Archives for June 2009

Your Breast Knows Best

Among the many changes that happen to your body, your breasts are doing their share of the work to get ready for that baby.  They’re plumping up. The areola (dark area of skin surrounding the nipple) usually darkens even more and gets larger, as does the nipple. Between weeks 16 and 22 your breasts begin to make colostrum, the super-concentrated first milk produced for your baby.  Even now, you may notice some clear, yellow or white drops of colostrum leaking from your nipples.

Your body is getting ready to breastfeed, and so should you!

Benefits for Baby

Once your baby is born, it takes about 2 weeks for breast milk to become “mature milk.”  Colostrum, the first stage, is highly nutritious, concentrated, and packed with antibodies that your baby needs to stay healthy. The colostrum coats baby’s stomach, creating a barrier that keeps out many types of bacteria and viruses, decreasing your newborn’s risk of infection. It helps protect his digestive tract, mucous membranes, throat, lungs and intestines, and helps prevent him from becoming sensitive to the food you eat. In turn, it lessens his risk for future food allergies. This protection remains for as long as you are breastfeeding.

Believe it or not, your breasts produce only about 3 to 4 tablespoons of colostrum in the first 24 hours after birth. This is actually all your newborn needs, as his stomach can only hold about 2 to 3 teaspoons of milk per feeding. This is also why newborns need to nurse quite frequently (every couple hours or so). These  frequent feedings help increase the volume of milk you produce, ensuring that you’ll always have enough milk to feed your baby.

Benefits as they grow

Research has shown that the benefits of breastfeeding carry throughout your child’s life.  Breastfed children have decreased risk of diabetes, obesity, juvenile leukemia, heart disease, asthma and ear infections.  They have also been found to have better jaw and eye development than those who are not breastfed.

Benefits for you, too

Directly after childbirth, breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its normal size. It may help you lose your pregnancy weight, and studies have shown that it reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Right after birth, have your newborn baby placed on your chest, skin-to-skin, and you’ll be amazed as he latches on to your breast and starts feeding. If you keep him close to you as much as possible over the next few days, you may find that you both take to breastfeeding with ease.

But if you do experience problems, you’re not alone. Breastfeeding is an art that often needs to be learned. Talk to a lactation consultant or contact your local La Leche League. A prenatal breastfeeding preparation class is also helpful in understanding the process and getting ready for that first special bonding.

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Sizzling Summer Pregnancy Guide!

Summer is here, but with the extra load you’re carrying around, you might be feeling the heat more than anything else. Your Total Summer Pregnancy Guide brings you some tips and advice for staying healthy, hip, and cool this summer.

Keep Drinking!

Your pregnant body need more fluids during the hot summer months, so keep that water bottle close by. Although you may not want to do anything that increases runs to the bathroom, it’s imporatant to stay hydrated. Dehydration can worsen pregnancy aches like swelling, and can even trigger contractions and the risk of preterm labor. Don’t wait unti you’re feeling parched, as that can be too late. Just keep drinking regularly throught the day! If plain water bores you, try unsweeted fruit juices mixed with seltzer or herbal iced tea. Snacking on fruits and veges like melon and cucumbers will also help you stay hydrated.

Cool Shades

Even when you don’t feel so hot, a pair of good-looking shades (and some pretty pink lip gloss) will instantly pull you together! Best of all, the sunglasses will still fit even when your favorite pregnancy jeans have stopped accommodating your ever-growing baby bump.

Foot Support

Summer wear is all about tank tops and sandals, but those flip-flops may be the worst thing you could do for your hot, achy feet. What you really need is arch support!  The extra weight, plus pregnancy hormones which cause your ligaments and tendons to stretch in preparation for childbirth (even the ones in your feet), adds extra pressure on the bottoms of your feet and can cause pain, swelling, flat feet, tendinitis, and sometimes permanent damage if you don’t wear the right shoes. You don’t have to ask Grandma where she buys her orthopedic footwear, but do look for sandals with some arch support; they’ll be thicker and slightly raised in the middle.

Save yourself from the Sun

Sunscreen is especially crucial when you’re expecting. Your Total Summer Pregnancy Guide quotes Elizabeth K. Hale, MD: “The higher levels of estrogen in your body make you more susceptible to melasma, dark patches of skin that can appear on your face. Wearing sunscreen is the best way to avoid it, or prevent it from getting worse if you already have some discoloration.” You need at least SPF 50 to protect yourself. Remember to apply even if it’s rainy or you plan to be behind your desk all day, as UVA rays penetrate through clouds and windows!

Be Lazy

You might as well get as much guilt-free lounging around as you can… when the little bundle of joy shows up, you won’t have much time to pamper yourself.  So get a good book and get comfy in that hammock! If you can get away with the hubby for a few days, even better! It doesn’t have to be somewhere far-off and exotic, but you’re sure to enjoy a change of scenery and a chance to spend time when it’s just two of you.  It’s perfectly safe for expectant women to fly up until 36 weeks (after which point many airlines won’t even let you on board). It’s recommended to get up and walk around the plane every half hour or so to prevent swelling and the risk of developing blood clots in your legs.

… and put your feet up

When it’s hot outside, edema (fluid retention that causes swelling, particularly in your hands, feet, and ankles) can get worse. Although this condition is not usually dangerous, it sure to make you feel uncomfortable and unattractive. To combat it, avoid excess sodium, especially in processed, packaged foods, stay cool, and drink plenty of fluids. Keeping your feet elevated can also lessen swelling.

Take a Swim

It’s not only a great way to cool off on a hot summer day, but swimming is also a great way to get your daily exercise while pregnant. Some women find the buoyancy of the water also helps relieve pregnancy-related back strain.  There’s less risk of overheating and it’s gentle on your joints. While doing any sort of physical activity, listen to your body. If you start to feel overheated, uncomfortable, or out of breath, that’s your sign to slow down or quit for the day.

Keep-it-Cool Hairstyles

If you’ve got a high-maintenance hairstyle, maybe it’s time to try out a out a cool summer hairdo that requires less fuss. You’ll be especially happy about the time-saving factor post-baby. Think casual, tousled, beachy hair. If you’re hair is short, you can sweep it back with a pretty headband or colorful scarf. If your hair is a bit longer, you can do a half-up, half-down style, securing it with a colorful elastic or decorative barrette. If hair is long, try gathering it into a low ponytail. You can loosely braid the tail or coil it into a bun.

photo credits: woman with water bottle, with sunglasses, flip flop, applying sunscreen, in hammock, swimming, with scarf

Being outside is good for kids’ eyes!

When my kids spend too much time in the house, they start bickering, making a mess, and getting on my nerves. Just taking them out for a change of scenery, to play in the backyard of nearby park, is a simple solution that instantly improves everyone’s mood. I sit on the side and enjoy the fresh air, while the kids run around, play with the neighborhood children, and get some exercise. But I came across an article in The Epoch Times informing me that spending time outdoors has yet another benefit for your kids.

In a study, Australian researchers found evidence that children who spent the most time outdoors were the least likely to suffer from myopia, also called nearsightedness or shortsightedness, which has become increasingly common in recent decades. 12-year old children who spent less than 1.6 hours outdoors every day and more than 3.1 hours in near-work activity (reading, doing homework, drawing, etc) had double to triple the likelihood of being nearsighted, compared to kids who spent the most time outside and the least time in close-up work.

“Our evidence suggests that the key factor is being outdoors, and that it does not matter if that time is spent in having a picnic or in playing sport,” Dr. Kathryn A. Rose told Reuters Health. “Both will protect a child’s eyes from growing excessively, which is the major cause of myopia.”

Researchers don’t know yet exactly why being outside is protective, But it is likely that the high levels of sunlight releases retinal dopamine, which is known to be able to block eye growth. Myopia is caused when the eyeball grows too long.

The more time they spend outdoors, the less likely they are to develop myopia, even if your kids spend long hours in school or at home doing close-up work.  So now you have yet one more reason to shoo the kids outside to play!

image from

Tips for Organizing Baby’s Room

The goal of being organized is having a place where everything belongs, so it’s important to create adequate storage place. Babies may be small, but they need a lot of stuff! If you’re baby’s room is poorly organized, you will soon find yourself with lots of clutter and no idea where that tube of diaper cream disappeared to! Take some time to look around baby’s room and assess the space you have to work with.

Closet: Since baby clothes are much smaller than adult clothes, you can lower the closet rod to be just a few feet from the floor, says Rebecca Johnson, owner of Decorating Your Baby Nursery. This will give you more space above the closet rod to install shelving for other items. Or, you can leave the closet rod where it is and install shelves or drawers beneath the rod. A good closet organizer is also worth looking into if you want to make use of every square inch.  Another handy organizer is a shoe rack that hangs inside the closet. You can use it for shoes, but also to easily organize things like socks, hats, bibs, mittens, hairbrushes, barrettes, and headbands. (Image from

Changing table: Use the space below it to store items such as diapers, wipes, creams, and changing pads. There might be enough drawer space for baby clothes as well. You can also put some shelves above the changing table to display books, toys, framed pictures, and pretty boxes where you can store additional odds and ends.

Dresser: If you have enough space, a dresser is excellent for storing clothes, sheets, towels, and blankets. If your room is small, find a dresser that doubles as a changing table.  Dressers with removable changing tables on top are like two pieces of furniture in one: you can continue using it even after baby has outgrown the need for a changing table. You can also consider dressers with a hutch on top, which provides additional space to display knick-knacks or other items. A hutch also works instead of buying a separate bookcase.

Crib: This is a great place to pick up some additional storage space. Use wicker baskets, boxes, or plastic storage containers to store items such as crib sheets, blankets, and clothes that baby has yet to grow into. Some cribs come with pull-out drawers underneath.  (Crib pictured from ATD

Wall shelves and bookcases: These are great for bringing additional storage space to the room, and to display baby’s books, toys, and stuffed animals. One tall bookcase works great if you have limited space in your baby nursery. If you have more area to play with, a couple shorter bookcases are nice, because they make it easier for your baby to reach their things when he gets bigger.

Toy box: You’ll be surprised at how quickly your baby’s toy collection will grow. To avoid clutter, a toy box gives you one place to keep all the toys and their various parts. A toy bench is a nice way to go, which gives your baby a place to sit when he gets older, and the toys go inside. (Toy box pictured availble from

More helpful hints:

-If you have baskets or boxes for storage, make sure you keep them labled.

-Furniture such as bookshelves and dressers should be anchored to the wall. This prevents a potential hazard when the baby starts crawling and climbing (or if you live in earthquake-prone areas).

A glider or rocking chair is wonderful if space allows. Having a place to sit in your baby’s room gives you a place to sit while you feed or bond with your baby. (Glider pictured availible at

– A clothes hamper is helpful if you want to avoid numerous trips to the laundry room everyday. Babies dirty numerous outfits a day!

-A diaper disposal is also handy, although not necessary. Place it near the changing table for easy access.

A lamp may be a good thing to have, especially if you want some dim lighting for pre-bedtime activities. Never use a floor lamp , which your baby can easily pull over. You should place the lamp high up on a dresser or bookcase, out of baby’s reach. As an added precaution, fluorescent light bulbs stay much cooler to the touch than regular bulbs.

-Put stuffed animals in a hammock and hang it in a corner (maybe over the baby’s crib or bed) so they’re out of the way but within reach. You could also get a big basket to keep dolls and stuffed toys in. (Image from

-A row of hooks on the wall or door is useful for hanging coats, sweaters, and diaper bags.

-For the super organizer, consider buying or creating hanging dividers for the closet, and drawer organizers for the dresser drawers.

-If you’re on a budget, check out garage sales and thrift shops (like Goodwill) for used furniture. You will pay a fraction of what you would spend by buying new furniture. You can paint or refinish furniture to match the rest of the bedroom.

Parenting in the Slow Lane

It may be due to the economic slump, but moms and dads around America are slowing down and learning to take it easy when it comes to their kids schedules.  Money is a bit tight for many families, and instead of going to amusement parks, eating out, and taking flute lessons, more kids are exploring their backyards, haivng tea parties, and planning play dates with friends.

A few years ago, a good parent was one that filled her kids’ free time with enriching activities, shuttling them between school, ballet, soccer practice, and music appreciation class.  “But these days she’s more likely to be applauded for taking a slower, more laid-back approach to parenting,” explains The Mommy Files. “Yes, it’s actually cool to shun Suzuki method violin classes, to laze around the house in PJs on weekends, and to tell the teacher that she’s giving your child too much homework. We seem to be in the midst of a new parenting movement, which the mommy bloggers are calling “slow parenting.”

The idea of downtime is gaining popularity.  Like all movements, this one had a beginning, and a man named Carl Honoré is “the father of the slow parenting movement.” He’s the author of the best-selling book In Praise of Slowness: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed, and his more recent Under Pressure: Rescuing our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting. The Mommy Files tells the story behind the movement:

Honoré got the idea for Under Pressure at an evening event at his 7-year-old son’s school. A teacher told him his son was a gifted artist. That night he trawled Google, hunting down art courses and tutors to nurture his son’s gift. Visions of raising the next Picasso swam through Honoré’s head–until he approached his son the next morning.

“‘Daddy, I don’t want a tutor, I just want to draw,’ my son announced on the way to school,” says Honoré, who lives in London with his wife and two children. “‘Why do grown-ups always have to take over everything?’ his son asked. The question stung like a belt on the backside. You know, I thought, he’s right. I am trying to take over. I’m turning into one of those pushy parents you read about in the newspapers. So I started thinking about how easy it is to get carried away as a parent, and to end up hijacking your children’s lives.”

Now the dad is a spokesperson for the movement, traveling the world to speak on panels at universities and appear on TV shows. “Slow parenting is about bringing balance into the home,” he often tells people. “Children need to strive and struggle and stretch themselves but that does not mean childhood should be a race. Slow parents give their children plenty of time and space to explore the world on their own terms. They keep the family schedule under control so that everyone has enough downtime to rest, reflect and just hang out together. They accept that bending over backwards to give children the best of everything may not always be the best policy.”

We might have to thank millions of layoffs and shrunken bank accounts for this new parenting trend. Raising children right now is all about free play or neighborhood activities like going to the park and the library, wearing hand-me-downs, reading books, and spending more quality time together in a peaceful, stress-free environment. And parents who have been laid off or switched to part time are finding that they enjoy the extra time that they can spend with their kids, cook wholesome meals, and keep up with the housework.

As story in the Boston Globe puts it: “Many moms find that budget cuts that at first seem like deprivations instead have unexpected rewards.”

Parents are spending less money on their kids, which includes buying less toys, and this has its up-side too. Time for free play seems to be the main advantage. When kids spend more time just hanging around the house, they get a chance to create, discover, and interact with other kids.  The lack of structure teaches kids to entertain themselves, become problem solvers, and use their imaginations.  Just don’t waste these precious opportunities by plunking your kids down in front of the TV, as tempting as that might be.

Christine Carter, who studies the sociology of happiness in children as the executive director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, says the past decades of children spending more time in front of the TV and in piano lessons than running around freely in the backyard has actually altered their cognitive and emotional development. She says children’s capacity for self-regulation–their ability to control their emotions and behavior and to resist impulses–is much worse than it was 60 years ago. “In one study, today’s 5-year-olds had the self-regulation capability of a 3-year-old in the 1940s, and today’s 7-year-old barely approached the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago,” she says.

So forget the frenzied schedule of extracurricular activities, play dates, and trips to the mall. You don’t need to fly around to amusement parks, zoos, museums, and gymobrees. This afternoon, get out the story books and spend an hour just sitting on the couch reading. Maybe you can bake a batch of cookies and let your kids decorate them with sprinkles and chocolate chips.  Or put on their bathing suits and let them run through the sprinlers. For 15 “Good Old Fashioned Playtime” ideas, visit Real Simple. There’s an abundance of ways to keep your kids busy and happy right where you are. And it’s good for you and for them, too!

Image from the epoch

20 Newborn conditions that are Weird but Normal

You envisioned a sweet, soft, adorable baby — round and rosy with beautiful skin and a tiny button nose. So what are these spots and splotches? These swollen eyelids and hairy shoulders? These runny, yellow diapers and horrible cries? Your baby is a work of beauty in progress… Just wait, he’ll soon become the  perfect angel you imagined! Here are some common situations that often worry first-time parents… but are completely normal and will soon pass!

Puffy eyelids: This is caused by fluid she’s retaining to tide herself over until feeding is established. It’s just temporary and nothing to be concerned about.

Swollen breasts: This will also disappear on it’s own. This is caused by your hormones, which still linger in your baby’s system. You might even find a few drops of milk!

Swollen down there, too! Your baby boy’s huge testicles are actually a result of pressure exerted on your baby during birth, as well as by fluids trapped in tissue. Mom’s hormones, which are still circulating in their body, cause enlarged testicles in boys; in girls, they cause the labia to swell. This will subside over the first couple of days.

Flaky skin: In the womb, baby’s skin was protected by a coating of white, waxy material called vernix. After birth and exposure to air, the vernix is rubbed away, the upper layer of his skin dries out and begins to peel. Your baby’s entire body may peel (although it’s most noticeable on the hands and feet).  The flaking usually lasts one to two weeks, and there’s no need to break out the moisturizers or exfoliaters, either. It will go away on its own.  Another condition, called Seborrheic dermatitis, or cradle cap, can also cause scaly, flaking skin on your baby’s eyebrows, behind her ears, and on her neck. Again, no treatment is necessary, it will clear up by itself.

Cone head: If your newborn’s head looks a little odd, that’s because he probably spent hours wedged in your pelvis. Openings in the skull allow it to mold its shape to fit through the birth canal, which protects against fractures or brain injury during a vaginal delivery.

Hairy little beast! Some infants have fine hair, called lanugo, covering their bodies. Not to worry, this will fall off within the first few weeks.

Splish Splash: Babies skincare is simple. Rinsing baby with warm water and, at most, a mild baby soap, is all that’s needed. Baby cremes, powders, and moisturizers are usually not necessary, unless baby’s skin seems dry.

Diaper Doody: At birth, your newborn will excrete meconium, a dark and sticky substance that looks weird but is totally normal. After the first week, her poop will change in color and consistency. If you are breastfeeding, it will be yellow, seedy, and runny. Formula-fed babies have stools that are tan-colored and soft.

Diaper Rash: A universal condition, is best prevented by changing diapers regularly, and espeically promptly if baby is dirty. Diaper rash creams (for example: Desitin, Balmex, A&D, Aveeno, Baby Aquaphor, Triple Paste, and creams from Huggies and Gerber) can cure most rashes. More info on other types of rashes by clicking here.

Blood or discharge in the diaper: Maternal hormones again! Don’t worry if you see a small smudge of blood or bit of staining on your baby girl’s diaper in the first weeks of life. clear or whitish discharge is also normal at first. Bright red blood, however, is unusual and warrants medical attention.

Cold Feet: If your baby’s hands and feet look chilly, pale, and purple, don’t just assume she’s cold. Baby’s circulatory system is still developing, and his hands and feet are the last body parts to get a good blood supply. A good rule of thumb is to keep a newborn wrapped in one extra layer than you would be comfortable in.

Umbilical cord: After birth, the umbilical cord is cut and clamped. The remaining stump dries up, looks black and ugly, and falls off usually between 1 and 3 weeks. Baby should be sponge-bathed until it falls off, and the stump should kept clean and dry. Some doctors will tell you to clean it with alcohol, while others think this is unecessary and only causes the umbilical cord to stay attached longer.

Baby acne: This unexpected skin spoiler typically erupts in the first few days to weeks of life, and is a result of mother’s estrogen which is still circulating in the baby’s body. Another skin condition called milia, tiny white pimples on the face, is caused by blocked oil glands. Baby acne and milia will disapear on their own after a few weeks. Erythema toxicum, small white or yellowish bumps surrounded by red, blotchy skin, is usually seen in babies under 10 days old, and generally lasts only 3-5 days.  No treatment is necessary.

Blister on lip: Vigorous sucking on a bottle or breast may cause a nursing tubercle or blister, which doesn’t bother baby and may actually make grasping the nipple easier. The callus will disappear on its own.

Oral rash: If you find small, white bumps on the roof of baby’s mouth, don’t stress — they’re harmless cysts, known as Epstein’s pearls, that will disappear as your baby gets older. However, if you spot big, blotchy white areas in your child’s mouth or tongue, this could be thrush, and you should see a doctor for treatment.

Seeing red: You may see small, red hemorrhages on the whites of the eyes from tiny blood vessels rupturing during delivery. These red marks normally disappear within a few days.  And don’t worry if baby sometimes looks cross-eyed, or if his eyes occasionally wander: Newborns may not always focus their eyes together.

Hello yellow! Jaundice, which causes yellowing of the skin, occurs in 60 percent of healthy newborns. It comes from bilirubin, a pigment made by red blood cells a newborn’s immature liver can’t effectively clear away. Jaundice typically peaks between 3 and 5 days after birth and resolves by 1 week of age. You should consult a doctor to find out if any treatment is necessary.

Breathing funny! It may seem alarming, but it is actually normal for infants to take slight pauses (up to 20 seconds) and then go through periods of rapid breathing. This is part of the development of the diaphragm (the muscle that enables breathing) and neurological system. By about 6 weeks old, your baby should develop a more regular pattern of breathing.

Toes turn in: Sometimes, a newborn’s feet turn inward. This is due to the pressure of being curled up in utero. It should self-correct within a few months.

Spit up everywhere! A little dribble is one thing, but projectile spit-up that covers everything in sight is quite another.  But as long as baby seems happy and is gaining weight normally, there is nothing to worry about (except clean-up!).

Losing it! Babies typically lose about 10 percent of their body weight by day 3of life. (Breast-fed babies may lose a little more than bottle-fed ones because breast milk doesn’t usually come in until the third day postpartum.) This is because babies are sleepy from the trauma of birth, and they’d rather sleep than eat. In addition, they’re also shedding some of the fluids they were born with, which can lighten their load. But don’t panic, babies enter the world with enough fluid to get them through the first 3-5 days, whether they feed or not. By a week, they’ll have started gaining weight again.

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Baby Products to put on your Wish List

If you are doing some pre-baby shopping or putting together a registry, there are things you might not realize you need before the baby actually arrives. asked real moms which baby gear got them through those first few roller-coaster months. Here are some of their top 13 new-baby lifesavers.

Boppy Feeding & Infant Support Pillow

When you’re spending a third of your life breastfeeding, you need to be comfortable! Hunching over to feed you baby can do a number on your back, so a good nursing pillow is something you should have. A popular choice is the horseshoe-shaped Boppy Feeding & Infant Support Pillow ($24.99). Plus, as baby grows, the pillow becomes a handy baby prop for tummy time. For added style and to make washing a cinch, you can buy super-soft, personalized Pottery Barn Kids covers ($25).

Glamourmom Nursing Bra Tank

Nursing moms love Glamourmom Nursing tanks and tops ($34-$39) for many reasons. To start, it comes with a built-in nursing bra, but you totally can’t tell! Another great feature is that you can surreptitiously feed the baby without exposing your postpartum tummy. The tanks come in a variety of colors and styles, including a shorter and longer version you can belt. You can wear alone or under another shirt, and it comes with a thicker stap version for the fuller figure! One happy mom says, “It was way better than a nursing bra at minimizing both the boobs and the belly.”

Snoogle Total Body Pillow

This one’s for the pregnant girls. Instead of tossing and turning at night as you try to position your awkward figure, this body pillow will help you stay comfortable all night long. The Snoogle’s special shape was designed to support your back and belly so you can catch some zzz’s.

Kangaroo Korner Adjustable Pouches

Baby slings are the cool way to tow your baby around, and it’s no wonder: they free up your hands but keep baby close. Moms adore Kangaroo Korner’s Adjustable Pouches, ($62) which are easy to put on and get baby in and out of (no wrapping, rings, or buckles). Plus, it’s comfortable on your should and easy on the back. Choose your fabric according to the season: a cozy Polarfleece; a quick-drying, lightweight nylon athletic-knit mesh; breathable cotton; and a UV-blocking Solarveil.

Baby Bjorn Soft Bib

Baby Bjorn Soft Bib

This molded bib helps keep peas off the floor and cuts down on your laundry, too. The Baby Bjorn Soft Bib‘s extra-wide pocket ($10) catches all the mess, and you can just sponge it off or pop it in the dishwasher when you’re done.  It has another bonus feature: “When our baby is done with her dinner and has essentially cleared her plate, she goes back to review the contents of the bib,” Melisa from Austin, Texas, says. “Lost that hunk of goat cheese? Yum! There it is again.”

Diaper Dekor

The Diaper Dekor diaper pail ($29.95) is totally hands-free. You’ll be quite happy not to be stuffing, twisting, pushing, or prodding of those stinky little packages. Simply step on the pedal, drop it in the disposal, and be on with your day. It also features biodegradable refills that break down faster than plastics, and the continuous liner allows you to use as much or as little as you want before taking it out to the trash.

Zutano Fleece Booties

You’ll want to keep those little feet warm, but socks seem to mysteriously disappear every five minutes. Zutano’s cozy cotton-fleece booties have wraparound snaps so your littl darling can’t kick them off. You can get warm ones for winter and cooler cotton ones for the summer months. Zutano fleece booties cost $18 for a pair.

JJ Cole Bundle Me

Sometimes the hassle of wrestling your infant in and out of lots of layers is enough to change your mind about going out so often. But the Bundle Me ($39.95), which works with strollers and car seats, making things so much easier! You don’t have to worry about jackets, blankets, mittens, booties… Just pop baby inside, the super-cozy shearling lining will keep baby toasty, and save you precious minutes. Once indoors, just zip off the top part of the blanket to keep baby from overheating.

Miracle Blanket and Snug & Tug Swaddle Blankets

Snug & Tug swaddle blanketSwaddle blankets recreate the warm, contained feeling of being inside the womb, which calms them down and helps them sleep better.  Babies have no control over the jerky movements of their arms and legs, so if not wrapped snugly their flailing limbs tend to jerk them out of sleep. Two recommended swaddles: the aptly named Miracle Blanket ($29.95), and the Velcro-laden Snug & Tug ($34.99) swaddle

Tips for Starting Solids

When it comes to raising children, everyone has advice and opinions of their own. It’s hard to know when to heed and when to ignore. At, Sally Kuzemchak, RD, gives you the information you need to know about when it comes to starting your baby on solids. Read on to find out which tips to follow — and which you can ignore.

Start solids around 6 months. Up until then, your baby’s digestive system can’t handle anything besides breast milk or formula. You may not want to wait much longer to start, or your baby may get so accustomed to her liquid diet that she loses interest in solid foods.

Cereal in the bottle: Don’t try it unless your pediatrician advises it. Your baby doesn’t need the extra calories that it adds to formula. Plus, thickened formula can cause babies to gag or inhale the liquid into their lungs.

One at a time: Waiting 2-3 days between offering new foods makes it easier to spot allergic reactions like diarrhea, vomiting, or rashes (although most symptoms appear within four hours of eating).

Don’t give up! Don’t stop trying a new food if your baby spits it out after tasting it. Sometimes, babies need to try a food 10 times before accepting it, so offer it again several days later — or mix it with something you know he likes.

Must we eat rice cereal? Although it is often a first food because it is unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction, there’s no reason you can’t start with something else. Try unsweetened applesauce, mashed veges, or pureed chicken.

Veges first? Some people will warn you that if you start with fruits, your baby will get used to the sweet taste and refuse to eat her veges. Turns out there’s no supporting evidence for this theory, so if you want to, offer fruit first.

No vegetarians here: Research shows that babies who eat meat earlier have a higher intake of zinc and iron, nutrients important for growth. Start with pureed chicken.

Spice it up! Babies should learn to enjoy plain fruits and veggies, but nothing bad will happen if you treat her to some mildly spicy ravioli.

For more info on babies and solids, click these links:

Inspiration from Real-Life Nurseries

White Picket Fences

What’s more charming for your outdoor or garden-themed nursery than a white picket fence? Liz decorated her daughter Schuyler’s nursery with fluffy clouds, butterflies, ladybug rugs, and a colorful hot air balloon. She used pieces of vertical blinds to create the illusion of a picket fence.  She drew the design on each slat and cut them out with regular scissors. Then, she nailed the horizontal pieces to the wall in just a couple of places and used double-stick cushion tape to fasten the pickets to the horizontal rails.

Over the Top Murals

The nursery is the only room in your house that you can get away with going overboard, says Carson’s mom, Kerry.  A friend painted the spectacular three-wall mural, complete with rolling green plains, cowboys on horseback, and wild stallions. “It envelops you as you walk in the room.”  Make sure to map out exactly where all the furniture goes before you begin painting. You don’t want to accidentally cover up any of the gorgeous images!

Vintage Romance

Who said a baby’s room can’t be elegant? Amelia’s room is painted neutral tan with a soft pink ceiling. Her mom, Jennifer, accessorized with her favorite finds from antique stores, and grandma sewed the toile curtains that surround the white balloon shades.  It’s perfectly pulled together with a pink-and-white polka-dot organza dust ruffle for the crib and a matching chain sleeve for the chandelier.

Timeless Stripes

Julia wanted a nursery that her son could grow into and wouldn’t appear too babyish when he got older. Her desire for timeless decor prompted her to paint Harrison’s nursery in pale blue and cream stripes, with contrasting dark brown furniture. In order to get those stripes just perfect, Julia says you need to plan it all out in advance. First, they measured from the floor to the section of the wall where we wanted to put the chair rail and drew a line in pencil. They painted below the line brown and above the line cream. Then they measured 10 inches apart and drew the lines in pencil using a vertical laser level. After taping up each section with paint tape, they painted every other stripe light blue. She suggests removed the tape before the paint dries too much, to prevent the paint from peeling. She would also carry around a paint swatch, so she could match other items, like bedding, while out shopping.

Reuse and Recycle

Kim and her husband wanted to stray away from the traditional, feminine room, and keep it feeling up-to-date.  They created an elegant, modern nursery for baby Maya, with the chandelier wall decal as the focal point.  The best part of all is that it doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful, Kim says. Many of the items in the room are made up of repurposed furniture or home-made items. An old Philadelphia library desk now hold Maya’s stuffed animals, an old TV stand became the changing table, and they put to use a second-hand bookcase that came from Dad’s family.

Silhouettes and Painted Designs

Lori and family live in a log house, and she wanted to keep the rustic feeling. Her favorite element in Noah’s room is the tree, which she painted freehand, adding little birds on the branches to give it that extra touch.  You don’t have to be artistic to do it too! If the thought of painting freehand intimidates you, find an image from a book or magazine and project it onto the wall.  Sketch a design, or trace an image you find on to a piece of paper, and get a transparency made at a copy shop. Use an overhead projector to display it on the wall you wish to paint, moving it farther or closer to get it the right size. Trace your design using a pencil, then paint inside the lines. You can do this by renting a projector that hooks up to your laptop.

All of the photos and decorating tips in this article are from Click here to see even more Real-Life Nurseries at!

Sleep more, Loose weight!

If you want to loose that baby weight, and have any spare time between feedings and diaper changes, you’ll need to work on 3 steps to a slimmer you: Exercise, eat right, and get a good night’s sleep.

“Researchers have presented a conundrum to new mothers, saying that women who want to lose the extra weight gained in pregnancy should try to get more sleep,” according to an article at smh.  “…This study shows that getting enough sleep – even just two hours more – may be as important as a healthy diet and exercise for new mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight,” said Erica Gunderson of Kaiser Permanente, which runs hospitals and clinics in California.  Gunderson and colleagues studied 940 women taking part in a study of prenatal and postnatal health at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

This is not surprising, as studies among the general population also link adequate sleep with weight loss. The Diet Channel points to a link between sleep and the hormones that influence our eating behavior.  When you’re sleep deprived, mixed up hormone levels result is an increased craving for food, while not feeling full.

Bottom line: New mothers who sleep seven hours a night or more loose more weight. (Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.) This is easier said than done, and research is needed in a new area: How to accomplish this with a fitful newborn in the house! Be sure to wake me up when they figure that one out!

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