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

Being a parent, is at the top of my Gratitude List….


I am grateful for my life as a Mom….

I am sitting this morning in the quiet, sipping my coffee, my college  aged son is soundly sleeping upstairs,  all four of our children will be home by Wednesday and the house will be lively.  Life is good.  I am grateful.  This time of year always turns my thoughts to gratitude, and I realize that simply because I am a parent, my blessing cup overflows. My children have brought me a greater joy than any other aspect of my life.  I am thankful for my four children for many reasons, but some of the reasons that I am grateful to be a parent include:

·        Parenting Love.  From the moment I “fell in love” with each of my children, the definition of love changed.  A mix of responsibility, awe, pride, wanting more for them than myself and immense love…which has all overflowed back to me, a total gift.

·        Enjoying the wonder.  Being able to enjoy the moments of childhood wonder again, reliving those moments of awe and magic. Experiencing the world new again, even participating in those school projects that I actually learned more from the 2nd (3rd and 4th) time around! (I finally know the state capitals!)  It continues as I watch them as young adults finding their passions in life….the world is completely open to them!

·        Learning that the greatest joy is the joy experienced through a child. The greatest pride is in the accomplishments not of yourself but of your child, and the greatest accomplishments are not material but that moment that you realize your child is a wonderful human being.  There is nothing better than seeing your child become a caring, passionate, adult.

·        Remembering the hugs, kisses, smiles, high fives, and “the looks” I have gotten from each of my kids that showed me I was loved.  Experiencing now, the “I’m home” hugs as they return home from their world now.

·        Loving my husband more.  Children expanded the love I have for my husband.  I loved him with my whole heart before children, but even loved him more and yes maybe differently when I saw him become the amazing Dad he is.  I continue to love him more at each day in our life as he continues to “father” our children at each season in their lives.

·        Remembering the sticky fingers, messy bedrooms, late night “emergency talks” and yes loads of college laundry that have made me feel like a Mom.  Nothing like feeling needed….

·        Realizing that my children have helped me appreciate my own parents.  Until you are a parent, it is difficult to “get it”.  As the years pass, I realize over and over again what sacrifices my own parents made for me; the lessons they taught, the love they lavished, and the roots they gave.  I think that by becoming a parent, you realize more the blessing of your own parents.  There becomes this special bond…a kind of “parenting club” where you finally “get it”.  I am more aware each year of the blessing of my own parents, and am more grateful than ever for their example to me.

·        Realizing that my children have made me a better person.  Our children have brought me challenges that have made me stronger, made me admit my weaknesses and accept them, focused me on prayer and have helped me ever expand my capability to love. Yes….each of them have made me a better person…

Yes, being a parent is at the top of my Gratitude List this Thanksgiving.  My heart is full…Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, may your heart be full of gratitude 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.


“We always do that!” Why Family Tradition is Important!

christmas tree 2013

Our “traditional” Christmas tree.  A little more “perfectly” decorated than years past….there are ornaments even on the bottom of the tree now! Can you see the beautiful popcorn string on our tree…a Love family tradition!

The Christmas tree is decorated.  We have strung our traditional popcorn string from the top of the tree to the bottom.  The first year we attempted this…about 25 years ago, we had a popcorn string of about 12 inches.  Each year I think that this might be the year not all the kids will be home to participate, or they might even decide that the tradition is old and tired.  I know at least two of the four kids are not totally thrilled with the activity but last year I heard the same words I have heard for many years from all four kids…”But we always string popcorn!”  (I know that one of the kids who shall remain nameless only completed one short strand this year.  The other three siblings definitely picked up the slack!) :)

If we are smart we listen to our children when they say “That is how we always do it!” or “That is what we always do!” even when we have only done it that way one other time.  Your child is not just talking about the good time he had, but the fact that it meant something to him and he thinks to you too.  One of my favorite quotes is from the book The Little Prince by  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “We live not by things, but the meaning of things.”  It is not what you do or eat that is important, it is the meaning and feeling that comes with what you are doing that is so important to your child.

Creating your own special rituals now and faithfully repeating them throughout your child’s life will provide your child with a sense of security, stability, belonging and pride in his family.  It is never too early to start your own family traditions.

Four reasons tradition is important to a family:

1.  Traditions help make life predictable.  Rituals that are followed daily, weekly, and yearly such as family dinners, nightly stories, spring picnics; holiday songs etc. helps make children feel secure.  Their world is often unpredictable—keeping things predictable at home gives security.

2.  Traditions give families a time to connect.  Sometimes we can feel unconnected when we get busy.  Family meals, stories, game nights etc. help us reconnect and start talking.  Soon we know what is going on in our children’s lives.

3.  Family traditions teach children what their family values are.  Service work, religious ceremonies, concern for the environment and many other values can be established through family traditions and activities.  These are values that when they are reinforced with traditional activities, your child will bring with him to adulthood.

4.  Tradition forms family identity.  Build a family group for your child to feel connected to and this will often prevent them from trying to find other less suitable groups to identify with.  A child’s family is a huge piece of their identity.

Traditions can be very simple…it is the act of repeating them, allowing them to change with your family’s “season in life” and keeping them fun that is the key.  If something is not fun anymore, then let it go!

Don’t get hung up on creating the prefect rituals, let them happen naturally based on what your family enjoys. Many traditions just happen.  The wonderful thing about becoming your own family is that you get to create your own traditions from scratch.  Some you will come up with on your own, some you will borrow, and some you will discard from your past, but the traditions will become part of who your family is.

Some suggestions to try during the holiday season that might be fun:

  1. Take a drive in pajamas to see the holiday lights.
  2. Take a hike in a local park and find some natural decorations for your tree or to make other holiday decorations.
  3. Make a homemade Christmas tree ornament.  Date it, and each year you will add to the collection.
  4. Bake Christmas cookies or Hanukkah treats and share with friends and neighbors.
  5. Draw Secret Santas in the family.  Each Secret Santa will complete a kind deed for the family member he or she drew.
  6. Have a traditional Christmas breakfast, or Christmas Eve dinner.
  7. Attend religious services together.
  8. Lay a piece of straw in the Baby Jesus’ bed each day if a child has done a good deed.
  9. Read a holiday story each night.
  10. Have a traditional Advent wreath or Advent calendar.
  11. Have a Christmas countdown chain.  Make a construction paper chain and tear one link off each day until Christmas.  Write an activity on each chain link that you will do that day.
  12. Camp out under your Christmas tree one night.
  13. Go caroling.
  14. Make a birthday cake for Jesus.
  15. String popcorn for your tree.

And the list can go on and on….share some of your traditions!

Remember, family tradition endears your child to your family and establishes an everlasting family bond. The celebration, the meal, and the activities do not need to be perfect, the perfection comes from a celebration steeped in tradition and full of fun memories that draw a family together….that is perfection

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


Do Parents Need a “Media Diet”?

mom baby and phone

What are we and our kids missing when we are “plugged in” to a screen rather than each other?

I have become connected to my phone….more than I ever would like to admit that I am.  I am a late comer to the smart phone, having mine only since last spring.  In that short amount of time I have frequently caught myself on my phone at times that are truly inappropriate.  My love affair with my phone may just be a bit out of control.  Evidently I am not alone, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’s Internet Trends report, those of us with smart phones check them every six and a half minutes or 150 times a day.  Wow, what could I get accomplished in that amount of time, or better yet, what conversations am I missing out on?

As parents, we need to show our children that they are more important than our email, twitter, or Facebook pages. It is really difficult to be fully engaged when our phone is between us and our child or even our husbands!  I do worry about the relationships that this generation of children may form in the future, will they be based on a screen or true engagement?

So, as guilty as I am of being too attached to my beloved smart phone…how do I break away?

  • Stop and ask….do I need to look at the phone right now?  Unless there is an emergency phone call, there is no reason to disengage from your husband, child, or friend to look at a screen.  The here and now….the real in front of you always trumps a screen.
  • Acknowledge that there is a rush when there is a “like” on a Facebook post, or a new follower on Pinterest and there might even be a bit of anxiety when you ignore the urge to check your phone.  Move on, the moment of the present will give you more of a rush than a look at a screen will ever give.  I have found if I ignore the temptation and direct back to the here and now, the urge to “check” leaves quickly….kind of like the urge for chocolate! 
  • Remember that even if you are not totally enthralled with a game of Candyland at the moment, showing your child that you feel  being with him is important enough that the phone is not in your hand will build a relationship that hopefully will result in your 13-year-old feeling comfortable sharing with you in the future.  Paying attention when your child is young results in a relationship that is solid during those teen years. I am glad I didn’t have to deal with this temptation as a young Mother. 
  •  I am trying to set specific times during the day to check my phone, not just when a whim hits me.  This may decrease the number of times that I check my phone when my family is around.  Phones should be turned off during dinner hours or family time.  Nap times may be a good time to “check-in” or if necessary to check in when children are with you, think about a timer to keep you focused on work for a short amount of time.  Telling your child that you will be on your phone or computer until the timer goes off gives a specific ending time for you and your child.
  • There are times when you do get sucked into the world of the smartphone….then you need to say “Hey, I am sorry guys….Mommy is putting the phone away, I am back.”  Then truly be back.  You can handle the separation from your phone, there will be no permanent disability if the phone is not connected to you.  It is much easier to handle that separation than a separation from a child because he or she never received the attention needed for a relationship to thrive.

I remember spending the morning at a park when my children were young.  Often our conversations were about the birds, or the clouds in the sky, or maybe even the ants on the sidewalk.  On my afternoon run the other day, I saw a young Mom pushing her child in the swing with one hand and texting with the other.  Her eyes were on her phone.  She had her child outside enjoying the wonderful afternoon, but she was missing the best part, the joy of engaging with her child.  She was missing her child’s giggle and the opportunity to tickle her child’s tummy as she swung forward and to kiss those little toes as they reached the sky…..moments that a phone could never match, and moments her child will truly miss.

As I think about my own new obsession, I realize that there are times that I am missing out on wonderful conversations with my husband, or a moment of peace and silence without stimulation, or even an uninterrupted enjoyment of a sunset because my phone “pings” telling me that I have a message, or a new follower.  That moment of “rush” when I hear the phone can never be as good as that moment of engagement that I miss.  My smart phone has not made me a better wife, mother, or conversationalist….it has only spread me thinner.  I pledge now to be a better steward of my phone…so my relationships in life are not with a screen, but with those I love.  You have a tougher challenge as young Moms because screens are a much bigger part of your life with your children than I could ever imagine when my kids were young.  It will take a real effort and plan to keep those screens from “stealing” those moments of parenthood that can never be replaced.  I am going on a diet this week….a smart phone diet, want to take the challenge with me?

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



Better protection from the flu!

It is not too late to protect your child and you! More flu cases so far this year than all of last year!

Flu shot season is here….and there is even more protection this year!

It is hard to believe….but it is that time of year again, flu shot season.  The Katydids have been chirping in the evening (6 weeks till that first frost??), and before we know it flu season will be here.  So, even though we have had some beautiful summer weather over the last few days, it is time to start thinking about everyone in your home receiving the flu shot.  (yes, everyone!)  The recommendations remain the same, everyone 6 months of age and older should receive a flu shot.  Those of you who have babies younger than 6 months need to make sure that your baby is cocooned in protection…everyone who has frequent contact with your baby should be vaccinated against the flu!

This year you may be hearing about the newer quadrivalent vaccines.  These flu vaccines contain protection against 4 strains of influenza.  Usually the flu shot covers 2 type A strains and 1 type B strain.  Flu strains change and evolve so the flu shot “recipe” changes as experts try to predict what flu strains will be most likely to hit during flu season.  Type A strains usually make people sicker so both H1N1 and H3N2 type strains are included.  There is also usually 2 strains of type B flu around and experts try to guess which one to include in the vaccine.  Now, both strains have been added for better coverage.  The supply of quadrivalent flu vaccine may be more limited…but there will be plenty of the traditional trivalent (3 strain) vaccine, the important point is…get a flu shot!   If you have a choice…get the quadrivalent vaccine to protect yourself and your child more completely.  Every year approximately 24,000 Americans die from the flu…and many become ill.  Don’t wait, vaccinate and protect yourself and your child.  Call today and find out when your doctor will offer the vaccine…adults now can also receive the vaccine from their local pharmacist without seeing a doctor. Ask these questions to help determine if your child needs 1 or 2 doses of the flu vaccine.

  1. Is your child 6 months old or older?
  2. Has your child ever received the flu vaccine?
  3. If yes, did your child receive two or more total doses of the flu vaccine since July of 2015?
  4. If yes, your child needs one dose of the flu vaccine.  If your child has not received two or more vaccines since July of 2015, and is between 6 months of age and age 8, then he or she will need two doses of flu vaccine separated by at least 30 days.
  5. If your child has never gotten a flu vaccine or you are not sure about the number of doses, is between the ages of 6 months and age 8, he or she should receive two doses to be safe.
  6. If your child is 9 or older, then one dose of flu vaccine is all that is necessary.

Children between 6 months and 9 years need two doses of the flu vaccine initially to establish first time immunity.  This is my first reminder of several to come, the flu vaccine is a must for all parents and children over 6 months of age!!  Keep yourself and your child healthy!  Look ahead, plan to make that appointment for your child’s flu vaccines, and remember that your child may need 2 vaccines!  Flu season will hit this winter, that is a promise, so be prepared.  Now, let’s get back to enjoying this great end of summer weather!

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


Ironing and Love

Image result for ironing

Can this be a tool of love?

I have often said that you can tell the stage in life of a family by looking at their laundry basket. Certainly there are times when the basket is full of bibs and sleep sacks, and then training pants and toddler overalls, followed by school clothes, sweaty athletic uniforms, and then emptiness as your babies become young adults. My basket is pretty empty now. But, this past weekend, our youngest child who has been in his first job out of school just a few months, asked if I would iron a couple of shirts for his first business trip. Of course I said yes and he showed up a bit later with about 6 loads of clothes….including 8 shirts and at least that many pairs of pants that needed ironing. I have never liked to iron; as a matter of fact my own mother will often iron for me when she visits because she knows it is not my favorite chore. I must admit that I never understood how my Mom enjoyed ironing for me. Who could enjoy that chore? She had to be lying! So, when my son showed up with all this laundry and ironing, I must admit I was a little annoyed at first. After all, he was leaving the next day and I needed to get it done that evening. As I began washing, folding and yes ironing I began to feel my annoyance turn to love. As I folded his t-shirts, and carefully ironed his dress pants and shirts, I thought of those small shirts and pants from years ago. I thought of the excitement he had now with this new experience on his horizon, and as I carefully folded that last t-shirt my heart was over flowing. I get it now….I understand why my Mom enjoys ironing when she is here. She must feel that same love for me just as I felt for my son as I did something I had never enjoyed or really taken the time to think about in the past; but now was able to stop and take the time to reminisce about washing those many clothes when he was that sweet baby, and busy, busy toddler, and grimy little fisherman, and sweaty football player and now a young man with an exciting new career. I was able to iron those shirts with thought and love because my life has slowed down. I guess I was always doing that laundry with love, I just had the time to realize it now. Those laundry baskets sure are full of much more than just dirty clothes…Moms do all things with love.

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


Introducing Solid Foods to Your Baby

Our daughter Kelsey loving her solid foods!  She was needing a dunk in the tub after this meal!

I can remember the excitement of introducing the kids to their first tastes of “real food”.  The camera was ready, they were sitting up and eager, and that first bite often resulted in the funniest look as they had that first taste.

I know that starting solid foods often comes along with many questions.  What food is first?  What about allergies?  How much?  When?  And the list goes on and on.  To be honest, there are not many hard and fast “rules” that come with starting your little one on solids.  As with many issue of parenting, you may see many different suggestions and contradictory information which can increase your anxiety.    Like many of my parenting tips, I start by saying “Relax!”  There really is not a “wrong” way to do this!  So get your cameras ready….the introduction to solid food is a milestone for every parent and baby, and is darn cute too!

When is my baby ready?

The American Academy of Pediatrics tells parents that solid foods should be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age.  At any point between 4 and 6 months, it is just fine!  More important than age, we like to see that the baby is developmentally ready for solids.

Why should I wait until my baby is 4 to 6 months old?

Ideally, breast milk or formula should be the main nutrition for a baby’s first 4 to 6 months.  The foods that you introduce after that are really just supplemental to the nutrients in the breast milk and formula.  Solids are really an education in taste and texture for the first year of life.  Breast milk or formula is the core of your baby’s diet for the first full year providing at least 75% of your baby’s calories.  After a year, your baby will start to meet more and more of their nutritional needs through solid foods.  By age 3, a child should only be getting about 10-20% of their calories from milk, and the rest from solid foods.

Isn’t this different from when I grew up?

Maybe.  The school of thought regarding solids has changed over the years.   In the 1920’s, solid foods were seldom offered to babies before a year.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s solid foods often were fed to infants in the first three months.  There are pictures of me being fed rice cereal at just a few weeks of age.  (I AM pretty old!)  Moms were often told then that the cereal would help a young infant sleep through the night.  I promise it doesn’t!   Slowly, we have come almost full circle with the recommendation now to wait until your baby is at least 4 months old.

Why do we wait now?

We have learned that babies are just not developmentally ready for solids.  More important than actual age is your baby’s development.

  • Before 4 months of age, a baby’s digestive system is too immature for solids.
  • Before 4 months of age, a baby’s throat muscles are not developed for swallowing solids and there is a tongue thrust…food that is placed in the mouth is pushed back out with his tongue.  Most babies no longer have this tongue thrust by 6 months.
  • Before 4 months of age, your baby has no ability to tell you that he is full.  Until around 4 to 5 months, babies will not turn their head to refuse food.
  • Before 4 months of age, solid foods will result in your baby taking less breast milk or formula that has the correct amount of nutrients and fat for growth.
  • Solids should be introduced no later than 6 months.  Waiting too long for the introduction of solids can result in a delay in your baby’s eating and chewing skills, and recent studies now show that waiting longer than 6 months of age may actually increase food allergies.

What are some signs that might show my baby is developmentally ready for solids?

  • Your baby is between 4 and 6 months in age.
  • Your baby has at least doubled his birth weight.
  • Your baby can sit with support.
  • Your baby has good head and neck control and is able to turn his head to refuse food.
  • Your baby’s tongue thrust reflex is diminishing.
  • Your baby is breast-feeding more than 8 to 10 times a day and still wants more or your baby is taking 32 to 40 ounces of formula and wants more.
  • Your baby is reaching for your food, or shows an interest when you are eating.

What food should be first?

Traditionally babies have been started on an iron fortified, easily digested cereal, like rice.  This is because at 6 months of age, a baby’s natural iron stores from Mom are beginning to diminish.  So, most parents start with some type of cereal, often rice.  Other than the iron, there is not much nutrition in the rice cereal. I feel that a white rice cereal is not the best choice for a first food….there really is no hard and fast rule regarding what food you should start first.  There are many good options such as:

  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato
  • Pears
  • Applesauce
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Strained meats
  • Whole milk yogurt if a baby is 6 months of age or older

First foods should be single ingredients.  Foods should be introduced one at a time with a couple of days in between each new food so if there is any type of reaction you will know which food is likely the culprit!

Some will suggest that a parent introduce vegetables before fruits so the baby does not taste the sweet food first.  I don’t feel this is necessary.  Babies who are breast-fed have tasted sweet…breast milk is sweet!  No matter if a parent introduces fruits or vegetables first, babies will always prefer the sweeter taste.  So, it really doesn’t matter!  Introduce a vegetable, then a fruit, then a meat….whatever works for you and your child!

How do I start?

  1. Start with 1 to 2 tablespoons of a single ingredient pureed food.  It should be a liquid consistency in the beginning.  Your goal is not to fill up your child’s tummy, but to expose him to the new taste and texture.  Be careful not to substitute food for breast milk or formula.  During the first year babies should still have 4-6 breast feedings or 24-36 ounces of formula in 24 hours.  If milk consumption drops, you may be feeding too many solids.
  2. Use your finger as the first spoon and have your baby suck the food off your finger.  You then can move to a rubber coated spoon.
  3. Offer the first meal when you are not in a hurry and your baby is not overly tired or too hungry.  I suggest you nurse or bottle feed first, and then an hour later try the solids.
  4. Always offer the new food in the morning so if your baby would have any kind of reaction or upset tummy, it doesn’t happen at night!
  5. Watch your facial expressions.  Babies learn what foods you like and don’t like!  Everything should be yummy!
  6. If your baby makes a face or gags with the new taste or texture, it does not mean that he doesn’t like the food.  It takes at least 10 to 15 introductions of a food before a baby can develop a like or dislike!  We want our babies to have a wide taste pallet!  Don’t limit your baby to only the foods you like, especially if you are picky!
  7. Watch carefully to see when your baby has had enough.  A baby may turn his head, close his mouth, bat the spoon away, or become fussy.  Do not force food.  Remember, the majority of your baby’s calories should be coming from breast milk or formula.
  8. It makes no difference to a baby if he gets green beans for breakfast!  There is no right or wrong food for each meal.
  9. Start with one meal a day and then move to twice a day.  By 9 months of age, most babies are enjoying solid foods and are eating 3 meals a day.
  10. There should be “dinner and a show!”  Babies like smiles, airplane spoons, songs, and fun with the meal.  Enjoy it!

Tips for making mealtime easier?

  1. Show your baby how you take a bite and enjoy your food.  This may encourage a reluctant eater.
  2. Use the upper lip to sweep food off the spoon.
  3. Dress yourself and your baby in clothes that won’t be hurt by a messy eater!  Many times I stripped my little ones down and sometimes a bath was necessary after the meal!  Babies are messy eaters….no way to get around that!
  4. Use suction cup bottomed bowels.  Keep your baby’s hands busy, give him a spoon to hold too!
  5. No pressure.  It is O.K. if your baby misses a meal.  If your baby is fighting the solid foods, skip a meal or two and then try again.  Remember, solids are mainly an education to taste and texture.  Your baby should be receiving most of his nutrition from breast milk or formula.

What about water and  juice?

Babies do not need any other liquid besides breast milk or formula for the first 4 to 6 months.  This means no juice or water.  Once solid foods are introduced, a baby should be introduced to a cup.  Water may be given in a cup with a meal.  Your baby will probably just take a few sips.  Juice can be introduced when your baby is at least 6 months of age.  The juice should only be given in a cup, never in a bottle, and no more than 4 ounces daily.  If you choose to give juice, give it only after solid foods and breast milk or formula have been given.  We don’t want your baby to fill up on juice and not receive the more nutritious solids or breast milk and formula. Juice is not a must!

What about allergies?

Some health care providers may suggest waiting to start foods like eggs, fish, or peanut butter until your baby is older because of the risk of food allergies.  Studies have shown that avoidance of foods does not prevent the allergy and may actually increase the incidence of food allergies.  In January of 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines recommending that foods should not be avoided unless there was a significant family history of food allergies.  Check with your health care provider regarding his or her suggestions about these foods.

One food that should be avoided until after the first birthday is honey.  Honey carries the risk of your baby developing botulism.  This does not include honey that is in foods like crackers or cereal, only pure honey.

How will I know if my baby is allergic to a food?

If your baby has vomiting, diarrhea, a new diaper rash or skin rash including hives, or develops wheezing, then this could be a food allergy.  If your baby has gas, or a tummy ache it may just be a food intolerance.  If you think your baby has had an allergic response or an intolerance, you should stop giving the food to your baby.  You might try the food again in a couple of months if the reaction was mild and your baby may do just fine.  If there was a more severe reaction like vomiting, hives, or wheezing talk to your health care provider before giving the food again.

What about homemade baby food?

Some parents choose to make baby food.  To be honest, if you are waiting to start solids until your baby is 6 months old, your little one will not eat true puree food for very long.  Most babies will start finger foods at about 7-8 months and are eating mostly table food by 10 to 11 months of age.    It is not terribly difficult or time-consuming to make baby food.  You may choose to make all of your own, or use some store-bought and some homemade.  Your baby will also do just fine if you choose to use all store-bought.  Here are some tips for making your own.

  • You will need something to grind or puree food.  You might use a blender, food processor or simply a fork as your little one gets used to texture.
  • You will need storage containers like ice-cube trays or something similar.  There are trays made just for baby food, but ice-cube trays will work just the same.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season and fresh, or frozen for the best nutritional value.
  • Wash your hands well.
  • Wash the fruit and vegetables well!
  • Bake, boil, or steam the vegetables or fruit.  You then can mash or puree using water or breast milk/formula.  If you boil the vegetables/fruit, use the leftover liquid to mash the food to prevent loss of nutrients in the water.
  • Peel and pit fruits and vegetables and strain if necessary.
  • You can use seasoning!  Babies like flavor!  Try to stay away from salt.
  • Remove skin and trim fat from meat.  You can puree cooked meat, or grind it, or simply cut it up into very small pieces for an older baby.
  • Freeze the food  in ice-cube trays.  Remove the cubes of food and store in labeled freezer bags.  One cube is about 1 ounce of food.
  • When ready, thaw the amount you will use.  If your baby does not eat all the food prepared in the dish, it must be thrown out, it cannot be saved.
  • Use caution heating with a microwave.  Microwaves can cause hot spots..be sure to stir and test the food.

There are many books with tips and recipes for making baby food.  Some of my favorites include:

Super Baby Food   By:  RuthYaron

Baby Bites   By:   Bridget Swinney

Top 100 Baby Purees:  100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby   By:   Annabel Karmel

So, the introduction of solids really should not make you anxious, it should be exciting and fun!  Enjoy this milestone for you and your baby!  Your baby’s first taste of solid food only happens once!  Don’t over think the process.  Get ready for dinner and a show!

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



American Academy of Pediatrics






Milk…it does the body good….in the right amount!

milk glass

Milk…it does the body good, in the right amount!  16 oz a day is what your young child needs!

When your child is an infant, you are asked how nursing is progressing, how many times a day your baby nurses, or how many ounces of formula a day your baby drinks.  Your baby’s main nutrition in the first year is from breast milk or formula!  The first year flies by and then you are hearing….introduce cow’s milk in a cup and don’t let your child “drink too many calories”.  Wow what a difference a year makes and what happened to the age-old advice to “drink all of your milk”?

During the toddler years your child should be consuming healthy calories through eating solid foods and drinking some milk.  Full fat milk is usually recommended until age 2, unless your child is overweight or there is a strong history of heart disease in the family.  After age 2 your child should transition to 1% or skim milk to decrease fat intake.  After infancy, your child’s diet should not center on milk, it becomes complimentary to your child’s diet.  So how much milk does the typical young child need?

A recent study published in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics shows that two cups (16 oz) of cow’s milk a day is probably about perfect.  Two cups a day provided an adequate amount of vitamin D for most children and maintained good iron stores too.  Milk is fortified with vitamin D and is an easy and convenient  source of vitamin D and calcium for most children.  However, too much milk consumption can lower iron stores in children.  Milk has no iron and if a child drinks too much, he or she may consume less iron rich foods, and the increase in calcium will prevent the absorption of iron in the body.  Children who drink too much milk often will become anemic (low iron) which can have a detrimental effect on learning and development.

So, it is important that children have vitamin D fortified dairy in their diet, but just not too much!  Two cups a day seems to be the perfect balance for vitamin D intake and to maintain iron levels.  So…milk does do the body good, but in the right amount!

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 right amount!


Is white rice cereal the best choice for baby’s first food?


Should your baby have rice cereal as his first solid food?

Introducing solid foods is an exciting milestone for most parents.  Traditionally that first meal usually was an iron fortified white rice cereal.  That no longer may be the best choice for your baby!  White rice cereal has very little nutritional value, except for the iron that it has been fortified with. There is actually a campaign movement to stop the manufacture of white rice cereal for babies!  We know that children start to form definite likes and dislikes after exposure to food.  Processed grains like white rice is not the type of food that we want our children to develop a taste for!  Childhood obesity is a real problem, so we must introduce foods from moment one that are nutritious and not empty calories.  There are so many other great choices for your baby’s first meal.  Iron is an important nutrient, and babies’ iron stores do start to decrease around the 6 month mark.  With that in mind, parents may want to choose some foods that are higher in iron for their baby.  If you are worried about your baby’s iron level that can always be easily tested by a simple blood test by your baby’s doctor.  However, healthy term babies usually are not high risk for low iron.  So what options do you have for that first meal?  You still may choose a rice cereal that is iron fortified, but I would use a brown rice option.  There are many different brown rice baby foods available.  Oatmeal is also a better choice than a white rice cereal. Other great first foods would even include pureed meats.  Yes, meat!  Meat is a great source of protein, zinc, and iron.  Not usually the first food that parents think of when starting solids!  Other options would include bananas, sweet potatoes, or even a good fat like mashed avocado.  There is no research that supports introducing food in any particular order is better for your child.  As parents, you just want to expose your child to many tastes and foods that are nutritiously dense….not just empty calories.  If we want our children to embrace whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean proteins, then that is what we should be introducing from the first spoonful our babies receive.  So….in my opinion, white rice cereal would not be the best choice…and spending your dollars on baby blueberry cobbler (yes it is out there) is not the best way to introduce the wonderful taste of blueberries!  Introduce your baby to the foods that you hope will become staples in his diet.  Enjoy this new milestone!  Remember, feeding your baby should be fun and nutritious!

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


How to handle separation anxiety…or how to leave with a child holding on to your leg!

Nothing worse than leaving a child screaming for you not to go…but most kids will have separation anxiety at some point!

I watched a poor Mom try to leave her toddler in the child care area of the place I work out in the other day.  The toddler was screaming, hanging on her leg, and Mom looked like she felt like the worst Mom in the world as she pried the child off her leg promising she would be back soon.  I smiled at her and said, “It is hard, but I am sure he will be happy by the time you get a ½ mile in on that treadmill.”   She peeked her head back in just a moment later (I know she couldn’t have run a 1/2 mile that fast!), and he was playing happily.   I remember that feeling of dread when I would leave especially with our 3rd daughter; she always melted down and was totally pitiful.  I remember resorting to promising all kinds of fun activities and treats when I returned.  Not sure that was the best tactic, but it helped my “Mommy guilt” a little.

Separation anxiety is a given in most children.  Some children experience greater anxiety than others, and almost all parents feel just as bad if not worse than their screaming child when they leave.  Separation anxiety can start in infancy, peak in the toddler years, and then hopefully decrease by the end of the preschool years.

  • Infants usually will not start to show separation anxiety until they develop the concept of object permanence at about 9 months of age.  Before that point, out of sight is out of  mind for an infant.
  • Toddlers will usually experience separation anxiety, even if they did not seem to experience it as an infant.  Separation anxiety will be at its peak between 18 and 24 months of age.  Toddlers will express their dislike of separation very loudly!
  • Preschoolers will start to be able to handle separation a bit more easily.  Some 3 and 4-year-olds will learn that their expression of discontent when parents leave will have an effect on Mom and Dad, and often will manipulate parents when they find out it works!


  • Always say good-bye.  It is tempting to sneak out when your child is involved in an activity.  This makes it easier on you, but harder on your child.  Sneaking out can actually increase separation anxiety in a child.  A child will start to become anxious every time he doesn’t see you fearing you have left.  Always say good-bye but keep it short and sweet, the longer the good-bye, the greater the anxiety.  Be sure that you give your child a hug, kiss and  your total attention before leaving.  Do not be multi-tasking as you say good-bye.
  • Tell your child you will return and give them a “time”.  This means “kid time”.  Tell them what time by what they will be doing.  “I will be back after you sleep.”  “I will be back after snack time.”
  • Separate often.  That is the key to getting over separation anxiety.  A child will learn that Mommy and Daddy leave, but they come back.  Separation does not have to be long, but it needs to happen enough that your child can remember the last time.  If you are a stay-at-home-Mom, you need to plan time away from your child.  It is good for you and your child.  If your child is starting daycare or preschool, practice being away and leaving your child for periods of time.

Soon your child will learn that he or she can handle the world when Mom or Dad is not always in eye view, that means you will have to learn that your child can handle the world without you too.  I am still learning that lesson.

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


Breaks, Sprains, and Nursemaid Elbow….oh my!

Nursemaid’s elbow is a common toddler injury…and this is one of the most common ways for it to happen!

Unfortunately, sometimes childhood comes with broken bones, sprains or the common nursemaid’s elbow injury.  Best treatment for all three is staying calm, immobilizing the area and seeking medical help.  That bubble wrap sounds better and better, right?  :)

Suspected Broken Bone or Sprain

  1. If the injury involves your child’s back or neck, keep your child and yourself calm, and do not let anyone move your child.  Call 911.
  2. If you suspect a broken bone, leave it in the position you found it and splint the injured limb.  A splint can be made from boards, broom handles, a piece of cardboard or a couple of magazines wrapped around the injured area.  The splint should extend beyond the joint above and below where the suspected injury is.
  3. Put ice or a cold pack on the area.  Do not put the ice or cold pack directly on your child’s skin, place a towel between it.  A bag of frozen vegetables works great!
  4. Stay calm, and try to keep your child calm.  Call your child’s medical provider or go directly to the Emergency Room.
  5. Sprains are very painful and usually swell and bruise fairly quickly.  It is often difficult to tell the difference between a sprain and a break.  If you are unsure, call your child’s health care provider or head to the Emergency Room.
  6. Sprains are best treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).  Do not put heat in any form on the injured area for at least 24 hours.  Heat will increase swelling and pain.  Elevate the injured limb and try wrapping it with an elastic bandage.  This will help control the swelling…but not too tight!  Be sure fingers or toes are still pink and warm!
  7. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen will  help with the discomfort.

Nursemaid’s Elbow

Nursemaid’s elbow is a very common injury especially during the toddler years.  It is sometimes called “toddler elbow”.  This injury usually happens when a child’s arm is pulled when it is extended, so when a parent is holding a toddler’s hand and the child falls, or a parent swings a child while holding his hand or a “wet noodle” toddler is picked up by the hands when he is refusing to go somewhere.  This injury is when the radius (a bone in the forearm) slips partially out of place at the elbow.  It is common in young children because often their little joints are loose.  A child with a nursemaid’s elbow will usually have pain in the elbow and then refuse to use it.  There is not a lot of pain after the initial moment, no swelling, and no real deformity.  The child will just hold the arm at his side or slightly bent and will often cry if you try to get him to use the arm.

  1. Apply ice or cold pack at the joint.  Remember, not directly on your child’s skin!
  2. Splint the arm in the position your child is holding it.
  3. Call your health care provider or go to the Emergency Room.
  4. The “fix” is simple and quick, usually just a simple movement of the arm.  There is very little discomfort with the “fix” and the child will be using the arm again within a few minutes.
  5. A child who has had this injury is more prone to it again…be careful about lifting a child by the hands!  I always cringe when I see a parent swinging their child playing “airplane”!

We parents never want to see our child injured, but sometimes it just is part of life with a child.  We can’t protect our children from all injury, but we can provide a safe home and play area and if an injury occurs, we can be prepared.  Stay tuned, the best items for a first aid kit is next.

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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