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Family Matters: Diaper Changing Made Easy, Anywhere

Diaper Changing Made Easy, AnywhereIt’s a little known fact that you spend 99 percent of your child’s first year changing diapers.

Okay, it’s not that much, but it sure can feel like it.

That’s why it’s important to make the job quick and easy, anywhere in your house.

You probably have a diaper-changing station set up in your baby’s nursery. I started out using a waterproof, wipeable plastic pad that I set on my son’s toy box. That proved kind of awkward, so I bought a Jenny Lind changing table that I kept in his room for easy diaper changes.

However, his room isn’t the only place I needed to change a diaper quickly, especially when my second son came along and I didn’t want to leave him alone in one spot while leaving to change the older one’s diaper (or vice versa, especially with a toddler who can move!). I set up another diaper-changing station in my living room. I bought a cute basket and stocked it with diapers, wipes, an extra set of clothes, a mat or pad I could easily wipe down, plastic bags for disposing of dirty diapers and a few toys to distract baby during diaper changes.

I created a similar portable changing station in my bedroom with a box I could slide under the bed.

A basket, decorative box or even a fabric bag can make cute, portable changing stations all throughout your house so a quick diaper change is only a grab away.

Family Matters: Self-Feeding Snacks

Self-Feeding SnacksBy now, your baby has acquired some mad fine motor skills and wants to put them to use at all times, especially when they’re eating.

My son used to slap my hand away when he saw the long-handled silver baby spoon coming his way. He’d much rather painstakingly pick up morsels from the tray of his high chair than have me feed it to him.

There are plenty of snacks your baby can enjoy and exert some independence by feeding himself. Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts are one of those.

Yogurt Melts are little bite-sized yogurt nuggets, freeze-dried and easy for snacking at home or on the go. They are a good source of vitamins A, C and E, and they are made with real fruit and yogurt. They are easy to chew with no mess! Yogurt Melts are made with live and active cultures, and contain no preservatives, artificial sweeteners or flavors.

Whole-grain cereals, like Cheerios, are another tried and true favorite. Baby can pick them up, enjoy their whole-grain taste, and either chew or gum them, all by themselves.

Small bits of banana, slightly smashed peas, avocado, toast and cheese are also great snacks for baby to pick up and eat by himself.

Family Matters: Diapers and Pull-Ups

Diapers and Pull-UpsSometime in the next months, your baby will transition from diapers to pull-ups. Big kid diapers, as we used to call them.

I loved when we finally hit the stage where they could take their own diapers off and on (carefully, with some help, of course). They felt pretty empowered, too, and it spurred them on to potty training!

Pull-ups are diapers that function more like regular underwear. Still absorbent and ready to catch whatever your little one eliminates, pull-ups can be pulled up or down, or opened at the sides, if necessary.

They are not as bulky as regular diapers and, at least in the case of my boys, made them more interested in using the potty and wearing “big boy” underpants.


Family Matters: Fun and Games

Fun and GamesEven when your baby is a tiny infant, they are learning to develop an ear for speech and communicate for themselves. Any time you talk to them or sing to them, you are helping to facilitate their blossoming language skills. So, what does that mean for baby? Talk to him all the time. Baby is a captive audience and who better to hear you out than your little one?

You can play games with baby to help that language development. All you need is a cardboard tube from a paper towel roll.

Place baby on a safe surface where it’s comfortable for you to get up close and personal.

Tell him, “I’m going to tell you a secret.” Place the tube next to baby’s ear and WHISPER something short and simple, like “I love you.” Move the tube to baby’s other ear and repeat. If he seems confused, let him see your mouth move. You can also blow GENTLY into the tube to tickle baby’s ear. Remember: gentle.

You can move the tube safely away from baby’s ear and make all kinds of noises also. Make them through the tube and without the tube. Let baby grab for the tube (just don’t let him put it in his mouth). When he starts vocalizing and making coos, hold the tube to his mouth, too.

Family Matters: Magic Number 9

Magic Number 9Nine months is a magical time for many babies.

They should be able to stand holding onto furniture or their crib rails.

At nine months, most babies will be able to roll across the floor. Watch out because some will have mastered the art of power-rolling and can get from point A to point B faster than you think they can.

At nine months, some babies will be crawling, whether that’s army crawling on their bellies or scooting across the floor on all fours.

By this point, their fine motor skills are becoming more advanced. They should be able to pick up small objects using a finger and thumb in a pincer grasp.

Baby might start getting excited by their favorite foods and be able to pick up Cheerios, or pieces of toast or banana.

At nine months old, baby can wave goodbye or hello, and could be saying things like “Dada” or “Mama.”

However, it’s important to remember that there’s a huge range of normal development for children, and it’s okay if they aren’t doing these things yet. However, it is worth mentioning to your pediatrician if it seems like baby isn’t hitting any of his milestones.

Family Matters: Making Bath Time Fun

Making Bath Time FunSplish, splash, baby is taking a bath!

Toddlers can bathe every day unless you have a little one with extremely sensitive skin, and it’s always more fun if parent and baby are both having a blast.

  1. Help teach your toddler colors by making each bath time a themed color. Add a few drops of food coloring to the bath and place objects of that color into the bath with your toddler. We promise a few drops of food coloring won’t stain your child or the tub.
  2. Ice, ice baby – Put a few ice cubes into the warm bath water and let baby chase them.
  3. Bath paints are easily made by adding a few drops of food coloring to shaving cream. Let baby go to town all over the tiles.
  4. Give baby a strainer or colander to play with. They’ll love seeing the water flow through the bottom.
  5. Foam shapes are fun. Cut them out of sponges you can buy at Brookshire’s.
  6. Blow up balloons and add them to the bath.
  7. Play music in the bathroom.
  8. Read baby a book while he’s relaxing in the bath.
  9. Set up a glow-in-the-dark bath! Use washable glow paints, dim the lighting in the bathroom and have glow-in-the dark stars for baby to play with.
  10. Have baby dive for treasure. For an older toddler, let them put on goggles and throw marbles or coins into the bath water. They don’t actually even have to put their face in the water, but it might help baby be comfortable getting their head wet.

Of course, closely supervise all these activities.

Family Matters: “Me Time” for Mommy

“Me Time” for MommyWhoooo weeeeee, those first six months of baby’s life are quite the ride.

You’re exhausted beyond all possible endurance, your body is doing all kinds of amazing – and weird – things that you weren’t expecting and another human is attached to you at almost all times.

You wouldn’t trade it for the world, but you still need a break.

“Me time” is good for new mothers. It makes you a better parent, gives you some respite from your rapidly changing world, and refreshes and rejuvenates you.

Getting “me time” in can be as simple as taking a long bath. Don’t just let it be a bath; make it a spa experience with scented body washes from the personal hygiene aisle at Brookshire’s. Treat yourself to your favorite scent and soak away. Or, add about 1/4 cup Epsom salts to your bath, sprinkle in your favorite essential oil and relax. Give yourself a facial at the same time by mixing oats with raw honey and placing slices of cucumbers over your eyes to help the bags (yes, you probably have them, we all did).

“Me time” can also come in the form of finding a quiet corner (let Dad be in charge of baby!) and reading your favorite book or magazine with a cup of Brookshire’s Best Coffee.

Make time for your favorite hobby. Mine, at the time my boys were little, was scrapbooking with actual paper, scissors and glue! I would spend any free time I had at my work table, happily creating new designs. Is your hobby sewing? Make time for 30 minutes a day for that. Do you love crossword puzzles or yoga? Make sure to schedule time for yourself.

Whatever it is, from a monthly Girls’ Night Out or Bunco game to quiet time to rest and recharge, make “Me Time” a priority!

Family Matters: Get More Dairy

Get More DairyOnce your baby is about six months old, they’re ready for more dairy in their diet.

Now remember, this does not include cow’s milk (save that until baby is one year old), but it can include things like yogurt, cheese or baked goods.

Yogurt is a great way for baby to get calcium and the “bacteria” in yogurt that is good for digestion. Yogurt is also a great way for babies to get the fat they need. Choose a Greek yogurt that is high in calcium and protein. Stay away from varieties with artificial sweeteners.

Cheese is another good way to get dairy into baby’s diet, starting at about 8 months. Small cubes of cheese that they can chew or gum on are a good way to snack and to practice fine motor skills. Mozzarella cheese sticks or string cheese is good, too. You can also make cheese toast with American cheese and whole-grain bread. Mac and cheese with whole-wheat elbow macaroni is a good choice, too.

Using cow’s milk in baked goods is just fine for baby. Banana bread, zucchini bread or biscuits are a great start.

Family Matters: Savvy Snacking on the Go

Savvy Snacking on the GoThere are lots of great ways to keep your toddler healthy and happy, and his belly full when you’re on the go. Savvy snacking doesn’t have to be complicated. Just pack a few of these essentials.

Dried fruit – Raisins, dried mangos, banana chips, prunes, dried apricots and dried cherries all make great snack choices.

Kale chips – What a great way to get your toddler to eat greens! Easy to make at home, these are a fabulous alternative to processed foods.

Granola bars – There are plenty of great recipes out there for homemade varieties, or buy something like KIND for your toddler’s nutritional needs.

Roasted chickpeas – My boys used to love these, and I couldn’t help but sneak a few from their baggie, too. Again, these are also easy to make at home, adding the seasonings your little one likes.

Sweet potato chips – Another great idea for a snacking powerhouse and super simple to make.

Homemade fruit leathers – Yummy, fun and highly portable (just stock a few wipes for sticky hands).

Homemade beef jerky – You control what goes in, so you know your little one is getting maximum nutrition and a ton of protein.

Cold grilled cheese – Why not?

Cereals – Look for a whole-grain variety that’s easy for your toddler to pick up.

Applesauce or fruit sauces – Homemade or from the store without added sugars.

Fruit – Sturdy fruits like bananas, apples and pears are easy to toss into the diaper bag.

String cheese – A great snack and a good way to get more dairy into your child’s diet.

Family Matters: Splish, Splash, Baby was Taking a Bath

Splish, Splash, Baby was Taking a BathI think babies come in two categories when it comes to bath time: they either love it or they hate it.

I had two lovers, but my nephew was a hater of epic proportions. Getting him into the bath was akin to dunking him in a tub of scalding water.

There are lots of things you can try to make bath time a fun and relaxing experience for all involved.

First, you might want to try to experiment with different temperatures of water. Baby might like it warmer or cooler than what you expect.

Secondly, play some music in the bathroom. Classical is relaxing, but anything he’s accustomed to hearing will help him relax.

Fill the tub with fun toys! Floating animals, soap crayons, small cups, sieves or water wheels are all entertaining in the tub. A stick-on mirror could make for hours of fun in the tub if you put it at baby’s eye level. Sponges, washcloths and anything tactile could distract baby while you wash her hair and body.

Try lavender-scented baby wash. Lavender is supposed to have a calming effect, and the scent might just work on baby, too.

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