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Family Matters: Getting Dressed


Getting DressedSomewhere during this time period, your toddler will develop an opinion about what they want to wear and how they want to wear it.

Don’t turn it into a power struggle. Give your child some freedom in choosing his wardrobe and dressing himself.

Getting dressed is great for developing motor skills. They need gross motor skills to do things like put their pants on or put on a coat. They need fine motor skills to fasten a button or pull up a zipper.

They may only like pants with elastic waists or short-sleeved shirts. They might only wear the color green from head to toe or like to wear their knit hat around the house.

A lot of this is great development as they determine their likes and dislikes. While you don’t have to let your daughter wear her Belle ball gown to story hour, it’s probably fine to wear around the house.

If your son will only wear green socks, that’s probably fine, too.

If choices become an issue, help your child by letting them pick between two objects. “Would you like to wear the blue shirt or the red one?” helps your child narrow down their choices, while still giving them freedom.



Family Matters: Baby’s First Words


Baby's First WordsSorry to break it to you, dads everywhere, but the “d” sounds are easier for your baby to make. Therefore, it’s much more common for a baby to say “Dada” before “Mama.”

Oh yes, he knows it’s you and he’s showing you affection. but it probably doesn’t indicate a preference by your baby for one parent over the other.

Typical speech development has a huge range of what is normal.

However, by the end of 12 months, your baby should be imitating sounds and saying a few words, including “dada,” “mama” and maybe “no.”

They should understand simple instructions, like “clap your hands” or “smile.”

They can recognize words for the common objects in their life like “snack,” “dog” and “cup.”

They should turn in and look in the direction of sounds.

If none of these are happening, consult with your baby’s pediatrician at his one-year checkup.



Family Matters: Tummy Time


Tummy TimeSomewhere during the first 6 months, your baby will learn to roll over on their own. For a lot of babies, this means they spend less time on their tummies.

However, more tummy time can strengthen baby’s arms, neck, shoulders and torso, and even help them get moving as all those body parts are essential elements for scooting and crawling.

Encourage baby to stay on his tummy by providing stimulation in the form of books, pictures, colors and textures that baby can easily access from a prone position.

You can also do “baby sit-ups” with him by having him lie on his back, letting him grip your fingers with his hands and helping him “sit up” into a seated position (you might want to do this on a bed or pillow in case he lets go and falls back).

You can also make a game of tummy time by moving different fun objects around baby’s field of vision so he has to look up, look around or push himself up more to see where the toy went.



Family Matters: Sleep Pattern Disruption


Sleep Pattern Disruption A lot of my (younger) mommy friends have been complaining that their toddlers have a significant backslide in sleep between the ages of two and three.

This throws them for a loop.

First of all, they’ve had at least a year of blissful, uninterrupted sleep from when their little one finally slept through the night after infancy.

Secondly, a lot of these moms have introduced a new sibling to the mix, so their older baby getting enough sleep is crucial.

Ironically, the older child may backslide because of a new sibling. Whether it be due to a little unconscious jealousy, insecurity, disruption in their routine or being woken by the new baby, your toddler might start waking up during the night, too.

One friend’s son was having bad dreams. Nothing she did would get him to settle back down into his own bed. Against everything she said she would never do, she put him in her bed for a few nights, and then he was fine to go back to his own bed after the brief phase of night terrors passed.

Another friend’s son woke up around 2am to get a drink of water one night. Then, he did it the next night, and the next and the next and the next. The doctor finally advised taking him out of his routine entirely. My friends sent him to his grandmother’s house for the weekend, and when he came home, the pattern had been broken.

There’s not a lot of reason for your toddler to wake up at night. They may wake up because they have a wet or dirty diaper, and they are starting to be aware and uncomfortable (in this case, it’s probably time for potty training). They may actually need a drink. (You can leave a sippy cup of water near their bed for easy access. Don’t leave milk or juice as it could spoil, and it pools in the teeth overnight, which is bad for dental development.)

They might just need some comfort and to be tucked back in. If sleep disruptions persist, consult your pediatrician.



Family Matters: Make Your Own Baby Food


Make Your Own Baby FoodOne of my favorite gifts that my friend received at her baby shower last week was a baby food cookbook, for when her 6-month-old is about ready to start solids.

Note: Some babies start solid foods earlier, but both of my boys were ready at 6 months.

It was an organic cookbook full of great recipes for first foods for their precious daughter. Since Mom is quite the gardener, I’m sure she’ll have tons of options available for when her daughter is ready for solid foods.

You don’t need an organic cookbook or a garden to make your own baby food.

Making my sons’ food was one of the joys of that age period for me. It’s simple, and you know exactly what’s going into their meals.

All you really need to get going are some storage containers (use ice cube trays and freeze individual portions if you’re going to prepare food in bulk), a good food processor or food mill, and lots of beautiful produce and whole-grains.

To prepare foods, most vegetables just need to be steamed until they’re very soft, and then pureed. I would use either the liquid from the cooking pot, or some breast milk or formula to help thin the puree mixture and add extra nutrients.

It was fun to make different combinations of foods. Sweet potatoes were good pureed with apples. My boys liked peas and carrots, and broccoli and carrots together, too. If you’re not freezing your portions, avocado or banana is great mashed with other foods.

Your baby will guide you as to what textures and consistencies he likes. Both of mine had to start out with a thinner, more watered-down mixture and build up to a thicker consistency.

You can even puree and serve baby leftovers of your own foods, if they are age-appropriate.



Family Matters: “Must-Have” Gadgets


Must-Have GadgetsI went to a friend’s baby shower last week, and let me just tell you, it’s been a long time since I went to a baby shower.

It was fun to see all the new “must-have” gadgets and products for your newborn.

The one that probably surprised me the most was the new style of nasal aspirator.

You want a nasal aspirator around when you have a baby because they can’t blow their noses or clear fluids from their noses and mouths, which can impede eating and even breathing. When my kids were babies, we used a bulb syringe, a suction device with a balloon-shaped piece at the end of a tapered cone that you simply inserted into the baby’s nose and squeezed (then thoroughly sterilized between each use).

Now, the hot nasal aspirator also has the little tube that you insert into the tip of baby’s nose, but instead of bulb suction, there’s tubing attached so you can use your mouth to suck out the baby’s blockage. It doesn’t make it all the way to your mouth, mind you, and the thought is that you can better control the level of suction with your mouth, instead of with the bulb.

My friend received three of them, so they are probably a big deal.

Whatever style you use, keep one on hand, as a clear airway is imperative to baby’s health.



Family Matters: Babysitters


BabysittersSometime in your baby’s life, you might need to ask the grandparents to babysit.

That’s the position my sister found herself in this week. She had a once-in-a-decade opportunity to accompany her husband on a business trip to somewhere fabulous, and she decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

So, my parents in their late 60s flew across the country to stay with her four kids, ages 2 to 10 (in fact, the twins just turned 2 yesterday).

It’s not always easy for a grandparent to step in, but there are ways you can facilitate an easy transition.

  • Have a backup plan. Leave the caregiver the number of a neighbor or a friend who is very familiar with your children and can step in to help if necessary.
  • Enlist this same friend to take a child or two off the grandparents’ hands for an afternoon.
  • Prepare meals to leave in the freezer for the grandparents to easily reheat. Even if they are adept at parenting, they are parenting children they are not used to, and things will take them longer to accomplish. Plus, they are older than when they were parenting you and may wear out more easily, even if they are in the best of health. As an alternative, leave a gift card for a delivery meal.
  • Write down a schedule. Don’t assume they know that one child needs a sippy cup of water and a stuffed giraffe to go to sleep while he’s laying upside down in his bed with a nightlight shining. Write it all down.
  • Call your littles every day while you’re away and FaceTime if necessary. If this upsets them too much, skip this step, but it’s probably for their benefit.
  • If you have time, leave them hidden notes or a scavenger hunt that they can find during the days you’re gone.
  • Bring them back a treat and celebrate your return!


Family Matters: Car Seat Safety in Winter


Car Seat Safety in WinterOver the past year, studies have shown that babies and toddlers should not wear heavy, puffy coats or buntings in their car seats.

The reason is that the bulkiness of the coat adds about four inches to the length of the strap on the seat, and tests conducted have shown that baby is more likely to be dislodged from the seat during a crash than without lengthening the straps to accommodate a coat. A study from the University of Michigan showed in a crash test that the dummy child wearing a puffy winter coat was much more likely to be thrown from the seat on impact.

Luckily, you can still keep your child warm and safe in the colder months. Dress your baby in layers if you’re going on a car trip. Put him in a long-sleeved onesie with fleece pants, socks and shoes. Then, layer a fleece jacket over his onesie and strap him into his car seat. Use a heavy blanket or quilted car seat cover to put OVER the baby and the straps, so nothing is obstructing the safe and correct use of the car seat straps. Baby will be snuggly for the ride.



Family Matters: Cold Weather Skin Care


Cold Weather Skin CareIt’s hard enough to keep adult skin in tact during winter months, so it’s even more of a challenge to keep baby’s tender skin in tip-top shape when it gets cold and dry.

Babies are sensitive to temperature changes, so bundling baby up to go out in the cold might do as much damage to their skin as cold air. When baby overheats, red bumps will appear. Dress baby in layers instead of heavy garments, so you can help her regulate her temperature. Treat bumps with a 1 percent hydrocortisone lotion if they appear.

Babies get chapped lips, too. Use a thin layer of petroleum jelly or lanolin to keep your baby’s lips protected, especially before and after they eat.

If baby is going out in the cold, apply some Eucerin® or Aquaphor® lotion (or petroleum jelly) to his cheeks and nose, which can take the brunt of exposure.

Don’t over-bathe baby in the winter months, once a day at most. Follow the bath with a baby massage using lotion while her skin is still slightly damp to help her absorb the lotion best.

Lastly, keep baby hydrated. A little extra water, breast milk or formula will help hydrate their skin from the inside out.



Family Matters: Toddler Proofing


Toddler ProofingWeebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.

Babies do though, especially toddlers

There’s no need to put a crash test helmet on your toddler who is learning to walk, but there might be good sense in toddler-proofing the rest of the house.

Fireplaces, specifically their hearths, could use a good, padded edging and corner protection.

Corners of sharp dining tables and end tables could also use protection from baby’s teetering step. Foam padding, or just a heavy quilt and some duct tape, can help protect baby’s eyes and head from sharp corners.

Use duct tape or non-skid pads to secure rugs or throw rugs to the floor.

Secure things they can pull down on top of them, like tablecloths with candlesticks on top, towels with pots or runners with decorative dishes.



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