Archives for July 2010

Raising a Successful Child: Deonte Bridges’ Mother Speaks

You may have heard about Deonte Bridges’ life story or watched his moving and inspiring valedictorian speech that’s been circulating around the web (if not, see below, it’s worth the 5 minutes!).  Growing up as an African American in a neighborhood surrounded by drugs, guns and violence, he experienced one challenge after another, including being robbed at gunpoint, his mother’s diagnosis of leukemia, and the death of a brother.

But he rose above it all, and in his speech expressed his gratitude to God and his family, and payed tribute to his own inner strength, values, and drive to succeed: “to do what is necessary… not popular.”

So what’s the secret of his success?  How did he rise above temptation, trial, and tragedy to become the first male, African American valedictorian of Booker T. Washington High, in over a decade?

Mom Logic went straight to the source: his proud mother, Paris Hardaway.  When asked what advice she would give to other moms, this is what she said:

“I would tell them to continue to support and love their kids. Let them know that if nobody else has their back, you do. Encourage them in any way, form or fashion. Say good things to them no matter what the outside world says. Every day is a fight, so stay in the fight and focus on goals and dreams. You’re there with them and you want them to see they can accomplish all they desire to do.”

I don’t know if people reading this realize how very wise she is, but I’m awed by her words- so simple and yet so powerful. What I hear her saying is that in order for a child to succeed, he needs to know he is capable of success. He needs to know that someone believes in him, and only then can he believe in himself. We as parents should always remember that it is we who build our children’s self esteem and give them confidence to succeed in life.

We salute Ms. Hardaway, and wish her son Deonte success in every way!

Watch Deonte’s powerful valedictorian speech:

Things No One Told You About Having a Baby

There are a lot of things you DO know about having a baby. You will be tired. You will struggle to loose your baby weight. You will change lots of diapers and walk around with spit-up on your shoulder. You will love your baby more than anything else in the whole world. But there are some things that may come as a complete shock and no one has thought to prepare you for it!

That’s where we, oh-so-graciously, come in, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!  Remember, parenthood is not for the faint of heart, but it will completely change your life for the better. Adapted from iVillage’s 13 Things No One Told You About Having a Baby.

The world is suddenly a Scary Place to bring up children

Second-hand smoke, deadly chemicals in your baby shampoo, vaccines that may cause autism, BPA-leaching baby bottles, lead in teething toys, and germs lurking everywhere. It may seem completely overwhelming and terrifying at first. But eventually you realize that you can’t protect your child from everything… and what doesn’t kill ’em will just make ’em stronger!

You are no longer the star of the show

When you were single, you were the life of the party. On your wedding day, you were the most beautiful woman in the world. When you were pregnant, complete strangers gave up their seats for you and asked how you’re feeling. But when you have a baby, people will look right through you and focus ALL attention on that red-faced, dribbling, sweet little thing and barely notice that you’re there. And you know what? You won’t care a single bit!

You Will Never Look the Same in a Bathing Suit

No one escapes pregnancy unscathed. You will have one or more of the following, even if you manage to loose all your baby weight: stretch marks, a wider derriere, spider veins, sagging breasts (after you stop breastfeeding) a squishy tummy, or at best, a small paunch.  The consolation is that precious bundle of joy that somehow makes it all worthwhile… OK, not all the time. Some advice: Throw the bikini in away and buy a cute one-piece. Because even with the stretch marks, you are beautiful.

You will feel intense jealousy of the “Perfect Moms” out there

Before you have a baby it’s easy to imagine that you will be the Perfect Mom. Then comes the reality check. The real Perfect Mom always look put-together (not a trace of spit up or sweaty hair), their babies never cry, and they have time for yoga class and dinner out with the hubby.  Perfect Mom is out-and-about with all the latest and greatest baby products, shops at the organic farmer’s market, and has lost all her baby weight. Luckily for all of us, Perfect Mom is a myth.  She too has her bad days. And, believe it or not, there might be other moms out there looking at you with envious disgust.

Breastfeeding is the one of the Hardest Things you will ever try to Master

For something that’s supposed to come naturally, breastfeeding can be full of heartache. There are problems latching on, sore, bleeding nipples, blocked ducts and breast infections, not to mention the complete failure you’ll feel like if you can’t feed your own child naturally. Getting a good lactation consultant is key for some, others can get the hang of it with some help from a Google search (I did!). And if you need to bottle feed for any reason, remember that the ability to nurse your baby is not the one and only measure of being a good mom!

You Will Never Leave the House On Time

As a rule, your baby will either spit up all over his– and probably your– outfit or have a poop explosion just as you are walking out the door. Or you will suddenly remember that you haven’t fed him yet. Or you will finally be off on your way only to realize that you left the diaper bag at home. Babies are notorious for messing with your schedule, and you’ll learn that it will take all morning to prepare yourself for an outing. And even then, you may still be late.

People Will Ask if You Need Help—And it will be Hard to Say “YES!”

If you are like me, you absolutely hate to ask others to do anything for you. For one thing, you don’t want to put them out of their way. And for another, well let’s face it, no one is quite as competent as you are.  But now is the time to adjust your thinking and let others step it.  Your friends and loved ones will feel good helping, and you do need the assistance (and a nap). You may be worried that they don’t know the first thing about burping babies or putting them down for a nap, but I assure you, they’ll manage just fine!

You Will Crave the Luxury of Being Alone

You love your baby and your husband more than anything. You feel so blessed to have them in your life. And you are so sick of both of them! This is one more reason why you need to say “Yes” when your sister offers to take baby to the park. This is why your showers are twice as long as they used to be, since Daddy has no choice but to take care of the baby. Finding a little bit of time alone is key to your sanity. Chances are you won’t be going to the theater or getting luxurious massages, but even half an hour to sip a latte and read a book will be refreshing.

Don’t Eat These Foods if you’re Pregnant!

Everything you eat and drink while you’re expecting influences your baby’s health.  Good choices are whole grains, lean meats, lots of fresh fruits and veges, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. As for the rest… well some foods are questionable, some are OK in moderation, and some are all-out no-no’s.

Here’s some “food for thought:” consider these guidelines before indulging in every pregnancy craving:

Raw or Undercooked Animal Products

These foods may contain an array of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.  When cooking meat, chicken, and fish, it’s recommended to test the doneness with a food thermometer, cook eggs until they are no longer runny, and don’t eat raw dough. Here are some other things to watch out for:

  • rare meat
  • raw oysters
  • clams
  • sushi
  • unpasteurized eggs
  • raw cookie or cake dough
  • homemade eggnog

Hot Dogs, Cold Cuts, & Unpasteurized Dairy Foods

These foods are prone to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other serious health problems. These include food such as:

  • hot dogs and
  • luncheon meats (deli ham or turkey, bologna, salami, etc)
  • refrigerated pates or meat spreads
  • refrigerated smoked seafood (such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel)– may be labeled “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.”
  • raw milk and unpasteurized dairy products such as Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco, and queso Panela.

It’s safe to eat smoked seafood, lunch meants, and franks, when it’s part of a cooked dish (like in a casserole) or if you reheat them until they are steaming hot. Always wash your hands, utensils, and cooking surfaces after handling raw meats, deli meats, etc.

Certain Seafood and Fish

Some large fish harbor high concentrations of mercury, a byproduct of coal-burning plants that interferes with the normal development of a child’s brain and nervous system.

  • Fish to avoid: swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel
  • Fish to eat in moderation (up to 12 ounces weekly, according to the FDA):  salmon (farmed and wild), shrimp, canned light tuna, pollock, sardines, tilapia, and catfish.
  • albacore (white) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. Limit to 6 ounces a week.
  • Fish caught for sport in rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams may also contain industrial pollutants that play havoc with a developing nervous system. Check the safety with your local health departments.

Raw Vegetable Sprouts

The FDA advises pregnant women not to eat raw sprouts — including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts.   Bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella can get into sprout seeds, posing a danger for a weaker immune system. Cooked sprouts are perfectly fine.

Drinks to Limit or Avoid

  • Alcohol (beer, wine, or spirits) robs developing cells of oxygen and nutrients, preventing normal fetal development. The effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome on intellectual abilities and physical growth are permanent. While some assume the motto “Everything in moderation,” there is no known “safe level” of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
  • Unpasteurized juices, such as cider from neighborhood farms. These products may contain germs including E. coli.
  • Lead in tap water is linked to low birth weight, preterm delivery, and developmental delays in children. If you have an older home with lead pipes, it can leach into your tap water, and home filtration systems may not prevent it from reaching you.
  • Caffeine from coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy beverages, and other sources may increase the risk of miscarriage, reduced birth weight, and stillbirth, but the research is conflicting. The March of Dimes recommends limiting caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams a day. That’s about the amount found in 12 ounces of coffee.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is an industrial chemical used to make many hard plastics and the liners of many canned foods. It’s an endocrine disruptor that could disturb normal fetal development.

The FDA has not yet recommended that pregnant women avoid BPA, but they did express concern about “the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children.”

If you wish to be safe, a wide range of BPA-free plastics and glass containers are available.

Herbal Teas, Vitamins, & Supplements

There are herbs and other supplements that can be used safely to support a healthy pregnancy, but always talk to your doctor or midwife about any supplement use during pregnancy.  Herbal teas are caffeine-free, but there are definite studies on the safety of herbal preparations during pregnancy.

Duffy MacKay, ND, is the vice president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, suggests the following guidelines during pregnancy:

  • Herbs that contain stimulants or caffeine-containing supplements, especially those that are intended to promote weight loss: guarana, kola nut, betel (Piper betle), Citrum aurantium, yohimbe, theobromine (cocoa extract), Garcinai cambogia.
  • Other botanicals to avoid include golden seal, Cascara sagrada, black walnut, wormwood, tansy, pennyroyal, senna, saw palmetto, pao d’arco.
  • Do not exceed 10,000 or more IU per day of vitamin A because of the risk of birth defects.  MacKay adds that “many newer and specialty nutrients have not been proven safe for use during pregnancy and should be avoided.”

Foods That May Cause Food Allergy

Your baby is more lifely to develop food allergies if you, your child’s father, or one of your other children has allergies.  The American Academy of Pediatrics  says that avoiding certain food allergens (such as peanuts) during pregnancy and nursing may reduce allergy in susceptible children.

If you don’t have any family history of allergies, there is little, if any, benefit to avoiding allergens during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Before changing your diet, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who is knowledgeable about food allergies.

Excess Calories

Eating for two does not mean that you need twice the calories! Gaining too much weight is not just bad for your health, it may actually increase the risk of your future child being overweight.

It is important to chose healthy foods that will provide good nutrition for you and your developing baby. If you are overweight at conception or if your physical activity level declines, you may not need as many extra calories.

  • First trimester: no need to add extra calories yet.
  • Second trimester: add 340 calories a day to your pre-pregnancy calorie needs.
  • Third trimester: add 450 calories a day to your pre-pregnancy calorie needs.

It’s usually not that important to count calories, as long as you are eating a balanced diet and feel energized. If you are unsure about how many calories to consume, ask your doctor or dietitian.

Source: Web MD

feature image: mom logic

10 Reasons Babies Cry

There are many reasons your baby cries. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what it is, and you conclude that she’s just “crying for no reason!” But we believe that happy, content, comfortable babies just don’t cry, so if she’s bawling– or even just whimpering– there’s usually a good reason.

Here’s a checklist to help you figure out what it could be:

1. Hungry

When my husband is holding a fussy baby, it’s the first thing he thinks of! “Here honey, he must be hungry!” Well, sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t, but it’s good to recognize the signs of hunger so can feed your baby before the crying stage.

In newborns, watch for fussing, smacking of lips, rooting (a newborn reflex that causes babies to turn toward your hand when you stroke their cheek), and putting  their hands to their mouth.

I find that a good rule is to feed my baby every time he wakes up from a nap. This way, the next time he starts fussing, I know it’s because he’s tired (usually) and ready for a nap– not hungry. Trying to feed a baby when there’s something else bothering him is usually futile and ends up frustrating you and baby!

2. Dirty diaper

It’s funny, but some babies really can’t stand being dirty– or even wet. My babies are like that. Then there are others who just don’t seem to mind at all.  Either way, this problem is easy to check and fix!

3. Tired

Have you ever wondered why babies just don’t go to sleep on their own? After all, we’d give anything to be able to stop, drop, and nap any time we felt sleepy!  Instead, babies tend to fuss and cry when they get tired, and it just gets worse the more over-tired they get. Try to catch your baby at the first yawn and do whatever it is you do (rock, pat, sing) to get her to sleep.

4. Needs to burp

You don’t have to burp baby after every feeding, but it might be a good idea. Sometimes, a good burp is all he needs. Babies swallow air when they breastfeed or suck from a bottle, especially if they aren’t feeding peacefully for some reason. And we all know that having air in our tummies is not a pleasant feeling!

5. Wants attention

You fed, burped, and changed your baby’s diaper. It’s not nap time yet. So why is he fussing?  He wants some attention, of course! Babies get bored too, and need stimulation, talking to, and cuddling. They like to see your face, hear your voice, and just be held close.

There is no such thing as “spoiling” your baby, or holding him “too much.” Babies thrive on love and being close to their parents. But if your arms need a break (and you need to get the housework done), try wearing your baby in a carrier or sling.

6. Tummy-ache & Colic

If your baby is crying a lot, tummy troubles associated with gas might be the problem.  Babycenter defines colic as inconsolable crying for at least three hours a day, at least three days a week, at least three weeks in a row. For colic help, read more than 20 strategies for soothing a colicky baby.

Even if your baby isn’t colicky, an occasional bout of gas pain can make him miserable. If you think that may be the culprit, try putting him on his back, and pressing his legs up toward his tummy; or move his legs in a gentle bicycling motion.

7. Too hot or cold

Newborns like to be warm and cozy — but not too warm. The basic rule is, a small baby is comfortable wearing one more layer than you would need to be comfortable. To test if your baby is too hot, feel the back of his neck, under his clothes. If he feels overheated and sweaty, you need to remove a layer!

If baby is too cold, that might make him fussy as well. A draft or a cold wipe to the bottom might tick him off!

8. Something Hurts

There are all sorts of other “little” discomforts your baby might be enduring. The infamous hair wrapped around a tiny toe or finger might be cutting off circulation– not comfortable! Some babies are extra sensitive to things like scratchy fabric or clothing tags.

Then again, baby might be teething!  To check if that’s the reason for the crying,  try feeling his gums with your finger. On average, the first tooth breaks through between 4 and 7 months, but it can happen earlier. Find out more about teething and how to ease the pain.

9. Too much stimulation

Babies learn a lot from the world around them, but if there’s too much going on for too long, they may have a hard time processing it all.  If  the commotion, the noise, the blur of faces is too overwhelming, baby may have a meltdown.  See if you can retreat to a quieter spot and try soothing him until he’s calm again (most likely a nap is in order, too)!

10. Not feeling well

If your baby is sick, you may notice that his “sick cry” is distinct from his “normal” crying. If your baby’s crying “just doesn’t sound right,” trust your instincts and call or see a doctor.  He could be coming down with something. You may want to check his temperature  and be alert for other signs of illness.

feature image from Ed2010

Transforming Baby’s Nursery: Focus on Walls

An easy and fun way to decorate your nursery is to focus on the walls. You don’t need a large budget to transform your baby’s room in any style you fancy, whether you want a fun, vibrant playroom, or an elegant, peaceful oasis, or anything in between! Here are some ideas to get your imagination revved up!

Giraffe decal from Wall Nutz

Stickers

Add instant fun with wall stickers, like these Flocked Butterflies ($19.99 from WallNutz).

Flocked Butterfly Wall Stickers

Decals

Decals are one step up from the sticker idea– they’re not only fun and pretty, but they’re re-stickable, too! They’ll dress up your nursery in a flash and you can play around with the placement without worrying about ruining the walls. When your little one is older, she can have fun making her own designs! Here are some pretty “Scroll Tree” decals from Wall Nutz (80 decals for $39.99)

Scroll Tree MegaPack Wall Sticker Mural

Wallpaper

Old-fashioned fine wallpapers are making a comeback, says iVillage, and they’re not as pricey as you might think. Check out The Land of Nod designs which come in a variety of designs such as damask designs ($60 per roll) and classic plaids ($75 per roll). For something really fun (and to protect mom’s sanity) you can purchase paintable wallpaper– like the Frames pattern ($40 per roll)– in a variety of designs, which actually encourages your kids to draw, color and paint on the wall!

If you don’t want to paper the whole room, try doing just one wall or even lining the inside of a bookcase. It’s less expensive and a great way to add instant décor.

Murals

You could buy a pre-cut or paint-by-number wall mural, but why not try your hand at painting your own? It can be as simple or intricate as you like. If you’re artistic, you can draw and paint it freehand. If all you know how to draw are stick figures, don’t despair!  All you need is an overhead projector, along with the pattern or picture transposed onto a transparency. Beam it onto the wall, trace, and paint!  This one is called “A Bug’s Life” by Bi0star (via Flickr)

Baby's Room Bug's Mural by Bi0star.

And I love this “white on white” nursery design from A List Baby!

Stripes

You can get this look with wallpaper, or the cheaper alternative which would be to paint it yourself! Just  measure and mark off your stripes, and use some painters tape to keep the edges crisp while painting.  Instantly elegant, as seen below in this Peter Rabbit themed nursery!

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