Singing to Your Baby Will Help Relieve Postnatal Depression

It’s not uncommon that mothers of newborns feel the symptoms of postpartum depression. Whether the mother suspects she has the baby blues or depression, many symptoms may creep in.
After my first child was born, I felt anxious and weepy. People recommended different remedies, including getting outside, talking with friends, sleeping when the baby slept, and others. Although I slowly improved, no one ever suggested that I try singing lullabies.
According to a new study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, singing actually helps decrease the symptoms of postnatal depression (PND).
Women who encounter PNP often report symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, tearfulness, irritability, and loss of appetite. Given this physical and emotional disturbance, women are usually willing to try different options to treat their depression. Why not try singing if it could help significantly?
The summary of the study, found in Newsweek, cited a goal of observing women facing PNP to see if singing lullabies would help alleviate their symptoms.
One hundred and thirty-four women were either placed into a workshop group of 10 to 12 participants where they sang lullabies, or another group where they carried on with their regular routines for 10 weeks. The women in the singing groups brought their babies with them and were encouraged to learn lullabies and other children’s songs. The sessions lasted around 60 minutes each.
Women in both groups reported an improvement of their PNP symptoms, but women in the singing group responded at a significantly quicker rate.
Rosie Perkins, a researcher of Imperial College of London, said, “Additionally, some of our other research with mothers has shown that singing led to greater decreases in anxiety and enhanced perceptions of emotional closeness than other social interaction.”
The groups brought a sense of identity and progress to the women because they found that they weren’t going through the obstacles of motherhood alone. And the singing itself helped relieve the depressed brain.
The positive effects of both singing and the camaraderie of women are not new findings when it comes to defeating depression. Think about the benefits of listening to a favorite song and how it can lift you out of a funk. Feeling less alone amidst all of the obstacles that motherhood brings is imperative, too – especially when it comes to depression after a birth of a child.
If you’re feeling the effects of PNP and don’t have access to a workshop like the women in the study, try singing lullabies more consistently with your baby. Your anxiety and tearfulness just may decrease at a quicker pace – and your baby gets to hear the soothing sound his mother’s voice.
Sounds like it’s worth a try to me.

Could Acetaminophen Use Contribute to Delayed Speech Among Girls?

New research suggests that pregnant women who take Tylenol “or its equivalent) may have daughters with delayed speech.

Pregnant women acquire all different types of fun ailments, leaving them with little choices on the medications they’re allowed to take. When I was pregnant with my first, I endured immense pain surrounding the tissues around my ribs, but there was nothing I could do. I knew I had to trudge through it until my rib cage finally bellowed enough to make room for my growing baby boy. Sometimes women will take an over-the-counter acetaminophen when they have a similar pain or feel sick. But new research suggests that pregnant women who take Tylenol “or its equivalent) may have daughters with delayed speech.
It seems like a strange connection, but according to the study, daughters of women who took acetaminophen while pregnant were more likely to have delayed onset of speech. The study, found in the journal European Psychiatry, surveyed 754 pregnant Swedish women between weeks eight and 13. The questionnaire asked how often the pregnant women took acetaminophen, and the participants were also asked to include urine samples throughout the weeks to detect the acetaminophen concentration.
The children from these pregnant women were then studied. All children in Sweden were given a developmental screening at 30 months. Those who did not say 30 words at this time were categorized as having a speech and language delay. About 10 percent of children in the study had delayed speech at 30 months, with boys being the more likely gender. Boys are often much more common to have a language delay compared to their counterparts. According to the study “girls born to mothers in the high-acetaminophen group were nearly six times more likely to have language delays than girls whose mothers had used none.” The more Tylenol or its equivalent that women took and the higher the levels found in their urine, the more evidence of  language delays in the daughters. Interestingly enough, boys of mothers who took acetaminophen were not more likely to have a speech delay.
The researchers theorized that “girls around 30 months tend to have higher vocabularies than boys – a well-recognized female advantage in early-childhood language development.” So, the study found that the intake of acetaminophen reduced this advantage. Digesting acetaminophen during the early stages of pregnancy may also be linked to ADHD. Yet it is commonplace for doctors and midwives alike to tell their patients that it is okay to take the over-the-counter drug while pregnant.
Although I didn’t take acetaminophen when I was pregnant with my son, he still ended up having a speech delay. And the second time around, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t take anything, either – yet her speech soared. And now I wonder, if I had taken the over-the-counter drug, would my daughter have been a late-talker like those in the study? It’s an interesting connection, that’s for sure.
So, remember to check with your obstetrician or midwife before taking anything that you question while pregnant. Take the time to do some research on your own, too. And if you’re having a reoccurring pain or other ailment, bring up this study to your care provider. It may not be a bad idea.

Reflections on the First 30 Days of Parenthood From Dads Who’ve Been There

We discussed fears, coping, breastfeeding, partnerships, and advice with five rad dads. While each have different stories, many sentiments remain the same.

Fatherhood is an amazing experience … but it doesn’t always start out that way. That’s as true for first-time dads as it is for first-time moms. The moment your child comes into the world, you’re responsible for the survival of a living, breathing, constantly excreting creature.
Between the jarring change to your everyday routine, the sleepless nights, and the nagging suspicion that you’ll never be even remotely as important as Mom, most new dads experience at least a few moments of “What the hell did I just do?!” in those first weeks.

Meet the dads

Parent Co. Studio recently spoke with five dads: Mike (five-year-old son and a new baby arriving any day), Andy (10-month-old daughter), Don (two-month-old son), Jon (five-year-old and two-year-old daughters), and Ben (13-month-old son).
We discussed fears, coping, breastfeeding, partnerships, and advice (tap a topic to jump). Here’s what we learned:

What was the most unexpected thing about becoming a new parent a.k.a. what freaked you out the most?

There’s a popular stereotype about dads being these big dumb oafs who are simply too lazy, too stupid, or both to worry about the myriad dangers facing their babies. (A Google search of “Don’t Leave Babies With Dad” yields 155 million results.)
The dads we spoke with, however, were not only hyper-aware of the sheer responsibility of their new role; they were worried about EVERYTHING. The temperature of the baby bottle, the security of the car seat, the minefield of that first bath, and, of course, the innumerable dangers out of their control all registered like a 7.0 earthquake on the Dad Richter Scale.
Each of these dads also cited the challenges of their limited role in those early days, especially if their partner is exclusively breastfeeding.
But the doubts and fears do eventually fade. One response perfectly illustrates the reason for the anxiety – and why it doesn’t last long:
ANDY: You ask yourself a million questions constantly in the beginning because you don’t want to screw the baby up, but the good news is, you go from knowing nothing to being relatively confident fairly quickly with a new baby.
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Parent Co. partnered with Babybay because they know the role of Dad is one you grow into.

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How did you cope with the crying and the sleep deprivation?

When you combine a wailing baby with the interrupted sleep that accompanies an infant’s constant feeding schedule, you tend to feel pretty crappy.
One of the dads we spoke to was lucky enough to have a unicorn baby – a rare, mythical creature who sleeps soundly from the get-go. This outlier dad wisely didn’t talk about his good fortune around his fellow fathers.
For the rest of the lot, sleep deprivation is very, very real. Yet it was also the one thing they’d been most prepared for in anticipation of their new baby. As a result, they either pushed through it like a marathoner whose feet start to ache around mile 11, or they leaned on their community and slept whenever they could find a couch and fit it in – even if only for 10 minutes here or there.
Jon: I think the sleep deprivation thing is a bit overblown … there was so much build up to it, so many people saying how terrible it was, that I didn’t think it was all that horrible by the time I got to it. Kind of like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
The crying was harder to handle for the new dads, which kicked their problem-solving, stress-reducing instincts into high gear because there is simply no worldly equivalent to that nails-on-the-chalkboard screech-howl:
Don: For the crying, I rely on my fitness and my breathing to help keep me calm and composed. Box breathing is a great technique to add to your daily routine. (Don is the owner of Bucktown Fit, a personal training business that specializes in physical and mental strength training.)
Ben: You learn very quickly what’s going to pacify your baby in that first month. Whatever works, just give it a whirl. Usually, it was the boob. The boob is the greatest pacifier ever.
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What was your role in the breastfeeding process during those first 30 days? How did that make you feel?

Due to the insane demands of breastfeeding, the dads felt a lot of pressure to make life a little bit easier for Mom.
They made themselves human gophers (“I’ll do it!”), they jumped at any opportunity to give the bottle, they took on all the household chores…. In short, these guys tried their darndest, tapping a level of empathy that would make even the most demanding psychologist proud.
They also struggled mightily in the process, experiencing feelings ranging from guilt and anxiety to a tinge of jealousy.
Mike: The hardest thing for me was trying to make myself feel useful. I had a difficult time connecting with my son, and I felt like the third wheel. I was there in a helper capacity as opposed to feeling that it was our family we just created.
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How did the baby change things between you and your partner? How did your perception of your partner change after seeing her as a mother?

As the saying goes, “having a baby changes everything” – for better and, at least temporarily, for worse.
While one of the dads met his partner just three months before she got pregnant (for these two, their love was never stronger than the 30 days of the new baby’s life), the rest of group weren’t so lucky. Relationships were tested, fights ensued, and roles shifted dramatically. One dad said it feels like they’re exclusively their son’s parents now.
At the same time, seeing their wives and partners give birth and step into the role of a new mother was an amazing experience for the new dads. Phrases like “awe-inspiring” and “life-changing” were used to describe that feeling, and many said it reminded them of falling in love with their spouse all over again.
Ben: Taking an A/B relationship and adding C – and C just happens to be something B grew in her body for nine months – your A/B relationship gets put to the side, and you have to accept that.
Mike: Your relationship is tested. You’re not doing the things that made you a couple, and the experiences that made you a couple are stripped away, so you’re bound to ask, “Is this gonna be okay?”
Jon: My wife’s instincts – she’s incredibly nurturing and warm – are so strong, and she’s also smart, hard-working, and competent. These are things that attracted me to her in the first place, but I realized after we had a baby that I couldn’t live without those attributes.
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What advice would you offer new dads for those first 30 days?

Mike: That vision you have of being a dad – of running errands and going to the park with your little guy or girl by your side – that takes a while to happen. Hang in there. Time is what makes the bond. By the time my son was a year, it was all dad, all the time.
Andy: Whenever you can, bring your child into your life instead of trying to completely bend your life to your child’s.
Don: Communicate with your wife/partner in a 100 percent open and honest manner from the start. You’re going to need to look out for each other more than you ever have.
Jon: Whether it’s changing diapers and swaddling or just preparing bottles, take pride in everything you learn. I was eager to prove that the stereotype of the helpless dad is lame, sexist and, in most cases, flat-out wrong.
Ben: The routine WILL become second-nature more quickly than you think. But be careful: Time speeds up when you settle into a routine. If you’re not careful, all the magical moments blend into one. Take it slow, enjoy every milestone, and break the routine when you can.
There’s a saying about becoming a new parent that goes something like this: Before you have your children, all your friends with kids tell you about how amazing it is. Then, when you finally do have a baby, those same friends say, “Don’t worry, it gets better.”
For many dads trudging through the muck and mire of those first 30 (or more) days of fatherhood, this saying may hit a little too close to home. If you’re in that boat, remember the words of the seasoned dads we spoke to. After all, each of them not only made it safely to the other shore, but they also made it there a little wiser – and were more than willing to share their wisdom.
While each of these guys has a vastly different background and story, they share many common sentiments about becoming a dad. Perhaps the most important of all:
It only gets better – much, much better.
babybay logoParent Co. partnered with Babybay because they know the role of Dad is one you grow into.

The Importance of Speaking "Happy" out Loud

Among all the books and articles we read, we often overlook (as I have) the importance of recognizing and speaking aloud when we are simply happy.

Emotional intelligence, the self-awareness of emotions and the way in which they affect human responses to various situations, is an essential skill we nurture in our children. As parents and caretakers, we may well find that one of our greatest contributions to the future is our purposeful effort to provide children with a greater understanding of their emotions. Our hope is that children will learn to navigate through the intensities and complexities of being human, and develop into capable and empathetic adults.

From contemporary children’s literature to “Daniel Tiger” episodes, the world surrounding the youngest generation is instructing children to identify when they are frustrated, impatient, hurt, left out, anxious, or nervous. These words (that I’m confident I did not hear or understand until far later in life) are being taught to toddlers, mine included. When children can identify intense emotions, they can learn patterns of behavior to help see them through conflict toward resolution and understanding.

The longer I’m a parent, the more I recognize how fortunate our children are to grow into emotional intelligence at a younger age than most of us experienced. At three years old, my son can tell me he’s frustrated when his ambitious building project isn’t going according to plan. He’s learning ways to cope and work through the frustration (tears and tantrums accompany of course, because he is a three-ager). My six-year-old can express when his anger is triggered by anxiety and is learning ways to work through those emotions.

By the time I gave birth to my third child, however, I felt there was a certain void missing among the emotional menagerie being taught to today’s children. However necessary and important and helpful it was to identify and understand certain emotions, there was a huge and wonderful emotion that often was left unspoken.

Happiness.

I’m not speaking of “happy” when it’s said while sitting around a circle for nursery rhymes, or while at a party singing “Happy birthday.” I’m speaking of all those genuine moments throughout our day when we are unaware that we are simply feeling “happy.”

Chalk it up to human nature or our interest in the dramatic and difficult but, more often than not, adults and children alike seem drawn to express and remember those emotions which are intense and, for lack of a better word, negative in connotation. We may go the whole day without incident, but wait for one mishap to pop up and often we give it the power to change our attitude regarding the entire day. It’s often the troubles and not the simple joys that we remember and speak aloud.

When we speak things aloud, we give them power to shape our hearts and minds. Among all the books and podcasts and articles we read, we often overlook (as I have) the importance of recognizing and speaking aloud when we are simply happy.

So I decided to do something different by the time I had my third baby. Whenever I felt my heart pouring over with joy or simply resting in contentment while I was holding her or watching her play, I’d quietly say this one word, “Happy.”

There are approximately 1000 ways to express happiness. I wanted to speak aloud one word that even my newborn could begin to hold on to and recognize.

Throughout our days, I’d find myself thinking I was “happy” more and more as I developed the habit of identifying and speaking aloud this fundamental desire we all possess but so often neglect to acknowledge. While I nursed my baby, or saw her discover something new, or watched as she reached out to touch a loved one’s face, I’d increasingly recognize within myself that I was “happy.”

Think of all those tiny moments that parents and caretakers experience throughout the maddening chaos of child-rearing. In sharing aloud this feeling with my child, I felt I was able to retain and share an emotion that would stay with us for longer than the fleeting moment in which it was experienced.

Then something wonderful happened.

One evening while the kitchen lay in chaos after dinner, my toddling girl came up to me with arms outstretched. I picked her up and began to slowly swing her back and forth.

Then I heard her say with a smile, “Happy. Happy.”

My husband and I both looked at each other with elation. This spontaneous but genuine expression she’d spoken went beyond her needs or wants. She was simply expressing her happiness at being held by her mother.

As the months have passed, our family’s habit of speaking aloud our happiness has affected every member of the household. Our older children now identify more often when they are simply feeling good. As my daughter has continued to encroach upon two, her emotions and ability to express them have also expanded. We hear when she is sad, or mad or frustrated.

But we hear more from her than anyone else when she’s simply “happy.”

Happiness is an inherent desire. It’s not something that must be taught, but it’s something that must be actively cultivated and savored if we are to appreciate the positive moments. Being happy is often a state of mind rather than the circumstances that surround us. In sharing aloud those positive feelings that make up our days, we are equipping our children with an ability to recognize and share in a collective and lasting joy.

What the Experts Say About Keeping Babies Warm in Winter

The benefits to heading outdoors in the winter mean bundling up and heading out. But how do you properly dress an infant for the winter elements?

The weather outside is frightful. Inside it’s pretty frightful too. My older kids are actually trying to climb the walls and the baby will only nap while in motion. Unfortunately, I can only pace up and down the hallway so many times before I start climbing the walls myself. We need to get outside, snow or no snow.

However, since we have a newborn in the house this year, I started to wonder if I should put our snow adventures on hold. Perhaps I should just relinquish my sofa to the kids and let it serve as a trampoline for the next four months while I hang out with the little one in the rocking chair.

I called my pediatrician to ask her opinion on taking babies out in cold weather. “The overall recommendation is we like to see kids playing outside year round,” said Dr. Venus Villalva, a pediatrician in snow-prone Helena, Montana. So no free pass on skipping the snowsuit battle this year. But with winter break temperatures forecasted in the single digits, I wondered how cold was too cold.

It’s difficult to put an exact temperature on when it’s time to stay inside with babies and young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that playing in temperatures or wind chills below -15 Fahrenheit should be avoided because exposed skin can freeze within minutes. My pediatrician’s office doubled down on the importance of paying attention to the wind as it can penetrate clothing, even if the air temperature is warmer.

While -15 F may be far below what any parent finds enjoyable for a trip to the playground, young infants are even more susceptible to the cold. The AAP also notes that, “newborn infants are prone to hypothermia because of their large body surface area, small amounts of subcutaneous fat, and decreased ability to shiver.”

The benefits to heading outdoors in the winter – physical exercise for the whole family, fresh air, vitamin D, a good nap for the baby, not to mention preserving my furniture – mean bundling up and heading out. It’s typically worth it, even if it requires a little extra planning.

The AAP (in addition to every winter fashion guide, as well as your own mother chasing after you with an extra scarf) recommends dressing babies and children in layers. How many layers exactly? The best recommendation is one more layer than you have on yourself.

The types of layers matter too. The conventional wisdom among winter outdoor enthusiasts is to go with three separate types of layers – wicking, warming, and weathering. A wicking layer of polyester, bamboo, or wool (that is, anything other than cotton) keeps sweat off of skin and reduces the chance of hypothermia. The warming layer (or layers) can simply be street clothes – sweatpants, sweatshirts, fleece. The weathering layer, like a snow or rain-suit, should be waterproof if your child will actually be playing in the snow. Look for ones that are long enough to keep snow from sneaking into ankles and wrists, a surefire way to cut any toddler’s outdoor excursion short.

Despite the fact that babies have more difficulty than older children regulating their body temperature, they are often easier to keep warm in the snow. Wearing the baby in a carrier means she can benefit from your body heat. Put on an extra-large coat around both of you to trap heat in. However, don’t forget that a sleeping infant is not moving her extremities, so extra care should be taken to keep hands and feet warm. And an infant will be less able than an older kid to communicate discomfort, so check her temperature frequently.

It’s time to head inside when you get uncomfortable. If you’re cold, baby is also likely to be cold. For older kids, shivering, goosebumps, lethargy, and disorientation are signs of hypothermia and mean it’s time to seek warm shelter immediately. If skin is starting to look red, it’s also time to go warm up as it could be an early sign of frostbite.

After you make it back inside, check your baby’s  belly, hands, and toes. Hands and toes should be cool – not cold or warm. His belly should be warm, not cool or hot. If belly, hands, and toes are too warm, it means he was likely overdressed for the weather. If they’re chilly, warm him up and make a mental note to put on more layers next time.

What was the one piece of outdoor prep my pediatrician reminded me about repeatedly? Sunscreen. For babies older than six months, sunscreen is important even in the winter. Snow can reflect the intensity of the sun’s rays, making sunburn a possibility. Don’t forget sunglasses, either. Even babies can experience snow blindness. Keep an eye out for excessive blinking and crankiness.

Even if you spend more time bundling up than you do outside, it’s worth venturing out a few times every week. Older kids may beg to go build snowmen, but even infants and their parents benefit from a little fresh air and sunshine.

One thing is for certain – nothing makes hot chocolate taste better than a romp through the snow. And I’m guessing babies feel the same way about their milk, too.

How to Cope When Your Baby Totally Hates the Car

The following tricks can help you to find a solution for the pain and trauma of car rides.

There are two types of babies in the world: those who love the car seat and those who scream bloody murder at the mere sight of a car seat. My children fell into the latter category, so I spent years deciding whether or not it was even worth it to leave my house knowing a car ride full of wailing awaited me.
I’m not the only one. Parents are constantly searching for the elusive trick that will make being strapped in a car seat pleasant for an infant. Proper use of car seats helps infants in car accidents, and the rear facing design protects babies’ heads and spinal cords in case of a crash.
Unfortunately, babies don’t understand these benefits. They just know they can’t see mom and no one is holding them.
Screaming babies are hard to deal with all on their own, but the distracted driving that comes with a wailing child in the car seriously augments the problem. We imagine distracted drivers as those who use cell phones while on the road, but a survey found that more than 90 percent of parents admit that a baby crying is a major distraction in the car, on par with cell phone use.
It’s no wonder. Research proves that all humans – not just parents – have a hard time ignoring the sounds of a crying infant. We are primed to help, according to scientists. A parent stuck in a car with a crying infant will likely feel panic, sadness, and fear that can manifest in an increased heart rate and stress. The stress may cause mom or dad to cry as well, as many parents admit to doing when their child’s wailing just won’t stop.
Dr. Teri Mitchell APRN CNM IBCLC explains why a baby’s cries are so hard on parents and babies in these situations. She says the kind of cry a child emits when separated from a caregiver is specific in its demands. “There’s a name for this particular type of cry: the separation distress cry,” Dr. Mitchell says. “It’s nature’s built-in way of making sure that mothers go to their babies and ensure that they feel safe.”
Children whose separation distress is not tended to because parents are stuck in rush-hour traffic will continue to do what is normal for them in this situation: scream. Dr. Rakesh Radheshyam Gupta says that “crying may lead to vomiting in infants and may cause hoarseness of voice.”
The sound of a crying infant is about all a person can handle while driving a two-ton machine at 70 miles per hour. The following tricks can help you to find a solution for the pain and trauma of car rides.

Start strong

Babies who become upset the minute they are placed in the car seat are unlikely to calm down for the remainder of the ride. That’s why it’s important to start off strong by making the seat as comfortable as possible right from the beginning.
Don’t let a baby lean back on the seat straps while loading him. The sudden feel of those obtrusive items on a baby’s back can startle him or cause discomfort, and this can be enough to remind him that he hates the car seat. Instead of trying to juggle a baby with one arm while holding both car seat straps out of the way (impossible, by the way), use LulaClips made by LulaKids.
LulaClips pin to the car seat straps to hold them out of the way while loading or unloading a child from the car seat. This makes the process fast and easy, and it can also help keep a sleeping baby from waking up during the transfer from mom’s arms to the seat.
This ingenious product was one of PopSugars top products of the year, and moms commonly put these items on their must-have lists for little ones.
If your older baby still hates the car, incorporate frequent trial runs into your week while your baby is awake to create a positive association. With the car in park, sit in the backseat and play with baby while she’s strapped in. Move to the front seat for short stints after she gets used to the setup.
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Parent Co. partnered with Lulakids because they know those first hundred car rides aren’t always peaceful.

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Dress for success

Temperature can be a problem for babies when in car seats, but not in the way most parents expect. As opposed to being too cold, many babies struggle in the car because they are too warm.
Babies should never be placed in a car seat wearing a jacket. Not only will they overheat, but the bulk of a jacket keeps the car seat straps from working properly.
Take the weather into consideration, of course, but since the car is temperature controlled, dress the baby in normal clothes and save the jackets or extra layers for when it’s time to get out of the car.

Belt it out

Parents swear by music as a soother for kids who hate the car. One woman confessed to singing “The Ants Go Marching On” over and over again on a short road trip to soothe a screaming infant. Another mom said Christmas music all year long calmed her little one, as long as mom sang along.
Researchers support the idea of using music to calm babies. They found in one study that babies exposed to music stayed calm twice as long as babies exposed to baby talk or adult speech.
Cueing up a playlist of baby’s favorite songs can work, but singing to the baby along with the music has benefits for all involved. Besides calming the baby, researchers think that singing can also calm parents.  Focusing on the rhythm and the lull of the music helps ease the tension that rises when stuck in the car with a screaming infant. It’s a win-win.

Plan around gas

Sure, make sure you have enough gas in the car to get to where you want to go, but also plan around a baby’s gas. A baby who experiences major gas after a meal is not going to like being stuck in a car seat. Plan car rides long enough after meal times for a baby to get the gas out at home when moving around is possible.
Children with reflux also have unique challenges in car seats. Car seats don’t allow them to move freely. They will have problems getting comfortable if they can’t find the right position due to stomach or reflux pain.
One mom found that her son’s reflux took care of itself around the six-month mark, and car rides suddenly weren’t a problem anymore. Waiting for reflux to fix itself is difficult, however, so talking to a pediatrician or finding natural ways to deal with it are preferable. It’s possible that controlled reflux will equal peaceful car rides for all.
Children do grow out of the screaming-in-the-car phase, but these tactics can help move them towards happier car rides sooner. With a little advanced planning, peaceful car rides may be around the next bend.
Lulakids seatbelt bloc for kids and carseat clips

Parent Co. partnered with Lulakids because they know those first hundred car rides aren’t always peaceful.

Why I'm Tired of the Unsolicited "Just Wait Until" Parenting Tips

What ever happened to the old adage that if you don’t have anything good to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all?

I’m pregnant. Let the “just wait until” statements begin.

Let me preface this with a few things: I understand that for the most part, people mean well. So usually these “let me warn you” statements are intended to either commiserate slightly over the difficulties that all parents go through, or to give you a friendly bit of advice over what you can come to expect.

Also, while I am an experienced aunt, I’ve only been a mother to a wonderful baby boy for 10 months (my second is scheduled to join us in just three more months) so I understand that I’m no veteran and that perhaps all the things to come in motherhood will sour me a little more. Perhaps, a few years from now, I’ll be more prone to making such statements myself (but if you knew me, you’d agree: that’s not a likely scenario).

Now let me say this, none of those things are enough to convince me that the overwhelming presence of negative rather than positive feedback should be the norm. What ever happened to the old adage that if you don’t have anything good to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all? Why is it that almost everyone’s go-to reaction is one with a negative tone?

Examples of the statements that I’m talking about:

You’re pregnant? Oh, just wait until the mood swings really kick in and you can’t keep it together. Just wait until you’re so big that you have to waddle. Just wait until the very end of your pregnancy when you’re uncomfortable all the time.

You can’t sleep because you’re so pregnant? Oh, just wait until the baby comes and then you’ll see what real lack of sleep is. (This one makes another appearance in round two because, apparently, you don’t know what sleep deprivation is until you have two kids).

You just had a baby? Oh, just wait until he is over the newborn phase and doesn’t sleep all the time. Just wait until she’s teething. Just wait until he’s crawling. Just wait until she’s walking. Just wait until he’s talking. Just wait until the terrible twos. Just wait until it’s impossible to feed her because she refuses everything you give her. Just wait until he’s in school and bringing home all kinds of germs and you’re all miserable from being sick. Just wait until she’s seven or eight and has an attitude already. Just wait until the dreaded teenage years.

Now, let’s agree that parenting is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard. You may be a postpartum mom whose hormones have turned you into some crazy version of the person you used to be and you barely recognize yourself while you’re supposed to be overjoyed at the presence of your new little angel. Meanwhile, you’re just impressed with yourself if you got through an entire day without crying.

You worry about this tiny little person from their first cold to the first bump on their head, skinned knee, bite from another child at the park, broken bone, broken heart, the list goes on and on. If I spent all my time dreading the “wait untils” or worrying about the next difficult thing around the corner, when would I have time to enjoy all the wonderful, amazing, incredible things that a child brings to a parent’s life?

That being said, I am under no illusions. I fully understand that no matter how much I love them, my children will test me endlessly and will, on numerous occasions, push me to the brink of my sanity. However, isn’t that part of the process? Often the most worthwhile and rewarding things in life are the most difficult. Life isn’t always easy, so it should come as no surprise that parenting isn’t either.

To those few people who’ve talked pregnancy or parenting with me, and said things such as, “How wonderful for you,” “That’s great,” “Enjoy every moment of it, it’s a really special time,” “My favourite age is x, they’re so fun at that time,” and simply left it at that – thank you. Thank you for the positivity. Thank you for leaving it at that.

These sentiments seem so few and far between that, while people generally give off statements of “I’m happy for you,” it’s typically followed with that incessant “But just wait until” that makes me cringe on the inside. Can’t we just be happy for people and leave it that? No? Maybe? Let’s just try it and see what happens.

You’re pregnant? That’s awesome! What an exciting time, I’m happy for you.

You’re nearing the end of your pregnancy? Great! Best of luck with labor and delivery. I truly hope all goes smoothly for you and I’m excited that your new little bundle will be in your arms shortly.

You just had a baby? Wow! How wonderful! I hope that the whole family is doing well. I am so happy for you during this special time with a new little person to help fill your home with love.

Your little one is now walking? Aww, I love when they reach special new milestones. It’s great to see the little ones walking (or running) around discovering things at their own pace.

You’re pregnant with your second baby? Woohoo! A sibling for your son (or daughter) and another beautiful little person to add to a home just bursting with love! (Third, fourth, or fifth pregnancy? The sentiment carries on, as well as: Good on you, not everyone is brave enough for a big family!)

Personally, I’ve found that those who leave you with a purely positive comment are few and far between, so much so that I’ve truly come to cherish those interactions. I also believe that most don’t even realize the negative tone that they give off in their comments.

We can endeavor to change that. Let’s be more mindful of the things that we say to parents who can (and should) be reveling in the joys that child-rearing brings. For the undeniably tough moments that come with it, hang in there. I can guarantee that you’re not the only one to feel that struggle. Worry not, you can get through it.

What so often works for me when I need to reset is to look into the beautiful, innocent eyes of that tiny little person and let the love just wash over me for a moment. He has so much life yet to come and his possibilities are endless. It’s a wonderful thing to be in the presence of. Life often pushes us to forget that – just don’t let it.

The Bittersweetness of Five Bags of Hand-Me-Downs

For the last two years, my son has been wearing the clothes of a little boy who never got to wear them.

I went through my son’s clothes today. He’s past the point where size and age are measured in months, so the 18- and 24-month clothes had to go. They’ve been replaced by brand new 2Ts with slogans announcing his potential for trouble. Meanwhile, the last vestiges of babyhood go in a box.
The process made me sad, but not for the reasons one might think. Yes, there was a tinge of “Gee, they grow up so fast.” But the reason I mourned was because for the last two years, my son has been wearing the clothes of a little boy who never got to wear them.
My friend Kelsea lost her son Sam just after his first birthday. After years of trying for another child, she and her husband decided they were done. They packed up every baby thing in the house and gave it all to me, knowing my three-month-old could use it.
The amount of stuff was staggering. There were five giant bags of t-shirts, printed onesies, and pants with faces on the seat. There were boxes of tiny shoes and a box of wooden toys. Half of it still had the tags on.
I can’t imagine how much it hurt for her to go through each item – battling the memories and the what ifs. But Kelsea delivered it without a tear. Instead, she hugged me and said she was glad to help.
And she has helped. In fact, I wonder if she knows what her gift has done for me. Beyond the money I’ve saved, the effects of her generosity have been both profound and unexpected.
For one thing, her gift has made me a participant in her grief. I love my friend and I mourned with her when she lost her son. But I doubt her little boy would be so constantly on my mind had she not given me his clothes.
Now there isn’t a day I don’t think about Sam. I wonder how he’d look in the three-piece suit my son wears to church. I think about how the orange tee with the bike decal would set off Sam’s dark coloring. I imagine how much my friend looked forward to seeing him in the Superman shirt my son adores. It keeps his loss fresh in my mind. I can only imagine how Kelsea manages not to collapse under the weight of it.
The clothes are also a reminder of how lucky I am. My son is alive and healthy and mine. So many women can’t say that. I’m not sure why the destroying angel has passed by my door, but I’m thankful every single day.
While this new understanding doesn’t make me “enjoy every moment” – you’d have to be a masochist to enjoy some days – it does make me more aware of this thing called motherhood. Yes, I have days of absolute mayhem and chaos. I have days when I wonder how I’ll make to bedtime and whether this motherhood gig wasn’t a colossal mistake.
But even the worst day is sprinkled with tiny bits of incandescent joy. There are sticky kisses and garbled attempts at “I love you.” There are cuddles and laughter my friend will never know. And because of that, I feel like I have to relish those moments for both of us. I owe it to Kelsea and women like her to at least be conscious of what I have.
As my son’s new clothing goes into circulation and the last of Sam’s clothes go into a box, I’m pleased to see these lessons have stayed with me. I continue to grieve with those who’ve lost children, whether through death or infertility or custody battles. I send notes on birthdays and holidays to women mourning their babies. And I hold my own children a little tighter and grump a little less when they ask for one more story or one more cuddle.
I will always be grateful for Kelsea’s gift. Because of her generosity, I’ve become more of the mother I think we both wish we could be.

After "The Very Hungry Caterpillar": Six New Board Books That Babies Will Love

While the classics are thrilling, sometimes babies need something a little more than “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Board books and babies go together like cookies and milk. You can have one without the other, but together they become something magical. Watching a baby’s eyes light up while reading a book he can touch, hold, and experience is one of the great first moments of a child’s journey.

While the classics are thrilling, sometimes babies need something a little more than “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” After the pages have been closed on that one, here are six unique board books that babies will love:

LetterHeads

by Stefan G. Bucher

Letters are people too in this unique alphabet book. “LetterHeads” is the first book of its kind to use 3-D modeling software to sculpt letterforms into human faces. Infused with unique personalities, playful vocabulary, and an intriguing color palette, the letters reflect just how alive language can be.

The book includes an index that explains each color, along with a few Easter egg details. The characters reflect diverse backgrounds, allowing for more grown-up associations and making it fun for parents to read along.

“It’s really fun to watch kids scrutinize each letter for its details. When they turn the pages, they’re fascinated to discover that they can inspect each letter front and back. For babies, there’s the happy head-tilt of ‘human, but also not human’ when they encounter the faces,” says author Stefan Bucher.


Tails Chasing Tails

by Matthew Porter 

Known for his wide-eyed animal art and vibrant acrylic paints on distressed pinewood backgrounds, indie artist Matthew Porter brings playful tigers, foxes, and pigs to life in his creative board book, “Tails Chasing Tails.”

Using green and blue paint, babies can only see one part of each animal until the pages are turned. Then the face and front end of each fanciful creature are revealed. Help your baby guess the animals she sees.

The School Library Journal calls the author, Matthew Porter, “the undisputed king of the hipster board book genre.”


 “Alice in Wonderland: A BabyLit Colors Primer

by Jennifer Adams (Author) and Alison Oliver (Illustrator)

Jennifer Adams takes classic literary stories and reinvents them so that babies can learn and interact with the characters and stories. In “Alice in Wonderland,” babies journey with Alice in her black shoes as she follows the white rabbit down the hole into Wonderland. There she meets an orange cat, a blue caterpillar, and the Queen of Red Hearts.

“The many peculiar characters in Carroll’s novel, such as the Red Queen of Hearts and the time-conscious White Rabbit, lend themselves to a natural introduction to colors. The literary ties are creative, but the illustrations take these primers to the next level and make them shine,” says Whitney Butters’s Deseret News.


 

The House in the Night

by Susan Marie Swanson (Author) and Beth Krommes (Illustrator)

A Caldecott Medal Winner, “The House in the Night” is an intriguing board book that uses dark colors contrasted with vivid gold to provide a mesmerizing experience for babies. In pages that nearly glow, little minds can explore the inside of a house at night.

“Executed in scratchboard decorated in droplets of gold, Krommes’ illustrations expand on Swanson’s reassuring story (inspired by a nursery rhyme that begins, ‘This is the key of the kingdom’) to create a world as cozy inside a house as it is majestic outside,” says Booklist.


 

Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball

by Vicki Churchill  (Author) and Charles Fuge (Author)

“Sometimes I like to curl up in a ball, so no one can see me, because I’m so small.” What a great reminder for children that it’s okay to be small.

In this captivating picture book with soft-toned illustrations, babies can follow along as a little wombat does all its favorite things. Each page is filled with extraordinary details and a menagerie of adorable animals. Does your baby like the same activities as the wildlife?


 

 “Paris: A Book of Shapes (Hello, World)

by Ashley Evanson (Author and Illustrator)

“Hello, World” is a board book series that pairs early learning concepts with colorful, stylish illustrations of cities around the world.

Paris is an enchanting destination with all sorts of wondrous shapes – triangles at the Louvre Museum, rectangles at Notre-Dame Cathedral, arches at the Arc de Triomphe, and stars in a beautiful Parisian night sky. Your baby can find them all in this beautifully illustrated book.

What’s your favorite board book for babies? Tweet us and let us know @HelloParentCo or post them in the comments section below!

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In Defense of Describing Your Kid’s Age in Months Until College (Or at Least Preschool)

The stages of development don’t care about calendar years. They happen in quick succession, and some things change every single day.

I keep thinking about something I saw on facebook awhile back. A mom friend shared something precocious her daughter had done and got the immediate “Oh, how cute, how old is she now?” response.
“She’s 26 months.”
“Oh! I thought she was two…”
On the one hand, it was hilarious. A little quick math can clear up the confusion easily enough and confirm that a 26-month-old child is, in fact, two years old (two years and two months, to be exact). But it also got me thinking.
Ever since my child was a newborn in my arms, I have run into the idea again and again that the way parents describe their children’s ages is somehow annoying and unnecessary. People ask how old a baby or toddler is and then complain about the answer coming in months (or even weeks).
Why do parents refuse to talk like normal people? Do parents consider their offspring so special that everyone needs to know exactly how many days, hours, and minutes, since their birth? Do they want to force everyone else to do math? What’s wrong with “he’s one” or “she’s two?” Are parents just plain being mean? Even my own wife preferred to call our toddler “almost two” when he was 23 months.
The consensus among non-parents (and some parents, too) seems to be that stating a child’s age in months is overly precious, utterly ridiculous, and hard to understand. It would seem that after six months, our kids’ ages can only appropriately be measured in half-years, but preferably only in years.
Excuse me, but I have learned a few things in the last 31 months of my life (oh yeah, I went there), and those people are wrong.
Go ahead, talk about your child’s age in months. Measure their time on this earth in months for the next 16 years for all I care. Everyone has a calculator in their pocket nowadays, so if people don’t like it, they can easily divide by 12 to reach a more palatable number.
Because look, you are the parent, and you know very well how precious every grouping of 30 or 31 days truly is. I don’t only mean that sentimentally. Practically, young children do not grow up birthday to birthday. They change more quickly than that.
I have been hearing about “the terrible twos” since I was two, but the truth is that a two-year-old is not a thing. On my kid’s second birthday, he was one kind of child, at one point in his development. Three months later, he was someone almost entirely different.
The stages of development don’t care about calendar years. They happen in quick succession, and some things change every single day. A 25-month-old child has very little in common with a 34-month-old child, even though there are plenty of people who would like you to pretend they’re the same age.
While it is true that differences of a few months do lessen with age, they don’t exactly just go away, either. In his book, “The Tipping Point”, Malcolm Gladwell outlined a phenomena that I expect parents have been aware of for a very long time. Children who start school at a later age than their peers, even when everyone in the class is within one year of age, have an advantage.
So, a kindergartener who’s a little closer to six has had more time to master skills, develop mentally and emotionally, and just plain get bigger than a child who is only five years and one month. (That’s 61 months, in case you are curious.)
So please, parents of toddlers, I implore you, stop yielding to the pressure to measure your kids only in rotations of earth around sun. We know our kids. We know that 27 months is sometimes the more accurate thing to say. When people ask other questions, they expect accuracy. When they ask how old our children are, let’s also give them accuracy.
Plus, if the other person also happens to be a toddler parent, you might get a wistful “Oh, 27! I remember 27. That was a sweet month.”