Amy's Corner. our lactation consultant answers your questions about nursing.

Spring Nursing Wear: Nursing Tank Tops

Happy Spring, Leading Ladies!  If you’re like us, you’re excited to put away your winter clothes and bust out your spring wardrobe.  When you’re a nursing mama, simple access for easy breastfeeding is one of the most important aspects of every outfit.  Layering is a great way to effortlessly dress for spring weather while breastfeeding.  And the must-have items to layer your spring nursing wear are nursing tank tops. Leading Lady has four trendy and comfortable styles that make breastfeeding a snap and keep you looking like the fashionable mom that you are.

720greyClassic Nursing Cami

This basic nursing cami is as essential as your nursing bras themselves.  With the comfort of cotton and the subtle stretch of a spandex blend, this tank top is extremely versatile.  As the winter temperatures are replaced with a spring breeze, our nursing top is ideal under light sweaters or cardigans.  It sits smoothly under wrap dresses or thin tops as a cami, or can be worn alone as the spring sun strengthens throughout the season.  Our nursing cami is also a fantastic night shirt when paired with pajama pants or shorts and makes midnight feedings a cinch.  Leading Lady offers this tank in five colors including classic white, grey and black, and seasonally festive berry pink and turquoise.  We suggest one in every color as a staple of your spring wardrobe.

Nursing CamiSquare Neck Nursing Cami

The unique design of our modern square neck nursing cami is both sassy and functional.  The empire waist is flattering for new moms; the top offers a fitted inner sling to support and accommodate breasts as milk fluctuates, while the bottom portion drapes breezily beneath the bustline.  The whimsical striped pattern comes in either denim blue and heather grey stripes with a denim inner sling, or black and heather grey stripes with an inner sling that brings a fun pop of red to your outfit and will stimulate your baby’s budding optical nerves.  The square neck and racer back design make this a stand-out addition to your nursing wardrobe.  When paired with jeans and a cardigan, you’ll be dressed to impress this spring.

4049_black_withbackinsetNursing Top

Sleek and sliming, cute and comfortable, and versatile to boot.  This black nursing top is a fabulous addition to your spring nursing wardrobe.  Everyone needs a black cami to layer under light sweaters, blouses or dresses.  Our nursing top features a posh racer back cut with a sheer lace design in back.  The one-handed nursing clasps and drop-down inner sling make breastfeeding super simple, and the adjustable straps ensure a perfect fit every day, even as milk fluctuates.  This nursing top is a great length to cover a shrinking post-partum belly and breathable cotton spandex blend could not be more comfy for warm spring days.  When you’re looking for a twist on the classic black nursing tank, look no further than this nursing top.

4031_BlackDotShirred Front Comfort Nursing Cami

Nothing says spring like polka dots!  Our playful shirred front nursing cami meets all of your needs for style, function and comfort this spring.  The adorable print, shirred top and sweetheart neckline keep you looking as fashionable as ever.  The empire waist cut is flattering on all body types.  Plus the lightweight fabric will keep you cool as the weather warms.  The nursing clasps and inner sling are easy-to-use for breastfeeding and keep you supported day and night.

This spring, new moms can and should wear their nursing tank tops with pride.  Our fun, fashionable, function designs make breastfeeding a pleasure and keep your spring wardrobe as cute and sassy as ever.  Happy breastfeeding this spring!

Outdoor Safety: Precautions for Babies While Playing Outside

7221273-babies-playing-with-ball-in-the-outdoorAs the weather warms up, we’re all excited to head outdoors for some fun in the sun.  Fresh air, the sights and sounds of nature and new activities are all great for babies.  But outdoor safety must be an important part of your plans this spring and summer.  Along with all of the enjoyment of the season comes a few dangers that every parent should keep in mind.  Today we’re discussing outdoor safety and precautions for babies while playing outside.

The Sun

Babies should avoid sun exposure until at least 6 months old.  That doesn’t mean your baby can never go outside, but he should remain in the shade as much as possible.  Be sure to find covered areas at the park and playground and bring an umbrella or tent to the beach.  Always dress your baby in sun-protective clothing and a broad-brimmed hat to cover his face and neck.  Babies over two months old should wear a baby-specific sunscreen of SPF 30 to 50.  These formulas are gentler for a baby’s skin.  Remember to reapply every 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Beyond sunburn, heat stroke and rashes can occur in hot weather as babies and toddlers are not able to regulate their own body temperature like adults. This makes it even more important to avoid the prime hours of direct sun (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and to remain in the shade as much as possible.  Ensure your baby is well-hydrated by breastfeeding before, during and after periods of time outdoors.  If your baby does show signs of over-heating, remove him from the sun immediately, remove his clothes and sponge him down with cool water.  Rashes occur when sweat glands are blocked causing bumps to pop up in moist folds of skin.  A cold bath with cornstarch powder usually relieves rashes quickly.  Call your doctor if heat stroke or rashes do not clear up rapidly or if your child’s fever is extremely high.

Water Safety

Babies and toddlers are highly attracted to water.  Many of them have not developed a sense of caution around water yet and their fearlessness can be a big problem.  Parents should be extremely vigilant of their babies around water.  If you have a particularly rambunctious child, require him to wear a floating safety vest that buckles at the chest and around the legs.  If you own a pool, make sure it is gated and locked at all times.

Playground Safety

courtesy of kafamilessentials.comYou know your child best but usually children up to three years old should be shadowed by an adult on the playground.  Check the safety of playground equipment before your child starts to use it to ensure it is not too hot, it is stable and it is age-appropriate for your child.  Playgrounds are a great place to challenge your baby’s physical abilities, but within reason.  Abide by the age guidelines marked on the equipment.  Also look out for older children who may play too rough around your little one.  Never take your eyes off your baby on the playground as accidents can happen in an instant.  It’s a good idea to find playgrounds with soft turfs for these early years of playing outdoors.

Bites and Stings

Not only are bites annoying to babies and toddlers, they can be dangerous too as many mosquitoes, flies and other insects carry disease.  Babies over 2 months can wear a low DEET insect repellent to avoid bites.  Treat bites topically to reduce painfulness and further irritation from itching.  If bites look unusual, see the pediatrician immediately.  Remove bee stingers by scraping the area with a credit card until you are able to push it out in the direction it came.

With these precautions and awareness for outdoor safety, you and your little ones can enjoy a season full of fun outside.  Happy Spring!

Prenatal Dental Care

Many moms-to-be are not aware that prenatal dental care is an important part of your holistic prenatal health.  Beyond wanting to maintain your pearly whites, good dental practices are especially essential during pregnancy to prevent long term oral issues for you and to ensure harmful bacteria that may build up in your mouth does not transfer to your baby.

Oral care in pregnancyDuring pregnancy hormones are surging.  These additional hormones increase plaque and bacteria in the mouth and can lead to pregnancy gingivitis or periodontal gum disease.  Gingivitis is the build-up of plaque that inflames the gums.  It is sometimes a precursor for gum disease, but not always.  Periodontal gum disease or periodontitis is a more serious condition in which bacteria from plaque infects the inner gum and bone, causing them to form pockets that collect and spread more bacteria and debris.  Eventually, the bacteria itself and enzymes produced by the immune system to help break down bacterial toxins move deeper into gum tissue and bone and disrupt tooth stabilization.  Tooth decay and loss can occur in severe cases of gum disease.

Women with gingivitis and periodontal gum disease have a higher risk of premature births and having a baby with a low birth weight.  Due to this heightened risk, sensitivity and potential for extra bacteria-filled plaque, pregnant women should be very attentive to prenatal dental care.  If you already practice good oral hygiene, you probably don’t have to do much more than you are already doing.  Here are the best tips for keeping you and your baby safe from oral bacteria during pregnancy:

  • Brush twice daily with toothpaste, preferably after meals.
  • Floss your teeth once a day to avoid bacteria build-up between teeth.
  • Use a sugar-free and alcohol-free mouth rinse daily.
  • Ensure your teeth get fluoride from toothpaste, mouth wash and water.  You may also need to apply fluoride gel occasionally.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium.
  • While you may be eating a bit more and have some unusual cravings, do not consume excess sugar that can linger on your teeth and cause decay.
  • Chewing gum with xylitol after meals helps eliminate plaque and strengthen teeth.
  • If you experience pregnancy nausea that causes you to vomit, brush, rinse or coat your teeth with baking soda to neutralize acids afterwards.

It is important to maintain regular dental visits during pregnancy.  Ideally you would have seen your dentist prior to getting pregnant and then again between your fourth and sixth month of pregnancy.  Because the first trimester is the most critical stage of child development, exposure to x-rays, antibiotics and other potential dental procedures is not ideal early in pregnancy.  Later in the third trimester, your bump will make it uncomfortable and unsafe to lie back in a dental chair for long periods of time.  Therefore, the second trimester is the best time to see your dentist, if possible.  However, never leave a dental issue unseen.  While you may opt not to proceed with the recommended treatment until after your baby is born, you should always see a dentist to discuss your symptoms if you experience oral pain.

Be sure to let you dentist and dental hygienist know that you are pregnant prior to beginning any work during your visit.  If you are having any sensitivity, irritation, bleeding or other issues, discuss them with your dentist.  Prevention of gingivitis and gum disease is best, but early detection is second best.  If you do have either of these problems, your dentist may want you to come in every three months for cleanings during pregnancy.

Make prenatal dental care part of your regular health routine during pregnancy.  With just a few preventative measures, you can keep dangerous bacteria at bay and show off a gleaming smile to your bundle of joy when she arrives.

20 Ways to Praise Your Child

baby-mom-readingThere’s no doubt you love your child and are proud of him in many ways.  But do you say it often enough and with variety?  Children need praise to build their self-esteem and self-confidence.  Constantly saying “good job” can get monotonous and lose meaning to your child after awhile.  There are many ways to express a similar sentiment without using the same phrase over and over again.  Remember, while you’re laying a foundation of confidence, you also don’t want to over-inflate your child’s ego.  There’s a delicate balance to praise.

Even if you have an infant now, you’ll want to get into the practice of diversifying your praise.  Form the habit now and carry it through to when your baby will eventually understand and internalize your praise.  We’ve compiled 20 productive ways to praise your child:

You are special – Letting your child know that he is special ensures he feels unique and different, as indeed he is.  Special is a magical word to children and is definitely a separate positive designation than just a plain on “good job.”

  • I like the way you ___ – This specifically lets your child know what he did right.  All too often we scold our children and tell them what they are doing wrong.  “No, we don’t hit.”  “No, that’s not for you.”  Turn the tables and let your little one know how and when he is exhibiting good behavior.
  • I’m so lucky to be your mom – This tells your child that although you didn’t exactly pick one other, you are happy that you get to be together as mother and child.
  • I’m proud of you – If disappointment is worse than anger, pride is better than happiness to your child.  Toddlers, especially, are people-pleasers so they want you to be proud of them.  When your child can respond to you, ask him if he’s proud of himself.  Self-pride is another great way to boost self-esteem.
  • I believe in you – Kids are often quick to say “I can’t.”  Letting your tot know you have faith in him may just give him the lift he needs to keep trying or to do a better job next time.
  • Good thinking – Many times when you say “good job” it’s really because your child thought through something and made good choices.  By identifying that your child had good thoughts, you’re pinpointing and encouraging his thought processes.
  • You brighten my day – You may not realize it all the time but kids want to be helpful.  Knowing that something they did made you feel good goes into the category of helping you.
  • I knew you could do it – Much like “I believe in you,” this shows your child you have the upmost trust in him and his ability to perform a task.
  • Great discovery – Being an explorer of the world is not only fun, it’s actually your child’s job right now.  So making a “discovery” is the ultimate reward for your young explorer.
  • I appreciate it when you ___ – Treating your child with respect is essential to raising a courteous and grateful human being.  Using words like “thank you” and “appreciate” helps your child make these good manners connections at his level.
  • Good work, squirt – Sometimes being silly is a great way to help boost your child’s confidence, and make him laugh too.  Any fun term of endearment will do – we just find this one whimsical and easy to say.
  • You’re so smart – Being smart is one of the most important qualities you’ll want for your child.  To bolster your child’s idea that being smart is “cool,” tell him specifically when he’s being smart.
  • Better than I could do – Kids certainly love a little friendly competition.  As they enter toddlerhood, they’ll want to show you how they can run faster, jump further or draw better than you.  Healthy competition breeds ambition so use this phrase to let your tot know he’s really on top of it.
  • You’re a superstar – Who wouldn’t want to be a superstar?  And if not a superstar, a rock-star, a princess-star, or a pirate-star.  Use whatever kind of “star” floats your baby’s boat.
  • What an imagination – Imaginary play is a great sign of creativity and intelligence. Teach your little one what “imagination” is by identifying it for him when he’s using it.  Promoting imaginary play can lead you to all sorts of amazing discoveries and learning paths for your child.
  • You’re a joy – Make sure your baby knows he’s a pleasure to be around and not an obligation.  Joy is another way to say happy, thrilled or delighted – all things you should be feeling around your child.
  • You are one in a million – Much like being “special,” this catch phrase helps your child feel uniquely exceptional and extraordinary.  And isn’t he?
  • How clever – Being clever is like being smart and witty all in one.  That’s hard to beat!  Plus, clever is a common trait of characters in many children’s stories so you can find many examples to point out to your child in literature.
  • Good following directions – Listening is great, but following directions is the most basic skill your tot needs to learn, especially at school.  Definitely find moments to praise your child for this vital ability.
  • You worked it out on your own – As your child asserts independence, he’ll want to feel good about doing things on his own.  Make a big deal about doing activities that once required your help but now can be done “all by myself.”

It’s really not difficult to find ways to praise your child with enthusiasm and variety. Take advantage of this opportunity from a young age to build self-confidence and make your child feel loved and special.

 

 

 

 

 

Car Seats for Every Age

A car seat is one of the biggest safety measures you can take to protect your baby from infancy through early childhood.  Just like you should never drive or ride in a car without a seat belt on, your baby should never ride in a car without being properly buckled into a car seat.  In the event of an accident, small bodies that are not secured in an age appropriate car seat are highly susceptible to being flung from their seat, which severely increases the likelihood of injury upon impact.

You will need several car seats for different stages in your child’s life.  It’s important to follow the manufacturers’ instructions for installing your car seat and always ensure your child is belted snugly with the harness and the chest clip positioned correctly.  Also, be sure to follow the age, height and weight requirements for your specific brand of car seat.  Although your child may not prefer being in a car seat, the longer you can keep him in one, the safer he will be.

Curious about what’s in store for your future when it comes to car seats?  Here’s a basic guide to car seats for every age:

infant-car-seatNewborn to Age 2:  Rear-Facing Infant Seat or Harness Seat

For the first two years of life, babies should be turned around to face the back of the car.  While this makes it difficult to see your baby, it is the absolute safest way for him to travel because it protects the head, neck and spine.  Most parents begin with a detachable carrier car seat that can be removed from the car with the baby still in it.  This makes for an easy portable seat wherever your baby may be and also helps babies remain asleep when they’ve reached their destination.  (Trust us, you’ll be thankful for that!)  These carrier car seats usually come with separate bases that remain latched and buckled to your car for easy ins and outs while you’re on the go or for transporting your baby in multiple cars.

As your baby gets bigger, usually between 8 and 12 months, you will need to move to a larger rear-facing car seat.  These bucket seats sit upright and many of them can convert into a forward-facing car seat when the time is right.  They still have a tall, hard back to stabilize your toddler.  This seat should fit snuggly over the shoulders and lock at the top of the chest, and wrap around each leg for a between-the-leg latch.  As with your infant seat, this seat should be latched into your car and belted with your car’s on board seat belt.  Most have an over-the-seat latch for a third security measure ensuring the seat is firmly in place.  Keep your baby rear-facing for as long as you can based on height and weight.  Many parents prematurely turn their kids around because their feet are hitting the back of the seat.  However, rarely would legs or feet be injured in a crash.  Protecting the head and upper body is more important at this early age.

Graco-My-Ride-65-LX-Convertible-Car-Seat-in-Coda-P14153964Age 2 until Outgrown:  Forward-Facing Harness Seat

The next phase of car seats is exciting for everyone because your baby gets to turn around!  For the first time he can see exactly what you see, and you can look at each other too.  And the shift happens just as you and your little toddler are better able to have conversations.  Most people simply turn around their rear-facing harness seat, however this may be a good time to buy a new seat specifically for facing forward and that allows for maximum growth.  Keep your tot in a harness seat as long as the height and weight limitations allow as this is a much safer way to travel.  Make riding in a new “big kid” car seat fun by providing a cup holder and a pocket for some small toys and books.  As your child grows older, he’ll be able to get in his seat himself, which will make life easier for you too.  Always double check the buckling to ensure it is tight enough for safety.  Usually kids outgrow the forward-facing harness seat by around age 4 or 5.

boosterSchool Age:  Booster Seat

Once your child has outgrown the harness seat, which is determined by shoulders exceeding the harness allowance or ears peeking over the top of the seat, it’s time to move to a booster seat.  This usually happens between age 4 and 6.  A booster seat allows your child to sit higher so your car’s seat belt will fit properly.  The seat belt should cross your child’s shoulders and chest, not neck or face.  If your seat belt hits too high even with a booster seat, you may not be ready to leave the harness seat.  Kids usually ride in a booster seat until age 8 to 12.

Older Children:  Seat Belt

As your child becomes taller, he can use a regular seat belt without needing a booster.  Instill a sense of car safety in your child including always wearing a seat belt no matter where you are or how far you’re going.  Keep your child in the back seat until he reaches at least age 13.

9 Ways to Update your Play Space without Buying New Toys

You have endless toys and baby gadgets for your little bundle of joy to play with…so why are both of you already sick of your playroom?  When you play with the same toys day-in and day-out, they may be getting stale.  Even without buying new toys, there are ways to refresh and update your play space for a more exciting, meaningful and engaging play experience.

Move Things Around:  It seems so simple but it really works.  Move a toy from one room to another and watch your baby delight in something that was once highly ignored.  This works particularly well when you move something out of a crowded playroom into a room where there are few toys.  She’ll be able to focus on all that one toy has to offer instead of being distracted.  Next time you need to take a shower, try this trick by bringing an old toy into your bathroom.  We bet you’re baby will be occupied for at least enough time for you to get squeaky clean.

toy_sprawl1Rotate Toys:  Keep toys fresh by rotating them in and out of your place space.  Find somewhere safe to hide toys that aren’t currently in use.  Every two weeks to a month, rotate toys so your baby will have an entirely “new” set of things to do.  She’ll probably feel like they are brand new toys.  And you’ll notice some changes in the way she plays with the toys as your baby matures.  You can also do this with friends by borrowing and trading toys for a short period of time to liven things up in your playroom.

Re-Introduce “Baby” Toys:  As your baby grows older into a toddler, you’ll probably graduate some toys.  If you have space, save some of them to re-introduce later.  Your baby’s imagination will eventually blossom and baby toys are terrific for playing make believe.  Your little one will re-discover new ways to play with baby toys.  Plus, some of the lessons of the toy – such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors – that were once lost on your baby will be more digestible for your toddler.

makedo-cardboard-box-kits-cool-mom-picksAdd Cardboard:  Speaking of imagination, cardboard boxes are a breeding ground for imaginary play.  Show your little one how to pretend your box is a rocket ship, row boat or racecar.  At first she may just want to climb in-and-out or otherwise manipulate the box.  But eventually she’ll catch on as her imagination grows.  Also, use the box to place fun items you want your baby to focus on that day, such as puzzles, blocks or a special book you want to read.

Use Non-Toys: Have you ever noticed that your little one is much more fascinated by simple household objects than her own toys?  As long as they aren’t dangerous, if that’s what floats her boat, let her play with them in her own place space from time-to-time.   Try to figure out what it is that your baby likes about the object: Is it shiny?  Does it make noise?  Can she see her reflection in it?  If you know what she likes about the item, you may be able to find other similar things she would enjoy.

Decorate:  Perhaps it’s not the toys themselves that are getting old, but the space feels rather dull.  Of course you can buy lots of decorative wall hangings for your playroom, or you can make them yourself.  One of the easiest ways to decorate a playroom is with your child’s own artwork.  Hang cork boards and tack up various art projects your kiddo completes.  It will be fun for her to watch the evolution of her artwork and perhaps even recall the seasons, holidays or events where she did them.  You can also supplement with some easy art projects of your own, such as an alphabet canvas, framed photos or high shelves featuring some of your baby’s toys and stuffed animals.

Create Stations:  One great way to refresh your play space is to create stations and encourage your children to rotate every once in awhile.  You can have an area with musical instruments, an art table, a puzzle corner or a trucks and train station.  This will stimulate creative juices and also help your child learn how to transition from activity-to-activity, which will be important as she enters preschool.  Make sure your stations reflect your child’s interests.

slideBring Outside, Inside:  Especially during colder months, bringing some of the outdoors inside may be just what you need to revive your play space.  If you have a small portable slide, clean it off and bring it indoors.  Perhaps your baby loves digging in the dirt or sandbox.  Create a small sensory box where she can get her hands dirty.  To keep things tidy, spread out a large picnic blanket or put your baby and the sensory box inside a much larger cardboard box to avoid spillage.  Small balls can be a great indoor activity if your space allows.

Art Wall:  What is more fun for kids than drawing on the walls?  Not much!  If your home and your nerves can accommodate it, create a wall where your little one can get creative.  Plaster poster board or put up a dry erase board or chalk board along an entire wall.  Provide washable crayons, markers and paints and let your tot go wild writing on the walls.  Just be sure to put away the art supplies when you’re done so there is no confusion about which walls are for art and which are not.

Birth Order Traits: Parenting to Your Child

3 kidsThere have been countless studies done on nature vs. nurture, whether we are each born who we are or if personality and behavior are learned.  Most people believe it’s a combination of both.  Along with genetics and gender, there’s another factor that has warranted much research and greatly contributes to who we become; that’s birth order.  Certain traits are associated with birth order and it’s actually quite important to know them so you can better parent to your individual children.

Today we’re breaking down typical birth order traits to help you understand each of your children:

Firstborn Child

Firstborn children are products of getting a lot of attention during their early years.  They tend to be “mini adults” and emulate their parents.  Often high achievers, people-pleasers and perfectionists, firstborn children like to be in charge, assume leadership roles and may boss around other children.  They are responsible, conscientious and reliable, but may feel jealous when younger children are born.  Firstborns put a lot of pressure on themselves and may feel anxious when they underperform.

Middle Child

The middle child usually gets the least amount of attention in a family.  Therefore, middle children learn to be independent and develop a social circle to compensate.  They usually become peacemakers and learn to compromise and negotiate to get what they need or want.  Middle children are flexible and feel comfortable in many situations, mostly out of necessity.  They will sometimes act out or at least find ways to stand out, such as selecting hobbies very different from their siblings.

Youngest Child

The baby of the family is usually the most outgoing, free-spirited and creative of the group.  Parents tend to be less strict with their youngest child and continue the role of caregiver and protector longer.  This makes youngest children less responsible and indecisive, and may be seen as spoiled and demanding.  Because parents’ attention is diverted between several children, the youngest learns how to turn on the charm to get noticed, and it usually works on the entire family

Only Child

Only children are similar to firstborns and youngest children in many ways.  They are surrounded by adults most of the time, which gives them maturity beyond their years, both intellectually and emotionally.  Only children usually enjoy structure, attention and responsibility, but may not take criticism well.  Only children are given more space to develop their creativity but also learn to be independent when they want to escape from the adult world.  They are sometimes viewed as self-centered and inflexible because they don’t have to share belongings or attention like children with siblings do.

Of course birth order traits are not an exact science.  In fact, some siblings may display the exact opposite of these characteristics.  But as a whole, most people fall into these categories.  There are some widely accepted exceptions, such as twins, adopted children, blended families and when there is a big age gap between children.  Even if your kids don’t fit these molds, it’s important to realize how children’s personalities and perspectives differ, and how you can best nurture your kids to reach their highest potential.

Ending a Breastfeeding Relationship: The Emotions behind Weaning

Breastfeeding is one of the most extraordinary experiences that mothers and babies can share.  It not only allows new moms to provide the ultimate nourishment to their babies, but it also forms an incredibly special bond built from physical and emotional closeness.  So when breastfeeding eventually comes to an end, emotions will certainly run high.

Weaning happens for a variety of reasons but is typically categorized in two ways: Child-led weaning is when the baby or toddler is ready to end the breastfeeding relationship and stops showing interest and desire to nurse.  This naturally occurs between 18 and 24 months for most children, when they are also eating many solid foods, drinking cow’s milk and are aware of their environment.  Mother-led weaning is when the mother is ready or forced to stop breastfeeding, regardless of whether her baby is ready.  Many mothers stop breastfeeding at one year because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least this amount of time, she finds this timing to be the social norm or she’s looking for more freedom in her life.  Nevertheless, there is also evidence that extended breastfeeding is highly beneficial to mothers and babies.  Sometimes weaning is a joint decision between mother and baby.  That is, the mother notices signs of disinterest and then makes a formal decision to stop breastfeeding gradually.

Leading Lady BreastfeedingFirst, it’s important to recognize when a child is not necessarily ready to wean.  Many mothers are confused by mixed signals they may be getting from their babies.  For instance, as a baby becomes more mature, he’ll have a natural curiosity for the world around him, which may cause him to be distracted during breastfeeding.  This does not mean he’s apathetic to breastfeeding or doesn’t need the nutrition, it just means mom should help him refocus by eliminating distractions as much as possible.  Some babies go on a breastfeeding strike and suddenly do not want to nurse.  Child-led weaning is rarely marked by an abrupt end to breastfeeding.  A strike is probably about something else, like an illness, a lull in growth when he needs less milk or the eruption of new teeth.  Many mothers also feel pressure to wean when they go back to work, get pregnant with another baby or are influenced by others’ opinions.  However, none of these factors should determine when a breastfeeding relationship ends.

Babies are usually pretty adaptable and, especially with child-led weaning, have an easier time when breastfeeding ends.  As moms are more emotionally mature, they often struggle during weaning and may even feel depressed.  There are many elements at play that can lead to feelings of sadness and guilt.  If the mother is ready to stop breastfeeding before the baby naturally weans, she may feel guilty about putting her own desires above her baby’s.  Sometimes if a baby weans easily, even if not by choice, mothers feel unwanted or unneeded.

However it happens, many mothers feel nostalgic about weaning and often mourn the loss of this stage in the mother/child relationship.  Hormones also contribute to feelings of sadness and depression during weaning.  Prolactin, the hormone that is required for milk production, and oxytocin, which is responsible for the release of milk through let downs, both help calm and relax mothers and contribute to feelings of love.  When these hormones drop off, especially if weaning occurs suddenly, moms can spiral into depression.  At this point, it’s important to seek professional advice to ensure the safety and well-being of both mom and baby.  Also, finding other ways to emotionally bond with your baby can curb some of these negative feelings.  Cuddling, hugging, reading, singing and otherwise maintaining skin-to-skin contact will benefit both mom and baby.

Mothers who are unsure about weaning should talk to a breastfeeding counselor or health care provider before making a decision.  Once breastfeeding stops, it is very difficult to return to it and often confusing for the child.  Mothers should be absolutely sure about their decision.  When it’s time, weaning should be done gradually starting with dropping one feeding each week.  The process may stall at certain points and continue with just a couple feedings – often morning and before bedtime – for weeks or even months before breastfeeding completely ends.  This slow wean will help level off breast milk to avoid clogged ducts or mastitis and help rebalance hormones.  Plus, it will give baby time to get used to an increase in non-breast milk and other forms of nutrients.

Just like the entire breastfeeding journey, weaning is a time that moms and babies have to navigate together.  It should be done carefully and with much love and respect for each other’s health, feelings and well-being.  Remember, the bond of breastfeeding shared by mothers and children is one that transitions beautifully into a strong and loving relationship for a lifetime.

Chubby Babies: Natural Baby Fat or Overweight

Everyone loves to see a jolly chubby baby.  There is something about those rolls of fat on the legs, arms and chin that are irresistible.  For many babies, this is natural baby fat that will begin to shed as he or she becomes more mobile.  But there is growing concern about obesity among babies that may be a precursor for being overweight or obese later in life.

Your pediatrician is the best resource to determine whether your baby is a healthy weight.  As you’ve surely noticed, your doctor plots your baby’s height, weight and head circumference on a growth chart during each visit.  This not only helps determine the wellbeing of your own child’s growth pattern, but also compares your little one to others of the same age and sex.  While there are many times comparing your baby to others is not productive, in the case of growth, these averages are helpful to ensure your tot is on a good path.

iStock_000008954862SmallThe American Journal of Health Promotion reported that nearly one-third of babies under 9 months old are overweight or obese.  There are several reasons that contribute to this trend in larger children: if a baby is born large, he will likely remain on the large end of the growth curve all his life; babies born to obese parents are more likely to be overweight; and babies born to moms who develop gestational diabetes are at higher risk of obesity.  By tracking your baby’s growth curve and gathering all of the facts about your family history, pregnancy and lifestyle habits, your pediatrician can determine if your baby is hanging on to natural baby fat or if other factors are at play.

Either way, it is never acceptable to put your baby on a diet.  There is no reason to withhold food from your baby, especially essential fats that are required for brain, heart, bone and muscle development.  Instead, your doctor may recommend a few healthy changes to redirect your baby’s health and get back on the right track.

First, breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s weight.  Breast fed babies are less likely to be obese later in childhood and adulthood.  Formula feeding can lead to overfeeding, which may be the source of a baby’s weight gain.  Also, starting solids too early can contribute to obesity, especially when combined with formula feeding.  Solids should be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age but the journal Pediatrics claims 40% of parents begin solids prematurely.

When the time is appropriate, make sure you feed your baby healthy foods, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This young age is a crucial time for developing a healthy diet and eating habits.  Good eating habits include sitting at a table for meals, eating to satisfy not to stuff even if the plate is not empty, and eating when you are hungry.  Excessive sugar consumption is a huge contributor to obesity so limit juice and sugary snacks in your child’s diet.  Furthermore, encourage an active lifestyle by giving your babies, toddler and older children plenty of opportunity to run and play.

There are varying opinions about the long term effects of being overweight as a baby.  New studies indicate that overweight babies are more likely to be obese as children and adults.  And as we all know, obesity has become an epidemic.  But does it start as a baby?  The jury is still out.  Some say that once you expose the body to excess fat storage, the body finds homeostasis in storing fat.  Others say that with the right lifestyle choices, babies grow out of their baby fat by age 4 and being on the heavy side as a baby does not necessarily lead to obesity.

The bottom line about chubby babies is to ensure they are growing at a steady pace, according to your pediatrician, and giving them the best chance at a healthy weight by making good dietary and lifestyle choices.  Enjoy those rolls while they last because chances are, they will be gone before you know it.

5 Ways to Sweeten Valentine’s Day while Breastfeeding

With a new baby in your life, there’s probably a lot of love floating around your home, but perhaps not the same passion you experienced on previous Valentine’s Days.  As exhausted and preoccupied as you may be, Valentine’s Day is a time to rally.  Celebrating Valentine’s Day while breastfeeding and shortly after having a baby may not entail all the intimacy of Valentine’s past, but there are still many ways you can sweeten the day with your love.

Need some ideas?  We’re glad you’ve come to us!

Have a Romantic Dinner in “Bistro Your House”

Turn your dining room into the fanciest restaurant in town…or at least the closest to your house.  Here’s how to do it:  Drape your table with a festive tablecloth.  Turn down the lights and strike a match on some romantic candles.  And bust out your best dishes.  Plan a meal that incorporates both of your favorite flavors.  You can either surprise your love with this one-of-a-kind dining experience or cook the meal together.  Be sure to remove the traces of the day-to-day life that happens around your house like burp cloths, toys and bouncy chairs to ensure a more sophisticated mood, at least in this one dining space.  If you’re holding off on wine while breastfeeding, toast with sparkling juice or a delicious mocktail.

Button-Up-Sleeveless-ShirtdressWear a Sassy Nursing Dress and Use your Assets to Your Advantage

Whether you’re staying home or headed out, you should take the opportunity to get dolled up on this special day.  After having a baby, you may not have had the chance to spend time pampering and primping yourself.  Well, today is the day of all days for that.  And thanks to your baby, you probably have some new assets to use to your advantage, your breasts.  Select a chic wrap dress, button or zip top, or other low-cut blouse that will show off your new, even if only temporary, features.

Make a Collage of your Family’s New “Loving Moments”

In Valentine’s past, your husband may have ogled over a new watch, sports memorabilia or a swanky sweater.  This year, give him a lasting memory of his new love.  Plan a secret photography session of your baby and create a collage of images.  Get a few of you and your baby as well.  If time and budget don’t permit professional photos, take your own or collect ones from the past few months of your baby’s life to frame for your hubby.  We bet he’ll be thrilled to keep these “Loving Moments” with him always.

sexy-nursing-braBuy a New Wardrobe of Sexy Nursing Bras

Do you want to really sweeten the pot and wow your man?  Head on over to Walmart or Walmart.com for a Loving Moments sexy nursing bra shopping spree.  Our collection features everything from sexy lace, to flirty prints.  Wear a new sexy nursing bra every day for the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, and save your favorite one for the big day, of course.  You’ll be all set for breastfeeding so your baby will be happy, and we bet you’ll get a terrific reaction from your husband too.

Make Out After your Baby is Asleep

Even if your OBGYN hasn’t cleared you for intercourse, you can sweeten your Valentine’s Day while breastfeeding by making out with you husband after your baby goes to sleep.  As soon as you finish your nighttime feeding, set the mood and start the flirtation.  It may feel a little old-school but kissing alone often creates more intimacy and stimulates a sense of closeness all the same.

Celebrating a romantic Valentine’s Day while breastfeeding is doable!  Mop up the spit-up, slap on some lipstick and light the candles.  Then get ready for a meaningful, adult evening of love and togetherness.

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