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Listen, I don't want to join the throngs of unsolicited advice givers. I've gotten enough of that throughout pregnancy and motherhood. I just thought I'd share some parenting books that have helped me as I've navigated this crazy new world of first-time mommyhood. 
 
Baby 411 - This saves me from the internet wormhole! My physician assistant friend recommended this to me and I'm so glad she did! No longer am I scouring the internet finding worst-case scenario possibilities for my baby's poop. Turns out most of the time she's just fine. This book provides simple, straightforward advice and answers to common questions that you are definitely going to have. Plus it's super cheap! Worth every penny towards my anxiety management... Darn you WebMD!
 
The Good Sleeper - Written by the self-proclaimed NYC Sleep Doctor I used this as my guide for sleep training. I liked it for its easy reading style and broken down steps, but I would not call it the bible for sleep training — a bit too vague for that if you ask me. However, it was worth the read for this tip alone: your newborn should not be awake for more than 90 minutes at a time. That helped me mold my daughter into becoming a great napper and every minute of sleep is worth it!
 
Bringing Up Bebe - Best to be treated more as an entertaining read more than a how-to guide, but it was enlightening to see an alternative to the over-parenting craze.
 
Additional Resources
 
Happiest Baby on the Block on DVD or Amazon Download - This was so good for me as a first-time parent. I preferred the DVD over the book because of the swaddling and soothing demos. Gotta live by those 7 s's!
 
Babies - I think about this documentary (conveniently on Netflix) all of the time. It follows the story of four babies from across the world from birth to walking. Fascinating! More than anything this illustrates the resiliency of babies and that there is no one right way to do things. 
 
But above all else, know that you're doing awesome and at the end of the day your kid is lucky to have you!

For parents of young children, the prospect of being stick in a car with babies and toddlers can be enough to take the wind out of any travel plans. But don’t let the idea of travelling with toddlers or babies stop you from holidaying happily; if you take the following steps to ensure you’re prepared for every eventuality, road trips can be exactly the type of family experience that (golden!) memories are made of.

Travel planning:

A bit of forward planning is a necessary when it comes to travelling with a baby or toddler. Plan to:

Travel at night, if you can - replicating your children’s natural sleeping patterns will defend against tiredness induced tantrums. (If you do choose to travel in the dark, though, make sure to keep the designated driver alert and awake).

Avoid hitting the road at peak travel time; that means both the time of year, and the time of day.

Set out a picturesque route with plenty of pit-stops. This is a great way to make your road trip more than just a dreary drive, and maps or apps can show you the various lookouts and green spaces that mark your chosen stretch of road.

Kitting out the car: 

Taking a “safety first” attitude should be your first priority when considering vacations with toddlers or a vacation with a baby. Ensuring that your kids’ booster seats are strapped in and secure (and the right size for your baby/toddler) is the most important box to tick on your car-ride checklist.

Consider investing in some window-shades to keep the glare out of your kids’ eyes and to create an in-car environment that is more amenable to sleep.

A first-aid kit is a must where small children are involved and you’re far away from a home-base.

Packing, packing, packing: 

It’s always a good idea to do your packing well before you set off on your journey. Don’t forget these essentials:

Anything and everything your baby or toddler would need on an average day at home, pack into a carry-bag for the car. This means vitals like (but certainly not limited to) expressed milk, favourite toys, plastic bags, and plenty of nappies. Pack clothes appropriate for the place you’re heading to – merino children’s clothing such as knits for colder climates, and light layers for the beach.

Entertainment for the car: loading up your device with kiddie-friendly audiobooks, podcasts, and videos ensures a day full of virtual distraction for your tiny tots. Make sure to include some podcasts that interest you, too, if you’re lucky enough to have your kid(s) doze off during the journey.

In the same vein, don’t forget your adult necessities – check twice that you’ve got your wallet and keys handy, and pack your phone (and charger) in case of emergencies.

 The drive:

Keeping a conscious eye on your kids will allow you to perceive any signs of grizzliness before a bad mood matures into a full-blown tantrum. Giving your baby/toddler a small snack or toy to placate them will help nip tantrums in the bud.

If you have them, older children are a godsend. Getting your bigger kids to play with the younger ones is great entertainment for babies and toddlers and allows the adult(s) a much-needed chance to conserve some energy too.

Sticking to a regular eating/drinking/breastfeeding schedule wards against irritability for all road-tripping parties. Stopping every few hours for a healthy meal or snack also keeps kids’ digestion normal (which means reduced possibility of car-sickness).

 

And if all else fails - whip out your camera and document the experience! Even if your road trip doesn’t go perfectly, chances are you’ll look back on the journey with fondness when your kids are older.

Breastfeeding is a personal choice, and it's certainly not for everyone.

But, for those moms who decide to breastfeed—or if you're a mom-to-be and are on the fence about whether you want to breastfeed—there are definitely some really great benefits to consider.

Our friends at Maternity Glow have created this amazing infographic with 21 amazing benefits of breastfeeding.

For more information, check out this amazing article.

When we got married, my husband informed me of a burning desire he has to see every Major League Ballpark in the country. Unaware of what I’d be getting myself into, I agreed to make it our family goal. Therefore, every trip we take during baseball season, we fit in a baseball game. Another thing to mention is that my husband is a die-hard Red Sox fan, who would never miss an opportunity to see them play, at any stadium. So, when it was announced that the Sox would be playing in California, a mere 10 hours away, he was ready to jump at the chance to see them.

I however, was not too excited to take in a game this particular trip, as we would have our 6 month old nursing baby in tow. A baseball game can last anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on how well the teams are playing. Keeping a 6 month old content on my lap for a possible 4 hours was not a scenario I was willing to play out. I was not looking forward to trying to nurse my baby in our outfield seats located in direct sunlight, nor was I excited at the prospect of sitting in a public or family restroom to nurse him. I reluctantly agreed to the trip.

Needless to say, when we got to the ballpark I was not a happy mom. I made sure to feed my son before we got to the stadium, praying he wouldn’t need to eat until after we left. Of course he did, and he let me know, very loudly that he was not going to wait any more. I looked in desperation to my husband who had spent the last hour of the game walking around with the baby strapped to him while I wrangled our two year old, and told him we had to go. He tried to convince me we could stay, but I was determined. In a last ditch effort, my husband asked the nearest usher if there happened to be a Mother’s Room somewhere in the park. He directed us to the other side of the park, where I expected to find a bathroom with a bench and a changing table.

Here’s what I found instead.

Ladies, this is a Nursing Suite. It is the first of its kind on the west coast. It is an air conditioned piece of heaven located on the field level concourse of Petco Baseball Park. There are couches, tables and an outside seating area in the shade where you can nurse while watching the game. If you choose to stay inside, there are televisions that show the game There is an attendant assigned just to the mother’s room, and they are the nicest people at the ballpark. They make sure you have water, ensure no one comes in to disturb you, and the one I met even spent time informing my husband that I would be out in a moment as I was changing a diaper. Men are not allowed in the nursing room, for privacy. Also available to mothers is a clean bathroom and changing station, a refrigerator, and bottle warmer.  I chose to nurse my baby outside so I could watch the game because he isn’t easily scared or distracted. So there I was in a prime viewing spot, in the shade, sipping my ice water and nursing my baby and smiling at the thought of how jealous my husband was going to be. This was my view.

Though they never ushered me out, they do try to make sure no one stays for too long to make sure there is enough room for other moms.

In doing some research, many baseball and football stadiums are stepping up to provide nice nursing areas for their Mommy fans.

Here are some others that I found:

Baseball:Great American Ballpark Cincinnati, OH

Fenway Park Boston, MA – Nursing Pods/Mamava Suites

Nationals Park, Washington DC

Football: TCF Bank Stadium Minneapolis MN – Nursing Pods/Mamava Suites

CenturyLink Field – Seattle, WA

 

Hopefully other stadiums will choose to follow suit so that our Sport SuperFan Mamas can have the experience I did! 

It's been said that breastmilk is liquid gold.  A month's supply can cost anywhere from $300 up to $1,200 dollars on the internet. If you're a pumping mama, you want to preserve every drop.  

Here are our top 3 ways to store that precious breastmilk:

1- Milk Trays- 
Milkies Milk trays freezes eight 1-ounce "Milk Sticks", allowing you to thaw the exact amount you need for each feeding.  Milk Sticks fit in ALL bottle openings.  Plus, the trays are BPA free.  
 
2- Milk Bags-
Lansinoh Milk Bags are our favorite.  They are leak proof and ideal for storing and freezing breastmilk. The bags lay flat which make storage and thawing efficient.  Plus, you can pump straight into bags to eliminate the need to clean all those bottles and eliminate any chance of spilling.  Just label each bag with the date and number of ounces you've pumped and put in in the freezer.  They have a convenient pour spout so you don't loose any of that precious liquid gold when you go to use it.
 
3-  Breastmilk Storage Bottles-
There are a lot of storage bottles out there, but we love Medela.  If you have a Medela PUmp, you can pump directly into these bottles and stash in your freezer.  They are leakproof and dishwasher safe.  This is the most convenient option because you are pumping directly into the bottle you are freezing and then feeding baby with.   However, if you are storing a lot, these take up much more space. 
 
When pumping and storing breastmilk, it's important to remember the following:
Room Temperature-  Good to use for 4-6 hours
Refrigerator- Good to use for 4-8 days
Freezer- Good to use for 3 Months
Deep Freezer- Good to use for 12 Months
Thawed Milk- Should be used within 24 hours.  
You cannot refreeze breastmilk
 
We would also recommend:

 

 

 

Source: Don’t Shake the Milk by Linda J. Smith, BSE, FACCE, IBCLC

From Kelly Mom:

How likely is this to be an issue? We don’t know! So far there has not been research done on the bioactive properties of shaken vs. non-shaken breastmilk (fun research project – any takers?). Some feel that the forces required to change the milk are significantly more than could be provided via shaking. Others note that shear forces from shaking are not the only issue–bursting of bubbles caused by shaking may also damage cells or denature proteins.

To play it safe, use the smallest amount of force needed to mix the layers, keeping in mind that the layers will mix better as the milk warms. If you do shake the milk, it might not be a problem at all–and even if it turns out that shaking makes a difference it will still be the best nutrition for your child.

At some point, almost every breastfeeding mama has faced a blow out.  Those yellow stains can be such a nuisance, so we turned to our instagram community of moms for help.  Here are a few tips they've shared to deal with stains like this:

 

1-  Oxiclean 

 

 
4-  Blue Dawn + Hydrogen Peroxide + Baking Soda
 
5-  Sunshine
 
No matter the method, once washed lay clothing out in the sun.  It works as a natural stain remover and helps bleach the stain out.  Plus it's all natural and completely FREE!

Welcome to the MOM OLYMPICS! 
 
 
All events require the assistance of a newborn and a potty training toddler. 

 1-TRIP TO TARGET: Buy all items on the list, and nothing else. Timed Event.

(must take toddler to the bathroom at least twice)

 
 

 
2-PLAYDATE PLAYOFFS  Get together with another mom + her 2 kids. Share & gather 5 pieces of information from the other mom. i.e. Where would you like to go on your next family vacation? What books are you currently reading or would like to read? (1 hour time limit.) 
 
 

 
3-FEEDING FRENZY-Make a healthy & delicious lunch for yourself and your toddler, while breastfeeding your newborn. RULES: no blue or red foods, food may be cut in pieces sometimes. Foods must not touch on the plate. Food must be warm, but not hot or cold. 
 
 
Everyone left standing after all 3 events gets the GOLD! 
 
Bonus: stay up all night watching the Olympics and wake up ready to do it all again tomorrow.

 

Whether you are an exclusive pumper or just ocassionally use your breast pump, we can all agree that pumping is a PAIN. BeauGen is a company created to help moms have a more positive, more comfortable breast-pumping experience.

They've created a soft and stretchy nipple cushion that adds significantly more comfort to each pumping session by creating a soft barrier between your skin and the hard plastic breast shield. The cushions will move and stretch with the nipple during pumping.  

Enter to win a pair of Beaugen Nipple Cushions Below:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 We've teamed up with Ergobaby to give you a chance to win the amazing Adapt 3-in-1 baby carrier!  We love the ADAPT baby carrier  because it does just that, it adapts to your growing baby and requires NO INFANT INSERT!  That means you can use this incredible carrier from newborn to toddler (7-45 lbs).  Using Velcro on the waistband the ergonomic bucket seat gradually adjusts to fit your baby.  Plus it has lumbar support and crossable straps.  To say we love this carrier would be an understatement.  Enter to win one below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

When my son was born I wrote him a lengthy letter every week describing that week’s events, any milestones or changes, etc. I thought that for sure I would have no problem keeping this up throughout his childhood and for any other children that came along (ha ha ha ha ha) but as tends to be the case, by the time he hit 2 and I was pregnant with my daughter the letters shifted to monthly, as did my daughter’s when she was born. The real bummer is that I had high hopes of making these letters into photo books with pictures from every week, but sadly they are still just Word files on my computer. Maybe I’ll have time to create the books when my kids go off to college. To save all you other moms from repeating my mistakes, I’ve rounded up three simple ways to document your kids’ milestones without too much stress.

Chatbooks

This Utah company has been a favorite of mine since they started offering their super affordable 60- page softcover books as a way preserve the posts on your Instagram feed. In the years since they have expanded their offering to include hardcover books, and the sky is the limit when it comes to methods of creating your Chatbook. You can pull photos from various social media accounts, your phone, or your computer.

Chatbooks also offers the option of creating a book by hashtag, which would be a pretty efficient way to create a keepsake for your kids. Just create a hashtag for each child, then post once a week (or whatever frequency you like) on your Instagram account (I actually created a second private account for this purpose) with a few words about what they did that week. At the end of the year you should have enough posts to fill up one of these books, and you can order it for less than ten bucks! Easy as pie.

Promptly Journals

Perfect for those that want more of a traditional keepsake, Promptly Journals is the brainchild of a fellow Utah mom/graphic designer looking for a way to document her daughter’s entire childhood in one place. These beautiful linen covered journals eliminate the problem of staring at the blank pages of a journal wondering what to write by providing questions for each phase of your child’s life, from your pregnancy through their teen years. Prompts include questions like “is there any special significance to your child’s name?”, “what is your toddler’s favorite item of clothing?”, and “what are your teen’s dreams for the future?”

Qeepsake Baby Journal

I heard about this concept when a friend of mine posted about it on Facebook, and it truly doesn’t get any easier than this. Qeepsake was started by busy parents of five children, and the concept is simple: qeepsake texts you a daily question about your kid (something simple like “what makes your baby smile?”), you text back, and your entry is saved in their online journal. When you have more time you can access the account online and edit, add photos, etc. Qeepsake will be available for customers in the U.S. and Canada sometime in Spring 2016, but you can get early access by sharing the link with friends via social media or email.

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