Things You Must Have in Your Diaper Bag

As a new parent, you’re probably constantly worried about whether you have everything you need.  Many new parents will leave the house with a bag overflowing with “Just in Case” items.  But, when it all comes down to it, here is a list of the things you will REALLY need.

1. Diapers

You never know when a blowout will happen.  If your baby is brand new, plan for a diaper every half hour to an hour.  If your child is older, plan for a diaper change every hour to two hours.  If you cloth diaper, an extra pre-fold diaper is a wonderful thing to keep in your diaper bag as it can do double duty for a burp rag!

2. Wipes

If there is one thing you can’t have enough of, it’s wipes.  From little spit-ups to quick face clean-ups, wipes are essential for every adventure.  Wipes are even good to have for parents, too!

3. Extra Pacifier

If you child uses a pacifier, always keep a few extra handy in the diaper bag.  After sanitizing, wrap them in plastic wrap or keep in a small bag.

4. Extra clothes

You should always keep an extra set of clothes in your bag.  Be sure to change out this outfit when the seasons change so you’re not caught in cold weather with a short-sleeved onesie. Don’t forget socks!

5. Food

Whether it’s extra frozen breast milk, formula, or a pack of crackers, it’s always a good idea to have extra snacks on hand.  Many companies offer shelf-stable milk as well, which could come in handy. 

6. Nursing Pads

If you recently had a child, or if you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to have extra nursing pads on hand.  These absorbent wonders can also do double duty as quick spill cleanup! 

7. Identification/Emergency Information

Emergencies happen when you least expect them.  Always have emergency contact information on paper in your diaper bag, along with your child’s information such as name, address, phone number, etc.  It’s imperative to have this on paper, since phones can become lost or damage.  There are also companies that make identification for infants, or ID bracelets or badges.  Be sure to note any special medical information on this card.

8. Burp Rags/Swaddles

Burp rags can double as swaddles, and vice versa.  It’s a good idea to have an extra one of these on hands for after feedings, extra warmth, or as an impromptu rag. 

9. Extra Medications

If your child has any special medical needs, be sure to have some extra stashed away in the diaper bag.  It’s a good idea to have a small first-aid kit in your diaper bag with bandages, triple anti-biotic ointment, pain reliever, allergy medicine, or anything else that is medically necessary for your family.

10. Bags

Plastic bags or small bio-degradable bags are a nice thing to have in your diaper bag to contain smelly messes, food wrappers, or other trash that would otherwise find its way into the bottom crevices of your diaper bag.

 

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Getting Your Kids in the Kitchen

With obesity rising at an alarming rate among children in the United States, it’s important that we teach children to cook their own food instead of grabbing for an easy packaged snack. Imparting the knowledge of food and culinary skills should start from an early age, when children are still developing their tastes and are more open to trying different foods.

Colors, tastes, and personalities flourish in the kitchen. There is no other place in the house where more things are created and enjoyed. Many unforgettable memories are made while helping mom or dad in the kitchen cooking meals for the family to enjoy. Here are a few tips on helping getting your children involved in the kitchen:

1. Find ways for your kids to help

There are many age-appropriate tasks for kids. While your child may not be old enough to chop veggies, they can probably help add liquids into cool pots prior to heating, mix together dry ingredients, or do taste tests of dishes along the way. Even small toddlers can be involved by giving them a few bowls and spoons!

2. Get them familiar with kitchen tools

Purchase a few kid sized kitchen items like small cutting boards, graters, and age-appropriate knives and scissors. Teach them how to use these tools correctly, and encourage them to put them to use! Offer kids vegetables to cut, and cheese to grate. Encourage them to try the foods they are working with.

3. Encourage and Supervise

Kids become enthusiastic when encouraged. Make sure to offer positive feedback while they are working in the kitchen. If they are chopping vegetables, don’t take them and re-chop them, just dump them in. Cooking with kids isn’t about perfection: it’s about enjoyment! Additionally, always keep an eye on your children in the kitchen.

4. Let them create

Many children will start creating their own dishes and recipes-encourage it! You’d be surprised at the delicious combinations your children come up with. When you grocery shop, let the child choose a few ingredients with which to create their own dish.

5. Teach kitchen rules

Simple rules like not touching a hot stove, or washing hands before and after cooking are important rules to implement while teaching kids to cook.

6. Make clean-up fun

Cleaning up the kitchen may not seem like fun, but as a child it can be a game! Set a timer for 5 minutes and see how many items you can wash or put away. You can also set a low stool up by the sink so the children can help with dishes. Also, to make clean up easier, lay out newspaper around the child’s workstation so small piles are easily taken care of.

Encouraging kids to be involved in the food preparation process is an important step in creating healthy eating habits in children. Following these few steps can help make meal preparation fun and interesting for the whole family.

Fall Crafts for Kids

With chilly winds and cool days, many parents will be keeping their toddlers inside more often than during the pleasant warmth of summer.  Making a few fun crafts with your kids to pass the time will not only give you something to display and enjoy, but will help foster and encourage your children’s creativity.

Painting and coloring is fun, but consider using some of fall’s bounty in your crafting.  Paint leaves and press them onto papers.  You can do the same thing with gourds, acorns, or dried ears of corn.

Try laying a white piece of paper over a few leaves.  Unwrap a few crayons, and let your toddler roll the crayon over the leaves. The crayons will create a silhouette of the leaf on the page.

If fall items are hard to come by, consider using flowers, or even small toys like play cars.  Dip them in the paint and have the child run the cars over the paper to see the marks the tire treads leave behind.

Contact paper is another must-have for toddler crafts.  Cut out a square of contact paper, lay leaves down on the sticky side, and put another square of craft paper sticky-side down on top.  This will sandwich the leaves between the contact paper, creating a perfect hanging leaf picture or piece for framing.

Marble painting is another fun craft.  Lay construction paper down in a baking sheet or pan, and dip some marbles into paint.  Drop the marbles onto the paper in the pan, and let the children shake the pan to create marble art.

If it’s a nice fall day, venture outside to make some fun artwork.  Use sidewalk chalk to draw some fun shapes onto your driveway or sidewalk.

A nature walk is another wonderful activity for a nice fall day.  Using binoculars and a bug catcher (if you have one) try to identify different types of insects or bugs.

Since fall is a major time of activity for birds, consider making some bird feeders.  Simply take a pinecone, slather it in peanut butter, and roll it in birdseed.

Another good investment for fall crafts is a plastic craft-pumpkin.  These hollow pumpkins can be painted with washable paint, then cleaned and re-used.

Parents can also get a huge kick out of creating keepsakes.  Items like a handprint wreath are easy, cheap, and fun.  Simply trace around your child’s hand on different colors of construction paper, cut, and affix to a wreath form.  Creating a turkey handprint is another fun fall idea.  Trace your child’s hand out, and use the thumb as the head of the turkey, and the other four fingers as the feathers.

There are many fun fall-themed ideas to keep your child entertained and exploring.

 

Indoor Summer Fun Ideas

 School’s out, and the heat is on.  While going to a park every day may seem like fun, it can quickly become dangerous in the oppressive summer heat.  Parents around the world are faced with a challenge during the summer: How to I keep my child entertained indoors this summer?

From crafts to games, there are many activities to plan in order to keep kids entertained and learning as the summer days count down to the beginning of school.  Here are a few ideas:

1. Indoor Picnic/Camping

Instead of battling bugs and cumbersome tents, create a campground in the house.  Use blankets and chairs to make tents.  Use flashlights, cook on the grill, and make smores.  If a picnic is simpler, lay a blanket down and have a picnic lunch.

2. Creative Play

If it’s too hot outside to play, set aside some time to express everyone’s creativity.  Make play dough or play dress up.  Put on a play or short show.  Sing some karaoke using online videos as the backup music.  There are many fun recipes online to use to make fun sensory play items.  Learn fractions through recipes, along with teaching about the reactions that occur when cooking and creating.

3. Learn

To reinforce school-year learning, take a few of the children’s tests and create some trivia!  Have a prize for the winner, and host a trivia night.  Invite over the children’s friends to take part as well!

4. Play Games

If your children enjoy games, get them out of the closet and use them!  Board game rules can easily be modified to accommodate younger players.  Playing cards can even be used.  You can also make your own board game using facts and lessons that the child learned throughout the school year.

5. Go on a Treasure Hunt

Hide a prize somewhere in the house, and use clues on sticky notes or flashcards to direct the children throughout the house.  This isn’t just fun, but helps children practice critical thinking, reading comprehension, and reading skills.

6. Preserve the Outdoors

If your children love the outdoors, think of creative ways to bring the outdoors in.  Use leaves, pinecones, or other items as stamps.  Dip them in paint to create beautiful nature paintings.  Pick some flowers, line with paper, and insert in books to create beautiful dried, pressed flowers.

7. Make Summer Crafts

Craft stores and dollar stores always stock small craft kits that take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.  This includes making decorated visors, beaded necklaces, or small hanging window décor.  When it’s too hot or raining to play outside, use this time to create some fun crafts with your children.

Summertime opens up a world of activities for kids, but when you’re trapped indoors, using your time to create lasting memories with your children is a valuable way to spend the afternoon.

 

 

Benefits of Babywearing

Babywearing is becoming a trend seen everywhere you go; shopping malls, grocery stores, and parks.  Many new parents and expectant couples are curious about the practice, and once they research it, many will choose to embrace babywearing, as it’s better for the baby, better for the mother, and easier on everyone!

Dr. Sears reports that in 1986, a team of pediatricians in Montreal did a study on ninety-nine mother-infant pairs. The first group of parents were given a baby carrier and were required to carry their babies for at least three hours a day. In the control group, parents were not given any specific instructions about carrying. After six weeks, the infants who were in the carried group cried and fussed 43 percent less than the non-carried group.

There are many types of baby carriers.  Sling carriers, wraps, or backpack style carriers.  Whichever carrier is chosen, using it quickly becomes the favorite way to carry the baby-dads included!

Babywearing has been around for ages; even today, cultures around the world employ baby carrying as the norm.  From infancy, babywearing has benefits we’re still discovering today.

Babies are incredibly observant from the start.  Babywearing allows the child to take in the outside world from the comfort of its mother’s chest.  This proximity lets the child experience things without being fearful.  While being worn, the baby observes conversations, hears your voice, and sees things from an open perspective-not face to the sky laying in a car seat.  Putting a child in a wrap will also remind them of being in the womb, which is proven to help calm fussy babies.  The movement the infant experiences while the mother walks, the heartbeat, and body sounds are all still present when a baby is being worn, allowing the infant to adjust to their outside environment while still experiencing the comfort of the womb.

Babies who are carried are also able to learn more through observation.  In the safe environment of the baby carrier, infants are able to take in the environment around them, and observe the parent from a first-hand view.  Infants will spend the first few months of life worn facing in, allowing them to selectively block out stimuli.

Babywearing helps regulate the baby’s body temperature and respiration rate.  Studies are also beginning to show that babies who have been worn are more independent than their non-carried counterparts.  Babywearing leads to more content, smarter, independent children.

For parents, the benefits are immense.  Babywearing enables the parent to perform tasks with both hands free.  It also allows the parents to keep the child close to them, discouraging strangers from touching the child.  Strollers are bulky and inconvenient, but baby carriers fit in small bags-even a diaper bag!

Going to a grocery store or a hike is much easier when a parent chooses to wear their baby instead of using a stroller or carrying a car seat.

Keeping the baby close to mother is also shown to decrease the instance and severity of post-partum depression.

Having the father wear the baby is a wonderful way to solidify the father-child bond.

Babywearing is the best choice for both parents and babies-and the benefits are incredible!

Babywearing is becoming a trend seen everywhere you go; shopping malls, grocery stores, and parks.  Many new parents and expectant couples are curious about the practice, and once they research it, many will choose to embrace babywearing, as it’s better for the baby, better for the mother, and easier on everyone!

Dr. Sears reports that in 1986, a team of pediatricians in Montreal did a study on ninety-nine mother-infant pairs. The first group of parents were given a baby carrier and were required to carry their babies for at least three hours a day. In the control group, parents were not given any specific instructions about carrying. After six weeks, the infants who were in the carried group cried and fussed 43 percent less than the non-carried group.

There are many types of baby carriers.  Sling carriers, wraps, or backpack style carriers.  Whichever carrier is chosen, using it quickly becomes the favorite way to carry the baby-dads included!

Babywearing has been around for ages; even today, cultures around the world employ baby carrying as the norm.  From infancy, babywearing has benefits we’re still discovering today.

Babies are incredibly observant from the start.  Babywearing allows the child to take in the outside world from the comfort of its mother’s chest.  This proximity lets the child experience things without being fearful.  While being worn, the baby observes conversations, hears your voice, and sees things from an open perspective-not face to the sky laying in a car seat.  Putting a child in a wrap will also remind them of being in the womb, which is proven to help calm fussy babies.  The movement the infant experiences while the mother walks, the heartbeat, and body sounds are all still present when a baby is being worn, allowing the infant to adjust to their outside environment while still experiencing the comfort of the womb.

Babies who are carried are also able to learn more through observation.  In the safe environment of the baby carrier, infants are able to take in the environment around them, and observe the parent from a first-hand view.  Infants will spend the first few months of life worn facing in, allowing them to selectively block out stimuli.

Babywearing helps regulate the baby’s body temperature and respiration rate.  Studies are also beginning to show that babies who have been worn are more independent than their non-carried counterparts.  Babywearing leads to more content, smarter, independent children.

For parents, the benefits are immense.  Babywearing enables the parent to perform tasks with both hands free.  It also allows the parents to keep the child close to them, discouraging strangers from touching the child.  Strollers are bulky and inconvenient, but baby carriers fit in small bags-even a diaper bag!

Going to a grocery store or a hike is much easier when a parent chooses to wear their baby instead of using a stroller or carrying a car seat.

Keeping the baby close to mother is also shown to decrease the instance and severity of post-partum depression.

Having the father wear the baby is a wonderful way to solidify the father-child bond.

Babywearing is the best choice for both parents and babies-and the benefits are incredible!

Getting Your Pet Used to a New Baby

Bringing a new baby home may be one of the most exciting times of your life: making sure everything is baby-proofed, the nursery is clean, and finally getting some alone time with your baby.  Many times, however, people overlook the process of acclimating their pets to a new addition.  When introducing a new baby to your pets, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, before baby comes home, let your pets go into the nursery and sniff things out.  This is an important factor in letting your pets get used to the sights and smells of the nursery.   Also, your pet is used to being the center of your attention – and a new baby will be taking much of that attention away.  Slowly acclimate your pet to the change by decreasing the amount of time you spend with your pet.  If your pet is more attached to the mother-to-be, encourage other family members to create a bond with the pet.  Dramatically decreasing the time you spend with your pet can cause stress, as the animal will feel its being punished.

Do a trial run with another family that has a baby.  With your friend’s permission, let your pet sniff the baby and remain in the room while the baby plays.  Making the experience calm and fun is important, so the pet learns that being gentle and calm with a baby is the correct behavior.

If your pet is not spayed or neutered, make an appointment with a vet to have this procedure done.  Pets that have been fixed are less likely to show aggression to babies. 

If your pet has behavioral issues, enrolling in a training class is highly recommended.  Pets naturally want to please their owners, and sometimes just a few hints from a certified trainer will help correct any problems.  If you have a cat that likes to jump on the baby’s furniture, installing double stick tape on the edges will discourage jumping.

Before baby arrives, get your pet accustomed to baby-related noises by playing clips of babies crying, using the rocker, and starting the baby swing.  Getting your pet used to as much as possible before your baby arrives is important.

When your baby is born, have a family member or friend take home one of the used blankets for your pet to smell.  Many families will put this blanket in the bed with the pet.  When it’s time to bring baby home, have someone take the new addition into the house, and spend some one on one time with your pet for a few minutes before introducing it to the baby.  When you introduce the pet, be sure to have treats on hand to reward the pet for good behavior.  The main point is to associate the baby and good behavior with rewards.

Most pets will quickly adjust to new family members.  Make sure to spend one-on-one time with your pet after the baby arrives, as this not only helps the pet know that it is still a valued member of the family, but will also help you relax. 

These are just a few suggestions to help introduce your pets to new additions.  There are many resources, including animal behaviorists that can help with further issues.

Creating a Sensory Friendly Room for Your Child

Parents of special needs children are constantly on the look-out for new therapies and new products to help their child succeed-but many neglect to create a space at home for the child to unwind, free of sensory input.  This article will outline ways you can make your child’s room or play room sensory friendly.

It is a known fact that colors influence moods and feelings; in a child with autism or sensory sensitivities, this can be exaggerated.  Avoid primary colors or bright colors for bedroom painting.  Stick with earth tones such as muted or pale blues, light greys, sage greens, or earthy brown tones are best for bedrooms.  Better yet, bring to mind what color your child gravitates toward during their night routine.  Take the same thought to the bedding and furniture.  Avoid busy patterns or bright colors if possible.

For the playroom, avoid neon colors or bright oversaturated colors, but primary colors are a wonderful choice to encourage activity and thought.

If your child has sensory issues, let them pick out flooring or a rug that they are comfortable with.  Carpet can cause sensory overload.  Again, try to avoid busy patterns or colors.  If carpet proves to be uncomfortable, try wood or laminate, and use a blanket as a rug.  Just make sure to secure the blanket to the floor with skid-proof tape.  The same principal applies to curtains: try to purchase simple curtains, as ruffles can cause issues in children with autism or sensory issues.  For the play room, however, you can incorporate bright colors and curtains without a problem.

Remove clutter from the room, as disorganization can quickly lead to sensory overload.  Choose a few of your child’s favorite items, and display them.  Bookshelves are also wonderful places to put soothing items.  Relocate the remaining toys into the play room.

Media should not be in the bedroom, as it can cause too much stimulation during night time hours.  If media is necessary, be sure they are all easily turned off.  Avoid putting exciting pictures or caricatures on the walls; opt for happy moments of your child or family pictures.

In the play room, you should try to avoid harsh whites whenever possible.  Opt for off-whites or eggshell colors.  Invest in clear storage totes that are clearly labeled to encourage speech and interaction.   Crash mats are a wise investment, and they can be hidden behind couches or in closets.   Another wonderful therapeutic idea is a small trampoline or a hammock chair.  Some parents prefer beanbag chairs.  Try to avoid many harsh corners, as therapy and activity time can get wild.

Since this play room should be available for other uses, cleaning out a closet for easy storage can help ease transitions.

Sensory challenged children are bombarded by input constantly-whether within the home, or outside.  Giving them a clean, organized space to play and to sleep is an incredibly thoughtful way to help ease their most common stressors.

Animals and Autism: A Ray Of Hope

It’s common knowledge that the presence of an animal helps calm us; it’s scientifically proven to help lower blood pressure and reduce stress.  But now animals are being used to assist children with autism spectrum disorder and other learning impairments.

A recent study out of Queensland, Australia found that children between the ages of five and thirteen responded better to interaction with their peers when an animal was present vs. when only toys were present.   The results showed that when the children with autism spectrum disorder were in a room with two guinea pigs, the children talked more, made more physical contact, and looked at the faces of other individuals more often than when the animals were absent.  What’s more is that the children showed a reduced instance of crying, frowning, and whining when the animals were in the room as well.

This study goes to show that animals may help children with autism spectrum disorder interact positively with teachers, therapists, and friends. 

A new study by the University of Montreal has shown that when children with autism spend time with specially trained service dogs, their stress levels are reduced.  42 children were involved in the study, and a doctor took saliva samples from the children before, during, and after interaction with a dog.  The test results showed an impressive drop in the stress hormone cortisol during and after interaction with the animal. 

These studies are just glancing the surface of what may be a great tool to help children with disabilities and autism spectrum disorder.  There are currently many animal therapies available for children, including horse therapy, dolphin therapy, and dog therapy; but many are cost-prohibitive.  Parents have been taking the battle to court to allow service dogs to be made available to children with autism and other learning disabilities. 

Many parents who adopted a pet for their special needs child have reported positive changes in the child’s behavior.  Children seem to take an active role in the care and loving of their pet.  This, in turn, lets them easily bond with the animal, showing them a prime example of how to appropriately interact with others.  One such story is the Vacarro family in Manhattan.  They adopted a service dog named Chad for their 11 year old son, Milo.  Milo suffered temper tantrums in public, along with fleeing from social situations.  His mother said that within a week she noticed a huge difference in Milo.  She said, “More and more changes have happened over the months as their bond has grown. He’s much calmer. He can concentrate for much longer periods of time. It’s almost like a cloud has lifted.”  His doctor also reported similar results, saying she not only saw a prominent difference in Milo’s behavior, but noticed that “He started to give me narratives in a way he never did,” noting that many of those narratives centered on Chad.

There is even a foundation to help families find service dogs for their autistic children – the Autism Service Dogs of America. 

While science and federal regulations are slowly catching on to the benefits a service animal has on autistic children, there’s no arguing the fact that animals can help children form bonds, learn responsibility, and give their owners a lifetime of love.

 

Improving Social Skills in Children with Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome can be a challenging, difficult diagnosis to deal with.  While many of the causes behind Asperger Syndrome are unknown, there are many therapies that you can do to increase social success in your child.

Children with Aspergers Syndrome have a difficult time understanding other children’s social interactions.  Interpreting implied sayings and physical gestures can prove to be a challenge.  While there are many therapies that you can involve your child in to assist with the everyday tasks, bringing therapy that you can practice into the home is paramount to success.

While children with Aspergers Syndrome may not have a speech delay, they may have a hard time interacting with others.  This may include difficulty understanding physical cues from others, taking turns in conversation, and branching their knowledge out to subjects they aren’t familiar with.

When you are working with your child on social skills, try to avoid implied sayings.  If your child is old enough, try to educate them on what these sayings mean.  These can be difficult to grasp, as those that suffer from Aspergers tend to have problems understanding non-literal language.

Conversational work will also pay off in the long run.  When conversing with a child with Aspergers, many times they will want to focus on subjects that they know well.  They also may have difficulty knowing when to take a turn in a conversation, or may interrupt to express their views on a subject.  Having a physical item connected to the conversation (Like a toy or ball) is a great way to teach the connection of a turn during a conversation.  The person talking gets the toy.  When their turn is up, or they want feedback, they pass the toy to the other child, and vice versa.  Using a timer may also assist children in knowing when to take turns in a conversation.  When the timer goes off, it is the other person’s turn to weigh in on the conversation.

Since many children with Aspergers have a hard time talking about subjects that they don’t know well, try to give your child information on other subjects to talk about.  This will help them weigh in on conversations they may otherwise miss out on or interrupt in order to speak on something they know.  Magazines, books, and online programs can help familiarize your child with other interests.  This can also teach them the natural progression of a conversation, and that if they wait their turn, they can weigh in on subjects that interest them.

Games may be hard for children with Aspergers as well.  Board games are a wonderful way to encourage interaction as well as taking turns.  Choose a simple game like chess or a card game.

Flash cards with displayed emotions and gestures may also help a child recognize cues that may go unnoticed.  Displeasure, happiness, anger, and sadness are just a few.  You can also use these for gestures like hugs, handshakes, and high fives.

Social skills are essential to a child’s development.  While outside therapy will help, bringing skills and therapy into the home is key to implanting skills and keeping these therapies in practice with your child.