Prepping for Holiday Travel With a New Baby

Going somewhere for the holidays? Pre-baby holiday travel was probably pretty simple. You booked your flight and/or hotel, chose what outfits and toiletries to bring for yourself, and tried not to forget the presents you got for family or friends.

Travel is very different with a baby, and certainly can be more stressful. But don’t worry! We have all the info you need below to prepare for your holiday travels with a new baby.

Figure out what to pack in advance

Your little one may be…well, little, but they still need a lot of stuff! Your packing checklist will vary based on your baby’s needs and age, but feel free to use this general outline of things we find useful when traveling with a new baby. 

Clothes and diapers

  • Diapers
  • Wipes and cream/balm
  • Changing pad
  • Blankets 
  • Plastic bags
  • 1 to 2 outfits

Feeding

  • Extra bottles, sippy cups, nipples
  • Washable bibs
  • Formula, juice, or water
  • Feeding set and baby food, if appropriate
  • Breast pump, if you use one

Health and safety

  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency information card or sheet
  • Sunscreen (no matter where you’re traveling)
  • Sun hat for warm weather or knit hat for cold weather
  • Baby aspirin or pain reliever
  • Hand sanitizer or disinfectant gel

Getting around

  • Carrier, sling, or wraps
  • Car seat
  • Travel stroller
  • Portable bassinet or crib, if you’re not renting one

Extras

  • White noise machine
  • Nightlight
  • Favorite toys or blankets

If you’re traveling by plane (more on that later), it’s a good idea to have these items in a carry-on or personal items with you. If your flight is delayed or you need something one of these items right away, you won’t be able to access your checked bag. Have them nearby so you’re ready for anything. 

And, prepare to get spit-up or spilled food and drink on you. Bring an extra change of clothes for yourself, as well as snacks and drinks to avoid getting hangry.

Traveling by car

If you’re driving to your holiday destination, use our packing list above as your starting point. Take extra care that the car seat is installed properly in your car. Removable shade screens for car windows can protect your baby from the sun, too.

Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. You’ll be stopping to feed, nurse, or change diapers often, so you need to build some cushion into your schedule. On that note, you may want to plan a route with lots of safe rest stops, or attractions and restaurants you want to see along the way. It’ll be much more pleasant than having to stop at a gas station or truck stop.

Traveling by plane

Traveling with a new baby on a plane can feel like a new parent’s worst nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some quick tips when flying with your little one:

Fly nonstop, or choose flights with a long layover. The fewer connecting flights, the better. The fluctuations in air pressure from taking off and landing can cause pain to your baby’s ears. The less they experience that, the better. If you aren’t able to get a nonstop flight, choose one with a layover a few hours long so everyone can have a break.

Nurse or snack during takeoff and landing. To prevent that ear pain we just talked about, try nursing or feeding your baby during takeoff and landing. Swallowing can help clear the pressure from their ears. Sucking on a pacifier can help, too. If your little one seems to be in a lot of pain, consider giving them a dose of baby aspirin or pain reliever.

Pre-board if you can. Airline policies differ, but many offer pre-boarding or family boarding options. You might be able to stow your strollers and carseats early or board before other passengers. Check the airline policy ahead of time.

Yes, you’ll be nervous, and yes, things may go wrong. Your baby may cry and fuss on the plane. Prepare as best you can, and then roll with the punches. You may get dirty looks from other passengers if your baby screams mid-flight, but don’t sweat: they’ll get over it. 

Enjoy your time with family

Whether you’re taking a vacation or visiting family and friends for the holidays, remember to slow down, breathe, and enjoy that time with loved ones. That’s why you’re traveling! Once you get to your destination, don’t be afraid to give yourself time to take a nap and recharge before the holiday festivities begin.

Asking for help as a parent takes strength. If you and your family are having trouble sleeping, Sleep by Rachelle can help. Learn more about Sleep by Rachelle’s gentle sleep training method on our website.

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Daylight Saving Time: How to Get Baby Back on Schedule

You’ve finally gotten your little one used to some kind of sleep schedule. Yay!

And then, it happens: Daylight Saving Time ends or begins. (And yes, it’s “Saving” and not “Savings.” Who knew?) With that spring forward or fall back one hour, your baby’s sleep routine is thrown off. And that means yours is affected, too.

Don’t worry, mama. If you’re not living in one of the few states who don’t observe Daylight Saving Time, there are ways to get your baby’s internal clock back on schedule.

Spring forward: Daylight Saving Time begins

When the clocks spring forward for the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, you and your baby lose one precious hour of sleep. To prep your baby for the time change, try moving bedtime 10 to 15 minutes earlier each night for about 4 to 5 days. 

So if you typically put your baby to bed around 8 pm, put her to bed at 7:45 pm the week before Daylight Saving begins. The next night, bedtime is 7:30 pm, and so on and so on. Your goal is to get bedtime as close to 7 pm as possible to make Daylight Saving less of a shock. If an earlier bedtime doesn’t seem to work, you can try moving wake up time earlier instead.

Fall back: Daylight Saving Time ends

In the fall, usually around early November, the clocks fall back one hour, meaning we get to enjoy a few more moments snuggling in bed. Sounds nice, right? It also means that your little one will probably wake up one hour earlier, too. 

To get back on schedule, use the same approach that you used in spring, but reversed. About 4 to 5 days before Daylight Saving ends, push bedtime about 10 to 15 minutes later each night. If Baby goes to bed around 8 pm, set his bedtime at 8:15 the week before Daylight Saving ends. The next night, bedtime is at 8:30 pm. Before you know it, your kiddo will be used to falling asleep later. 

Stick to a bedtime routine

If all else fails, take a deep breath and relax. You’ll get back to your usual routine eventually. It helps to stick to a consistent bedtime routine: a bath, bedtime stories, feeding, and rocking help your baby prepare for sleep.

Making your baby’s room as sleep friendly as possible can also make a big difference. That means dimming the lights, using a noise machine, and putting up blackout curtains if needed at bedtime. In the morning, expose your baby to natural light by going for a walk, opening up your blinds, or having breakfast outside. 

It takes time for everyone to adjust to Daylight Saving. You might feel cranky or sluggish when the clock springs forward or falls back, so remember to give your little one (and yourself) a break if the routine doesn’t work. In time, you’ll adjust naturally.

Need more sleep tips? Sleep by Rachelle is a full-service sleep program tailored to the unique needs of each baby. Learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle method on our website!

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Keep the Kids (and Yourself) Safe This Flu Season

October is a wonderful time of the year, especially for families with kids: cooler temperatures, pretty fall foliage, and of course, Halloween! However, parents also know that October is also usually the beginning of flu season. The flu virus starts making its way around in October and typically peaks during December through February, according to the CDC. When the flu season hits and your child or spouse gets sick, it can make the autumn season as well as the holiday season a lot less fun.

Why are fall and winter considered “flu season?”

Why does the flu seem more common in the winter? Many people think that it spreads more quickly when people are packed together indoors due to the cold. Think of people taking public transit or flying on planes for the holidays. Lots of kids share one classroom and spend most of the day together, and it only takes one of them to be sick for the virus to spread. 

Another common theory is a weaker immune system. Days are shorter during the winter and people are outside less often. Because of this, people make less vitamin D, or melatonin. A slower immune response means you’ll get sick more easily, right? 

However, lack of vitamin D and people crowding together aren’t the problem: it’s the virus itself. The influenza virus is more stable and long-lasting when the air is cold and dry. Flu viruses spread through the air, compared to the common cold, which is spread by direct contact. And when the air has low humidity and low temps, that means the virus particles stick around longer, making it easier to catch the flu. 

Luckily, there are ways you can protect yourself and your kiddos during the flu season.

Protecting yourself and your kids against the flu

Kids younger than 5 years of age, and especially toddlers and babies younger than 2 years old, have a higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu. Pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections, sinus problems, and even life-threatening illnesses can arise from the flu.

Flu vaccine

A yearly flu vaccine can protect kids against the flu, reducing the risk of flu itself as well as flu-related complications. Children 6 months older, parents, family members, and caregivers can help prevent the spread of flu by getting vaccinated.

Everyday actions

Staying aware from others who are sick and avoiding contact when you’re sick can help prevent the spread of flu. Remember to wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use the crook of your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, to lessen the amount of germs released into the air. Even though the flu spreads through the air, other germs like the common cold spread through touch: try not to touch your face, especially your mouth, nose, and eyes.

What to do if you get the flu

Symptoms

People who get the flu sometimes feel some or all of these symptoms, which show up abruptly:

  • Fever
  • Chills or feverish feeling
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Body aches or muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (common in children)

Be aware

If your child develops these flu symptoms, talk to your doctor. It’s especially important to call your doctor if they’re having trouble breathing, experiencing chest pain, have a fever, or are less responsive than normal. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicine depending on the age and overall health of your child. 

Recovery

Most people recover from the flu in a few days to less than a couple weeks. Antiviral drugs can prevent serious flu-related complications, and can also shorten recovery periods. 

If you or your child gets the flu, be sure to get plenty of bed rest and drink lots of fluid. Water, fruit juice, hot tea with honey, and warm soup can help you feel better and also prevent dehydration. Breathing moist air from steamy baths or a humidifier can soothe the throat and help with congestion. Remember to stay home and away from others to stop the flu from spreading as much as possible.

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How to Start Weaning

The Sleep by Rachelle method of sleep training is more than just simple sleep tips. Understanding your baby’s nutrition and digestion is an important part of helping your baby find restful sleep. However, what if you’re ready to stop breastfeeding your baby? You may not know when to start weaning, how to do it, or how it might affect your baby.

Don’t worry, mama. Read our guide below to get you and your baby ready for weaning.

What is weaning?

First off, let’s talk about what the term “weaning” is. Your baby is considered weaned when she stops nursing completely and gets her nutrition from sources other than milk. However, weaning usually means when a baby stops breastfeeding. She may still take the bottle.

What age to start weaning

The simple answer? When you and your baby are ready. There’s no “correct” time you’re supposed to start weaning. 

If you need a little guidance though, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests babies are breastfed for the first 6 months of their life. After that, mothers can continue to breastfeed while also introducing other foods to their baby until at least 12 months of age. The AAP also recommends that breastfeeding continues for as long as mother and baby desire. 

There are a couple of different approaches to weaning. If you feel like it’s the right time for you, or perhaps you’re returning to work, or you have your own reasons for wanting to stop, you may decide to start weaning, which is called “mother-led weaning.” On the other hand, if your baby seems to lose interest in nursing after starting to eat solids, you may decide to start weaning then. That’s called “baby-led weaning,” and it can happen anywhere from around 4 months up to 12 months. As babies enter toddlerhood, they may become more easily distracted or impatient with nursing, which are signs that it’s time to start weaning.

Time it right

Weaning takes patience and time. To help weaning go more smoothly, you may want to start when there are no other significant changes going on in your family. For example, starting to wean when you’re moving to a new home, starting daycare, sleep training, or learning to walk can add stress on top of stress. Pick a time when things are fairly stable, and give yourself plenty of time to complete the weaning process (about a month or so.)

Take it slowly and gradually

Start weaning slowly and gradually so your baby can adjust to this new change. It’s best not to completely drop breastfeeding all at once. For one thing, your baby will probably become frustrated and upset. And stopping all at once may cause breast engorgement, plugged ducts, or an infection for you.

To start, choose your baby’s least favorite feeding and drop it from your schedule every few days. That may be in the morning, at night, or at an inconvenient time during the day for you. You’ll gradually reduce the number of feedings this way, giving your baby as well as your breasts time to adjust. You can also offer up a bottle of milk instead of nursing. If your baby won’t take the bottle from you, see if she’ll take it from a different family member instead.

Also, expect your baby to resist weaning. That’s totally normal! If your baby refuses the bottle from you or anyone else, or can’t seem to handle fewer or shorter feedings, that’s okay. Revert back to your previous routine for awhile, and try weaning again in a week or so. It may not be the right time. 

More tips for weaning

  • Try the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method: breastfeed your baby if she shows interest, and don’t offer to when she doesn’t.
  • Change up your schedule: avoid typical areas in your home where you nurse during feeding times, nurse with a bottle in the living room rather than the bedroom, or plan a different activity or a snack during typical nursing times.
  • Ask family members to help: if your baby typically nurses after waking or before bed, have them take over the morning or sleep routines.
  • Spend some quality time with your baby! Many mothers start to miss the close bond they share with their baby while breastfeeding. Take time to snuggle, play together, or read books to keep that bond strong. 

Weaning can be a stressful, difficult time for you and your baby. Many mothers feel sad that their baby is growing older, happy to get their bodies back, or frustrated by the process itself. It’s all okay. If weaning is affecting your child’s sleep routines and you need extra guidance, contact Sleep by Rachelle! We’re here to help. 

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Sleep Regressions

 

The Three Main Sleep Regressions:

When you think of sleep in the first year so many things will come to mind. When will your baby start sleeping through the night is usually the first one. This is followed by my baby was sleeping through the night and no longer is …regressions ….WHY? To when should my baby be napping? Does my baby nap enough? Finally we are to no more questions and simply making statements……My baby is overtired because they don’t sleep day or night…..They can’t sleep…..My baby is broken …and so am I!!

All jokes aside, this is a tough thing for the majority of parents during the first year. Baby Created Sleep was built to give parents a better understanding of sleep development in the first year and tools on how to approach both daytime and night time sleep.

I am breaking down the biggest milestones in sleep, the famous “ SLEEP REGRESSIONS”.

So why would a baby go from sleeping extended hours in the night to waking up every 1-3 hours again?

4 Month Sleep Regression – Increased Daily Caloric Needs

The first regression you will hear parents talk about is the dreaded four month sleep regression. It is very common for babies to sleep well from 10 weeks to 16 weeks which is just long enough for parents to get used to it. This then quickly changes to wakes every 2 hour and very confused parents.

Looking at the development of sleep between 8-12 weeks we see big changes for babies in understanding night time sleep better by two things. First, they stop pooping at night and second, they sleep longer without eating. The result of this is going into a deeper rest and repair sleep at night time. What happens around four months is a  large growth spurt requiring an increase of daily caloric intake. Your baby needs to eat more …seems simple enough.

During the 5-7 days your baby is actively in the growth spurt you will need to feed at night to ensure they are getting enough calories. You might be asking yourself, why you’re still feeding at night and it’s night 12 of no sleep. It’s because we are creatures of habit and as soon as we get used to a new habit we hold on to it. For the baby, they can consume calories in a 24 hour period and they will have a better balance of sleep if they get the deeper rest and repair sleep they need at night time and shorter naps to maintain good energy during the day time.

So how do you make this happen? Increase your daytime feeds!  Also do not forget to keep any lighting in the nursery RED.

6 Month Sleep Regression – Mastering Body Movement

Now this stage is as easy as the first if you understand what your baby is working on developmentally. Now that your baby has spent 6 months working through any digestive difficulties, reflux, skin, hair or nail challenges. They are now ready to move on in growth and figure out their body. They have been practicing rolling but may only go one way and get stuck and they have also been trying to sit but may still flop over. Mastering their own body and moving independently is their new obsession. So if they are not getting enough practice in the day time you notice a very mobile and fidgety baby at night. At this point it is best to focus on constant floor time during the day and give them every opportunity to figure their body movement out.

8 Month Sleep Regression – Let’s Have A Conversation

If you are not talking to your baby like an adult at this point you should be. They are cognitively aware of you, your voice, YOUR WORDS …yes they understand you. So tell them what is going on and why. A huge part of sleep changes between 8-10 months. Make sure you have a structured and dependable routine and that you talk to your baby about it. For example: “we are going to the room to take a nap” and then you follow through and do just that. Or “we are going to sleep in our bed tonight all night and not leave the room until morning”, and again you follow through on your words and do that.

Finally, the biggest note I have for 8-10 months is never to play the game of sneaking out and tricking your baby. I know it’s hard to hear them cry but it is vital to build trust and get through the separation anxiety stage by NOT sneaking out. Tell them you are leaving and you will be back. Also a tip to help at this stage is to introduce a lovey.

Regressions can be tricky but they don’t have to mean no sleep! These growth spurts take 5 to 7 nights, after that help guide your little one back on track to healthy sleeping habits at night.

If you need some additional support check out Rachelle’s books Creating Sweet Dreams or Call for immediate sleep support at 720-329-7994. 

 

Warmly,

Rachelle

Rachelle@sleepbyrachelle.com

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Health and Fitness Tips During Pregnancy

Keeping healthy and fit during pregnancy is important for both mama and child. Safe, moderate exercise and a mindful, fulfilling diet might reduce the risk of excess weight gain, prevent pain, improve mood and energy, and help you get better sleep. 

Remember to discuss the best exercise and diet plan with your healthcare provider if you’re not sure about your options! Then, check out our health and fitness tips for pregnancy below.

Get moving every day

Regular, low-impact exercise can help minimize discomfort you’re feeling while pregnant. Some exercises can even help your body get ready for labor and delivery by toning the muscles and building strength or endurance. And regular exercise can help you control your weight, boost your mood, and regulate blood pressure.

If you had low levels of activity pre-pregnancy, taking brisk walks around your neighborhood is a good place to start. Commit to walking for just 15 to 20 minutes if you feel too tired; you may find that you can walk for a longer period once you get moving. Once you start, your energy will pick up.

Most exercises, including those you did prior to pregnancy, are usually safe to continue: swimming, jogging, yoga, barre, and cycling, for example. Avoid workouts with a high risk of falling, getting injured with heavy objects or workouts that are done while lying flat on your back, which can be tricky in your third trimester. Always warm up and stretch before your workout, and cool down and stretch after your workout. 

Eat before and after your workouts

You may already know that working out on an empty stomach isn’t the best practice, but you can push through it normally. When you’re pregnant, however, you really need that pre-workout fuel that comes from food. A quick snack will carry you and baby through your workout, and it’ll prevent your blood sugar levels from crashing.

Pre-workout, have a healthy meal like oats with dried fruit, a veggie omelet, greek yogurt topped with dried nuts, or grilled chicken and sweet potato or greens. Eat at least an hour or two before you exercise so you’ll have enough time to digest. If you can’t sneak in a full meal beforehand, grab something quick and filling like a banana or healthy trail mix at least 45 minutes before.

Post-workout, have a snack with protein and good carbs to help your muscles recover. Try a quinoa or pasta bowl with green vegetables, rice cakes, fresh fruit with cottage cheese, or pita bread and hummus.

Stay hydrated 

Water helps form the placenta and amniotic sac. Plus, the placenta is what delivers oxygen and nutrients to your baby, and what carries waste and carbon dioxide away. Your blood volume increases to handle these extra duties, which means you need to drink more water to support everything your body is doing. 

Drink plenty of water every day. Drink enough water each time to make you feel sated and prevent feelings of thirst. It’s especially important that you stay hydrated after exercising, or if you’re in hot and humid climates. Fill up a reusable water bottle and bring it with you everywhere to remind you to stay hydrated.

Quick tips

Now that we’ve covered the big health and fitness tips, don’t forget about the following:

  • Take a prenatal vitamin
  • Practice Kegel exercises and squats
  • Avoid strenuous or risky household chores that put you in contact with harsh chemicals or bacteria
  • Wear supportive, comfortable shoes, especially during exercise
  • Limit your caffeine intake
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Know what’s your “normal” and when to call your doctor with questions

Give yourself a break

It’s important to stay healthy and fit while pregnant, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow a diet and exercise regimen perfectly! Let yourself take a break when your body asks for it. Rest and put up your feet (which is a great way to reduce swelling and foot pain as your body changes.) Take a nap. Sleep as much as you can before your little one arrives. Sometimes giving yourself a break is the healthiest thing you can do for your mental and physical health.

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Why, how, and when to swaddle

Why we swaddle our babies?

From the day you bring your little one home, you will begin a journey of finding ways to soothe, feed, and help this little human sleep. You will go to great lengths to ensure your baby is full and content. One tool we all use to do this is swaddling, which helps babies secure their arms and rest. Babies will often fling their arms around with zero control, and they grab things with a death grip and often can not let go. This is all due to their heightened reflexes. These amazing reflexes help them use their hands and face to get to the milk source. We use swaddling when we need to give them a break and go into a deeper rest and repair sleep.

How to Swaddle Your Baby Safely

Swaddling your baby is a simple way to keep your baby warm and secure by using a snugly fastened blanket. It can also be a source of comfort to your baby, since it mimics the familiar feeling of being inside the womb. However, when not done properly, swaddling can be unsafe. That’s why it’s important for parents to know how to swaddle their baby safely. Follow our guidelines for swaddling safely so you can soothe your baby or help lull them to sleep.

Choose a swaddle blanket

A ready-made swaddle blanket is a little more sophisticated than a simple thin blanket, but both can be used for swaddling. If you want something that will take the guesswork out of swaddling, choose one that fastens with Velcro, zippers, or hook and loop closures. Some highly-rated favorite swaddle blankets include the Halo Sleepsack and the SwaddleMe Original Swaddle

If you’re comfortable with swaddling your little one in a blanket, you can take some home with you from the hospital: they’re free! Or, try a cotton muslin blanket by popular brand aden + anais. They come in all sorts of adorable patterns, and they’re versatile enough to work as more than just swaddle blankets. You can use them as stroller blankets, nursing covers, or burp cloths in a pinch. 

Once you have your swaddle blanket picked out, you’re ready to swaddle your baby.

Lay the blanket in a diamond shape, and fold the top corner down

Arrange your blanket on a flat surface into a diamond shape. Then, fold the top corner down towards the center. The top of the blanket should now form a straight line.

Place baby face-up on the blanket

Place your baby face-up on the blanket. His neck should rest along the top edge of the corner that you folded down. Gently place his right arm (your left) alongside his body, leaving it slightly bent.

Pull the swaddle securely across your baby’s chest and arm 

Take that same side of the swaddle and pull it across your baby’s right arm and chest. Tuck the end of the fabric under baby, leaving his left arm (your right) free. 

Fold the bottom of the swaddle up and over baby’s feet

Next, fold the bottom of the swaddle up and over your baby’s feet. Tuck the end of the fabric into the top of the swaddle. Your baby’s legs and right arm should be covered at this point. While his right arm should be snug to discourage wriggling out of the swaddle, his legs and feet should be able to move around.

Pull and secure the other corner of the blanket to finish swaddling

Then, gently straighten your baby’s left arm, and pull the remaining corner of the blanket snugly across his body. Tuck the end of the fabric underneath him to secure the swaddle. Make sure the swaddle is nice and tight, but leaves enough room for the legs and feet to move.

Safety tips for swaddling

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, especially when swaddling. 
  • Make sure that your swaddle can’t come loose, which can smother your baby.
  • When your baby learns how to roll onto his stomach, stop swaddling. Your baby may also begin to fuss or fight the swaddle, signaling that it may be time to stop swaddling. This often happens between two and six months.
  • Babies’ legs need room to bend up and out at the hips, so don’t force your baby’s legs to extend or make that section too tight. Restricting movement can lead to developmental dysplasia of the hip
  • Not all babies enjoy being swaddled. It’s common for babies to fuss at first when being introduced to swaddling, but if yours seems happier without it, then that’s okay!

When it is time to stop swaddling

From birth to 8 weeks, swaddling is a big part of your life. It supports sleep as well as resets your baby when they have become overwhelmed. It is a great way to help your baby when they can not developmentally control their limbs and need to just relax. But like all things in the first year, they will grow out of it. 

The first sign your baby is outgrowing the swaddle is the desire to begin rolling over. This is a fun and exciting time, when they begin to master their movement and developmentally want to start moving. Because it is unsafe to have a rolling baby in a swaddle, we need to “break” the association of the swaddle to sleep. To do this:

  1. Begin with all naps during the day being unswaddled
  2. Practice rolling during the day time …A LOT! They will use muscle memory and natural curiosity to master this new skill, but it takes practice.
  3. Once your baby starts rolling over regularly (not just once), you will stop using the swaddle “cold turkey” during the night. I do not advise leaving one arm out, as it just limits their movement and is higher risk for them to roll and get stuck.

Swaddling can work wonders for soothing a fussy baby or encouraging sleep. If you need more guidance on sleep training methods or soothing techniques, Sleep by Rachelle is here to help! Learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle method or reach out to us with your questions now.

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How to Make Your Child’s Bedroom a Positive Place

Ask any parent: sleep training their infant is tough. It takes hope, a lot of practice, and sticking to a specific sleep training program. When your baby starts sleeping through the night and eventually enters toddlerhood, the change in their sleep habits can be a welcome relief. 

Sometimes sleep problems continue after your child moves out of their crib and into a toddler bed, or even into a “big kids bed” when they’re a little older. Some kids have persistent nightmares, trouble sleeping, or behavioral problems that affect their quality of sleep. In those cases and many others, their bedroom is the last place your kiddo wants to end their day.

That’s why it’s important to make your child’s bedroom a positive place so they can get the best sleep possible. We tell you how below.

Don’t use bedtime as punishment

Have you ever heard a variation of this classic line in movies or television? “No dessert and straight to bed!” Or, if a child is acting up at the dinner table: “that’s it, go to your room!” 

We totally get it; sometimes kids need to be separated when they’re misbehaving, and sometimes parents just want some peace and quiet while they’re eating dinner. However, using bedtime as a form of punishment, or the bedroom as a “time out” space isn’t the best idea. If you want your child’s bedroom to be a space that’s seen as warm, safe, welcoming, and relaxing, don’t send them there when they’re misbehaving. And especially don’t use naptime or going to sleep as a punishment. That may make your child associate sleep with feelings of resentment and anger. Sleep is a healthy, natural behavior, and it shouldn’t be used as a threat. 

Let them decide how to decorate

Your child’s bedroom is their own safe haven, so it makes sense to let them choose how it looks. Of course, it’s still your house, so you make the rules and set the boundaries! But why not let your child have a little fun by giving them free rein over some of the decor? 

For example, maybe you can choose big pieces of furniture together, like the bed, desk, and chair. That way it will fit into your budget and you’ll know that your child likes those pieces. Let your child pick what color to paint the walls; or, if she enjoys changing her style every once in awhile, you might prefer to use peel-and-stick wallpaper or vinyl decals to add flair. Where you decide to compromise and where you decide to let your child take over is up to you. They’ll appreciate the opportunity to control some of those choices, though.

Let them play and get messy

This can be especially tough for type A parents who love cleanliness and organization, but letting your child’s room get messy and lived in is a great way to give it positive associations. Despite how it may look to our eyes, some kids do have a method to their madness; they may leave their toys strewn around if they had to abandon it mid-game so they can dive right back into it. Even the youngest kids respond to an environment with their favorite toys or stimulations.

Remember that everyone has to share common rooms like the living room and kitchen, but your child’s bedroom is their sanctuary. Teach them how to keep it neat and clean, then let them handle that job on their own. Decide what’s okay–there’s a difference between a messy room of toys and clothes, and a dirty room with used dishes–then let your child have at it. 

Create a sleep-friendly environment

Creating a sleep-friendly environment for your child won’t singlehandedly fix any sleep problems they’re having, but it can’t hurt in making it a positive space. Do a visual sweep of your child’s room for any electronics with distracting lights, or small lamps with bright bulbs. Hide the lights on electronics by moving them around or positioning other objects to block them. Swap the bright bulbs for ones that you can dim, or bulbs with softer, warmer light. Bright lights can make it harder for kids (and adults) to fall asleep, so avoid those an hour or so before bed.

If there are a lot of streetlights that shine into their room after dark, or their room gets a lot of light on long summer days, look into hanging up some blackout shades or curtains. Not only will they keep the room dark enough for sleep, but they can help block out street noise and retain heat during the colder months, too.

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Postpartum Care Kit Essentials

It’s easy to focus on what you need to pack in your hospital bag before you give birth. But we’re here to remind you of something else that’s just as important: a postpartum care kit for yourself! We recommend getting together some items for your postpartum period before you go into labor. That way you can rest and heal at home, without having to rush and buy supplies (or send your partner to do it.) Check out our list of postpartum care kit essentials below.

Maternity pads

Your hospital will probably give you some maternity pads to take with you when you leave, but it’s best to make sure you’re stocked up at home, too. Women typically bleed heavily for up to 10 days after delivery. Then, lighter bleeding and spotting can continue up to 6 weeks after delivery, though it varies for every person. Whether you had a vaginal birth or C-section, your body is getting rid of all the extra tissue and blood your baby needed while you were pregnant, so be prepared with maternity pads or overnight pads.

Comfortable, oversized underwear

After giving birth, you’ll want underwear that’ll provide a lot more coverage and comfort. Your hospital may give you mesh panties, which help hold in maternity pads and prevent leaks. They also don’t have an elastic waist that might cause discomfort on your midsection. Grab these mesh panties before you leave the hospital, or stock up on some of your own ahead of time.

Pain relievers

The not-so-glamorous side of having a baby? The pain and changes your body experiences. It’s completely normal, but it can be stressful and uncomfortable. You might experience swelling, irritation, cramps in your uterus (which will help it shrink back down) and aching muscles. Trust us: have some pain relievers on hand at home, whether it’s Tylenol, Advil, or a soothing spray.  

Stool softeners 

Speaking of postpartum aches and pains, your first bowel movement after giving birth will likely hurt. Plus, you may have hemorrhoids from pregnancy or from pushing during labor. A stool softener can make your bowel movements more manageable. Also, be sure to drink lots of water and eat foods rich in fiber, both of which can also help you avoid straining when you go.

Peri bottle

Wiping yourself after using the bathroom can be very uncomfortable postpartum. Pick up a peri bottle to clean off every time you relieve yourself. You’ll avoid pain and prevent infection by using a peri bottle.

Cooling pads or cold packs

Pain relievers can help ease some discomfort from swelling and hemorrhoids, but cooling pads, aka cold packs, can also work wonders. You can buy them online, in stores, or see if your hospital has some that you can take home. Or, you can make your own DIY padsicles, as they’re often called. To make your own, you’ll add aloe vera gel and witch hazel to a maxi pad, then stick them in your freezer. They’re there when you need soothing, cold relief after giving birth.

Breastfeeding essentials

Breastfeeding pillow

If you’re breastfeeding baby, a nursing pillow and positioner can help you maneuver her into the right position for feeding. It’ll also keep pressure off your tender belly. 

Nipple cream 

Your nipples may become dry and cracked when you start breastfeeding, especially if you’re learning how to do it for the first time. Nipple cream can help you find some relief.

Nursing pads

To protect your clothing from excess milk and stains, make sure you have some nursing pads on hand. You can buy disposable, reusable, or silicone nursing pads.

Nursing bra

Finally, you’ll want a comfortable bra that will also give you some support and hold in your nursing pads. We recommend having a few nursing bras handy. Get more than one so you can rotate wearing them.

Belly wrap

A belly wrap, also called a belly binder, can decrease pain and discomfort after you give birth. It can also add some stability and support to your belly while you go about your daily routine. Plus, it may help your posture, and guide your abdomen back into its pre-pregnancy form.

Extra touches

Once you have the essentials stocked, add some of these items to your kit for some extra touches of self-care. 

  • Healthy snacks like trail mix, fruit, nuts, protein bars, and granola bars
  • Meals ready ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about cooking
  • Books on recovery that can guide you through the process
  • Comfy clothes and/or robe

Finally, remember to stay hydrated, eat well, and sleep when you can. Be patient with your body and let it heal. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner or family members for help sneaking in a little alone time, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Take care of yourself, mama!

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