Posts from the ‘Preparing for Baby’ Category

Starry Nights for Sleeping Tight: How to Create a Star-filled Nursery Ceiling

Little ones love lights and stars! What better way to make bedtime more fun than shining stars onto the nursery ceiling! Star lights are also relaxing, helping your little one fall asleep more easily.

One simple way to transform your baby’s nursery into a magical star field is to use stick-on glow-in-the-dark stars. You can find these online or in some home improvement stores.

Or, simply buy glow-in-the-dark paint that can be found at any hardware store along with star stencils to create a starry-night effect in baby’s room!

If you only want the starry sky to appear at nighttime, you can use a projector to shine them onto the ceiling. This one is designed just for kids and looks like a cute turtle.

Have you created a star-filled ceiling? How did you do it?

 

photo credit: darkmatter via photopin cc

Countdown Your Pregnancy With Photos

Your nine months of pregnancy will probably feel like some of the longest months of your life, but when it’s all said and done, you’ll look back and wonder where the time went. To help the time pass, to track your pregnancy progress, and to keep a record of your beautiful pregnancy to look back at later, take creative monthly or weekly photos. You’ll love the results! Here are some ideas:

  1. Instead of taking the usual side shot, take a photo looking down at your baby belly. For your very last photo, take a picture from above, holding your brand new baby in your arms.
  2. Try taking the normal side shot, but prop a chalkboard on a chair next to you. Each week or month that you take a photo, write the date, how far along you are, and interesting facts about baby’s progression like approximately how big baby is or new physical characteristics that baby has developed or even how you’re feeling at the time.
  3. Purchase a neutral shirt or dress (white is beautiful!) at the beginning of your pregnancy. Take a photo in front of the same simple background in the same outfit every month. Add a prop or two appropriate to the time of year, like leaves in the fall or a Santa hat at Christmas time.
  4. Each month, track your baby’s progress with fruit. Take one photo holding numerals for the date or month you are in and one holding the fruit that is closest to baby’s size. For instance, hold a lime in front of your belly around twelve weeks—when baby is about that size.

When it’s all over, print your photos and hang them in a line in the nursery so that someday you can tell baby his or her story.

How about you? How did you track your pregnancy?

The Perfect ‘Push’ Gift

Here’s a list to help out you daddies-to-be. You know that lovely lady whose belly has expanded and who is about to go through one of the most eventful experiences of her life (aka labor and delivery)? She deserves a little something extra from you during this time in her life! Here are some ideas to make this time a special one.

  1. A necklace. You can get creative on this one—it can be as simple as a pendant with baby’s birthstone, or you can have it personalized with baby’s name and birth date. Either way, mom will love a necklace to memorialize baby’s birth.
  2. A bracelet. Try a charm bracelet with a locket for baby’s picture and add a new charm each year on baby’s birthday. Or go for the stackable look—get a bracelet with this baby’s birthstone and add another matching bracelet every time you have a new baby.
  3. A mom-ring. Again, baby’s birthstone is the traditional take on a mom-ring. Or you can get her a plain and simple ring to stack with her wedding and engagement rings.
  4. A trip. Don’t have a jewelry-loving partner? Take her somewhere she’s always wanted to go to relax. Check out the balmy Caribbean or a trip to the West Coast. If you want to go somewhere closer to home, try out a cabin a few hours away.
  5. A new TV. This one works out well for you, too, dads! Baby means fewer nights out, so cuddle up together after putting baby to bed and watch your favorite teams . . . or maybe a chick-flick!
  6. A gym membership. Got an athletic, health-conscious wife? Get a gym membership for both of you so you can work off baby weight. (We know, dads, you gained weight, too, and with no excuse!)

Treat your leading lady well before, during, and after her labor and delivery. She deserves it!

 

photo credit: scotbot via photopin cc

Holiday Maneuvering: How to Help Everyone Adjust to a New Little One This Season

Baby’s first Christmas should be perfect, right? But sometimes, adjusting to a new member of the family can be tricky, especially when relatives are involved. Here are our tips on how to maneuver holiday get-togethers with your little bundle of joy.

  1. The road trip to the relatives’. You know that feeling—you get into the car when baby is sleeping, and you think you’ve got in made for the 3-hour drive. But then baby wakes up. To keep baby entertained and happy for the journey’s duration, plan ahead and bring your little one’s favorite stuffed toys. You might also want to tape some brightly-colored pictures to the seat that baby will be facing (out of reach!) or put on some Christmas music.
  2. The cousins who think baby is a new toy. They may not be much older than baby, but bigger kids seem to be drawn to younger ones. If you have an older niece or nephew, explain that you want the kids to be very careful with baby. The older child will probably enjoy having a bit of authority and watching out for baby. Otherwise, have a no-kids-under-(insert an age here)-can-hold-baby policy. The cousins may be sad, but keeping baby from little hands can help prevent injury.
  3. The great aunt with breakables everywhere. It sure would be nice if the relatives would baby-proof, right? But we all know that’s probably not going to happen because Great Aunt Zelda is so proud of her porcelain reindeer collection. When you arrive, ask Great Aunt Zelda if you can help her protect her collection (and other breakables) by moving them out of baby’s reach. You may also want to consider taking your own safety gate and electrical outlet guards to keep baby from getting into things you can’t move.

How do you handle Christmas get-togethers with a tiny tot?

 

photo credit: latteda via photopin cc

Pre-birth Bonding: Create a Special Relationship With Your Little One Before He or She Arrives

You’ll have lots of time to bond after baby is born, but bonding pre-birth is key to helping baby develop. Here are some things you can do to create a special relationship with your little one before he or she is even born.

  1. Baby massage. Gently rub your belly or have your partner gently rub your belly. Experts say pre-birth massage can help introduce your child to life outside the womb. Your baby may respond by moving or kicking back. Depending on your stage of pregnancy, you and your baby may even develop a little game—you gently push on your abdomen and baby kicks back.
  2. Baby talk. Talk to baby as you go through the day. Tell him or her what you are doing. Tell him or her good morning and goodnight. Read to him or her from your favorite novel. Your baby will gradually become used to the sound of your voice, and, once outside the womb, he or she will be soothed by the sound of your voice.
  3. Baby music. Baby’s ears are one the first organs to develop—he or she can hear sounds in your body, like your heartbeat, at just 16 or 18 weeks old. When baby is a few months farther along, he or she will start responding to music. Make up little songs to sing to your baby. He or she will likely recognize them after birth. Play music, but be careful in your selection. Experts recommend classical music or music that imitates your heartbeat. Heavy rock can make baby tense or agitated, especially since amniotic fluid makes external noise louder.
  4. Stay calm. A mother’s emotional state can have drastic effects on baby. If a mother is calm and unworried throughout most of her pregnancy, experts say, the baby’s personality will be positively affected.

By bonding with baby before birth, you will find it easier to comfort, play with, and talk to your little one after birth.

 

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The Baby Carrier Guide

Holding baby in your arms and carrying him or her around the house is great, but sometimes you need your hands free to dust or shop with. That’s where the baby carrier comes in. We’ve listed several types below to help you choose the kind that’s best for you and your baby.

Wraps

These baby carriers are the most versatile, but sometimes the hardest to learn how to use. There are multiple ways to wear wraps; the trick is figuring out what’s most comfortable and best for your body and your baby’s. While you can’t carry baby on your back with a wrap, it does provide optimal support for baby’s head, neck, back, and legs when you carry her on your front.

Slings

Slings are easy to put on and take off. They can be used for nursing. All of baby’s weight, however, is on one shoulder, and cause back and shoulder problems in the long run for you. If you’re just going to be carrying baby for a short time, like a quick trip to the grocery, a sling is probably a good option for you.

Mei Tai

A Mei Tai is a traditional Chinese carrier. It provides both front and back carrying options and is often small enough to fit in a purse when you are not using it. It can be used for infants all the way up to toddlers. Keep in mind, though, that it doesn’t provide much head support, so a wrap or sling might be better if you have a smaller baby.

Soft-Structured Carrier

A soft-structured carrier is easy to use and often has straps that are comfortable for your shoulders. This kind of carrier also distributes baby’s weight a little more evenly. It also provides good ergonomic support for your baby, aligning his hips, spine, and pelvis. It works for infants through toddlers, but it does not provide head support and there often large gaps in the sides that may not be good for an infant.

Front-Facing Carrier

Front-facing carriers are easy to put on and take off. If you are looking for a carrier your can use for your baby for longer term, try out one of the other options: this carrier can only hold babies up to 15 pounds. It is also not best ergonomically for babies because it places their weight on their spine before their spine is ready to handle it.

Now that you know the facts, head to a store to try out a couple carriers. If your baby isn’t here yet, take a sack of potatoes or something with similar weight to get the feel for how each carrier will feel when a child is in it. And if more than one option works for you, invest in a couple! Each of these carriers has its own unique advantages.

 

photo credit: HoboMama via photopin cc

The Stroller Guide: Part 2

There’s no better time than autumn to introduce baby to nature.  The cool breezes and fall colors will inspire you to get outdoors and take a walk.  An enjoyable and relaxing walk with your baby requires the right kind of equipment: a stroller that fits your needs.

In Part 1 of our stroller buying guide, we looked at some general tips that you can use as you’re shopping. In Part 2 we’re looking at different types of strollers–check them out, look up some examples online, ask friends for their recommendations, review the ratings from consumers who have purchased them before and choose which one will work best for you and your baby.

  1. A traditional stroller. These are the kind you grew up with. Some of them are upright, lightweight strollers intended for children that can sit up, while others are convertible strollers that can hold a car seat or that can change to just hold baby. This kind of stroller is perfect for a walk down your street or for a trip to the park.
  2. All-terrain stroller. If you are the outdoorsy type, this stroller is right for you. This type of stroller offers more cushioning for off-road adventures. Often these strollers also provide a little extra space for storage, like built-in diaper bags and extra pockets. Just remember, a hefty price tag doesn’t necessarily mean better performance. Test several different strollers before you decide which stroller is best for hikes and unpaved roads.
  3. Jogging stroller. A jogging stroller is for just that—jogging. If you are simply going to use your stroller for walks in the park, invest in a traditional stroller. If you are serious about running, however, you will want a jogging stroller. Jogging strollers often have a fixed front wheel, so maneuverability is limited.

Get your baby outside this fall with the stroller that’s right for you. Do some research of your own and also go online to Consumer Reports.com.  You’ll be able to find one that fits your needs.

Photo via davelawler

The Hospital Bag: What to Take

When you’re expecting, it pays to be prepared for your hospital trip in advance. Packing your bag ahead of time will save you stress when the birth-day comes. After all, when your new baby says it’s time and you rush out the door, you won’t have a chance to think about anything you might have forgotten. Here are a few things you won’t want to miss packing:

For You:

  • Picture ID, insurance card, or other hospital paperwork
  • Your favorite pillow
  • A nursing pillow or boppy® pillow
  • Nursing supplies—breast pump, breast cream, and shields
  • Comfy (and cute!) pajamas—trust us, you’ll want it for all those photo ops
  • Warm socks
  • Bathrobe
  • Undergarments including a few nursing bras, if you’re nursing, and your own maternity underpants
  • Tennis balls for squeezing or for someone to give you a massage
  • Journal to write everything down when it’s all said and done
  • Hair supplies
  • Basic makeup supplies
  • Glasses or contact supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Yoga pants
  • Your own overnight sanitary pads
  • Cheap flipflops for the shower
  • Snacks for after labor

For Your Partner:

  • iPod loaded with your favorite tunes
  • Credit card or cash
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • An assortment of snacks
  • Camera
  • Phone charger(s)
  • Portable DVD or laptop player for the middle of the night when nothing is on TV
  • A few changes of clothes
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Undergarments
  • Clothes to sleep in
  • A bathing suit in case you need support in the shower

For Baby:

  • A special blanket
  • A going-home outfit
  • A special stuffed animal (you’ll probably get lots of these as gifts!)
  • Diaper bag ready with a few extra diapers, wipes, extra bottles and a blanket or two
  • Car seat
  • Baby grooming supplies—nail clippers, comb, etc.

As you’re waiting for baby to come, you can relax if you know you have everything you need, ready to go! Moms and dads, do you have any other recommendations for hospital must-haves?

photo credit: browniesfordinner via photopin cc

The Stroller Guide: Part 1

Needing a stroller but don’t know where to begin? Feeling overwhelmed by all the options? We’ve collected some stroller buying advice to help you decide which stroller will fit your needs and your baby’s. Part 1 gives you some general tips that you can use as you’re shopping. Part 2 will look at different types of strollers and help you decide what works for your individual family’s needs.

  1. Determine what type of stroller you want. (Next week, look for Part 2 of our buying guide to help you determine what type of stroller will work best for you.) Look up several examples of the different types online to see product descriptions to find which type will best meet your needs.

  2. Do your research. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org to see their stroller buying guide. Look up reviews of strollers you’re interested in to see what other customers have to say. Are they satisfied? Dissatisfied? While every customer is different, checking out what other people have to say will help you make an informed decision.

  3. Take a test drive. You wouldn’t buy a car without driving it first, and you shouldn’t buy a stroller without pushing it first. Visit a store, even if you intend to buy online, before you make your purchase. The stroller’s online description may sound great, but after pushing it around for a few minutes, you’ll be able to tell if its maneuverability will fit your lifestyle.

  4. Fold it up. Nothing’s worse than finding out you don’t know how to open up your stroller for the first time or how to close it. Test it in the store to see if it will be easy to get in and out of the car and easy to fold and unfold.

  5. Don’t overspend. You don’t have to break the bank to get a good stroller. If your budget is limited, check out gently used strollers on eBay or Craigslist.

The perfect stroller for your life is out there. Before you buy, make sure you’re informed so you don’t get stuck with a stroller that doesn’t work for you.

photo credit: mikebaird via photopin cc

Bonding with Baby: Tips for Adoptive Parents

If you’re an adoptive parent, you know that adjustment to life with a new child can be incredibly difficult. You still have the same demands on you as other new parents, like diaper changing or feedings, especially if your little one is still an infant, but you don’t have the benefit of the pre-birth nine months of bonding time like most new parents have. How do you develop a strong bond with the little one you worked so hard for and waited so long for? Here are some ideas:

  1. When you bring your new child home, don’t overwhelm him or her with a big party, no matter what age. If you were birth parents to a new baby, you probably would keep things relatively quiet when you came home. Try to make your child’s homecoming as normal and simple as possible. If friends and family want to welcome your new child, encourage them to come individually and over the course of the first couple of weeks.
  2. Keep your new child close at all times, even if he or she is an older child. Most new parents and babies have nine months of bonding time when baby becomes accustomed to the scents and sounds of her parents. Your precious adopted baby doesn’t have that benefit, but you can help him or her adjust by using a baby carrier or keeping him or her close as much as possible.
  3. Be careful to avoid huge expectations for your little one. It will take your baby time to adjust to his or her new life. Give your little one the time needed, and don’t expect him or her to love you or adore you right away. Keep your expectations for yourself reasonable as well. New parents, both birth parents and adoptive parents, need time to get used to their new baby.
  4. Keep laughing. You’re going to face some tough days–you probably already know that. But keep your sense of humor and laugh and smile often so your little one knows that you enjoy life and that he or she can learn to enjoy life too.
  5. Build a family for your child. If you have relatives who live near you, you already have a head start. Whether you have nearby family or not, you need to start networking with friends, other adoptive families, and neighbors. You’ll need their support and so will your child. Adoptive Families magazine has a great resource on their website that helps you locate support groups in your area.

Adoptive parents face additional and different challenges, but the reward of building a relationship with your new child is more than worth it.