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Best Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

They say that children become readers on the laps of their parents, and although my nerdy English major heart jumps at the prospect of raising a whole bunch of bookworms, there are plenty of other reasons to spend time reading to your kids. Research shows that reading to your baby is one of the best ways to encourage brain development, boost vocabulary, and increase attention span. Pediatricians even recommend reading to children from the time that they are first born, claiming that—though you might feel a bit ridiculous reading to an infant—hearing a variety of words and looking at pictures is oh so good for their little brains.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received about reading to my kids came from their pediatrician. Apart from giving your kids access to lots of books and reading with them frequently, he recommended setting aside a specific time of day (bedtime, morning, naptime, etc.) and designating a few minutes for reading time with your child sitting in your lap as you read aloud and turn the pages, making sure your child sits with you until the book is over. It seemed a bit harsh to me at first, but in my experience this ritual has been so instrumental in connecting with my kids and helping them learn.

My husband and I implemented a bedtime reading ritual in earnest with both of our kids when they were around 9 months old and showed a greater interest in looking at books than throwing or chewing on them .I quickly discovered that many of the picture books I loved and dreamed of reading to my kids were just too long and not visually stimulating enough to hold their attention at such a young age, not to mention the hazard of little hands tearing fragile paper pages! My oldest was and still is such a busybody, so I had to quickly find board books that would hold his interest and make for an enjoyable reading and learning experience for both of us. Below is a sampling of what I’ve found to be some of my favorite books for the littlest readers.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

This Eric Carle classic has been a big favorite with both my kids. The sing-song rhymes coupled with big, colorful illustrations have them glued to every page.

"In My..." Series

This series is a darling way to introduce kids to various animals and their habitats, with the added bonus of a built-in finger puppet to help tell the story. In My Ocean and In My Jungle are both in constant rotation at our house.

First 100 Words

This book is a simple collection of everyday objects, and is such a great way to teach your baby basic words. My 15-month-old loves it, and we spend much of our reading time identifying each picture as she tries to repeat the word. This one is also her favorite to sit and look through on her own.

Boynton's Greatest Hits

Sandra Boynton’s books are such silly fun. Moo, Baa, La La La still sends my 3-year-old into laughing fits. Besides the books in this set, we also love The Going to Bed Book and Opposites.

Touch and Feel Animals

Seems like kids either go for the touch and feel or they don’t. My son didn’t care for them, while my daughter goes bonkers over petting a lamb’s fluffy wool or a puppy’s fur. These are another great option for independent reading and for younger babies.

Goodnight Moon

This has been a surprise hit with both kids. I thought for sure it would be one of those instances where I try to force a “classic” book on them while they squirm and resist, but it turns out that this book is a classic for a reason. Something about the soothing language and alternating black-and-white and color illustrations make for a perfect “wind-down” book before bed, although lately my daughter has taken to reading it on her own as well.

Happy reading!

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3 Parenting Books

I love research. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had this idea that I could research my way to perfect parentdom (hah! Bless my heart). There were only three books that I loved when I read them and, almost 3 years after my son was born, have stuck with me. I still recommend them to friends and practice much of what I learned from them. To me, those are signs of a quality parenting book. We all have different values and different kids, so take it all with your own grain of salt. Without further ado…

1. Your Brain on Childhood by Gabrielle Principe 

a. What it’s about: Neuroscience. While the woman who wrote this book has some impressive credentials, she also writes brilliantly so that average folks like myself can comprehend what she’s got to say. She walks you through the development of the human brain, starting in utero and continuing beyond the teen years; and addresses things that can affect that development for the better or the worse. (Hint: They’re things that are relevant to parenting). She’s got the data to back everything up, too.

b. You may dig it if: You put a lot of emphasis on cognitive and emotional development, you like evidence-based advice, and you’re not interested in someone who is going to tell you only what you want to hear.

c. You might not enjoy it if: You only want someone to tell you what you want to hear; too much information gives you anxiety; or you don’t enjoy books that are information-dense and take some time to finish.

2. How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei Ling Hopgood 

a. What it’s about: This book is not so much a parenting advice book as it is an observation of parenting around the world. Hopgood takes different aspects of parenting and childhood like potty training, meal time, sleep habits, and so on, and looks at how different cultures approach these responsibilities with their children. I ended up adapting much of what I learned in this book to my own parenting style, and I am grateful for that.

b. You may dig it if: You are open to other ways of doing things, you like to challenge the status quo, and your life mantra is “There’s more than one way to skin a cat!”

c. You might not enjoy it if: You want a book that gives you clear commands about what to do, which Hopgood avoids. She simply explores how other cultures approach parenting and what the pros and cons of those methods may be.

3. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross 

a. What it’s about:  After years of working with children, the authors developed several methods and guidelines for improving home environments to help children thrive mentally and emotionally. I applied what I learned from this book before my son was ever born, and feel it has made our home more peaceful for all of us (not just the kid). However, several of my mom friends read this book when their kids were having problems at home, and said that this book helped their children after behavior problems had already set in. 

b. You may dig it if: You are looking for a way to supplement other behavior

c. You might not enjoy it if: Suggestions about re-organizing your home and lifestyle make you feel defensive.

Breastfeeding

If you ever felt like “the most natural thing in the world” was especially frustrating or difficult, you are in good company. The way we evolved to learn how to breastfeed has been lost in our culture for generations, and that is why breastfeeding can sometimes feel like a journey in the dark. We need a guiding light.

I can credit my sister-in-law for how I approached breastfeeding. Years before I became a mother, she did. She unabashedly nursed in front of me - in front of everyone! I would find my jaw agape as she popped her breasts out in front of her dad, brothers and in-laws to feed her children (and nobody batted an eye!). Initially, this made me uncomfortable. It was the first time I had ever been around a nursing mother. Eventually it lost its shock value and I observed how she held her babies, how she latched them on before they got too hungry to be consoled, how she adjusted their lips when they were curled in and couldn’t suck. Without realizing I was learning to breastfeed, I was learning to breastfeed. I had no idea what a goldmine of information I was absorbing when she would talk about things like engorgement, milk let-down, foremilk and hindmilk. Simply by being a mother comfortably and openly, she was educating me.

This passing-along of information by doing was the norm for thousands of years. Before we were blessed with the advent of infant formula, families who could not afford a wet nurse had limited affordable feeding options. This meant that all new moms nursed their babies. Little girls would grow up watching their young mothers, aunties, and older sisters nurse babies. If you had a large community of sisters and cousins, you probably all reached your childbearing years within a few years of each other. You learned from one another’s mis-steps, which made it easier for everyone going forward. You learned to nurse a baby the same way you learned to walk, talk, and use a spoon: by having always been around it, and then having everyone around you guide and instruct when it was your time to hit that milestone.

Today, our culture is much more private. Most of us have ceased to learn about our nursing bodies from family. If you are expecting a child, the act of breastfeeding education falls mostly on your shoulders. There are some wonderful resources available for you, and I encourage you to check them out:

-La Leche League is a fantastic organization.

-Your doctor or midwife may be able to recommend a local breastfeeding class you can take, which I highly recommend if it is available.

-A book that I found encouraging and helpful was Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding, which I read in my last trimester.

-Join a parenting group, and give yourself permission to connect with other mothers about your challenges and concerns.

-Lactation consultants are invaluable if you have access to one. A good LC will help you troubleshoot your challenges and help you form a game plan or supplementation schedule according to you and your baby’s needs.

If you are concerned or frustrated, don’t struggle in the dark; reach out for a guiding light.

Cradle Cap Cure

Almost all first time moms freak out the first time they discover cradle cap on their perfect newborn baby. They want to know what caused it and how to get rid of it.  We've tried all the tricks and thought we'd pass a little of our knowledge on to you!

What Is Cradle Cap?
It is a harmless skin condition on babies that looks like flaky, crusty scale-like patches that are often yellowish.  It isn't painful and wasn't caused by poor hygiene or dry skin (so don't beat yourself up as a mom because you didn't cause it).  And IT'S TEMPORARY!

How to Treat It?
It will eventually disappear on its own, but if you can't resist picking at it (don't just pick it, you could cause sores or other conditions if you ), you can treat it with coconut oil.  The best part, it's all natural and it smells good too!  

coconut oil for cradle cap

1- Rub coconut oil on baby's head and massage deeply into scalp.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes (longer if it is really bad) to soften the scales.

2-  Use a fine tooth comb or soft bristle brush to gently remove them.  The hospital gave me an awesome sponge bristle brush that worked great!  

3-  Wash baby's head as you normally would to remove all the loose flakes.

Infant Congestion

Congestion in infants can make everyone miserable.  Here are a few tools to help treat your infant's congestion to ensure your little one can rest a little more comfortably:

1- Humidifier-  A cool mist humidifier will add moisture to the air which can help thin the mucus and ease the congestion.

2- Saline Drops- These natural drops moisturize the nasal passages and flush dust and irritants to get baby breathing easier.

3- Baby Comfy Nasal Aspirator - This is the most incredible congested baby product you will ever use.  It uses your own suction to remove mucus from your baby's airways without damaging delicate mucous membranes. It sounds gross, but it definitely works!  It is significantly more effective than the bulb syringe because your natural lung suction is so much stronger. Plus it is way more sanitary.  Here's what the inside of your bulb syring looks like: 

The design of the aspirator eliminates any possibility of contact with mucus and germs. It comes with two nose tips: standard and newborn. There are NO FILTERS to buy, it just uses a tissue!

BONUS: Breastfeed as much as possible to help keep baby hydrated.  You can also put breastmilk in their eyes or nose to help clear up any infections

Baby Comfy Nose Giveaway

 

From practicality to style, finding the right diaper bag can be difficult.  Here's our top 3 favorites:

1- Petunia Picklebottom Boxy Backpack:

It's large enough to fit all the daily essentials without being too large! It has plenty of inside and outside pockets to help keep everything organized! We love the built in changing station and the glazed coated canvas exterior with water-resistant lining makes it easy to clean.  Plus, who doesn't love the multiple carrying options.  These bags are great quality and stylish as well.

2- JuJuBe Be Prepared Diaper Bag:

We've been long time fans of JuJuBe, in case you couldn't tell from our multiple giveaways.  This bag has lots of storage, light colored linings to help you actually find what you stash in there, and instulated pockets to keep things cold.  Two of our favorite features are the luggage feet  for when you’re dumping the bag on the ground and crumb drains so that junk just falls right out of the bag.  Yes you read that right, crumb drains!  This print is our absolute favorite!

 

 

3-  Lily Jade Elizabeth Diaper Bag:

The bags with the most longevity aren't the ones with the most pockets or the the cleverest extras, they are the ones that double as a bag you will actually use long after your out of the diaper bag stage.  That's why we love Lily Jade!  We love the soft leather and the multiple carrying options: backpack or crossbody.  Each bag comes complete with a detachable, washable Baby Bag organizer and changing pad.  The price tag is a little higher but you will definitely get your use out of the bag for years to come.

4- OiOi 2 Pocket Hobo Diaper Bag

The OiOi Diaper Bags are quickly becoming one of our favorites!  They are stylish, yet practical.   The very durable materials, both inside and outside the bag, are water resistant (because something always spills). Plus they’ve also got metal feet on the bottom of the bag to keep it from wearing out.  The external pockets help keep things organized and in their place and it comes with a very needed wet bag!

 

 


 

 

How do their fingernails always get dirty?
 
It's amazing how much dirt can get can get under those little fingernails even after you bathe them.  That dirt can come from a few places, but the main culprits are from baby making fists his fingers to his palms they collect the dirt/sweat/fuzz and grabbing his or her own dead skin.

Here's how to get rid of that dirt:

1- TRIM-The first step in keeping baby fingernails clean is to keep them trimmed. Baby's nails grow quickly, so plan to trim them at least weekly.  
 

2- BRUSH- Sometimes even after you trim them, a little dirt remains.  So you need a brush. Wet a soft toothbrush or nail brush in warm water and gently work the bristles against the dirt.

Christmas is upon us and we've rounded up a few of our favorite DIY Advent Calendars:


1-  Baby Sock Advent Calendar

2- Winter Wonderland Calendar

3- Countdown to Christmas Calendar

4- DIY Watercolor Advent Calendar

5- DIY Advent Calendar Poster

Still have a little extra Halloween Candy?  Try our Halloween Candy Christmas Advent Calendar:

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