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

Fire Safety Tips for Families with Babies and Toddlers

Protecting your family against potential fire threats, especially babies and toddlers who are less aware of the danger of fire, is an important part of ensuring your home is a safe and secure environment for your little ones.  Because most fires occur in winter months between December and February, we are using this winter to share fire safety tips for families with babies and toddlers:

  • hearth gateWinter is the season to build a warm, cozy fire in your fireplace.  Use a hearth gate around your fireplace to prevent children from crawling or walking too close to the fireplace.  It also keeps them at a safe distance from raging flames or sparks that may escape from the fireplace.  Be sure to practice standard fireplace safety to ensure your fire remains small and smoke does not accumulate in your home.
  • While precautions should be taken around the fireplace, you may be surprised to know that most dangerous residential fires do not come from the fireplace.  Most fires that occur in homes are actually cooking-related.  Never leave a stove or oven in the “On” position unattended and keep children at a safe distance from these hot surfaces.  Lock ovens and use back burners on the stove to avoid burns.  Also, keep dish towels, aprons, wooden spoons and bulky clothing away from flames.
  • Never leave a cigarette unattended in your home and never smoke in bed.  Discard ashes and cigarette buds only once they have completely cooled.  Smoking is the second leading cause of residential fires and the leading cause of fatality from home fires.  Best practices are not to smoke around children anyways.  Secondhand smoke can be very damaging to their little lungs and it teaches them a bad habit.
  • Do not overload outlets and keep clutter, including paper, books and clothes, away from electrical outlets.  Also ensure that heating devices are in good condition.  Have them serviced regularly if you are concerned.
  • Store matches and lighters in child-proof cabinets that are out-of-reach of children.  From a young age, start teaching your children that matches and lighters are not toys.  Also, never leave burning candles unattended.
  • ionization-photoelectric-installation_lgInstall smoke detectors on every level of your home and perform a safety check regularly.   Change batteries as often as necessary to ensure they are always in operating condition.  Smoke detectors can prevent up to 50% of residential fires.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in several locations to ensure they are not far from a potential fire.  A fire extinguisher should always be accessible to your kitchen.
  • Develop a family escape plan in case of a fire emergency.  Even if your baby doesn’t know it, you and the other adults will be on the same page about procedures in the event of a fire.  If one parent is responsible for getting the children safely out of the home, it may eliminate confusion during frantic moments.  Ensure older children know the plan and discuss it with your toddler as soon as he’s able to understand fire safety.  Practice your plan once your kids are old enough to role play.
  • Take your kids to a fire station as an outing secretly designed to teach them about fire safety.  Children love firefighters and may be more interested in learning fire safety tips from them than you.  Plus, they may get to sit in a fire truck or get a fun tour of the fire station as an added bonus.

We hope you stay safe this winter with these fire safety tips!

Babies and Memory: Remember the Happy Times

There’s some positive news about babies and memory…very positive.  A new study out of Brigham Young University shows that 5-month-old babies are more likely to remember things they’ve learned in their day when it was taught in a positive tone.

It’s no surprise babies are aware of emotions, even those beyond their own.  Babies are terrific at mimicking, which is why your baby’s first smile will likely come when you are smiling too.  It’s also why keeping a calm composure around your baby is important.  Babies will pick up on negativity, which may affect their psyche later in life, including trying to copy undesirable responses.

shapesIn the first study of its kind, BYU researchers were able to determine that babies learn better under happy circumstances.  In this case, babies were exposed to happy, neutral and angry voices immediately followed by a shape appearing on a screen.  By recording eye movement, researchers measured longer engagement with shapes that were paired with positive voices.  The measurement was recorded 5 minutes after the voice/shape test and the following day.  The study was published in the medical journal Infant Behavior and Development.

“We think what happens is that the positive affect heightens the babies’ attentional system and arousal,” lead author of the study Professor Ross Flom said. “By heightening those systems, we heighten their ability to process and perhaps remember this geometric pattern.”

This study does not cover how long babies at the young age of 5-months retain memories, but it does give great insight into the best ways to teach children starting from infancy.  A happy, encouraging environment, including using a cheerful voice can make a difference.  While most 5-months old won’t form lasting memories for quite some time, this study indicates they will be more likely to remember good times.

Other studies show that babies who are exposed to music and language in infancy start to develop an ear for music and language early in life.  Moreover, the mere introduction and repetition of these influences increase overall brain connectivity.

Your baby may not yet be able to respond to you with words, but putting a positive spin on how you teach your baby at this most critical period of learning can help your baby learn more.  Plus, upbeat, kind conversation is what you’ll want your baby to emulate when the words do finally come.

Happy learning!!

5 Wintertime Activities That Feel Like Summertime

When the weather is cold, most families want to say indoors where it’s warm.  That may restrict some physical activity for active babies and children.  Indoor play gyms are fun, but can be expensive and full of wintertime germs.  However, there are fun ways to mimic some summertime outdoor play activities in your own cozy home with these wintertime activities for babies.

Beach Baby

Bring the beach right to your baby’s playroom by creating a sensory sandbox using sand you collect outdoors.  Add some shells and other toy sea animals that would be found on the beach, such as crabs, snails, fish, starfish and sand dollars.  You can even make these with your baby using clay or playdoh.

Provide small shovels, rakes, cups or buckets so your baby can play in the sand as if she were at the beach or in a sandbox.  She may also like letting the sand run through her fingers and pushing it around in the box for a soft sensation on her fingertips.  Clear plastic boxes of any size work best, but make sure it has a lid for safe storage. Spread a newspaper or craft paper under your sensory box to prevent a sandy mess.

Have a Ball…Pit

ball pitMany indoor gyms have ball pits where your tot can “swim” around in a sea of colorful plastic balls.  Setting up a ball pit in your home is pretty simple and inexpensive.  Use your inflatable outdoor kiddie pool as the pit and purchase BPA and phthalates free plastic balls from a toy store or online.  Fill the pit and watch your baby enjoy hours of fun kicking, crawling, throwing and rolling around in the balls.  Yes, your playroom may get a bit messy, but luckily clean-up is pretty easy and you can encourage your baby to help too.

Bath Swimming

Don’t belong to an indoor pool?  Don’t worry!  You can keep your baby in the water by using your bathtub.  Whether your tot is still in a baby seat in the bathtub or sits on her own, you can make a fun activity out of a super-long bath.  Practice swimming skills like kicking, reaching & pulling and floating.  Add some fun games such as collecting bobbing rubber duckies, fishing or racing boats.  Clean off your pool toys, such as watering cans, squirters and floating toys, and use them for your swim-simulating bath.  Another fun bath game is splashing to the beat of your favorite children’s songs or nursery rhymes.  If you really want to get in the summertime spirit, put your bathing baby in a swimsuit.

Remove the Weather Obstacle

obstacle courseIt may be too cold for an outdoor playground, or maybe you just want to avoid bigger kids trampling your baby.  Set up your own obstacle course in your home using household items such as pillow cushions, play mats, hula hoops, blankets, pool noodles and cones.  You can make barriers for her to crawl over, tunnels for her to crawl through and various play pit stops along the way.  By creating your own obstacle course you can tailor it to your baby’s physical capabilities and challenge her as well.  She’ll have a blast while you are cheering her along.

Nature in a Box

If you enjoy nature walks with your baby or strolling her through the zoo, bring a little nature into your own home.  This one is similar to the sand sensory box.  Fill a plastic tub with bird seed, leaves, twigs and acorns. Then place animal figurines inside the box for her to find.  You may want to pick a theme, such as zoo animals or woodland creatures.  She’ll delight in discovering the animals and it gives you an opportunity to name them and talk about their features.  “A tiger has sharp teeth.” “An elephant has a long trunk.” “A zebra has black and white stripes.”

Learning through play is the best way, even if you’re stuck indoors this winter!

Natural Home Remedies for Babies

When your little tot gets a boo-boo or a cough, every parent wants to make it magically disappear.  Watching your child suffer is one of the worst parts of parenting.  Or course it is always important to call your pediatrician if you think your little one has a serious problem.  But for minor aches and pains, there are some amazing natural home remedies you can employ to turn those frowns upside down.  And get this:  they are very inexpensive and you probably have everything you need to resolve your baby’s problem right at home.  Plus, you can avoid putting harmful chemicals or pharmaceuticals into your baby’s tender body.

Here are some natural home remedies for babies you can try next time your bundle of joy has an ouchy:

Colic:  Babies have very immature digestive tracts and sometimes this causes colic.  When your baby’s tummy is grumbling, whip up some chamomile tea.  After brewing, let it cool and add it to a bottle of breast milk.  This will help relax the intestinal muscles and hopefully soothe your baby.  Never exceed 4 ounces of tea in a day to ensure your baby is getting all the nutrients she needs from breast milk.

Fever:  Getting a fever is your baby’s way of telling you that her immune system is trying to fight off a foreign attack.  That’s a good sign, but also uncomfortable for her.  Using a wash cloth, rub fresh squeezed lemon juice and warm water on your baby’s skin to help reduce fever.  The aroma and cooling properties of the mixture will help bring down the fever.

Bug Bites:  Most babies aren’t able to swat away bugs before they bite, leaving babies with some nasty sores.  Instead of using an over-the-counter itch cream on your baby’s sensitive skin, try making a paste with baking soda and water.  Bites are acidic and can be counterbalanced with a basic alkaline substance like baking soda.

bulb syringeCongestion:  Most doctors suggest saline mist to unclog a baby’s stuffy nose.  You can make your own mister using saline contact lens solution and a bulb syringe.  Gently squeeze the solution into each nostril.  When you are done, clear out the syringe and then suck up the excess mucus with it.

More Congestion:  Another good trick for drawing out mucus from the nose is placing a sliced onion in your baby’s room while she sleeps.  The sulfur in the onion will loosen mucus overnight so you can suck it up the next day.

Nose Bleeds:  Many cultures use cayenne pepper as a nose bleed remedy.  If your baby is experiencing a nose bleed, with her head upright simply pinch her nostrils together and dab cayenne pepper under her nose.  It does not sting but it does help clot blood.

Itchy Skin:  Your baby may not be ready for a bowl of oatmeal, but she may need an oatmeal bath to relieve itchy, dry skin.  Grind the oatmeal to a fine texture in a blender or mixer and then add ½ cup to your baby’s bath.  Let her soak for at least 15 minutes to help moisturize her skin deeply.

blowing-bubblesAnxiety and Fussiness:  Bubbles are a wonderful cure for a flustered baby.  First, they are distracting and enchanting for a baby to watch.  If you think your baby is feeling anxious or is just plain old grumpy, help her blow off some steam by blowing bubbles.  If your baby is old enough to start trying to make her own bubbles, hold the wand in front of her face so she can blow too.  Even if she doesn’t form a bubble, the deep, long breaths will help her calm down.

Water in the Ears:  If your baby thinks she’s a fish and loves to swim, she may get water trapped in her ears.  This can lead to ear infections.  But you can avoid antibiotic drops or oral antibiotics by drying out the ear cavity with a hair dryer.  Start on a low, cool setting to ensure your baby is not frightened by the sound or sensation and be sure to stand at least one foot away from the ear.

So go ahead, wave your magic wand and watch the boo-boos disappear with these natural home remedies!

Giving Back: A Wonderful Holiday Tradition

One of the most meaningful parts of parenting is the opportunity to instill important values in your children.  The holiday season is full of traditions new and old that have significance for your family.  Even with a new baby on board, giving back is a tradition that will help mold your children into productive, compassionate, generous and grateful citizens of the world.

Families of all make-ups, socio-economic backgrounds and religions can participate in giving back this time of year.  There are many ways you can begin your charitable tradition to incorporate every member of your family.  Yes, even babies can give back.  We’ve compiled a few ideas that can joyfully be accomplished with your baby.

donateDonate Toys to Children’s Charities:  If there is one thing that children understand during the holiday season, it’s toys!  Whether you have gently used toys to donate or you collect brand new toys, your children can bring lots of joy to less fortunate boys and girls in a language they will all understand – the language of toys.  Many organizations will come to your house to pick up toys at your convenience.  Or you can make a fun excursion to a donate spot to drop off toys.  Toy donation during the holiday season can be a year-long project by having your kids set aside new or used toys at various times of year, such as birthdays and other holidays.  Alternatively, you can ask friends and family to donate toys in honor of a special event in your child’s life.

Serve Food at a Homeless Shelter:  With your baby in tow, you can lend a helping hand at a homeless shelter by serving meals over the holiday season.  If your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, taking the time to make Christmas day special for those in need goes a long way.  Or maybe your family does a Christmas dinner, freeing up some volunteer time on Christmas morning.  With baby in a sling or carrier you can do many jobs at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.  Just leave serving hot foods to someone else.  If you’re worried about germs, ask that people not touch your baby.

Send a Care Package to Troops:  For those fighting for our freedom who cannot be around their own families during the holidays, care packages are a welcome surprise.  You may have already noticed that your baby loves to sort or pick up objects and drop them into containers.  Use this skill to allow your baby to help you prepare small boxes or bags of goodies for the troops.  If you have older children, they can make home-made cards to include as well.

Spread Joy to Local Heroes:  You can also bring care packages of baked goods to heroes in your own community.  Emergency workers like police officers, firefighters or EMTs who work on Christmas would be especially grateful for a visit from your family.  Plus, baking is another great family-friendly activity.  You can let your baby pour and stir batter and then watch muffins, cookies and cakes rise in the oven.

Adopt a Family:  Children may connect best to the holiday spirit of giving by giving to a family similar to your own.  Adopting a family with children of similar ages to your own will help your children understand that the importance of paying it forward to kids just like themselves.  Without your family’s generosity, some boys and girls would not have any toys during their holiday, a sad prospect when you lay it out in these terms.  As you collect items for your adopted family and even after you’ve dropped them off, discuss the happiness you have shared to remind your child of the good deed you’ve done by giving back to others.

baby at nursing homeVisit a Nursing Home:  Bringing the gift of youth to elderly people in nursing homes is likely better than anything else you could offer.  Even if you don’t feel comfortable with residents holding your tot, bring your baby into the lobby and let her crawl and bounce around.  You’ll probably notice a crowd gathering around her in no time.  Babies are better than any physical gift you could offer elderly people in nursing homes.  If you have older children, let them sing or hand out a small treat as well.  You will warm hearts almost instantly, but beware, they may also melt!

Read Books About Giving Back:  Help your children understand the true meaning of the holidays and giving back by reading lots of books on the topic.  Talk about some of the charitable ways you’ve given back this season to bring the concept full circle for your little ones.  You can also visit a family shelter or a low-income aftercare program to read your favorite holiday stories to children.  Without spending a dime, you can bring a world of joy to children in your community.

Perhaps the best part will be the joy your family gets from giving back, a gift in-and-of itself.

Wishing you a warm season of giving and very happy New Year!

Developing Your Baby’s Senses

Just like you, your baby is constantly exploring her world using her senses.  Without the ability to read and converse, babies use senses as their primary means of learning.  So understanding your baby’s sensory development and helping it along only benefits her interactions and knowledge of her surroundings.

Surprising to many new parents, at birth, the sense of smell, taste and touch are most keen, while hearing and eyesight develop over the course of the first year of life.  The sense of smell develops in the first trimester of pregnancy.  After that point, babies are aware of iStock_000008954862Smalldifferent smells that enter the womb through amniotic fluid, such as foods mom eats or anything she inhales.  Newborns navigate by their sense of smell, which is one reason why newborns are able to latch to breastfeed so quickly after birth.  They can smell their mother’s breast milk, even picking out their own mother’s milk over another mother’s milk, and use their noses to find the breast.

Smells are extremely comforting to babies.  In addition to the comfort of the scent of their own mother’s breast milk for nourishment and bonding, babies appreciate pleasant smells, like natural floral scents or their family’s laundry detergent.  Next time your baby is fussy, introduce a non-toxic fragrance to the room to see if it calms her down.

The sense of touch also develops in utero.  In the womb, babies often touch their own faces, suck their thumbs or feel around the lining of the uterus.  They are curious about their very first room!  Once babies are born, adults are responsible for most of their tactile stimulation because babies aren’t able to move around much.  Hugging, kissing, cuddling and stroking your baby help fulfill their sensory needs while also boosting her emotional balance.

Additionally, skin-to-skin contact is vital to a baby’s development.  Feeling a parent’s skin is comforting to babies; it makes them feel safe and loved.  Skin-to-skin contact with mom helps encourage breast milk and regulate feeding schedules, as well as help babies develop their respiratory system and regulate body temperature.  In essence, this ultimate touching sensation syncs a baby’s body with her mother for a stronger, more rhythmic relationship.

Baby wearing is another way to achieve physical closeness to develop the sense of touch and create a warm, loving environment.  The constant rocking and swaying of your body is soothing.  At night, swaddles recreate a similar sensation for babies to feel wrapped in security.  Baby massages can be a wonderful way to use the touch sensation on a baby as well.  Using a gently formulated lotion, you can softly rub your baby’s skin for a sweet and playful sensory experience.  You may just get your very first smile out of it.

Hearing also begins to develop in the womb, but unlike smell, taste and touch, it’s not as developed until around six or eight months of life.  You will probably notice your baby’s hearing growth.  We know babies can hear in utero, which is why experts recommend talking and singing to your baby so she becomes familiar with your voice.  Very early in life, babies recognize tones, voices and native languages.  As time goes on, babies’ muscles mature, they will be able to move their heads toward sounds and eventually turn when their own name is called.

Eyesight takes the entire first year to fully develop. At birth, babies can only see from the distance between herself to mom’s face when held at breast level – nature’s amazing way of bonding mother to child through breastfeeding.

Many of the ways you can develop your baby’s senses are intuitive – who doesn’t want to cuddle with their newborn?  But being aware of your baby’s sensory experiences and remembering that the senses are her only source of learning at this young age will help you actively engage your baby’s senses.

Maternity Fashion: Polka Dotted with Style

Polka dots are a hot fashion trend in maternity clothes.  They can be cute and playful, sassy and chic, sophisticated and classy, or sexy and cool.  We’re inspired by the polka dot maternity fashion trend and have a variety of maternity bras, nursing bras and even a nursing chemise that any mom-to-be would love to add to her wardrobe.

Today we’re sharing some of our favorite polka dot maternity wear and the bras we’ve designed to pair nicely with these and many other pieces in your maternity wardrobe.

First up are polka dot maternity dresses in classic black and white.  We’re a big fan of sleeveless maternity dresses year-round because they are easy to layer depending on the weather.  Between your pregnancy hormones and differing weather systems indoors and outside, layering is the way to go.

 

black with white dots and red beltblack with white dots

black with white dots and sash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These three maternity dresses featuring black with white polka dots are super fun for work and play.  Pair them with a long cardigan or open-front blazer for work.  For happy hour (with mocktails of course) or your upcoming holiday parties, add a sassy belt and heels for a festive, elegant look.  Whether you like bump-hugging styles or breezy over-the-belly designs, you can’t go wrong with these trendy dresses.

Much like your maternity dresses mimic your classy chic pre-pregnancy wardrobe, our maternity and nursing bras aim to do the same.  Every expectant and new mom wants to feel as good and stylish with baby on board as she did before her baby was conceived.  So we took your favorite bra styles and expertly tailored them for your ultimate comfort and functionality during pregnancy and while nursing.

110blackdotL348_BlackDot_nc_2000x2000Our Shirred Front Nursing Bra and our Cotton Front Closure Leisure Bra feature our modern black with white polka dot cotton, spandex blend breathable fabric.  Both bras are stretchable as your breast change throughout breastfeeding and nursing.  The Shirred Front Nursing Bra has adjustable straps and hook-and-eye back closures for added flexibility, while the Cotton Front Closure Leisure Bra has extra wide straps for back and shoulder support and clasps in front for all-day and all-night comfort.  Nursing day or night are easy in both, with nursing clasps and fold down cups respectively.

For additional day and night maternity polka dot wear, we’ve designed a versatile nursing tank that can be worn as an undershirt or pajama top.  We also have a dotted nursing chemise that is terrific for those middle-of-the-night feedings.  Nothing but your baby herself could be cuter.  We bet your hubby will agree too!


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We also love to go polka dot with other colors.  We’ve reversed the traditional black with white dots for our white with black dots Wirefree Cotton Nursing Bra.  It also comes in white with blue dots and white with pink dots.  These bras are soft and pure, just like your baby, with lace trim at the bustline and a sweet bow.  These bras pair nicely under many of your maternity clothes, including some more colorful polka dot dresses and nightgowns.

white with black dots

pink and white dotsBlue with white dots

 

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Lastly, we are inspired by chic polka dot maternity tops.  Nothing says hot mama like a sheer top and this one is dotted with cool flair while covering up all the right spots.  Plus, it keeps you cool in case you have a pregnancy hot flash.  We also love this adorable navy and white polka dotted bow-tie top.  With wispy short sleeves and a flowy yet fitted bump, it will goes great with a variety of maternity pants, leggings or jeans.  And we can’t help saying that it would look just swell with our contrasting white with blue dot Wirefree Cotton Nursing Bra.

 

blue polka maternity topblack sheer polka maternity top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So come on, do the polka dot with us.  This trend works for every new mom and mom-to-be.  We dare you to “dot” your style all the way down to your intimates.

Baby Pictures and Family Photos: Taking Commemorative Photos Every Year

As the holidays approach, it’s a good time to think about traditions.  Traditions can be as simple as baking pumpkin pie as a family for Thanksgiving dinner, reading the same story every Christmas morning or delivering cheer to friends and neighbors.  Today, we’re focusing on one family tradition we know every new parent will love: family photos.  Because if there is one thing you cannot have enough of, it is baby pictures.

The holiday season is a terrific time for a planned or candid photo shoot with the family.  Everyone’s in a festive mood, usually dressed in their snazziest attire and you can probably count on the whole family being present.  That’s especially true if your family photos will include extended family.

same photosWhether you pictures will capture a large family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, just your immediate family or just your kids or baby, you have a wonderful opportunity to create commemorative photos.  One of the most fun ways to achieve memorable moments year-after-year is to recreate the same or similar scene.  The evolution of your family from year-to-year will be incredible to watch and display.

Recreating poses works well when it includes another object.  For example, your family could pose in front of a newly planted tree and each year, as you see your family grow, you’ll see the tree grow as well.  Or, depending on your traditions you may want to take family pictures with Santa Claus or a menorah.  You could go to your favorite park, sit in front of your fireplace or have each person sit in their favorite chair.  The possibilities are endless.  By posing in a similar way, you’ll be amazed at how your family changes each year.  Even if you haven’t selected the same pose every year, try recreating one from 5 or 10 years ago.  Or a different twist on this idea is to pose your current family the same way a previous generation posed, perhaps one from when you were a child.

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Another excellent way to take commemorative pictures is doing something that defined your year.  If this was the year of bike riding or boating, take your family photos on your bicycles or in a boat.  If you were a family of jet-setters this year, add a globe or some stickered suitcase to your photos.  Or maybe your family loves to dance.  Take some wild shots of everyone in the act of dancing to mark the year.

And while posed portraits are wonderful to have, so are some silly photos.  Have your photographer take some candid photos of your family playing, running, tickling and otherwise acting goofy.  You can also wear something silly, such as costumes or your pajamas.  You can’t beat a natural smile that was made with the pure joy of having fun and being together as a family.  If the candid action is too much, try posing in a candid way, such as upside or walking hand-in-hand.

baby photoBaby pictures can be a bit challenging, especially if your little one tends to be fussy or is already mobile.  If you have an infant in your family photos, try to take your pictures at a time when your baby is happiest, has gotten plenty of sleep and is well-fed.  Have lots of hands on deck to pose your baby and to do silly things that will make her look towards the camera and remain generally pleased.

Some people line the walls of their home with expensive artwork.  But with baby pictures and family photos, your wall hangings can be priceless. Wishing you a warm and festive holiday season.  To that we’ll say cheers and “say cheese.”

Ways to Ease Baby’s Runny Nose

This time of year, we all get a case of the sniffles.  If this is your first fall and winter season with your baby, you’ll probably soon experience her first never-ending runny nose.  While we are all more prone to drippy noses in the cold weather, babies are more likely to get colds and congestion because their immune systems are still developing.  Plus, they are constantly on the floor and putting things in their mouths, which contributes to more germs.

It may break your heart to watch your baby suffer from a stuffed up nose, but know that getting a cold is very common.  Just think about how many colds you’ve had in the past few years.  And if it gives you any comfort, exposure to small amounts of germs at a young age helps build immunity.  Also, that amazing breast milk you’re providing is a life-long immune booster as well.

Unless prescribed by a pediatrician, medication is usually not necessary for a baby’s runny nose.  Instead, help her relieve the congestion and the annoyance of a cold.  Fortunately there are several things you can do during this cold-weather season to help ease baby’s runny nose.

sneezing-babyFirst, try to keep your baby’s nose clean.  Wipe away runny mucus as much as possible to prevent the spread of germs.  You may be able to suck out some of the mess in your baby’s nose with a bulb syringe.  It has a soft tip that is safe for a baby’s sensitive nasal cavity.  If the mucus is not moist enough, use saline drops before suctioning out the nose.  There are some brands of wipes that are designed to help pull out dried mucus, or you can use cotton swab or regular tissue if your baby will tolerate it.

A cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier can be very helpful to clear nasal airways.  Use it during naps and at nighttime until your baby’s congestion clears.  Just be sure to clean it regularly to avoid mold.

You can also try to loosen the mucus from your baby’s chest by patting her back gently.  Much like burping, this may help your baby cough up some mucus that would otherwise get caught in her chest or sinuses.

If your baby is not feeling well, she may need some extra TLC.  Breastfeed as much as possible during “sick days” to ensure your baby is getting plenty of nutrients and emotional comfort.  Try clearing the nasal passages just before breastfeeding.  You may need to take breaks often during a feeding to allow your baby to breathe if your baby’s nose is very clogged.

Typical signs of the common cold are congestion, cough, sore throat, sneezing, nasal discharge, headache, watery eyes and a mild fever.  Usually a trip to the pediatrician is not necessary for a cold or seasonal congestion, but be vigilant of your baby’s temperature.  If your baby is under 3 months and has a fever of 100.4 or more, call your doctor.  Do the same if your baby is 3 to 5 months and has a fever of 102 or more, or if any amount of fever persists for more than three days.  Always call and visit your pediatrician immediately with any fever 105 or greater at any age.  Temperatures 106 and above can affect the brain.

If your baby shows other symptoms such as a bloody nose, a smelly discharge from the nose or seems to be in severe pain, there could be other causes for the stuffiness and you should call your pediatrician.  Also, keep in mind that as the wind begins to blow, it picks up particles in the air that may cause allergies.  That could be the culprit of your baby’s sniffles rather than a cold.  Additionally, be aware of any new foods you introduce to your diet if you are breastfeeding as food allergies can cause nasal congestion as well.  And as you may already know, a runny nose is a symptom of teething too.

Although a nuisance, a clear runny nose is usually not much of a health concern.  Help your baby keep her nasal passages and other airways clear and she should be back to her bubbly, babbling self in no time.  If anything, use her sniffles as an excuse for some extra cuddling!

Trends in Family Size in the U.S.

Have you seen a lot of large families lately?  If you feel like family sizes are on the rise, you may be watching too much TV.  Celebrities do tend to have large families, but in general, trends in family size in the U.S. remains the same.  Two children per family is still the “norm,” but large families are still very common too. Approximately 34% of women have two children and 28% of women have three or more children.  But that hasn’t always been the case.

In the 1950s, family sizes were substantially larger. As the baby boom took off, families with three or four children were quite common.  According to a Gallup poll, in 1957 the average ideal number of children per family was 3.6.  For the past 25 years, the average number has been around 2.6.  Sociologists expect the trend will remain the same in the U.S.

Tips-for-moving-a-large-family_16001070_800813782_0_0_7072123_500But what about all those families with three or more kids you see at the park, schools and grocery stores?  Well, the mother of those children looks a lot different than she did in the 50s.  Today’s mom of 3+ kids tends to be a professional and wealthier than her 1950’s stay-at-home mom counterpart.  Historically, “older” women in their child-bearing years would have less children.  Now even those who postpone children well into their 30s after their careers are established still may choose larger family sizes.

There are several potential reasons for this shift.  Having more children requires more money.  And there are more wealthier families now, in part due to women having high-powered jobs.  A dual income makes a big difference in family planning.

Some families plan to have many children for religious reasons.  Others find out how much they love children once they have their own.  After the first one or two kids, they feel they are not done and decide to have more.  Family size trends also vary regionally.  So in some ways, family sizes may be “contagious.”

The debate remains whether large families breed large families.  Some people who grew up with many siblings choose the same for their own families, while others want to offer their children a different, more individualized experience.  The opposite is also true.  Only children sometimes want to have large families after longing for siblings in their own youth.

There are certainly pros and cons to large families.  Studies have shown greater social skills from an early age in children from larger families.  The theory is that the children always have playmates and learn how to get along with others starting in infancy at home.  They also have to take more responsibility in the home, for themselves and for each other.  Conversely, academics may suffer in larger families as parents don’t have the time and resources to spend on each child’s education.  This also may be a reflection of socio-economic status in low-income larger families.

The trend in U.S. family size has held steady for years.  Whether you’re in it for one child or seven, family planning is a personal decision.  But no matter the size, families are as strong, happy and loving as you make them.

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