sister of her twin baby brother and sister!

-- Talk to your older child. Your child may become disillusioned when the gifts start pouring in for the new baby, so make sure that he or she understands that the new baby needs new clothes and toys, that he or she is tiny and doesn't have many things yet. Let the older child help out by opening the gifts and putting items in the baby's room.

-- Try to stay on your regular routine as much as possible. Do what you can to ensure that your older child maintains his or her regular schedule. Have someone drive him or her to preschool as usual and ask for help if you need to get you child to play dates, birthday parties, etc. Your older child will become resentful if he or she has to miss out on regularly scheduled events. Have Daddy or a family friend take your older child out for as special meal or a movie-- fun one on one time is what your older child will be craving those first few weeks.

Plan ahead and know what to expect-- it will make the transition from one child to two much easier for your entire family.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New Moms: No Need to Stress Over Potty Training!

Many aspects of raising a baby can be very stressful for the first-time mom. We tackle "one step at a time" and take the challenges as they come. Many of those challenges are rather easy to face, but when it comes to potty training, even the strongest of moms can be brought to their knees at the mere thought. When it's all over, however, you will wonder why it stressed you out so much because some kids have a very easy transition and are actually proud to get out of those "baby diapers."

Although it may be tempting to start trying to potty train early, don't give in to the temptation. The little guy or lady will often let you know when it is getting close to time to start the training. One way you may discover that they are ready is that they start indicating to you when the diaper is dirty or wet. This indicates that they probably know that something their body did caused the discomfort in the diaper and that often means that they are ready to start controlling the muscles that caused the discomfort in the diaper to happen.

It goes without saying that if the child shows visible signs of wanting to "use the potty" like a grownup or older sibling does, it's probably time to start potty training. Many physicians agree that the time most children are ready to start the training is when they are between 18 months and 2 years. In most cases I have known personally, it's much closer to the 2 year mark than 18 months. I have also read that there's no reason to panic if the child is still not potty trained at 2 1/2 years or even 3 in some rarer cases.

Remember that you want the child to feel that he or she has accomplished something to be proud of, so don't be afraid to give praise. It is a good idea to stop at praise, however, and it is not recommended to reward using the potty by giving food or candy or any other kind of tangible reward. A hearty "good job!" goes a long way with positive reinforcement. You may think that a two year old is too young to need things like self esteem boosts, but it isn't true and it is good for a child of any age to feel good about him or herself.

When you are potty training, remember to take the little one to the potty numerous times per day. Start with every 60 to 90 minutes, especially if the child isn't able to successfully use it. On the other hand, if it has been a long time that the child hasn't used the toilet or wet the diaper or training pants, you will want to place him on the potty seat more often than once an hour. Children often urinate a hour after drinking more than a few sips and have one daily bowel movement, also about an hour after eating a lot of the time.

Never force the child to "sit there until you go." Eventually they will be able to recognize when they need to go instead of just announcing when it's too late, but in the beginning it will be good to set a pattern.

Use a potty training seat, either stand-alone or one to clip onto the regular toilet. Don't sit the child on the "grown up toilet" and expect them to hold themselves on it so that they don't fall in. That is a very scary place for a two year old without a child potty seat connected.

The first thing to learn if you are potty training a child for the first time is that there will definitely be accidents. Even if the training is going well during the daytime, consider using pull-ups for overnight wear to avoid bedwetting because it will most likely be possible for a while even after full training is accomplished.

Some parents find that having the child help to clean up accidents is a successful tool in making them want to try harder to use the toilet. There are many good resources available on the net, from the library, or most likely from your pediatrician's office that will help you to know when the time is right and how to handle any situation that you may face when potty training.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Baby Birth Announcements

By Christina VanGinkel

Sending out birth announcements is an ideal way to let family and friends that live both far away and close by, know that baby has finally arrived! Announcements were once as commonplace as baby shower invitations, but then they seemed to fade off the scene, what with the availability of the telephone and even instant messaging and email. Thankfully, somebody realized just how welcome a card in the traditional snail mail is, announcing that baby has arrived, along with all of the incidentals such as length, weight, name, date of arrival, and often a snapshot.

Knowing ahead of time that you will want to send out announcements, you can prepare by getting them ready except for the information and snapshot. Address all of the envelopes, even applying the postage. You can also ask a good friend to help you fill them in and mail them the day of or day after the actual delivery too. Just leave them in his or her care and tell them to just go ahead and fill them in, adding a snapshot to each if that is your plan.

If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, pack them in you bag that you take to the hospital with you. If you are there for more than twenty-four hours, you can use a bit of the down time to get them filled out. Then ask a nurse or attendant to drop them in the mail for you. If you want to add photos, take along your digital camera and a small printer that you can print to from your camera without a computer. If you are afraid that the hospital staff will think you are going a bit overboard, have no fear, as this is actually becoming quite common. This is actually one of the fun ways the digital age is becoming all far-reaching!

If you would rather make your announcements instead of buying them, go for it. With baby on the way, you might have enacted a strict budget, and while the idea of announcements sounds like something you would love to do, actually paying for them on top of the postage to mail them can be enough to keep you from actually sending them. Do not let the cost stop you from sharing your joy with family and friends, just look through what you already have at home to make them yourself. If you do any sort of scrapbooking or card making already, you probably have everything you already need. If you go with a postcard style, you can also save on the postage itself. In this day and age, when everything is costing more than it ever has before, mailing a postcard is still reasonably priced.

If you want to personalize the cards, but not include a photograph, you can wait until your first day home as a friend of mine did, and use her baby's footprint on the front of a set of postcards she made herself from heavy cardstock. She had cut them all ahead of time, and had simply traced lines on the mailing side, using half of the card to place the mailing address, and the other half to fill in her son's weight, length, and other significant information. She the used his foot as a stamp, and stamped his foot on every card. She had run each through her printer ahead of time too, printing the saying 'I am already leaving my mark all over this world!' Everyone who was lucky enough to get one had a comment, and we all loved the cards. It really showed just how excited she and her husband were for the arrival of this addition to their family. She later told me her three-year-old daughter helped her with the stamping, and it was not as time consuming as some might have thought. That it actually was a great project for her tired self to do with her bouncing off the walls daughter. The baby could care less she said, and slept through the whole episode, and that she actually stamped twenty-five cards that she had all ready, except for the info and the print, in just a half an hour. Her husband filled the information in, and he dropped them in the mail on his way to work the next morning.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

PottyTraining with Fisher-Price's The Royal Potty

Potty training a toddler is a bittersweet milestone for most parents. On the one hand, a potty trained toddler will mean that you will no longer have the expense of buying diapers. On the other hand, potty training your toddler also means that he or she is no longer a baby anymore-- indeed your baby is growing up!

We had just begun potty training my son and I was just about at my wits end. My son, for some reason, was deathly afraid of the toilet. I bought him one of those foam potty rings, with pictures of his favorite Blue's Clues characters on it, and I sat him down on it on the regular toilet. He screamed as if he were being tortured. He did not like sitting on that big potty one single bit. After several long winded attempts at this, I gave up. I figured he just wasn't ready to be potty trained, even though he was quickly approaching his third birthday. So we went back to wearing diapers 24/7.

Then a few weeks later I was out shopping and I spotted Fisher Price's Royal Potty. I was intrigued by it, even though I had sworn that I wasn't going to buy my son a potty chair. The Royal Potty claimed to make potty training fun. With built in sensors, the Royal Potty would even play a song when the toddler went to the potty. I decided to buy it on a whim. Armed with our new Royal Potty and some Nascar big boy underwear (my son picked them out) we made a new attempt at potty training.

Assembling the Royal Potty was quite simple-- just a few pieces of plastic that snapped together and a quick battery insertion. It also came with a cute little story book that explained how "special" the potty was. The story, called "A Throne of Your Own" was just a few pages long but my son squealed with excitement when he saw the picture of the potty in the story. The set also came with a potty tracking chart and two dozen royal stickers (they are stickers of crowns, 12 for a boy and 12 for a girl). These stickers are meant to reward the child when he or she uses the potty.

I put a pair of the Nascar underwear on my son and explained to him that these were his big boy underwear and that he shouldn't wet them. I told him that if he needed to go to the bathroom, that he should let me know and he could sit on his special potty. I said this all to him, all the while being pretty positive that eh wasn't retaining anything that I was saying. So imagine my surprise when, in the middle of dinner, he announced that he had to go to the potty. He ran into the bathroom and sat on his new little "throne". He was delighted when the music starting playing. We rewarded him with a sticker and ever since then he has been so excited to use his new potty. The best part is, the Royal Potty seat can also fit on top of your regular toilet-- and it will still play music when your child goes.

My 5 year old daughter got into the act, too. Although she understands that the Royal Potty is for her brother's use only, she made herself her own homemade potty chart and she puts a checkmark on it every time she goes to the bathroom.

A few things to consider if you're thinking of purchasing Fisher-Price's Royal Potty:

-- Make sure your child is old enough to understand the concept of potty training. If you start a child too early, it will take longer to potty train and he or she will become frustrated.

-- The music will only play if your child successfully uses the potty. If nothing comes out, the music won't play.

-- The "songs" that the potty plays are just a few chords of royal-sounding music. Still, it's cute and my son loves it.

-- Plan to buy extra stickers. My son was so excited to place a new sticker on his potty chart that we ran out of stickers pretty quickly. I just bought some more stickers at the dollar store to use as we continue the process.

Bottom line: If you're skeptical about The Royal Potty, let me tell you that it really worked for us. It costs under twenty dollars and the removable potty pot is easy to clean. Fisher-Price's Royal Potty will make the potty training process much more enjoyable for you and your child.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Irish Twins - Badge of Honor

I first heard the term, "Irish twins," when I was in the hospital, having just given birth to our third child - a little girl. The cheerful, plump nurse came breezing into my room with a big smile on her face, eager to give health and encouragement to yet another new mom. All the nurses I have ever dealt with when having children have been pleasant, friendly, and helpful, but this nurse at the hospital in Rhode Island those twelve long years ago, was by far the friendliest. She actually sat down on the side of my bed and just began chatting away about the blessings of motherhood and wanted to know all about me. She did the usual: checked my blood pressure and other vital statistics, but then she really just seemed to have time on her hands and decided to stay and chat.

After she had been there only a few minutes, my parents walked into the room, having just arrived in town. They had mercifully been babysitting my next youngest daughter for the two weeks prior to my due date, as she was only a year old and still wasn't walking. I had been struggling to pick her up so they took her to their home and cared for her while I rested and waited for the baby. Our oldest, our son who was six-years-old, was with his other grandparents, my husband's parents, and they had already gone home for the evening. When my parents walked into the room, they had my little one-year-old daughter with them, and they stood her down on the floor at the doorway. I watched as my little girl walked to me, taking her first steps on that very day - the day her baby sister was born.

My friendly nurse, who had taken up residence at my bedside and still had not moved, was delighted. She introduced herself to my parents as if she and I were old friends, and she swept up my little toddling daughter into her arms and handed her to me. I hadn't seen my little girl in two weeks and we had a pleasant reunion - her giggling, me crying - and all of us thrilled to have seen her take her first steps.

It was then that the nurse began asking about her age and the age difference between the two babies. When she found out that they were only one year apart in age, she claimed, victoriously, "Oh wonderful, Irish twins!" My mom and I laughed and liked the name, but the nurse explained that it is a very real term given to siblings born one year apart. It had been a tough year, finding out I was pregnant when my newborn was not yet four-months-old. I had gone through morning sickness while still getting up at night, feeding the baby. My husband was finishing graduate school and was right in the middle of his thesis, so he wasn't around much to help. At times, I thought I simply wouldn't make it. A military move added to the stress. So when this cheerful nurse gave a catchy name to our two little blessings, I was all for it. It was almost like a trophy or a badge of honor, for having gone through a tough year. I knew the babies, especially since they were both girls, would one day be a lot of fun and hopefully be great friends, but this time in life was tough. Irish twins - it worked for me.

As time passed, somehow, the term "Irish twins" did help me through some of the rough times. The first year was tough as I battled two car seats, a double stroller, and a bitter Rhode Island winter. But then, somewhere around the time the girls turned two and three-years-old, something wonderful happened. They had played together from the start, but now they had become best little friends. Over the years, they have had their ups and downs, but today, at twelve and thirteen-years-old, they are as different as night and day; yet they love each other and always have a friend to enjoy, regardless of the circumstances. As the years have passed, I've had those who have argued with the definition of "Irish twins" given to me by that nurse all those years ago; but I disregard the nay sayers. My Irish twins are a blessing from God and that fact that I can call them that is part of the blessing, indeed!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Talking to Other Adults about Children's Safety

Safety is always an issue where infants and toddlers are concerned. From the time, we wake up in the morning, until we put them to bed at night, and even when they are safely tucked into their cribs, there are safety concerns that we as the responsible adults need to be concerned with. In addition, other adults sometimes rightly, and sometimes wrongly, feel the need to strike a chord with others about these safety issues. I was reminded of this when shopping with my grandson recently. If you are expecting me to tell you, how to deal with people like this, stop reading here, as I do not have the answer you want to hear. I was left speechless and nearly walked out of the store without finishing my purchase. I am just sharing this story with you in hopes that if you are the sort to impart your 'wisdom' on others, that you at least take the time to do so more tactfully than this person did.

We were done shopping at a large department store that my daughter and I had been to, along with my two-year-old grandson, and were standing in the checkout line. I was holding my grandson and he was becoming heavy. I sat him on the counter, still holding him with one hand, and still standing in front of him. I never let him go, never walked away from him, I did not even turn away from him. I essentially was still holding him as I had been on my hip, except his little bottom was now on the counter and not on me. A store employee, one aisle over from the one we were in, somehow found this to be offensive, and she stormed over to our aisle, leaving the person she was checking out standing there waiting for her to come back. She came up behind the person checking us out, and very loudly proclaimed that I should not have my child (my grandson, though she did not know this) on the counter, that just the other day a child had fallen off! She then went on, to 'loudly' ask me if I did not have the sense to know this!

To say that I was taken aback would have been putting it mildly. I honestly did not have a response, though I thought of a million of them as soon as I left the store. Yes, he might have fallen, IF I had let him go, or walked away from him. Yes, you should not put a child on the counter, but when a store does not offer shopping carts with child safety restrains, and discourages strollers, then that leaves the adults in charge to either hold their hand or hold them as I had been doing with him. I found it preferable to set him on the counter, holding onto him, than to set him down on his feet at the crowded counter where they had a box of hangars with metal clips setting at his exact height were I to have set him down. As the store sold toddler sized clothes, a large section of it, then they must know that children would occasionally be in the store.

As I said, I thought of many replies once I had exited the premises. However, when the salesperson was in my face telling me what a bad person I was being, I had not a word to say to her. I simply picked my grandson back up, finished checking out, and exited the store. I am all for pointing out serious instances to other adults when a child might be in danger. I have done so myself. I always approach them quietly, with a smile on my face, and as politely as possible point out why the child might be hurt. For example, I recently saw a young mother with three small children hanging on one side of a shopping cart. I walked up to her and told her I had been in a similar situation years ago, with my own two children and my son's friend, when I let go of the cart and they tipped it over onto themselves. Nobody was hurt, but it was a lesson learned. I kept a smile on my face the whole time I was telling her the short story, and she actually started to let go of the cart for all of a second when it started to tip. She quickly grabbed it, and said she never thought of that happening. As quick as that, she had all three kids off the cart, and calmly told me thanks. If you feel the need to point something out, unless a child is in imminent, serious danger, do it with a bit of calmness, and kindness, and it will be taken much more to heart than any message relayed in anger and sharp tones.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Preparing For Your Unborn Baby

Many people spend a good part of their lives trying to have a baby, and when the time finally comes, they realize that they have not planned for the moment very well. They spend their whole pregnancy dreaming of babies, but not preparing for them, and when the baby finally arrives, the new mother and father have a lot of preparations to finish. To avoid this happening to you, there are a few things you can do to be ready for the new arrival of the love of your life!

When you first find out you are pregnant, you can start with the preparations. Some of the things you can buy for your new baby without knowing the sex are lotions and baby washes, baby medicines, a thermometer, diapers, and other products that are not colored. You can even start buying furniture for your nursery. You can buy a crib, a changing table, a rocking chair, and other furniture, but do not buy blankets, sheets, and pads until you know the sex of your baby. If you are not going to find out the sex of your baby, you might want to decorate in a neutral color such as green or yellow. You can also start to buy clothing for your new arrival, such as white onesies, white socks, white hats, and other white articles of clothing that can be used on a boy or girl.

Besides buying different things for your baby right away, there are a few things that you can do for yourself. You may want to think about enrolling in a Lamaze class, a new parenting class, or any other classes that you think you may benefit from. It is best if you have a partner to help you along your way. If your baby's father is not able to help you out, it is good to ask your mother or a close friend. You can also call your hospital where your child is going to be born, and ask for a walk through of the maternity ward. It will make you feel more comfortable when it is time for you to give birth. The nurse or doctor will show you what kind of room you will be in, where your baby will be kept when he is not with you, and the different tests they will do to you and your baby once he is born. If you do the walk through, you will have fewer questions and be less confused with what is going on when you give birth.

Another thing you can do when you are pregnant is start baby proofing your home. You will have time when you are pregnant to do this, but if you wait until your baby is born, you will have a lot less time, and maybe over look something important. One thing you can do is put covers on all of your outlets that your child may be able to reach when he or she starts moving around. You can also put corner bumpers on your tables and safety locks on your cupboard doors and toilet seats. Another thing you will want to do is remove all pillows and stuffed animals from your baby's crib or bassinette. Babies can easily suffocate with these items around them, so it is best to get into the habit of keeping these kinds of things out of the crib from the start. They are cute decorations, but keep them on a shelf or in a basket until your baby is old enough to pick them up himself.

One more thing that you can do is start setting new rules in your home right away. If anybody smokes in your home or in your car, you might want to think about banning it. Smoke can harm your unborn baby, and you. You can make a rule that says anybody smoking has to do so outside of your home and your car. This is for the safety of you and your baby. If you have a pet, you may want to think about training it around a baby doll. Some pets get jealous and protective, and you will want to stop that before your new baby is born. If you have a cat, you may want to think about keeping it in a separate room, or out of your baby's room. Cat hair can cause allergies in newborns, or lay on a newborns face. This is something you will want to avoid also. Having an animal and a baby in your home can be difficult, but it can be managed.

Preparing for a new baby can be hard and exhausting. Besides shopping for your unborn baby and preparing yourself for the arrival of your new baby, there are a few more things you will want to try, such as enjoying your pregnancy and relaxing!

Starting Your Baby On Solid Food

When your baby is first born, you will most likely be breast feeding or bottle feeding him. All mothers know what is best for her baby, and it will be no different when it comes to feeding your baby solid foods for the first time. All babies will start eating solid foods at different times in their lives. Some babies will eat solid foods as early as three months, and some will not start eating them until six or seven months. You will know when your baby is ready, so do not let anyone pressure you into it earlier than you think is healthy for your baby.

There are a few things to look at when you are thinking of starting your baby on solid foods. You want to make sure that your baby can hold his or her head up without any help or extra support. You also want to make sure that your baby can sit in a high chair without any help or extra support. This will let you know that your child's body is mature and healthy enough to start digesting more than milk, formula, and baby cereal.

You may have started your baby on baby cereal by putting a small amount into his or her bottle. It is actually a good and healthy way to start your baby on solid foods. This will help her digestive system start digesting more than liquids. It also helps fill your baby's little belly faster, and she will be more content. Besides putting baby cereal in her bottle, baby cereal is a good solid food to start your child on.

Put the cereal in a small bowl and mix it either with water, formula, or a small amount of milk. You can ask your doctor what he recommends if you do not feel comfortable making the decision on your own. Next, put your child in his high chair, and tie a bib on him. He will be very messy with food for the next couple of years! Start out by feeding your baby small amounts of the cereal off of his spoon at first. He will most likely spit the first bite out, and make weird faces like he does not like the taste. What he really is thinking about is the texture of the food. Remember, for months now, he has only gotten liquids, and this is a very big change for him. Do not give up if he spits out the first couple of bites. Almost all babies do. They do not know what they are supposed to be doing with it at first. Even if you think your baby is spitting all of the food out, he most likely is not. He is most likely swallowing some of the food.

After you have had your baby on cereal for awhile, you can start giving him baby food. There are many different brands of baby food, but Gerber is one of the most popular. Gerber baby food has age groups right on the jars of their food. You will most likely want to start out with a vegetable. Some people say that if you start your baby with fruit, they will not eat their vegetables, but whatever you decide will be fine. When you start your baby on baby food, only feed them the same kind for a few days straight. That way, if your child is allergic to one of the foods, you will know which one, and stop giving it to them right away. If you feed your baby strawberries and bananas one day, then green beans and peas the next and he gets sick, you will not know which food caused it. So, it is much easier to give your baby one kind of food for a few days straight, until they have gone through all the baby foods and you are satisfied that your baby is not getting sick from one of them.

After your baby has been on baby food for awhile, you can start giving them the baby food dinners. You can get them in dinners such as chicken and spaghetti. These dinners are for babies that are a little bit older. Some have chunks of meat, and some have pasta noodles in them, so you want to know that your child can at least chew a bit and swallow the food without choking.

Whenever you decide to start your baby on solid foods will be the right time. Your baby will love to try out and taste new foods, and even though it will be very messy, you will have a very happy baby!

Weaning Your Baby From His Favorites

When your baby is first born, you will give him a bottle, or breast feed him. You might also give him a pacifier, a stuffed animal, and a blanket. Without you knowing it, your baby will become attached to one or more of these items, and when it is time to give them up, he will have a hard time. There are a few things to help you break your baby from the things he is attached to without hurting his feelings very much.

The first thing you will want to break your baby from is breast feeding or a bottle. This will be the easiest to break him from since most mothers break their children from breast feeding or bottles when they are just around one year old. When you want to stop breast feeding, weaning him from it is the best thing to do. If you breast feed five times a day, go down to four times a day, and give him a sippy cup or a bottle for the fifth. Do this over the period of a few weeks, and by the end, you will have your baby off breast feeding and onto a bottle or a sippy cup.

You can use the same tactic of breaking breast feeding when you are trying to get your baby to give up a bottle. To start with, give your baby a sippy cup a couple of times a day instead of a bottle. Eventually, take your baby's bottles away all together, and throw them in the garbage. If you keep them in the house, it is easier for you to hand one back to your child when he is whiny or crying for one. If you do not have any in the house, there is no way possible that you can give it back to him.

Another thing you will want to take away from your child before he gets to old is a pacifier. Baby's and children get very addicted to them, and it is sometimes very hard to break them of the habit. To start out, do not let your baby have his pacifier during the day. If your baby starts whining or crying for it, get him interested in something else, such as a toy he likes, or a book that he likes to read. Explain to him that he does not need a pacifier, and even though he would like one, he is not going to get it right at that moment. That way, he knows that you are not being mean to him, but you have a reason for why he is not getting it. A lot of baby's want their pacifier to go to sleep at night. When you are ready or you think your baby is ready to give it up at night, there are a few things you can try. First of all, give your baby his pacifier to go to sleep with, but as soon as he is asleep, take it out of his mouth. If he wakes up crying or asking for it, try to get him to go back to sleep by talking or singing to him for a few minutes. If this does not work, do not give up. Another way you can get your child to give up his pacifier is to have him throw it in the garbage himself. If your child is old enough to know that what goes in the trash does not come out, let him throw it away himself, and then when he asks for it, you can remind him that he threw it in the trash himself. Another thing you can do is ask him if he can give it to another baby. Tell him that he is a big boy now, and there are other baby’s who need pacifiers. Little babies and children are very compassionate, and he may give it up if he thinks he is making another baby or child happy.

Blankets and stuffed animals are also possessions that little kids get very attached too. If your child only takes his blanket or stuffed animal to bed, let him keep it until he decides to give it up on his own. Some teenagers still have blankets from their childhood, and that is fine. If your child insists on bringing their blanket or animals with them everywhere they go, you might want to think about getting them to give it up, or at least get them to leave it at home. One way you can do that is to get them interested in the places that they are going, and they might forget about their blanket or animals. Before you leave the house, tell them about the fun things you are going to do with them that day, or tell them who they are going to visit, and what things they will be doing during the day. This may distract them enough that they forget their blankets. Another thing you can try is sitting down and talking to them about it. Ask them why they think they need their blanket or animal, and then explain to them why you think that they do not need them. Tell them that you think they are a big kid now, and can do big kid things. Explain that if they need their baby things with them, they might not be able to do big kid things like play on the big swings at the park, or walk through the store instead of riding in the grocery cart. That explanation alone might be enough to get your child to give their baby things up.

Although you think your child may be old enough to give up some of their beloved things, they might not be mentally or emotionally ready. If you notice that taking away your child's blanket or bottle has really hurt your child, you might want to think about giving it back. In most cases, your child will let you know, in one way or another, when he is ready to be a big kid, and give up whatever it is he is attached too. You might fight, you might struggle, or your child may just give you what you want, but either way, you and your baby will be fine!

Treating Baby's Dry Skin

Young babies have very sensitive skin. Some babies have more sensitive skin than others, and may require more care, but there are some things every parent should do for their babies, and some extra things parents can do for their babies when they have extra sensitive skin.

Some babies have skin that is very dry, and it causes them to be uncomfortable, and it even causes some older babies to scratch their skin. Babies and young children cannot tell when they are scratching too much, and may cause trauma to their skin. In some cases, babies will scratch themselves over and over again, until they bleed or scratch their skin. There are many different things you can try to help your baby.

One thing you can do is add a natural oatmeal bath treatment to your baby's water. An oatmeal bath treatment will soothe and relieve sunburn, relieve burning and dry skin, and also temporarily relieves itching. This products active ingredient is one hundred percent colloidal oatmeal. This product will work on babies, children, and even adults. All you have to do is add some or the entire packet into running water, then stir the bath so that the oatmeal does not settle on the bottom of the tub. You should bathe your baby in the oatmeal for about five to ten minutes. You can do this for your baby a couple times a week, and your baby's dry skin should become better.

Another thing you can do is add baby oil to your baby's bath water. Just like the oatmeal bath, add it to running water. You will only need to pour one to two capfuls in your baby's water. Besides pouring the oil into your baby's bath water, you can also run the oil directly onto your baby's skin and hair. This is one of the best ways to moisten his or her kin. If you pour it directly onto his skin, make sure you rub most of it in, and then wipe the rest off with a moist towel. If you put the oil in the bathtub, be careful that your baby does not slip. The oil will make the floor of the bathtub even more slippery than usual.

Besides adding different things to your baby's bath water, there are a few more things you can do for your baby's dry skin. One thing is to make sure that you put lotion on your baby one to two times daily. Try to use a lotion that is made for babies or a lotion that is perfume and dye free. Perfumed and dyed lotions can irritate a baby's skin, or make a baby's skin worse than it already is. It can also burn your baby's skin, or make him really uncomfortable if he has any scratches on him. There are special lotions made for babies such as Johnson's Softlotion. This lotion is clinically proven to be mild, and heals dry skin. The lotion will last up to twenty four hours. Johnson's Softlotion contains natural lipids and a touch of baby oil. It is a non-greasy formula, and can be used on babies, children and adults. Besides using only baby lotion, you can try adding a small amount of cortisone cream to your lotion. Cortisone cream may be harsh on your baby's skin, so you may want to ask your doctor before doing this.

Besides putting lotions and cream onto your baby, and adding different things to their bath, there are a few more things you can try to help heal their dry skin. First of all, you can look for a laundry detergent that is hypoallergenic. Purex makes a detergent called Purex Free and Clear, which is hypoallergenic and free of perfumes and clear of dyes. This kind of laundry detergent will be gentler on your baby's skin than a detergent that has added perfumes and dyes. If you switch to a detergent like Purex Free and Clear, make sure you are not only washing your children's clothes in it, but also their blankets, sheets, comforters, stuffed animals, and anything else that comes in close contact to their skin. You might also want to try skipping the laundry softener during your laundry time too. Laundry softeners can be just as harsh as some detergents.

There are a lot of different things you can try to heal your baby's dry, sensitive skin. If nothing works that you try, you might want to think about taking your baby to see his pediatrician, or your family doctor. He might be more informative and give you new ideas or medications to help your baby be and feel more comfortable.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Picking the Right Preschool

Recently, my husband was hired for his dream job in a town that is about twenty miles away from our current home. Since gas prices are always on a rise, we have decided to move to the town where my husband works. Besides having to look for a new place to live, we also have a two and a half year old son, and we have started looking at preschools in the area to enroll him in. We never dreamed that there would be so many decisions to make when you are enrolling your child in a preschool. You want to make sure that your child will be safe in his school, have enough one on one contact with his teacher, and are around children that are well behaved and nice to your child.

When you start looking for a preschool for your child, you can find many of them in the yellow pages of the local phone book, or you can ask parents around the area for their input. When you are asking around, find out if any of the schools have a bad reputation. When you first contact a preschool, there are some issues that you will want to address right away. One thing you will want to ask about is the price that they will charge you. Some preschools charge per child, per hour, or per day. If the preschool that you like charges by the week, but you only want your child to go two days per week, you might want to find a different school that will fit your financial needs better.

You will also want to find out the hours that the school is open, how many children will be in the class, and if the school offers transportation. It will be best for you to find a school where your child will have the same hours as you if you work. Some schools will not take a child that is still in diapers, so if your child is not potty trained, you may have to work on it with him before he is allowed to enter the school. If the preschool that you pick has thirty children in its class, you will know that your child will not be getting much one on one attention with the teacher. For some children it is fine to be in a large class, but if your child needs work on something important like speech, you may want to find a school that specializes in that area.

If you find a school that you really like, you might want to ask a few more questions such as if they give time for naps. If your child is used to taking a nap during the day, it might be hard to break him from it, or it would be better if you could find a school for him with a naptime. If you put your child in school for more than three hours per day, you should also ask if they have a snack time. Young children work better and have a better attitude if they are not hungry.

Another thing to look at when looking for a preschool is location. If you work, it might be better to look for a school near your work place, but if you are a stay at home mom or dad, it may be better to find a school near your home. If you find a school within walking distance from your home or workplace, you will be spending less money on gas, and more time with your child. You may also find a preschool that offers transportation for your child. This will get your child used to riding a bus, which he may have to do when he starts regular school.

When you finally find a preschool that you want your child to attend, you and your spouse should take a few hours out of your day to tour the school, and meet the person that will be your child's new teacher. If you do this, you will have a better idea of your child's day, and his schedule. You can also ask his teacher for a weekly report, so if your child needs extra help on anything, you can help him throughout the week with it. You will feel much better about your choice if you fully research your child's new school!

Give a Child a Gift worth Getting: Your Time!

By Christina VanGinkel

Instead of giving the child in your life one more piece of 'stuff' the next time a gift giving occasion comes up, be it a birthday, or a holiday such as Christmas, give them a gift that will last long after the typical toy will be discarded or shoved aside. Give them a gift that involves you, and your time, something that most children would appreciate much more than the newest video game or novelty, even if they do not even realize it themselves!

Sure you are saying, that it is easy to say, but come on, most kids would much rather have the latest and greatest of whatever is being touted on the commercials and that their friends are all talking about, than some time spent with you, but I would disagree! Kids love spending time with the adults in their lives, be it a parent, grandparent, or even an aunt or uncle. The idea of going somewhere with them is almost always exciting. Choose the activity with some thought and you are sure to make them beg for more gifts along the lines of the first. Costs will vary, but there are many to choose from that are no more expensive than any toy you would buy them, and the memories will last much, much longer! Some can be expensive, such as the time we arranged for our youngest son, a huge football fan, to take a tour of an NFL stadium and actually walk out onto the field that some of his heroes play on each week during the season. He was also able to meet a few of the players themselves, with both me and his Dad by his side, for some memories worth much more than anything else the same amount of money could ever have bought. We all had so much fun, that we are already planning a return trip for this summer.

Ideas for gifts of time could include:

A visit to a nearby town that offers an attraction that draws in tourists from all over (we drove to a ghost town for an afternoon of hiking, a picnic lunch, and just some good old fashioned talking!) Too often, we overlook local places, and always seem to want to go far away whenever we think of a trip
Visit a museum together
Sign up for a class that you can both attend, for example a cooking class or a class on learning a new craft
Make a certificate that entitles your child to spend the day with you cooking in your own kitchen (young children especially like this, while older kids may find this more of a chore than a treat, so keep that in mind)
Plan a skip day to spend together doing what you always wish you could do, such as staying in your pajamas, ordering take out, and watching movies, or something more active such as hiking, biking, or swimming

This is just a small sampling of gifts that include your time as much as the gift itself. Any activity that you know both you and the child would enjoy would be ideal. If you are worried that the presentation of the gift itself would be lacking in comparison to other more traditional gifts, consider what the gift itself is going to be, and think up something that would represent the gift well. If you are giving your child riding lessons for example, wrap up a small novelty horse from the Dollar Store along with a homemade certificate or the real thing if one was provided from where you obtained the lessons. For that day spent in the kitchen baking up batches of cookies, again, make up a certificate, and use it to wrap up a set of cookie cutters and their very own rolling pin. When I took my son to the ghost town, I bought a book on all of the local lore surrounding the town, and wrapped it up along with a note that I encrypted for him to decipher. When he had transcribed it all, he knew he was getting a day trip spent at the fascinating shore side town of Fayette in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He enjoyed his self so much, that even two years later he is still talking about how much fun that day was. Now that is what I would defiantly consider a gift that was a hit!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fun Things to Teach Babies

Just because we don't necessarily remember being babies doesn't mean that it's not when we did a lot of formative learning. Experts will generally agree that babies are "taking it all in" so ignoring teaching moments with the little tyke is not a wise choice.

Surprisingly, many parents are choosing to start "teaching" while the little tyke is still an infant by reading to the baby. Will she be able to register what your words are saying? There is nothing proving that, but that calm bonding time with the infant is very important, so why not start a library of picture books a little earlier than you might have otherwise done that?

If you are thinking something like "if it's just hearing a voice that's important, why buy picture books so early, why not just read the newspaper or the month's utility bills to the baby?" The answer would be that most books written specifically for children have that certain "sing-songy" rhythm that is pleasant for us to read and for children to hear. In a very short time, the baby will be old enough to see the pictures and that is when you can point out what certain objects, shapes, colors, etc. are.

Having plenty of books available all throughout a child's life is very important, but there are other vital things to expose the baby to as well. A collection of many different types of music is one of those things. Have a CD of classical music playing when you are having quiet time with the baby or some perky children's songs when it is play time.

If you make sure that music is a part of the baby's life from the very beginning, don't be surprised to hear him or her "singing along" by making different baby sounds than you are used to hearing. One time when it's usually not good (for various reasons) to play music is for when you are trying to have the baby go to sleep. Babies constantly process everything around them, so that would just be a distraction and one more thing to process when she should be going to sleep. I have also heard that some babies, if they are used to being put to sleep with music, will eventually come to a point where falling to sleep *without* the music becomes quite a problem.

Don't just let the music part of "very early childhood education" be about CDs or videos, either. Allow your son or daughter to hear you singing from their earliest memory. It would be a good idea to ask older siblings to sing with the baby when they can, too.

One good thing to remember although it isn't actually "teaching" per se, is that babies can pick up on voice tones. Speak softly with gentle tones because they pick up on when someone is angry or upset. It isn't really a "rule" just for spending time around babies; it is a good thing to remember in life no matter with whom we are dealing.

Keeping your voice at a nice gentle level at all times isn't the only thing about "speech" to teach baby. Talk to the little bundle of love every chance you get. Don't let the thought that he won't understand what you are saying stop you from doing that. Carry him around with you throughout the day if you are able and spend some quality time with him. He may not understand and he most likely will not remember it, but then again, a lot of study still needs to be done about those formative years.

You won't be playing games for learning until the baby is older, but it is a good idea to play counting games with baby when he or she is still a toddler. I don't mean infants for this one, but "one, two, three books!" or "red ball" takes only a moment to say to older babies or toddlers and even if they are just beginning to talk, you may be surprised to hear a repeated "one, two, three!" for some other object in the house.

There will be many chances to teach baby things when she's a toddler and preschooler, but don't overlook the first months of life. The whole world is an open book to the little prince or princess.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Equipping the Nursery

Equipping the room that your baby will sleep in can seem like a monumental task. While you want to make sure that everything is perfect, you also have a budget. You want to work within the budget to get the best of what you can for baby. Here are the basics of equipping the nursery so that you can begin spending your money wisely.

For starters, you will need to get a crib. Be sure that you look for one that meets current safety regulations. (If you get a new one, that is not much of an issue. It is only if you are purchasing one second-hand that you have to worry about it.) You probably will want to get a crib bedding set for your baby. Should you or someone you know be handy with a sewing machine, your least expensive choice would be to make crib bumpers. Otherwise you will want to purchase a full set as you will get it for less that way than buying each piece separately.

Next you will need somewhere to put the clothes. Think ahead here. A lot of people dissuade future parents from getting a changing table, but I think that is premature. After all, a changing table can do you a lot of good. Most of them these days are convertible so that they can be used as a dresser later. Even if you are looking at a low-end model that is not advertised as a combination piece, you can still use it for a bookshelf or as a shelf to put baskets of toys. What does not make sense is purchasing furniture that cannot be used again. Go with a changing table if you will get years of use from it.

Every nursery should have a rocking chair. While it is nice to go all out, it is not necessary. You can get an inexpensive wooden model rocking chair without spending a fortune. Just be sure that whatever type of rocking chair you get has a way to attach a seat cushion. Long nights rocking a teething baby can mean a sore bottom if you are sitting on straight-back wood.

A hamper also is a must for any baby. You should begin washing the baby clothes with an infant detergent. These detergents are gentler on little clothes and on little skin. They are good because most babies have sensitive skin. It would be a royal pain, however, to put the baby clothes with the big people clothes and then have to sort them out again later. Just get a hamper for the nursery, and you have solved the problem.

Buy a few baskets. Even if you do not see a need for baskets right now, you will later. You will find that they are great for storing small toiletry items, pacifiers, or even tiny toys. Pick up a few when you are out, and you can get ready for them when you need them.

You should purchase either a diaper pail or a trashcan for the nursery as well. Personally we have a trashcan with a hinged lid. It fits into our changing table really well, and it will work long after our son is out of diapers. As long as you change the trashcan every couple of days, you do not have smell issues. One of the benefits of the diaper pail, however, is that many of them have built-in air fresheners or have sealing mechanisms so that you will not be able to smell the dirty diapers.

Beyond these basics, there are plenty of options for your nursery. The main thing is to be sure that you will have room for everything. Do not try to purchase everything under the sun. It will only cause you to lose money because you certainly will not use everything. If you do get something and realize that you will not use it after all, donate it to charity or give it to someone you know who is expecting a baby. We never used our baby bathtub, for instance. It just never worked for us, and at this point, it is long gone from our home.

Babies are fun. Just watch what you spend.

By Julia Mercer

Providing a Toddler with the Power to Say No

By Christina VanGinkel

My grandson, who is now 32 months old, has developed the need to be able to tell other children that he does not want to do something, or more accurately, that he wants them to stop whatever it is they are trying to do to him. For example, the other evening, while stopping at a friend's house, the young daughter of my daughter's friend, who is about four months younger than my grandson, wanted to take my grandson's jacket off, he apparently did not want her to do that. His response was to push her away. This was not acceptable behavior for the simple reason that when someone pushes someone else, there is always the risk that one of them might end up hurt, the one being pushed, or even the one doing the pushing. That very same day, he was at my house in the morning, when a neighbor of mine stopped by with her four-year-old daughter. The kids were playing, and all of a sudden, the little girls started to cry. When asked what had happened, she said she was holding his feet on the floor and he kicked her. Huh? When asked to explain further, as I could not for the life of me imagine why she would be holding his feet down in the first place, she said she was showing him what they do in her dance class, and when he did not want her to hold down his foot, she still wanted to. He pulled away his foot and kicked her!

What was most surprising about the whole situation for my daughter I believe is that, he is not aggressive by nature, if anything, he shies away from other children until he knows them well. Therefore, when he handled it by giving the little girl a push, my daughter was taken aback. When I also went on to tell her that he had kicked the neighbor's daughter that very morning (I honestly had not thought it was a big deal, but when she was concerned about the pushing incident, I decided to tell her about it). Instead of making more of the whole scenario at her friend's house than what was needed, she had handled it by having him apologize at the time, and telling him, he was not allowed to do that again, and gave him an brief explanation of why not. When she arrived back home, she talked to her husband about what had happened, had called me in the meantime, when she had then had that morning's incident relayed to her.

Instead of just letting the two instances go, in the hopes that it would not happen again, they decided to talk to him about what he could do when somebody is obviously invading his space and doing something that he deems unacceptable. Together, they came up with the idea that he could put his hand up (much like a crossing guard) and say loudly 'Stop'. At the least, it would bring the attention of the supervising adult, so they could help settle the issue, without anymore pushing or kicking. They also talked to him about he would feel if someone pushed, or kicked him. He readily agreed that he would not like it, but he also said he did not like it when he could not get up when the one little girl was holding down his feet, and surprisingly, they found out that he did not like the other one helping him off with his jacket because if it needed taking off, he was a big enough boy to do it his self.

In the end, I am proud of how my daughter handled the current situation. By letting him know that, the behavior he exhibited was not acceptable, but at the same time providing him with at least some rudimentary alternatives, they were acknowledging that they understood his frustrations. Whether he will push or kick another child again, we do not know, but at least the incidences were not just brushed aside, and no attempt to deal with them would have been worse than handling it as well as they did. By providing him with the option to say 'no', they have empowered him verbally, and words can and often are much more powerful than any action.