You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Protecting your child from bug bites

Protection from ticks and mosquitoes is important for your child!

Today is beautiful, and I hope most of you have your children outside at some point!  Children both love and NEED to be outdoors.  Outside activity is an important part of a healthy child’s life, and it helps children get good and tired too!  I know one of the biggest reasons I encouraged outdoor play was that it provided me with a good long nap from my children in the afternoon.  A method to my parenting madness!

With spring and summer upon us, the pesky bugs will soon be too!   Not only are these insects just plain annoying, they can carry dangerous diseases to your children.  Most children have mild reactions to bug bites, but some children (are they just sweeter?) really seem to attract those insects and those bites result in large red welts that make them miserable.  West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and the recent outbreak of Zika Virus are diseases that could result from insect bites too.  So, if we want our children outside and we don’t have a protective “bee suit” in the house…what are we to do?

The use of insect repellents are recommended by the American Academy of  Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control.  Although most of us hate to put chemicals on our children, DEET used correctly is one of the best protectors for your child.  The amount of DEET in insect repellents varies from less than 10% to more than 30%.  Studies show us that the higher concentrations of DEET protect for longer periods of time, but not more effectively. So a repellant with 10% DEET will protect for about 2 hours, 24% about 5 hours, and at over 30% there is very little increase in protection.  The AAP recommends using a concentration of DEET between 10 and 30 percent.  Most of our children will not be outside in an area with biting insects more than 2 hours at a time…so 10% DEET should be enough the majority of the time.

How to use insect repellent safely:

  • Always read the label.
  • Do not use DEET on children under 2 months of age.
  • Do not use a concentration of DEET greater than 30%, usually 10% will be adequate.
  • Only apply the repellent to the outside of your child’s clothing and on exposed skin.
  • Use a small amount just to cover the area, thicker layers are not more effective.
  • Do not spray repellents on your child’s face.  Put the repellent on your hands and rub on your child’s face being careful around eyes, and mouth.
  • Do not put repellent on your child’s hands.  Do not apply to open areas like cuts.
  • Spray repellents in open areas, do not breathe them in.
  • Wash your child with soap and water to remove the repellent when he comes inside.  Wash your child’s clothes before he wears them again.
  • Do not use sunscreen/insect repellent combinations.  You will need to reapply the sunscreen and the repellent should not be reapplied.
  • Cover your child’s exposed skin with long pants and sleeves if you know he will be in an area with a lot of biting insects. This will decrease the skin area that will need repellent.
  • Try to avoid dusk, the “buggiest” time of day!
  • Remember DEET is NOT effective on stinging insects like bees and wasps.

Repellents that do NOT work

  • Wristbands with chemical repellents
  • Dryer sheets pinned to your children (A big trend a few years ago!  I once saw an entire preschool class of children on a playground all equipped with dryer sheets!)
  • Garlic (would keep other people away! )
  • Ultrasonic devices that give off sound waves
  • Bug zappers (may actually increase insects in the area)

Other repellents:

  • Permethrin is a chemical repellent.  It is effective and should be applied to clothing only, or items like tents, not on skin.  Use in concentrations of between 5 and 10 percent.  This repellent will kill ticks on contact.  Great for spraying on tents and sleeping bags.
  • Picaridin is as effective as DEET and some studies show it may be less likely to cause skin irritation in children.  It has been used in Europe for many years, more recently here in the U. S.
  • 2% soy bean oil and lemon eucalyptus has been shown recently to be as effective as 10% DEET.  Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is not approved for use in children under the age of 3.
  • Cedar, and Citronella essential oils are less effective and give very short term protection.

So the bottom line is, insect repellents are a better alternative that the potential complications from a disease carrying insect. Be smart and use repellents safely.  Protect your child with clothing and by avoiding the time of day/night and areas where insect bites would be more common.  Check your child for ticks daily and remove any tick with a tweezers and clean with soap and water.  Lastly, put this at the bottom of your worry list….outdoor fun is essential for children!  Protect them with common sense and enjoy the outdoors…don’t let the bugs scare you off!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Did you know this about car seats?

This picture would not earn me “Mother of the Year” awards now!  There are so many mistakes with this car seat I can’t name them all.  My only excuse is that this was 25 years ago!  Don’t beat yourself up if you have made mistakes with your child’s car seat…just make the changes now!  Information is empowering!

The car seat, one of the best protection devices developed for children.   It makes me cringe to think  of the days when children would ride next to their parents standing on the seat, or in Mom’s arms.  I also cringe when I think about some of the mistakes I made when my kids were little…I certainly did not have them restrained correctly when I look at current recommendations.  The incidence of death and serious injury of children in accidents when properly restrained has decreased dramatically.  The key is properly restrained.  In order to do ALL the right things when you use your car seat, a parent often needs an engineering technology degree.  Have you seen those instructions?!  There are several common mistakes that many parents unknowingly make when putting their precious child in their car seat.

1.  The chest clip should be positioned at the nipple line, or directly even with your child’s arm pits.

  • This keeps the harness straps positioned correctly and places the clip over your child’s chest protecting their soft little tummy and organs from the clip in an accident.

2.  The harness straps should be snug.

  • When your child is buckled in, with your thumb and forefinger try to pinch up the harness strap.  If you can pinch any excess, the harness is too loose.  A harness that is too loose could result in your child traveling up the back of the car seat during a crash and being ejected.

3.  The car seat must be installed tight.

  • When installed, you should not be able to move the car seat more than an inch side to side or front to back.   If the seat can move more than that amount, during the force of a crash it will loosen even more and your child could be violently tossed and whip lashed in the seat.

4.  Car seats expire!

  • Just like milk, car seats have an expiration date!  Because there are safety developments over the years, an older car seat may not follow the latest safety recommendations.  The plastic on the car seats will also tend to break down with the continued heating and cooling.  Materials just wear out!  Straps become looser, and the plastic may develop microscopic cracks that you can’t see.  Many car seats have an expiration date stamped on the bottom of the seat.  If there is no expiration date, your car seat expires 6 years after the manufacture date.  That is the MANUFACTURE date, not the PURCHASE date.  So, if you buy a car seat at an overstock store like a Big Lots (which is perfectly fine) those seats may have sat on a shelf for a longer period of time.  Be sure to find the manufacture date stamped on the car seat.

5.  Dirty harness straps are safer than washed ones!

  • Kids are messy, and often the harness straps have everything from food, to spit up to something worse on them.  They are NOT meant to be washed.  The straps can be stretched and the material broken down from detergent and water.  The fire-retardant also will be removed when you scrub with detergent.  If you must wash the straps, the best way is spot cleaning with a damp cloth.  If you have already scrubbed those harness straps clean, contact the manufacturer and explain what you have done.  Some will send you a new set.
  • You can wash the car seat pad if it is removable and your manual states that this is OK.  Sunlight can do wonders for odors…set that seat out and let it bake in the sunshine!

6.  The correct harness strap position depends if your child is backward facing or forward facing.

  • When your child is facing backward, the harness straps should be coming out at or below your child’s shoulders.  Put your child in the car seat, be sure their little bottoms are down in the seat well, put the chest clip in the correct position and take a look.  If the harness straps are entering the seat above your child’s shoulders, you need to change the positioning of the harness straps.  This positioning of the harness straps prevents your child from traveling up the back of the seat to far in a crash.  The more movement a child has in a crash, the greater the force on his or her little body.
  • When your child is forward facing, the harness straps should be coming out at or above your child’s shoulders.  Once again, when your child is correctly positioned in the seat, if the straps are coming out below your child’s shoulders they need to be adjusted.  This positioning of the harness straps protects a forward facing child’s head and neck during a crash keeping it from being thrown forward.

7.  Car seats need to be replaced after a crash.

  • Car seats protection is for one crash only.  If you have been involved in a crash, even if the car seat looks fine, the entire seat should be replaced even the base.  If the crash was a “fender bender” you can look at your car seat manual and see the recommendation.  Many still suggest replacement.  Most insurance companies will cover the cost of replacing the car seat.  Once again, it is difficult to see any microscopic damage to the plastic or the stress on the harness straps that can occur with a crash, minor or major.

8.  Do not buy or borrow a used car seat.

  • In a previous post, I wrote about the dangers of buying certain baby equipment used (Be Frugal and Safe) Take a look and see which equipment is not safe to buy used.  Car seats that are used have no history coming with them, you have no idea if they have been in a crash, how they were cared for (were those harness straps scrubbed?) or even if all the parts are present.  Save money in other ways….not on a car seat.
  • If your car seat has expired or is damaged, cut the straps before disposing.  This ensures that no one will use the damaged or expired seat.

9.  Do not put your child in a heavy winter coat in a car seat.

  • There are so many cute snow suits and jackets for kids, just don’t put your child in that cute coat strapped into the car seat!  In the even of a crash, the puffy, heavy coat will be compressed by the harness straps due to the force of the crash.  As that jacket compresses, the straps become loose, and your child could be ejected from the car.  So how do you keep your child warm?  Warm the car up first, throw a blanket over the child after the child is strapped in the seat, or for an older child put their winter coat on backwards after the child is strapped in.

10.  No “add ons” to the car seat.

  • No additional items strapped to or put on a car seat that did not come with the seat.  Toys that hang from the seat, additional padding etc. may change the way your child is positioned in the seat, or come flying off and become a projectile during an accident.  Things like mirrors attached to the back seat, or roller blinds to block the sun are also dangerous projectiles during a crash.

11.  Make a choice—LATCH system or seat belt…not both!

  • Every car seat manufacturer states that the LATCH system in a car OR the seat belt should be used when installing the car seat….not both.  It does not make the car seat installation safer to use both.  One or the other please!
  • LATCH has a weight limit, 65 lbs between the car seat and your child. Once the seat and your child weigh over 65 lbs together, you must install with the seat belt!

12.  Rear facing until your child out grows the weight limit of your convertible car seat for rear facing.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics is saying rear facing until AT LEAST 2!   The weight limit for rear-facing is 35-40 pounds for most convertible seats, with a few seats going as high as 45 pounds. The height limit is the same for any rear-facing seat – the child’s head must be at least 1 inch below the top of the car seat.   A child that is facing backwards is 5 times more safe in a crash.  Children are flexible and can cross their legs easily and comfortably when facing backwards.  The worry about leg injury is unfounded.   Recent studies show us that forward facing children have more leg injuries that rear facing!

13.  The handle on the infant carrier seat does not have to be down.

  • This is the recommendation that surprised me the most.  Depending on the manufacturer, the handle can be positioned in several different ways.  You must check your car seat manual.  Most will allow you to place the handle up.  This actually allows the car seat to fit in cars easier as they take up less room.  Check out that manual.
  • Don’t add anything to your car seat that did not come with it.  The car seat’s safety testing is not valid if you add items like toys to the handle, extra padding, strap padding, or anything else.  Stick with what came with the car seat only!

14.  Most kids are close to 5 feet tall before they can safely sit in the car without a booster.

  • This was the most shocking information I found.  Most of our older children are riding with a seat belt that is positioned unsafely.  Here are 5 questions to ask to see if your child can use a seat belt only without a booster:
  • Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  • Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  • Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip? (For squirmy kids, try switching the seat belt into the locking mode.)    The car seat lady    (love this site….written by experts in the field!)   
  • There are so many ins and outs of buying and installing a car seat.  My suggestion is you have a professional install it the first time and show you how.  If you have your seat in now, make an appointment to have someone check it.  They will make sure your child is as safe as possible.  Call your local Fire or Police Departments, usually they have a certified car seat specialist there.  Most local hospitals will too.  Ride safe!
Be sure to take a look at these sites!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Before I was a Mom…

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you beautiful Moms.  Before you were a Mom, no one could explain the unconditional love your heart could hold for your child.  As a Mom, you also gain so much love and respect for your own Mom.  You can never truly understand your Mom until you are one.  So, thanks to my beautiful Mother for her faith, wisdom, advice, and never ending love.  Enjoy your day Moms!

Before I was a Mom 

Author unknown

Before I was a Mom –
I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed. I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.

Before I was a Mom 
I cleaned my house each day. I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. I didn’t worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom –
I had never been puked on, pooped on, spit on, chewed on, or peed on. I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts. I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom –
I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests…or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom –
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn’t want to put him down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn’t stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom –
I didn’t know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn’t know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn’t know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn’t know that something so small could make me feel so important.

Before I was a Mom –
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


This wasn’t how it was supposed to be….

I feel like we need to talk about this topic at least every 6 months….and what a better time than right before Mother’s Day! So, I am posting this again so we all will be reminded that taking care of ourselves is a must in order to be good Moms.  Sometimes we don’t feel wonderful and full of bliss after our baby is born.  Those first few weeks and months are difficult!  The lack of sleep alone can play havoc with a new Mom’s emotions. New Moms…take care of yourselves, and if you don’t feel like yourself or others tell you that you are not like yourself, ask for the help you need.

You have waited 9 long months for this.  You survived the back aches, the weight gain, the heart burn, and the cravings. You went to prenatal classes, read books, watched the “Baby Channel” on cable for hours and the nursery is perfect.  Everyone is thrilled…everyone is happy…everyone but you.  You feel alone, guilty, not yourself.  You try to “pull yourself out of this funk”; but you just can’t shake the feelings.  Why?

Today I want to talk  about just those often unspoken feelings of postpartum depression.  Nearly 80 percent of new moms have the “baby blues”.  Hormone changes after birth can cause many to have some mood swings, tears, feelings of being overwhelmed in the first couple of weeks after delivery.  Overall, a mom who has the “blues” still describes herself as generally happy.  Postpartum depression is different.

At least 20 percent of moms experience some degree of postpartum depression.  That is 1 out of every 8 moms!  There are probably more but because of guilt, many moms never seek help. I am sure someone you know has experienced this.   It is the most common pregnancy complication!  Postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorder can occur anytime during pregnancy and the first full year after your baby is born.

Some Signs and Symptoms:

  • frequent crying
  • sleep and appetite changes
  • feelings of loneliness, helplessness
  • mood swings
  • repetitive, sometimes scary thoughts
  • anger, frustration, irritability
  • difficulty bonding with baby
  • anxiety, panic, excessive worry
  • feelings of being trapped
  • lack of interest in life, fatigue, exhaustion
  • feeling speeded up or wired
  • fear of being alone with the baby

If you are feeling some of these signs and symptoms…or if people close to you are telling you that you are just not yourself.  Please talk with your doctor.  Seek the help you need to feel better.  The good news is that you will get better, treatment works, you will be yourself again.

All new moms can do a few things to help themselves feel better.

  • Sleep.  Sleep deprivation can result in depression, and we all know that a newborn doesn’t sleep as much as we thought!  We are not used to waking every 2 hours at night!  Try to nap when the baby does.  Ask someone to stay with the baby while you sleep.  Listen to your body and rest.
  • Eat healthy and remember to eat!  A new mom can’t survive on a handful of cookies, and believe me often that is all you have time to eat!  Keep healthy food in your house and accept those meals that are being offered!
  • Exercise.  Just a walk 3 to 4 times a week increases those “feel good” hormones.  It is good for you and good for your baby to get out in the fresh air, even in the winter.
  • Natural light, find the sun!  Sunlight is a mood booster.  Stand in front of a window whenever the sun is shining and get light on your eyes.
  • Get out of the house.  Even a trip to the grocery store is a trip out!  Wow, the definition of going out really changes after kids!
  • Ask for help.  Being a new mom is lots of work.  You do not have to be super mom!  You can’t do it alone.  Remember, being a mom is not like what you see on TV!
  • Find other new moms.  Look for support groups, MOPS groups, church groups, wherever there are other moms…being around other moms is essential.  We all need to stick together!

Remember…ask for help.

You are not alone, you are not to blame, and with treatment you will get better and be yourself again….I promise.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Helpful websites:








“Tools of the Trade” for literacy

book worm

Here is a list for “tools of the Trade” for literacy!  What items do you have in your home to promote the love of reading?

I admit it, I am a list maker.  I love to make a list and cross off things I accomplish.  There are days that I write something on my list that I have already completed…just so I can cross it off!  So because I love lists, I put together a simple list of tools for literacy.  These are items that every home with children should have to encourage a love of reading and writing.  So, get your pens out and start crossing off the items you have….or make a list of things you need to foster your child’s growth in literacy.

1.  Books in several places of your home that are accessible to your children.

2. More than one rhyme book.

3.  Several picture books.

4.  A book of nursery rhymes.

5.  Chalkboard or white board.

5.  Unlined paper.

6.  Crayons, markers, pencils, and sidewalk chalk.

7.  Magnetic letters.

8.  Alphabet books.

9.  Children’s Bookmarks.

10.  Classic chapter books to read to your child.

11.  Reading area in your home.

12.  Supplies for your child to make their own book.

13.  Children’s poetry books.

14.  Sorting toys.

15.  Puppets for your child to act out a story.

16.  Books about colors.

17.  Books about animals.

18.  Books about how things work.

19.  Books about nature and the earth.

20.  Silly books.

21.  Stationary for your child to write a letter.

22.  Books about the seasons.

23.  Music with rhythm.

24.  Letter games.

25.  Children’s magazines.

26.  A library card for your child.

27.  Books about feelings.

28.  Books about childhood events like new siblings, potty training, going to school etc.

29.  Alphabet blocks.

30.  Shaving cream to draw letters in.

31.  Finger paints.

32.  Play dough and letter cookie cutters.

33.  Letter matching games.

34.  Pop up and flap books.

35.  Touch and feel books.

What else???  Post your suggestions of “tools of the trade” for literacy!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Helpful Websites:



No child is perfect…and that is OK!

No parent or child is perfect…and that is OK!

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating the marriage of my daughter’s childhood friend.  I always cherish having all four of my children at home at the same time!  As Monday morning arrives, and college and budding careers claim my children again, I find my thoughts in the familiar place of focusing on my hopes and dreams for my children.  I so desperately want them to be adults who are filled with integrity, who are happy, and successful.  Many times I have gotten caught up in the idea that my children need to be perfect in order to achieve that in life.  The fact is, they are not perfect…and neither am I.  Perfection is simply impossible.  I have learned that my children are not good at everything, they each have their unique strengths and yes, weaknesses.  There have been many times that they have made me burst with pride (this weekend!) and other times that I have been very disappointed in them.  However, my disappointment should not be based on their lack of perfection, because not one of us is perfect.  One of the biggest mistakes a parent can make is trying to “make” their children be perfect by orchestrating their life so they think  they are perfect.  That is just simply not reality.

I think in recent years, perfection has started to become the new minimal standard for children.  This results in parents trying to orchestrate their children’s lives so that there is near perfection…no challenges, no disappointments and certainly no consequences for mistakes; because often we don’t want to believe our children can make them.  This results in young adults that are devastated when the reality of  their imperfection in an imperfect world hits.

The wonderful thing about imperfection is that mistakes result in learning.  We all can think of major life lessons that were the result of some pretty big mistakes.  Children learn volumes from their mistakes, and we as parents must never “micromanage” our children and orchestrate their life so they never experience those mistakes and disappointments.  Even with constant micromanagement…your child will eventually make a mistake and he must know how to use that mistake for growth and realize your love does not depend on his perfection.

The key to a child learning from mistakes and disappointment is the knowledge that he is unconditionally loved by Mom and Dad.  Loving your child completely, with no reservation is an absolute parenting must.  This unconditional love will help your child become a confident adult who realizes that love is not based on how successful or perfect he  or she is; but that love is just a given.  Unconditional love does not result in parenting that does not include consequences for mistakes, that is actually a part of that unconditional love.  Your child will learn that your love is not based on his perfection, but he is loved mistakes and all.  Most mistakes result in some type of consequence, sometimes a natural consequence, sometimes a parent driven one…but allowing those consequences is actually a part of that perfect unconditional love of a parent.  Your child will understand that you still love him completely…mistakes, consequences and all.

So as this Monday begins, remember that your child cannot be perfect…just as you can’t be.  But if we give our children that perfect love, that unconditional love, then those imperfections or mistakes don’t have to be prevented or micromanaged.  Those imperfections can be embraced so that lessons can be learned, integrity can be built, confidence can develop, and your child’s true character will emerge.  As parents we must trust that providing a false sense of perfection only results in greater disappointments in the future.  So push your children out that door knowing that there will be moments of great pride in them and moments of disappointment, but remember by simply loving your children through it all you will help them become their best, imperfections and all.  I enjoyed my “pretty perfect” kids this weekend…and all four are headed back out ready to tackle the world this morning…and they each know that I love them completely, forever and always.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Are you anxious about your child’s vaccines?

How anxious are you about vaccinating your child?  How much of your anxiety is rooted in fact?

It seems at least weekly I hear questions from parents that are truly anxious about vaccines.  There is so much information for parents to read, and much of it is very scary.  There is a lot of untrue information circulating on the web, and it is very difficult to determine what is true and untrue regarding vaccines.  There are so many questions today…and most of these questions are a result of true fear and misinformation.  Most parents don’t really understand the vaccines that are recommended and don’t really know too much about the diseases they prevent.  Parents have a right to know and to understand the “whys” for all the vaccines that are recommended and parents have the right to know what information is rooted in research based science.

So how can a parent find out the truths about vaccines?

  1. Do your homework.  If you have questions about vaccines do a little research.  The internet is great, but be sure that the websites are reputable.  Sites you trust should be authored by people in medicine or science, not just parents of children.
  2. Remember, there are many alarming stories that are online, many are not based on fact!  As parents, we always want a reason when our child becomes ill or is diagnosed with a disease.  Many times vaccines become a convenient “explanation”.
  3. Bring your questions and the information you find to your child’s doctor.  Your child’s doctor should take the time to go over any questions you have prior to giving your child his or her vaccines.  As parents you need to have open discussions about your questions or anxieties.  Have these discussions at the start of your child’s well child exam, not at the moment the vaccines are going to be given.
  4. Always know what vaccines your child is receiving and why.  You should always receive a Vaccine Information Statement or VIS for every vaccine your child will be receiving.  Read this information, it will tell you what vaccine your child is receiving, what disease it is protecting your child from, and any typical side effects you may see.

Remember, vaccines prevent our children from devastating diseases that most of us have never (thankfully) seen.  We sometimes still see outbreaks of disease in pockets where there are children or adults who are not fully vaccinated.  Your child is NOT protected from these diseases if he or she is not fully vaccinated, THAT is a fact.  We will look very closely at all the recommended childhood vaccines this week and hopefully some of the anxieties that you have as a parent will be put to rest.  Worry is a part of parenthood…but vaccines should not be on your worry list!

Here are some websites that I like…

  • www.healthychildren.org   This is a website the American Academy of Pediatrics publishes for parents.  The information is up to date and easy to understand.
  • www.nnii.org The National Network for Immunization Information provides up to date information for parents and health care professionals.  All the information is evidence based with links to scientific journal articles supporting the information.  The National Network for Immunization Information is an independent group that receives no funding from drug companies or the federal government.
  • www.vaccine.chop.edu This website is from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Vaccine Education Center.  It has reliable information about all vaccines and covers most of the “hot topics” that parents read online.  There are videos and information on every vaccine recommended for your child.
  • www.CDC.gov  This website will give science based information and Vaccine Information Statements for all vaccines.  Yearly updates for the vaccine schedule will be published here too.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Reese Eggs….and other healthier choices for Easter baskets!

I am going to be honest…I will have my fair share of Reese Easter Eggs this coming Sunday!  I love them, along with a few Whopper eggs.  Candy is a huge part of Easter celebrations in many homes.  I believe that everything has its place in moderation (thus the Reese Eggs) but of course there are lots of other options for filling Easter baskets!  Spring is a great time to be thinking about some outdoor activities and toys to fill those baskets.  Traditionally, our kids always got a few of those items, like sidewalk chalk and bubbles.  Target dollar aisle is a great place to start!  Take a look at the list below, there are lots of options….post a few of ideas that you have that will make your little one smile on Easter!  My kids will still get a basket on Sunday, yes, even at their ages!  I will put a few healthy choices in their baskets, but they won’t be complete without a little chocolate!

  1. Bubbles
  2. Sidewalk chalk
  3. Cute socks
  4. Hair bows or clips
  5. Matchbox cars
  6. Sand bucket and shovel
  7. Stacking cups
  8. Punching balloons
  9. Beach ball
  10. Plastic boats
  11. Rubber balls
  12. Slinky
  13. Windmills
  14. Jump ropes
  15. Play-dough
  16. Crayons
  17. Coloring books
  18. Preschool scissors
  19. Finger Paint
  20. Stickers
  21. Books
  22. Vegetable/Flower seeds and child sized garden tools
  23. Sun hat
  24. Sun screen
  25. Water bottle
  26. Movie tickets
  27. Sun glasses
  28. Flip flops
  29. Pool shoes
  30. Kites
  31. Flashlight
  32. Bug catcher
  33. Magnifying glass
  34. Cute toothbrush
  35. Silly straws
  36. Small dinosaurs
  37. Magnetic letters
  38. Sponge balls and toys
  39. Squirt toys
  40. Parachute men
  41. Model airplanes
  42. Card games
  43. Sunglasses
  44. Finger puppets
  45. Hula hoops
  46. Small musical instruments like egg shakers and harmonicas
  47. Bath toys

Fill those plastic eggs with:

  1. Yogurt covered raisins
  2.  Dried fruit
  3. Fish crackers
  4. Teddy Grahams
  5. Stickers
  6. Cereal
  7. Puzzle pieces…they can put them together to see if all the eggs have been found!
  8. Marshmallows
  9. Pretzel snacks
  10. Granola mix
  11. Washable tatoos

Non-candy treats for the basket:

  1. Granola
  2. Squeezable yogurt
  3. Dried fruit
  4. Popcorn
  5. Bags of pretzels
  6. Fresh baked items
  7. Fresh fruit
  8. Fruit cups
  9. Small tubs of “peanut butter to go” for dipping
  10. Honey straws
  11. 100% juice box
  12. Small packages of cheddar bunny crackers

Baskets are great…but you can put your Easter basket items in the back of a dump truck, in a baby stroller, shopping cart, sand bucket, beach bag,…get creative!

Post a few ideas that you have!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


The 10 Top Worries of New Moms, Sleep, Poop, Eating and More….Are They Worth the Energy?

kaitlyn being rocked

As a young Mom, I had worries too….but so many of our worries are not worth the energy it takes to think about them. 

I visited with a new Mom this past week, she had a precious, beautiful little girl.  How I loved that time in my life!  I have such wonderful memories of those times, but let’s face it….new Moms have a lot on their plate.  I remember those days of trying to get to know this precious bundle who I had prepared for, thought about, and anxiously awaited for 9 long months.  Who was this little person?  How would I handle this most important job of my life?  What if I wasn’t very good at it?  What does she need when she cries?  Is she eating enough?  Sleeping enough?  Is she sick and I don’t know it?

After 4 children and watching countless other new Moms navigate through those first few months of motherhood, I realize that many of those doubts, concerns, and yes worries were such a waste of my energy.  If I could, I would definitely worry less.  There are about 10 concerns that I hear over and over from new Moms….and were definitely on my radar as a new Mom, but in actuality most of the time they are not worth the energy of worry….

1.  Bonding

Even if you have dreamed, planned, prepared, and anxiously awaited your baby for 9 months, hours after birth you might just look at your baby and feel more exhaustion and questions than love.  That is normal!  Some Moms feel immediate connection; some Moms need a few days of feedings, cuddling, and interaction to feel the bonding process.  Your baby will respond to you feeding, holding, and cuddling.  Even if you are still struggling to feel connected with this new little being…fake it until you feel it…Bonding deepens over time and you will fall in love with your baby, trust me.

2.   Crying

Babies cry…..it is a fact.  Some babies cry more than others….that is a fact too.  Newborns will cry when they are hungry, tired, wet, bored, over stimulated, under stimulated, or maybe for no reason at all.  Crying in itself will not hurt a baby, although it can be alarming to you.  Rather than worry about why your baby is crying, it might be better to learn how to comfort your baby.  Many times you may never know why your baby is crying….but you may learn what comforts.  The first 12 weeks is a learning curve for you and your baby, and crying usually will decrease between 12 and 16 weeks.  Of course, if your baby is inconsolable, a talk with your pediatrician is a wise option, but most of the time your baby’s crying is simply part of mothering a newborn.

3.   Eating

So many Moms worry if their baby is eating enough….or eating too much.  New Moms need to learn feeding cues and adjust to breast-feeding or bottle feeding and this takes a little time.  If your baby is having 6 wet diapers in a 24 hour period, seems content after eating, and has gained weight ….relax.  Unless your pediatrician is concerned about weight gain, don’t become obsessed with a baby scale.  Trust your baby’s cues and your instincts.

4.  Pooping

Babies strain, get red faced, make noise, and pull their knees up when pooping.  Babies usually poop a lot in the beginning.  Breast fed babies will often poop with every feeding in the beginning and then will slow down later and may even skip a few days without pooping.  Babies are not constipated unless the poop is hard and “marble like”.  Call if your baby’s poop has any blood or is mucousy…but don’t be poop obsessed!

5.  Spit up

Most babies will spit up.  Some babies spit up a lot!  If your baby is gaining weight well, most of the time spitting up is nothing to worry about.  Be sure that you are feeding your baby slowly, burping frequently, and keeping your baby upright for a bit after feedings…but most spitting up will stop with time.  Happy spitters, babies who don’t cry after eating and spitting up, are just fine.  Once your baby is sitting up well the spitting up will diminish.

6.   Sneezing

Newborns sneeze…sometimes a lot!  Sneezing helps them clear their nasal passages from fuzz (from all their new blankets and clothing) congestion (remember their little nasal passages are very small) and open up a nostril when it is pushed shut from being pushed up against you when nursing.  No worries unless your baby is running a fever, seems ill, or has difficulty breathing.  Most sneezing is simply normal!

7.   Sleeping through the night and scheduling

New Moms can’t wait to get a stretch of sleep, and many worry that they will never sleep again!  Time and patience those first few weeks are the key to success.  Your baby simply will not sleep through the night right away….that is normal.  Knowledge is power, but reading sleep books, putting pressure on yourself to establish sleep routines and worry about if you are doing it right is a waste of precious moments.  Follow your instincts and all babies will eventually sleep through the night.  Be proactive in establishing good sleep routines, but lose the obsession.  With healthy routines, and trusting your instincts most babies will start to become more predictable and begin to self soothe and sleep longer stretches by 16 weeks. Time is usually the key.  Trust me, you won’t remember if your baby slept 6 hours at 12 weeks or 12 hours at 6 months when you watch them head off to their first day of school.

8.   Developmental milestones

Call it competition, comparison, whatever; it is normal for Moms to compare babies and read books to see if their baby is progressing on time.  Babies often develop at different rates.  There is a sequence of milestones and a general age at which babies should reach them but there is a wide range of normal.  Ask your pediatrician to give you a heads up on what is expected at each age, but don’t become competitive with other babies in your play group!  Let your baby learn and develop on his time frame, and guess what, a baby who walks at 9 months and a baby who walks at 14 months look the same at 5!

9.  Losing baby weight

Wow is there pressure to lose the baby weight.! Pick up any magazine and there
will be a celebrity looking svelte just weeks after having a baby (Can you say photo shop?) New Moms need to lose this worry and embrace reality.  It is unhealthy to try to get back to pre-pregnancy shape in just a few weeks.  Focus on your baby not your weight.  Eat healthy, sleep when you can, get outside and walk and you will feel more like yourself.  Be patient, give yourself time and grace….learn to be a Mom and embrace your new role, the weight will come off in due time.

10.  Wanting to read it all

Sometimes new Moms spend a huge amount of time reading books, articles, and surfing the internet in order to gain the knowledge needed to be a Mom.  Knowledge is power, but there are times when a book is not the best choice over your own Mom’s intuition.  Parent by trusting your “gut”.  If it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t most of the time.  Don’t waste too much precious time reading about being the perfect Mom….just be who you are, the perfect Mom for your baby.  Read less, enjoy more.

If I could talk to my younger self, I would give myself permission to be an imperfect Mom with a house that wasn’t clean and a child who had spit up on his shirt.  I would tell myself to savor each moment and to stop worrying and just live life.  I would give myself more permission to eat ice cream and chocolate after a hard day, and to know that some days are successful if the only thing I could say I did was that I fed, loved and kept my kids safe.  I would tell myself to ask for help, and that it is fine not to have it all together, and that it is fine for people to see that I didn’t have it all together.  If I could sit down with myself 20 years ago, I would say to myself to simply love your kids, breathe deeply, give yourself a break,  don’t sweat the small things  in life….and don’t worry…..your kids will turn out great in spite of you! :)

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


This is poison prevention week…March 18-24th!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year 60,000  children end up in an emergency department because they took medications while their parent was not looking and over a half million calls each year are made to the poison control centers for the same reason!  In recognition of National Poison Prevention Week, the CDC is encouraging everyone to program the Poison Control number into their cell phones:  1-800-222-1222.  Take a moment and do it now!

Tips for parents:  http://www.cdc.gov/MedicationSafety/parents

  • Never leave children alone with medicines. If you are giving or taking medicine and you have to do something else, such as answer the phone, take the medicine with you.
  • Do not leave medicines out after using them. Store them in medicine cabinets or other childproof cabinets that young children cannot reach.
  • When purchasing medicines for young children, check to make sure they are in child-resistant packaging that you are comfortable using.
  • Put the poison control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone.

Poisonous substances in the home:

  • Always read labels before using a product.
  • Keep all products in their original bottles or containers.  Do not use food containers such as cups or jars to store cleaning solutions or other chemicals.  Children could drink or eat these substances when in confusing containers.
  • Never mix household products together.  For example, mixing bleach and ammonia results in a toxic gas.
  • Think about using fewer chemicals in your home.  Try “green” cleaners like vinegar and baking soda.
  • Store all medicines and poisonous items out of reach and locked.  Think of layering protection for your child.  Store items up out of reach and in a latched cabinet.
  • When you are taking or giving medications, do not put the next dose on the counter or leave the bottle out near your child
  • Secure the child safety cap every time you use a medicine.
  • Never call medicine “candy”.
  • Always put cleaning supplies or other chemicals away as soon as they are used.
  • Dispose of outdated medications.  Do not flush them.  Many pharmacies will have medication collection days, check with your pharmacy.  If you do not have access to that type of disposal, mix the medications in coffee grounds or used kitty litter and dispose of them in the trash.
If a poisoning occurs:
  • Remain calm.
  • Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the person has collapsed.  If the person is alert and awake call poison control immediately.
  • Try to have this information ready:
    • the victim’s age and weight
    • the container or bottle of the poison if available
    • the amount consumed if possible
    • the time of the poison exposure
    • the address where the poisoning occurred
  • Stay on the phone and follow the poison control directions.
  • If there was something toxic on the person’s skin, begin rinsing with water, and follow further instructions from poison control.
  • If there was something splashed into the eyes, begin rinsing with water, and follow further instructions from poison control.
  • If the poison was inhaled, have someone bring the person outside for fresh air, and follow further instructions from poison control.
  • If the poison was swallowed, wait for instructions from poison control.
Protect your child….store medications and chemicals correctly following the double layer of protection rule, follow dosing directions exactly for your child’s medications, program the poison control number in your phone, and never think that child proofing is better than your eyes on your child!  

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.



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