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Family Matters: Baby Proofing


Crawling BabyBaby is definitely on the move, whether he’s rolling, scooting, crawling, cruising or taking steps. If you haven’t already, now is the time to baby-proof your home.

About 2.3 million children are accidentally injured every year and more than 2,500 are killed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why it’s so important to carefully child-proof your home.

Making your residence safe for a curious explorer involves more than just blocking electrical outlets or putting a baby gate at the top of the stairs. Furniture will need to be anchored and locks will need be put on cabinets, among other things.

One of the best ways to see what might entice your baby is to get down on his level. Get down on your hands and knees, and see how things look from down there. Survey what is within reach, what looks tempting and where baby could go if he could roll, crawl or scoot.

This will help you figure out which cupboards, drawers and other spaces your child might get into. As he starts walking and climbing, you’ll have to reevaluate again, looking higher each time.

In recent years, the process of baby-proofing has really come a long way. There are now eco-friendly and non-toxic products on the market that won’t damage your furniture but will still keep your baby safe.



Family Matters: Beach Ball


Beach BallWhen my boys were born, I think my husband and I experienced something a lot of couples go through. I wanted to cuddle the fragile baby tenderly, and their dad wanted to toss them in the air and make them laugh until they spit up.

The truth is that babies need a little of both (I still don’t advocate tossing them in the air but I digress). Babies 0-6 months old need different kinds of stimulation. Most flourish with close-body cuddling and more kinetic activities, such as swinging, rocking or even being rolled back and forth on a beach ball.

Yep, a beach ball. I found this activity when searching for something “more physical” my husband could do with our little ones.

When baby is old enough to hold his head up, get a beach ball or exercise ball and deflate it slightly so it has some give to it. Place baby tummy-down on the ball. While supporting him (could be holding his legs or torso, depending on the age and stability of the baby), roll the ball slightly back and forth. This is almost sure to produce giggles!

This strengthens his neck, shoulders, torso and helps promote muscle tone and balance. You can talk or sing at the same time to make it more fun. You can even try rolling him back and forth in front of a mirror so he’s more inclined to look up.

You don’t have to do this for long: stop when baby has had enough.



Family Matters: Just Dance


Dancing BabyIn this day and age of YouTube, you’ll want to be ready when your toddler is about 17 months old and starts to dance to music.

Who doesn’t love a good dancing baby video? In fact, do you remember the one from a few years ago with the little one dancing in the diaper? It made the rounds of social media, often more manipulated than it looked originally.

Put on some music and dance with baby. He’ll love it and its good exercise for you, too.



Family Matters: Cruising


CruisingI remember when my older son started pulling up on things. I was so excited he was standing, holding onto things and pulling himself up.

What was I thinking?

Because after he did that, he started cruising. You know, “walking” around holding onto objects? More often than not, he’d trip over his own feet and tumble after a few sideways shuffles holding onto the couch, but he’d just get right back up and keep going.

Around 9 months old, a baby will start to cruise. Make sure his environment is safe and there’s nothing he can reach or fall on that would be harmful.



Family Matters: The First Diaper Change


First Diaper ChangeLet’s talk about poop. Not what you expected, huh? Poop is important. You’ll be changing A LOT of diapers over the next six months, so it’s best if you’re well-informed on this subject.

When your baby is born, he will pass meconium. Make sure your spouse or another well-wishing family member changes this diaper. It’s startling if you’re not prepared for it. Meconium is made up of mucus, amniotic fluid and everything your baby has ingested while he was in utero.

Meconium is green-black in color and has a sticky, tar-like texture. It may be difficult to wipe off that tiny bottom, but its appearance is a good sign that your baby’s bowels are working normally.

First milk, colostrum, acts as a laxative, pushing all the gunk out of baby’s system. Once your milk comes in if you’re breastfeeding, or once baby’s system gets accustomed to formula, his poops will become more regular.

A breastfed baby might only poop once a week. This is normal. It will be greenish or yellow in color and somewhat loose.

A bottle-fed baby will poop more frequently, and stools will be somewhat formed, darker and maybe a little on the stinky side.

This will change when you introduce solids.

If baby’s stool is loose or explosive, consult your doctor.



Family Matters: Pools


Kiddy PoolToddlers love them some pools! At least, my boys did. I could fill a plastic wading pool with two inches of water, and they’d be happy for hours. 

Fill it with toys: balls, sponges, cups and anything they can manipulate and play with. Foam squirt guns are great for older toddlers. Cups and action figures occupy kids of almost any age. Water wheels are super exciting and teach baby about physics. 

A few drops of food coloring in your pool won’t hurt anything but will let baby experience something new. 

Shaving cream, marbles and floating plastic fish are also super fun for your little one.



Family Matters: Vacation Time


Smiling BabyIt’s vacation season and you want to take your first trip with baby! 

Is it easy? 

Um, not really, but there are definitely ways you can make traveling more effortless with a little one. 

Stock the diaper bag. Baby will need snacks, sippy cups, several changes of clothes (you’ve never experienced a blowout at 30,000 feet? Really?), extra diapers, toys, books, an extra blanket, a lovey, ear plugs if you’re flying, and more toys and snacks. 

  1. Sanitize. Bring hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for public areas and any weird things baby might touch.
  2. Pacifiers. If your baby loves them, bring them. They are soothing in almost any situation and perform double duty as ear pressure relievers on air planes.
  3. Food. I already mentioned snacks. I’m mentioning it again. Food never fails. It’s ok if they have 17 snacks while traveling for one day if that makes it easier on everyone (fruit is always a healthy snack that won’t break the calorie bank).
  4. Slings. Does your baby feel more comfortable in a carrier? Do it. Slings or carriers are the most efficient way to transport baby from point A to point B, and they feel most secure. 


Family Matters: Colic


Crying BabyWhen my younger son was about three weeks old, he started howling. From approximately 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., he’d scream. Sometimes if I was holding him up on my left shoulder, cradling his bottom and pointing northwest, he’d stop for about 3 seconds. The pediatrician diagnosed him with colic, a condition you can’t really do anything about. You have to ride it out. He was prescribed gas drops, as a common cause of colic is intestinal distress. However, they didn’t really work.



Family Matters: Baby Proofing


BabyBy the time my older son was 2, he had defeated all the child safety locks in the house. Now, keep in mind that this is not typical 2-year-old behavior, but we weren’t taking any chances. We had to install chain locks on the exit doors of the house, high enough so he couldn’t reach them. Any of the locks on cabinets or drawers, he could open in a matter of minutes, so anything hazardous went outside into the garage or on a high shelf for storage.

Toddlers are curious by nature. They want to get into things. Here is a list from Baby Center of just a FEW of the things you need to think about when baby proofing your home and environment:

  • Put safety plugs or outlet covers over unused outlets or block them with furniture.
  • Hide electrical cords behind furniture or use a hide-a-cord device.
  • Keep blow dryers, toasters and other appliances unplugged and out of reach.
  • Keep knives, breakables, heavy pots and other dangerous items locked up or out of reach.
  • Restrict access to unsafe areas with safety gates, door locks and knob covers.
  • Put locks or latches on accessible cabinets and drawers that contain unsafe items.
  • Keep trash cans in inaccessible cupboards or use cans with child-resistant covers.
  • Cover or block access to radiators and floor heaters.
  • Secure refrigerator with appliance latch.
  • Keep electronic equipment like DVRs, DVD players and stereos out of reach or locked up. Store remotes where prying fingers can’t get to batteries (which might seem like enticing objects for your child to put in his mouth).
  •  Don’t use tablecloths or placemats because your child can pull them – and what’s on top of them – down.
  • Keep one cupboard unlocked and filled with lightweight, child-safe items to distract him from the cupboards you don’t want him to get into.


Family Matters: Child Development


BabyLet me start by emphasizing that each child develops at their own pace! There is no hard and fast rule for when a baby should be doing something. My mom tells me I never crawled, just went straight to walking at age 9 months, whereas my boys didn’t walk until 13 months and 15 months, respectively.

I found people are quick to point out when they think your baby isn’t doing something he should be, and that can be nerve-wracking on a parent, especially a first-time mom or dad. So, remember that each baby is different.

With that said, there are some things to watch for as baby grows.

If he’s NOT doing these things between 7-12 months, you might want to check with your doctor.

  • Doesn’t crawl
  • Seems to drag one side while he’s crawling for a month or more
  • Can’t stand with support
  • Doesn’t try to find objects you’ve hidden in front of him
  • Doesn’t say any words
  • Doesn’t use gestures, such as shaking his head “no” and pointing


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