Archives for June 2010

Home-made Playdough: Easy, Cheap, and Fun!

My kids just love playdough, and I like it because it provides hours of wholesome entertainment.  They like rolling it, making shapes, cutting it with scissors, smearing it on the wall, even tasting it. The problem with playdough (aside from the little crumbs that seem to get everywhere) is that all too soon it’s dried out or used up, and it’s time to go out and buy more.

While buying play-doh is not terribly expensive (just a few dollars for 4 colors), it does seem slightly wasteful to keep dishing out money for something that you could so easily make at home. Besides, your kids will love making their own playdough, and creating their own colors too. Plus, if your toddler decides to take a bite of that playdough pizza you just made, the ingredients are perfectly safe (although not too tasty)!

This easy recipe is from iVillage. We tried it at home yesterday and it worked perfectly! (Our food-coloring was kind of weak, so see if you can pick up some real strong colors next time you go to the grocery store! But we do have some nice pastel-colored playdough now.)

Step 2: Color It Up

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • food coloring
  • glitter (optional)
  • Directions:
    1. Mix together the salt, flour, and water in a big bowl. The dough is ready when it has a non-sticky, firmer-than-mushy consistency.
    2. If it’s too sticky, add some flour and salt.  If its too firm, add some water.
    3. Divide the dough into as many portions as you like. Add food coloring (a few drops should be enough) and knead it in. You can use this as an opportunity to teach your kids about mixing colors (red + yellow = orange)! Mix in glitter too, if you like.
    4. Store the dough in a plastic container or sealable bag
    Have fun!!

    Morning Sickness Remedies

    My friend Diana is not having an easy time of her first trimester! She’s constantly nauseous, throwing up all the time, and over-all exhausted– the heat isn’t helping things!  Since morning sickness is caused by the hormones that support your pregnancy, she knows that feeling constantly nauseated is actually a good thing… well, her brain knows it but her stomach doesn’t!  Her personal remedy is sucking candies, my other friend Miriam relies on candied ginger. But there’s no one trick that works for everyone, so you may have to try a few different things before you find something that helps settle your stomach. Here are some foods that may help you feel a little less nauseous.

    http://arthritisfoundationwpa.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/morning-sickness.jpg

    Crackers: This is an old standby, but crackers were actually one of the things I could tolerate whenever I was hit by morning sickness.  Basically any bland, crunchy food works the same way: bread, toast, rice cakes, even potato chips (not that we recommend subsisting on potato chips throughout your first trimester).

    Soft foods: Some women find that the chewing is what triggers nausea, so try some soft, bland foods that are nutritious, gentle on the stomach, and don’t necessitate much chewing.  Applesauce, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit smoothies, etc.
    Ginger: Can be found pickled, candied, in a tea bag, or a capsule– whatever the format, ginger is a natural remedy for nausea.

    Lemons & Peppermint: Simply take a whiff  to relieve nausea. Try putting a couple drops of peppermint oil in a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. Some women also find the scent of lavender to be soothing.

    Apple cider vinegar: Try taking 2-3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (not any other kind) in warm water first thing in the morning. Apple cider vinegar is pH neutral and may help to neutralize excess stomach acid.

    Bananas in Coconut Milk: This remedy comes from iVillage:

    • 2 ripe bananas
    • 1/2 can coconut milk
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 tablespoon flaxseeds

    Directions: Peel the bananas and cut each into one-inch segments. Combine the coconut milk, water and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the sliced bananas to the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add the salt and boil for 20 minutes. Serve topped with flaxseed.

    Why it helps: The potassium in the bananas can help alleviate some of your body’s aches and pains. The coconut milk works to build body mass for your baby. The maple syrup is so much better for you than sugar, and flaxseeds are full of essential fatty acids. The flaxseeds also help with that other delightful digestive symptom of pregnancy: constipation.

    Alternative therapies: Hypnosis,  acupressure wristbands, and homeopathic remedies have  helped some women cope with nausea.

    Give in to your cravings: Satisfying food cravings during pregnancy, whether you’re hankering for pickles or a big, juicy steak, may actually be beneficial. If you have an urge to eat a particular type of food, this may be your body’s way of telling you what it needs.

    Other tips:

    • Eat small, frequent meals or snacks, so that your stomach is never empty or too full at one time.
    • Chew food well.
    • Avoid fatty, fried, and spicy foods.
    • Try eating a few whole-grain crackers before getting out of bed in the morning. Low blood sugar early in the morning may contribute to morning sickness (hence the  name). Crackers are also helpful for middle-of-the-night hunger pangs.
    • Try drinking in between meals rather than with meals. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’ve been vomiting a lot.
    • Identify your personal triggers and avoid them. This includes foods, odors, perfumes, and anything else that makes you nauseous.
    • Eat your food cold or room temperature; hot foods have a stronger aroma that may turn you off.
    • Nausea may become worse if you are tired or stressed out. So try to fit in a nap, some relaxation time, on an enjoyable activity.
    • Try taking your prenatal vitamin at night or with food. Also ask your doctor about a supplement that’s low-iron or iron-free at least during your first trimester. Iron can be hard on your digestive system.
    • Increase your intake of Vitamin B6. Ask your caretaker about dosage before taking any extra supplements.

    As always, it is wise to consult with your doctor or midwife about any dietary changes, treatments, or supplements.

    What You Can Do to Prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

    Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a scary thing for parents of babies to think about. The  name itself points to the reason it’s so frighting–  for some time it’s been a great mystery that no one knew the real answer to. SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between one month and one year of age. In the United States, around 3,000 babies die from SIDS each year.  These infants are generally healthy babies, who showed no signs of suffering, abuse, or illness. They seem to just die “peacefully” in their sleep.

    What You Can Do to Prevent SIDS

    Despite the widespread believe that SIDS is a baffling and unpredictable tragedy, there are ways you can significantly protect your baby. One thing that has been proven is that babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs.  And so the “Back to Sleep” program was born in 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) began warning parents of babies under 1 year old never to let their infants sleep on their stomachs. Since then, the rate of SIDS has dropped by over 50%.  In addition to this, Dr. Sears explains that there is a combination of many factors that lead to death: immature development of cardio-respiratory control mechanisms, defective arousability from sleep in response to breathing difficulties, medical conditions that compromise breathing, and unsafe sleeping practices.

    The main risk factors for SIDS are:

    • Prematurity or low birth-weight
    • Smoking or taking illegal drugs during pregnancy
    • Smoking around baby after birth
    • Putting baby to sleep on their stomach
    • Infants who are not breastfeeding
    • Having little or no prenatal care
    • Unsafe sleeping environment
    • Overheating from excessive sleepwear and bedding
    • There is no correlation between immunizations and SIDS.

    Therefore, parents should follow the AAP recommendations for reducing the risk of SIDS:

    • Place your baby on a firm mattress to sleep.
    • Do not put your baby to sleep on a pillow, waterbed, sheepskin, couch, chair, or other soft surface.
    • To prevent rebreathing (where the baby inhales the same air he just exhaled), do not put blankets, comforters, stuffed toys, or pillows near the baby.
    • Make sure your baby does not get too warm while sleeping. A good temperature is one where an adult would be comfortable in a short-sleeve shirt. Do not over-bundle or over-swaddle your baby.
    • Do not smoke, drink, or use drugs while pregnant and do not expose your baby to secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke doubles a baby’s risk of SIDS, while a mother who smoked during pregnancy triples the risk.
    • Receive early and regular prenatal care.
    • Make sure your baby has well-baby checkups regularly.
    • Breastfeed, if possible. There is some evidence that breastfeeding may help decrease the incidence of SIDS.
    • If your baby has GERD (reflux), be sure to follow your doctor’s guidelines on feeding and sleep positions.
    • Put your baby to sleep with a pacifier during the first year of life. If your baby rejects the pacifier, don’t force it. Pacifiers have been linked with lower risk of SIDS.

    Attachment Parenting

    Dr. Sears also advocates a style of caretaking called Attachment Parenting. In addition to many benefits for you and your baby, Attachment Parenting greatly reduces the odds of your baby succumbing to SIDS. For more information, read these worthwhile articles:

    When Stomach Sleeping is OK

    Having said all that, for some babies, it is actually recommended that they sleep on their stomachs.

    Premature babies or babies with breathing difficulties are put to sleep on their tummies, since the still partially collapsed lungs of some prematures tend to expand better when front-sleeping.

    If an infant has gastroesophageal reflux, it is also recommended that he sleep tummy down, at least for two hours after a feeding.  Some babies sleeping on their tummies also seemed to settle better and spit- up less after feeding.

    Listen to Your Baby: If your baby is just not content to sleep on his back, is it OK to put him to sleep on his stomach?  Well, because of the new research it is best to try to get baby accustomed to sleeping on her back or side. Newborn babies tend to get in the habit of sleeping the way they are first put down.  Nevertheless, Dr. Sears says that unless advised to the contrary by your doctor, it is best to let your baby sleep in a position she prefers. This means that if your baby doesn’t settle down, or stay asleep on her back or side, front sleeping is fine.  Newborn babies DO tend to prefer their tummies. “If a baby repeatedly doesn’t settle in a certain sleeping position, this may be a clue that this position may not be the safest for this individual baby. This is just one example of how babies often try to tell us what is in their best interest. Parents should not be afraid to listen.”

    Just be sure to follow all the safety precautions listed above, such as placing baby on a firm mattress, not overheating the room, etc.

    Another Possible Cause of SIDS

    Sleep position may be important, but there is some evidence that SIDS may be related to the fire retardants in the baby’s mattress.  The reason this may be a culprit in SIDS is that an ordinarily harmless fungus (Scopulariopsis brevicaulis) consumes the chemicals used in the plasticized mattress cover. Baby’s drool, vomit, urine, and perspiration, combined with body heat, enable the fungus to grow rapidly.  When this occurs, neurotoxic gases are emitted. If baby breathes a significant amount of these odorless gases for a prolonged time, the central nervous system can shut down, causing death.

    Using a mattress pad that is NOT made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) would eliminate this tragedy.  For more information, read Is sleep position really important in SIDS? Also, read about mattress wrapping, which means wrapping baby’s mattress in a polyethylene cover, to prevent your infant from breathing the gases. You can also look into an organic crib mattress, made from all-natural fibers which have not be treated with flame-retarding chemicals.

    Feature image from Delio: Organic Bedding for Baby

    Sales on Stylish, Sensible Nursing Cover-ups

    Whether or not it’s OK to nurse in public seems to be debatable for some people, but I see nothing wrong with it– as long as you are covered up. Moms with nursing babies need to get out of the house, too, and when you are your baby’s sole source of food, you simply don’t have a choice NOT to breastfeed when the need arises.

    I also don’t think Mom’s should have to duck into the nearest bathroom when baby gets hungry. Besides for the fact that it’s just plain yucky and often uncomfortable, the fact is that sometimes a private spot is just not available! So that’s why you may want to invest in a snazzy little cover-up to give you a bit of privacy when you’re nursing on the go.  It will even come in handy at home, when you have company and don’t want to miss any of the action!

    Udder Covers

    Great for the stylish cow–I mean woman!
    Rigid neckline gives you direct eye contact with baby.
    Made of 100% breathable cotton.
    Stainless steel d-rings allow fully adjustable neckline.
    Machine washable.

    YOU CAN GET ONE FREE (just pay shipping) if you enter the code “BACKORDER” when ordering! I don’t know how long this will last, so if you want one, grab it now!

    Get yours at uddercovers.com

    Under Wraps Nursing Poncho

    This is a great thing if you want all-around coverage!

    • Uniquely designed to be worn during pregnancy, while breastfeeding or just because.
    • Wear it while nursing or even as a fashion piece.
    • Neck line design allows mom to latch baby easily without exposing anything!

    Get yours here for $39.99.

    Under Wraps Nursing Poncho ™ by Victoria Laurin  & Baby-Breastfeeding, nursing cover, nursing wrap, nursing cover  up

    Hooter Hiders

    If the name alone is not enough to make you want one, maybe the buy-one-get-one-free offer will (good until June 28)!

    Hooter Hiders Logo

    Head Rush Nursing Covers

    Breastfeeding in public can now be a pleasant experience with these lightweight, cotton, nursing cover. Plus, you get $10 off their Spring Styles!

    • Complete 360-degree coverage
    • Front pockets for pacifiers, nursing pads, etc.
    • Lace panel in front for ventilation and eye contact.
    • Burp cloth and drawstring bag included.
    • Can be used as a stroller canopy and baby blanket!
    • 100% cotton and machine washable.

    Hot Pink Nursing Cover Blue and Pink Flowers Nursing Cover Black  Nursing Cover Light Brown With Flowers Nursing Cover

    A Glass of Wine for Better Behaved Kids?

    A study published last month from BJOG (an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology) reported a link between women who drank moderately in the early months of pregnancy, and the behavior of their children years later. And what do you think they found? Well, they discovered that women who had 2-6 drinks per week early in their pregnancy tended to have children with more positive behavior than women who didn’t drink at all.

    How’d they come up with that? And does it mean anything?

    They enlisted 2900 women to provide data at 18 and 34 weeks of gestation on weekly alcohol intake: no drinking, occasional drinking (up to one standard drink per week), light drinking (2–6 standard drinks per week), moderate drinking (7–10 standard drinks per week), and heavy drinking (11 or more standard drinks per week).

    Then, their children were followed up at ages 2, 5, 8, 10 and 14 years, using a standard checklist to measure behavior.

    “This positive behavior meant that the children of light and moderate drinkers had less emotional and behavioral problems through childhood and adolescence,” Dr. Monique Robinson, from Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in West Perth, Western Australia, told Reuters Health.

    If this report has you jumping out of your chair to pour yourself a glass of wine, you might want to stop and think about it for a moment. Good behavior is great, but the study addresses nothing relating to cognitive abilities or general health. It also seems to me that measuring something like “positive behavior” is incredibly subjective.

    As one eloquent commenter at iVillage said:  “Maybe they are less emotional because the brain cells are dead.”

    Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a pattern of mental and physical defects which develops in some unborn babies when the mother drinks excessive alcohol during pregnancy.  Fetal alcohol exposure is the leading known cause of mental retardation in the Western world.  The current recommendation of both the US Surgeon General and the UK Department of Health is not to drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.  (Wikipedia)

    Remember, while an occasional glass of wine may or may not have an affect on your unborn child, no amount of alcohol is proven safe for consumption during pregnancy. Sacrificing your baby’s mental and physical health for good behavior seems very silly indeed.

    Sweet Summer Sundresses for Under $30!

    It’s summer time, and it’s finally time to put away the sweaters, flannels, and corduroys. It’s the weekend, you want to get some sun, and you want to wear something breezy, pretty, and comfy… like a colorful little sundress that’s bright and airy! But if you are pregnant, you may discover one problem… you don’t have any that still fit you!

    Never fear! There are lots of them out there, and here are some of summer’s sweetest sundresses for UNDER $30!

    Old Navy: Crinkled gauze fabric, breezy style, and adjustable straps. $29.50

    Kiki’s Fashions: Lots and lots of adorable dresses, all under $50! Yellow & white print dress $28.99, Pink plaid dress $27.99
    Click here to view larger imageClick here to view larger image

    Motherhood Maternity: Soft jersey knit, smocked, spaghetti straps. $19.98
    Spaghetti Strap Smocked Maternity DressSpaghetti Strap Smocked Maternity Dress
    Old Navy: Soft gauze, crochet trim, graceful tiered hemline. $29.50

    Games to Play to Boost Baby’s Development

    Age: Birth to 3 months

    At this stage, there isn’t much your baby can do to entertain himself. But as you know, that little guy loves attention and sometimes he just seems bored! What can you do that will keep him happy and stimulated between naps, feeding, and diaper changes?

    Baby Center suggests that your best chance of doing this is to engage your baby’s senses: touch, sight (remember, your baby is still very nearsighted), smell, and hearing. If your newborn doesn’t seem to respond much, be patient. Keep trying, or wait until he seems more alert and responsive.

    Here are some fun games to try!

    Mother with Laughing Baby

    Shall we Dance?
    Close the curtains so the neighbors won’t see! Then put on some music, grab the baby (or put him in a sling) and start dancing! For a newborn you may want to start off with some gentle swaying and gliding, but as he gets bigger he’ll get a kick out of bouncing around and being swung through the air. (Just don’t shake the baby!) If your arms get tired, put baby down we he can see you and keep dancing!

    Baby Center Tip: Silly exaggerated movements like jazz hands or shaking your butt are particularly funny to babies.

    What does THAT do?

    Gather up some interesting objects and take a seat next to your baby. Show them what it is, how it feels, what it does, what sounds it makes, etc. You can show them books too, but at this age they’re not really going to “get it.”

    Baby Center Tip: Any object in the house that won’t poison, electrocute, or otherwise hurt him is fair game. Babies love egg beaters, spoons, wire whisks, spatulas, books and magazines with pictures, bottles of shampoo or conditioner (don’t leave your baby alone with these!), record albums, colorful fabrics or clothes, fruits and vegetables, and so on.

    Empty the Closet
    The time will come when it’s the baby emptying your closet, but for now, you decide what comes out for show-and-tell!  Your baby will enjoy seeing and feeling all the bright, slinky, soft, or fuzzy clothing.  Run silky fabrics over his face and hands, or lay something  woolly down on the floor and put him on top of it to explore.

    Baby Center Tip: In a few months, your baby will want to run his hands over anything beaded, embroidered, or otherwise embellished. But for now, he may just be content to gaze in wonder.

    Oooh, look at That!
    The simplest stuff around your house can keep your baby happy for hours. Here are three ideas to start you off:

    • Make a mobile by tying ribbons, fabric, or other interesting streamers onto a hanger and dangle them gently in front of your baby’s face.
    • Take a floaty scarf and fling it into the air, letting it settle on your baby’s head.
    • Take an elastic string and tie a toy to the end of it. Bound it up and down saying “Boing, boing!”

    Baby Center Tip: Remember, never leave your baby alone with strings or ribbons that could encircle his neck or that he could get into his mouth.

    The Diva Within
    Baby’s love to hear their mommy’s (or daddy’s) voice. Even as a newborn, you may see your baby calm down when you speak, sing, or coo. Your baby may like anything you sing, but there are some classics you should get to know, like “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and songs with hand movements — “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” and “Patty-Cake,” to name a few.  Songs with silly sounds or animal noises in them are fun too, like “Old McDoanld Had a Farm,” “Witch Doctor,” or “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” (If you don’t remember the words to these song, try an Internet search. )

    Try singing a song in different voices and pitches, use a hand puppet, anything that seems to amuse your baby. You can eve make up your own songs!

    Baby Center Tip: You may have a terrible voice — but your kid doesn’t know it! Now’s the time to sing at volume 10, so set free that opera voice inside you.

    Have fun!

    feature image from She Knows

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