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Best Teacher Gifts for the Holidays

human hands holding a gift

Those who take care of our children – whether it’s at a daycare, in our homes or at school – should be like family.  They are responsible for the most precious part of our lives for many hours a day so we should celebrate them for all the ways they enrich our children.  But what to get them as a holiday gift is always a conundrum.  Candles, lotions and sweets are common, but the truth is that most teachers end up giving or throwing away many of these presents.  Want to give your kids’ teachers and caregivers something special this year?  Today we’re sharing ideas for the best teacher gifts for the holidays.

Plants:  Even if your teacher doesn’t have a green thumb, a beautiful plant will brighten up her holiday.  There are many ways you can give plants as a gift.  A straight-up plant in a nice pot is a lovely present with no wrapping necessary.  You can also give her bulbs or “seed bombs” that she can plant herself and watch grow.  If you have a teacher who enjoys cooking, a kitchen herb garden set will be useful and delicious for her culinary creations.

Personalized Note Pads or Stationary:  This custom present is useful year-after-year and fulfills a need that all teachers have – sending notes home and around school.  Many companies offer a set of note pads of various sizes including sticky notes that teachers love.  Or, personalized stationary comes in very handy, say for writing thank you notes for all of the holiday gifts she will receive.

Foot Spa:  For teachers and caregivers who are constantly on their feet, a foot spa is a terrific way to offer much-needed relief.  These electronic tubs help warm, soak and massage even the sorest feet after a long day of chasing around children.  It’s like having a foot masseuse in her very own home.  What could be better?

Coffee:  If your teacher or caregiver is a java-holic, indulge her in a few pick-me-ups on you.  This can come in the form of packages of her favorite brew, coffee pods for her single-serve coffee maker, delicious flavorings or creamers for her cuppa joe, or a self-warming travel mug to bring her coffee along every day.  For coffee-lovers, anything related to coffee makes a great holiday gift.

Scarf & Glove Set:  By this time of year you’ve probably picked up on your teacher or caregivers sense of style.  Scarves and gloves sets are a wonderful teacher gift for the holidays to keep her warm and fashionable.  Do be thoughtful and select something that matches her individual taste and color pallet.  You may want to include a gift receipt in case she’d like to exchange them.

First Aid Kit:  While this doesn’t scream “festive” or “fun,” it is a very useful gift for the classroom.  Many schools don’t provide individual first aid kits for every classroom, but rather have them stationed in break rooms or in the nurse’s office.  Having band-aids and other supplies on hand is helpful and less disruptive than having to leave the classroom to get items as needed.

Personalized Cutting Board:  Chef or not, a personalized cutting board is a wonderful serving piece for any teacher or caregiver’s home.  Hand-carved wooden cutting boards with an interesting design or monogram can be quite beautiful and certainly a unique idea as a holiday gift.

Wine:  If you know your teacher is a wine-drinker, selecting a bottle or two of a nice wine for her to sip over the holiday season is both thoughtful and relaxing.  You can subtly ask her or other teachers what types of wine she enjoys.  For a fun spin on a traditional wine bottle, add a personal label with your child’s photo.

Gift Cards:  When all other ideas don’t resonate, you can’t go wrong with gift cards.  A larger sum at a store you know she’ll enjoy is great or you can give a gift card bouquet of smaller sums from several places.  Ideas include grocery stores, home improvement stores, superstores, movie theaters, restaurants, coffee shops and nail salons.  Have fun creating a smorgasbord of gift cards for your special teacher or caregiver.

Make this year’s teachers gifts for the holidays really mean something with these fun and fabulous ideas!

8 Adorable Holiday Handprint Crafts

Handprint crafts are an excellent way to freeze a moment in time and commemorate the holiday season.  As your little ones grow, you’ll love looking back at many holiday crafts, but not many are as precious as those that are made with their own tiny handprints.  Holiday handprint crafts add cheer, spirit and vibrancy to your holiday home décor and make excellent gifts for your loved ones.  We’re sharing 8 adorable holiday handprint crafts to try with your kids this year.

1 – Handprint Family Tree:  This cross-cultural artwork is a wonderful keepsake or a terrific gift for grandparents.  Start with a piece of 8 x 10 white card stock.  Draw a tree trunk extending halfway up the page from the bottom.  Paint your children’s hands and print them on top of the trunk in various directions to be the branches and leaves of the tree.  If you have multiple children, use one of each of their hands, or repaint one child’s hands several colors to complete the tree.  This can easily be matted and framed for a gorgeous and one-of-a-kind holiday gift.

2 – Ceramic Handprint Ornament:  This craft is often available as a kit or you can do-it-yourself by using molding clay that dries hard.  Make the ornament shape you prefer – oval, square, star or whatever floats your boat – and then press your child’s hand into it.  You can paint the hand or leave it natural.  Etch your child’s name and the date as a memorable decoration you can use on your tree or around your house year after year.

3 – Handprint Snowmen:  One tiny hand can make 5 adorable snowmen.  Dip your child’s hand in white paint and print it on a piece of paper.  Then have fun decorating the snowmen fingers, each with its own personality.  A traditional scarf, top hat and carrot nose for some, a baseball cap and uniform for another.  Let your child’s handprint snowmen represent the interests of your family.

4 – Handprint Christmas Tree:  There are several ways to complete this holiday handprint craft depending on the size tree you want to make.  One way is to draw a short brown pine tree truck and then stamp your child’s green handprint upside down starting with 3 or 4 in a row at the bottom and gradually taper to one at the top.  You can do this with upright handprints for larger trees.  Similarly, you can cut out handprints to create a three dimensional tree in which you can fold up the fingers for a textured tree.  Have fun decorating your tree with colorful craft supplies and a star or angel at the top, of course.

5 – Handprint Menorah:  This adorable holiday handprint craft is fun and easy to complete.  Dip both of your child’s hands in blue paint and print them on a piece of paper,

Girl at school finger painting

canvas, cloth or card stock overlapping the thumbs.  This will create four finger candles on each side and the leader shamesh candle in the middle.  Wipe hands clean and paint fingertips yellow to “light” each of the 9 candles on the menorah.

6 – Handprint Wreath:  A paper holiday handprint wreath is beautiful for decorating interior doors and mantels.  Simply trace your child’s handprint and cut out as many as you want to create a round wreath.  Glue them together in a circle leaving a hole in the middle.  You can add colorful cotton balls, bows or other decorative items to jazz up your keepsake wreath.

7 – Handprint Angel:  This sweet holiday handprint craft can incorporate your child’s photo as the face of the angel.  Beneath the photo, stamp your child’s hand upside down as the angel’s body.  Then using white, yellow or blue paint, stamp handprint wings on both sides of the body.  This is a fun one to cut out and use as an ornament as well.

8 – Handprint Reindeer:  Little fingers make for good antlers so handprint reindeer are a fun and crafty way to celebrate the season.  Using brown paint, print a handprint on a piece of paper.  Draw a face on the palm and bows or holly on the antler fingers.  You can create one or an entire sled-full.

We hope you and your kiddos have a blast creating these adorable holiday handprint crafts.  Remember, even babies can participate in handprint crafts so use this special time of year to make lasting keepsakes you’ll revisit year after year!

Labor Pain Management Techniques

When you start to feel those first contractions, you know you’re little bundle of joy is not far from her arrival.  Usually, labor begins slowly with some twinges of contractions spaced sporadically.  As time progresses, so does the severity of contractions.  That’s when it’s time to get into gear and employ your labor pain management techniques.  It’s a good idea to have researched and selected some of the techniques you want to use prior to going into labor so you are prepared with the methods and tools you may need.  Today we’re exploring a variety of labor pain management techniques as options during the birth of your child.

First, it’s important to prepare yourself for comfort and familiarity as much as possible.  This may mean staying in your own home until active labor begins and then going to the hospital or birthing center, which hopefully you’ve had a chance to tour during your pregnancy.  Have your birthing team in place and on call so they are ready to activate when the time arises.  Usually partners, friends or a doula can offer the most help, and others can take over childcare duties for older siblings, your work responsibilities and other obligations that will now take the back burner.  Also, you’ll want to draw on your knowledge of labor to help guide you through the process.  Don’t go into it completely ignorant – that can lead to panic and fear.  Rather, read up on signs of labor and typical procedures so you feel assured everything that is happening to you is completely normal.

Rhythmic Breathing:  Deep breathing is one of the easiest ways to try to relax your body.  During labor, breathing through contractions can really help.  This is why Lamaze and other similar practices used to be very popular.  If you’re not into taking a class, you can practice controlled breathing during pregnancy so you’ll be able to draw on it when active labor sets in.  This is the same type of breathing you may do in exercise or yoga.  Even if you can’t take long slow breaths, focusing on short consistent breaths will do the trick.  Feel free to moan, groan or make any other noises that will help you cope with the pain.

Positioning:  Using a variety of positions is another terrific labor pain management technique.  The goal is to take pressure off your back so sitting leaning back on a pillow or sitting backwards on a chair leaning forward on a pillow can assisting in relieving the pain.  Rocking also helps, which you can do in a traditional rocking chair, standing up or on an exercise ball.  Getting on your hands and knees takes pressure off the back or, like during pregnancy, lying on your side with pillows between your legs may ease your labor pain.  If you need these supplies in the hospital, ask your labor and delivery nurse what is available.  Chances are they have some helpful tools on hand.

Movement:  Many women find it helpful to keep moving during active labor.  Walking, standing or shifting side-to-side are the most common movements.  Some women squat holding onto a bar.  Movement labor pain management techniques are best done with the help of your birthing team and may allow your partner to be involved in the process.

Massage:  Another wonderful way your partner can help is to give you a gentle massage.  You may want your feet, legs or shoulders rubbed as you breathe through the pain.  Let your masseuse know the type of pressure you prefer and lotion or aromatic oils may help soothe and calm your muscles and all of your senses.

Warmth:  Warm water or warm compresses can relieve labor pain.  Some women choose to take a warm bath or shower with the supervision of a partner, nurse or doula.  Soaking is believed to speed up labor.  You can also use a removable shower head to target your abdomen and back where you need the most relief.  Warm compresses have a similar effect of focusing on certain areas where pain in concentrated.  If you get too hot, allow your partner to cool you down with a cold wet towel or ice pack.

Medication:  In most cases, medication is an option.  You may want to try natural labor pain management techniques before asking for an epidural.  But if the pain is unbearable for you, medication is usually an option.

Good luck using these labor pain management techniques!  Remember, it’s called labor for a reason, but the end result is your beautiful, wonderful baby.

Are you Ready for a Second Child?

Young family four persons, smiling father mother and two childreDeciding whether or not you are ready for a second child is a big decision.  A REALLY big decision.  Regardless of how you’ve pictured and planned your life, when it comes time to make it happen, there are some major factors to consider before you know you are ready for a second child.  Among them are how it will affect your health, time, finances and existing family dynamic.  We’re exploring each of these aspects of being ready for a second child today.

Health

Even if you have children close together, by the time you consider having a second child, you are a little older and your body has been through at least one pregnancy already.  Each pregnancy is different so even if your first was easy, your second could be laden with negative symptoms or even bed rest.  Think about your personal health and whether or not you can handle carrying another baby.  When you are mulling over the possibility of another child, consult your physician for a medical opinion.

Also, consider the research regarding the age gap between your children and how it may impact your health and that of your baby.  A second baby born within 18 months of a first or beyond five years of the first is more likely to be premature than those who wait longer.  The healthiest period between babies is two to three years, which gives your body time to readjust and your baby will probably have the best outcome too.

Time and Lifestyle

Once you figure out how to juggle your life with one child, you’ll have to think about how a second child will impact your time and lifestyle.  If you have returned to work, you may feel even more torn between work and family with a new baby at home.  You may be enjoying hobbies again or spending more time with your partner, which will probably have to take a back seat when you are managing the constant care of an infant.  And don’t forget the sleep deprivation too.  Weigh these lifestyle factors with the joy and fulfillment you would get from having a second child.  If you choose not to take the plunge, don’t feel selfish.  It’s better to have truly thought through your desires than to jump in blindly.

Finances

As you already know, having children can be expensive.  You and your partner must consider how a second will affect your bank account.  Hopefully you can reuse many of your baby items and you know more about which ones are important or not.  But some items will need to be purchased or replaced and there is the cost of childcare too.  Also, think through the space you have in your home and the cars you drive.  If having a second child will cause you to need to move or get new vehicles, those are major extra expenses.

Family Dynamics

The intricacies of every family are different and only you and your partner know whether a new baby can fit into yours.  Besides thinking about everyone’s personalities and emotional needs, also consider your values.  If you are a traveling family or always on-the-go, a new baby may slow you down a bit or could just make your adventures more interesting.  It all depends on how you look at it.

Studies show the ideal times for having a second child based on family dynamics are either before your first is 1 and can really understand what’s happening, or around 4 years after the first when your older child can fully grasp the concept of a sibling but also has his own life established.  Remember, just like pregnancies, every baby and child is unique.  Your first may have been an easy baby and a calm, obedient child but the opposite might be true of your second.  Don’t count on anything working out the same when you are considering how a new baby will change your family dynamics.

We hope these factors help you as you decide whether you are ready for a second child.  There are also many fun quizzes you can take online that may bring up some questions and topics you had not considered.  Take one with your partner as a basis for the second child discussion.  Good luck!

Thanksgiving Crafts: Last Minute Table Décor and More

Colorful accessories for Thanksgiving holiday craftThanksgiving crafts are a wonderful way to spread the Thanksgiving spirit to kids.  While they may not be interested in the food and house preparations for having guests, you can bring the holiday to their level by engaging your kids in Thanksgiving crafts.  Using art, you can discuss the story and themes involved in Thanksgiving, and even help your kids think about ways they are thankful.

Today we have fun ideas for Thanksgiving crafts – including last minute table décor and other household decorations – that you can create with items you already have around your house.

Thankful Tree or Wreath:  Using a construction paper base to create a tree trunk with branches or a round wreath, help your kids cut out construction paper leaves of different shapes, colors and sizes.  Then ask your children what they are thankful for and write each comment on a leaf.  Paste the leaves on the tree or wreath and hang it in your house to display for all of your guests to read.

Thanksgiving Placemats:  Get crafty with your Thanksgiving placemats by allowing your kids to decorate them.  There are endless possibilities, from straight drawings or stickering, to weaving or collaging.  Encourage your kids to personalize each placemat for each of your guests.

Thanks Garland:  Create Thanks garland or banners for your mantle, staircase or doorways using letter cut-outs, leaves, tinsel and other art supplies that represent the season.  This simple Thanksgiving craft can be made using string, ribbon or yarn and a lot of imagination.

Turkey with “Tradable” Feathers:  This interactive craft gives your kids something to do during long Thanksgiving meals.  First cut out a small and large brown circle for each turkey you’re going to make.  Add a face and legs as you desire.  Then let your kids decorate feathers – either from craft feathers or paper – that you can place on each turkey using a small slit.  During the Thanksgiving meal, let your kids and guests trade feathers.  Or, place a special sticker on the back of several feathers and whoever ends up with the stickered feathers wins a prize at the end.

Turkey Puppet:  Small puppets are a fun way to keep your kids occupied on Thanksgiving as well.  Using gloves or socks, let your kids create a turkey puppet out of whatever arts supplies you have on hand.  Show them pictures of turkeys and then let them get as wacky and creative as their hearts desire.

Thankful Name Card Necklaces:  Ask your children to help you make name card necklaces for each of your guests.  Make name cards out of card stock and punch holes in them to string on a necklace along with beads, leaf cut-outs, cereal and whatever else your kids want to add.  Lay the jewelry creations on each persons place setting and encourage everyone to wear them during the festive meal.

Leaf Collages:  This Thanksgiving craft incorporates nature and some fresh air to collect supplies.  Let your kids gather leaves, acorns, sticks, pinecones and anything else they can find in your yard.  Then use these natural materials to create a magnificent fall collage to display in your home.

Popsicle Stick or Spoon Figures:  Help your kids create their own Thanksgiving themed action figures out of popsicle sticks or spoons.  Decorate them like pilgrims and Native American characters and encourage your children to act out the first Thanksgiving or other interactions between these groups of friends.

Have a blast with these Thanksgiving crafts and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Trivia

Playing games during the holidays is a great way to bond as a family. It’s also something to set up so they kids have something to keep them busy while you finish up the turkey. Trivia is an awesome game to get your child’s brain muscles working! Literally! Besides trivia questions being educational and promoting mental cognition, it’s fun and the kids will have a blast playing it with the rest of the family!

 

Depending on your child’s age, some trivia question may be easier for some compared to others. If there is an age difference between a few of the kids attending your Thanksgiving dinner make sure to create two separate trivia games. Below are trivia questions you can ask children who are a little younger and may not know specific Thanksgiving facts:

Examples:

  1. What animal do we eat during Thanksgiving?
  2. What pie does grandma make every year?
  3. What sound does a turkey make?
  4. Who was part of the first Thanksgiving?
  5. How many feathers does a turkey have?
  6. What is mommy’s favorite food at Thanksgiving?
  7. What football team does daddy always want to lose?
  8. How much does the turkey weigh?

Hint: You can be as creative as you want with these questions, but always remember to make the questions something that won’t be difficult for a five or seven year old to answer.

 

If the kids are a little older they might find the above questions to be simple and boring. This is where you can come up with more difficult questions:

Examples:

  1. When was the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade held and where?
  2. What is the bone we break every year in the hopes of good luck?
  3. What does the President do for a turkey?
  4. How many feathers does a turkey have?
  5. Which day is Black Friday?
  6. What four places in the U.S. use the name Turkey?
  7. Do all turkeys gobble?
  8. Is the United States the only place to celebrate Thanksgiving?
  9. What was the name of the ship the Pilgrims sailed over to America?
  10. What is the name of the rock where the Pilgrims first landed?
  11. What was the name of the Indian tribe who was invited to the first Thanksgiving?

Hint: It’s still okay to be creative and throw in a funny question of two. If the kids are between the ages of eight and twelve they may need a little more excitement to keep them from asking you when dinner will be ready.

 

After the kids have finished their Thanksgiving Trivia game you can wait until after dinner to rally up the points and pick the winners. Make sure not to leave anyone out and reward each child for participating.

 

How Kids can Help Make Thanksgiving Dinner

cookingwithkidsThanksgiving is a time for family togetherness, and that should extend to preparations for the family meal.  There are many ways to incorporate kids of all ages in your Thanksgiving meal traditions ranging from setting the table, to helping you cook most of the classic dishes you will serve.  On this festive holiday of showing gratitude and spending time together, involve the entire family because your kids can help make Thanksgiving dinner!

Here are some helpful tips on how your kids can help make Thanksgiving dinner:

Tip #1:  Start Early

Start your dinner preparations several days before the big day.  Items like pies, breads and even some casseroles and side dishes can be prepared early.  Set aside one project for your kids to help with each day leading up to Thanksgiving.  Overloading on cooking everything in one day is too much for kids.  But one 10-20 minute session a day is just the right stimulation they can swallow.

Tip #2:  Make it Fun

Cooking can be as fun as you make it.  Try not to worry too much about spills and messes and focus more on the process.  Let your kids wear a special apron and/or hat for the occasion and put on some festive music while you’re working in the kitchen.  When sanitation and food safety allows, let your kids taste batter or small parts of their creations along the way, and definitely let them be taste testers when your dishes are complete.

Tip #3:  Prep the Kitchen

If you have a recipe that calls for multiple ingredients, have them all laid out with the appropriate measuring cups, bowls, pans and utensils.  You may lose your kids’ attention if they have to wait for 10 minutes for you to get everything together.

Tip #4:  Make it Educational

Cooking can be a terrific math lesson.  Explain fractions as you measure various ingredients and add them to your recipes.  Also, if you are using the oven or microwave, allow your tot to press the correct numbers to get your heat source started.  All of these lessons are fun, practical learning experiences for your children.

Tip #5:  Allow Your Kids Make Choices

Every Thanksgiving meal could use a twist.  Let your little ones pick a “secret ingredient” to add to certain recipes.  It could be apples in the stuffing, cinnamon in the sweet potatoes, or cranberries in the green bean casserole.  When it comes time to eat Thanksgiving dinner, your little ones will take pride in tasting their personal contribution to each recipe.

Tip #6:  Let Kids Add the Finishing Touch

Preparing some dishes may not be kid-friendly, but you can usually find an aspect of the item that is.  For example, if you top your casseroles with fried onions and your pies with spiced nuts, let your kids participate in that part.  It may be a simple task but it’s super exciting to children.

Tip #7:  Set the Table Together

Setting the table is not only necessary, it’s a good lesson too.  Work with your kids to set the table and explain where each item goes.  Hopefully you’ve made some fabulous Thanksgiving crafts to use as table décor so placing their creations on the table will be even more exciting when they do it themselves.

Tip #8:  Snack on Thanksgiving-Style Foods

Throughout the week as you are building anticipation for Thanksgiving, snack on festive foods.  These include dried fruits, deli turkey, pumpkin flavored foods, seeds and nuts.  All of these flavors of the season will help you and your family get into the Thanksgiving spirit.

Tip #9:  Create Fun Shapes with Thanksgiving Themes

Playing with your food has never been more fun than when making silly turkeys, pilgrim hats and cornucopia you can eat.  There are many ways to turn traditional food items into cool shapes.  To make an edible turkey figure, start with a pumpkin bread or cornbread muffin base and add apples slices or carrot sticks to the back for feathers and a grape to the front as a head.  For a pilgrim hat, place one large marshmallow over a round cookie and cover with chocolate.  Cornucopia can be made by shaping homemade bread dough and then hollowing it out to make room for fruits and vegetables.

Happy Thanksgiving!

12 Reasons to be Thankful for your Kids

children-playingWith Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s a great time to reflect on how and why you are thankful for your kids.  Despite all the tough parenting moments, having kids is a fulfilling and enriching experience, and certainly one that all parents grow to appreciate with every new stage.  During this Thanksgiving holiday season, take time to reflect on all the ways you are thankful for your kids.  We’re getting you started with our 12 reasons to be thankful for your kids.

1 – Kids have amazing perspective.  Watching the world through your kids’ eyes is fascinating and eye opening for you as well.  As adults we become jaded, but experiencing things for the first time with your child helps us re-envision them with wonderful new light.

2 – Kids help you live by your morals.  Identifying your morals is one thing, but living by your own code of ethics in order to be a good role model for you kids takes being a better person to another level.  But surely if we expect our kids to have a moral conscience, we must lead by example.

3 – Kids keep you active.  Keeping up with kids can be quite a workout.  From crawling infants and teetering toddlers, to playground daredevils and sports-loving tikes, kids force us to live more active lives.

4 – Kids teach you to prioritize.  Life with kids means making some tough decisions about life’s priorities.  Kids help keep the most important part of our lives – our family – on the forefront most of the time, even if it means sacrifices in other areas.

5 – Kids make life more interesting.  As kids grow and develop, their interests are constantly evolving, which helps keep our lives as adults more interesting too.  It’s easy for us adults to become stale, but kids are consistently reinventing themselves in spectacular, resilient ways.

6 – Kids challenge you to find solutions.  Having kids is all about being a problem solver, and your kids are constantly looking at you to have all the magic answers.  It can be a big challenge but we all dig deep to find solutions when life requires it.

7 – Kids teach the true meaning of unconditional love.  No matter how frustrating and difficult parenting gets, we always love our kids.  For most of us, the parent/child relationship is the only one of true unconditional love we will ever experience.

8 – Kids inspire spontaneity.  Not fully understanding schedules and all social norms, kids can be quite spontaneous.  Sometimes this is difficult for parents to handle, but it also inspires us to live in the moment and forget the rules, within moderation.

9 – Kids make you more creative.  In addition to being a problem solver, you have to be very creative to be a parent.  Whether through the art of distraction or helping with school projects, your creative parental juices are always flowing.

10 – Kids give you cause to be prepared.  With kids, preparation and organization are essential to avoid complete chaos all the time.  Simply by keeping a regular schedule, always having snacks and toys on hand, and thinking through your day with your kids in mind can make your day go much smoother and help keep everyone in your family happy.

11 – Kids remind you to dream big.  In the heart and mind of a child, there are endless possibilities in life.  Their dreams reach as far as the sky because they are not limited by normal conventions.  Dreaming big is a virtue we can all admire and inspires us to think beyond the limits of our boxes and seek new possibilities.

12 – Kids keep you young at heart.  Playing with your kids keeps the body, mind and spirit young like nothing else in the world can.  As adults, we rarely get to play, but playing with a child will keep you young to the core.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

 

The Positive Effects of Smiling at Your Baby

Whoever came up with the observation, “Smiling is contagious,” hit the nail on the head. No one can resist giving at least a small smirk when they receive a smile from someone, let alone when they see a smiling, happy baby. If that doesn’t warm your heart, than I’m not sure what will! Smiling is a worldwide sign of communication. In fact, for each of us, smiling was our first form of language. One of the happiest moments in parenthood is when you baby first smiles at you. To many parents it’s a sign of love and recognition.

However, all babies are different, and some may take a little time before they fully develop their smiling capabilities. Many parents worry there might be something wrong when their baby doesn’t smile or show signs of affection, but this can be completely normal for a baby. In fact, most babies spend much of their time smiling when they are asleep.  As they grow they will become more in control of their emotions and more aware of their environment.

Smiling has a wonderful and positive impact on babies and young children. It boosts moods and encourages positivity and reduces stress, which in return keeps the immune system strong and healthy. When a child sees their parents smiling and laughing they will mimic this optimistic attitude. This is the same for babies. When a baby is showered with love and lots of smiling they are more likely to repeat this act.

Smiling also does a lot for the body. Because smiling reduces stress due to the boost of positivity in our moods, it releases endorphins from the pituitary gland, which makes you feel happy and more relaxed. It also reduces your cortisol levels which are stress hormones. Furthermore, when you smile or laugh you’re expanding your lungs and muscles and stimulating homeostasis, which is your body’s ability to function and maintain stability.

To promote smiling, experts recommend interacting with your baby from infancy. They suggest smiling at them, making funny faces, and encouraging laughter. It’s important for parents to remember every baby is different and they shouldn’t worry if their baby is taking their time before giving a smile. Instead of worrying, encourage your baby’s development and inspire their progression with love, joy, laughter, and lots of smiles.

 

Vaccines during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is usually a period of less pharmaceuticals and more natural remedies for most women.  However, there are some exceptions when medical experts do recommend taking vaccines during pregnancy for the immediate and future health of babies and mothers.  There are two recommended vaccines during pregnancy: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, commonly known as Tdap, and the influenza (flu) vaccine.

It is recommended that women ensure they are up-to-date on all immunizations prior to becoming pregnant.  If you are unsure where you stand on your vaccinations, talk to your physician.  Most of the time doctors can order blood tests to check for immunizations at the same time you are doing any pre-pregnancy testing, such as genetic or ethnic tests.  For those who are missing vaccines and are already pregnant, your OBGYN will probably recommend waiting until after childbirth and possibly after breastfeeding before getting these additional shots as they may affect your baby.

The two recommended vaccines during pregnancy, Tdap and influenza, are not harmful to your growing baby.  In fact, they are advised because they are helpful to both you and your baby.  Babies are born with very little immunities and rely heavily on support they’ve received from their mothers throughout pregnancy to initiate their immune system.  Late in pregnancy, mothers pass on antibodies that help protect babies in the early months of their lives.  Also, antibodies continue to transfer to babies through wholesome breast milk.  Still, your baby will eventually need vaccines to help him defend himself against potential life-threatening diseases.

In the first few months of life, whooping cough and the flu are very dangerous for babies.  Here’s a breakdown of why you should ensure protection with these two vaccines:

Tdap:  The tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine should be administered during each pregnancy, regardless of when the mother last received a Tdap or Td shot.  The vaccine is really to provide immunization to the baby, mainly to prevent whooping cough, which can severely affect newborns and infants.  Tdap is usually given to moms-to-be between 27 and 36 weeks during pregnancy.  New dads, grandparents and other caregivers should also have Tdap or a Tdap booster at least once in a lifetime when spending time around young children.

Influenza:  The flu shot is recommended for most people once per year, even pregnant women.  Getting the flu while pregnant can be particularly miserable, especially if you choose not to take any medications.  Plus, your baby will reap the benefits as well, especially if he is born during flu season.  The flu shot is made of an inactivated influenza virus.  Pregnant women should not take the flu mist, which is a small dose of the live influenza virus.

Most OBGYN offices offer these vaccines during pregnancy to make it simple for patients to ensure they are properly immunized prior to their babies’ arrival.   If you are traveling abroad or feel in you may require other vaccines during pregnancy, talk to your physician.  It may be OK to take other inactivated vaccines during pregnancy, depending on the circumstances.

It is definitely the season for the flu shot, and don’t forget to ask your OB about Tdap as well.  Vaccines during pregnancy can greatly protect you and your baby for a healthy start to life!

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