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Gift Idea: Babyprint Ornament Kit

With Christmas decorations available in stores before trick-or-treaters even take to the streets on Halloween, by the beginning of October it is more than apparent that Christmas is just around the corner. Personally, I like to cherish each holiday, but as soon as Thanksgiving is over, you better believe I will be transforming my home into a Christmas wonderland, all the while singing (and dancing) to my favorite Christmas music.

By the way, I don’t care what anyone says; if you play music loud enough, I swear you sound exactly like the artist. I’m certainly no Mariah Carey, but if the volume is up, I totally am. And you can’t tell me otherwise!! Who’s with me?!

…Anyways, I love to be crafty so I have quite a few makeshift décor pieces that line my shelves, but sometimes, there just isn’t enough time in the day to whip up some crafts worth keeping around for years and years to come. With Pearhead’s handy Babyprint Ornament Kit, you can imprint your little one’s foot or hand-print into the ornament as well as your memory forever! Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, we think this ornament kit is the perfect keepsake to remember just how teensy their little toesy’s were. What sets this kit apart from homemade recipes is that there is less hassle, so it truly makes for the perfect gift to new parents as well. The impressionable material is self-drying so in no time at all, the ornament is ready to be displayed. The best part? No mess! :)

When do you plan to start setting up decorations in your home? Is there such a thing as too soon?

Happy America Recycles Day!

November 15th is America Recycles Day! Do you recycle enough? Do your kids know about recycling? Take a moment to reflect and think about your recycling habits and how they can improve. Teach your children at a young age that it is important to recycle, so that they will know the value of it as they get older.

Sometimes it can be a hassle, but the effort it takes is well worth it in keeping reusable items out of landfills. According to America Recycles Day “Tip of the Day”, “you don’t need to rinse out your glass bottles and jars before recycling!” How cool is that?!  Though sign-up is more than likely too late this year, see what events are going on in your area today to spread awareness on the importance of recycling!  If nothing else, go through your soon-to-be-trashed items today and teach your children what items can and cannot be recycled.  You’ll help the environment and get to spend some quality time with your kids!

BabyEarth prides itself in carrying a number of eco-friendly products and items made from recycled elements.  Not to mention, we offer our own recycling program, BabyEarthRENEW, for those hard-to-recycle baby items.  To learn more, read Eco-Friendly Ways to Recycle Baby Gear. Go green and play a role in saving the environment by making the effort to recycle. Let’s do our part to make this world the best it can be!

Happy America Recycles Day!

Thanksgiving With the Kids

Thanksgiving is nearly a week away and if you haven’t stocked up already, it’s time to start the dreaded grocery shopping process.  If you’re attending the get-together, well, lucky you.  If you’re hosting, it’s important to start planning ahead so that your Thanksgiving party can go off without a hitch.  Begin planning your menu now so that you can casually shop for the items on your list.  Guilty of waiting until the last minute myself, I can tell you that the wild goose chase for that one item you need while weaving through the crowded aisles is never any fun.  In fact, I’d go with awful.  Plan ahead.  Your stress level will thank you.

Now, the next issue is, what to do with the kids?

In keeping with a Thanksgiving tradition, more than most of the men in your family are planning to set up camp on the couch.  Perhaps even two TV’s will make their way into the living room for maximum football enjoyment on this momentous occasion.  While I’m sure our forefathers would be proud, have them keep an eye on the little ones while you’re in the kitchen.  If it’s a bigger family party, older cousins are also great at managing the tykes while the meal preparation is in full swing.

If it’s a smaller Thanksgiving get-together, have the kids help you cook.  They can mash potatoes, arrange a veggie plate, and sprinkle on casserole toppings.  When it gets closer to mealtime, have them pass out place cards or slips of paper at each setting so that people can write down what they are thankful for.

Plan some fun activities to keep the kids entertained. There are lots of cool crafts ideas to choose from; but if crafts aren’t your thing, simply have them trace/paint their hand to create the classic turkey art or have them create streamers (just make sure a supervisor is present).  Cut out strips of colored construction paper ahead of time so that they can link them together with tape/a stapler.  For added fun, buy some feathers, glitter, pipe cleaners, and paint.  The activities can serve as décor once they are finished!

Lastly, if it isn’t in your plans already, a kids table is always a great idea.  To keep the kids from getting too restless, have activities set up to keep them seated throughout the meal (here’s hoping).  Instead of throwing on a tablecloth, line the table with a roll of paper and provide crayons in cups.  On second thought, you could place some Styrofoam in a terracotta pot and stick the crayons in there. Voila, a funky and useful centerpiece!

Do some prep-work ahead of time to really enjoy spending Thanksgiving with the kids.  Helpful hint: casseroles almost always taste better the second day so spread out your cooking/baking to help offset the time spent in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day!

 

November is Preemie Awareness Month

Boy or girl, every expectant parent’s greatest wish is to have a healthy baby.  Unfortunately, not all of us can be so lucky.  In fact, according to the March of Dimes, 1 in 8 babies are born prematurely in the United States alone.

November kicks off Prematurity Awareness Month to shed light on the ongoing problem that affects 15 million babies worldwide.  Within the past 25 years, the number of preemies in the U.S. has risen to a staggering 36%.  Therefore, the March of Dimes foundation did something about it.  Established in 2003, the Prematurity Campaign works to raise awareness, help families with preemies, and conduct research to reduce the rate of premature births.

For more information on preemies and/or how to donate to the cause, visit the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign.

 

Family Road Trip Tips: Keeping Kids Entertained

Ah…the holidays…a time to be thankful, to rest, to enjoy quality time with loved ones, and to be trapped in the car with family for potentially hours on end.  Did I say that? I meant, to sing and laugh in the car for hours on end-surely that’s what I meant.

For most of us, traveling is inevitable during the holiday season. If hitting the road is on the horizon for you and your family, here are a few road trip tips to keep your little ones happy and entertained:

  • Save yourself the frustration and check traffic and construction schedules before heading out the door.  There is a fairly small window of time before the kids start getting restless in the car; don’t spend it sitting in traffic!
  • Pack the car efficiently so that:
    • The cooler, snacks, and baby bag (if applicable) are easily accessible.  Hint: A spare set of clothes readily available for baby (or you) is never a bad idea.
    •  You can easily keep an eye on the little ones in the backseat.
    • The windows are visible.  Staring out the window can help anyone who suffers from motion sickness-big or small.  Have a plastic bag on hand in case your little one starts to feel sick (check for holes ahead of time!).
  • Pack snacks and drinks.  Pack bags of dry snack foods or bite-size pieces of fruit like grapes as a quick and healthy option.  Also, though you may want to minimize the consumption of liquid on the road, it’s always handy to have drinks at the ready.  You will have less fussy (and messy) traveling companions if you prepare ahead of time.
  • Bring along some toys and activities.  If you’re in need of some stimulating toys that are equipped for travel, check out these entertaining toys for baby or your tot!

Are we there yet?  No.

  • Bust out the games.  ISpy, Twenty Questions, the License Plate Game, or the Alphabet game are all classics that can keep the boredom at bay and offset any temper tantrum lurking in the distance.

…Are we there yet now?  No, one more tip.

  • Embrace technology.  To lessen the “are we there yet?” phrase that has plagued every road trip with anyone, ever, prepare for even more downtime.  If the classic games and sing-alongs were done and over with 50 miles ago, it’s time for a technological upgrade.  Download some apps before hitting the road.  From music, movies, games, and locator apps (A MUST if you ask me, you can locate the cheapest gas station nearby or find the nearest rest stop!), the smartphone/tablet can truly be a lifesaver.  Start perusing the app store and see what gold you can find before venturing out on the road, many of which you can download for free!

What family road trip tips do you have for keeping the kids entertained?

Flying instead? Check out our Go-To Guide for a Smooth Flight.

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!