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Family Matters: DHA

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)DHA isn’t just another acronym in the alphabet soup of all things baby.

DHAs are vitally important for growth and development!

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, sperm, testicles and retina.

Fat is a major structural component of the brain, and DHA plays a role in that structure. Some researchers believe that consuming recommended levels of DHA may help support brain health. DHA has also been shown to help support heart health.

All varieties of Omega-3s are important, but research shows that DHA may supply the greatest number of distinct health benefits. DHA has a huge impact on brain and visual functioning as well as its role in supporting heart health. DHA provides a nutritional boost for baby’s growing mind and body, supporting brain and eye development and function. It has also been shown to support brain and heart health in all stages of life.

The best way for your baby to get enough DHA is to choose DHA-fortifi¬ed foods like Horizon Organic Milk with DHA. Horizon Organic Milk with DHA Omega-3 has the same wholesome, creamy and delicious taste that all Horizon milk is known for but supplies a vegetarian source of DHAs.

Make sure your baby is getting enough DHA with Horizon products fortified with this vital supplement.

Family Matters: Magic 9 Months

Magic 9 MonthsDevelopmental pediatricians say nine months is a critical month in baby’s growth.

They are doing all kinds of amazing things at once! Baby will be able to stand holding onto furniture, roll over on the floor, and commando crawl or look like he’s getting ready to crawl. He’ll be developing more fine motor skills, and will be able to pick up progressively smaller objects in a pincer grasp. He will start having favorites, and will show visible excitement at the sight of certain foods or special people.

Nine months is a pretty magical age, but remember, there is a wide range of development. However, if your baby isn’t doing any of the things mentioned above, have a chat with your pediatrician and have them take a look at your little one. My younger son was doing just fine with his fine motor skills but showed no signs of pulling up, standing or moving. A simple evaluation showed that he had low-muscle tone, and a few weeks with a physical therapist had him right back in shape and hitting typical milestone markers.

Family Matters: Rolling Along

Rolling AlongWhen your baby is about five months old, life gets interesting! I’ll never forget leaving my older son on my bed and coming back to find he’d rolled over! I dodged a bullet on that one. He could have rolled off the bed. Talk about scary!

Luckily, the first roll doesn’t usually result in a traveling barrel roll but safety first, always.

Rolling from front to back is probably the first way baby will roll over. It’s a bit easier to get that momentum going when they can use their legs and arms to propel them over. Rolling from back to front is a different motion and set of muscles, and usually comes after the front-to-back roll.

My older son was about four months old when he rolled over for the first time, so it’s never too early to start making sure you don’t leave them alone on a bed or on any other elevated surface. To encourage rolling, place a favorite toy just out of their reach to the side and let them try to get it.

Family Matters: Mother’s Day Out

Mother's Day OutAt this age, your little one might be ready for a Mother’s Day Out situation. Lots of kids LOVE to socialize with others their age, while others are a little more hesitant to be left alone.

If you have the latter, ease your child into the situation by starting out small, leaving them for small increments of time. I remember leaving my younger son in the gym’s childcare so I could try to squeeze in a 30-minute workout. I also remember the loudspeaker at the gym asking me to return to the child care area before I even broke a sweat. However, we went consistently, and each time, he held out a little longer before he would cry for me. Finally (and it probably wasn’t that long in the great scheme of things), he played happily in the child care and actually got excited when I dropped him off.

My older son never had separation anxiety. He just took to new situations with ease, which is kind of funny considering their personalities today (total opposite of their baby years).

If you’re considering leaving your little one in a social situation, visit the facility and make sure it’s clean; the staff is competent, warm and friendly; and YOU are comfortable with the whole package. Then, take baby by for a visit, staying with them the first time. Remember, they will pick up on your cues, so if you are excited, you might help them feel more at ease.

Then, try to leave them alone. They might take to it easily; they might be nervous at first. You have to get a feel for your little one. In most cases, there’s no need to force the situation. If they hate it, try again in a few weeks.

Family Matters: Talk To Your Baby

Talk To Your BabyMy niece and nephew just turned seven months.

The twins are as cute as they can be and at an adorable age. I loved the time between six and 12 months. Babies are responsive and interactive, and you can really see their personalities emerging.

Emma is pure sunshine. She giggles and laughs, and her blue eyes sparkle. Her twin, Patrick, is much more serious. He looks at you with his big, brown eyes like he’s thinking deep thoughts.

Emma is having babbling conversations with her parents and her big brother and sister. They encourage her by babbling back and talking to her in voices with different pitches and volumes.

Patrick loves peek-a-boo. His big sister, Claire, will hold a blanket over her face and spring out from behind it, shrieking “PEEK A BOO.” Patrick will laugh and laugh.

Babies will also start to understand that different tones of voice mean different things and can start learning a stern “no.”

Your job is to facilitate this conversation with baby, no matter what form it takes. Baby loves the sound of your voice and can recognize the voices from family members. Talk, talk, talk.

Family Matters: Sleepy Time

Sleeping BabyThe other day, I was looking at my boys, both now in middle school, and missing the newborn days when they slept in my arms for hours on end.

I also remembered just how much a baby sleeps, although it felt to me like they were never doing that good sleep at nighttime.

A one-month-old baby needs eight hours of sleep at night and another eight hours during the day. At three months, it’s about 10 hours at night and five during the day. At six months, your little one needs 11 hours at night and about three-and-a-half during the day.

To help your baby get the sleep he needs, try to keep his schedule as consistent as possible. Put him to bed and wake him up at about the same time every day. Let him sleep in the same place each night and in the same place for naps each day.

Of course, if your baby is less than a month old, he’ll probably sleep anywhere and everywhere he can.

It’s not a bad thing to hold your baby while he sleeps during the first weeks of his life. You can’t spoil a baby, but you do want him to get accustomed to his own bed as well.

You might notice a newborn baby can sleep through anything, and there’s no reason to change your daytime routine to accommodate his sleep needs. However, this might change as he gets a little older and becomes used to silence (or noise).

Remember to keep baby’s crib clear of blankets or large stuffed toys. Use a sleep sack or other weather-appropriate pajama set.

Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it. The familiar transition will help baby get to sleep more easily and stay asleep!

Family Matters: Twin Differences

Twin DifferencesI took a trip back in time last week, in lots of ways, but one of the big ones was that I spent the week with my sister and her twins, who turned six months old last week.

It’s been 12 years since I had a baby in the house, and wow, how quickly we forget, or at least how quickly I forget how little they are, how much they need and how simply sweet a baby can be.

Patrick and Emma are my sister’s twins, and they are as different as night and day. This isn’t unusual, according to experts, especially with boys and girls.

Emma is social and engaging, and she is physically developing ahead of Patrick. Patrick is quieter and less vocal, and he is slightly behind Emma’s physical milestones. Since multiples are usually born a little earlier (three weeks early for these guys), developmental milestones need to be adjusted just a little.

At six months, they are eating solid foods, responding to voices, cuddling into their parents, rolling over and having a great time laughing at amusing antics, like cousin Luke sticking his tongue out repeatedly.

Soon, they’ll be sitting up.

And then crawling and creeping.

Heaven help my sister.

Family Matters: Gripe Water

Gripe WaterWhen my younger son, Luke, was about four weeks old, he started screaming in the afternoon. Every afternoon, all afternoon.

He’d usually scream until about 7pm, so that was a solid three hours of a super cranky baby, an even crankier momma and a confused older brother who was 19 months old at the time.

A wailing baby, a crabby toddler and a worn out mother do not make for a good combination, let me just tell you.

Sometimes I could hold Luke over my shoulder at just the right angle for him to get some relief, but you try doing that for three hours a day when you have a toddler running around.

I could wear him in a sling, which is what I usually did, but I didn’t want to cook dinner and deal with hot foods with a baby strapped to my chest.

The worst part was that I didn’t know what was making him cry.

The doctor diagnosed Luke with colic and gave me some prescription gas drops for the baby, but I didn’t like to use those as they smelled like alcohol when my poor infant burped. Ewwwwwww.

So, I tried Gripe Water, which doctors, nurses and grandmothers around the world claim help soothe colic and constipation in babies.

Gripe water is made with herbs like ginger, chamomile and fennel, which will soothe and settle down the stomach by lessening the gas and also calm baby. Gripe water is sold over the counter and doesn’t have side effects. Given that the digestive system of the baby is not wholly matured, gas will be built up in their stomachs and that hurts baby. When the gripe water is given to colicky babies, it changes the small gas bubbles into one larger gas bubble that can be belched out easily, thereby relieving the baby. Gripe waters are flavorless so most babies like them.

I felt like Gripe Water was a safe and effective alternative to a prescription medication for my Luke. The Gripe Water lessened his pain and made for much more pleasant afternoons in our house, I can assure you!

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Posted in: Baby, Natural

Family Matters: Teething

TeethingThe age range for teething is huge, but it’s safe to say that a lot of teething will take place between the ages of 7 and 12 months.

Teething, or when your baby’s teeth start to break through the gums, is easy for some little ones and harder on others.

My older son got teeth without me even realizing it half the time because it just didn’t bother him. My younger son, on the other hand, was in constant pain from teething. Because it’s no longer recommended to rub whiskey on baby’s gums (spoken like a true child of the 1970s), pediatricians have other recommendations for easing the pain of teething.

Baby can take a small dose of ibuprofen to help the swelling and the pain.

Baby can gnaw on something cool for relief, whether it be a damp washcloth (watch that baby doesn’t rip a piece off and swallow it) or a frozen piece of fruit (again, watch for choking hazards).

Some babies like a pacifier when they are teething as sucking is a soothing instinct for baby.

Even before baby has teeth, you should be rubbing their gums with a soft toothbrush. As their teeth begin to emerge, keep up the good oral hygiene and use toothpaste formulated for infants. Rubbing their gums might also help relieve some of the discomfort of erupting teeth.

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Posted in: Baby

Family Matters: Gerber Bitty Bites

Gerber Bitty BitesToddlers love to snack, and it’s good for them, too! The average toddler should eat about two snacks a day, and Gerber Bitty Bites provide good nutrition that can easily be enjoyed at home or on the go.

Gerber Bitty Bites come in great flavors like blueberry and strawberry. They are made with a whole-grain blend of corn, sorghum, millet, brown rice, teff, amaranth, quinoa and wheat bran, providing five grams of whole-grains per serving. They are also a good source of vitamin E, iron and zinc.

Bitty Bites are easy to pick up and great for toddlers to feed themselves. There are no artificial flavors or sweeteners and best of all, no mess!

Perfect for toddlers 15 months and older, these snacks are kid-tested and mom-approved.


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Posted in: Baby, Kids, Nutrition

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