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

The Dos and Don’ts of Pregnancy: Part 2

We’re back with our two-part series on pregnancy rules.  Yes, there are rules to just about everything in life, including pregnancy.  Today we’re taking a look at what you should and should not eat, drink and otherwise consume during pregnancy.  For better or worse, everything you consume will have an affect on your baby.  As his only portal for sustenance, maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding potentially harmful substances is essential for a healthy baby.

woman with prenatalsDo take a prenatal vitamin.  In one little capsule, or gummy if you prefer, you can get most of your recommended daily allowance of tons of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients for you and your baby.  Prenatal vitamins should contain folic acid, DHA, iron and calcium.  If yours does not, consider taking additional supplements to ensure you’re getting enough of these crucial nutrients.

Don’t take prescription or OTC drugs without a doctor’s consent.  Especially during the first trimester as your baby’s heart, lungs and brain cells are forming vital organs, avoid taking any unnecessary medications.  Your doctor can advise you on which meds are safe during pregnancy and alternatives should you not be able to take what you need.

Do eat lots of protein.  Protein is required for the cellular development of your baby and it will keep you strong and energized as well.  Pregnant women should consume 75 to 100 grams of protein daily.  But hold off on processed and packaged meats as they can contain bacteria called listeria, which can cause food poisoning.

Don’t eat too many processed foods. As pregnancy progresses, your stomach will get smaller and you’ll be eating less food.  If you fill up on junk food that lacks nutrients, you won’t have room for the healthy foods your baby needs. Plus, processed sugars lead to excessive weight gain, which is unhealthy for you and baby.

fish and pregnancyDo eat enough healthy fats.  Fats, especially essential fatty-acids like Omega-3s, are important for your baby’s developing brain.  Also, fat helps the body absorb fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E, K and D, and also helps the skin stretch smoothly.  Two tablespoons of fat per day are recommended during pregnancy.

Don’t eat certain types of fish with high mercury content.  Swordfish, tilefish, mackerel, tuna and shark are among the fish with the most mercury.  Avoid these fish or eat them in moderation.  Chunk light tuna or salmon are safer alternatives if you’re craving fish.  Of course, do not consume raw fish, like that found in sushi and shashimi.

Do get 4-7 servings of fruits and veggies a day.  Along with your prenatal vitamins, be sure to eat plenty of nutrient-dense fruits and veggies.   These have tons of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, which will keep your body running smoothly and your baby developing properly.

Don’t drink alcohol, smoke or take illegal drugs.  These vices are directly related to birth defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, retardation, premature birth, low-birth weight and many other serious diseases and conditions that stem from unhealthy exposure in the womb.  Even second-hand smoke can cause many of these problems.

Do drink plenty of water.  It’s important to stay hydrated during pregnancy and pregnant women typically need more water than most people.  Dehydration can lead to preterm labor and may exacerbate many pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, edema, headaches and cramps.

Don’t over-do it on caffeine.  Most OBs consider one 12-oz. serving of coffee or caffeinated tea a day acceptable during pregnancy.  But excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to over-stimulation of the baby and is associated with diseases like diabetes.  Keep in mind that foods such as chocolate also contain caffeine.

The Dos and Don’ts of Pregnancy: Part 1

Being the temporary home of your precious baby comes with a lot of responsibility.  With all the wonderful things associated with pregnancy, there sure are a lot of rules too!  You should always consult your physician about health matters that pertain to you as an individual, but there are some standard guidelines that apply to most pregnant women.  We’re breaking them down in our two-part series about the Do’s and Don’ts of Pregnancy.  Today we’re focusing on exposure and lifestyle choices, and tomorrow we’ll talk about diet and consumption.

pregnant at obgynDo see your OB for health exams on a regular basis.  This is best way to ensure you and your baby stay healthy and to correct any potential problems before they spin out of control.  Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your baby is growing and developing properly in the womb.

Don’t use electric blankets or water beds.  Both emit low-level electromagnetic fields that can be harmful to a developing fetus.  Plus, electric blankets can overheat your body and water beds do not offer proper back support during pregnancy.

Do examine your skin and personal care items.  Many chemical toxins are hidden in everyday skin care products (cleansers, moisturizers, astringents), personal care items (body washes, deodorants, toothpastes) and cosmetics.  You may not recognize the ingredients as being toxic or they may not be listed at all.  Be conscious of the products you put on your skin because they absorb into your bloodstream.

Don’t subject yourself to x-rays and microwaves.  Radiation in small doses is OK for adults, but it is not recommended as your baby is growing in the womb.  Postpone dental or other body x-rays until after pregnancy and do not stand around a microwave when it is in use.

preg_yogaDo exercise and keep your weight within your recommended range.  Maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight is important for both you and your baby.  As long as your physician gives you the green light, continue regular exercise throughout pregnancy.  However, do not do any extreme exercising including anything that elevates your heart-rate above 160 bpm, which can limit oxygen flow to your baby’s growing brain.  Also, avoid lifting heavy weights and abdominal exercises.

Don’t spend time around pesticides, paint fumes or household cleaners. Toxic exposure to these and other chemical-based products when consumed, inhaled or absorbed through skin can lead to birth defects.  Avoid them whenever possible and wear gloves and ensure your house is ventilated when exposure to these products is absolutely necessary.

Do use houseplants to filter out chemicals from your home.  This little known fact is particularly helpful for pregnant women who need to limit toxic exposure.  Houseplants absorb and remove harmful chemicals that enter your home from paint, furniture stains, carpets and household cleaners.

Don’t spend much time around certain types of animals.  Reptiles in particular carry dangerous viruses in their feces as can some livestock, especially those in other countries.  Also, avoid contact with cat liter as it contains chemicals that may cause birth defects.

happy pregnancyDo practice positive thinking.  During pregnancy you have the opportunity to begin to bond with your baby.  Take this time to send warm, loving thoughts to your baby – verbally and mentally – and to connect with your tot early in life.

Don’t stress.  Stress releases adrenaline and cortisol into our bodies, both of which can effect your baby during these precious stages of growth and development.  Find ways to manage stress through meditation, relaxation and exercise.

Do follow travel guidelines as recommended by your doctor.  Your OB may advise you to stop traveling at a certain point during your pregnancy in the event that your baby is born early.  Additionally, air travel or visiting foreign countries may be particularly risky later in pregnancy.

Don’t expose your body to extreme temperatures.  In utero, babies cannot tolerate temperatures above 102.  Make sure you are not over-heating during exercise or on hot days, and avoid time in hot baths, saunas or hot tubs.

Do sit some during the day.  Standing all day long can cause swelling of the feet and arms and may contribute to varicose veins.  But sitting all day long isn’t good either, as you need your blood to circulate.  Be sure to alternate sitting, standing and walking around throughout the day.

Don’t get impromptu massages by non-professionals.  Pregnancy massages by a professional masseuse is fine, but an untrained individual may trigger reflexology that can stimulate uterine pressure points and induce premature labor.

Pre-Potty Training Tips

You may feel like potty training is pretty far in your future, but preparing for potty training before you are ready to do it is an important first step.  Most toddlers are ready for pre-potty training by 15 months.  You may not do any formal potty training for many months or even a year after that, but you will have laid a strong foundation and introduced skills and concepts that should make your potty training journey much easier.

The exact right time will be an individual decision.  Start when you feel your toddler can grasp some or all of these pre potty training tips:

Potty-Training-265x300Decide on Potty Words:  Freely conversing about your child’s bathroom habits may be a something you never dreamed you’d be doing as a parent.  But it’s actually a very important part of potty training and developing a mature child.  There are many words for urine and bowel movements to choose from.  You can go the technical route or pick something a little more fun for your child to say.  Tee-tee, pee-pee or tinkle are common for urine; poop, poopy or poopoo are widely used for bowel movements.   Select your words and stick to them for consistency.

Use Potty Words Often:  As you change your child’s diaper, use potty words to describe what you see.  “I see you’ve made a poopy.”  Also use the words when you use the bathroom too.  “Mommy has to go tee-tee.”  This will help your child identify what’s what and eventually help her describe her bathroom urges.  Never use the words as a joke or make fun of the smells associated with them.  This may make your child think it is funny to have accidents or discourage her from wanting to produce a fowl smell.

Spend Time in the Bathroom:  Help your child make the association between having soiled her diaper and using the toilet.  When possible, change diapers as soon as you realize your child has gone in her diaper and do it in the bathroom.  Dump the contents of a soiled diaper in the toilet to show your child where it is supposed to go.  Let her flush it down as an exciting part of the process.

Take Your Child to the Bathroom with You:  Let your child watch you, your partner and other close adults (nannies, relatives, etc…) go to the bathroom.  Identify what you’ve done on the potty.  Talk about how boys and girls use toilets differently and have different body parts.  Show your child how you wipe, flush and wash your hands as part of your bathroom routine.  Again, let your child flush if she enjoys it.  Children love to model behavior and this is one area where she can benefit greatly from watching others use the toilet repeatedly.

OUAP-Book-Him_600x600Read Potty Books:  In addition to conversations and setting a good example, your toddler learns so much from books at this age.  Read a variety of books about children learning to use the potty.  You may want to select ones with favorite characters or that feature children of the same gender or race as your child.  Interactive books with sound chips, lift-the-flaps or pop-ups are particularly engaging.

Sing Potty Songs:  Although you should not encourage “potty talk” outside of discussing the need to use the bathroom, singing songs about going potty may be helpful.  You can find several on the Internet or make one up yourself.

Sit on the Potty as a Routine:  Begin urging your child to sit on the potty at strategic times when it’s natural to use the toilet such as first thing in the morning, just before bedtime, right before a bath, etc…  Don’t force your child to go or reprimand her for not going, but start to create a routine that includes sitting on the toilet.  If something comes out, great.  Otherwise, praise your child for sitting still for a few minutes.  If she wants to wipe and flush, let her do so.

Use Positive Words:  Most children learn best with positive reinforcement.  Praise your child often during the pre potty training stage when she can identify what she’s done in her diaper, can tell you that she’s soiled the diaper, flushes a toilet or sits for any period of time on the toilet.  Making her feel proud of these accomplishments will help as you move into formal potty training.

The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Most pregnant women would agree that they could use a little more sleep, a little less discomfort, a little more flexibility, a little less stress and a little more time for peaceful breathing.  Well, maybe a LOT MORE is more like it.  When you practice prenatal yoga, you can reap all of these benefits and more.

There are many benefits of prenatal yoga for your physical, mental and emotional state now, when you’re ready to give birth and beyond.  Prenatal yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for expectant moms because it incorporates your entire body and mind without over-exerting mom and putting stress on baby.

If you’re considering yoga during your pregnancy, check out these wonderful benefits of prenatal yoga:

prenatal-2Strength & Balance:  Your body probably feels a bit off kilter these days as you learn to balance your body with the added weight of your growing baby.  Heavy weight lifting is not recommended during pregnancy but you can strengthen your body and improve balance through prenatal yoga.  This will help alleviate some common pregnancy pains such as back and hip pain, muscle cramps and carpal tunnel syndrome and also prepare you for carrying around your baby after childbirth.

Stress Relief:  Yoga involves deep breathing techniques that help your body enter a parasympathetic state of relaxation.  With the whirlwind that’s probably happening in your mind as you prepare for your baby, an organized time to be calm and find inner peace may be a welcome relief.  Plus, breathing and stretching helps relieve tension in the neck, chest and shoulders.

Better Digestion:  Calming the central nervous system through controlled breathing also eases the digestive system.  If you are experiencing pregnancy nausea, vomiting or indigestion, prenatal yoga can help work through some of these issues.

Better Circulation:  When you are pregnant your blood volume increases by 15% so it’s important to get that blood circulating throughout your body.  Your heart is working harder on circulation and to accommodate the extra weight of your baby.  Swelling of the extremities, especially feet, is common during pregnancy but can be reduced when circulation improves.

prenatalPain Management for Childbirth:  There’s a reason a substantial part of childbirth is called “labor.”  Its hard work and it can be quite painful.  Challenging your body to hold poses, perform repetitive movements and learning breathing and mental pain management techniques can help prepare you for childbirth.  Additionally, yoga helps open your hips to prepare your body for delivery.

Sleeping on Demand:  Relaxing your body during prenatal yoga should help you sleep better.  You may already be uncomfortable during the night, especially if you are not usually a side-sleeper or your baby is extra-active when you lie down.  You’ll also learn how to calm your own body to hopefully ease into a restful state when you need to.  Finding time to sleep when you have a baby is sometimes rare, so using precious quiet time to actually sleep is imperative.

Bonding with Baby:  You and your baby have a unique connection.  When you slow down and take the time to beyond before your baby is born, you will have a stronger relationship when she enters the world.  This short time may be the difference in a easing into a rhythm with your baby, including sleep schedules, breastfeeding and less fussiness.

Community:  Chances are you’ll take a prenatal class near your home or work where you can find a community of other new moms like yourself.  You will all be giving birth around the same time so you can continue your relationships with your babies in arms as well.  If nothing else, prenatal yoga classes are a chance to laugh and commiserate about pregnancy with other expectant moms.

We hope you enjoy the benefits of prenatal yoga during your pregnancy.  Be sure to wear your favorite Loving Moments maternity bra while you’re striking a pose!

The Humor in Breastfeeding: Funny Facts about Breastfeeding

Sometimes you just have to laugh about motherhood.  Along with some challenging moments, it’s full of laugh-out-laugh blunders that even the best comedy writers couldn’t have penned.  Breastfeeding is no exception – it comes with its own set of hilarious circumstances.  Today we’re sharing some of our favorite funny facts about breastfeeding.

Mom nursing babyWhere’s That Breast?

Babies are born to breastfeed and they know how to find that milk.  While they can discern their own mother’s breast milk scent, when a baby is hungry, she will likely turn towards any nipple she can find.  Watching a baby prepare to feed on your husband or grandmother is a pretty funny sight indeed.

Drunken Sailor

A well-fed baby may look a lot like a sailor leaving a bar:  drunk.  In this case, milk drunk. Babies sometimes get bleary-eyed, giggly or completely fall asleep as their tummies fill up with the good stuff, breast milk.  Be sure to get some video of your stumbling milk drunk baby to keep for posterity.

Accidental Squirting

Full breasts are meant to release whether your baby is attached or not.  This may have happened to you:  your baby latches just long enough to trigger your let down but then becomes distracted and detaches from your breast.  But the milk flow is a comin’ and anyone in the way better watch out.  You probably ended up squirting your baby, yourself or anyone else in the room with your steady stream of breast milk.

407blacklace_7Is That a Nursing Bra?

Now that your partner is sharing your breasts with your baby, he may get a little jealous.  You can satisfy both of them with a super-sexy nursing bra.  No one ever said motherhood has to be matronly.  When you wear a lacy nursing bra, your partner will be thrilled believing you bought new lingerie for him and your baby will be pleased at easy access to breast milk.  With the right nursing bra, you’ll be ready for let downs without “letting down” your partner.

Milking Time

If you’ve ever used a breast pump, you now know how cows feel.  As amazing and useful as breast pumps are, you can’t avoid feeling like a cow being milked.  Between the droning beat of the pump and the rhythmic tug at your breasts you can sit back and have a little chuckle at what you and cows now have in common.

Little Piggy

Hungry babies make the darnest noises when it’s feeding time.  You may hear snorts, snuffs, gurgles and hums as your baby suckles your milk.  And the burps may rival belches of burly men.  All of these are signs of a well-fed little tot.

Got Milk?

It’s a classic joke but it’s the truth.  If you run out of milk for your coffee while you’re breastfeeding, you’ll always have some available.  If it’s good enough for your baby, it’s a superfood that good enough for you too.

Breast Words

Perhaps you have names for your breasts but chances are your baby does too.  When your little one starts to formulate words, names for your breasts or for breastfeeding may emerge first.  After all, food is a basic need.  Infants and toddlers come up with some hysterical names for breasts like nummies, tatas and boobies.  And milk may be mimi, booby juice or something equally as entertaining.

With all of the seriously stressful parts of navigating motherhood, take time out to giggle at the truly hysterical moments too.  We bet you’ve experienced some of these funny facts about breastfeeding a time or too and we think they’re worth a big ole laugh.


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!

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