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Family Matters: Crying Baby


CryingMy friend, Kristina, had a baby in the late fall, and that sweet little bundle of joy never stops crying.

Ok, that’s a huge exaggeration, but from what I’ve experienced with my two kids, her baby cries more than normal. She’s taken her to the doctor to rule out colic, pain or any other kind of sickness. So, while it’s frustrating, even maddening at times, the fact of life is that babies cry. Sometimes, they cry a lot.

Crying is almost an infant’s only way of communicating. They can’t tell you they’re hungry or cold or wet or dirty, so they squawk about it.

Excessive crying can be caused by boredom or loneliness, colic, discomfort or irritation, gas, hunger or thirst, illness, infection, medications, normal muscle jerks that disrupt sleep or pain.
Once you’ve ruled out pain, changed the diaper, fed them and gave them something to drink, the best cure could just be cuddling. Simple enough, right? We hope so! If your infant’s crying seems out of hand, consult your doctor. They can do a thorough examination.

TIP 0-6 months: Are you cold? If you’re cold, baby is cold. Baby doesn’t need TONS of extra layers, so dress baby like you dress and add an extra blanket if needed.



Family Matters: Learning


BabyBetween 7 and 12 months, your little one is learning cause and effect. If he drops something, he knows it’s gone, and he knows you’ll likely pick it up.

You can reinforce this learning and motor skills with a simple and fun game. Belly laughs are guaranteed.

Blow up a balloon but don’t tie it. Give it to your baby and show him how to let it fly. Then, watch it zoom around the room. If you are playing outside, adding a little water before you blow up the balloon makes this game even more fun. Don’t forget baby will immediately try to put it in his mouth, so supervise closely!

 TIP 7-12 months: Put an ice cube (or several) on the tray to baby’s high chair or on a baking sheet in front of him. Let him feel how cold and wet it is. Let him push it around and play with it as it melts.



Family Matters: “Why”


BabyWhy ask “why”? If you have a two year old, you know there doesn’t have to be a reason. “Why” is a normal part of the developmental repertoire for a toddler. Yes, it can be maddening, but it’s a crucial stage for your little one. 

When your toddler asks “why,” sometimes he wants an explanation, and sometimes he doesn’t know how to express himself any other way. Sometimes it’s totally random. Always answer his questions, even when it’s been asked 97 other times. You could try answering “why?” with a question of your own, turning it back to him to develop critical thinking skills. When he asks why he should put the ball away, ask him, “Why do you think you should put the ball away?”

TIP 13-36 months: Bring a stroller when you go to shopping centers, parks, malls or on trips, but let your toddler walk a little too, holding their hand of course. They enjoy the independence.



Family Matters: Vision


BabySome things really are black and white, like baby’s vision at this stage of life. Babies can start to see colors around eight weeks, but they’re very much attracted to objects with sharp color contrast. You might not want to paint your baby’s room in black and white, but certain accessories are perfect to stimulate baby’s vision and attract his attention.

Try a black and white mobile to hang above the crib, or one with reflective surfaces to draw his attention. Remember that newborns can only see blurry shapes because they are very nearsighted. At birth, a newborn’s vision is between 20/200 and 20/400. Your baby’s best vision is about 8 to 12 inches away, so don’t hang the mobile too far away but not too close that he could get tangled in it either.

A black and white blanket for tummy time, printed with different objects or shapes, is another good choice. This gets baby up close and personal with the contrast.

TIP 0-6 months: Dress baby in natural fibers like 100 percent cotton and in light colors as dark dyes may cause a skin reaction.



Family Matters: Christmas Gift Ideas


FamilyMatters_Baby13-36Months_228x173What are the best gifts for toddlers? We all know it’s the boxes and wrapping paper that the gifts come in!

Besides those, which can keep your toddler occupied for hours, toddlers love anything that promotes running, grabbing, touching, exploring, hopping, smelling, problem-solving, talking, pedaling, tasting, thinking, climbing and listening, for starters.

Try a set of wooden stacking blocks or a shape sorter. They love play tents and tunnels, tricycles, push toys and percussion sets (sorry, Mom and Dad). Little ones love anything that lights up or plays music.

Puzzles and stuffed toys are always a big hit, too! Did we mention books? Books, books and more books! Board books are a parent’s – and a toddler’s – best friend. Some varieties have different textures and windows that your little one can use fine motor skills to open up.

Tip 13-36 months: If you do want to make your wrapping useful, wrap toddler’s gift in a soft fleece blanket they can use to cuddle with later!



Family Matters: Keep Your Baby Moisturized


FamilyMatters_Baby7-12Months_228x173With the cold weather here, it’s easy for baby’s skin to get dried out.

From about six months on, it’s generally safe to use most moisturizing products on baby’s skin (stick to lotions specifically made for babies, though).

To keep his skin baby soft, remember to keep him hydrated. After six or seven months, it’s safe to introduce small amounts of water into his diet. Make sure he drinks up.

Use sunscreen developed for babies if you’re spending a lot of time out in harsh light.

Don’t overdo baths in the winter months as warm water and soap dry out a baby’s skin. Don’t let him soak too long in the tub. Pat, don’t rub him dry, when you take him out of the bath and use a mild baby lotion after bath to help seal in moisture.

Tip 7-13 months: If baby’s skin is really dry, try a cool mist humidifier in his room at night.



Family Matters: It’s Getting Cold Outside


FamilyMatters_Baby0-6Months_228x173

The colder months are upon us now, but that doesn’t mean your infant can’t – or shouldn’t – go outside. It’s really OK for babies to be exposed to the cold as long as you use some common sense. After all, you catch cold from a virus, not the temperature outside.

Be sure to keep a hat on baby, especially if it’s a newborn or small infant. Most of the body’s heat is lost through the head.

Dress your baby as you’d dress; don’t feel the need to pile on layers upon layers. If you’re cold, he’s probably cold. If he’s flushed, he’s probably too warm.

Resist the urge to put baby to sleep with blankets; that can increase the risk of SIDS. Instead, use a fitted flannel sheet on his bed and dress him in a fleece bunting sleep sack or a sleeper with built-in feet.

Tip 0-6 months: Warm baby’s crib with a hot water bottle or heating pad before you put baby to sleep, but be sure to remove it before you snuggle him in!



FAMILY MATTERS: PLAYCARE


I saw a new (to me) term the other day: “I’m dropping Sophia off at ‘playcare,’” a friend posted on Facebook.

In between daycare and preschool, “playcare” situations are becoming more and more popular for parents of toddlers who need to run a few errands. Also called “mother’s day out,” playcare settings range from formal, registration-required programs to drop-in type services.

Is your toddler ready? Well, that depends on you. While separation anxiety is normal at this age (Does your toddler suddenly develop superhuman strength as he clings to your leg when you try to leave him in the church nursery?), letting him learn to be on his own and socialize is good, too.

Sophia went to playcare for two hours that day so her mom could go to the dentist, but I also have friends who have a regular schedule established each week. Regularity and consistency do help a child adapt to being dropped off to play!

Tip 13-36 months: Let your 3-year-old be responsible for some self-grooming, such as brushing their own hair and washing their face and hands. (You can always go behind them and ‘help.’) It teaches them responsibility and helps them feel important.



FAMILY MATTERS: CRYING


BabyA friend of mine had a baby about six weeks ago, and her Facebook posts for the first two weeks were pure bliss: sweet baby sounds, sleepy baby pictures, snuggling baby pictures and sheer happiness.

Then, the crying started, and it didn’t stop.

She took the sweet little thing to the doctor because she was getting just as distressed as the baby was. Her pediatrician diagnosed her little one with colic. Colic is often defined as crying more than three hours a day, three days a week for more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. Between 5 and 25 percent of babies are diagnosed with colic.

It’s excruciating. I should know. My younger son was what doctors called “colicky.” From about 4 to 7 p.m. each night, he screamed. I could only hold him positioned with his belly over my left (never the right) collarbone to ease the screaming. Let me just tell you, this was not an easy position to maintain with a 10-pound baby and a 17-month-old who needed to be fed, bathed and snuggled during this particular time period.

The good thing about colic is that it goes away. The bad thing is that there’s not a lot you can do about it. My doctor prescribed gas drops for my son. They sort of helped…and sort of didn’t. I changed my diet because I was nursing. That didn’t really help either. We just had to wait it out.

The good news is that we survived.

You will, too.

Tip 0-6 months: Don’t ever think your baby is too young to be read to. Read him a book every day and cuddle while you do. He loves the sound of your voice and the proximity to your body.



FAMILY MATTERS: SIPPY CUP


BabySeven to 12 months is the perfect time to introduce a sippy cup.

First things first: buy ones with lids that fit tightly.

Second thing: buy ones with lids that fit tightly.

Now that we’re clear on that, sterilize all parts of the sippy cup before you give it to baby for the first time. After subsequent uses, don’t forget to take the sippy cup all the way apart, removing the rubber stoppers and washing them separately each time. I may or may not be able to speak from experience that if you leave the rubber stopper in too many times between washings, it gets a little funky.

Start baby out with a little water, and let him just go to town with the cup. He may not be able to hold it still at first, and he may hit everything but his mouth. He may also not understand how to tip the cup back to drink from it. It’s OK if he needs a little help.

At the same time I introduced the sippy cup, I introduced the “sports bottle” type cup with a thick straw. Now, developmentally, babies aren’t supposed to be able to use a straw that early, but I never understood that. They can suck, right? My boys learned to use a sippy cup and a straw cup simultaneously with no problems.

As they grow, they’ll become more coordinated. By the time they turn one, they should have the sippy cup mastered!

Tip 7-12 months: It’s getting colder, so keep socks on baby’s feet. At this age, they may be learning to stand or walk, so buy socks with the great rubber grips on the bottom to help traction.



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