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Family Matters: Summertime Fun


Summertime FunSummers are a toddler’s best friend. Nothing is more fun than all the adventures you can have while traipsing about town with your toddler.

Splash pads are so much fun for you little one. Put toddler in a swim diaper, invest in a swim shirt to help protect them from ultraviolet rays, and prepare to have a great time. Splash pads are fun because there is no deep water. They can usually run in and out of jets of water at their own pace, and they have more control over how wet they get. They can even stay cool, and they have a good time from the periphery of the action if that’s their personality.

The local zoo or aquarium is a great place to visit with your toddler. If they enjoy your first visit, invest in a season pass for many memorable hours with fabulous animals.

Check out story time at your local library. Aside from developing a love of literature, story time can help you and your little one make some new friends, possibly learn some new crafts, and engage in group activities together.

Check into other group classes like music lessons, gym or yoga classes, or swim instruction. Your toddler will learn socialization skills and have a lot of fun while learning a new skill.

Plant a garden or grow a few potted vegetables with your toddler. Involve him in the process from beginning to end, and let him eat the fruits of his labor.

Visit playgrounds outside of your neighborhood. Your little one will like new scenery, and you will both make new friends.



Family Matters: Outdoor Fun


Outdoor FunSummertime is a great time to have fun with your little one outside!

Babies love bubbles! Maybe they can’t blow them yet (and you really don’t want to find out what happens if they get soap in their mouths), but they will enjoy bubbles when you blow for them! Put on a show with bubbles. Let baby “pop” them and feel them in his fingers and on his skin. You can even set up a bubble machine nearby and hear baby giggle.

Put a swing in a shady tree or set up a backyard swing set. Strap baby in safely and let him swing. Baby will love the proprioceptive discovery (the feeling of his body moving through space).

Set up a wading pool with a few inches of water, and let your little water baby splash to his heart’s content. Remember to never leave baby alone for a second! Fill the pool with baby’s favorite water toys, some sponges, some cups or other fun objects to enjoy the water. Make sure to use fresh water every time your little one is going to use the pool, as standing and stagnant water attracts mosquitoes.

A covered sand box is also a fun place to play (the cover is for when you’re NOT using it, to keep animals from using your baby’s play place as a litter box). Buckets, shovels and other scooping objects can keep baby occupied for hours, plus the sand (since you’re keeping it covered) should stay nice and cool.

Balls are fun outside toys! In all sizes and textures, balls are fun to throw, kick, roll on and bounce. Engage in reciprocal play with your baby or let him play alone.

Chalk is fun for outside play, too. Plop down on a cool sidewalk, stand at a wood fence, or even use the brick siding of your house or a stand-up easel for some creative coloring.

Taking walks, riding in a stroller, a safe bike carrier, going to the zoo or park, or even just spreading a blanket in the grass and enjoying the fresh air are great activities to do outside with your baby on a summer day.



Family Matters: Caring for Your Baby in the Heat


Caring for Your Baby in the HeatCaring for your baby in the hot weather months, especially since we live in the South, just takes a little extra care and attention than when the weather is more temperate.

Infants can’t always regulate their body temperature properly, so it’s up to you to pay attention to the cues that baby is too hot or too cool.

First of all, baby doesn’t need to be bundled up in blankets during the summer months. This includes covering their carrier or car seat. Let air circulate around your baby to help keep them cool. Swaddling at night is fine if your house is cool and air-conditioned, but don’t wrap baby up in the heat of the day or if it’s too warm in the room.

Keep air circulating around your infant, but it’s probably best not to point a fan directly at them.

Baby is too hot if she is sweating, red or flushed, or breathing rapidly.

Keep her dressed in loose-fitting, cotton clothing during the summer. Hats are great to help shield their faces and heads. Remember that babies also lose heat from their heads, so removing the hat helps cool baby off, too. Keep baby in shade and not exposed to direct sunlight if you are outdoors. Consider a window shade for your car window if baby’s car seat is next to the door.

Decrease the temperature of baby’s bath slightly in the summer months. Use cooler water for baby’s bath for a refreshing and enjoyable bath time! Water that is just about body temperature should be perfect for baby.

Make sure you are offering breast milk or water often to keep baby hydrated, as that will help her regulate her body temperature best during summer months.



Family Matters: Traveling With Your Baby


Traveling With Your BabyIt’s summer time! Your baby is ready to travel, but are you ready to travel with baby?

This is a tough age to travel with your little one because they’re a little more mobile and don’t sleep quite as much, but with a little prior planning, summer travel is easily doable.

Try to plan trips during baby’s regular nap times. Does baby take a long afternoon nap? Try to book your flight or plan your drive during that time. Or, fly or drive in the evening, if necessary.

Keep baby on schedule, if possible. This will make everyone’s vacation more enjoyable. If the schedule gets disrupted, get back on track as quickly as possible.

Travel with baby’s regular blankets and a few comfort items, so he’ll feel more at home sleeping in a strange place.

It’s great if you have your own car seat with you, and that will help baby feel right at home, too.

Travel with plenty of snacks, toys, formula, water, juice (depending on baby’s age) and books. If you are flying, make sure baby has a pacifier or is sucking during landings and take-offs, as the change in air pressure can be uncomfortable on their ears. Sucking can help alleviate that pressure.



Family Matters: Fun in the Pool


Fun in the PoolWhen you should teach your baby to swim is a personal preference, but it’s never too early to get them used to the water, in my book.

That doesn’t mean you have to throw them into the deep end and hope they doggie paddle (although that IS one method). You can certainly take your infant into the pool with you and let him enjoy the water.

By the time your baby is a year old, she probably loves the water. Some kids will jump right in; others are a little more hesitant.

First things first: toddlers should wear swim diapers, not regular diapers.

Secondly, they should never be left unsupervised at a pool, not even for an I’m-just-running-back-inside-for-sunscreen second.

In the water, don’t rely on water wings, swim rings or any other flotation devices other than Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

You can start by having your child blow bubbles in the water without putting her whole face in. She can kick her feet and move her arms without having to swim. When she’s comfortable with this, she can mimic these swimming motions with you supporting her stomach and build up to actually swimming. For some kids, this won’t gel until long after age 3, but you can certainly get them comfortable in the water during the early toddler years.



Family Matters: First Father’s Day


First Fathers DayThe first Father’s Day for your main man and your little one is coming right up.

Sure, your infant won’t remember much, but his dad certainly will.

There are lots of cute and meaningful gifts you can make your honey to commemorate his first Father’s Day that are easy and inexpensive.

“Following in Daddy’s Footsteps/Big Shoes to Fill” picture. Take one of Dad’s pairs of shoes. Dip it lightly in paint and stamp it on a large sheet of white poster board. (Use washable paint.) Let dry. Dip baby’s foot in a contrasting paint color, and stamp it on top of the shoe print. Let dry. Trim poster board, mat and frame as desired.

Photograph your little one holding a sign (or propped up with a sign) that says, “You have my heart, Daddy!” Frame the picture for his desk.

Compile a digital photo frame of pictures of baby and Daddy.

If Dad is a sports fan, take a new ball from his favorite sport, and cover it in baby’s handprints stamped in paint.

Baby can also stamp handprints or footprints on a tie with fabric paint.

Photo gifts are super fun. Baby’s picture can go on a beverage koozie, mouse pad, Christmas ornament, guitar pick or almost anything you can imagine.

Write a letter to your husband about what this day means to you. Write him a letter every year, and keep adding to his collection. Pretty soon, baby will be able to join in.



Family Matters: Handprint Gifts


Handprint GiftsMother’s Day and Father’s Day are rapidly approaching, and (to me) there’s no better gift than something that your little one has had their hand in. Literally.

Handprint gifts are the best. I can look back from years ago and see the sweet preciousness in their tiny handprints.

One year, my younger son made me a clay flower pot with his handprint as the green base and stems of a plant with his multicolored fingerprints as the flowers. It’s in my kitchen, holding pens and pencils.

Another year, we made footprints in a concrete paver for the back garden. Their sweet little feet are forever immortalized in concrete with the date and their names stamped into the stone. It’s my favorite thing in the backyard.

I have a bookmark with my oldest son’s handprint cut out of craft foam, mounted to green pipe cleaners to look like a flower. It has his name and the date on the back, lest I forget which small, sweet hand it belongs to.

I have handprint clay molds and handprint Christmas ball ornaments.

The possibilities for these special gifts are endless (there are so many ideas online that I can’t even name them all). I promise that any gift this unique will be treasured forever, and you won’t even feel bad about wiping their chocolate pudding handprints off the living room wall.



Family Matters: Solid Foods


Solid FoodsBy your baby’s seventh month, he’s been introduced to solid foods.

Some babies are more adept with solids at 7 months than others, but all should catch up by the 12-month mark.

By 7 to 12 months of age, your baby should be able to hold a bottle or sippy cup, and drink from it while sitting upright in a high chair.

He should be able to eat thicker pureed foods (7 to 8 months) and softer finger foods.

Your little one will enjoy teething biscuits that soothe swollen gums. While teething, they’ll often put anything, edible or not, in their mouths to chew on.

Your baby’s meals are more consistent these days, and breast-feeding is equal or lesser to the amount of other food they are taking in. Your little one stays full longer after eating.

In the second half of their first year, baby knows what he likes and does not like, and he will reach for food he’s interested in. That doesn’t mean to stop offering food he turns away. Sometimes it takes several attempts to get baby to enjoy something new.

Baby will show a strong reaction to new smells and tastes. Keep offering them to him to help expand his palate.

During this time, he will start to eat finger foods. Let him pick them up and make a mess! He’s learning fine motor skills and enjoying significant sensory development.



Family Matters: Baby’s Vision


Baby’s VisionMy best friend’s daughter is going to have a baby any day now, and they’re both beyond excited (rightly so!).

My best friend’s love language is decorating. She’s helped her daughter prepare the nursery, painting the walls the perfect shade of light, smoky blue, hanging vintage toy airplanes from the mobile over the crib, and framing antique maps for the walls to complete a theme of travel and adventure for her new grandson.

He’ll love it in a few months, but in the early days and weeks, your baby can’t see very well. Unlike hearing which is completely developed by the end of baby’s first month, vision takes longer to form. In fact, when baby is born, his vision is about 20/400, and he can’t see color well. It will take 6 to 8 months to fully mature.

Initially, baby can see about the distance from his face to yours when you’re cuddling him.

He might not be able to make both eyes move in tandem in that first month, so don’t be alarmed if they cross or wander randomly. They’ll get stronger as he develops. Lock eyes with your baby and move them back and forth. It will help him learn to do the same.

While baby can see color, he might not be able to distinguish tones. This is why he likes high contrast patterns in black and white over pastel pictures. He’ll also like bright, primary colors and objects that are all one color.

Baby also doesn’t have very good depth-perception. He might reach for your nose and grasp the air several inches in front of your face. This will start to come together around the 4-month mark. You can help him by handing him an easy-to-grasp toy, like a rattle. Have him reach for it and take it in his grasp. Position it differently, so he has to look for it in different places.

Baby’s favorite thing to look at is your face. Let him spend lots of time gazing at you. He might also like a mirror and might start to recognize himself during the latter half of his first year.

Eye exams are part of every well baby checkup. Make sure to let your pediatrician know if either of baby’s parents have serious vision problems or a family history of vision problems.



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.



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