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Family Matters: A Whole New World

A Whole New WorldNO!

If that’s your toddler’s favorite word, you aren’t alone.

No, she doesn’t want to put on her shoes.

No, she doesn’t want to go to the store, and no, she doesn’t want to leave.

No, she doesn’t want to take a bath, and no, she REALLY doesn’t want to go to bed.

As frustrating as it is, it’s normal. Blessedly typical development for your little one.

Your two (or three) year old is caught up in exploring her world, a world where she is fully mobile, can walk from room to room unescorted and can discover the wonders around her. She’s also learning about limits, how it’s not safe to wander out the back door without a parent and how pulling the cat’s tail might not be the best of ideas. All of that is important stuff.

You can help by setting limits. Yes, kids like limits. They like to know it’s OK to go play in their bedroom alone, but not in the backyard. They need to know that when mom says “Don’t touch,” it’s for a reason (it’s hot, it’s sharp, it’s dangerous).

You can be on their side. “I know you’re having fun and don’t want to leave the playground, but you’ll see Camden in two days, so let’s go home and you can help me make dinner.” Distraction works, too.

You can reinforce and praise good behavior. “Thank you so much for not throwing a fit when I told you to pick up your toys!”

Give them choices. “You can pick up your toys now and we can watch a movie, or you can choose not to pick up your toys, which means I’ll have to take the toys away for tomorrow and you can’t play with them.”

Whatever routes you choose, be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent.

Family Matters: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet PotatoesSweet potatoes are one of the best first foods for your little one! I think they were the first food, after cereals, for both of my boys.

You know sweet potatoes are packed with all the great things an adult needs; the same goes for baby. Plus, a little one is apt to enjoy a sweet potato as a first food because it mimics the flavors in breast milk and first formulas, which are slightly sweet.

Sweet potatoes and all orange vegetables, really, are great for baby’s vision development!

They’re super easy to prepare for baby.

Peel your sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. Boil potatoes in water until VERY tender and almost falling apart. Drain, reserving some of the liquid.

Puree sweet potatoes in a food processor or blender with the reserved water, formula or breast milk until the consistency baby can tolerate. Freeze in ice cube trays for individual servings or serve immediately after they’ve cooled.

Family Matters: First Six Months

First Six MonthsBaby’s learning curve and physical development are extraordinary in their first six months. Just think about all the things they learn in that time, from little bundles of sleepiness in the first few days to rolling, playing machines by six months.

A few of the vitally important things babies learn during their first six months are trust, social development and all the fun things their bodies can do!

This activity helps promote all those things, upper-body strength in particular.

Get a soft blanket and lay your infant on the blanket, face-up. Hold on to his wrists and then count, “One, two, three, UP” and gently pull him into a sitting position. Watch as he holds his head up flush with his body, strengthening those neck muscles. Gently lower him back down to the lying position and repeat. I used to give them a big, tickly kiss when I did this with my boys.

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.

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