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Family Matters: Make Bath Time Fun

Make Bath Time FunWhen both of my boys were about this age, bath time was their favorite time of the day.

After dinner, we’d go run the water in the tub, and as it got warm, they’d start the pre-bath ritual of getting undressed and taking off their diaper. They loved to help “test” the water by me holding them above the bath and dipping their toes into the running water (make sure you test it first to ensure it really isn’t too hot!). They’d giggle!

Sometimes I’d slowly lower them into the water; sometimes we’d do a splash landing in the warm suds.

I liked adding a bit of baby wash to the water, but then my younger son started to try to drink the bath water so that habit ended abruptly.

Bath time can be a lot of fun for you and your baby.

Roll up a towel or buy a spongy mat to keep on the floor for you to kneel on next to the tub. I always had a generous supply of washcloths and towels handy for emergencies, too.

Bath toys can be great fun and a great way to learn, too. We’d pour water from one container to another. One son loved water poured on this head. The other did not, and I’d have to hold a washcloth over his forehead to make sure no water dripped while I was washing his hair.

My older son loved the running water. I’d pull the drain plug so it didn’t get too deep to let him run his hands under the faucet. The other son loved to lay down in the water, so I’d only put an inch or two in the tub.

After bath is a great time for baby massage and to rub lotion all over baby! They’ll love it and so will you.

Family Matters: Diaper Bag Essentials

Diaper Bag EssentialsIs your diaper bag the size of a suitcase? I seem to remember mine was or felt that way, at least!

My diaper bag was actually a backpack, very handy when you need hands-free for an infant or an infant and a toddler. It was waterproof, also handy for spills, not that I ever spilled a sippy cup of watered-down apple juice into the bag, soaking spare diapers, wipes and making tubes of diaper cream as sticky as a half-eaten candy cane at Christmas. Okay, yes I did.

Diaper bags are a must-have when you have an infant because there’s no telling what they’ll need, even when you leave the house for 20 minutes.

Start with a sturdy bag. You might want a unisex one so your husband can still feel manly when he carries it, or you might want a Kate Spade model that will let you look stylish while sporting a burb cloth over one shoulder. Pick one that is water-resistant or get a water-resistant pouch to put inside. A backpack was handy for me, but you might like a tote style.

Always pack diapers. Always, always pack diapers. You might need four for a 20-minute outing. Yes, I’m serious. I know this from experience. A travel-size case of wipes is also essential. Brookshire’s has both of these items in bulk!

Pack a few empty zipper-lock plastic bags, just in case. You never know when you might have to improvise dirty diaper disposal. They’re also handy for sealing away soiled clothes until you can get them home to the laundry.

Speaking of soiled clothes: pack an extra set for baby, along with a few extra onesies and socks, because socks always get lost.

If your baby uses a pacifier, pack an extra 19 in the diaper bag, just in case the first 18 get thrown onto the car floor, onto the parking lot at the grocery store or borrowed by the toddler for fun.

If your baby uses a bottle, pack a few extras with nursery water and powdered formula packed in travel pouches so it’s easy to dispense for baby.

Pack a lightweight blanket to help with climate control or private nursing. A tube of diaper rash cream can be handy for a chapped bum.

Family Matters: Tantrums

TantrumsI was in a store this morning watching a toddler have an epic meltdown. I think it was probably spawned over Dad’s refusal to buy princess fruit snacks, which were laying on the floor of the aisle not far from where the toddler was screaming as if she were being burned by acid rain.

Dad began yelling almost as loud as the toddler. You might think that would have startled her into quiet, but it only served to create a huge racket – and a big scene.

Children this age are exerting their will, testing limits and seeing how far they can push the authority figures in their life. Stooping to their level isn’t always the best solution. After all, you can control your temper; your 2-year-old is still learning.

At this age, children don’t always have the language skills to convey their thoughts and feelings, so hurt, anger, confusion, discomfort, sadness, exhaustion or many other feelings may manifest in screams, tears, throwing things, hitting things and general misbehavior.

First rule of tantrums: Don’t give in. If you buy the princess fruit snacks because she started screaming, she will learn to scream next time she wants something, but you’ve told her “no.”

Secondly, yelling back doesn’t do much good, although it may feel right at the time. Talking calmly or walking away (if the child is in a safe place) might be more effective.

Verbalizing their feelings for them is a good way to start quelling the tantrum. Say, “Oh Aria, are you angry right now?” or “I know you’re tired, but this is not how we behave when we’re sleepy.”

Remove them from the situation. Not always a good solution because who wants to leave a cart full of groceries abandoned in the aisle? However, walking them into a restroom or around a corner might distract them enough to calm down.

Point out when other children are throwing a tantrum. Ask your child what they think about the situation.

Finally, remember: they will outgrow this phase!

Family Matters: Oral Care

Oral CareBy this time, your baby has teeth! Those pearly whites allow baby to chew some foods and are well on their way to serving them as they grow up.

It’s never too early to start caring for baby’s teeth.

As soon as they are born, wipe gums with a soft, clean cloth after baby eats. When baby is 7 to 12 months old, you can replace this with a soft toothbrush or finger brush. Clean baby’s teeth and gums after every feeding.

Do not add sweeteners to baby’s milk or formula. At this age, if they get juice, dilute it 3:1. Do not send baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup of anything other than water, as it tends to pool in their mouths and sugars can break down teeth.

At this point, check with your pediatrician to see if baby is getting enough fluoride in their diet. After 12 months, you can introduce a child’s toothpaste with fluoride, but it’s probably not necessary before the one-year mark.

Family Matters: Soft Spot for Baby

Soft Spot for BabyWhen your baby is born, he will have “soft spots” on his head. These are actually openings in the skull where it hasn’t fully closed yet.

The first, larger one, is just above the forehead toward the top of baby’s head. The second is more toward the back of the skull.

You might even notice the spot pulsing in time with baby’s heartbeat.

These soft spots are totally normal, designed to help the skull be a bit more flexible as it’s moving through the birth canal. The tissue underneath the opening is protected by a thick membrane, but you still want to treat it with caution. No poking the soft spot, curious older brothers or sisters!

Between two and four months old, the back spot will close, but the top one won’t completely close until about 19 months old, allowing for the tremendous growth that takes place in baby’s first few years.

These spots, called the fontanels, might bulge a bit when baby cries hard or vomits, but they should pop right back into place. If they don’t or stay bulging, this is a sign for concern. If the soft spot is sunken, this is a sign of dehydration.

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.

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