Baby Shower Themes and Planning Tips

Often, the first step in planning a baby shower is picking a theme. Even picking a color theme can make your planning easier by narrowing down the choices! Blue for a boy and pink for a girl are traditional, but of course any palette can be charming.

Fun and creative baby shower themes

Tea Party: A chic alternative to your standard baby shower, guests can dress in formal attire and enjoy a sophisticated sit-down party with real china, fresh flowers, and elegant food.

Book Shower: All the guests are invited to bring their favorite children’s book! You can include something fun like a stuffed toy or game that matches the subject of your book.  A great way to start baby’s library!

Mommy Shower: Focus on the mom-to-be instead of the baby! This is a great idea especially if she’s already got a lot of the baby paraphernalia she needs. Guests can bring gifts for mom such as gift certificates to her favorite (grown-up) store, fashion accessories, books, etc.

Scrapbooking Shower: If the mom-to-be is a scrapbooker, have all the guests bring something meaningful, useful, or funny to include on her scrapbook page. It can be something written, like a story, poem, letter, or parenting advice. It can be photos or other objects that recall a fond memory. Lots of creative options!

Noah’s Ark: A fun theme for the mom expecting twins–guests bring 2 of everything!

Nine Months: Everyone is invited to come to the party nine-months pregnant! Stuff your top with pillows so the mom-to-be won’t feel self-conscious… it’s a great ice-breaker too if your guests don’t all know each other!

Freezer Party: If mom is expecting a second or third, she may not need all the stuff that new moms need. Instead, each guest can bring a freezer-friendly meal to be put away for later! Now the family has a home-cooked meal to eat even when mom does not feel up to cooking.

Baby Shower Invitations

Once you’ve got an idea or theme for your party, the next step is picking out invitations!

E-mail or Snail mail: Email is the economical choice, but it’s always fun to send and receive real paper invitations. There are so many lovely colors, patterns, and designs to choose from!

Plan Ahead: Give your guests a few week’s notice. This will hopefully prevent them from scheduling something else on that day, and give ample time for gift shopping!

All the Info: Make sure to include all the important information such as date, time, and location, who it’s for and RSVP instructions. Include registry information if the mom-to-be is registered anywhere. If you’re having a theme, let the guests know so they can plan/dress accordingly!

Baby Shower Planning

Here are some helpful guidelines and tips for planning a shower!

Hosting: Although traditionalists will say that a non-family member should throw the party (so it doesn’t look like anyone’s begging for gifts) it’s really OK for anyone to be involved in the planning.

When: Showers are usually held near the end of the pregnancy, when excitement about the new arrival is peaking. Having a baby shower after the baby is born is fine too, especially if the sex of the baby is being kept a surprise.

Guests: Consulting with the mom-to-be is definitely best when putting together a guest list. You don’t want to leave out anybody important! Baby showers are traditionally a women-only affair, but co-ed parties are becoming more popular… especially if Dad wants to be part of it.

On the Agenda: Showers usually consist of some sort of refreshment or meal, an activity or silly game, socializing, and gift opening. You can offer prizes for the game winners, or party favors for everyone. A theme can make the planning a lot easier to pull together!

7 Tips to Beautify Baby’s Room

It doesn’t take a fat wallet or a team or interior designers to create a lovely baby nursery! Dive into your creative side head first– now is your chance to do something different and have fun! Here are some tips to help achieve big style for your little one, on any budget.

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1. Start with the Walls

Paint or wallpaper is a great way to set an ambiance.  There’s no need to follow the pink-or-blue trend; try something unique. If you stick to gender-neutral, timeless colors and prints, it will last you way past the baby years. (This is also handy when you don’t know the baby’s gender!) You can also use stencils or decals to create designs on the walls. White walls are  sweet too, you have plenty of other areas for adding color and contrast.

2. Keep it simple

“Less is more” is a good rule of thumb when decorating children’s rooms. We think a baby’s room can be fun, colorful, and interesting, but should maintain a peaceful and serene vibe. You only need one or two focal pieces, so conserve your money to splurge on something that you really love, like an antique mirror or beautiful bedding.

3. Search for Treasures

It’s nice if your children’s room contains a few objects that didn’t come straight from the store. Antique finds at the second hand shop, old family photographs, dolls from when you were a child… many things can be incorporated that you might not have thought about at first. Look for heirlooms in your parent’s attic or local thrift shop. You’ll be sweetly surprised at how much meaning these type of decorative elements give your nursery.

4. Keep Crib Bedding to a Minimum

This is more for safety than style. An overabundance of stuffed pillows, fluffy blankets, and crib bumpers can pose suffocation hazards for small babies. The crib is NOT a good place to focus your creative juices; wait til your child is older to make up a dream bed full of throw pillows and flouncy covers.

5. Fancy Floors

Because your little one will spend lots of time on the floor, it’s a great place to focus attention. Bright colors, stripes, and patterned rugs are great if you have wood or tiled flooring. Soft wall-to-wall carpets are a nice touch and keep little explorers comfy. Look for materials that are easily cleaned!

6. A Corner for You

We know you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time with your baby. Even if baby sleeps with you at night, the nursery may be the place you go to change diapers, snuggle, and play during the day. Stick in a comfy arm chair or rocker, an end table to hold some books and a glass of water while you’re feeding.

7. Fill it with Love

Even if you don’t have the means to go all-out decorating, the physical trappings of your baby’s room are not what’s most important. I like the way it’s said here: “While decorating your baby’s room is personal and fun, remember that the heart of your child’s room is not what is physically held within the four walls. Rather it is the relationship of the parents and child. So if your baby is born into a room of stark white walls, with boxes crammed in a corner, so be it. It won’t change how you love him or her, nor will they grow up decoratively challenged.”

10 Tips to Help Baby Sleep at Night

As any new parent will agree, getting enough sleep is top priority. Meaning, getting baby to sleep better is top priority. But first, it’s important to remember that babies have different sleep cycles and different sleep needs than adults. Night-waking is inevitable for many months, and even has developmental benefits. But there are ways to make sleep more attractive for your baby, so that gradually he’ll start sleeping longer stretches.

1. Cool it down

Cooling your room down a bit, to around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, may help baby sleep better. If you can’t adjust the temperature, just open the window or turn on the fan. If you want to shorten daytime naps, use this trick in reverse– just keep the room a little warmer. (But never put baby in an overheated room!)

2. Adjust the lights

Babies don’t know they should sleep through the night. Train your child’s internal body clock by dimming the lights towards bedtime, even if he’s not yet ready to sleep. This sends the signal that it’s time to slow down and prepare for sleep. Using the same principle, bring your baby out into the bright sunshine when she wakes up in the morning, and keep your baby’s room brightly lit in the daytime, even during naptime.

3. Use white noise

Is utter silence the only thing that keep baby asleep? Must you speak in whisper, turn off phone ringers, and tiptoe around once baby’s asleep? Actually, the sounds a baby is used to are womb sounds– the swoosh of fluids, digestive sounds, and even your voice, so a silent house can be disturbing. Instead, try playing soothing sounds, such as a nature music CD, a fan, or a TV turned to static. The bonus is, that if there are any sudden loud noises, your baby is less likely to be jolted awake!

4. Fill that tummy

Many babies naturally tend to cluster-feed toward the end of the day. This means that they want to eat more often. For example, if he tends to ask for milk every three hours, start feeding him every two hours after 5 p.m. Just don’t rush your baby to begin solids, thinking that this will fill his tummy better and cause him to sleep longer at night. The “stuffing baby at bedtime” syndrome does not work, and may backfire.

5. Try a massage

It would work for me, so why not baby? Studies show that babies fall asleep faster after a gentle massage. Just pour a little organic, baby-safe oil into your hands, rub palms together to warm it up, and slowly stroke his chest, limbs and back. Use moderate pressure, and try to maintain eye contact—not only is this a great sleep trick, it’s a wonderful way to build your parent-child bond.

6. Swaddle

Have you ever seen a newborn suddenly fling his arms and legs out,  startling himself awake?  Swaddling your baby makes him feel safe and snug, and helps him sleep better.

7. Resist the urge to play

Do pick up your baby when he starts to cry in the middle of the night. It’s a crucial stage for building his sense of safety and trust, knowing that when he calls for help, his needs are met. But here’s the secret: don’t make eye contact. Baby gets excited when he sees his mother’s face- his blood pressure and his heart rate increases. So comfort him but resist his efforts to play.

8. Avoid unnecessary wakings

Newborns will wake up at night to fill their tiny tummies. But well-meaning parents often wake them up unnecessarily. For example, it’s okay to skip diaper changes at night as long as your child is just wet and doesn’t have a rash. If it makes you feel better, use extra-absorbent diapers and a protective layer of cream. There’s also no great need to burp baby after feedings, since babies tend to drink more slowly and peacefully at night, thereby ingesting less air.

9. Get a swing

Babies love movement, and it does help to lull them back to sleep. But instead of rocking your baby to and fro all night long, get a baby swing to do the work for you. Many baby swings also have a “vibrate” function that is calming for colicky babies.

10. Keep baby close

Even if you use a baby monitor, having your little one sleeping down the hall creates difficulties in quick soothing. It’s best to have baby as close as possible, so that the moment he starts to fuss you can calm him down and everyone can get back to sleep. A bassinet by your bed, co-sleeper, or even having baby in bed with you are great for nighttime parenting. For the nursing mother, baby can easily latch on and everyone drifts off back to sleep, barely even waking at all!

reference 10 secrets to get baby to sleep through the night

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Maternity Holiday Fashion Tips!

It’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays! Whether you’ve got a family Thanksgiving feast on the calendar, a holiday office party to get glammed up for, or a communal Hanukkah party, we know you want to look your best.  A super holiday dress is in the cards for you, and here are some tips on finding it!

Versatility: Get more bang for your buck when you buy something you can dress up or down, and wear again a few more times before baby arrives. This little black dress from the Gap ($59.50) can be dressed up with heels and a great necklace, or dressed down with flats and a colorful scarf.

Flatter your bump: Go for a streamlined look that acknowledges your curves without exaggerating them. There’s no need to squeeze your nine-month belly into a sequined mini-dress just because you can. Instead, opt for something soft, comfortable, and graceful, like this wine colored dress from Motherhood.

3/4 Sleeve Empire Waist Maternity Dress

Get wild: Yes, you are about to become a mother, but that doesn’t mean you need to sit in the corner next to Granny all evening.  Set your wild side free for just one evening with this leopard print shirtdress that shows off lots of leg ($170 from Due Maternity)!

Favorite Maternity Shirtdress by More Of Me

Mix-n-match: If dresses aren’t your thing, you can get a dressy top and pair it with black satin or velvet pants.

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Long and glamorous: If it’s a black-tie affair, a strapless, floor-length dress will take their breath away. This silky jersey dress from Isabella Oliver (it comes in red, too, for the truly daring!) is a winner!

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Accessorize: Even if you can’t find the perfect dress, a simple black number can be glamorized by adding statement pieces you love. A pair of sweeping chandelier earrings, a bright scarf, or some awesome heels will do the trick!

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Tips on Taking Baby Pictures by Anne Geddes

I’m sure you’ve seen photos by world-renowned Anne Geddes before, even if you’re not aware of who was behind the camera. They’re everywhere– on calendars, gift cards, your pediatrician’s walls!  Her images of babies and nature are created after hours of preparation, under careful controls in her studio, supported by a team of talented professionals. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a thing or two about taking great baby photos!  Baby Center asked her for some tips and tricks can help you capture memories that will last a lifetime.

Always be prepared

Keep your camera handy at all times.  This way you’ll always be ready to capture those special spontaneous moments.  Plus, the more familiar your baby is with a camera, the less he’ll be distracted when you whip it out, and you’ll be able to take more natural looking pictures.

You don’t need an expensive camera to take a great photograph, just a good eye and a magical moment.

Getting Ready

The logical way to start out is by ensuring that your baby is well fed, happy, and comfortable. (Tired, cranky babies do not make good models!) Keep your background simple (like a white sheet or a dark colored carpet) to let your baby take “center stage.”  For a more personal point of view, get down to your baby’s eye level.

Lighting your photo

Anne loves using natural light. Soft, directional light coming from a window is always more flattering than the flash on a camera. If you are photographing outside, take advantage of the early morning or late afternoon light. The mid-day sun doesn’t bring out the best in anyone, not even your perfect baby!

Candid camera

The loveliest shots of your baby will most likely be candid ones.  You can forget the flower pots and teddy bears, and let it just be about your beautiful baby. If you can, take pictures in settings that is meaningful for you; this will give them an even deeper resonance.  On a special occasion, try for a sense of place, so you will always remember that day or the story behind the image.

Show proportion

Your newborn is tiny for such a short time. Even as they grow, each stage passes faster than you want it to. You might not believe it now, but you will forget how small your baby was in the beginning, so try to show your baby’s size in relation to the surroundings. A picture of your baby cradeled in daddy’s hands is so poignant because it captures that sense of scale.

Don’t forget to include yourself!

If you are usually the one behind the camera, don’t forget to include yourself in as many photographs with your family as possible!  Your children will want to know what you looked like “way back then” and will thank you for it later!

Save and organize

Try to download your pictures from your camera on a regular basis, saving them to files grouped by months when your baby is young. Save your images by naming them, which will make it easier to loacte them later on. Instead of “Amy Summer,” try “Amy 6mos in hat. Always back up your digital images, which are valuable and irreplaceable. Use digital photo websites where to can share albums with family, scroll through smaller “thumbnail” images to find favorites, play and share slide shows, tag and favor photos, comment on them, and much more.

Use the video

Try out the short video feature on your digital camera. Those spontaneous moments will be beloved, and your kids will enjoy seeing themselves “live” as babies.

Read more: 20 tips from Anne Geddes for taking great photos

View Ann Geddes most amazing baby pictures of the year

View 50 Amazing newborn photos by real moms

Summer Makeup Tips and Tricks

Whether you’re glowing as a result of your pregnancy, or just perspiring from the heat, take some tips from the pros to help you look your best. InStyle has some great summer beauty advice that works for any woman, whether you’re expecting a baby, a new mother, or just looking for ways to beat the heat and still look awesome!

Get Real Peach Blush

Makeup artist Amy Nadine: “I’m obsessed with a true peach cheek and disappointed when I buy blushes that turn pinkish when I apply them. The only way I’ve found to achieve a real peach on my clients is to use a formula that looks orange in its packaging. I promise it will become peach when layered on your skin! That’s why Nina Dobrev looked so great at the Independent Filmmaker event.”

Add Light Brown False Lashes

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Makeup artist Amy Oresman:  “Full lashes—and less mascara—are great for summer. I like using individual versions in soft brown, which gives the eye a flirty feel without looking heavy. Hayden Panettiere loves them. I’ll add a few to the ends of her lashline to elongate their almond shape. And because the lashes are brown, a splash of mascara makes it impossible to tell the difference between real and false ones. It’s so sexy.”

Switch to Coral Lip Stain

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Makeup artist Gregory Arlt:  “I’ve been obsessed with corals this season, but not your grandmother’s old-fashioned version. New sheer coral stains are light and whisper soft, like you’ve just had a popsicle. I recently used MAC Lusterglass in Love Nectar at a shoot with AnnaLynne McCord and she loved it so much, she wore it out that night.”

Set Your Makeup With Mist

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Makeup artist Tina Turnbow: “In the summer, I love misting my client’s faces with Caudalie Beauty Elixer. It sets the makeup, freshens and tightens pores, plus it’s incredibly cooling. I use this trick with Jessica Szohr on a warm L.A. nights.”

Use Cream Blush Not Bronzer

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Makeup artist Fiona Stiles:  “I like a product that can multitask, especially in the summer. Instead of drowning Ali Larter in liquid bronzer, which can either look too orangey or a little greasy, I used cream blush in a warm, nude shade. (My favorite is Lancome Color Design Blush in Model Mocha.) It’s equally flattering on eyes, cheeks, lips and even as a highlighter on the shoulders, legs or clavicles.

Mix Foundation and Daily Moisturizer

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Makeup artist Gina Brooke:  “There is nothing more important that fresh healthy looking skin in the summer. For Anne Hathaway‘s look at the Met Gala, I mixed a dab of hydrating, nutrient rich cream like Intraceuticals Rejuvenate Moisture Binding Cream into her foundation. It’s lighter and more natural looking than foundation alone, plus it works to give her a more radiant complexion in the future.”
See more Summer 2010 Beauty Tips at InStyle.com

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 Parents.com. Click here to see even more Real-Life Nurseries at Parents.com!

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