Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baby sign of the week: PUMPKIN

Happy Halloween!

Here's a very brief video of Nate signing PUMPKIN. Click here for the ASL version of PUMPKIN (thump the back of your non-dominant hand with the middle finger on your dominant hand). Nate makes the sign (using an "approximation") by tapping the back of his hand with his finger. It's very common for children to make signs a little differently than the "correct" adult version. Just as with verbal speech, it's important to acknowledge their efforts at communication. Continue to make the sign correctly and with time your baby will likely perform the sign more accurately - especially as their fine motor development improves. 


video


If you are new to baby sign language or want to know more, you should check out my baby sign language page here.  I also recommend Baby Signing 1-2-3: The Easy-to-Use Illustrated Guide for Every Stage and Every Age.

And here are some of my favorite Halloween pictures. I might have to come back later and update this post with pictures from today. I can't wait to see all your Halloween pictures!


A few more...


Friday, October 29, 2010

Mommy Method: Going shopping

Until you have a newborn, I don't think you can really appreciate the complexity and logistics involved in taking your baby on an outing. Here's a typical scenario: You feed your baby, she falls asleep on you, you let her doze a bit before you change her, then you get her dressed, get yourself ready, then oh, what do you know...another poopy diaper.  So you change your baby again and you have approximately twenty minutes to get to the store and back before your baby needs to eat again. Sigh. It's complicated before you even get to the store.

My good friend (a new mom) and I were recently discussing the different methods one can employ once you finally make it to the store. What do you physically do with your infant? She choice to wear her baby in a carrier while she shopped. I think I did that a few times, but my preferred method was popping Nate's infant carrier out of the car seat base and into the Baby Trend Snap N Go Stroller. The big stroller from the stroller systems that most people have (including myself) is just too bulky and heavy for me to take in and out of the trunk one handed. I loved my Snap N Go (you may remember that I included it in my post Five Must Haves for the First Year). I would then hang my reusable tote on my Mommy Hook and put any items I was buying in my bag. (Which reminds me...have you entered my give away for a Mint Lane market tote and snack bag? You can do that here!) But this method doesn't work if you're buying a lot of heavier items, like diapers.

one of my favorite Mint Lane totes!

You can also put the infant carrier into the main area of a shopping cart. Diapers and wipes could then go in the bottom of the cart, leaving the top basket part open for small items. I've seen people balance the infant carrier on top of that small part of a shopping cart, but I wouldn't recommend that. While it leaves the majority of the cart open for your purchases, it just doesn't seem safe to me. Shopping is so much easier now that Nate's older and he can sit in the front of the shopping cart!

Of course another option for shopping is not leaving your home at all. I'm a huge fan of online shopping. I used Fresh Direct for the majority of my groceries when I lived in Brooklyn. The produce and meat were fresher and the price was about the same as going to your local store.  Having groceries delivered definitely beats schlepping heavy bags for ten blocks and then walking up several flights of stairs. Another new mom friend just told me she was going to check out Peapod. I just got a coupon in the mail for $15 off of your first Peapod purchase. I think I'm going to give it a try myself.

Buy Groceries Online
Use Code AFFL3 for $10 OFF First Order through 11/30

Has anyone else used Peapod? What did you think? How did you shop with your newborn?


Are you a breastfeeding mama? You may be interested in my breastfeeding articles HEREEnjoy reading my blog? Help me reach a wider audience about the benefits of baby sign language and non-toxic toys by voting for me below at Top Baby Blogs. Or click the button on the top left to vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs. You can vote daily! Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Those other parents

One aspect of being a new parent that I have found particularly challenging is interacting with other parents. My problem lies in two different areas (1) befriending other parents moms, and (2) regulating play/disciplining.

First, the befriending... Having other mom friends is important to me. I'm lucky enough to have two close by. In addition to the companionship, you need people to bounce stuff off of - behaviors, sicknesses, milestones. But both of my nearby mom friends work part time, so I don't get to see them as often as I would like. Even on non-work days things tend to come up - sicknesses, naps don't line up, zombie attacks. So I'm always on the look out for new mom friends.

But, I'm naturally pretty shy. My friends don't believe me when I say this because I often overcompensate for my shyness by laughing excessively and rambling like a bubble headed maniac. When I meet someone I usually feel awkward and struggle for the right words, with only the wrong ones escaping my lips. Although I have various pieces of paper to prove I am not a complete idiot, I inevitably make myself sound like an airhead or bigot of some kind. This isn't much of a problem when I was in school and meeting people in bars and you know, they were drunk. But now I'm meeting people on the playground. And usually the people I am meeting are not intoxicated.

at our local park

So in addition to my own personal awkwardness, throw into the mix that we don't have any framework for building conversation other than the children at our feet. No common enemy in a professor or boss. No shared experience in a class or meeting. No obvious common interest. I'm okay with the "how old is your child" and "what is your spawn's name?" bit, but beyond that I'm kind of hopeless. If the person doesn't meet me half way...or three quarters, I'll get stuck. And if we do hit it off? In a magic sort of way? Well then Nate will have a meltdown and we'll need to leave immediately. Or Nate will bash that kid in the face. Just kidding...sort of...

Which brings me to my second area. Nate is at an age where he doesn't understand the concept of sharing. And his new favorite thing is hitting and being generally aggressive. So he is an awesome play date. I am trying to teach him to take turns and to be "gentle." I think using baby sign language is helping/will help. He's started to sign GENTLE and I need to learn the sign for taking turns.

Obviously if Nate hits a kid, I need to intervene. But what if he grabs a toy from another child? What if a kid is on a riding toy and Nate tries to take it from him? What if Nate is playing with something and another child grabs it from him? Does the age of the other child matter? Does it depend on how well I know the other parent? What are the rules here? That isn't a rhetorical question. I would love to hear what other parents expect and how much they intervene.

Nate needs to be taught how to play nicely, but I don't want to micro-manage his play either. Just like when I would take Ava to the dog park - I'd prefer to stay out of the children's interactions as much as possible and let them work it out for themselves. But I often fear the other dog owner parent will get upset.  I don't know the rules. A little help?

Are you a breastfeeding mama? You may be interested in my breastfeeding articles HEREEnjoy reading my blog? Help me reach a wider audience about the benefits of baby sign language and non-toxic toys by voting for me below at Top Baby Blogs. Or click the button on the top left to vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs. You can vote daily! Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Not his favorite autumn activity...


Are you a breastfeeding mama? You may be interested in my breastfeeding articles HEREEnjoy reading my blog? Help me reach a wider audience about the benefits of baby sign language and non-toxic toys by voting for me below at Top Baby Blogs. Or click the button on the top left to vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs. You can vote daily! Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Baby Spanx

Nate was a chubster when he was younger, usually weighing somewhere around the 95th percentile as an infant. 

Natey at three months

Since we switched him to a low-fat, low-carb diet (avocado, cheese, rice and beans) he's slimmed down a lot. But back in the day, I would have loved to have known about Baby Spanx. Don't those babies look hot?

Are you a breastfeeding mama? You may be interested in my breastfeeding articles HEREEnjoy reading my blog? Help me reach a wider audience about the benefits of baby sign language and non-toxic toys by voting for me below at Top Baby Blogs. Or click the button on the top left to vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs. You can vote daily!
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Etsy GIVEAWAY: Eco-friendly market tote and snack bag set from Mint Lane

I've been pretty good about using my reusable grocery totes lately. Except...well, I've been using these ugly bright green Stop and Shop totes. They're hideous. It's not so bad when I am shopping at Stop and Shop.  But I also use them at the farmer's market, for Nate's lunch when we're going to be out and for library books. Not cute. And after a few uses they start looking pretty ragged. So I was so excited to find Mint Lane's reusable totes on Etsy. They're collapsible, washable and cute!


I was so excited to get mine to try out so I could ditch the incredible hulk bags. I am in love with it. It's great to look at - adorable, whimsical fabric - roomy and very sturdy. I've taken my tote on two shopping trips and a few outings so far. It fits an unbelievable amount of groceries. I stuffed it full (overflowing!) both times and it was still comfortable over my shoulder. That's a sturdy bag. I need more! Here's Nate helping me unload the groceries:

Mint Lane tote holding $55 worth of Whole Foods groceries

In addition to needing a tote, I've also been meaning to get some reusable snack bags for Nate's lunches. I don't want his food wrapped in plastic and I'm not crazy about wrapping everything in tin foil either. My tin foil saving grandmother would have a heart attack if she knew how much I went through. Not very environmentally conscious of me. Katherine and Mint Lane saved the day again. She has an adorable collection of reusable cotton snack bags. Sweet prints with a big velcro tab, in two different sizes. Great for carrying snacks and sandwiches. You could really use them for anything. Yesterday I even loaded one up with dog treats when I took Ava to the vet. Here's my set:


BUY: You can purchase Katherine's totes, zippered pouches and other goodies at her etsy shop Mint Lane. Katherine is an incredible seamstress. Her work is impeccable and her attention to detail is incredibly impressive. I can't recommend Mint Lane's items enough.

WIN! Katherine is generously offering an eco-friendly grocery/market/everything tote and snack bag combo (winner's choice) to one lucky Nater Tot winner.  

To Enter the Giveaway

MANDATORY ENTRY (You must do this first for the extra entries to count):
Visit Mint Lane and check out Katherine's selection of "handmade goodness to make you smile."  Then leave a comment here with the link to an item you would love to own.  Make sure I have your email as some log-ins are set to "private."

FOR EXTRA ENTRIES (Complete as few or as many of the extra entries as you like, in any order. You must leave a comment here for each extra entry for them to count):
  • Like Mint Lane on Facebook
  • Favorite Mint Lane on Etsy
  • Follow Nater Tot through Google Friend Connect
  • Follow @natertotblog on Twitter
  • Share this giveaway or a Mint Lane item on Facebook (leave the link in the comments - can be shared once a day)
  • Blog about this giveaway (worth 3 extra entries; leave the link in the comments)
  • Visit my Non-Toxic Gift Guide and leave a comment here telling me which toy/product you'd like to give as a gift (worth 3 extra entries)
  • Tweet this giveaway (CAN BE RETWEETED ONCE A DAY – Just leave the link to the tweet itself each day in the comments): #WIN an adorable Eco-Friendly Market Tote/Snack Bag Combo from Mint Lane @natertotblog http://bit.ly/bDcZyY #giveaway ends 11/3.
Each comment left under this post is equal to one entry. One winner will be selected at random using Random.org. Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until November 3, 2010 at 9:00 pm EST. Winner will be informed by email and will have 72 hours to respond with their mailing address. If winner fails to respond within 72 hours a new winner will be chosen at random. Good Luck!

CONTEST IS CLOSED.

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated by Mint Lane for this review. I was given a complimentary tote and set of snack bags for review purposes. All opinions are my own! 

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Safer toy alternative: Plan Toys Walk n Roll

One of my favorite classic children's toys has always been the Fisher-Price Corn Popper Push Toy. All toddlers love pushing it and hearing the popping sounds. It's inexpensive and fun. In fact, I bought it for my nephew a few years ago. But now that I'm aware of the dangers of toxic chemicals in our toys I try to avoid plastic as much as possible. And although Nate loves their toys, I'm also not a fan of Fisher Price (you can read why here) or their millions of toy recalls.

PlanToys Plan Preschool Walk N Roll, Push and PullSo, I've had my eye on Plan Toys Walk N Roll for awhile. I love Plan Toys for their non-toxic, brightly colored wooden toys and their eco-friendly practices. And Nate has loved every Plan Toys toy he has received. But I've been hesitant to buy it since it's at least $30 in most stores and that seems like a lot for one simple toy.

I finally pulled the trigger on buying it recently when I walked into my local giggle for the first time. As an aside, let me just say that I recently discovered giggle online. Walking into their actual store was like walking into my own personal heaven. Brands that I have to seek out online were sitting right in front of me to touch and hold and test out on Nate. And safer brands that I wasn't even aware existed were on the shelves as well. If I could create the perfect baby store, it would be giggle. In addition to all of their fantastic products and beautiful organic clothes they have free weekly events like baby yoga, lactation consultants, nutrititionists, baby signing, etc. I want to live there.

Anyway...I finally pulled the trigger after a giggle toy shopping spree and that "simple" wooden toy is worth EVERY PENNY. Nate loves it. He's not great at entertaining himself, so when he does play alone, those are some precious, precious moments.  This walk and roll toy is perfect for play alone time. Here's Nate this morning:

video
excuse the mess!

I wish I had purchased it sooner! Next on my Plan Toys list is one of the push and pull toys recommended by Liz at From Chalkboards to Strollers. Do you have any Plan Toys? What's your favorite?

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Friday, October 22, 2010

5 Unique (semi) eco-friendly gift ideas for the new mom

Lactation cookies
I wasn't aware lactation cookies existed until a commenter on my examiner.com page mentioned giving them to new moms. I think it's a fantastic idea. Nursing moms need extra calories and if some of the ingredients make you more milky, then that's fantastic. If you want to bake them yourself, check out the recipe on my examiner page here.

But if you're not in a baking mood, you can also find lactation cookies online. I haven't tried them out, but they get great reviews. Check out Yummy Mummy Cookies and milkmakers.

Nursing Necklaces
A newborn baby's innocent little hands wander aimlessly in the beginning, but before you know it they start to pull, pinch and twist poor mommy's boob skin (ooh, great band name, right? Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the stage...BOOB SKIN!). I never got one, but I could have really benefited from a nursing necklace to draw Nate's little fingers away. Mommy Necklaces have a range of chunky necklaces to choose from and test their products to make sure they are lead and phthalate free.

Onesie stickers
Most Facebooking and photo crazy moms like to put a little sign by their baby to mark the milestones. Here's Nate at four months:


But by five months he was eating the sign:


There wasn't much hope for months six and beyond. I really wish I had known about onesie stickers. Picky Sticky, an etsy shop, has a really great selection of number stickers that you slap on the onesie before you take the picture. The stickers are printed digitally, so they won't scratch or come off on your baby.

Kind Signs
Mamabears.com carries non-toxic, silicone little signs that say "Your Germs Are Too Big For Me Please Don't Touch." They're meant to be attached to the stroller or ear of your baby (just kidding) as a reminder to touchy feely stangers to keep their hands to themselves.  Some people think they're obnoxious, but I think they're great.

Strangely, I never had a problem with Mr. McFeelys until recently. But now that Nate's older he has no problem expressing his displeasure when a stranger gets too close. If he doesn't like the look of a person he usually gives them the look of death and tries to throw his cracker at their heads. If he has no cracker, he'll settle for trying to hit the person. Is it bad that I think that's funny?

Car Seat Organizer
I saw this car seat organizer by etsy shop SewnNatural featured on a blog months ago and haven't been able to get it out of my head. It's amazing how much stuff accumulates in the car. When you have a newborn, it's a great place to store extra diapers, wipes, pacifiers and blankets. When your baby is older it's the perfect place for books and toys and snacks.

What's your favorite gift for a new mom? My dear friend and her husband just brought a healthy baby girl into the world. Welcome, Sarah! I can't wait to meet you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baby sign language tip: Easy areas to incorporate sign language

When using sign language with your baby it's best to incorporate signs into all of the conversations you are already having with your little one. The more they see the signs and hear the words, the quicker they will catch on to the meaning. But this can be easier said than done. When Nate was younger I often had a tough time keeping up my end of the conversation. It can be tough to be continually verbal when your conversational partner doesn't talk back. Or respond much in anyway at all.

If the prospect of learning a ton of signs overwhelms you, just pick a few you can will use consistently. Once you know those signs well, add one or two signs at a time. Here are some easy areas to work in a few signs:

Mealtime
Eating time is a great time to use your signs. Great signs to use are: MILK, EAT, MORE and ALL DONE.
Here's Nate at lunch time signing BREAD, CHEESE and PLEASE (he was enjoying homemade pumpkin bread with cream cheese):

video
It looks like someone is prompting Nate off screen, but nobody is there!
He's looking at the pictures on our computer screen saver.

Story time
Learn a couple signs in your baby's favorite story.  Sign while you read. I like to sit Nate on my lap facing me and rest the book against me so my hands are free. Animals are always big hits. DOG, GORILLA and BEAR were the first animal signs that Nate learned. BOOK and MORE can also be incorporated at story time.

Pretend Play
Try teaching SLEEP and TIRED while you put pretend to put your baby's lovey to bed. Nate gets a big kick out this and loves putting a blanket over his stuffed animals.  This is also a good way to teach HURT. You can have a stuffed animal fall down and get a boo-boo.  Then you can sign HURT on the animal's boo-boo. Don't forget to kiss it and make it better!

Outside
Try TREE, BIRD, AIRPLANE and FLOWER. Use the signs on walks or when you're just playing outside.

If you are looking for a book on how to begin using sign language with your baby, I highly recommend Baby Signing 1-2-3: The Easy-to-Use Illustrated Guide for Every Stage and Every Age. Want an online ASL dictionary? Check out http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/general/dictionary/lexicon.htm.

 
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tips on weaning your milkaholic toddler from lactation consultant Beverley Rae; Help a mom in need

Before I get to the weaning tips, I have to share something with all of you other mothers out there. I just learned that a high school friend, Carrie Parrish, has recently been diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. Carrie has two babies at home - Ella (2 1/2 yrs old) and Ava (8 months). You can read her full story here. Please put yourself in her shoes for just a moment. You don't have to know her to appreciate the gravity of the situation. It makes you want to really, really appreciate every day, doesn't it? Now go hug your baby, I'll wait here. (I borrowed this picture from her website without asking. I'm hoping she won't mind. I thought you should see her beautiful girls.)

Carrie, a middle school science teacher for ten years, has medical bills that far exceed the amount covered by insurance. Her friends and family are requesting donations to help her family during their time of need. You can donate via paypal, send a check or grocery store gift card. Click HERE for more info.  Of course prayers and good, healthy, well-wishing vibes are welcome too. 

I know money is tight for most people. But can you imagine if just ten of my readers gave $10? And then you told ten people about this or blogged about and they all gave $10 too? Suddenly it would really start to add up. And then maybe Carrie could worry less about paying her medical bills and buying food for her family and just concentrate fully beating this disease. She needs to remain positive and she needs support.  Here's her website again: http://www.carrieparish.com/

Now onto the weaning...

Mothering Your Nursing Toddler
During the course of writing articles for my examiner.com page I had the opportunity to ask lactation consultant Beverley Rae for some tips on weaning a toddler. She has a lot of great tips. You can read the interview HERE.

She also recommended Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Bumgarner. I definitely am going to check it out, because although I'm not ready to wean Nate yet, I anticipate that it might be a bit of a struggle. He loves his milk!

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Winterizing your baby

Last year around this time, when it started to get chilly, Nate was still a wee infant and I was still very new at this mommy thing. Here are some things I've learned about having a baby in cold weather...

JJ Cole Urban Infant Bundle Me - Stealth
Bundling Blankets
When it got cold I would pile layers of blankets onto Nate's while he was strapped into his infant car seat carrier. They would slip, slide and fall during transit from house to car and from car to destination (usually the doctor's office). My best bud saved the day by telling me about the Bundle Me. Once I knew about the sleeping bag-like lifesaver, I looked around and realized everyone with a baby had one. 

Car Seat Safety
The AAP's guide, Car Safety Seats: Information for Families for 2010,  stresses the importance of keeping harnesses snug against the baby for maximum protection. They offer the following advice:
Q: Can I adjust the straps when my baby is wearing thicker clothing, like in the winter?
A: Yes, but make sure the harnesses are still snug. Also remember to tighten the straps again after the thicker clothes are no longer needed. Dress your baby in thinner layers instead of a bulky coat or snowsuit, and tuck a blanket around your baby over the buckled harness straps if needed.

Grobag Egg Digital Room ThermometerDigital Room Thermometer
When you have a young baby, SIDS can linger in the back of your mind. One of the factors that can contribute to SIDS is overheating. So of course, I was always freaked out that Nate's room was too hot. We have old school radiators and the heat can be difficult to adjust. I really wish I had had one of these Digital Room Thermometers. It sure would have given me some peace of mind...but not more sleep, because that was just never going to happen!


Lavender Fleece Baby Sleep Sack Wearable Blanket, Adjustable Straps, One Size fits Baby 3-9 months-by Baby EmporioSleep Sacks/Wearable Blankets
While I was worried that Nate was too hot at night, I was also worried that he would be too cold. Nate was a large newborn and pretty active in his sleep, so he didn't stay swaddled for long. I initially made fun of these weird looking wearable blankets. But the sleep sacks were a lifesaver. They come in different thicknesses and you can choose between organic and conventional cotton too. My favorite were the Halo Innovations SleepSack Wearable Blankets in Cotton .


Aden & Anais Wraps
Aden & Anais Safari Friends Swaddle Wraps 4 PackI know I have mentioned the Aden & Anais blankets five thousand times (here's one), but I really do use them every day. They are great to drape over your baby to block wind, rain and snow without having to use any icky toxic plastic thing (please excuse the technical jargon).
What's your winter tip? Have a non-toxic lip balm you use to guard against chapped baby lips? A fantastic hat with flaps? Please share!

*     *     *
I keep forgetting to mention that last week Canada officially declared BPA a toxic chemical. Yay, Canada! Here's the Reuters article. A step in the right direction in the fight against the chemical industry.  You can read why my family avoids BPA here.

If you are looking for BPA free baby products visit my Non-Toxic Gift Guide.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Yeah, yeah, yeah - it changes everything...

You know when you're pregnant and everyone tells you how having that baby is going to change your entire life? They say stuff like, "Go out and enjoy life now, because nothing will EVER be the same again! It changes EVERYTHING." And you nod and smile, "oh, I know!" While you think: yeah, yeah, yeah - more responsibility - yadda, yadda. How different could it be? Why are you people trying to fill me with terror?

Well I don't think there is anyway to fully appreciate how it really does change everything until that little bundle of joy comes. Suddenly the center of my world changed from me to this other person. This tiny little thing. And suddenly everyone on the road is driving like a maniac. And everything in my home is toxic, leaching plastic. And I crave the comfort of my family living hours away. And I finally have the motivation to learn sign language. And eat organic! And I am more exhausted, more stressed out than I have been in my entire life. (And that's counting having to study and sit for the NYS Bar Exam - ugh!)

....But? But I'm also hands-down the happiest I've ever been. Seeing that little face, that little smile everyday is worth every missed hour (oh so many missed hours!) of sleep. And seeing the man I married pick up that little guy, throw him over his shoulder - turning smiles into peals of laughter - that is worth every crazy neurotic thought that passes through my head (and so many of those!).   So yeah, yeah, yeah. It does change everything.  And that's more than okay.


Nate's first trip on a train!

How has parenthood changed your life? Did you see it coming?

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