Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Expecting Mom vs. Baby Brain

Greetings, all!

We recently checked in with one of our moms who just found out she is expecting her first child this spring! She was able to share her build up to receiving the exciting news, and some of the things she has done to prep for the newest addition to her family. Here is what she had to say…

“Baby Brain” to many expecting mothers is a term to define a block in your ability to think clearly. To me, it means trying to cram my brain with as much knowledge and awareness about becoming a new mom. I think it is important for moms to be, to not set unattainable expectations on themselves. For many, this is a once in a lifetime experience, and if you think like me, everything will fall into place accordingly. So, sit back and enjoy the ride!

As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I was overjoyed. My husband and I have been trying for several months, and resorted to a form of fertility treatments. I am in my late 20′s, but the dreaded biological clock seems to be knocking on my door, even though technically there is still plenty of time. I took a couple of weeks to enjoy the news fully and not think about how I should start preparing. That time soon came to an end, as I could no longer keep all of the baby thoughts outside of my brain. Luckily for me, my husband is in the healthcare field, so together we started doing a lot of research online. I made copies of text from his medical books and printed probably 265 lists of things to do/get. Not to mention, I will be a working mom, so I immediately visited my company’s HR site to review and print maternity leave forms. My binder is beginning to resemble a copy of the Old Testament.

At the end of the day, my husband and I are competent people with an amazing support system. I know several expecting moms, and that brings me a sense of solace. Though, it is great to have a reference book with colored tabs and highlighted areas, the most important thing is to enjoy the experience. Don’t be afraid to ask other moms and resources questions along the way. I find other moms to be the “holy grail” of baby knowledge and a great support system.

Also remember ladies, there is always wine at the end of this journey!

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, Taylor Bell!

Toddler Tips

Greetings, all!

We’re spinning off of our October blog, “Infant 411″, by bringing you some every day tips to keep in mind with your toddler(s). You can thank the toddler master, Mama Bell, for her first-hand experience through her five children.

1. Cut food into small enough pieces to prevent choking.

2. Make sure steps are blocked with gates or obstacles to keep them from falling.

3. Watch that all toys are age appropriate as they put everything in their mouths.

4. Door knobs of rooms that are unsafe for children to enter should be covered.

5. Kitchen cupboard doors and drawers need to be safeguarded as there are many unsafe things to get into. Things on countertops need to be put out of their reach–move back towards the wall.

6. Keep toilet seats down.

7. Make sure when putting them to bed, all toys and extra blankets are removed.

8. When put into high chairs, strollers, or anything else, make sure the straps and buckles are secure.

For additional tips, check out some of our older posts on the BFC website–bedtime routine and teething toddlers.

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, Taylor Bell!

Infant 411

Hi all!

Here’s the quick 411 on Infant Care. These are tips I’ve learned through my nannying, sitting, and now in house job here at BFC. I’ve pulled together this list from doing much research and consulting with top experts in family and child care. You can also check out the links provided under each tip for videos and additional tips,  with thanks to Baby Center.

TIP 1: Swaddling

  • Lay a blanket on a flat surface like a diamond and fold down the top corner about 6 inches to form a straight edge.
  • Place your baby on his back so that the top of the fabric is at shoulder level.
  • Bring your baby’s left arm down. Pull the corner of the blanket near his left hand over his arm and chest, and tuck the leading edge under his back on his right side.
  • Bring your baby’s right arm down. Pull the corner of the blanket near his right hand over his arm and chest, and tuck the cloth under his left side.
  • Twist or fold the bottom end of the blanket and tuck it loosely behind your baby, making sure that both legs are bent up and out from his body, his hips can move, and his legs can spread apart naturally.

If you’re a visual learner like me, take a look at a short “how to” swaddle video  here.

TIP 2: Bottle Prep and Feeding

  • Rule of thumb is to ALWAYS follow the parent’s directions. Every parent does things differently, so its important to do it their way.
  • You can heat up a bottle in a bowl of warm water or run it under the tap.  Microwaving is not the way to go as it heats unevenly, which can cause hot pockets and lead to burns.

Quick read on bottle basics here.

TIP 3: Changing

  • Always wash your hands before and after diaper changes.
  • Make sure you put on the diaper correctly! Snap is in the back and you pull it forward and around on top.
  • Be sure to use wipes and diaper cream if necessary (per the parent’s request) and wipe ALWAYS DOWN, not up.
  • Never leave a baby unattended while on the changing table.

Because diaper changing is everyone’s favorite activity, catch a short video on it here.

TIP 4: Nap Time

  • Nap time isn’t one size fits all, so make sure to check in with the parents as to how they would like you to handle their little ones down time as every child has a different routine.
  • Some tips: make sure the room is quiet, dark and a comfortable temperature. Be safe by placing the baby on its back and making sure there isn’t anything in the crib they could get tangled up in.

Who doesn’t love a good nap? Interested in becoming a napping expert? Take a look at some additional tips here.

TIP 5: Burping

  • Helping a baby to burp will release air trapped in their stomach, making them more comfortable. It helps their tummy to settle and get them to feed longer.
  •  If a baby is squirming or fussy during a feeding those are signs they may be uncomfortable and it’s time to burp them.
  • There are three common ways to burp a baby: On the chest or shoulder, sitting on your lap or face down across your lap.

Burp tips – yes, we have those! Take a look at the link here.

TIP 6: Playtime and Tummy Time

  • Play and Tummy time is super important for a baby’s development, it helps them to get stronger.
  • Tummy time will help them to learn how to push themselves up, roll over, sit up and crawl.
  • Wait until at least a half hour after feeding to lay them on their bellies.
  • Play with them during tummy time! Rattles, funny faces, toys and talking are a few things that may help them to feel more comfortable during this time.

Tummy time is fun to say. So is watching a video about it here.

See you all next week!

TB

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Written by our in house sitter services coordinator and former full time nanny, Meredith H!

Teenagers, Screentime, and Social Engagement

Worried about your child’s screentime? A new report on “Teens, Technology and Friendships” from the Pew Foundation puts an unusually positive spin on teenagers’ online engagement.

The report found that young adults build friendships and connections online, by both strengthening connections with real-world friends, and by connecting with new friends via social media, video gaming, and messaging apps. 

The associate director of research at the PEW center even noted “What we found is that it’s crucial for teenagers in forming and maintaining these really important relationships in their lives.” So rest easy, parents; it turns out your child’s screentime might not be quite as bad for them as we originally thought.

You can read more about the study on The New York Times’ blog, Motherlode here.

Are You Really Sorry?

At BFC, our sitters are trained to help children manage  inevitable conflicts and unhappiness. However, when children are playing together nicely, sometimes even a small things can become challenging. Dana Rosenbloom, Owner and Therapist at Dana’s Kids, explores how we use “I’m Sorry” in place of fostering meaningful interactions between our children.

The Problem: Children can be playing nicely together at a birthday party or event when suddenly a conflict arises. Or perhaps two children are sharing and enjoying each other’s company when one leans over and grabs a toy, pushes the other child, or bites the other’s arm.

The Age Old Solution: Parents are quick to tell their child “tell them you’re sorry!”

Why It Doesn’t Work:  Children, in an attempt to appease their parents and stay at the birthday party, will often say I’m sorry and move on. However, oftentimes the children do not actually know why they’re saying sorry or the meaning behind the phrase.

The Solution: There are a few ways Ms. Rosenbloom suggests for teaching young children better and more genuine ways of handling these situations:

    • Instead of asking children to say “I’m Sorry,” teach them to “check in” with the victim. They may ask them if they’re okay or if they need help getting up.

    • Make sure your child waits and listens to the response instead of just asking the question and walking away.

  • If the other child is hurt, you may teach your child to offer assistance. This could be in the form of bringing them ice, a tissue, or a band aid. This will build problem solving skills and empathy.

  • For older children, help them to identify the other child’s emotions. This can be done by helping them think of a time they felt the same. This will also give them an opportunity to think of realistic ways they can help the victim.

For more information about teaching your children about “I’m Sorry” and other alternatives, check out Ms. Rosenbloom’s article.

Tips for Staying Sane and Raising a Good Citizen

Raising kids is hard, and every parent is striving to do their best. That’s why we love honest articles like this one from Scary Mommy.

The author leads us through how to “give yourself the best odds of producing a great human being, and also make it through the first 18 years of his or her life with your sanity (mostly) intact.” Check out her top ten recommendations below:

  1. Teach your kid to sleep and stick to a schedule (for bedtime and naps)
  2. Stop comparing yourself to other parents and know that social media is just a portrayal of all the pretty things!
  3. Accept that there is no easy button
  4. Be consistent and follow through
  5. Give your kids responsibility
  6. Stop making excuses for your kids
  7. Be flexible
  8. Don’t be afraid to say NO. You can check out our in-house nanny coordinator Ali’s thoughts on this one too on our blog.
  9. Let them fail (this one is really hard!)
  10. Chill- think if this is something that’s really important in the big picture? That mustard stain on their shirt in the school picture will only be hilarious 10 years down the line.

Are there any others they missed? Any you have trouble with? We’d love to hear from you!

 

Just Say No!

I was born in the late 70’s and recall family member’s saying, “Children should be seen and not heard” or “…because I said so” or my all-time favorite, spoken in a whisper through clenched teeth, “When I get you home…” Thirty plus years later, parenting protocol and limit setting has changed drastically. Punitive punishment is unacceptable in mainstream society, and words like: “NO” became taboo when speaking to children. However, setting limits and boundaries for our youth is important for their growth and development as they move through childhood and adolescents into adults.

Our world has changed in many ways since I was a kid, and so have the parenting styles and approaches. In our society we have limits, we have stop signs, red lights, late fees, sorry we are closed signs etc. As parents and caregivers, it is our job to teach children about so many things and often times we have to say NO! Safety is always the most important limit we have to distinguish to young children, but we also show our kids how to have nice manners, good listening ears, inside voices, kind words, gentle hands, regular bedtime and screen limits.

Bottom line:  Children will push the limits and disregard your boundaries! It is their job to do this! It’s actually a good sign and shows they are seeking independence and understanding how they relate to their external environments.

Stay calm, consistent and creative…  There are many creative ways to say no or distract unwanted behavior. The most important piece is to be consistent. If you say “NO”- It has to mean “NO”… (no matter what), no matter how much crying, screaming or tantrums ensue… Keep your word. If not, you are only reinforcing that when you (adult, grown-up, parent, teacher, or caregiver) say no… it really means to the child: Show me enough negative reaction and wear me down (preferably in public) until I say YES…! Don’t fall for the trap! Just say No in a calm and confident voice, mean it and move on. Another great trick I learned is to really keep the adult emotion neutral. Children are very emotional and when parents or grown-ups react with an emotional response it feeds into the child’s tantrum and upset. Find your inner calm voice and be matter of fact!

 Example: Creative way to set a limit, without actually using the word NO. Parents/Caregivers- Make good eye contact and get on your child’s level.

Child: “Mom, can I have a play date with Jack, today?”

Mom: “Oh, You want to have a play date with Jack?” (when you mimic or mirror your child’s request, they feel heard- Empathy)

Child: “Yes!”

Mom: “Ok, I think a play date with Jack sounds fun. Let’s talk to his mom and see when we can arrange it.” (Shows you care and want to arrange it)

Child: “But I want to have a play date TODAY!!!! PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE.”

Mom: “Oh, Sweetie, I know you want to, but we have to plan a play date. We already have plans, but why don’t I send a message to Jack’s mom and we will see when we can do it this week. Who did you sit next to at lunch today” (Change the subject)

Child: “I sat next to Sarah.”

(Now if the child protested and starts to react negatively, the parent’s job is to stay calm and remind the child that that response is unacceptable and if he wants a play date with his friend he has to have… nice manner etc.)

 

For more information on saying no or setting limits, please feel free to email Ali with questions at ali@bellfamilycompany.com!

Teething Toddlers: What to Expect

“Teething is the pits!” my friend told me.  I had no clue what an understatement that would be.

As a first time mom, I had no idea what to expect when it came to teething.  The pediatrician said I will detect excessive drooling but that’s it.  She failed to warn me of hunger strikes.  I was thoroughly confused when Kermit, at 6 months adjusted age, abruptly stopped nursing and drinking from a bottle.  Complicating matters, his teething directly coincided with introduction of solids and doctor mandate for him to gain more weight since he was falling off his growth curve.  My pediatrician, who I totally respect and value, instructed me to make a “valiant effort” to feed Kermit 30 oz of milk and 3 solid feedings of diluted rice cereal.  Seriously, I spent every ounce of energy trying to feed my child.

I would wake him up two times in the middle of the night because that’s when I found him to be more amenable to drinking larger volumes.  Until he stopped.  I would sit for an hour at every solid feeding waiting for him to open his mouth.  I would sing and dance, make crazy sounds by smacking my lips, and tickle him for any opportunity to shove the spoon into his mouth.  He got smarter:  he’d laugh with his mouth closed.  I laughed and cried to the point of exhaustion.

I finally figured out he was teething when I heard loud shrieks in the middle of the night.  For an infant who loves his sleep (he could sleep 12-14 consecutive hours throughout the night at 4 months old), something was amiss.  After three weeks of his food strike and interrupted sleep, Kermit cut his first tooth on New Year’s Eve.  His second tooth emerged three days later.  He had mild discomfort for the next two weeks and then the symptoms reappeared with great force.  His uppers came in—4 at the same time!  Let’s just say feeding and sleeping was even more miserable for both of us.

I almost cried when I learned babies grow 20 primary teeth by age 3.  TWENTY!  According to Baby Center’s website, this is the order of appearance:
1.  2 lower central incisors at 4-7 months old
2.  2 upper central incisors at 8-12 months
3.  2 upper lateral incisors, right and left of center, at 9-13 months
4.  2 lower lateral incisors, right and left of center, at 10-16 months 5.  2 upper first molars, the wider teeth second to the back of the mouth, at 13-19 months
6.  2 lower first molars at 14-18 months
7.  2 upper canines/ cuspids, which fill the gap between the incisors and first molars, at 16-22 months
8.  2 lower canines at 17-23 months
9.  2 lower second molars at 23-31 months
10.  2 upper second molars at 25-33 months.

If you pay close attention to the age of each tooth’s appearance, there is a lot of overlap.  Like I mentioned earlier, Kermit got his upper central and upper lateral incisors all at once.  I suspect he is getting his upper and bottom molars simultaneously as I write.  Poor little guy.

Most reference guides list drooling, gum sensitivity, irritability, gnawing behavior, refusal of food, and sleep problems among teething symptoms.  One must read between the lines, though, to understand the extent of the experience.  Sleep problems translate to sporadic deafening shrieks in the middle of the night; refusal of food can last for weeks; and irritability demands constant attention to baby’s clingy-ness.  In addition to these symptoms, Kermit would tug on his ears and cough a lot before a tooth cut through the gums.

The one thing I wish someone told me at the beginning of this process is:  your baby will not go hungry for the duration of the food strike.  He will definitely eat when he’s hungry.

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Treatment for teething pain include:  cold things, pressure, topical medicine, painkillers, and homeopathic remedies.  I tried all of these suggestions except for topical medicine (e.g. numbing cream or gels) because, as one friend warned:  what numbed the front can numb the back of the mouth resulting in gagging.  Of course, this was my personal decision.

Kermit predominantly found relief in iceys and anything cold.  I would make flavored ice cubes out of puree and milk.  I also would feed him cold milk on some of my more exasperated feeding days.  My friend made cold or frozen washcloths for her twins’ comfort which Kermit also loved.  To soothe his growing discomfort throughout the day and particularly at night, i would preemptively give him homeopathic chamomile drops every 6 hours.

On really really bad days when he would awaken every hour in pain, I gave him half doses (that the pediatrician recommended according to his respective weight) of acetaminophen only at night time.  I also made the personal decision to give him painkillers for a maximum of three consecutive nights followed by at least two nights of no administration.  My rationale was I did not want him to be too reliant on acetaminophen because he may have a lower threshold of pain when the molars and canines appeared.

Currently, Kermit has 6 pearly whites and, I think, 4 molars cutting through the gums.  He will not let me near his mouth.  He will sometimes eat solid chunks only if he can administer the feeding himself.  He likes to test his teeth while eating puffs and wafers and gnawing on his crib rails.  We await for another 10+ teeth.  God help us.

Despite the hardship, it’s undeniably cute when he smiles his little chipmunk gap toothed grin.  It melts my heart every time.

-Jeanne

To Be or “Nut” to Be?

I have been away from my blogging desk to be a part time nanny to my twin granddaughters. I hope I’m not too rusty. One day, with my daughters okay, I gave a slight amount of natural peanut butter on a cracker to the twins. Her pediatrician said to try it after 2 years. Within a minute, hives developed on one twin’s face and quickly moved to the tummy area.

Out came the Benadyrl and slowly the rash cleared up. Why did this happen? There is no one we know of in the family lineage that has a food allergy and  why to one child and not the other? Off to the doctor I went with my lil’ peanut to get some answers.

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Unfortunately, the answers were vague or nonexistent. The test given to her determined the allergy and a future blood test will tell its severity. We left the office with the epi pen prescription, a pile of light reading on the topic, and the direction not to eat any nuts at all. I did learn that peanuts were a legume and even candy sprinkles have tree nuts in them. I will also add nutritionist/dietician to my resume as I am becoming proficient in label reading!

From one nut to another,

Mama Bell