Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

Navigate / search

Tips for Handling Toddlers in a Crowd

With new-found independence due to their discovery of running, the need-for-speed phase can be a parent’s worst nightmare, especially in a crowded space. Particularly around the holidays, community events, bustling shopping centers, and zoos harbor larger than normal crowds.  So how can you manage your little ones and still have fun?

Here are some tips to keep your toddler safe in crowded areas:

  • Hold on tight. In the running stage, simply keeping an eye on them isn’t going to cut it while in the midst of a thick crowd. Give them options: “it’s either you sit in the stroller or you hold onto my hand.” They may put up a fight initially, but if you continue to only give them two options without negotiation, soon enough it will become commonplace. There is also the controversial alternative: the child harness, aka the leash. The verdict on this tactic is skewed across the board. Some find it a useful aid and a necessary safety measure for their little runner; others find it to be a cruel mechanism for the parent unwilling to teach their child boundaries. Regardless, as a parent, it is your job to decide what’s best for you and your toddler to keep them safe.
  • Show your tot where he/she can move about. Stick to the outskirts of the crowd and allow your child to run around in a specific area. Toddlers need to move, so to help exhaust their pent up energy, take breaks from the crowd to allow them to let loose for a little bit before it’s back to holding hands.
  • Identification. To offset the dangers of losing sight of your child, it is crucial to provide some form of identification and a way in which you can be contacted somewhere on your toddler’s person. There are many avenues for this method, but here are a few options:
    • Buy a nice ID bracelet. Inscribe your number on it (as well as any other medical information if need be) so that someone can contact you if your child is lost. It may not be wise to put your child’s name on the bracelet, as this could cater to a stranger calling the child by their name, which naturally makes a child feel more comfortable and secure if they think the person knows them.
    • If possible, look into buying a box of hospital ID bracelets to slip your name and cell phone number into the bracelet. As many of us may know, those things are impossible to get off without scissors, so you can rest assured that your information will not fall off, even if your toddler is some sort of squirmy magician.
    • Place a current family photo in their pocket with your information on the back. Not only can someone find your contact information, they also know who to look for in the crowd.
  • Dress accordingly. Those color-coordinated families at the theme park may not seem so laughable now. There is reasoning behind it. Though a tie-dye uniform for the entire family may be a bit much, make sure you do put thought into the clothing you and your family wear to crowded events. Don your little ones in bright colors or memorable outfits so that you can keep an eye on them through a crowd. Prior to leaving the house, have your toddler study your clothing so that they know what to look for should they get lost. Something bright works best so that you can be easily spotted.
  • Role play. As soon as your toddler is old enough to understand, it is important to begin role playing scenarios so that they can always be prepared. For example, if the family ventured out to a theme park, and the child found he was lost, where should he go? Who should he look for? Who should he approach? *When you do arrive at a large event, point out the people who work there and what they are wearing. If your tot does find himself apart from you, hopefully this will assist him in finding his way back.
  •  Choose to avoid the crowd. Sometimes there are events that are worth the hassle, but some events are too crowded, too late, or just too difficult to bring along your little one. Consider whether or not the event will be worthwhile to your toddler, and you.
  • Know when to call it a day. Toddlers can become easily overwhelmed by huge crowds. If you feel a meltdown coming on, it may be time to call it quits. Come back another time when the crowds are lighter.

What other suggestions do you have for handling your toddler in a crowded area?

The Art of Saying No to Your Child

The “talk to the hand” strategy simply isn’t going to cut it.
The “talk to the hand” strategy simply isn’t going to cut it.

No. It’s one of the simplest words in the English language, and yet, it’s one of the hardest to say. Though, that’s debatable once a toddler picks up the ‘no’ word. In fact, many parents can vouch their toddler repetitively says no once it enters their vocabulary. However, for adults, whether it’s in the workplace or dealing with children, saying no can be difficult. Especially when those big cute eyes pleadingly stare up at you or worse yet, when the arms flail and a temper tantrum ensues.

Here are 10 guidelines in mastering the art of saying no to your kids:

  Set up ground rules. Sit down with your partner and evaluate the non-negotiable’s. Then sit down with your child to explain the ground rules or post them on a decorated poster board in an easy-to-spot place. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page to minimize frustration later.

  Tone is absolutely everything.  Remember that time when you took a picture of someone smiling, and found yourself behind the camera smiling? Or is that every time? Attitude is contagious. What’s more, children are extremely perceptive. They can easily sense when you are becoming frustrated with them. Take a breath, and address their behavior using a softer, more positive, voice. They will be more likely to respond to you. On the other hand, instead of engaging in a battle of ‘no’s’, using a stern voice is just as satisfactory in reprimanding their behavior.

  Don’t postpone. If the answer is no and will be no, don’t delay in saying so. “We’ll see” or “Maybe later” adds hope when inevitably the answer is no, setting up your little one for even more disappointment. This mantra is one I wish everyone would follow: Say what you mean and mean what you say.

  Do not engage. You don’t always have to explain your reasoning to the tenth degree. It is important to justify why the answer is no so that they will understand. However, keep it short and simple. The “but, why?” is never-ending as it is, so even if you do give a sufficient answer, it’ll never be enough.  Why even go there?

  Develop “the look”. We all have one; it’s just a matter of putting it into practice. Instead of constantly saying no, a glare will be sufficient in expressing your disapproval. Soon enough your child will understand that “the look” is the signal to stop what they are doing. This is especially useful in a public setting to avoid embarrassing your child.

  Offer choices. Instead of telling your child what not to do, tell him what he can do instead. Rather than initiating a yelling match about playing soccer in the house. Simply say, “Soccer is not meant to be played inside the house, either go outside to play or find something else to do.”

  Model behavior you would like. Whether big or small, children will inevitably mimic your behavior, so strive to be the best role model you can be. Particularly for toddlers, instead of yelling ‘no’ to the less than gentle “petting” of the family dog, grab their hand and show them how gentle they need to be. Young children are exploratory and often need guidance in what to do and how to do it. So instead of reprimanding, help them.

  Say yes to say no. With the overuse of “no”, kids can go one of two ways. The simple phrase can immediately result in a full-fledged tantrum or complete indifference as they’ve heard it all before. Spinning the ‘no’ in a positive way can assist in their reaction. For example, if you are running errands and your child begs for that ice cream cone she spotted, simply say “Yes, you can have dessert after dinner, but right now we are shopping.”

  Lose the guilt and move on. Remember, kids are quick to forget. While you may still feel frazzled and guilty for saying no, they are occupying themselves with a toy in the backseat on the drive home. Take a page out of your child’s book and put it behind you.

While the art of saying no is hard to master, it’s crucial in your child’s development and future demeanor. Trust me, it will help you in the long run, and your child’s future teachers will thank you!

How to Share the Wishbone: A Thanksgiving Tradition

Holiday traditions are the special moments that truly bond families, even if they also stir up an argument.  With another Thanksgiving come and gone, you may have dealt with one tiff that plagues families on Thanksgiving. The wishbone tradition.

 

Now, you may think I’m late on this post, but in my house, we wait for the wishbone to be dry and brittle enough to easily crack. Plus, the greasy fingers excuse is off the table. Anyways, I’ll admit it, I am borderline crazy when it comes to superstitions. You better believe I handle mirrors extra carefully to ensure that I don’t shatter a mirror that will also shatter my life’s prosperity for the next seven years. I also make a wish after every eyelash, birthday candle, and shooting star (even if they are only airplanes flying past in the night-sky…it’s all about perspective!). Therefore, I understand that the wishbone is a special case. It comes around once a year and there is only one of them to be fought for amongst the family.

Traditions are meant to be fun and bring family closer together, so how do you mediate the situation when there’s more than two kiddos vying for the wishbone? Or, say there isn’t an argument about who gets to participate in the wishbone tradition, but you have to deal with the tantrum that comes afterward when someone gets the short-end of the stick bone?

Here are some tips in dealing with the wishbone tradition that could break the family harmony on Thanksgiving (pun intended!):

  The wishbone tends to snap on the side that looks weaker. So, if you are up against your little one, it’s time to let the competitive side go and allow for an easy win for your kiddie.

  If there are only two little ones vying for the wishbone wish, talk to them beforehand to remind them that it is just a silly tradition, and that even when one of them inevitably loses, it’s important to be a good sport. There is always next year.

  To piggyback off that, this is a great opportunity to teach and/or reinforce the importance of sharing.

  Or, if the tough love strategy isn’t up your alley, tell them they can still make a wish with their wishbone piece. After all, the wishbone does have a little bit of magic to allow for wishes to be had!

  What if there are more than two vying for the wishbone? If you have a large family, it’s time to set-up a cycle. Unfortunately, that means not everyone can participate, but it will help to know that the child left out gets to go next year.

  With that said, for any child who has to wait their turn, give them an important job that will satisfy their need to be included. Whether it’s referee or the one who gets the first piece of pie, they will feel special.

  However, I think my favorite remedy to the wishbone dilemma is this: Make chocolate wishbones so that everyone can participate! 1. Everyone gets to play. 2. Chocolate is delicious. And 3. Refer to number 2.

Here’s what you need to do to create chocolate wishbones:

  Melt down chocolate, whether it’s over the stove (place a bowl over simmering water to melt it without burning the chocolate) or in the microwave (heat the chocolate in increments, stirring in between so it doesn’t burn).
  Grab a baking pan and line it with wax paper. The pan isn’t essential but it does allow for a flat surface that you can easily move while the chocolate is cooling.
  Then, use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate on the wax paper, creating the wishbone shape. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, use a toothpick to shape the edges and cut off any rogue drizzles. It will dry and easily crack off.
  Allow the chocolate to cool completely before pulling the “wishbones” off the wax paper.
  Store in a cool place, especially during the Thanksgiving preparations when the oven also serves as a heater.
  Then, bust them out after dinner for an even sweeter take on the wishbone tradition. What’s more, there’s multiple, so everyone wins!

Do you and your family partake in the wishbone tradition? How do you manage it?

 

‘The Parent Rap’: A Lyrical Success

“The Parent Rap”, via Bluefish TV, has gained virality as of late for its witty parenting humor and juvenile musicality. Though the duo may not be musical geniuses ready to take on the likes of Jay Z or Eminem, they certainly come close to lyrical masterminds in their rap of all things parenthood. Whether boasting of their sandwich-making capabilities or asserting “mom and dad[‘s] need to clean da house”, this song is sure to resonate with parents worldwide.

With over a million views, “The Parent Rap” is definitely a success in humorously capturing the essence of parenthood. Personally, I have to say I enjoyed watching mom “make it rain” with coupons and the reference to the terrible tie collection that every father gains throughout the years from their loving kiddos.  Sorry, Dad.

We want to hear from you! What do you think about “The Parent Rap”?

How to Keep Your Relationship Strong While Taking Care of a Newborn

Just when you think you’ve got your relationship all figured out, a little bundle of joy comes along and turns everything upside-down-in a good way.  Now that the focus turns to your little baby, those special moments with your spouse or significant other become fewer and farther between. You may even start to wonder how your parents made it out alive with multiple children when you are only dealing with one little baby.

As you might suspect, it can take a little more effort than usual to care for your marriage or relationship when you are now caring for a newborn. Here are some of my favorite tips on getting through the struggles, sharing the responsibility, and finding that special time together once again.

  In the earliest days, realize that those 12 diaper changes will drop down to 8 or 10 in a matter of mere months.

  Also realize that, while you long for those blissful nights of uninterrupted sleep, you will soon find your newborn having more ‘awake time’ during the day, requiring more of your attention and fewer naps over time. Relish those early days in the sleep-eat-diaper change cycle! In any case, don’t let your cranky mood transfer into your relationship.

  Don’t fret about not knowing your baby’s cries yet, and especially don’t get frustrated with each other when both of you are genuinely trying to help. It comes in time and once you know the hungry cry from the tired cry, from the wet cry from the burp cry, your life does become much easier. And, your baby soothes a lot easier, too!

  Discuss a division of responsibility that works for you both. You can take turns getting up in the night if your baby is bottle-fed, or swap weeknights for weekends, depending on maternity leave or being a full-time parent.

  Don’t sweat the small stuff. Try to avoid fighting about the baby if you can help it. Let the stress roll off your back and keep moving forward toward each new day.

  As most new parents realize, it is very easy to constantly talk about the baby, and very little else. Make the effort to talk about your interests, hobbies, and feelings. With more than most of your time dedicated to the baby, it will serve as a little “mental break” and allow for both of you to feel wanted and appreciated.

  Get creative about your time together with your mate. You may not have the same freedom as you used to, but you can take a page from your baby’s book and nap while she’s napping—so snuggle up on the couch with your sweetheart and enjoy a cozy nap together.

  Above all, don’t give up on your date nights. As soon as you feel comfortable leaving the baby for a few hours, have one of your parents or a trusted friend, family member, or sitter come and watch your little one so you can go catch a matinee and lunch or even just a glass of wine and dessert.

If, after all of these tips and tricks, you still feel your relationship is a bit neglected, remember—this is only temporary. Before you know it, your newborn will be leaving for their first day of school as a tear rolls down your cheek… Soon enough, regular date night’s will be back in full-swing, and maybe even an adults-only vacation will be on the horizon (if not, it should be!).

How do/did you keep your relationship strong as a new parent?

Adventures in Introducing Solids (Baby Cereal, Veggies, and Fruits – Oh My!)

Life seems to fly by more quickly than ever now that we are parents. It’s hard to believe that our daughter is more than six months old when my pregnancy doesn’t even seem that long ago. For the longest time, our little one was exclusively breastfed. Breastfeeding is highly touted as essential to a developing immune system for infants. But, before you know it, it is time to introduce solids—baby cereal, fruits, and veggies. Are you ready for the adventure?

Introducing solids for your infant requires more than just a jar of baby food and a spoon, in case you were wondering. I highly recommend some helpful supplies –a wet baby washcloth, a paper towel, and of course, somewhere to sit your baby, be it a highchair or a Bumbo or other baby seat with a tray table. If you think you can hold your baby and feed him with a spoon without getting baby food all over him, yourself, and the room you are either very crazy or very talented!

Above all, you must decide if you plan to feed your baby jarred baby food from the store or if you will be making your own baby food at home. You should consult your pediatrician for the latter, as I’ve found some foods, like carrots, are better left to the manufacturers due to the nitrate content. BabyEarth carries lots of healthy baby food options that you can’t always find in stores.  If you are feeling ambitious, you can look into various products to help you make your own baby food, such as choppers, grinders, and steamers. I am personally sitting on the fence about whether I will make my own baby food or feed our daughter the healthiest of what I can find in the stores. I feel like our parents fed us some jar baby food and we all turned out fine, but there is still something nagging at the back of my brain telling me it may be a good experience to make what I can make. There’s the issue of time, but if you plan ahead and freeze items, it can be a healthy and cheaper option than store-bought food. Ah, what a dilemma…

On my friend’s recommendation, I tried feeding avocado to our daughter this week in the recommended three-day cycle. If I caught her in a good mood, she liked it well enough, and I’ve heard it is great brain food, so I was glad to give it a shot. To my surprise, it was also very easy to cut open, carve out, mash up, and serve, one tiny spoonful at a time. No cooking or steaming necessary, so I definitely recommend trying this for yourself if you want to try serving fresh produce to your little one over jar food. Other yummy and simple foods to start with are bananas and sweet potato (cook potato first, then mash-cool completely!).

Once you have your supplies and your baby food in hand, the rest gets easier with time. It’s adorable to see your little one’s reaction tasting each new food for the first time, from the rice cereal to the veggies and fruits. Don’t forget to consult your pediatrician for personalized instructions for your little one’s feeding plan once you are ready to introduce solids into his or her diet!

What was the first solid food you ever fed your little one? Did they love it or hate it?

Thanksgiving Craft Keepsake for Baby

Thanksgiving is essentially a day away. Soon enough the house will be filled with the warmth and intoxicating aromas that only a Thanksgiving meal and an overworked oven can produce.  The slow-roasted turkey, buttery oven-baked rolls, and bubbling pineapple-cranberry sauce (trust me, pineapple is key) will soon be accompanied by the faint sound of football in the background – and I can’t wait!

If you’re a new parent, it will also include the babbling and giggling of a precious little one experiencing his/her very first Thanksgiving.  To commemorate this joyous occasion, it seems only right to create a Thanksgiving craft that you can hold onto forever (and annoy your “little one” with when they aren’t so little anymore for Thanksgiving’s to come). ;)

With just a few simple materials, you can create a beautiful Thanksgiving keepsake.  In between the mad dash to prep for Thanksgiving, run out to your local craft store and pick up the following:

  A glazed ceramic plate

  Fall-colored gloss enamel paint (we used Americana Gloss Enamels)

  Paintbrushes/foam brushes

  Rubbing alcohol

  Spare newspaper to line your workspace

  Paper plate and/or plastic cups for the paint/paintbrushes

  Oh, and make sure your baby’s teeny little feet are clean and dry before you start.

Once all materials are in your possession, get to work!  Feel free to use our picture as a guide but don’t be shy to get creative!

  • Prep the plate by cleaning it with alcohol. Dry completely.
  • Paint the turkey feathers on the plate however you’d like, big, small, a lot, a little, multi-colored, one color, okay…you get the point. Allow the wings to dry a bit before the next step.
  • Then paint baby’s foot with paint and lightly place in between the wings. Make sure you have a pretty thick coat of paint (but not too much!) on baby’s foot so that it will show up nicely on the ceramic. I highly suggest using the newspaper/spare paper to do a few practice rounds before you make your one and only stamp on the plate.
  • Allow the footprint to dry as you wash away the paint on baby’s foot.
  • Then, paint on the face with a paintbrush.
  • To finish it off, simply grab a permanent marker and write whatever you would like to commemorate their first Thanksgiving! Our sample reads: “Thanksgiving 2012, [insert name here]“, but again, feel free to add your own personal touch.  You can write why you are thankful for them, something funny/memorable they did on their first Thanksgiving, or they can even add their own paint stokes/scribbles depending on their age!

*This can be done and displayed by Thanksgiving, but to permanently set the plate AND make it dishwasher safe (bonus!), you’ll need to do a few more steps…

  • Allow the plate to dry fully for four days. It does take awhile to dry completely, but it can still be displayed on Thanksgiving. (This can also be a great craft for all the kids on Thanksgiving Day if you are looking for craft ideas). Just make sure to keep it away from curious little fingers.
  • Without preheating the oven, “bake” the plate for 30 minutes at 325°F. Let cool with the oven door open.

Voila!

*This craft was recently created by our awesome in-store participants. If you are unfamiliar, BabyEarth love’s to hold events at our Round Rock location just outside of Austin, Texas. We offer an array of workshops, classes, playtime, and crafts for parent and baby. If you are in the area, please check out our Events page for more information.

How to Deal with a Newborn

When a baby is first born, the hospital nurses do all that they can to get you off on the right foot. They help change the diapers, they take the baby to the nursery for a few hours so you can sleep—heck, someone from the hospital even brings you hot meals and cold drinks three times a day while you sit in bed waiting. Then, before you know it, it’s time to go home and do it all on your own. Oh shoot, now what?! That’s when reality truly sets in.

In the very beginning, babies have a few primal needs you can usually rule out whenever they cry. Check to see if they have a wet or dirty diaper, if they are hungry, or if they’ve got a bubble trapped that you can free by burping them. Sometimes a newborn baby cries when he/she wants to be held or if he/she’s a bit too cold. Other times, some unlucky parents may find out it’s colic.

If your newborn baby cries, it can be due to any number of things, but most are very normal. Consider these tips for dealing with a newborn:

  First and foremost, if you suspect illness, always check for a fever.

  Track baby’s feedings in the beginning so you can anticipate when he will be hungry.

  Burp baby for a good 10 minutes after each feeding to get rid of the gas bubbles.

  Walk baby around the house and through the neighborhood to show her new things.

  Spend lots of time snuggling, talking, and singing with your new baby. It builds an intimate bond and even helps with breastmilk production.

  Every once in a while when nothing else works, you may have to walk away for just a few minutes to regain your sanity. (It seems to happen to every parent at least once.)

  If you suspect you might have a bit of postpartum depression coming on, set up an appointment to discuss your concerns with your doctor. It is very common, with an increased risk due to a lack of sleep.

  Speak with your pediatrician about anything else that concerns you.

Most new parents will find that newborns sleep throughout the majority of the day, just not all at once. It is very common to wake up every two to three hours in the middle of the night with your newborn. One final piece of advice I can share is to nap when your newborn naps, at least until you feel 100% again. You may even find that you can fall asleep within seconds of your head hitting the pillow, like mine does now.

Just about any new parent will tell you that the first couple of months are the toughest after your baby is born. Of course, they aren’t accounting for future stunts-gone-wrong (broken bones), teenage drama (backtalk), and dating (don’t tell dad). Good luck with that!  All kidding aside, though it might be a trying couple of months, remind yourself of how special this time is. Inspect their little toes and memorize the feel of their baby-soft skin because soon enough, you’ll wonder how the time passed so quickly!

National Adoption Day

November 17th is a monumental day for children as it is also National Adoption Day! In the United States, there are over 100,000 children in foster care that are in need of a loving family.  This annual event works to raise awareness, encourage prospective parents to adopt, and to find forever homes for foster children.  National Adoption Day hosts events that run across the nation as well as Puerto Rico and Guam to ensure children are placed in loving homes. Whether you can conceive or not, adoption is a wonderful avenue for parents looking to expand their family and give the gift of love to a child that so desperately needs it.

For those of you thinking of adoption or have adopted, thank you! The gift of love and family is so very precious. To learn more or share your story, visit National Adoption Day.

November 17th is World Prematurity Day

Not only is November Prematurity Awareness Month, November 17th is a day fully dedicated to spreading awareness of the worldwide crisis that affects 15 million babies.

 

Thank you, March of Dimes for your continuous effort to end premature births and give rise to full-term, healthy babies!

To learn more and/or donate to the cause, visit the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign.

Were you a preemie baby?  Do you have a preemie baby?  Tell us your story here or visit our forums page for support.