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Raising a toddler is like training a puppy
Parenting Tips, Toddler

5 Ways Raising a Toddler Actually IS Like Having a Puppy

Do you think a toddler and a dog are the same thing? NOPE! Well, except for this...

My youngest looks up from the toilet, eyes eager, and says “Treat?”. And it hits me. Having a toddler is eerily similar to having a puppy. The bribery. The praise. The anxiety that they won’t ‘perform’ in public as they should. Who knew having a dog before having kids really DOES prepare you for kids.

Obviously, having a dog is not the same as having kids. I’m certainly the first one to roll my eyes when someone suggests that. But you can’t deny that similar behavioral tactics can transfer from dog to toddler.

And as I am sitting squarely in the middle of toddler hell with one who is edging out of the toddler phase and one who is two going on 20, I find myself comparing the aspects of training a puppy to raising a toddler. And there are certainly some similarities worth mentioning.

  1. It’s a shit show, literally. One of the hardest parts of having a puppy is getting them housebroken.You are counting down the days until you can be finished with the pee soaked puppy pads and 2 a.m. walks. Potty training a toddler isn’t so different. Ditching the diapers is a huge milestone, but it comes at a steep price. The use of treats, whether it be food or toys, comes with the territory. I’ve been known to dangle a cracker out in front of my kids to lead them to the porcelain throne. 

    “Come here little Johnny! Don’t you want a treat?” Pavlov himself would be proud. Oh, and I’ve been know to use the phrase “Don’t forget to pee the toddler!” just as you would to remind someone to let the dog out before you leave. So, yeah, pretty much the same thing.

  2. When you set out to buy a puppy you have a vision in your head of what your life with a dog will look like.Searching for your perfect mom community? Long runs with your buddy by your side. Perfectly obedient as you chat with friends at the local coffee shop. Evening snuggles on the couch as you catch up on Netflix. It’s similar for moms before having kids. Most dream of the perfect play dates at the park where she can talk to her friends about the latest Game of Thrones episode and her little one plays quietly by themselves. And they envision a serene family brunch every Sunday with zero tantrums and polite children.Reality is much different. You may expect a golden retriever but end up birthing a crazy chihuahua instead. Obedient? Nah, independent to boot. Snuggles on the couch? Nah, spastic AF. 
  3. No! Don’t chew on my shoes. No! Don’t piss on the rug. No! Don’t stick that in your mouth. Am I talking to the puppy or a toddler? Who knows. But I think we can agree that one of the first words they both learn fast is ‘no’. 
  4. Who here has tried to hide healthy food among the rest of the crap kids love to eat? Now, tell me you didn’t pull that same trick when you had to give your puppy medicine. You didn’t know it at the time but wrapping a pill with cheese was just preparing you for years of trying to sneak veggies into the bellies of your toddlers. Nope, those aren’t tiny broccoli floret pieces in your mac ‘n cheese. Just eat it, ok?
  5. Have you ever noticed that dog toys and baby toys are eerily similar? The dental bone that has grooves specifically to help with tooth decay in dogs looks like it would be perfect for the teething toddler in your life. And let’s be real and admit you have definitely let your kid chew on a dog toy and your dog chew on a baby toy. Not in a purposeful way, but you don’t exactly jump up to remove the toy quickly because you just realized it’s the first time they’ve been quiet in hours so you’re just going to roll with it. It’s ok. Sharing is caring. Plus, aren’t dogs teeth cleaner than humans anyway? 

Hands down the best similarity between raising a toddler and training a puppy is their endless love for their parents. Despite our flaws (and we’ve got ’em!) our kids love us. Even on our worst days we are enough for them. Whether it’s a cute furry face or a pudgy little toddler greeting us after a long day, they make everything worth it.

Except pee pads and diapers. No one wishes to be in that phase again. 

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27 tips about labor and delivery
Baby, Guest Posts, Parenting Tips

Guest Post: 27 Tips About Labor and Delivery That Every Expecting Mom Should Know

Today on the blog is a guest post by Tanya Khubchandani Vatsa of Mommy Diaries. She is a mom of two who made a whirlwind move to India right after having her first baby. I’ve been following Tanya on Instagram for a while now and she has one of the most in-depth blogs on parenting I’ve seen! She has a post about everything. For real, search it and you will find it! Enjoy!

 

27 tips about labor and delivery every mom should know!While pregnant, I found myself caught up in arguments with my husband about my how he envisioned my labor process. He saw it as a short and quick process wherein you go to the hospital when your water breaks, women fuss and sweat while guests are waiting outside, and the baby is out so quick that there’s even a risk of the delivery happening in the car. One of the times he was ranting about how he’s scared I will deliver in the car, I had to sit him down and go through what was in his head and realized that all of his ideas came from the television! Quite contrary to what was going on in my head. 

Ever since I found out how babies were born, the thought of me being in that position scared the living daylights out of me. However, while I was pregnant, I tried not to think about it for the majority of my pregnancy and focused on what was going on with my baby in the present. By the time I was closer I just so ready to be done. I had over time though formed an idea of what I wanted my labor to be like, who I wanted in the room, whether I wanted drugs or not, whether I wanted my husband to cut the cord and so forth. 

These are all individual decisions and I’m not going to tell you what’s right or wrong, as there is no right or wrong! However, I will give you some tips on things you should know – no matter what your decisions are, or will be.

(Note:  this will not be helpful to anyone who has an elective c-section coming up, but if you plan to try the normal labor route, please go ahead and continue reading.) 

 

27 Tips About Labor and Delivery that Every Expecting Mom Should Know: 

1. Ignore everything you have seen on TV (unless you make a habit of watching birthing videos). Seriously. 

2. Yes, the first baby tends to be late, and girls (because they are, on average, smaller, do too) but there is actually no way to tell if your going to be early, or late. It’s very circumstantial and depends on your pregnancy.  All you do know is that there is only a 9 percent chance that your baby will be born on its due date.

3. Even dilation and effacement doesn’t give you much of an indication as you can be dilating a couple centimeters for weeks before going into labor. 

4. Nor does your mucus plug. It’s a discharge that happens before you go into labor (thought it can also happen during labor). It can happen weeks before or minutes before. 

5. Effacement is how short your cervix is (in percentage, at 100 percent, your cervix is completely shortened), while dilation is how open your cervix is (in centimeters). 

6. You push when you’re at 10 centimeters dilated and contractions cause dilation. 

7. There are three stages of labor – Early labor, active labor (defined as contractions every 5 minutes or more, and dilation of 4 cms or more), and pushing (when you are dialated and contractions are 2 centimeters apart.)

8. Be your own advocate or appoint one (probably easier if you’re screaming more than speaking).  Make sure they know your wishes and needs.

9. Make sure you know your own wishes and needs first! Would you like music, do you want to see yourself crowning in a mirror, would you like to be able to move around….the list is endless! Download a simple birth plan (from any website) and go through the questions. You don’t have to write it all down, just know what you will be comfortable with.

10. Then, decide how much of that you can let go, as it will never be as ideal as it is in your head. Searching for your perfect mom community?

11. Keep in mind that you have to be flexible, and let your advocate know what you would like to be flexible about. I was admitted to the hospital because I felt that my son wasn’t moving as much and it turned out that his heart rate was fluctuating (he stabilized but the docs decided to watch me and if needed, get him out.) However, my plan of moving around during labor and not being stuck to a bed and monitors went totally out of the window. 

12.  When admitted, tell your nurse what you would like. Don’t give her an endless list or overwhelm her, just pick three things that are important to you, and let her know what they are. (Mine were – cord blood banking, an epidural and wanting both my husband and mom in the room. Keep in mind that I was two weeks early and my mom was on a flight from India to the U.S and I went into labor while she was unreachable!)

13. Trust your nurse. She is your best resource and has done this more times than you can imagine, and seen more than you (or atleast I) would want to know about. 

14. Pain and stress slows down the labor process and increases the chance that you will need a c-section. Try and keep as calm as possible and take things with you that will help like music, maybe certain aromas/ fragrances. You can’t use candles in a hospital (oxygen + flame = fire!!!), but you can take certain oils or scents. 

15. If you can, move around during labor. Lying on your back in a bed is not the most comfortable position. Holding onto a railing, bending over, squatting, even poop position or having your husband rub your back, may be more comfortable to you. 

16. Stay at home as long as possible. Given the time of day estimate how far you are from the hospital and try not to go in until you are closer to delivering. The rule of thumb is when your Contractions are 5  minutes apart, lasting for one full minute and have been in this state for an hour. 

17. Only in 10 percent of deliveries does your water break before your contractions start. It usually the other way around. If your water breaks, go to the hospital. They will not be able to do too many medical exams (internal) but will need to keep an eye on how quickly your labor is progressing as your child is now susceptible to infections. 

18. You actually can have a glass of wine while laboring at home. (As per medical professionals, not just me. This was all in my plan that went out the window.) 

19. I know there’s all this buzz about natural labor, but don’t feel forced, pressured or stressed to do anything you are not comfortable with. There’s no shame in wanting an epidural, or even other drugs during induction or while your labor is starting. You have grown a baby, you are already a hero. (Again, the more you stress or are in pain, the longer your labor and more likely you are to need an induction or c section due to the effect of stress hormones on the labor process.) 

20. I don’t believe in making your decisions for you but I can’t resist adding this – Home delivery, to me, is for pizza, not for babies. Get to a hospital, your child’s life is in question, as is your own, why would you not want to have licensed medical professionals around? 

21. Epidurals are given in the spine. I was more terrified about this than the entire process because I knew I was going to get one. But honestly, it’s given when you need it, and at that point the prick in your spine is really not as painful as the contractions. (My epidural was given by a resident because I was desperate, it was given 6 times because and I didn’t care much about the pain from the injection because I was so excited to finally be getting some relief about 18 hours of labor). No you will not be groggy it does not put you to sleep but it does help you get some rest while your body prepares for labor. And no, it will not make your baby sleepy, all newborns are sleepy at birth. 

22. Group B strep is a type of bacteria that lives in your birth canal. Most women do not have it but some do, just like yeast. You will be tested a few weeks before delivery, and if you are positive you will be given iv-penicillin (or another antibiotic if you are penicillin allergic) every 4 hours during labor, to protect your child. Take the meds for your baby but don’t stress about a positive diagnosis, and don’t google the crazy list of signs either. You will just get scared and you don’t need that right now. 

Grab your copy of my MUST HAVVES for new(ish) moms

23. Do you believe in insurance? Cord blood banking is just that, it’s an insurance policy for your baby and actually, your entire family, against any potential issues your child or relative or sibling can have in the future. If you can afford it do it. All you have to do is send the umbilical cord and placenta (the nurses will do it for you entirely), which would otherwise be medical waste anyway. (Note, in some hospitals you can donate it if you are not banking it.) 

24. Delayed cord clamping is all the rage nowadays. But while it does increase the iron your baby has in their blood at birth it also increases your baby’s odds of getting jaundice as all that iron is hard on the baby’s liver. You can always do a minute clamp and not wait for the umbilical cord to be completely dead, as that is a healthy medium (and will leave your cord bankable.) 

25. Even if you do end up with a c-section, insist on skin to skin as soon as you are able. It calms down your baby immediately, it helps you bond, it helps you nurse, it’s been shown to be better for your baby’s health in the short and long term, and it helps them recognize you! 

26. I was terrified about the recovery and had a lot of stitches, I didn’t have an episiotomy (when the doctor has to cut, as that is no longer common practice  in the US but is practiced in most places), but I did tear. I must say, the doctors and nurses gave me great tips and meds (baby safe), and it was not as bad as I expected.

27. Breathe, breathe, breathe… Or don’t! I practiced breathing while holding cubes of ice for a minute at a time.. And yet, when the time comes it’s the last thing you want to do (unless you have superhero concentration) or be told to do. But until you get there… Breathe!!!! It will be there, and will be over before you know it. You will be left cuddling your bundle of happiness (and desperate to sleep). 

 

Marie Louise, senior midwife, is coming in to the Selfies to Selfless Membership Community to chat labor!And if you want to get the low down on the signs you should look for to help determine whether you are FINALLY in labor, join the Selfies to Selfless Membership Community! September’s guest expert is senior midwife Marie Louise. She will be coming in to talk about everything you need to know! We all get anxious and wonder if it’s finally happening, if it’s FINALLY time to go to the hospital. She’ll go over all those signs and what to expect as you start labor. Sign up for your FREE month and ask her all your labor questions!

How I do more for my family by doing less
Baby, Parenting Tips, Self Care, Toddler

Why Facebook Mom Groups Suck (and the alternative you REALLY need)

Facebook mom groups can be great, except when they aren't. If you haven't found your tribe, check this out!There’s one thing we can all agree on. Being a mom is hard AF. It’s always been hard. And every new generation of moms have to deal with their own unique challenges. Today’s challenges come in the form of online judgement, mommy wars, choice overload, and lack of community to name a few. 

Combine those with the fact that when you are a new mom you have no freaking clue what you are doing and it can be downright overwhelming. Cue the internet. Moms turn to the online space to find resources to help them solve their problems at hand. From analyzing pregnancy symptoms to tips on how to calm a fussy baby, there’s advice everywhere.

One common place moms turn to for help is in Facebook groups. Just do a quick search on Facebook and you’ll see thousands of mom groups. Some are topic specific (breastfeeding mamas only!) and some are more general. Many have proved helpful to moms, however, so many moms still feel isolated and unfulfilled with their needs going unmet.

There’s a constant stream of similar comments from moms all over the world in these groups. These very groups that were created to support moms aren’t measuring up for so many women. I noticed some trends that I just couldn’t shake. Moms were turning to these groups for answer to their parenting questions and often times came up empty. Their questions would get buried in the sea of posts on the group’s wall with no one sharing any insight. Or, and maybe even worse, someone would share outdated and sometimes dangerous information.

I also saw a lack of community. Which is ironic considering the original purpose of the group. Someone with good intention started the group to bring women together to help one another but when it grows too large the admin side of things can unravel fast. Commenters quickly turn vicious if they don’t agree with something a mom says in her post. Which is unhelpful and only leads to lower self-confidence. And bad advice or outdated science isn’t caught and spreads like wildfire.

I asked these moms how many groups they belonged to. Some said a couple, but most said five or more. Some even saying 20 groups! To me, that’s a clear indication that those groups aren’t meeting her needs. So I decided to do something about it.

I wanted to focus on giving moms what they really need when they are first starting out in their parenting journey: knowledge and support. So I created a membership community to do just that: The Selfies to Selfless Membership Community. I am bringing in expert speakers every single month to talk about subjects moms want more info on. Topics like breastfeeding, post partum depression, picky eaters, sleep training, relationship help. You name it, we will cover it.

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I will also have a pediatrician coming in every month to answer those questions you REALLY want to ask your pediatrician but don’t think it’s worth a doctor’s appointment. Or maybe it’s those ‘is it normal?’ questions that you are pretty sure make you sound insane but you really want to know the answer to. This is the place to ask them!

 

And in order to provide the community aspect that so many new moms crave I am capping the community to 500 members. Yup, 500. I want the moms in this community to really get to know one another and support each other in their parenting journey. And for that to happen the community can’t get too large. Your voice is important and should be heard.

Moms, it’s time to put your needs first. The Selfies to Selfless Membership Community is here to get your #momlife back on track! If you haven’t found your tribe yet, join in. I can’t wait for you to check it out!

Crazy Skills Your Baby Learns While in the Womb
Baby, Guest Posts, Parenting Tips

Guest Post-Surprising Skills Your Baby Learns in the Womb

Marie Louise MaternityToday on the blog is a guest post by Marie Louise, a senior midwife in the U.K. At the age of 21 Marie was one of the youngest midwifes ever in the U.K.! Now, with almost a decade of experience, Marie shares her knowledge and expertise over on Marie Louise Maternity. She has also created an eco-friendly changing bag filled with all the necessities a new mom needs. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook for some amazing pregnancy tips and advice!

Early on in my Midwifery training, I was surprised to learn just how rich a learning environment your womb provides for your baby throughout pregnancy. Your baby’s health and wellbeing throughout life is crucially affected during your pregnancy. Your baby begins to learn about the outside world even before they are born. Even in the womb they are already being influenced by you and the particular world you live in.

As early as 16 weeks, your baby will learn the sound of your voice and is able to recognise this before anybody else’s voice.Want to know what your baby is learning while they are still in the womb? It's amazing! Other sounds need to go through your abdominal muscles, tissue and the amniotic fluid and will probably sound muted or muffled. Your voice and sound vibrations in general, are easier to hear due to the close proximity. And because your baby is with you all the time he/she will hear your voice a lot. Once your baby is born he/she will not only recognise, but prefer the sound of your voice over anyone else’s.

Credible experiments conducted confirm this by noting babies sucking motions. Babies will suck slower when they are interested in something and suck quickly if they are bored or uninterested and research showed new-borns show most interest in their mother’s voice. In 2010 a study illustrated that your baby will cry in your native language to communicate more effectively. French babies cry on a rising note and German babies cry on a falling note which imitates the language. From birth your baby will be communicating specifically with you and learning how to communicate in your native language. 

It doesn’t stop there, by 32 weeks your baby’s taste buds are fully developed and the flavours of what you eat find their way into the amniotic fluid which is swallowed by your baby. Research shows that babies up to 6 months prefer these tastes outside the womb. Your baby is being taught by you what is safe and good to eat and the culture your baby will be joining through food. 

Grab your copy of my MUST HAVVES for new(ish) moms

Your 9 month long process of moulding and shaping your baby ready for life outside the womb is complex. The daily tasks, food you eat, drinks you consume, air you breathe, chemicals you are exposed to and even the emotions you feel are shared in some way with your baby. Your baby treats these exposures as information and 

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he/she process’ it. Your diet and stress levels provide important clues to your baby in preparation for life outside the womb. They tweak your baby’s brain and other organs giving us as humans the ability to thrive in anarray of environments from deserts to Iceland. Mother nature knows what she’s doing and so does your incredible body. 

Learning is one of life’s most essential activities and it begins during your pregnancy. You are the best teacher, you are the first teacher. Don’t forget it!

And since you are preparing yourself for the craziness of motherhood, let me make it just a little bit easier for you. I’ve put together the MUST HAVES for every new(ish) mom. One of them saved my sanity during the newborn years. 

Baby, Parenting Tips

5 Breastfeeding Tips for Working Moms

Heading back to work after having a baby? These 5 breastfeeding tips for working moms will help!Returning to work after having a baby isn’t easy. The decision to go back may be weighing heavily on you. Or you may be counting down the days until you have some adult interaction again and hot lunch to enjoy. No matter how you may feel about the transition, if you are breastfeeding it can be a challenge.

That black bag containing your tit torture device (ok, breast pump) will be attached to your hip for the foreseeable future. And there’s a lot that goes in to being a breastfeeding working mom. It takes dedication, grace, and some luck to manage it.

Here are 5 breastfeeding tips for working moms to help you out!
 

  1. Know your rights
    It may be a good idea to have a discussion with your employer about your rights as a breastfeeding mom before you leave to have your baby. The Break Time For Nursing Mothers law, passed in 2010, requires U.S. employers to provide a private place (that is not a bathroom) for a mother to pump breast milk during the day, for one year after the child’s birth. The law also requires providing moms with reasonable pumping time, recognizing that each mom pumps at a different pace and times may vary. The law does not require these breaks to be paid unless you are utilizing any paid breaks you already had during your day. This law covers nonexempt (hourly) employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
     
    Currently, salaried employees are not covered under this law but the Supporting Working Moms Act is hoping to expand the coverage. Your individual state may also have laws that cover you if you are a salaried employee. It’s always good to know your rights before coming back so everyone is on the same page and you feel comfortable pumping at work.
  2. Location, Location, Location
    As they say, location is everything. If you can, become familiar with the area you will be pumping in whenSearching for your perfect mom community? you return to work. The type of room that employers dedicate to breastfeeding moms vary greatly. Some are amazing and pay special attention to the needs of working moms by providing a serene getaway. Others are pretty much a closet. Some places will have sinks readily available to wash your pumping parts out, others won’t. Some will have super comfy chairs perfect for pumping. Others won’t. Some will have fridges to store your milk. Other’s won’t.Getting to know the space you will be pumping in will help you figure out what you need to bring with you to be comfortable and efficient with your pumping sessions.
     
  3. Meeting reminder: Pump, Pump, Pump it up
    Can we just agree that numero uno on your list of things to avoid as a breastfeeding mom is engorged ta-tas? Nothing is more painful than the pulsing heat of rage that your boobs emit when you miss a feeding or pumping session. To avoid the pain (and tears) set a calendar reminder at the right intervals so you remember to pump. Once you get back in the swing of work duties you may forget that morning pumping session and then pay the price in the afternoon. Do yourself a favor and set a reminder!Pumping Must Haves 
  4. Double bag it
    You’ve heard the term “liquid gold” in reference to pumped milk, right? That’s because you’ve worked your ASS off to express that boob juice and you don’t want to see a single drop go to waste. Here are some ways to ensure every bit of your hard work sees the bottom of your tiny human’s belly:
     
    Whether you store your expressed milk in bottles or bags while at work, ALWAYS put them in an extra ziploc bag during the day. No matter how well you seal the bottle or bag, inevitably you will get home one day and find that the breast milk spilled in your cooler. And you will cry. And moms everywhere will hear your tears and share your pain. Double bagging will ensure you have a back up plan.
     
    If you freeze your expressed milk, store them in smaller quantities. This way, when you thaw them you will be sure that your child drinks all of it and you won’t end up wasting any during a feeding.
     
    Bring spare pumping parts to store in your desk at work. The last thing you need is to see your pumping reminder pop up and realize you forgot to bring the clean parts of your pump back in to your tote. Engorged boobs commence!
  5. Have boobs, will travel 
    Depending on the type of job you have, you may be required to travel while you are still breastfeeding. This presents a whole new set of challenges. One is finding a clean place to pump on the go. Airports are starting to implement dedicated pumping locations but they aren’t all quite there yet.Mamava is on a mission to help breastfeeding mamas on the go But one company is on a mission to give breastfeeding moms on the go more support.
     
    Mamava is an incredible company that has created freestanding lactation suites that can be placed in high traffic areas. Moms can take advantage of these suites while on the go at airports, convention centers, large events, universities, zoos, museums, community centers and more! 
     
    They have an app you can download that shows all of their suite locations to see if one is near where you will be. You can also unlock the suite right from your phone! These pods come equipped with an AC and USB power outlet so not only can you power your pump but you can charge your phone too! So if you are traveling for work, or are just out an about with your family and you need to make a breastfeeding or pumping stop, find your nearest Mamava! And if your employer’s version of a private pumping room totally sucks, tell them about buying a Mamava suite!

These tips will help transition you to a successful pumping campaign so your little one can keep benefitting from the awesome sauce nature has provided. It doesn’t matter if you pump for one year, or one day, you are a bad ass mom for taking on the pumping-at-work challenge! 

 

Pumping Must Haves for Working MomsIf you want to know about all the gear you will need while pumping at work, check out my guide to pumping at work where I share those MUST HAVES. It can be overwhelming to figure out what to shove in your tote each day so I’m breaking it down for you!

 

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What you really need to pack in your hospital bag
Baby, Parenting Tips

What You REALLY Need to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Not sure what to pack? Here's what you REALLY need to pack in your hospital bagIf you are a soon-to-be-mamma then you are probably wondering what the hell to pack in your hospital bag. Having a baby is no vacation, but there are some comforts of home you may want to bring with you. I remember scrolling through Pinterest and seeing these lists that were a mile long and thinking that seemed a little unrealistic. 

I’m pretty sure rolling in with two large pieces of luggage plus a carry-on would quickly put me in the high-maintenance mom club. Not how I wanted to start things off with my nurses who I wanted by my side from the get-go (I even brought them cookies!). For my first kid I overpacked slightly and for my second I had it down to a science. 

I want to share with you the 15 items you REALLY need to pack in your hospital bag so you don’t feel overwhelmed by those ‘ultimate checklists’ that have 50 items included. 

  1. Robe(s)-Hospital rooms are notorious for running hot and cold. So bring a robe that is comfy and opens easily in the front to help with the temperature changes. I would bring two because you may bleed through the first one. Yup, having a baby is awesome.
  2. Socks-Some like the hospital socks they give you, others not so much. 
  3. Nursing tanks OR nursing bra-You don’t need both. You are only there for a short time. So which ever one you are more comfortable in, roll with that. 
  4. Comfy pants/shorts-Bring some bottoms that are easy on and easy off. Lightweight and flow is what you are after here.
  5. Change-You never know if you may need some spare change for snacks or parking. Bring a ziplock bag with some quarters just in case.
  6. Phone/iPad/tablet/other-Anything you need to keep yourself entertained and to let others know when your bundle of joy arrives.
  7. Electronics Charger- Dead electronics are useless. Bring those chargers!Searching for your perfect mom community?
  8. Boppy-A nursing pillow is really helpful because you are recovering from a major health event. You want to be as comfortable as possible while holding and nursing your baby.
  9. Easy shoes-Bring flip flops or slippers. You may have some kankle action going on postpartum so you don’t want to try and squeeze your sausages in to normal shoes. 
  10. 2 outfits for baby-Don’t go overboard. You aren’t there for very long and a ton of your time with your baby will be spent skin to skin or bundled up in a blanket. Have a few outfits set aside and be done with it. All the other stuff for baby can stay home.
  11. Your own pillow-Catching some zzzzzs will be super important after having your baby. Being as comfortable as possible is key and bringing your own pillow will go a long way.
  12. Comfy going home outfit for you-If your weather allows, rock a maxi dress to head out. Otherwise set aside something comfy for you to head home in.
  13. Toiletries-This includes your makeup/brush/toothbrush/toothpaste/shampoo/dry shampoo/deoderant/hair tie/lip balm.
  14. Car seat-This may be a no-brainer but you would be surprised at how many new parents forget to bring the car seat!
  15. Snacks-Vending machines suck, so pack a few snack items to get you through the labor.

BONUS ITEM: Treats for the nurses go a long way. They love a little pick me up so bringing them something unexpected is a nice thing to do. Don’t go crazy, but cookies or sweet treats will start your stay off right. A little bribery never hurt anyone! Plus, they deserve it after putting up with the crazy lady during labor. 

Grab your copy of my MUST HAVVES for new(ish) moms

Here are some items that you don’t need to bring with you.

  1. Underwear-ok ladies, if I’m the first to drop this bomb on you I’m sorry. But you will not be leaving the hospital in your own cute undies. You’ll be leaving in mesh netting granny panties complete with a massive pad. Yup, you’ll basically be in an adult diaper when you roll out of the hospital. In fact, you should stock up on as many pairs of the mesh undies as you can grab while in the hospital. They are awesome. Unsightly, but awesome.
  2. Diapers/wipes/pacifiers-The hospital will provide you plenty of diapers for your little one. No need to bring your own.
  3. Breast pump-Your milk will not have come in enough to start pumping yet. And the hospital may provide one for you anyway! Check with your hospital to see.

Alright ladies, what did I leave off? What are some of your must haves that didn’t make the cut??

And since you are preparing yourself for the craziness of motherhood, let me make it just a little bit easier for you. I’ve put together the MUST HAVES for every new(ish) mom. One of them saved my sanity during the newborn years. 

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5 Signs Your Toddler is Ready To Give Up Their Nap
Parenting Tips, Toddler

5 Signs Your Toddler is Ready to Give Up Their Nap

Is your toddler ready to give up their nap time? Check out these 5 signs to find out!The nap time hustle. It’s for real mamas. Those precious hours that you take advantage of while your toddler is sleeping is PRECIOUS to you. Maybe you get a shower in. Or do the dishes. Or, if the stars align, take a nap yourself. You get accustomed to have some down time during the day so the thought of giving that up is terrifying.

But if you’ve noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to get your toddler down for a nap, or maybe they are only sleeping for a half hour, the idea of nixing the nap may have crossed your mind. Is your toddler ready to give up their nap? 

Here are 5 signs your toddler may be ready to give up their nap:

  1. They play during their naps. If you notice that your little one plays for the majority of their nap time, then it could mean they are ready to cut it out of their daily routine. If your little one plays for the first hour, naps for the next hour, andSearching for your perfect mom community? then you wake them because they are sleeping too late in the day then you may want to consider nixing the nap.
  2. They fight the evening bedtime routine. Now, no kid likes to go to bed, so this alone is not enough to give up the nap. But if your toddler is consistently fighting bed time at night and stays awake for a long time after you put them down, it may be time to give up the nap. Kids should be sleeping 11-12 hours a day total, so use that as your guide. But when a kid doesn’t get to bed until 11 pm, it just sets them up for a rough morning. And you get to pick up the pieces!Did your child give up their nap? Is your sanity in question? Try this quiet time guide or help!
  3. They aren’t asshats when they miss a nap. Nap schedules are great, but sometimes life happens and you just won’t be able to stick to it 100% of the time. If you notice that your toddler isn’t having complete meltdowns when they miss their afternoon nap then that is a sign they no longer need it. But if your toddler is a mess in the evening when they miss their nap, then stick to it! 
  4. Cat naps are nonexistent. Remember how you could almost set your watch to your kid falling asleep in the car? No? Well, they might be ready to give up nap time then. If they are stay awake in the car or on a stroller ride, it could be another sign that nap time may be a thing of the past.
  5. Sleeps better at night when they miss a nap. The next time your toddler misses a nap, try putting them to bed an hour or so earlier than normal. Do they fall asleep quickly and stay asleep? Do they get their full 11 hours of sleep in? Do they wake up rested and in a delightful mood? Ok, that last one is a stretch. But for real, if you test this out and your toddler reacts well to going to bed a little earlier without a nap, then thats a sure sign that naps can go by the wayside.

Is your toddler showing any of these signs? If so, it’s probably time to give up the nap once and for all.

Now, before you say ‘WAIT! I’m not ready for this yet! I need my ME time!’, I totally get it. That’s why I’m hooking you up with my Quiet Time Guide. Use this as a starting point for transitioning your child from nap time to quiet time during the day.

This guide will give you tips and activities that you can have your child do in their room during their normal nap time. This way you still get some mom time and your child still has a chance to rest during the day.

Your sanity may depend on this!

Did your child give up their nap? Is your sanity in question? Try this quiet time guide or help!

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5 Tips to Transition Your Baby Beyond Breastfeeding by Pediatrician Stephanie Dekom
Baby, Guest Posts, Parenting Tips

5 Tips for Transitioning Your Baby Beyond Breastfeeding

Today on the blog pediatrician Stephanie Dekom of @mommyhotline is sharing her tips for transitioning your baby from the breast.

5 Tips to Transition Your Baby Beyond Breastfeeding from a pediatrician!One question that often comes up in the office is the idea of transitioning baby from the breast. To begin, I want to make it clear—mommy decides when she is ready to wean her baby from the breast. The timing of this transition will be different for each mother and her child, and that is perfectly alright.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast feeding until six months of age, and, ideally, continuation for a year and beyond depending on maternal wishes. Any period of breast-feeding is useful; the milk is not only incredibly nutritious, but functions in some ways like a medication. By six months, most babies are developmentally coordinated enough to begin eating solid foods. 

Here are 5 tips for transitioning your baby beyond breastfeeding:

  • Start the introduction of a sippy cup for drinking at about 6 months of age. Plan to have baby weaned from the bottle to a regular open lid cup by 12 to 14 months.  Drinking from a bottle beyond this age will affect tooth development and positioning.  
  • Your baby should not have water until six months of age.  However, even beyond six months of age and up to one year, water should be used to supplement your infant’s hydration only during hot weather.  Water is nutrition-less, and your baby needs to be taking in calories that are essential to growth and development.  Searching for your perfect mom community?
  • You can introduce your baby to cow’s milk after his or her first birthday.  Cow’s milk prior to the first birthday may lead to the development of milk protein allergy.  Some moms want to use soy milk or goat’s milk, which are acceptable alternatives, but mommies should be aware that goat’s milk has minimal vitamin B12 and soy milk must be fortified with vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin A.  
  • I want to touch on fruit juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no fruit juice before age one. My professional opinion regarding fruit juices is that they should be avoided by all age groups. They are calorically dense with carbohydrates and sugars and provide little nutritional value. I would much prefer my pediatric patients (and their mommies) eat fruit and have a separate liquid for hydration.  
  • Finally, the transition to solid food means your baby also has teeth. It is very important to start wiping or brushing baby’s teeth in the morning and night. Good oral hygiene starts very early, and cavities can begin to form as soon as teeth break through the gums.  

Parenthood can be daunting.  Your life changes in a flash.  Suddenly, you are responsible for another life—a life you cherish, in many ways, more than your own.  The challenges of parenthood can seem overwhelming.  As a pediatrician, I understand that and want to help make the process easier.  

Grab your copy of my MUST HAVVES for new(ish) moms

That’s why I started my Instagram account, @mommyhotline.  My goal is to create an online resource for parents.  I will be posting a tip or two a day regarding general pediatric care.  Additionally, I hope to grow followers and eventually engage and take questions.  My aim is not only to provide general pediatric knowledge, but to also address those burning questions you have that you are too afraid to ask in the office.

Guest Post from Pediatrician Stephanie DekomStephanie Dekom, MD is a board-certified pediatrician located in Los Angeles.  She studied in Washington, DC at The George Washington University School of Medicine.  During medical school, Stephanie took a one year leave of absence after she won the title of Miss District of Columbia 2010, and subsequently competed in the Miss America Pageant.  After obtaining her medical degree in 2013, she subsequently went on to train in General Pediatrics at UCLA.  She is currently a fellow at Los Angeles County & University of Southern California medical center and The Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles when she is further subspecializing in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. 

Being a new(ish) mom is hard AF, but I’m going to make it a little bit easier for you! Grab your copy of my MUST HAVES that will save your sanity! (one item I still use every day!)

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5 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt
Parenting Tips

Five Tips to Overcome Self-Doubt as a Mom

5 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt as a MomHave you ever stopped to think about how many decisions you make in a day mama? Nah, no time for that. Well, I can do the math for you. It’s a shit ton. Some decisions are easy to make and run on autopilot, others aren’t so easy. And that’s where self-doubt can creep in.

Even decisions that seem like they would be a piece of cake can turn on a dime. Picking out a sippy cup should be painless, right? Scroll on Amazon for one minute and you’ll realize quickly that’s not the case. Now take in to consideration your mom friend who swears by a certain brand of cup, but the Insta-famous mom you follow says she would never recommend it. It’s enough to make you give up an let your child drink out of bottle until they are 16. 

These little every day decisions can wreak havoc on the confidence of a mom. If you can’t even pick the right sippy cup, how the hell are you supposed to make BIG decisions for your family? 

Don’t worry mama, I’m here to help. Here are my five tips to overcome self-doubt.

  1. Trust your mama gut. No, not the love handles left over from your pregnancy bod, your gut. Your ‘second brain’. You’ve heard the phrase ‘trust your gut’, right? It’s a common phrase to use as encouragement to make a decision. It implies that you inherently know the right path to be taking and if you simply listen to yourself you’ll have your answer. I always thought there might be something to it, if not just strong coincidence.And it turns out there’s some truth, and biology, to it. Your gut is often called the ‘second brain’ because of the gazillions (super scientific term) of neurons that run from there to your brain. This network of neurons is as complicated as those found in our spinal cord. For real, your gut knows a thing or two. The cells in your gut can think and can even remember things!And I think mamas need to tap in to their gut more! If you have a hunch, an inkling, a feeling about Searching for your perfect mom community?something then follow it!
  2. Stand by your decisions. Once you’ve made a decision, no mater how big or small, stand by it. You had your reasons. You trusted your gut. You didn’t just make a decision willy nilly. This can be especially hard to do when outside perspectives come in to the picture.If you’ve ever been out in public with a screaming baby or misbehaving toddler then you know what I’m talking about. You can feel the eyeballs on you as you make that parenting decision on how to handle the situation. Do people think I’m an awful mom for letting my toddler throw a fit in the middle of the checkout aisle because I refuse to give them a candy bar?It doesn’t matter. They don’t have the context behind why you made that decision. But you do. You made the right decision in that moment. Stick with it!
    Grab your copy of my MUST HAVVES for new(ish) moms
  3. Stop apologizing. For real mamas, stop saying sorry. By apologizing for the action or decision you made your brain has permission to treat it like a mistake. It’s ok to love the choices you make. You SHOULD love the choices you make, you made them for a reason! Even if it’s not that same decisions others are making. Sorry, not sorry that your party is in the middle of nap times and we can’t make it. Sorry, not sorry that we will pass on the juice and opt for water. Sorry, not sorry that we did zero organized kids activities this summer and opted for a lazy season.Whatever it is, be confident!
  4. Surround yourself with kick ass moms. You need your mom tribe more than ever right now. And at this stage it can be hard to stay connected. But reaching out to others who are going through what you are can be a game changer in boosting your confidence.Motherhood is a shit show that we are all experiencing so why not commiserate with those who know that best? Plus, you will learn a thing or two from the mamas who have been there, done that. Talk to your mom friends about your doubts and fears. I can guarantee they have had similar thoughts and you can help each other to overcome them.
  5. Let go of what you can’t control. So much of life is outside of our control. Which is hard for a mom. We want the absolute best for our family and want to believe that we can control the outcomes of everything. But we can’t. We can’t control the actions of others. We can’t control the thoughts of others. We can’t control the weather, the traffic, the mood of our toddler…you get the picture.When you start to question your decision, first determine whether you are questioning something that is within your control. If it’s not, let it go. You’ll save yourself so many ‘what-if’ scenarios that just weigh on your confidence.Instead, play to your strengths and the outcomes you CAN control.

In a world of online judgment, mom shaming and choice overload, self-doubt can creep in so easily for a mom. Tapping in to these tips will help you overcome that doubt and be confident in the decisions you are making.

They are the right decisions because you made them! 

What are some ways you’ve overcome doubt as a mom? Let me know!

If you want more amazing tips/strategies/humor delivered straight to you inbox, then sign up for my weekly newsletter! It’s for kick ass moms only and you get a free copy of my MUST HAVES for new(ish) moms.

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If you are exhausted from saying 'NO' all the time and hate when you get angry, check out these 5 strategies to not lose your temper with your kids!
Parenting Tips, Toddler

5 Strategies to Not Lose Your Temper With Your Child

If your kids are pushing your buttons, try these 5 Strategies to Not Lose Your Temper with Your KidsHave you ever noticed that kids seem to be equal parts adorable and asshats? One minute you are doting on them with all the love your heart can muster, and the next they are driving you up the wall with their shenanigans. And sometimes they push you just a little too far and you might lose your cool.

When I get angry and yell at my children it never ends well. They get upset, I get upset, no one benefits from it. So I’ve been actively searching for strategies to keep in my back pocket for those times that I can feel my emotions getting the best of me. 

Check out these 5 strategies to not lose your temper the next time your child is pushing your buttons. 

 

  1. Battle cry
    The parenting war is long, the battles are short and frequent. So choose your battles appropriately. If you don’t, you run the risk of an EXHAUSTING day of saying ‘NO!’ every two minutes. It’s hard to stay positive when every word out of your mouth is negative.If you sense yourself heading to the dark side, ask yourself how many shits you REALLY give about the situation at hand. Stand your ground if you must, but if it’s something that in the grand scheme of things isn’t going to shape your child in to the stand-up citizen you want them to be, then just leave it for another day. Your mental health thanks you.
  2. Baby steps, literally

    When I notice myself creeping towards the edge of losing my shit with my toddlers I usually find that I’m parenting at a distance. I might be giving them directions to do something while I’m in the kitchen. Or I’mSearching for your perfect mom community? trying to get ready in the bathroom while also attempting to settle a dispute that is happening in the living room. The tactic isn’t working and everyone is getting pissy.

    Once I realize my distance is doing nothing but cause more frustration, I’ll just take the physical steps to place myself into the situation that needs to be addressed, and kneel down at their level, and suddenly the child’s attention becomes very directed. We can talk about what is happening and ways to resolve the issue.

    If mama bear is out of sight, their behavior is sometimes out of mind. Recognize what situations seem to get you the most frustrated and determine if your physial distance may have something to do it with it. 

  3. ‘Tis the season

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent it’s that nothing stays the same. This goes for the good and the bad. If you feel yourself in a rut with your toddler, just know that it won’t last. It’s hard to remember that when you are on day five of an asshole kid. But it will pass. 

    One day, all too soon, you’ll look back and think of these early days fondly. And the bad times just seem to fade away as your memory gives preference to the good days. Except that time your toddler had a meltdown in Target. That’s one you’ll remember long enough to tell your grandkids about.
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  4. Push the reset button

    If you feel like your temper is getting the best of you more often than usual, it may be time for a reset in terms of behavior expectations with your kids. Poor listening is usually the number one issue in my house and the problem seems to come in waves. 

    When I take a moment to sit my child down and share with him that I’ve noticed he’s had a hard time listening lately he seems to digest that a little bit better than me going with my old stand by of reminding him every two seconds or repeating myself to death. 

    Just like anyone would, a toddler who hears the same charge from you over and over again will eventually tune it out. Which can be a vicious cycle of getting frustrated when behaviors don’t change. Try explaining to them what your expecations are moving forward, and stick to them.

  5. Treat yo self

    This one might be my all-time fave way to keep your sanity with your children. It’s so important to recharge your own battery when you are at your limit. Taking a step away, even if it means spending 30 minutes alone in the bathroom, can be a game changer.

    For me, even a Target run (by myself!) is enough to fuel me for days. You’ll actually miss your kids again! And when you return, all of their shenanigans suddenly seem cute again.

  6. BONUS TIP! Check out my genius hack I stumbled upon that I use often when I’m trying to cut the tension with my little ones. (HINT: the tickle monster makes an appearance)

Give some of these tips a try the next time you find yourself losing your cool with your kids. Let me know which ones worked, which ones didn’t, and any new ones you come up with! 

And remember that you are doing AMAZING mama! The fact that you are even reading this means you care so much about your little ones. YOU GOT THIS!

If you want more amazing tips/strategies/humor delivered straight to you inbox, then sign up for my weekly newsletter! It’s for kick ass moms only and you get a free copy of my MUST HAVES for new(ish) moms.

 

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