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New Year, New Start

I know for me and my household, we love starting fresh for the New Year. New goals, new attitude and the excitement of what the new year will bring. Sometimes, the start of a new year means the beginning of new healthy habits…such as setting BIG goals or healthier eating and exercising. This year, having a new baby in the house and having fallen off of the bandwagon with healthy eating, I want to incorporate a “clean eating” habit into our new year goals. This means eliminating anything processed such as lunch meats, cheeses, chips, etc. Instead, my plan is to make all of those things from scratch. Sounds awful and time consuming right?!? —————–>>>>>>>>>WRONG!

Creating heathy habits can be tricky in the beginning because you are adapting to something new and that can be quite overwhelming. BUT, once new habits have been instilled, that is exactly what they become…habits. If you know anything about habits, you know that they come pretty quickly and easy once they are established. So by putting in the extra time and dedication to creating the habit, you are also making that habit easy to follow…so eating clean shouldn’t be that difficult after the initial month of adjusting.

I have included a list of tips to get “clean eating” underway in your household if that is something that interests you. The reason I chose clean eating is because I 100% believe that how we feel is determined by what we place into our mouths. Our food can either help our health or destroy it (along with exercise of course). Teaching my girls healthy habits at a young age is something I deem important and at the top of my parenting list…along with many other things of course.

  • Get rid of all “precessed” foods in the house (processed is anything bought and not in its original state)
  • Shop the perimeter of the store…avoiding the middle aisles where processed foods are kept
  • Stick to fresh over canned … canned foods are typically very high in sodium and never compare to the raw and fresh
  • Write our your grocery list ahead of time and STICK TO IT.
  • Each morning tell yourself the menu (OUT LOUD)…this will help you stay the course
  • Journal everything you eat or plan on eating for the day to help you stay on track
  • Meal prep for the week on Sunday and again on Wednesday/Thursday to lessen the work load

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The Facts On Becoming Babywise

I know for me and my household, getting the baby to sleep through the night as early as possible is KEY to everyone being happy and content on a daily basis. That being said, I have incorporated the book On Becoming Babywise into my parenting style. For the first 2 kiddos, it worked like a charm and they were both sleeping through the night no later than 9 weeks. You heard me right…no later than 9 weeks!!! It was FANTASTIC! It takes work and dedication but by following the “rules” laid out for you, you too can have a sleeping baby in no time. With my third, we are starting the implementation process this week and I plan on documenting how it goes throughout the sleeping journey.

Sometimes when we start something new, it’s difficult to know where exactly to begin and what exactly to expect. After reading On Becoming Babywise, my husband and I knew we wanted to sleep-train using Babywise, but translating written content into real life application involves a learning curve. I wanted to give you a run-down of what this process looks like.

1. Mentally prepare before the baby is born.

As a basic first step, read On Becoming Babywise as a couple and then talk about it together. When both parents are on board, everything runs more smoothly. Here are a few things I try to remind myself, when sleep-training…

  • Babies will likely start sleeping longer stretches around 3-4 months.
  • Troubleshooting at various points throughout the process is normal!
  • Stay committed! You will see results!
  • It is always okay to make modifications!
  • Set the foundation! It will have positive lasting effects in the future months and years to come!

2. Start the basics at birth.

If you need to get acclimated for a few weeks before starting the basics that is 100% okay. Don’t stress! I was a nervous, anxious wreck that I wasn’t doing everything right from the beginning. It was a total waste of energy. The first few weeks won’t make or break the future. Start as soon as you mentally feel ready.

Set a morning wake up time and a bedtime. We want to set the baby’s internal clock to encourage consistent night time sleep. It’s most common to see a 7 am wake time and a 7 pm bedtime. In a newborn, you may have a slightly later bedtime for a short while to help fit in enough feedings. After a few months, bedtime can usually be moved to an earlier time.

Create a basic routine for your day. Using the wake, eat, sleep cycle, fill in your approximate times for feedings and naps. In the beginning we are all likely on an approximate 2.5 hour to 3 hour schedule. If you set a wake time and a bedtime, it’s easy to fill in the middle.

Start a pre-sleep ritual. A 5 minute pre-nap routine and a 30 minute before-bedtime routine is simple, practical and easy to use. A pre-nap ritual could include swaddling the baby, sitting for a bit, singing a short song, and saying your sleepy words (e.g. I love you. I hope you have a good sleep, and I will see you when you wake up). A before-bedtime routine could include a bath, soft music, reading a short story, nursing the baby, and saying your sleepy words. Do what works for you.

Don’t let naps get too long. Sleeping too long of a stretch during the day can rob nighttime sleep. Limit naps to approximately 2 hours during the day. If the baby sleeps past the two hour mark, it is absolutely okay to wake a sleeping baby. If you feel the baby truly needs longer naps, feel free to make adjustments and increase the nap limit to 2.5 hours.

Swaddle. From birth to about age four to five months, a baby possesses the startle reflex, in which the baby actually feels as if he is falling. The sensation of falling causes jerking movements, and the baby will inadvertently wake up. Keeping a tight swaddle prevents babies from startling awake, helping the baby sleep both better and longer.

Create a good sleep environment. Dimming the room by closing the blinds or curtains is great a great place to start. Using a small fan or white noise machine in the room is also helpful if your baby struggles to sleep through noise.

Encourage full feedings. When the baby eats a full meal, it will be easier to make it to the next feeding time. It is also easier for the baby to complete a full nap without waking early due to hunger.

Dreamfeed. Before going to bed, we can pick the baby up without really waking him and give an additional feeding. The dream feed helps prevent the baby from waking up shortly after we moms go to sleep.

3. Start laying the baby down awake…

When you lay the baby down awake, there will likely be some crying involved. Crying should be in no way extreme or long in duration. If your baby is struggling to fall asleep on his own, reassurance and support from mom or dad is really important. Allowing your baby to become very drowsy, yet slightly awake can really help with this process. If your baby is fussing for a long time, it can frequently be attributed to overtired or over-stimulation but there are many other disruptions that may be the culprit.

It is common for Babywise parents to start somewhere in the birth to 2 month window. It isn’t necessary to choose before the baby is born; it’s okay to get to know the baby and start when you instinctively think it is best. We started at age 3.5 weeks.

Lay the baby down for a nap after meeting all of the baby’s needs (fed, changed, etc) and the baby has been awake for a bit and the baby is showing sleepy cues (i.e. a yawn, a fuss, or an eye rub). When my daughter was getting close to a nap, I would keep stimulation to a minimum. Sometimes I would just walk her around the house for a bit and hum softly.

Then I would take her to her room, close the curtains, place her in her sleep sack or swaddle, turn on the white noise, and hold her for a few minutes. Next, I would say her Sleepy Words…something like ‘I love you. I hope you have a good sleep. I’ll see you when you wake up.’ Then we would pray.

And finally, I would lay her down. On average, she would fuss from 0-10 minutes. Of course, some days she didn’t fuss at all and some days she fussed for longer. We stayed very, very consistent. And by 3 months there was no fussing before naps or bedtime at all, unless something was off such as travel or overtired or overstimulated.

You can also try ‘shush-pat’: I originally tried ‘Shush-pat’ method from the Baby Whisperer book. After preparing the baby for sleep, you can make a gentle shushing sound and pat your baby’s back while you are holding him. Then lay your baby down drowsy, but awake and continue shushing and pat his side or chest until he falls asleep. This is a great method to help your baby get used the crib.

4. Consistency is key.

This is so important. I stayed home for a few short weeks once I started to set the foundation and provide my daughter the opportunity to get the hang of it very quickly. This also prevents the baby from falling asleep in your arms or the car when you are out, allowing us to stay on schedule at least until the foundation is set. After the initial two week period, I got a little more adventurous with leaving the house. We can’t stay inside forever, right?!

Beginning to sleep-train using Babywise does involve some work, but the fruits of your labor will undoubtedly pay off. She started sleeping 10+ hours through the night at around two and a half months, which at the time, was a much welcomed change. I hemmed and hawed for a little while about letting go of the night feedings. All babies will regress at some point (i.e. teething, growth spurts, and beyond), and you will be awake during the night feeding the baby once again. In the meantime, it’s okay to give yourself permission to get some much needed rest.

 

 

 

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Breastfeeding…It’s What’s for Dinner!

Prior to giving birth to my third daughter, I had made the decision to attempt breast feeding once again. In the past, breastfeeding came very “UN-naturally” to me and by the third month of my first and second daughter’s life, my milk supply had all but diminished. I found breastfeeding frustrating, painful, and difficult. I truly believe my attitude around breastfeeding is what either made my experience a success or a failure. So this time around I have made it my mission to embrace the messy, focus on keeping it simple, and feed this baby like my life depended on it…or die trying.

As I approached the birth of my first daughter back in 2012, I had taken every online Lamaze class, read every “welcoming baby” article, watched every video tutorial on breastfeeding, etc. I WAS PREPARED…HAHA!!! You are NEVER prepared for the unknown and I QUICKLY found that out. What I found to be the best resource was other moms who had “been there done that!” I sought advice, help and of course a shoulder to cry on…because being a mommy is a tough job.

My first two daughters were born with Hypotonia (low muscle tone) and latching to the breast was tricky for them seeing they had very loose and low tone muscles. It affected the way they were able to latch onto me and draw the milk so that I could produce an ample supply. This third baby seems to have gotten the hang of things and her latch has been spot on since day one. It has always been a dream to breastfeed my children and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know that feeding your baby right is of utmost importance and the best way to do that is the natural way…breastfeeding. For some, this task is easy and comes naturally, paving the way to feeding success. For others, the task is painful and frustrating, causing many to “quit” early and resort to formula. I have found that support is the key to sticking with it and becoming successful when things don’t come “naturally.”

Some sites that were helpful to me (and supportive) when I was trying to figure the whole breastfeeding thing out were the following. Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite lactation site.

  1. https://www.lansinoh.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiAx57RBRBkEiwA8yZdUA-m3NGab7dCwh8btmp4q8c__Sl46g-MvP5ns0NGohFoOze3h4f0kBoCBc4QAvD_BwE
  2. https://www.thebump.com/a/breastfeeding-tips
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/breast-feeding/art-20047138
  4. https://familydoctor.org/breastfeeding-hints-to-help-you-get-off-to-a-good-start/
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Choose Thankfulness

I was stricken with sadness yesterday when I heard the news that a friend of mine had a son who passed away. It completely caught me off guard and left me at a loss for any type of comforting word or gesture. I followed this friend on Facebook and was utterly impressed and overwhelmed at her thankfulness for the community she had surrounding her. Her faith is strong and her friends are making sure she is being cared for.

My older sister underwent a double mastectomy yesterday to get rid of the cancer she has lurking in her left breast. When I asked her how she was doing prior to the surgery and post-op, she was extremely grateful for the surgeons who can help her heal and guide her on the road to success. She leaned HEAVILY on her faith, friends and family to get her through the tough times.

Tomorrow I get induced and will be delivering our 3rd baby girl into the world. I am extremely grateful for growing a healthy baby, the friends who have stepped up to help and encourage me along the way with meal trains and last minute errands, and family who have pulled together to take care of our other two daughters while we welcome the newest addition to our new family of 5! I am extremely grateful for the love and support I continue to receive.

In each of these scenarios/situations, we have a choice. We can allow our environment and the circumstances around us to dictate our feelings or we can make the choice to be grateful and see the good in every situation. Each situation above is difficult in its own way…but the choices we make are all similar. Losing a child is something unimaginable. I am not saying that we should “move on” and get over our feelings. I am saying that with each scenario that happens in our life, we have the choice to go down the dark black hole of sorrow or we can choose to help ourselves get through it with the help of professional help, friends and family.

Find gratitude and you find true freedom.

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The Days Before Delivering Your Little One

Stuck, Trapped, Inevitable, Worrisome, Excited, Nervous…

It seems that the days before giving birth to a new little addition to the family can cause some pretty intense feelings…and as you can see from my personal list, the feelings aren’t always positive. In fact, I feel like this subject isn’t talked about as much as it should be. I know when I was feeling this way with my first born before giving birth, I felt guilty admitting I felt this way.

What would others think of me?

Does this mean I am not excited to have a family?

Am I alone with these thoughts?

As a first time momma, I wish the “seasoned” mother would have given me the advice I needed…such as:

These feelings are “normal,” Others have felt the same thing, the feelings shall pass and if they don’t, then you can worry…

Having a baby, raging hormones, and the inevitable change to life as you have always known it can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing that there are support systems out there, other mommas ready to help, and just an overall feeling that your thoughts are “normal” can truly make it a much easier, healthier transition to motherhood. I have attached some websites that I feel are beneficial to coping mechanisms when struggling with a bit of “depression.” These are sites that I have sought out, taken advice from and feel confident you too can utilize them for your own benefit.

  1. http://www.ppdil.org/2015/04/postpartum-anxiety-or-normal-new-mom-fears/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_5_QBRC9ARIsADVww17iq4Q2C-_uYQ4_-LQHgElI37o0D5-lg_-9oysQzaUR2RoEluw9pE8aAgvTEALw_wcB
  2. http://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/a4591/pregnant-depressed/
  3. http://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/anxiety-during-pregnancy-postpartum/
  4. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-q-and-a/parenting/depression-during-a-pregnancy?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_5_QBRC9ARIsADVww17vkPVypofzEnmB7LsO-9Em36LIuRgCqnrc2sNAQaRDkytA_UI_rt0aAglAEALw_wcB

 

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The End Days of Pregnancy

I am nearing the last  two weeks of pregnancy and the desire to have this baby sooner than later gets stronger and stronger with each passing moment. I find myself feeling trapped and at a loss of control when it comes to my own body. Some may call it a depression, I feel it is more of a fear of the unknown. When is this baby coming, will everything go as planned, will the baby be okay, will I be okay? It is a series of questions I feel most pregnant women go through as they near the end. One thing I have learned is that when it comes to pregnancy, anything is “normal.” By this I mean, feelings you have and experience have typically happened to other expectant mommas. Don’t get me wrong, if you are feeling like you could harm yourself and/or your unborn child, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. You should never feel like you are ready to put yourself or others in harms way. I am merely talking about the feelings pregnant women get just before the “big day.”

I know deep down that I will be fine and everything will go smoothly, I just don’t like the unknown…the possibility of doom. If you are feeling this way or have negative feelings about what you are going through, I encourage you to check out these sites where help is just a click away and advice is freely given.

  1. https://www.beststart.org/resources/ppmd/TakeCareMentalHealth_EN_rev.pdf
  2. http://www.parenting.com/article/trimester-by-trimester-guide-to-your-emotions
  3. http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-difference-between-postpartum-depression-normal-new-mom-stress
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/23/pregnancy-first-trimester-symptoms
  5. https://www.webmd.com/baby/pregnancy-depression

 

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Let’s Talk Dental Health

It was a SHOCK to me when I found out that my first born was late to the game of getting her teeth checked by the dentist. I thought for sure waiting until she was almost 4 years of age was “safe” and what every other parent did. What I didn’t realize is that all of my other mommy friends had been taking their littles to the dentist starting at a very young age…say…18 months. YIKES! This made me think and reevaluate when the right time to take my second born would be. I did some research and found some answers to many of my unanswered questions.  What better way than to compile all of my questions and sought out answers here to help someone else who may have those same questions.

  1. What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

2.  When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.

3.  Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.

4.  Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.  Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

5. How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.

 

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Healthy Halloween Treats

If you know my household, you know that I am pretty crazy when it comes to eating clean and making sure we get all of our daily fruits and veggies in. It is so important that kids get a balanced diet and plenty of exercise in a day. I have created a list of healthy holiday treats that will fancy any toddler/preschooler/school-age child/adult. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

 

Halloween Yogurt Bark

 PREP TIME
TOTAL TIME
author: Fork & Beans
serves: Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
  • 4 (5.3oz) cartons of nondairy yogurt (preferably orange-colored)
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (optional)
  • ¼ c. blueberries
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • ½ yellow nectarine
  • Monster Googly Eyes
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment or wax paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the yogurt cartons together. If using the coconut oil, add now. Pour into the pan.
  3. Top with the sliced kiwi, nectarine, blueberries, and googly eyes.
  4. Place in freezer until set.
  5. Cut into pieces and allow the little ones to choose their own yogurt bark.
 *I used Silk yogurt alternative but you are free to use whatever nondairy yogurt is your favorite. There really is a lot of freedom with this Halloween Yogurt Bark idea so have fun with it and play around. Use the ingredients you love but just make sure that it has a Halloween flair!

 

Presentation is everything! Stack pineapple, orange slices and whipped cream or yogurt to create a healthier take on candy corn.

Halloween Fruit Kabobs

1.For the marshmallows, use a black food coloring marker to draw a ghostly face onto each marshmallow. (This is a great task for older kids to help with!)  Let the marshmallows dry for a few minutes before using.

2. Wash and cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces.  Add a strawberry, piece of melon and then a ghost marshmallow to the skewer.  Repeat the pattern until you are at the top.

Jack-o-Lantern Stuffed Peppers

These festive Stuffed Peppers are perfect for Halloween!

 Course Main Course
 Prep Time 25 minutes
 Cook Time 35 minutes
 Total Time 1 hour
 Servings 4 servings, 1 bell pepper each
 Calories 426 kcal
 Author Beachbody

Ingredients

  • 4 medium orange bell peppers
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. raw 93% lean ground turkey
  • ½ medium onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • Ground black pepper to taste; optional
  • 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce, no sugar added
  • 1 cup black beans drained, rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Slice stem end off peppers. (Reserve for later use.) Remove seeds and veins from peppers. Cut a jack-o-lantern face out of one side of each pepper. Stand peppers upright in baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400º F.
  3. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add turkey; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until almost browned.
  5. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  6. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  7. Add chili powder, cumin, pepper (if desired), tomato sauce, and beans; cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Add rice; mix well.
  9. Fill peppers with turkey mixture. Top with reserved stem end of peppers Add water to the baking dish. Cover with foil.
  10. Bake peppers for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender-crisp.
  11. Remove stem top of peppers, sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  12. Replace tops and serve.
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Over-Scheduling Your Child

We have all done it. I know that with my youngest, between play dates and extra-curriculars, we were always on the go. I dealt with meltdowns, tantrums, etc. just to fulfill the daily activities I had planned. Don’t get me wrong, I love to stay busy, but when it came to my second daughter, I decided to change the schedule up a bit. We have played more at home, said “no” to more play dates than “yes,” gone to less scheduled activities and enjoyed being each others’ company. The conclusion I have come to is that tantrums are less frequent, meltdowns are non-existent, and the one-on-one time I am getting with my second born is priceless.

I’m not saying that my parenting technique is the best that is out there…I am merely stating what I have witnessed between the two extremely different approaches I have taken with my own two daughters. I encourage you to take a moment and think about your child’s life. If it’s hectic, sit down together and decide where you can cut back. If it’s overly structured, set aside time for blowing off some steam.

Things we enjoy: Riding a bike, taking a walk, playing a game, listening to music, or just doing nothing for a while. I have noticed that it gives my kids some much-needed downtime. And never forget how important it is for kids to simply get together to play. Kids need time to just be kids.

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Intentional Nutrition with Kids

Family meals should feel more like bonding opportunities than chores or ordeals. But to make mealtime more positive, you have to serve foods that both meet your kids’ nutritional needs and are tasty enough for children to actually eat and enjoy.

Proper nutrition involves more than fruits and vegetables, says Dr. Scott Cohen, a pediatrician, father and author of “Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.” He says DHA is another critical component. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid beneficial to brain development and cognition.

“Eighty-five percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life,” Cohen says. Infants receive vital nutrients through  breastfeeding and fortified formula, but their supply dwindles when children begin eating solid food.

In fact, toddlers only average 25 percent of the recommended daily DHA intake, which is 70 to 100 milligrams. It can be easy to reach the allowance, but DHA-rich foods aren’t popular items on toddler’s plates. Major sources include fish, such as tuna, salmon and trout.

To improve your child’s nutrition, Cohen recommends a five-item nutrition checklist:

1. Find a DHA source that works for your family

Increasing DHA in your child’s diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Cohen recommends trying DHA-friendly options, such as fish, or DHA-fortified foods such as pasta and milk. One size doesn’t fit all. Any way toddlers can get it is good.

2. Say cheese

Toddlers should consume two to three dairy sources each day for strong bones, muscles and teeth. Common child favorites include milk, yogurt and cheese, but fortified orange juice can also do the trick.

3. Concentrate on protein

A lot of kids don’t like typical protein sources. Look at protein alternatives instead of battling over eggs, fish or meat your picky eater won’t try. Soy products and beans are subtle substitutes.

4. Teach healthy habits

While each meal can be a step in the right nutritional direction, look at the big picture. It’s more important to teach healthy eating habits than to concentrate on volume. Proper routines set children up for a lifetime of nutrition success.

5. Mix it up

Introduce a variety of food to children beyond standard favorites. Offer three or four different options in the hope that they will eat one of them.  Don’t give up if children resist at first. It can take 10 to 12 tries before they develop preferences. They might like it next week. The bottom line is not to stress too much. Every healthy child grows, no matter what.