The Wonderful World of Solids

By: Jillian

 

Ever wonder what you are supposed to be doing and where to start when you’re told to begin “introducing solids”?

It sounds easy: give food to your baby. But which solids should I start with? Are pouches better than purées? What about starting with finger foods? How big should those pieces of food be for my baby to pick them up but not choke? Does brand matter? How come Gerber has different food items for sitters and crawlers? When should I use a sippy cup of milk rather than a bottle?  The list goes on and on.tanaphong-toochinda-267381-unsplash

Now that I have tackled these questions, I’ve got some answers to share. I went the purée route. At first, I tried baby oatmeal with breast milk, and that went well. Then I made my own applesauce and puréed sweet potato. Then I tried mashed avocado. I realized I needed to introduce more tastes than that so I started buying puréed fruits with the plan to replicate the ones my kiddo liked. It turns out there weren’t any purées my kid liked—especially the meat! So, for a time, I was serving avocado and sweet potato. I briefly tried banana but that seemed to give my kiddo GI issues. So, dairy was next on the list—yogurt, egg, tiny pieces of string cheese. Then little pieces of everything I ate at every meal. Hot dogs were tricky—I cut the skin off and made sure the pieces were really small. For a time I cut up macaroni as well, but found that it was safe to eat whole. Feeding my child what I ate was helpful for me to eat better since I was motivated to give my kiddo a balanced meal!

I also started experimenting with sippy cups and offering water or breast milk at each meal because I knew that eventually that’s how meals would work. At dinner time, I made a mix of formula and breast milk with the hope that my kiddo would sleep longer at night (that hasn’t seemed to matter). Finding a sippy cup that was able to stand up against my teething child was hard. I really liked NUK for no leaks but I had to keep replacing the nipples because my kid chewed holes in them within days. Fortunately, I found bite proof sippy cups with handles and the problem was solved! I also introduced a sippy cup with a straw to get my kiddo used to sucking. This led way to puréeing my own food and putting the food in pouches for my kiddo to suck the food out of in addition to finger foods.

I would say we have been successful with introducing varied textures and flavors despite feeling uncertain about how to navigate the wonderful world of solids. Bon appetit! 

Leave us comments below on tips and tricks you used to introduce solids!


Let Freedom Ring

By: Cyndy Muchine

 

Freedom!parade

When we speak of Independence Day, most of us think celebrate! This is a very important historic day that is relived each and every year in America and around the world. Freedom comes with a price, but when you achieve independence of any kind, it’s worth celebrating, right? July 4th signifies independence from the British in 1776 and should be enjoyed. It’s a day off, come on! You cannot beat that!flagtruck

Most of us come out decked in red, white, and blue. These three colors are bold! Various displays of flags are held in many major cities to include a night of fireworks. This is my favorite part of the day beside the parade and gun salutes which can be unbearable to the ear, but a good reminder. Thereafter, families gather to enjoy a scrumptious barbecue or picnic.

We are constantly talking about values. Unbeknownst to many, July 4th honors the values our country is founded under. We are all a work in progress, but we must always learn and know that all of us are equal. 

Who isn’t into vintage cars and fancy tractors? I grew up partially on a farm, so this right here summed up my July 4th. The smiles of each child receiving candy and attention; you can’t beat that.tractor2

This is how a nation sets aside their cultural differences and comes together for such a patriotic moment!

 


To Go or Not To Go…Terrifying Mommy Dilemma

By: Jenna Mahoney-Pierce

 

Having a new baby, be it first, second, or fifteenth (wow!) changes the dynamic in your family. Being a first time mom, I was told by friends and family that things are going to change. During the pregnancy, I chalked it up to people trying to tell me all of their “good” advice, which I kicked to the curb quickly as it was unsolicited. It was the solicited advice that I kept in my back pocket. My friend told me pregnancy secrets and even her tales of first time mommy-hood, and they were anything but sugar coated.

Whether or not you use this little piece of advice or kick it to the curb like I did, let me just put it out there un-sugar coated:

No one will do as good a job as you at caring for your child, and you will be upset over the little things when you put them in the hands of a sitter or relative…BUT LEAVE THE BABY WITH SOMEONE, at least once, within the first year.  

Young working mom waves goodbye to baby in sitter's arms at the door. Older woman could also be grandma.I never thought I would leave my baby the first year…but I did three times. Two of the times you could say it was my pick of sitter, the other…well… And, yes, you can definitely tell which ones I picked.  

The first time was when she was 2 months old and my husband wanted me to go to a couples game night at a friends house. I was breastfeeding so I knew I couldn’t stay too long. Being at night, I asked my co-worker to stay up since the baby wakes frequently and I know she would be at the ready to grab her. Things went great!  It was only three hours and my boobs were killing me but I made it.  

The second time, my husband had to drop off our only car to get the brakes fixed. When the car was ready, my husband had a brilliant idea to let his parents watch baby while we borrow one of their cars to drive to the shop so we could get our car. She was about 3 months old, we would be gone for a little over an hour and in that time she needed a bottle that I pumped just that morning. I told my in-laws that she needs to eat the bottle. Did they feed it to her? We got home and I had to pour 5 ounce of liquid gold down the drain. Anyone who pumps knows what I felt that day.  

Third time my mother actually flew from FL up to MA to watch baby, 5 months old, while we went to a wedding. We decided since it was from my husbands side that his parents should attend wedding. I wasn’t going to go since babies were not allowed, but then my mom came. I begged my husband to go back home, I wasn’t ready to stay away overnight. But I made it through, pumped in the car while my husband drove home, but I made it!

Now, you may read this and think to yourself, “geez, she’s biased”…go ahead have your opinion. But as mothers, we just want one thing when we hand over our baby, TO BE LISTENED TO. I personally don’t care if they have raised x amount of kids, or always did it this way…If I tell you to do something for my child while I am gone…GET IT DONE. I am not asking for the impossible to be done, because I do it every day; it’s clearly possible. As much as I could not stand being ignored when it came to my child’s well being, when I was away (and as much as I didn’t want it to happen ever again) I faced the reality that my relationship with my husband needed to have time away. One of my husband’s Father’s Day requests was to go out to see a movie just us two. His parents watched her, now 15 moths old, and all I asked was that she ate her snack at a specific time. Flash forward three hours when we got back home after a great time at the movies. Low and behold she didn’t eat. Its hot, she didn’t have food, she didn’t have her cup, and timing stunk because I had to whip up dinner as soon as I stepped in the house because my baby was hangry. All I could think about while making dinner was “How on earth could they do this to their granddaughter for a second time in her life. Seriously, how hard is it to listen to directions and feed someone” Once she had food in her belly and was cuddling on the couch with me it hit me hard, “No one will do as good a job as you at caring for your child, and you will be upset over the little things when you put them in the hands of a sitter or relative” But you get back, you fix, and at the end of the day baby is in one piece when you get back; and the time away is much needed for yourself and for other relationships.

It is hard to go…but go…and know that you will fix anything that was done while you were gone. As for me, I will be planning out times for my daughter free outings a bit better, and–well–I am still not ready to leave her overnight…its a mom thing!


Why It Should Be Socially Unacceptable to Reference a Woman’s Fertility

By: Danielle McFadden 0

This week I posted an article, I’m Not Pregnant (And Why You Should Never Ask, disclosing my experiences as a woman of child bearing age. In twenty four hours, the article was viewed nearly 600 times and sparked some great dialogue both on Social Media and in person. So many women have approached me to talk about a time they were asked about family planning, pregnancy and even if they were going to stop having babies after birthing or adopting a specific number of children.

Thank you to so many women (and some brave men too) for sharing your experiences, speaking up about awkward situations and bringing to light a subject most of us are too self conscious to talk about (up until this point, I hope).

Why am I posting about this subject matter on LinkedIn, a business networking site? Because many times, these encounters happen in a business setting. At a meeting. During an event. In the first few seconds of a handshake and business card exchange. By talking about this, we can hopefully reduce these incidences and eventually make questions and comments about a woman’s body and fertility socially unacceptable – in any setting – whether it be social or professional.

Here are 8 reasons why you should never make comments about a woman’s ability and decision to have children:

1. Did She Gain Weight?: Just because we’ve gained weight, doesn’t mean we are pregnant. If a guy gains weight, should we ask him when his beer and burger baby is due? Please cut us women some slack. Many of us gain weight at times throughout our journey. It DOES NOT mean we are with child.

2. Did She Just Have a Baby?: Maybe we had a baby a month ago, maybe six months ago, maybe 2 years ago. In any of these scenarios, we had a baby. For most of us, the pregnancy weight doesn’t just fall off. That doesn’t mean we are doubling down in the childbearing department. Please, give us a break.

3. Is She Newly Pregnant?: When a woman finds out she’s pregnant, she may want to wait until the second trimester before telling people. Just because you ask, doesn’t mean we are going to tell you before our parents, family and closest friends. So please don’t put us in that situation. Seriously, don’t.

4. Does She Struggle with Her Body Image?: Many women struggle with feeling comfortable in our own skin. We experience days when we feel fat or bloated. Some of us have eating orders, such as anorexia or bulimia. When you make reference to us being pregnant, when we are not, you are adding more self doubt to our body image struggles.

5. How is Her Self Confidence Level?: Like having a positive body image, it’s not always easy to feel good. Like really good. You know, the dang-this-dress-makes-me-look-awesome kind of good. And when we feel this way, happiness can radiate off of us. Nothing kills this confidence like someone asking us when we are due. Please don’t kill our sunshine.

6. Is She Experiencing Relationship Issues?: The only shoes you walk in, and life you live, is your own. You never know what people are going through – regardless of if they are single, in a relationship, married, divorced, dating, separated, playing the field… Okay, you get it. Don’t add fuel to the fire with a comment or question.

7. Is She Struggling with Infertility?: So many women struggle with infertility. If you ask a woman when she is due or when is she’s planning on having a baby, you could be adding salt into the large gaping wound in her heart. Every woman knows her age. Please don’t make reference to a biological clock ticking. The only thing she’ll be ticked off at is you.

8. Has She Miscarried or Lost a Child?: Perhaps the woman you say something to has recently experienced one or more miscarriages. Maybe she has gone through the unimaginable and lost a child. In this situation, the days are hard. They are sad. Do you want to contribute to the sadness or even worse, force her to disclose her loss to you?

Bonus Reason: It’s none of your business. Period.

Bottom line, we are all adults. We are educated. We are civilized. We can certainly find something to talk about in a social or professional setting. If all else fails, reference the weather, sports or even President Trump. In most cases, that’s a safer bet!

 

*originally published by Danielle via LinkedIn on May 25, 2018. Reposted with permission


Why I’m Emotional About a Preschool Graduation

By: Sarah Powling

 

“Excuse me while I bawl my eyes out at preschool graduation”

In just a couple short weeks, my oldest son will be graduating from preschool. That’s great, right? Moving on up to Kindergarten, becoming (slightly) more independent. It’s supposed to be a positive thing. Good job Mom, you did it!

Except, I am an emotional train wreck about it. The thought of it makes tears instantly fill my eyes. I can’t sing his graduation song with him without immediately choking up. I close my eyes when I see the date on the calendar. What is wrong with me?Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 3.28.41 PM

There is nothing that can close a chapter in your life like a graduation, and a preschool graduation closes a pretty large chapter. It’s one of the first graduations that you will ever have, and it officially closes out the “baby stage.” 

Of course, my 5-year-old hasn’t been a baby for quite some time, but there’s really no such thing as a “baby graduation.” Kids just gradually learn to become more and more independent, and usually parents are so sleep-deprived and exhausted that it’s hard to notice. It’s hard to notice that all of a sudden they can dress themselves, make their own snacks, and change the TV channel. At the time, parents are just grateful that there is one less thing that they’ll be asked to do; but they’re so busy doing a million other things that it doesn’t mean much.

It doesn’t mean much, that is, until they realize that all of a sudden their child is 5 years old. Their child can make their own decisions about what clothes he wants to wear and what friends he wants to play with. Their child is about to go navigate through his own day–away from you for 7 hours–making his own choices and learning things his own way. Then, it hits you.

The chapter of you being completely immersed in your child’s life is over. Of course, he still needs you, but it’s not the same as his dependence on you for physical survival anymore. He is becoming his own person. He can get through his days without you being there with him for what seems like every slow-passing minute. He is older, stronger, wiser, and more capable.

He is not that helpless little baby anymore, screaming for food. He’s not the wandering toddler with the sagging diaper that needs to be changed. He is not the frustrated 3-and-a-half-year-old who doesn’t know how to write his name. But you will always remember that little boy. You will always know how far that little boy came.

And as those memories come flooding into your head when you see him walk through the auditorium with his little friends, you, too, can bawl your eyes out at preschool graduation.


I’m Not Pregnant (And Why You Should Never Ask)

By: Danielle McFadden 

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Today I stumbled upon a Today Show clip regarding viewers speculating that Savannah Guthrie was pregnant. This is a topic I’ve considered writing about for several years now, but I’ve never built up the nerve to do so. Despite feeling vulnerable, I know now is the time to speak up, so we can hopefully put an end to this.

More than a handful of times since I’ve been of “child bearing age” I’ve been congratulated or asked when I was due. I can remember the first time it happened… I was twenty four years old, in the best shape of my life and wearing an empire waist dress – so someone assumed it was hiding a baby bump. It was an awkward exchange that forced me to say the dreaded words, “No, I’m not pregnant.” (But obviously, you think I look it.) I made a joke about it, but inside I wanted to die. I can pinpoint the few times in my life that I’ve felt totally comfortable in my skin, and up until I was asked when I was due, that was one of those times. I was walking 1-2 hours a day, eating great and in the best shape of my life. I worked so hard to feel comfortable in my own skin and in a split second, the confidence I had been feeling (and earned) was shattered.

Fast forward eleven years and three kids later… It’s hard to explain the insecurity many women feel after giving birth. It’s all worth it to have a beautiful new baby that you love more than life itself, but man is it hard when you’re sleep deprived, can’t fit in your regular clothes and your hormones are completely out of whack. Tack on someone making a reference about your weight and it’s a pretty horrible feeling.

The week that I returned to work after having my first child, I was congratulated and asked when I was due. I was wearing a shirt that I bought in 5 different colors, because it was one of the only things I felt comfortable in. I was adjusting to life as a working mom, I had 20 pounds to lose and was very insecure – not to mention extremely sad to leave my little girl behind for eight hours a day. Again, I tried to laugh it off, but like Savannah eloquently put it, “I’m not pregnant. I have a three month old at home. And now I’m going to burn this shirt (and the four others I have just like it)!”

My youngest is now nine months old. I am slowly starting to feel like “myself” again, but definitely have more “baby weight” to shed. Recently, someone gave up their seat for me at an event because “I have an excuse.” Immediately, I knew what that meant (although everyone I told the story to said my excuse was that I had heels on). A week later, the same person made reference to me not being able to drink and I walked away reaffirming what I originally thought… He thinks I’m pregnant. (I secretly hoped I would bump into him while drinking a glass of red wine that would land all over him, but my plan didn’t hold up.) Hopefully, I can lose twenty pounds before seeing this person again (we all can dream), but if not, will I really be forced to say those three dreaded words again? I’M NOT PREGNANT.

As a society, we have to flip the script on this. It’s never okay to assume a woman is pregnant. Words hurt; and if someone is insecure about her body, those words stick. (And, who isn’t insecure at times?) A woman’s body is INCREDIBLE. Our bodies can GROW A BABY. Our bodies can DELIVER A BABY. Our bodies can FEED A BABY. We are AMAZING and it’s a shame that can be overshadowed by comments that mean nothing to the person saying them, but so much to the person hearing them.

My daughter Zoe is now four years ago. I try so hard not to mention my weight or hers. I want her to grow up cherishing her body. I don’t want her ever to feel the insecurities that I do. And if I have anything to do with it, she’ll never experience what it feels like to have someone think she’s pregnant when she’s not.

We can change this. Not for our sake, but for our daughters.

 

*originally published by Danielle via LinkedIn on May 23, 2018. Reposted with permission


Sensory Play Ideas

By: Jenna Mahoney-Pierce

 

My husband purchased a book of activities for our daughter’s first birthday.  Being a daycare teacher, I love having a new ideas to bring to my classroom, and a girl can only use Pinterest for so long  The main reason he got this book is to be the one to come up with and plan activities for a change.  

I love how interested my husband is in creating new experiences for our little girl. He has been a hands-on dad every step of the way and he has acquired many new resources. This book is a wonderful example. It spans multiple stages of development and in most cases each activity has variations to accommodate multiple needs (whether its age, allergy, even down to what supplies you have in your home.)  

I am going to focus on the sensory activity we tried about a week and a half ago. My husband cannot wait for our daughter to play with doughs, clays etc. He loves being just as creative as I do and wants to give different creative outlets to our girl (we have been painting for a while now and want to mix things up. Due to a few variables (i.e. 1 year old puts things in mouth, and the supplies that we currently had in our house), we decided to make a variation of their Cloud Dough. It is taste safe and hopefully peaks her interest to play.

Taste-Safe Sugar Cookie Cloud Doughingredients

4 cups flour

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Mix flour and cinnamon in a bowl

2) Mix oil and vanilla in a separate bowl

3) Combine oil mixture into flour mixture stirring/kneading

dough1The book notes a few things:dough2

The dough is moldable under pressure but should crumble

Reusable if kept in airtight container; if storing for additional play times check for signs of spoiling before use (mold, odor, etc)

My Personal Review:

The “dough” was more crumbly than anticipated. This could be due to the taste safe variation I used, vegetable oil instead of baby oil. My daughter tried it, so I call it a successful activity. She of course tried eating it after about ten minutes and even though it’s taste safe and smells amazing, consuming a handful would leave your mouth very dry…and yes I ddough3id try it.

 It can be put in molds for a “sand castle” appearance, which is what my husband ending up trying to do several times. 

 I did find the consistency better suited for making tracks with cars and texture balls, which is what my daughter and I stuck to doing. Easy clean up and after a week I am happy to report that this Mommy just checked the batch we made and it’s still “playable.” 

book

150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com by Asia Citro, 2014


Summer Fun For Kids

By: Cassie Van Der Hyde

 

It’s nearly the end of the school year, somehow, despite the endless snow days that have accrued during this past weird winter. While my friends and coworkers are lamenting that they will soon have their kids home all day long and will have to keep them occupied all those hours, I always like to remind them that mine are home all day long… every day… all year. This is Real Homeschool Talk here! I could go on and on about finding extracurriculars and constructive activities to occupy my kids during the weekdays of the school year, but now that school is ending, all parents–public, private, and homeschooling–are in the same boat. We’re in this together, guys!

Let’s talk a little about beyond the playing outside in the yard, going to the park, summer sports leagues stuff, here.

Lowell Summer Series

                   Lowell Summer Music Series

During the sunny days, I’m going to be taking my kids to all the free stuff I possibly can. We are steadfast attendees of the Free Fun for Kids series that the Lowell Summer Music Series puts on twice a week in the mornings at Boarding House Park. Bring a donation if you want to and enjoy keeping your little gremlins busy with a craft, snacks, and a show. My kids look forward to this every summer, and while it’s mostly geared towards the younger set, even my nine year old has a lot of fun. On the inclement-weather days, they move it to the local high school auditorium, so don’t stay home and miss it if it seems a little too hot or a little too rainy outside.

Another mostly free fun thing we do is to check out the Junior Ranger programs at all the national parks in the area. We go to the indoor exhibits on the yucky days and outdoor ones on the sunny. Every program is different, and some are just workbooklets and a pencil that kids can use to earn a badge and be sworn in as a Junior Ranger, but they’re all fun. Our favorite local-ish program, so far, has been Saugus Iron Works. We were in the area to pick up some donuts at Kane’s (not free, but also highly recommended! Yum!!!) so we decided to make a pit stop and check it out. It was free and totally amazing! The kids got to sign out little backpacks full of ranger supplies like notepads, colored pencils, binoculars, and magnifying glasses and use them to answer questions and make observations about the wildlife at the park. I’ve never had such quiet, intensely focused kids as during those few hours there.

For the draggy rainy gross days, we make lots (and I mean lots) of library trips. Max out all your tax dollars, parents! There are so many free kids programs at the libraries. We love Pollard, Parker, Chelmsford, and Nevins! Some of them require a sign-up but many of the summer activities are drop-ins such as the reading olympics at the Parker Memorial Library. Kids read 15 minutes a day, get their little paper stamped, and pick out a prize every week. Super easy and sneaky-educational!  

Don’t waste away the summer listening to the kids telling you they’re bored and making endless trips to the same two playgrounds. Try something new, engage those little brains just a bit in the off-season, and maybe you’ll save your own sanity too!