Archives for February 2015

Baby Sign Language

Baby Sign Language

Photo by Lars Plougmann via flickr

Do you ever wonder what’s going on in your baby’s amazing brain?  There are a lot of connections being made constantly during infancy but being able to express them verbally with words is probably a long way off.  Fortunately, there is another fantastic way to communicate with your baby, baby sign language.  It has a lot of benefits for both you and your baby and is growing in popularity as an initial way for your baby to communicate with you, besides crying that is.

Baby sign language uses the same signs as American Sign Language and much of it is rather intuitive.  You may actually know more signs than you realize.  Research indicates that babies may be receptive to signs as early as 4 months, however they cannot manipulate their fingers and hands to repeat them until 7 or 8 months.  While you can attempt to teach your baby a variety of signs, there are certain signs that will be most useful in this early stage.

Benefits of Baby Sign Language

Baby sign language is helpful to you and your baby in a variety of ways.  The most obvious advantage is knowing what your baby is thinking, or more importantly, what he needs and wants.  This cuts down on much frustration.  Your baby gets what he wants and you are not left guessing what grunts, cries or incessant pointing is all about.  This first form of “conversation” between you and your tot can strengthen your bond.  He can express himself even beyond needs and desires, such as telling you something he sees or hears.  And the best will be when he signs that he loves you!  Plus, you’ll make a connection as your baby has to focus on learning the meaning of signs and mimicking them.

Many parents fear that sign language will inhibit speech development but studies show that that is not true.  Sign language can actually advance speech and vocabulary as you connect a sign to a word.  It’s important to always say the word you are signing so eventually your baby will learn the word too.  Sign language can be a conversation starter between the two of you and prompt you to talk more and help develop early speech skills.

Teaching Baby Sign Language

If you think about it, your baby may already know some signs, such as waving hello or goodbye or giving a high five.  Teaching signs is all about repetition.  Every time you use the word, do the sign too to reinforce it.  Once your baby is of age to sign, it may take several weeks before you see any signs that make sense to you.  You may notice that your baby adapts a sign to form his own sign for something you’re trying to teach him.  That’s OK!  It’s all about communication so if both of you understand that sign, go with it.  You can teach other caregivers what it means so they understand it too.

Many parents start with signs for basic needs.  “More,” “eat,” “drink,” and “done” are among the most popular.  Then you can move on to some of your daily activities, such as “play,” “bath,” “book,” “sleep,” and “change.”  Sign language can come in handy as you teach manners too by using signs for “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me.”

There are many books, videos and online programs that can show you how to do many of these basic signs.  You can show them to your baby, but letting your baby watch you sign repeatedly will probably be the best way to teach baby sign language.  Encourage all of your caregivers – your partner, grandparents, nannies – to sign as well.

Witnessing your baby learning sign language and using it to communicate is pretty amazing.  It will probably rank up there with the first steps and potty training in how proud you are of your tot.  This initial form of communication is a precious window into your baby’s incredible brain.

Managing Acid Reflux in Babies

The gestation period of 9 months is a pretty long time for your baby to develop in the safety of your womb.  However, even at full term, many areas of a baby’s physiology are still not fully developed and functioning at 100%.  Muscles, of course, are still very weak hence the need to hold up your baby’s head and the inability to sit as a newborn.  The muscles that control the feeding and digestive process are also quite immature at birth, which affects some babies more than others.  Often this leads to acid reflux that may be painful for your baby.  Fortunately there are some time-tested solutions for managing acid reflux in babies that we will share with you today.

What is Acid Reflux?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), more commonly called acid reflux, is the leading feeding problem among babies.  It occurs due to a weak lower esophageal sphincter separating the esophagus from the stomach.  This muscle usually forms a band that closes off the esophagus after milk passes through into the stomach.  When the lower esophageal sphincter is immature, it does not seal properly and allows stomach contents like milk and acid to re-enter, or reflux, into the esophagus.  Depending on the degree of reflux, it may cause a burning pain, which adults know as heartburn, or can lead to stomach pain, excessive burping, gas, coughing, gagging during feedings and regurgitation.  Acid reflux is the major issue behind colic.  Usually acid reflux subsides by 9 months to one year of age when babies spend more time upright.

Tips for Managing Acid Reflux

If your baby’s lower esophageal sphincter is weak, there is really nothing you can do to strengthen it.  As your baby matures, the muscles will naturally become stronger.  However, there are ways of managing acid reflux to give your baby some relief.

Managing Acid Reflux in BabiesFirst, breastfeeding helps babies avoid acid reflux.  Breast milk not only provides the perfect set of nutrients for your baby, it also contains enzymes that assist with digestion.  Babies who digest faster have less incidence of acid reflux.  Additionally, babies are not allergic to breast milk like they can be to certain types of formula.  Gravity will help your baby’s digestion as well, so keep your baby upright as much as possible during and after feedings.

When the stomach is full, acid reflux is more likely to occur.  Try feeding your baby more often so she’s consuming less milk at a time.  This will also ensure she’s not over-hungry by feeding times and hopefully reduce the amount of air she swallows while suckling, as trapped air can exacerbate the problem.  Also, burp your baby more often during feedings if she experiences acid reflux.  Trapped gas can cause regurgitation and pain.  If you typically only burp between breasts, unlatch your baby several times per breast for burping.  And burp your baby every hour between feedings too.

Many babies with GERD tend to wake during the night because they are uncomfortable.  Position your baby at an angle to let gravity work to her advantage in keeping milk in her stomach.  Never put a pillow in your newborn’s crib.  Instead, build a ramp or use a wedge pillow under her mattress to create a slight tilt.  Make sure there are no spaces where your baby can get fingers or toes caught and check on your baby regularly.

Your pediatrician may recommend natural gripe water to help soothe your baby’s acid reflux.  This is a mixture of natural ingredients that aid digestion such as ginger, peppermint, chamomile and fennel, which you can give to your baby through a medicine dropper or mix into bottles of breast milk.  If your baby is old enough for solids, you may want to add some rice cereal to a bottle of breast milk too.  Thickening the liquid contents of the stomach may help resolve the acid reflux issues.

Some spit up is normal for every baby.  If you feel your baby’s regurgitation is excessive, consult your pediatrician.  Remember, this condition is only temporary as your baby’s body continues to develop into a fully functioning being.  With these solutions for managing acid reflux and lots of TLC, you and your baby will make it through.

5 Prenatal Core Exercises

Your core is an important part of your prenatal exercise routine.  Earlier this week we shared five reasons to strengthen your core during pregnancy.  Among them, we discussed the importance of back strength for supporting your growing belly, and how core exercises can prepare you for labor and help you return to your pre-pregnancy body faster.  Today we’re sharing five amazing prenatal core exercises that will help you achieve core strength.

  • 5 Prenatal Core Exercises

    Pelvic Floor Kegels: Sit upright on an exercise ball or any other surface if you don’t have one.  Start doing a regular kegel by pulling your pelvic floor up.  Hold this position and squeeze in your lower belly to engage your transverse abdominals.  You can think of this as your muscles cuddling your baby.  Hold for 5 seconds and slowly release.  Repeat this exercise 8 to 10 times per session.  This is a great one to do while you’re on the phone or watching TV since you can be sitting almost anywhere to do it.

  • Donkey Kicks: Start in a neutral position on your hands and knees – kind of like a donkey.  Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and your abdomen should be pulled up.  Lift one knee and extend it backwards until it is parallel with the floor.  Repeat 15 to 20 reps per leg.  Do not bring your knee in past its original position and do not crunch your abs.  By doing this simple leg lift, you are strengthening your abdominal muscles and back.
  • Pelvic Rocks: This is sometimes called the “cat and cow” stretch.  While on hands and knees, slowly draw your abdominals inward and curve your back upwards.  Fold your chin into your chest.  Hold stretch for 5 seconds.  Then reverse the pose by releasing the abs and curving the back the opposite direction while lifting your head and gazing at the ceiling.  Hold for another 5 seconds.  Repeat 10 to 20 times.  This stretches out both the back and abdominals.
  • V-Sit with Leg Lifts: Sitting on a cushioned surface, lift one or both legs off the ground and raise your arms to create a “V” with your body.  Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat.  Alternatively, sit with both legs on the ground and simply lean backwards for a modified version.  In the same set-up, hold your “V” position and bend and extend one leg at a time for a more intense move.
  • Side Plank: Lying on your side, fold one elbow into a 90 degree angle with legs extended outward.  Lift up on your arm to support your entire body – only your arm and bottom foot should be touching the floor.  Repeat 10 times.  For modification, do the exercise with bent knees and allow your bottom knee to remain on the floor.  This works the side abdominal muscles called the obliques.

In just 10 minutes a day, you can strengthen your core during pregnancy with these prenatal core exercises.  Cheers to a stronger core!!

*Always consult your physician regarding your individual health and fitness practices.

5 Reasons to Strengthen Your Core during Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your exercise goals will naturally change.  You’re now less concerned about your slim and trim bikini bod, and more interested in strengthening your body for the demands of pregnancy.  Many women use pregnancy as an excuse not to exercise.  As tired as you may be, prenatal exercise is important for your health and that of your baby.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 to 6 times a week.  And you don’t have to wimp out either.  Moderate to intense exercise is perfectly fine during pregnancy as long as you build up gradually, don’t exceed a heart rate of 160 bmp and practice prenatal fitness safety.

Today we’re starting our two-part core series with 5 reasons to strengthen your core during pregnancy.  Later this week we’ll share five fabulous exercises that will help you do it.

  • 5 Reasons to Strengthen Your Core during Pregnancy

    Get Your Own Back: Your core is not just your abdominal area.  The core refers to the entire mid-section that extends from your abs to your back.  As your bump grows during pregnancy, you’ll have to call on your back for support and balance.  Hormones during pregnancy often loosen the joints and ligaments around the spine and can cause an exaggerated spinal curve in the low back.  A strong spine and back muscles will also ensure you have good posture, even as your belly extends.  The extra back strength will come in handy later when you’re carrying around your baby once she arrives.

  • Take Some of the Labor out of Labor: Core exercises help you labor easier in a variety of ways.  First, you’ll be more flexible and have better joint mobility, allowing you to use a variety of birthing positions with ease.  The pelvic floor muscles benefit greatly as your baby drops lower later in pregnancy and is eventually pushed through the birth canal.  Having control over your pelvic floor will make pushing easier during delivery.
  • Hold It Together: Pregnancy can contribute to abdominal separation due to the onslaught of new hormones.  This is when the two parts of the rectus abdominus muscles detach from one another due to weakening or softening of the vertical seam.  Abdominal separation causes the pelvic wall to tilt and no longer helps support the spine, leading to back pain.  And as we already discussed, a strong back is vital during pregnancy.
  • Recover Faster after Childbirth: You’ve probably heard that when you’re in better shape prior to pregnancy, it’s easier to regain fitness afterwards.  The same theory applies during pregnancy.  If you keep your muscles strong, you’ll have an easier time recovering after childbirth and returning to your pre-pregnancy body.  Many women neglect the core out of fear that they will hurt their baby and because it’s hard to see results since you won’t necessarily notice toning like you once did.  But with safe exercises – like those we will share later this week – you can feel better and get back in shape quickly and healthily after your baby is born.
  • Sports BraYou Get to Wear Cute Active-wear Maternity Bras: Pregnant women deserve to look great in whatever they wear and that includes your active-wear maternity bras.  The best maternity bras are those that you can wear well after pregnancy, which means they will be functional for breastfeeding as well.  Our Loving Moments collection features several adorably comfortable active-wear bras for your core-strengthening workouts, like our sports bra with adjustable side bands, our cotton blend supportive active wirefree nursing or our stretchable breathable seamless bralette.

We hope these five reasons are enough to convince you to strengthen your core during pregnancy.  Stay tuned later this week for five core-boosting exercises to keep you strong for pregnancy and beyond.

Managing Tantrums in Early Toddlerhood

Do you ever feel like your baby-turned-toddler is a landmine just waiting to be stepped on and explode into a tantrum?  Everything seems fine and then all the sudden something sets off your little one and you don’t even know what hit you.  Tantrums can be ferocious and unpredictable, which makes managing tantrums one of the most challenging parts of parenting a toddler.  While you navigate this trying time, here’s something to cheer you up:  tantrums are a sign that your baby is maturing into a normal toddler.

Managing Tantrums in Early ToddlerhoodTantrums usually begin around age one, but for some come as early as nine months.  If you had a fussy baby that turns straight into a tantrumy toddler, you may feel like you just can’t catch a break.  As your baby becomes more aware of his surroundings and is finding his individuality, his attitude and means of expression will also change.  He doesn’t have the tools necessary to adequately understand everything about the world around him, such as speech, patience and analytical skills.  And while your tot is far from being completely independent, he wants to assert some control over his life.  Without a full understanding of time, rules, social norms and safety, your toddler may resort to tantrums as a way of communication.

While tantrums will happen from time-to-time, there are a few predictors that you can be mindful of to try to avoid them.  When children are tired or hungry, they are more likely to tantrum.  Make sure a healthy snack is always available and you offer plenty of rest time throughout the day.  Certain situations such as crowded environments, loud noises or interacting with a particular person are stressors and may set your child on a tailspin.  Completely avoiding adversity is not always the answer, but helping your child cope with these situations in advance can help.

Moreover, treating your child’s feelings with respect and forming an alliance can be the best way to avert most power struggles and tension.  If you include your child in decision making and give your child a sense of partnership, he will be less likely to fight for control, attention and affection.  This means talking through plans in advance to set expectations for each of you.  And you can let your little one make decisions about things that ultimately affect him and shouldn’t matter much to you, like which banana to eat, what to wear and which bed sheets to use this week.  When your toddler feels he has a say in what happens in his life and that you are meeting his needs on his terms, he will likely view your relationship as a team instead of dictatorship.

When tantrums do occur, be prepared.  It is almost impossible to reason with a tantruming child because he is cognitively and emotionally unavailable at that moment.  While you may want an explanation, he’s not going to be ready to give you one at that time, if ever.  There are a few helpful techniques for managing tantrums in early childhood.  The most important part of all of these tips is that you remain calm and a model of the behavior you eventually expect from your child.  Also, you want to make sure your baby is safe. Tantrums often lead to acting out in physical ways, such as thrashing on the floor, banging his head against a wall, hitting or biting things.  First and foremost, protect your child from physical harm he may inflict on himself.

In the moment of a tantrum, many people advise ignoring your child or giving him some space.  As we already established, this behavior is his form of expression and everyone wants to be heard.  But in doing so, don’t ignore his feelings.  You can be sympathetic to feelings without giving in to what your child wants.  In fact, if it is something you don’t want your child to do or have, you should never give in or else he may learn that a tantrum is the only way of getting what he wants.  But if he’s just asking for something permissible in an inappropriate way, redirect the tantrum into a constructive conversation by modeling the appropriate way to ask and then forking it over.

If your child will allow it, hold him and give lots of hugs and kisses.  Affection may be the solution, or at least he will not feel alone in his confusion or that you’re angry that he had an outburst.  Holding him might create the diversion needed to end the tantrum, or you can start acting silly or suggest another activity to emerge from the angry clouds.  Incentives work too, as long as they are not unhealthy bribes and you can live up to your promises.  When a tantrum is over, try to talk about your child’s feelings and actions rationally to better understand the situation and offer suggestions for how he can cope with it the next time.

Remember, tantrums are completely normal even if they seem absurd to you as an emotionally mature adult.  Managing tantrums is an important part of parenting.  You’ll get better over time and you and your toddler will both be wiser in the end.

Get Ready for Valentine’s Day with a Lace Nursing Bra

Valentine’s Day is all about love: love for your partner, love for your baby and love for yourself.  This Valentine’s Day, we’re offering new moms a lot of love for everyone in your life with our Lace Nursing Bra.  As sexy as it is functional, this bra’s got everything you need to keep the hubby happy, baby nourished and you feeling fabulous.

Get Ready for Valentine’s Day with a Lace Nursing BraWe are thrilled to introduce the newest nursing bra in our Loving Moments collection.  Our lace nursing bra comes in both wirefree and underwire to suit any new mom’s comfort level.  We have a philosophy here at Loving Moments: We believe you should enjoy the same style, comfort and fit in your nursing bras as you did with your regular bras before pregnancy.  While the comfort and fit of our lace nursing bra cannot be beat, the beauty of this bra truly stands out.  The stunning floral lace pattern covers the cups and extends to the back as well.  Unlike many lace bras, our lace is soft and supple and will never cause itchiness or scratch your skin.

And boy, will your husband love this lace nursing bra!  There is something about sensual lace that tingles a man’s senses.  The plunging neckline design of this bra shows off some of your best assets while still offering great coverage.  This is the perfect bra for that sexy low-cut Valentine’s Day dress you’re planning to wear.  Plus the blush-colored center bow adds a sweet detail that even husbands will adore.  We’re pretty sure your man will not believe you when you tell him this bra is a nursing bra, but we bet he’ll love it even more when you show him that it is.

You may think your baby doesn’t care what type of nursing bra you wear, but we beg to differ.  When a baby is hungry, she wants that wonderful breast milk that only you can provide.  So easy access is essential to your baby.  Luckily, this lace nursing bra features simple one-handed clasps and fold-down cups to effortlessly nourish your baby no matter where you are.  The fabric is not only soft on your skin, but also your baby’s, and it is thick enough to prevent embarrassing leakage.  The bow even makes a playful facet for grabby babies.

And last but not least, this lace nursing bra offers unbelievable comfort and support for moms.  As milk sometimes fluctuates throughout the day, support is crucial.  To ensure proper fit, breasts should sit upright and remain slightly compressed to avoid sag and bounce.  With adjustable straps and back clasps, you can fine-tune the fit of this bra to meet your personal needs, which may change daily.  The structured yet flexible fabric breathes with your skin, never pinching or leaving marks on your shoulders or back.  Additionally, you will feel great wearing this fashionable nursing bra and knowing that it is husband and baby approved.

Put a little pep in your step, making breastfeeding easier and spice up your Valentine’s Day (and beyond!) with a new lace nursing bra.  We know it will make everyone in your life very, very happy!

Breastfeeding Benefits for Heart Health

It’s February and that means it is National Heart Health Month.  We all know that a strong heart keeps our bodies on beat and in tune by circulating blood that keeps us energized and vivacious.  But did you know that breastfeeding has great benefits for both babies’ and mothers’ heart health?  It’s true and it’s on the list of the many miraculous benefits of breastfeeding.

Breast milk is the most nutritiously balanced food on the planet for your baby.  It contains every ounce of nourishment your baby requires for survival for at least the first six month of her life, and has great health advantages when continued for the full first year and beyond.  Babies who are breast fed have stronger immune systems, which is a key element for a lifetime of health and wellness.  Healthy bodies tend to stay healthy and they do this by having a strong immune system that keeps infection, illness and disease at bay.  That includes many potential heart problems or risk factors for heart problems, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Breastfeeding Benefits for Heart HealthBut the astounding news is what breastfeeding can do for a mother’s heart…well, beyond making it melt with the bliss of bonding and nourishing her baby, that is.  Moms who breastfeed lower their risk for heart disease, diabetes, heart attack and stroke, and have lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, two precursors to heart-related health problems.  And get this: the longer a mother breastfeeds, the more she reduces her risk of heart problems.  Incredible!

The original study that reported the phenomenal heart health benefits of breastfeeding was done by the Women’s Health Initiative, which tracked 140,000 women over the course of their reproductive years.  The results were overwhelmingly clear that breastfeeding has a huge impact on a mother’s heart, regardless of her lifestyle, weight, race or socioeconomic status.

Pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.  Combined with genetic factors, the more pregnancies a woman endures, the higher her cardiovascular risk becomes. However, breastfeeding counterbalances these risks and essentially undoes some of the physical toll pregnancy takes on women.

Additionally, breastfeeding has a calming affect on both babies and mothers.  When bodies are less stressed, they are better able to respond to everyday health and wellness demands.  For babies, a more peaceful state helps them eat better, sleep better and find a rhythm with their mothers.  And we all know, when babies are happier, mothers are happier.  Plus, breastfeeding has emotional benefits for mom including less post partum depression, a more relaxed demeanor and quicker weight loss.  Stress is a known trigger for high blood pressure and other heart problems so keeping mom relaxed and happy further contributes to her heart health.

We hope you celebrate this Heart Health Month by doing something good for your heart: breastfeeding!  You have an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve your baby’s heart health and lower your own risk of heart problems.  Take this chance to give your heart and your baby’s heart the physical and emotional heart benefits of breastfeeding.

Valentine’s Day with your Baby: Spreading the Love

Valentine’s Day with your Baby: Spreading the LoveIt’s officially February, the month of love!  We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with the newest little love in your life, your baby.  You may not be ready for elaborate Valentine’s Day art projects, decking out your entire house with decorations or a bakery full of desserts, but you and your baby can get into the Valentine’s spirit with age-appropriate activities.

As you and your baby prepare for Valentine’s Day, stay focused on what matters most to your baby.  That includes spending precious time together, partaking in sensory experiences and having a blast by learning through play.  With these key elements in mind, there are endless ways that you and your tot can get in a lovingly festive mood.  Today we’re sharing some of our favorite ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your baby:

Heart Prints:  Using non-toxic paint, create adorable heart shapes with your baby’s hands or feet.  Dip baby’s hands or feet into the paint and use a paint brush to spread the paint evenly across her skin.  Then press her hands or feet onto a paper, poster board or canvas connecting the palms or heels to form a heart shape.  You can use these “heart prints” for a “Valentiny” for your partner, grandparents, care givers or other special people in your baby’s life.  After the printing is done, help your baby do a little finger painting of her own on scrap paper.

Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song:  Select one of your favorite loves songs and make up hands motions to it that you can help your baby do.  Some of our favorite kids’ classics include “You are My Sunshine” or “Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink,” or pick any love songs in your repertoire.  Perform the song in front of the mirror so your baby can delight in her own image, or have someone record the show and play it back for your baby.  She probably won’t understand that the baby is her but she’ll certainly recognize your smiling, singing face.

Hearty Baking:  Baking with your baby is easier than you may think if you are prepared.  Before beginning your loving baking experience, measure out all of the ingredients.  This prevents down time when your baby could get bored or start wreaking havoc in your kitchen.  Help your baby pour in the ingredients and stir them together.  Try making something that requires cutting out fun shapes such as cookies, breads or pancakes so you and your baby can use cookie cutters shaped like hearts, cupid’s arrow and other festive objects.

Lovely Books:  Around Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to read all of your favorite books about love.  We bet they won’t be hard to find because love is a common theme of many books.  Find stories that represent various types of love, including that between parents and babies, friendships, grandparents and grandchildren, mommies and daddies and even love of nature.

Body Kisses:  Babies love to be touched and it actually helps their development.  When you give your baby a body massage, you’re making her feel warm and secure, and stimulating various body parts and muscles.  After a soothing baby massage, put on some deep red natural lipstick and give your baby loving kisses all over her body or face.  Then sit your baby in front of a mirror so she can see all of the body kisses you’ve given her.  Take fun photos to share with family and friends, then wash off the kisses to avoid a gigantic red mess.

Lookin’ for Love:  Set up a heart shaped scavenger hunt for your little one using heart cut-outs or other heart-shaped objects.  Give your baby a bag or basket and let her crawl around to find the hearts and drop them in her basket.  Cheer her along as she finds each one.  Depending on your baby’s level, hide them in plain sight or make her have to look for them under pillows, toys or tables.  To challenge older crawlers, create an obstacle course that your baby must follow to collect the hearts.

Family Hugs:  Spending time together as a family may be the most loving activity of all.  You do it all year long and you should absolutely do it around Valentine’s Day too.  Set aside some special family cuddling time where you can pile up for a big squeeze.  Be sure to say the words “I love you” so your child is used to hearing and feeling your love.  And tell your baby, partner and other family members why you love them.  Expressing love is a learned behavior that your baby will eventually emulate as she grows.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Month!  We wish you a lovely February!