Monday, January 27, 2014

Rock-a-bye-Mommy


As an expectant mother, I knew one of the most important things I could do for Emma was to take care of myself.  As a mom-to-be, staying healthy increases your chances of having a healthy baby and a pregnancy free of complications.

Of course, that's often easier said than done, especially with those pregnancy cravings we may have.  Mint chocolate chip ice cream with a side of black olives, anyone?

The good news is that pregnancy cravings are completely normal, and a lot of times they can be for foods which provide needed nutrients, such as dairy or meat.  With Emma, I craved milk.  I never drink milk!!!  But when I was pregnant, I would drink glasses and glasses of milk every day.  I guess I was fortunate that my craving was for something healthy.

Here are a couple of tips about cravings which I found helpful:  If you do have an unhealthy craving, you might try to ward it off by eating something healthy in its place.  If you give into an unhealthy craving, try to limit your portions and don't punish yourself mentally.

Something I always tried to do while pregnant with Emma is exercise.  I had a good group of friends, and we would walk 5 miles about 3 times a week.  It wasn't always easy, but I knew it was good for me and my baby and I also got to enjoy some time with friends.

Of course, you should always discuss your exercise routine with your doctor to be sure you don't overdo it.  Here's an informative article about exercising during pregnancy:  http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/staying_fit/exercising_pregnancy.html

Lastly, the benefits of sleep for the mother-to-be and baby are numerous.  A lot of the tips for getting a good night's sleep -- cut down on caffeine, drink less in the evenings to reduce overnight bathroom trips, etc. -- apply to anyone, pregnant or not.  

But pregnancy can bring additional challenges to sleep, including thinks like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and heartburn, to name a few.  Try and make it a priority to get a good night's sleep.  Again, it's yet another thing that's often easier said than done, but when done, can pay big dividends.

Find more helpful sleep tips here:

Was there something that helped you sleep while pregnant?  How do/did you deal with cravings?  I'd love to know, especially now that I'm expecting again!!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Meal time


I've never heard anyone say "I hope my child grows up to be an unhealthy eater."  But helping your child become a healthy eater can be a time-consuming and tricky process.  My aim with this blog post is to tell you our family's personal experiences with Emma - maybe it will help you, maybe it won't.  I believe that parents do the best they can for children, and recognize that my situation may be completely different than what someone else's is.

One of the things my husband and I discussed before Emma was born was how important I believe it is to eat together as a family.  We did in my family growing up, and I knew I wanted to do the same with my children.  It is a way for our family to catch up with one another, and helps us feel closer to one another.  It provides us with the opportunity to watch Emma develop table manners and learn new foods.  Plus, meals made at home are almost always more healthy and nutritious than those you get when eating out.  (Don't worry:  Emma goes out, too.  We have a weakness for the local Mexican restaurant!)

When she was a baby, I made all of Emma's food.  I absolutely love to cook so I knew before she was born that I would also cook for her, too.  Most people think this takes time, but it actually didn't.  I found it was quicker to make her food than run to the grocery store.

I started by introducing all of the veggies one at a time.  Once we tasted all of the veggies we started introducing fruits.  Our pediatrician recommended that we start with vegetables first because fruit is naturally sweet.  If you start with fruits they love the sweet and will stop eating veggies.  If she didn't like something the first time we never gave up on it.  We would attempt the next day.

She now is a healthy little eater!!  For breakfast, Emma loves oatmeal and Greek yogurt.  When it comes to snack time, she heads for the sliced strawberries, yogurt-covered raisins, hummus, and cheese.

We focus a lot on keeping her meals balanced:  a pediatrician once told me that when breaking it down for children, aim for half of the plate to be vegetables, salads and fruit; a quarter of the plate to be grains, rice, or bread, and the remaining quarter to be meat, poultry, or fish.  (Actually, that advise isn't bad for adults, either!)

One of the reasons I believe Emma is a healthy eater now is because we introduced healthy foods to her as a baby.  More often than not, eating healthy is a learned behavior.  Today, I let her "help" me in the kitchen some, adding some ingredients to dishes and even helping me at the grocery store.  I give her choices and see what she'd like to have that day.  I hope this will help her make healthy choices for years to come.

What do you wish you'd done differently?  What do you hope to do with your children to encourage healthy eating?  I'd love to hear some suggestions from other people - we are entering the "terrible twos" around here - and I can never get enough good ideas!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rub-a-dub-dub


Bath Time.  

Some kids love it and look forward to it.  Some kids are more resistant to it.  Still other kids may love it one day and not so much the next.  

As part of our New Year, New Baby, Healthier and Happier Lifestyle theme for 2014, I came across some bath time routine and safety tips I think are good and wanted to share.

-Make bath time fun.  Bath time is my favorite time of the day with Emma.  We laugh, splash, and play with lots of toys!  I look forward to this time together, and by making it fun, I think she looks forward to it, as well.  You might try rotating which toys are in the tub, so your child doesn't get tired of the same ones.

-Address fear of water.  Some kids will be afraid of the water, the sound of running water, and/or the drain.  Assuaging these fears could keep your child from dreading bath time so much.  You might also try putting on your swimsuit and hopping in the tub with your child to show him or her there's nothing to be afraid of.


-Never leave a child unattended in the tub.  It's slippery in there!  I also suggest a faucet cover to protect your child in case he or she bangs against it.  We sell the Flo faucet cover from Boon at Cloud 9, as well as a wide assortment of bath toys and adorable hooded towels!

-Always test the water temperature.  Use the top of your hand to test the water, since it is more sensitive than your palm or your arm.

-Teach children to bathe themselves.  Unfortunately, humans aren't like cats--we aren't born instinctively knowing to bathe ourselves.  You might try having your child give a doll a bath to teach him or her how to clean themselves.

-Establish a bath time routine.  Much like bed time or nap time, establishing a consistent bath time routine can make things go smoother for everyone.  If you have trouble getting your child out of the tub, you might try letting him or her pick out a fun towel or hooded towel so there is something to look forward to when bath time is over.

Do you have any tips which make bath time go smoother for you and your child?  If so, please share them in the comments here or on our Facebook wall.

Most of all, happy bathing! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sleepy Time in Babytown


In their earliest days, babies sleep more than they do any other single thing.  (You've probably noticed.)  But sometimes when they sleep, or more accurately, when they don't sleep, can be an issue.

As part of our "new year, new baby, healthy lifestyle" theme, I want to share some tips that have worked for me, with Emma.  And I want to encourage each of you to join the conversation, either by commenting here or on the Cloud 9 Facebook page, where we have started a new feature called "Tip Jar Thursday" just for the purpose of sharing such helpful tips and ideas.

We are all creatures of habit in a lot of ways, and babies are no different.  So one thing you might try is keeping the baby's bedtime routine the same, as much as possible.

As I said on the first Tip Jar Thursday, we swaddled Emma from the day she came home.  I would darken the room before I took her in.  I'd remain very quiet and low-key as we entered her room, and I'd always say "Night night" as I laid her down.  That is what has worked for us, as she has been a great sleeper!  She knew when we swaddled her, it was sleepy time in Babytown.  And as a bonus, swaddling has been shown to help prevent SIDS!

Here are some other tips, which come from a book called "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" by Tracy Hogg.  (Hogg. 2005, Ballantine Books.)  My husband and I both read it and have found it very helpful.

-Look for the signs.  Like us, babies will yawn when they start to get tired.  I never watched a clock when it came to nap times for Emma, I watched her instead.  Some other signs of sleepiness can be rubbing their eyes, losing interest in toys, or loss of coordination.

-Wind down.  Many adults like to read a book or relax and watch television before going to sleep.  Babies need the same time to unwind.  A bath, massage, rocking your baby, or singing them a lullaby can all serve as a method of winding down for your baby.  I would rock Emma before nap times and bed time, locking eyes with my precious baby.  It was one of my favorite times with her.

-Another thing you might try is putting your baby in their crib before they fall asleep.  If you baby falls asleep in your arms then wakes up in the crib, they could be a bit disoriented, or even scared, wondering "How did I get here?"  Putting your baby down just as their eyelids are starting to get heavy can also help them develop skills needed to go to sleep on their own.

Of course, not every tip works for everyone.  That is why I sincerely hope you will join the conversation.  Let us know what has worked for you, and even what hasn't.  I feel that as a parent, I am constantly learning.  And I hope that by sharing ideas, we can help our children have a healthier, happier lifestyle.