Everything You Need to Know About Cloth Diapers

Cloth baby diapersAs a mother, you want your baby as healthy, safe, and comfortable as possible. Along with this, you also want manage your budget and be environmentally-friendly. Cloth diapering is one way many moms accomplish all of the above.

All the information about cloth diapering can be overwhelming – in the American culture, it’s assumed most parents will want to use disposable diapers. All the advertising, store displays, and ease of finding diapers makes it seem like disposables are the only option. So parents wanting a different option have a bit of learning to do from square one!

Before you jump into the decision of going environment-friendly and using cloth diapers for your baby’s comfort as well as saving money in the long run, a good hard look at the advantages and disadvantages of cloth diapering will help you decide whether you should give it a go or not.

Read more about cloth diapering

10 Tips and Tricks For Putting Your Newborn to Sleep

How to get your baby to sleep can be baffling. While there are lots of factors that may impact how easy your baby goes down for bedtime, there are some tricks that can make it go smoother. If you’re struggling with putting your baby down, try some of these tried-and-true techniques from experienced moms. Because the better baby sleeps, the better you sleep too.

 

Build a Routine – Many kids thrive on a nightly routine that prepares them mentally and physically for sleep. Whether it’s a bath and books or a snuggle and a special song, pick a routine that is simple and easy to replicate, even if you’re in a new place.

“We keep the same bedtime routine almost every night, ending with books. The trick for us is to end on the same book every night and once we start reading that familiar story, she starts yawning and rubbing her eyes. It’s like Pavlov’s bell!” –Adrienne

 

Look For Clues –Babies that get too tired can be tricky to put to bed, so learn to look for your baby’s early cues of sleepiness. Rubbing eyes, yawning, drooping eyelids can all signal that the ideal time for sleep is soon.

“Watching for sleeping cues is critical!  As soon as I see an eye rub, I immediately put the baby down for a nap.  I drop her in the crib awake and she falls asleep without complaint within 5 minutes.  If I botch the timing, it is much harder to get her down.” – Kristin C.

 

Snug as a Bug – Swaddling can help recreate a womb-like environment for newborns and prevent babies from flailing. A good swaddling blanket has a bit of stretch, an effective fold and a snug fit.  Or, try a specialty swaddling blanket like the Aden + Anais Easy Swaddle.

“Swaddling! It was the only thing that worked for us when the twins were small.” – Summer M.

 

Make It Dark – Darkness helps signal sleep for our bodies. Invest in a blackout shade or an added blanket thrown over the window to block out light and make it easier for baby to rest.

“Blackout curtains are amazing.  My baby naps so much better when the room is super dark, and good blackout curtains do the trick!” – Kristin C.

 

White Noise For the Win – The noise in the womb is as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Help recreate that comforting sound with an inexpensive white noise machine. Make sure that it’s easily portable for trips in the car or stays at Grandma’s house, and consider finding one that has the option of running on batteries for situations where an outlet isn’t close by.

See Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, talk about noise.

“We love the Sleep Sheep. It’s cute and helped confuse Charlie into thinking he was still in a tummy. He still loves it and we use it to drown out the dogs and other random noises in our house. – Rebecca T.

 

Sleep Treats  - Keeping certain sleep treats like pacifiers or special stuffed animals just for bedtime can help signal rest time to your child and also help her self-soothe.

“My 16-month-old dives for her crib for a nap or bedtime because it is the ONLY time we have let her have her pacifier. We haven’t had the headache of weaning a child off of one yet, but so far it has been our ace in the hole.” – Kathryn V.

 

Mother’s not always best… – Being held by mom is way more fun than sleeping by yourself. Plus you smell like milk. If your babe is having trouble going down, try passing her off to someone else.

“[My daughter] napped like a champ at school and if she was alone with her dad on weekends, but she would not nap if I was anywhere in the vicinity.” – Erin N.

 

Try, Try Again – Babies must learn how to self-soothe and go to sleep, and learning takes time. Be consistent in your efforts and patient for results. Your future self will thank you.

“I turn on the machine and leave the room. I start this process around 2 months old. If they cry for too long, I go back and try the same soothing tactics and attempt it again.” – Katie K.

 

Wise Words – Start off the way you intend to go. If you don’t want to rock your 3-year-old to sleep every night for 45 minutes, consider not making that your go-to method when he’s 3 months old.

“Our son was a nightmare sleeper. Our only trick was to actually go to sleep with him.  He slept in our bed until he was 4 and still comes in during the middle of the night. With our daughter, I decided that she would start sleeping in her crib as soon as she was about 6 or 7 weeks old, so that we would hopefully not get a second bed buddy. So my routine for her was to breastfeed her and then put her in the crib. Even if it only lasted an hour or two, she got used to falling asleep in her crib.  Now at 18 months old, she asks to get into her crib so that she can go to bed.” – Stacey B

New Baby Sleep Challenges and Solutions

Figuring out how to get your baby to sleep (and get some sleep yourself!) is one of the biggest challenges parents face during a child’s first year. Read on to see some of our readers’ biggest sleep challenges and solutions for getting everyone a good night’s sleep.

Question: My newborn always wakes herself up with her flailing arms. Help!

Answer: Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle! Wrapping your newborn up in a swaddle blanket will help keep her from startling herself with flailing arms and remind her of that same confined sensations she had in the womb which is very soothing to infants. Look for a swaddle blanket that has some stretchiness to it and isn’t too thick like these from Aden + Anais. Ask an fellow parent for their swaddle technique or check out a video online for a demonstration. There are also a number of specialty swaddle blankets that are designed to make the swaddling process easier like  Aden + Anais’ Easy Swaddle.

Question: Our family travels a lot. How can I ensure my baby will sleep well when we’re in a new location?

Answer: While many adults don’t even sleep as well when they aren’t in their own bed, you can help your baby get the best chance at a good night’s sleep by create a bedtime routine that can be replicated just about anywhere. While a nightly bath or 20 minutes in the rocking chair might be hard to duplicate at grandma’s house or a hotel, soothing techniques like a familiar lullaby, calming white noise or a special blanket or stuffed animal can be easy to provide wherever you are putting your baby down. A sound machine that runs off an AC adaptor or batteries making it easy to take on the go. Sleep Sheep is a portable plush animals that combine soothing sounds, scents or sights that can help signal your child that it’s time to sleep.


Question: My baby sleeps like a dream when he has his pacifier, but the minute he drops it, he screams until I come in to find it for him. I end up getting up multiples times a night just to find his paci for him.


WubbanubAnswer: Help make the pacifier easier for your baby to retrieve on his own with one of these adorable WubbaNub pets. The paci/plush toy combo offers dual comfort and makes it easy for your child to locate the pacifier on his own. Choose from a frog, kitten, dog, dinosaur, elephant or caterpillar.

Question: With three children, I frequently need to be in the car during my baby’s naptime bringing the older children to practices and events. How can I help my baby get to sleep when we’re in the car?

Answer: While many babies are automatically soothed by the gentle jostling of a moving car, some kids may need more help falling asleep when you’re on the road. Babies can be easily over-stimulated by their surroundings, so try to remove some of the distracting sights and sounds around them. A car window shade can help block out the sun and distractions outside the window while this infant seat cover provides a safe way to block out light, noise and curious siblings to help your infant snooze.

Question: I’m have a hard time leaving my preemie alone for naps or bedtime. I feel like I’m constantly going in the nursery to check on him!

Answer: To give yourself peace of mind and keep your check-ins from waking baby up, invest in a video baby monitor that can help you keep an eye on junior without going in the room. Look for a baby monitor that has infrared night vision, a high-quality screen, and can be adjusted to get the best view of your baby. You may also want to look at a video baby monitor that includes an under-the-mattress movement sensor pad, which will allow you to see, hear and ensure baby is breathing normally all from the comfort of your own bed.

Why Play is Important for Babies and Toddlers

Play.

From hide-n-seek and peek-a-boo to puppet shows and tea parties, play is not only a natural part of development for babies, toddlers, and children; it’s an essential part. The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights even recognizes play as a right of every child due to its importance in the emotional, cognitive and social development of a child1.

Why Playing is Important for Children

In a recent clinical finding, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports the following proven benefits of play in the development of a child2. Research shows that play “plays” a role in a healthy developing young child:

  • “[develop] their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength”
  • “is important to healthy brain development”
  • allows children to “create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles”
  • “develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency” for future challenges help children “learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills”
  • “practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue”
  • “build active, healthy bodies”
  • “[is] essential to developing social and emotional ties… [and] helps to build bonds within the family.”

And that’s all from pretend police chases, tossing balls, doll houses, building block towers and playing vet!

What About Playing with Babies?

Even though babies can turn nearly anything into a toy or game for self-entertainment, early-age play doesn’t always come easy for parents. It can be especially difficult for parents of young children who cannot communicate how, where or what they want to play.

Overcoming Your Adult Hang-ups
There can be lots of reasons a parent feels less than adept at engaging in play. Any of these sound familiar?

  • I don’t know what to do.
  • I feel silly.
  • It seems like a waste of time.
  • I don’t know what my child will enjoy.
  • I don’t know how to start.
  • I don’t know how to join in when my child is playing.

Keep in mind that there is no right way to play, no grade for playing, and besides for your child, there’s a good chance no one else else watching. So let go of your worries! Shake off your fear of being silly! And remember that every game or activity you do with your child is helping him or her grow up happier and healthier.

Need inspiration? Here are 20 games and activities to help you jump into playtime with your little one.

Great Ways To Play With an Infant

1. Roll a ball back and forth.

2. Hide a ball or toy under a cup and have your baby find it.

3. Count things around you such as blankets, leaves, books or windows.

4. Play peek-a-boo.

5. Find things around the house that shake, rattle, squeak, pop or crinkle.

6. Build with blocks, dominoes, cereal boxes or diapers and knock them down.

7. Practice making funny faces towards your baby or together in a mirror.

8. Go outside and blow bubbles.

9. Gather different kinds of sticks, leaves, or flowers and let your child explore.

10. Make your own fingerpaint:

    3 cups flour
    2 tablespoons liquid hand soap
    ¾ cup water
    Food coloring
    mix the flour, liquid soap, and water until the mixture is a thick paste. Add food coloring, one drop at a time, until the paint is the color you want.

11. Give stuffed animal voices.

12. Set up various plastic or metal kitchen containers and drum on them with a wooden spoon.

13. Try on hats, sunglasses, or scarves.

14. Turn on the music and have a dance party.

15. Squish, roll and create with playdough. (I love this DIY recipe)

16. Read a book.

17. Sing songs. Try childhood favorites like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Twinkle Twinkle”.

18. Make paper airplanes and throw them around the room. (Don’t know how? See how to make 50 different planes!)

19. Play with light. Experiment with light switches, dimmers, or flashlights.

20. Blanket fun. Put it on your head, their head or turn it into a fort.

Happy playing!

See toys designed for early development

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1. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Convention on the Rights of the Child. General Assembly Resolution 44/25 of November 20, 1989. Available at: www.un.org/documents/ga/res/44/a44r025.htm. Accessed January 6, 2013.

2. American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Communications and Media. Clinical Report: The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bond: Focus on Children in Poverty. Pediatrics 2012; 129 Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/1/e204.full#xref-ref-1-1. Accessed January 6, 2013.

Car Trips with Babies – Moms Give Their Best Survival Tips!

With July 4th nearly upon us, lots of us will be packing suitcases, presents, and babies into cars for a drive to some holiday destination. Some of you may have little angels that can sleep 5 hours in the car without making a peep. For the rest of us, here are some handy tips from everyday moms who have taken baby on the road – and lived to tell about it.

Time it right.
“Timing is everything! Leave at a naptime and buy yourself 1-2 hours of quiet. Also don’t underestimate the power of a very early morning departure. Our little guy fell right back to sleep if we put him in the seat in his PJs early in the morning, and he wasn’t angry about restraints when he was sleeping! – Beth W.

Baby with toy

Make it new.
“We had a special bag of toys that only came out when we traveled. My kids are 10 and 7 now and we still do this.” – Melissa T.

“When they get sick of reading the books you brought along, use them for a game of I Spy. Have them find a picture of a truck, the letter K, a cat, etc.” – Anna M.

Plan ahead.
“The worst thing is when the baby is fussing and you can’t find the pacifier/blanket/bottle. Make sure you have all the items you’ll need within reach.” – Courtney G.

Do what works – even if it drives you crazy.
We once took our 11-month-old on a 14-hour road trip and The Wiggles saved us. He was entranced with ‘Hot potato, cold spaghetti’ most of the trip.”  – Appolina O.

“When I was traveling with my husband, I would often sit in the back if my little one was awake. It wasn’t as fun of a trip for me, but it was much easier to meet my daughter’s needs than reaching around from the front seat.” – Katie S.

Take a break.
“We would plan to drive until the twins fussed excessively and then stop for fresh air and ‘wiggle time.’ Then I’d nurse them, and we’d get back on the road around the start of their next nap.” – Amy F.

“On one trip, we mapped out city parks along the way. Our son loved this, and it made for a much happier baby.” – Appolina O.

Snacks are king.
“Snacks are key to getting where you want in less time. Or at least with less fuss.” – Katie S.

“Road trips are a great time to have fun, new, healthy snacks. It can be a novel and necessary way to buy a few minutes.” – Beth W.

Get creative.
“I stick stickers on my kids.  It completely occupies them trying to get them off their legs & arms. Then they end up sticking to their hands. Hours of fun.” – Brooke C.

Remember that sometimes, babies just need to cry.
“If you have met everyone of the baby’s needs and they are still crying their heads off, I used to crank up the music on my babies. They say it’s as loud as a vacuum in the womb, and sometimes loud music can help them settle down and go to sleep. So turn up the music, sing along, and tell yourself you will survive this!” – Melissa T.

Here’s to hoping your holiday car travels are safe and sound!

 

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