Archives for October 2009

12 Unbelievably Easy DIY Halloween Costumes

ivillage has some ridiculously cute, unbelievably easy  Halloween costumes that you can make for your little one in just one evening!  If you are feeling the pinch this Halloween season, skip the pricey costumes and get creative with what you already have!
Tiger Lily
Peter Pan’s best friend

Start with: Brown leotard, sweatsuit, or a light-colored shirt and brown leggings.

Add on: Cut out head and arm holes from a brown pillowcase, and then, add colorful rick rack trim along the bottom edge using a glue gun. Belt the pillowcase with a piece of twine or red fabric. Take a brown, cotton headband and glue on red craft feathers for the perfect Native American princess headdress.

Moving boxes and aluminum foil are all you need!

// –> Robot 

Start with: Monochromatic leotard or close-fitting, gray sweatsuit

Add on: Attach shoulder straps to a box using two pieces of string and then wrap the box in aluminum foil. Continue molding the foil around your kid’s arms, legs and upper chest until his clothes are covered. For the robot’s hat, cut a face hole into a small box, then place a paper plate on the top and cover it entirely with foil. Make a couple aluminum antennae and glue them onto the hat.

Lady Bug
A sweet, spotted critter for your darling little love bug!

Start with: Red leotard and black leggings or tights

Add on: Use fabric paint to paint wings with black spots. Then glue black pompoms to the ends of two thick, black pipe cleaners and fasten them to a red headband for the homemade version of antennae.

Caveman Cool
A simple costume; no sewing required!

Start with: Brown leotard with leggings or a sweatsuit

Add on: Purchase a furry brown bathroom mat and cut a hole in the center. Place it over your kid’s head and belt it with a strip of animal-print fabric or twine.

For the junior dog-lover.

Start with: White leotard with leggings or tights or a sweatsuit

Add on: Paint black patches on the tights and the leotard using black fabric paint. Then cut rounded doggy ears from white felt and secure to the hooded shirt or white hat. For the collar, cut a strip of red felt and a circle from yellow felt for the nametag. Write your kid’s name on the circle, glue it to the shirt’s collar and tie it around your kid’s neck (not too tight!).

Your old white sheets have found a purpose!

Start with: White leotard or close-fitting white sweatsuit

Add on: Rip old white sheets into strips and wrap them haphazardly around your kid. Some white face makeup with dark eye circles, and some stiff-legged walking, will complete the look.

Check out ivillage for even more inexpensive, DIY costume ideas!

Creating Vege-loving Babies

Does eating lots of veges during pregnancy help your child acquire a taste for healthy foods? According to Stanford University pediatrician Alan Greene, author of Feeding Baby Green, you can begin to shape a child’s palate even in the womb.

This USA Today article maintains that “babies actually have more taste buds before birth than at any other time of life. They can detect subtle flavors from their mothers’ diet through their amniotic fluid… One study showed that babies of women who drank carrot juice while pregnant were more likely than others to enjoy carrots when they were 6 months old.” (I assume they are referring to pureed carrots!)

While this is definitely something to keep in mind, I think the second part of the article is more important when in comes to training your kids to enjoy fruits and veges. We’re talking about what you feed your kids after they are born.  Apparently, infants are surprisingly adventurous when it comes to trying new food, particularly from the age of 6 to 13 months. During this time, they can learn to like almost anything, but unfortunately few parents make the most of this crucial window.

The trick is not to give up after you’ve been refused once or twice. You may have to try offering the same food 6-10 times before baby will accept it.

One new study of kids under age 4 shows that nearly a third eat no vegetables a day.  (I would be shocked at that figure if I didn’t have a 4 year old of my own.) Introducing new flavors and textures gets harder as kids grow (I know that’s true! Ican see a clear difference in my almost-2-year old’s eating habits and my aforementioned 4-year-old).  After age 2 or 2½, when food preferences solidify, it could take 90 attempts to get a child to like something new– and who has the patience and perseverance for that!

So if you don’t want to end up with a bunch of picky eaters who prefer to fill up on fast foods instead of wholesome home-cooked meals, you need to act fast while there’s still time. Giving your little ones candy and potato chips may prevent him from appreciating the more subtle flavors in healthy foods.

Here are a few tips offered, to help induce your young children to eat fresh fruits, veges, and other nutritious foods:

  • Prepare homemade baby food with a food grinder, which is far cheaper than buying jarred foods, and tastes more like the “real” food eaten by adults.
  • Children are more willing to try something if they’ve had a hand in preparing it.  Tending a garden or helping in the kitchen may excite your kids enough to eat the foods they’re working with. (The only times I’ve seen my 4-year old voluntarily eating cherry tomatoes is when she’s picked them from our neighbor’s garden. I need to start planting!)
  • Take children to a farmers markets, letting them hold lumpy sweet potatoes and smell ripe peaches. Getting to know their produce is the first step in becoming friends!
  • Don’t use sweets and dessert as a prize, especially as a reward for finishing healthier foods.
  • Dish out kid-sized portions, not intimidating mounds. For a 1-year-old, a single serving is just two to three broccoli florets or one skinny stalk of asparagus.
  • Blend vegetables, such as pureed eggplant or peppers, into spaghetti sauce. Add shredded vegetables, apples or other fruit to meatloaf and meatballs.  Sneak vegetables into soups, lasagna and even desserts, such as carrot cake, pumpkin bread or even spinach brownies.
  • Avoid juice. Train your kids to drink water when they are thirsty.
  • Keep junk food out of the house, or at least out of sight. Limit TV, with its endless commercials for junk food.

Read the full article here (plus more helpful tips) at USA Today.

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5 Star-Style Pregnancy Tips

It’s easier to stay in style during pregnancy than you might think!  From using pieces to already have, to accessorizing, to playing up your best features, In Style has some great tips for you!

1. Shop Your Closet

Raid your existing wardrobe for pieces that can fit your new shape. Open cardigans, long stretchy tunics and tees will continue to work, at least in the beginning. Tent and empire-waist dresses are natural transition pieces too.

2. Don’t Give Your Belts

Give shape to roomy pieces with a simple cinch. Transform a voluminous tent dress by adding a stylish belt above the tummy. “A belt below the belly also works well with fun tunics and long tees,” says Soloman. Just don’t go too tight!

3. Keep Your Edge

Hip mamas don’t need to ditch their style while expecting. You can still show off your figure, accenting legs, cleavage, or whatever else is making you feel sexy these days. “Super-skinny jeans, layered tees and a blazer contribute to an edgier look,” says Soloman.

4. Balance Your Belly With Statement Jewelry

“Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize,” says Soloman. “Jewelry always draws attention away from the over-sized bump and onto the neck and face.”

5. Find the Perfect Pair of Jeans

Pairing jeans with a flowing top is an easy silhouette that always works. When choosing maternity denim, says Soloman, “Comfort is key, make sure you have enough hip space.” Although the elastic panel at the waist will grow with you, it’s best to wait until your second trimester before investing in a pair, since denim has less stretch then most other fabrics.
Visit InStyle for more tips, including pictures of the stars wearing these styles!

Treating Asthma during Pregnancy

The fetus in your uterus depends on the air you breathe for its oxygen. When you have an asthma attack, the fetus may not get enough oxygen, which can put the fetus in great danger.

For this reason, if you are on a treatment regimen for chronic asthma that has been working for you, do not stop or change your medication before checking with your doctor. Having an asthmatic attack may be more harmful to your baby than the rare chance of the medication harming your baby. Women with asthma that is uncontrolled are more likely to have complications during pregnancy, including preterm (premature) births, underweight babies, and more lenghthly hospitalization after birth. In rare cases, the fetus can even die from oxygen deprivation.

The important thing to remember is that your asthma can be controlled during pregnancy. When you do, your chances or having a normal, healthy pregnancy and deliver are just as great as someone without asthma!

Asthma Medication during Pregnancy

Here is a list of common asthma treatments, and what is safe and unsafe during pregnancy (from Dr. Sears):

Albuterol, the mainstay of asthma treatment, is the most common medication used in pocket inhalers and home nebulizers. Because albuterol can elevate the heart rate in mother and baby, raise maternal blood pressure, and cause changes in maternal and fetal blood sugar, it must be used exactly as prescribed by the physician. Even though albuterol is generally considered safe during pregnancy and is an example of a medication where the benefits usually outweigh the risks, it still is in the “yellow light” category, meaning it needs to be used with caution.

Cromolyn is in the “green- light,” safe category as a maintenance medication for chronic asthma.

Epinephrine-containing products should be avoided unless recommended by your doctor; they are usually used only in severe asthmatic attacks.

Inhaled steroids are considered safe for treating asthma as long as they are used under a physician’s close supervision and in the dosage and frequency advised by the doctor.

For a more comprehensive list, visit this page at

Avoiding Triggers

The best way to treat asthma is to avoid having an attack in the first place. Avoid exposure to your asthma triggers. This might improve your symptoms and reduce the amount of medication you have to take.

  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking can harm you and your fetus. Avoid secondhand smoke, which can also cause asthma and other health problems in your children.
  • If you have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (for example, heartburn), avoid eating large meals or lying down after eating.
  • Stay away from people who have a cold, the flu, or other infection.
  • Remove contaminants and irritants from your home.
  • Avoid your known personal triggers such as cat dander, exercise, perfumes, dust, food allergies, etc.

feature image from Public Health Solutions

How much to Pay the Babysitter

I remember the days of walking with my own two feet to my babysitting jobs, trying to maintain control over 4 or 5 energetic kids, and walking back home with $5/hour for all my labors. But of course, times have changed and so have babysitter rates. offers some guidelines for paying your sitter and keeping her happy so she’ll keep coming back!

Figuring Hourly Rates:

1. The first rule is to consider your location: The national average is $9-$12, but in the big cities like New York City you can expect to pay up to $15/hour… and in rural Wisconsin it may be as low as $5/hour.

2. High schooler vs. College Students: A high school student makes less than a college student (usually around $9-$10/hour). This is becuase a college student is usually more mature, more likely to drive, and more likely familiar with CPR. They may have more babysitting experience too.  So if you hire an older sitter, be prepared to pay a couple dollars more.

3. Factor in the number of kids: Babysitting is a challening job (I know, I used to babysit a lot before I had my own) and it gets tougher the more kids you throw in there. If you have more than 2 kids, you should add $1-$2/hour per kid.

4. Holidays and other hot dates: If you want a sitter for New Year’s Eve or Valentines Day, you’ll need to raise your rates if you want to snag a sitter. Or you can add a nice bonus to her regular pay.

5. Being considerate goes a long way toward earning your sitter’s loyalty. If she is driving, you may want to cover her gas money. Make sure she has a parking spot, too, and walk her to ther car if you live in a big city. 

 6. Overnight and Vacation jobs require slightly different rules. You should probably work out a daily fee instead of an hourly one.  $100 – $170 is typical for a vacation.

7. Talk about it: The best option is to talk to those in the know to feel out what is expected in your area. You can also ask your sitter what she charges per hour, and if you can settle on a price that makes both of you happy, you’re all set!

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