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How to Maintain Friendships when Baby Arrives

A new baby in the family! Amazing isn’t it how such a tiny life disrupt yours so completely that you don’t even know whether you’re coming or going? The baby routine is so easy to get caught up in – feed the baby, burp the baby, change the diaper, bathe the baby, and then do it all over again and again…and again. In no time at all, you feel as though you have no time to do anything except take care of the baby and maybe attempt a cat nap, that is, until your spouse comes home and wants to know where dinner is!  With everything going on, how can a new mommy/daddy even think about maintaining friendships once that little bundle of joy has taken over the household?

You may not feel as though you have the time or energy, but seriously, you have to try or you won’t have any friends once that little one goes off to school (plus, you might need to work on your vocabulary and/or communication skills since the baby arrived).  Just as most of us discovered who our true friends were once high school came around, the same idea goes for welcoming a baby into the world.  The friendships that you work to keep after your baby arrives are more than likely friends that you will have for a lifetime, so keep your friends close and your best friends closer.

Plan group functions as frequently as you can. The more friends that you include, the fewer of these you need to arrange. I know that the last thing you want to do is get out of those comfy sweatpants and forgo one of those precious catnaps, but if you don’t, the number of friends you have will dwindle.

Communicate, and often.  I adore my friends.  They keep me grounded and are always there for me when I need a laugh or a listening ear.  Make time to pick up the phone, Skype, send out a Facebook message, or email your friends to keep the lines of communication open.

Be understanding. I had a girlfriend who was in my life for umpteen years, but whenever she accepted an invite, she was rude and spiteful. She was still waiting for her happily ever after. I stopped inviting her because I didn’t want to listen to her mean-spirited comments about my baby. You guessed it; she’s no longer in the picture. Had I been more understanding of her feelings, I might have gotten a sitter and planned our get-together’s elsewhere. It’s true though, friends can grow apart, which is why working on them is so important.

If the kids are tagging along, find child-friendly venues where everyone can meet on equal footing. It’s nice not to have to worry about cleaning the house, preparing food, or someone else’s child breaking your little one’s toys/spilling grape juice all over the carpet.

Include your spouse. This gives you an extra pair of hands and someone else to do the driving sometimes. Take the catnap that you’ve wanted on the drive over (if you’re so lucky!) and enjoy the evening.  Plus, you both need to socialize with others to stay happy and sane.

Though there is seemingly no time in the day, maintaining your friendships is crucial to your overall happiness.  The added effort is worth it!

What other tips do you have for maintaining friendships once baby comes into the picture?

When to Get Baby Involved in Activites

From the time you bring your little bundle home from the hospital, your life will never be the same.  Day by day you will notice little things that are different, and as your baby grows, you will start to see parts of the world through his/her eyes.  As soon as I found out I was pregnant last year, I knew I wanted to put our baby in baby swim classes as early as they would let me.  I wanted to get our child used to the water so she would be confident, even if the water depths stretched farther than her toes.  I asked friends and someone suggested checking the YMCA, and a phone call and one swim class later, I am so glad I did.

Knowing when to put your baby into activities isn’t a given.  A number of factors come into play, like where you live and what activities you personally enjoy. Once you have some ideas, then you have to find the activities in your area—I highly recommend checking your local YMCA, as that is where I found my daughter’s “Shrimp Swim” classes.  The minimum age for these is six months, and it just so happened that our little one hit her six-month birthday a mere week before the fall session started.

If public pools aren’t your thing, you can also find a variety of other baby activities to enjoy.  Ask your pediatrician or look online for Mommy & Me music classes, tumbling, and groups hosting play dates for babies and their moms (or even dads!).  The music classes work out wonderfully for babies of any age, while the tumbling sessions may be better suited for toddlers.  Check for “Meetups” in your area as well–these popular networking groups keep popping up all over the country, making it easy to keep your baby socially active from as early as birth, if you want.

When in doubt, give your pediatrician a call to discuss how much activity your baby can handle at a certain age, or ask at your next appointment.  Our daughter is currently allowed about 20 minutes in the pool, but we constantly monitor her lips and skin for indicators that we should take her out sooner.  She enjoys it so much I wish I could take her every day!

Putting together a social schedule for your baby or toddler is a truly enriching experience.  It introduces them to a new part of the world, encourages socialization, and builds confidence–plus, it’s fun!  What activities do your little ones currently enjoy?

Sticking to a Budget with Kids

Children are one of life’s greatest gifts, but all great things come at a cost.  The price of raising a child now is astronomical.  For most of us, sticking to a budget is important, but when kids come into the picture, sticking to a budget is crucial.  The problem is, it’s easier creating a budget than sticking to it, especially when kids are involved. Kids… kids have a way of tugging at your heartstrings, especially when their little faces crumple up as you say that less-than-magical word, “No.” It’s the first instance of the quivering lower lip that always gets me. It makes me feel so helpless and guilty.

I remember Sunday mornings deciding between the newspaper and a couple of gingerbread man cookies from the bakery for my two-year old daughter. I wanted the coupons so I could save money at the supermarket, and of course, she wanted the treats. Money was so tight that it really made a difference, but we compromised, and every other week my daughter got her treats. She began to learn what compromising is all about, perhaps a bit too soon in life, but perhaps just at the right time to teach her how valuable the art of compromising can be.

This is what budgeting is all about – compromising and deciding what you can live with and what you cannot. If you take away all of the pleasures in life, your budget is going to begin to feel like a noose around your neck, slowing choking the fun out of living. So, you should start by making a list that you are probably going to check more than twice. Sit down with your significant other and compile a list.  Make three columns – and label them needs, wants, and do without. Why not just use two columns? Go through the list and truly be honest with yourself.  Can you afford it?  Is there enough money in the bank for emergencies?  If you set honest limitations on your budget, you will be more likely to stick to it.

If your kids are old enough to understand, get them involved too. Kids are often wiser than we give them credit for. If they feel invested in the budgetary process from the beginning, they will be more likely to accept the compromising that follows. Make sure that at least one of the “wants” makes it into the final budget for everyone in the family. Put a monetary limit on each item of the budget, and when you are shopping, you need to make sure that you don’t go over the limit.

Another option is to give each child an allowance to spend as they want on their own purchases. Teach your children to save up for what they want. They’ll get a math lesson, and you’ll find it easier to stay on a budget with the kids!

If you’re shopping for baby products on a budget, be sure to read about our GaGa Deals offered every weekday.  What other helpful tips do you have for staying on budget?

 

The Importance of Reading to Your Baby

Happy National Young Reader’s Day!

Thank goodness for Hallmark’s Ultimate Holiday Site for shedding light on this wonderful holiday!  November 9th marks a day of celebration for our future scholars and encourages the importance of reading at a young age.

Reading at any age is important and beneficial, but encouraging your children to read at a very young age is crucial to their growth.  In fact, it is never too early.  Reading to your baby improves their understanding of the world around them, increases their cognitive development, and builds their communication skills.  For more information on the benefits of reading to your baby, read “Reading Books to Babies” by KidsHealth or check out the dos and don’ts as outlined by Scholastic.

If you have older kids as well, encourage them to snuggle up on the couch and read with you today.  Happy Reading!

What’s your favorite book to read with the kids? Share your book suggestions below!

Fantastic Tips on How to Deal With the Aches and Pains of Pregnancy

From the initial waves of morning sickness to the aching feet that swell up to the feeling that you are never going to get a good night’s sleep ever again, pregnancy dishes up quite a medley of uncomfortable aches and ouch-evoking pains that have you wondering what you were thinking of when you said you wanted a baby.  While it is true that pregnancy is worth it and you will forget most of the soreness that your joints, muscles, and tender flesh have had to endure, the problem is that it hurts right now and you want relief.

You want to experience the kind of relief that your hubby can give you by saying, “Hand me the remote and I’ll find us something to watch on TV to distract you.”  Yeah, right!  Instead, you need to rely on yourself and your ability to keep moving.  Light exercise makes you feel better without putting any strain on the baby or you.  Get up out of that soft, cushy chair that seems to envelope your roundness and take a brief walk around the block, visit the local gymnasium and swim a lap or two around the pool.

If you keep up with your daily nutritional needs, including water, then your bodily functions remain consistent and regular, avoiding unnecessary constipation.  This alone can save you lots of pain and help to keep the weight off.

When your feet hurt, lift them up and give them a much-needed break.  It isn’t easy carrying all of that excess weight around, is it?  Next time you are out, stop and buy yourself some comfortable shoes to wear.

When your back feels sore, tell the hubby that he can have the remote back after he gives you a little back rub.  After all, he is partly responsible for that little gift of joy that you are carrying, isn’t he?

If it’s near impossible to get a restful night of sleep because of the pain, try the Leachco Snoogle.  Don’t be fooled by the name, rave reviews deem this to be the go-to pillow for a more comfortable slumber.

Most importantly, stay in touch with your friends.  After all, what can be more distracting than listening to the trials and tribulations that your best friend is enduring with her mischievous toddler?

Perhaps the greatest pain of all though, is the one in your bladder that has you scoping out the location of the restroom the minute you enter any store, restaurant, or movie theater.  As the baby continues to grow inside your belly, so does that seemingly ever-present urge to pee.  What can you do about it?  Well, you know the answer to that already – just go do it.  You’ll feel great for the next fifteen minutes or so!

What other methods have helped you deal with the aches and pains of pregnancy?  Tell us here!

Baby Gift Ideas Made Simple

Have a baby shower or birthday to buy for?  Partaking in some holiday shopping?  Maybe just looking for a little gift for that little cutie in your life?

With all of the options available, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect baby gift.  And let’s not lie to each other, shopping at the mall can be especially stressful during the holidays.  In my experience, it’s either I’m so successful shopping that I can actually hear my bank account crying, or I walk out with nothing other than frustration, and perhaps a gooey treat from the food court that I absolutely did not need.

Save yourself the time and stress (as well as calories, in my case), and check out our gifts page, which allows you to shop by gender, age, budget, and hottest gift ideas.

The best part?  You don’t even have to leave the house! :)

Tips for Managing Your Baby and/or Children in Public Places

I can remember sitting in church with a little bag of Cheerios when I was a little girl.  I still see moms using this same tactic today when out in public with their children, and I plan to do the same when my daughter is old enough to have big kid cereal.  Little bags of raisins, fruit snacks, and other treats can work wonders in getting a child to behave when you are out and about.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy.

Different things will obviously work for different children, but it pays to have a good list of techniques in mind and ready to use on the fly.  Consider these tips and tricks to keep your little ones happy when you are away from home:

  Bring a toy or two for your child, or let your little one pick a toy to bring along.

  Play a game like “I Spy” or “Simon Says” and teach your kids to play that together.

  Offer a reward for good behavior, like a new book.

  Speaking of, bring a few books to keep your children occupied.

  Hold your little one’s hand or keep some kind of contact to encourage good behavior.

  Maintain eye contact with your kids whenever possible.

  Give them details on the kind of behavior you hope to get from them during the car ride.

  Offer updates and warnings as you are able; for example, “We are going to leave in five minutes” or “We’ll leave for the playground soon – mommy just needs a few more minutes.”

  Make up a little bag of your own kid-friendly trail mix to take with you. Cheerios, chocolate chips, Goldfish, and raisins would be a good start.

Babies may be a bit of a different story.  So far we have been very lucky with taking my daughter out in public, whether for lunch or dinner, shopping, or just running errands.  She is six months old now and very aware of the world around her.  She loves to look and experience new things on a daily basis. I just try to ensure she is fed, changed, burped, and not overtired when we go out.  Sometimes she sleeps in her car seat or in the stroller, but in general, playing my schedule off of hers seems to work wonders.

Good luck with your little ones!  Please share your own tips and suggestions in our comments below.

Terrible Two’s How To’s

I believe it was Jerry Seinfeld who once said, “A two-year old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.”  Wise words, Mr. Seinfeld, wise words.

Though nicknamed the terrible two’s, the toddler stage includes children from 1 to 3 years old. It’s a difficult phase, typically filled with temper tantrums and defiance.  Yes, trying times may be ahead, but here are 10 how to’s in dealing with the terrible two’s:

  1. Be consistent.  Arguably the most important rule of parenting, consistency is everything.  Whether you’re a single parent or working as a couple, you have to display consistency.  In the same sense, whether you have one or seven children (God bless you), you have to display consistency with each of them.  Though every situation is unique, there should be agreed upon consequences set in place for bad behavior, as well as rewards for good behavior.  Talk now to eliminate problems later!
  2. Enforce the rules.  In line with being consistent, when a rule is broken or your toddler is acting up, enforce the appropriate consequence.  Don’t overdo it, and don’t ignore it either because the time isn’t ideal.  Right then and there you need to explain to them why their behavior is unacceptable, what the consequence will be, and how they should act in the future.  Setting expectations is key.
  3. Isolate.  In regards to enforcing the rules, there will be times when you are out in public and it may not be the best time to approach the matter.  If you can, remove them from public, even a restroom stall will do.  It will eliminate distractions and allow you to talk to them one-on-one.
  4. Adore them.  Never ever underestimate the power of praise.  Everyone wants a gold sticker, everyone wants a thumbs up, and everyone wants to be loved.  When their behavior is what you wish it would be all the time, lay on the praise, and thick.
  5. Lead by example.  The adage “monkey see monkey do” is relevant for a reason.  Display the types of behavior you expect from your kids.
  6. Don’t give in.  Take a breath.  Think before speaking.  And most importantly, don’t admit defeat because you don’t want to deal with their tantrum at the moment.  Taking time to explain your expectations of them now will eliminate senselessly repeating yourself down the road.
  7. Stay calm.  For such a cute exterior, they can truly find ways to drive you nuts.  Don’t lose control of your emotions, even if you do feel like joining them in crying.  Take a step away and examine how they might be feeling.  Try not to take it personally and keep calm.  Guess who will remain hysterical if you join them?
  8. Get on their level.  It may seem small, but bending down to be on their level makes a huge difference.  It encourages eye contact and allows them to feel talked to versus talked down to.  How you approach them is a large factor in how they will react.
  9. Feed them well.   Diet affects our moods, as well as our well-being, so before handing them that cookie to keep them quiet while mommy’s/daddy’s talking , you may want to think twice.  Not only does their growth depend on a diet rich in nutrients, it also plays a role in their behavior.   You can’t blame them for that fiasco at the grocery store if they sucked down a sugar-filled drink right before heading in.  Having trouble getting them to eat healthy?  Check out our tips on how to deal with picky eaters.
  10. Stick to a routine.  There are not many people in this world who enjoy change.  It’s scary and particularly for a toddler, can be a  pretty sweet recipe for disaster in the temper tantrum department.  Create a routine and abide by it closely.  Children generally thrive on structure and will appreciate the rigidity.

Have a strategy that works/worked wonders?  Need advice?  Share your tips/questions below!

 

Hug A Bear Day

Need a hug?  You’re in luck!  Today, November 7th,  is “Hug A Bear Day“.  Now, I”m not suggesting you go out and hug an actual bear, but a stuffed bear or even a big bear hug will do!  Speaking of those stuffed bears your kids like to drag on the floor and dig their cute little faces into, did you know there are organic options available as well?  Consider that eco-friendly tip to be a virtual bear hug from us to you and yours.

Now grab the kids (and teddy bears) and start hugging!

The Great Diaper Debacle: Disposable vs. Organic Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers have come a long way from when my siblings and I were born.  I remember my mom had stacks of white cloth diapers and a bunch of diaper pins, some with duckies on them and some without.  I remember the plastic pants, and the awful smell of the diaper pail. I cannot imagine how she ever got done washing cloth diapers and still had any energy left to deal with us.  I know my daughter goes through about eight or so diapers a day now, but when she was a newborn it was more like a full dozen.  How do you keep up with that pace?

As my husband and I were recently watching the hit TV show Shark Tank, we saw a woman, Tereson Dupuy, presenting her cloth diaper line, FuzziBunz®.  Part of her shtick relied on a huge pile of garbage bags allegedly filled with the amount of disposable diapers (roughly $2,500 worth, according to some studies!) that it would take to diaper a child until potty training was successfully achieved.  The number of trash bags and the overwhelming amount of space it took up in the studio was astounding!

According to a study by the Women’s Environmental Network, disposable diapers account for the third largest single consumer item to fill up our planet’s landfills.  With the number of births every year, it seems only a matter of time until our planet is overcome by consumer waste.

Organic cloth diapers offer many benefits to consumers, their infants, and the planet in general.  Diaper rash, leakage, and consumer waste all diminish with the use of cloth diapers.  Though seemingly pricey at first, parents also find great cost savings, as disposable diapers can cost as much as $25 a week or more per family.  Organic cloth diapers also do not expose your baby’s delicate bottom to any chemicals, such as artificial fragrances, deodorizers, and wetness indicators.  Cloth diapering also allows you to stay on top of your baby’s diapering needs without having to run out to the store to buy another pack or box of diapers.  If you’re looking for organic options, check out our store for diapers and accessories.

Of course, this does mean you may have to do the laundry a little more often…but won’t it be worth it knowing you are saving the planet and your baby’s bum, all in one shot?  To keep your organic cloth diapers the cleanest they can be, check out bumGenius Diaper Sprayer or Rockin’ Green’s laundry detergent.