Friday, June 01, 2012

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
Alanis Morissette Weighs in on Attachment Parenting [ABC]

Danger Ahead? [FitPregnancy]

Do Mothers Hamper Their Daughters in Math? [Time]

Proud military wife defends photograph of her comrades breastfeeding [DailyMail]

Boy With Cerebral Palsy Runs Race With a Little Help From His Friends [Jezebel]

TV Makes Girls Feel Bad About Themselves, But Does Wonders for Boys [Jezebel]

Time to Redistribute the Chores [FitPregnancy]

Pregnancy Blogger Contest – Win $500!

PregnancyWeekly and Cord Blood Registry are searching for the best pregnancy blog! We want to hear from you which pregnancy blogs are your favorite to read. The finalist will win a $500 Amex card, generously donated by Cord Blood Registry, the largest and most experienced cord blood bank.

To enter your favorite pregnancy blog, post a link to it in the comments. The only stipulation is that the focus of the blog must be pregnancy. Once we have a round-up of the best blogs, we’ll host a final vote to determine the winner.

What’s your favorite pregnancy blog?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jessica Simpson Reveals her Newborn!

Jessica Simpson (31) reveals her beautiful newborn, little Maxwell Drew, in the newest addition of People magazine. Maxwell entered the world on May 1st.

Simpson and her fiance, Eric Johnson, dish about their journey as new parents, saying, "From how I sleep to what I think about, Maxwell has definitely taken over everything! We stare at her all the time. We can't get enough!"

Simpson also reveals that she gave birth via C-section and has taken on breastfeeding, which she calls "a full-on job."

Can you relate to Simpson's experiences?

Jessica Simpson, Daughter Maxwell Do First Photo Shoot [People]

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Ellen's Pregnant Dance Dares [YouTube]

Nursery Spotlight: 60s Inspiration from Mad Men [thebump]

Teaching Kids to Learn from Failure [Parenting]

Jenna von Oy & Husband Welcome Baby No. 1: Gray Audrey [CelebrityBabyScoop]

The 15 Boards Moms Should Follow on Pinterest [iVillage]

BumpWatch: Tori Spelling Sports a Sexy Suit [People]

Soy Formula Safe For Babies [HuffPo]

Fathering Lessons from the Animal Kingdom

It's a common misconception that fathers are not the nurturing kind. Looking at the animal kingdom can quickly dispel this myth. Cold-blooded or warm-blooded, an astonishing number of species have intensely devoted fathers. So take notes guys, because these animals wrote the book on how to play an active role in raising their babies.

The hip-pocket frog is not your typical single dad. The marsupial mother lays up to 20 eggs and then leaves them to the father, who then sits on the eggs until they hatch into tiny tadpoles over a period of days. They slowly crawl up his back into two little slits on his hips. The tadpoles live in the pouch and eat the yolk leftover from hatching, then come out later as fully-formed frogs. He carries them around in his pouch for 7 weeks.

Male seahorses know more about birthing babies than any other male on earth. The mother deposits anywhere up to 200 eggs into a pouch in the male’s abdomen and then he fertilizes them. A honey-comb like structure in the pouch provides the developing little ones with burrows. The father’s pouch provides oxygen transport and waste disposal, much like the human placenta. The father is monogamous and females exhibit the competitive behavior. He holds on to a piece of sea grass with his tail to fight the current. He changes colors to blend in and sways with the current to hide from predators. The male eventually has contractions which facilitate the frys' exit from his pouch. Sometimes it takes up to two days for all of the young to be born. Over the course of the mating season, the seahorse will father over 1000 young.

It’s been said that the way to man’s heart is through his stomach, but not in the case of the catfish. A Hardhead catfish actually carries his young in his mouth. He carries up to 48 eggs for 60 days and even after they hatch he still carries them around in his mouth, foregoing food the entire time.

The male emperor penguin has become famous for his self-sacrificing fathering skills. He cares for and hatches an egg for more than two months while the female goes back out to sea. He first spends some time bulking up before the caring period because once he is there he will lose half his body weight. The father takes the one egg and places it on his feet and then drops his belly flap over it. In temperatures that can drop to -110 degrees F, he huddles together with other males to keep warm. They have adapted to this position in such a way that they have been seen scratching their heads with one foot, balancing on the other and continuing to protect the egg with the abdominal pouch. They do this all in the perpetual darkness of the Antarctic winter. If the female is late in returning, the male feeds the infant with a fluid made from the lining of his stomach.

The male marmoset is one of the most devoted fathers. He gains weight during the pregnancy to become ready to carry and protect his infants. When the twins are born, he bites the umbilical cord, licks and grooms the infants and cleans up the afterbirth. He goes on to carry, groom and feed the infants with the help of older siblings. Of course, he might be forced to do so much work because the twin pregnancy that the female undergoes takes up 25% of her bodyweight! Then once she’s had the baby, she becomes pregnant two weeks later. Once he smells his baby, his testosterone levels drop and he becomes a baby-wearing super dad.

Dad should be counting his lucky stars that he doesn’t have to feel birth pains, can eat while carrying the baby, and that he can care for his infants in a warm place and not rubbing up against his manly neighbor. Best of all, dads with a bit of a gut finally found its incubating usefulness! These wild fathers are the best of the best when it comes to parenting, but they’ve got nothing on the best human fathers. Raising the baby is the job of both parents, and sometimes the responsibility rests solely on the father. Some fathers go to incredible lengths for their babies. So dad, when you feel stressed about caring for your newborn, put yourself in a penguin’s flippers!

Stickleback (Three-spined) [ypte]
Awesome Animal Dads in the Animal Kingdom [Scienceray]
Marmoset & Tamarin Monkey Facts [Marmosetmom]
All-Star Animal Dads [NationalGeographic]
Baby's smell tamps down dad's testosterone levels [WISC]
Australian Toadlets and Water Frogs: Myobatrachidae - Hip Pocket Frog (assa Darlingtoni): Species Accounts [jrank]
Parenting Papas Unusual Animal Fathers [everything2]
The Father Seahorse [NetGlimse]
Kingdom of the Seahorse [PBS]
Emperor Penquins [Emperorpenguins]

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Mom's Guide to Creating the Essential Organic Garden

With all the recalls in the food industry, the rising prices and the increasing benefits of organics, many moms are considering growing their own food. The first year of your child’s life poses specific challenges that can be met through your own herbs and foods from your garden. Here is a guide to creating your own organic garden, whether you have an acre of land or a small porch to grow on.

Lavender is a beautiful, fragrant plant with purple flowers. It is very easy to grow and one plant produces more than a family would ever need. The sprigs and flowers can be cooked or used for aromatherapy and cleaning. It is anti-bacterial, healing and calming.
Grow from purchased plants because they are slow growing to start. Put plants outdoors after the last frost. Lavender needs lots of sun and grows well in zones 5-8. It needs good drainage, so it might help to put loose gravel in the bottom if potted. Lavender is a perennial that will come back for many years.

Chamomile is a calming herb that can be useful in teas for aiding sleep, relieving menstrual cramps, nausea and stress.
It’s easiest to buy seedlings that have no flowers and lots of leaves. Put outdoors in May.  This pretty perennial needs full sun and well-drained soil. Plants should be 6 inches apart. Fertilize every 4-6 weeks. Cut the flowers as they open to use or dry.

Calendula is a healing herb that can be used on the skin and eaten. The plant repels insects too.
These annuals like full sun with partial shade. Seed them directly into the soil after the last frost. These plants do well in hanging baskets because the blossoms flop over. Water frequently and cut blooms to encourage more. For use, lay the blossoms out to dry and put in a jar for later use.

These iron-rich fruits are an essential for a healthy kitchen. However, these plants can be difficult to get the most out of the fruit, so take care with watering and fertilizing.
Tomatoes need 1-3ft between plants or one pot per plant to grow well. The rule of thumb is: the bigger the pot, the bigger the plant. Put plants deep in well-composted soil when the soil is about 55 degrees, so that the first set of leaves are at soil level. Water often and don’t let the soil dry out, mature plants need about a gallon a day. Clip lower leaves regularly to stimulate growth. Fertilize lightly when the plant is 1ft tall and again when it flowers. Once the plant is loaded with fruit, fertilize lightly on the top inch of soil and cover with grass clippings or mulch. Harvest the fruit just after turning from orange to red and let ripen inside (not in the fridge). Once the temperature drops below 55 F, the taste begins to decline.

Basil is antibacterial, nutritious, tasty and comes in 17 different varieties. Add to salads, make a vegetable spray, or cook with tomatoes.
Basil should be grown next to tomatoes because they work together to ward off pests. Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost. They can be put outside when soil temperatures reach 50 F, or will do well on the windowsill. Prepare the soil with lots of organic matter, and mulch to keep the ground warm. Place plants 6-8 inches apart for the small leaf varieties or 1ft apart for large leaf varieties. Basil needs lots of sun.  Harvesting will encourage growth.  

Beautiful purple and pink bulb flowers make this herb a nice addition to the garden. Every part of this perennial can be eaten.
Chives thrive in zones 3-9. Sow seeds directly in the soil in April. Add compost to the soil before planting. Place plants 5-8” apart. This plant doesn’t like a lot of nitrogen. Keep the soil moist. To harvest, cut 2” above the soil from the outside edges before flowering.

Thyme is an easy plant to grow and provides an iron-rich herb for soups, sauces and meats.
Thyme does well indoors and with some shade. You can start from seed by sowing thinly (1/8”) in the soil indoors at the end of January. You can sow directly outdoors in May for plants by the end of the summer. Water and fertilize very little. Harvest before flowering for the best flavor. These plants can live for 3-5 years.

Just one rosemary plant will provide all the herbs you need for a variety of dishes and can be used in aromatherapy.
Rosemary does well indoors and outdoors. Seeds are slow growing so it’s easier to buy plants. Put outside when the soil is 50 F. The herb likes full sun but will tolerate some shade. It likes moist air and well drained soil. Brown tips mean it’s getting too much water. Harvest the plant often and dry or use fresh herbs as desired. Bring inside if temperatures drop below 30 F.

Aloe is antibacterial, moisturizing and healing. This cactus is a must for scrapes and cuts, dry skin, or rashes. Few climates will allow this plant to grow, but it’s easy to find in a pot. Buy the potted plant and keep inside near a sunny window, re-pot as the plant gets too big for its old one.

Spinach is high in iron, vitamin C and is a perfect vegetable to add to salads and stir-fries.
Spinach seeds can be directly sown in the ground when the soil is about 35 F or no hotter than 70 F. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. It grows very quickly and does well in cool weather, so you can plant once in the spring and again in August. Spinach likes well-drained soil and is tolerant of partial shade. They should be planted 1-3ft apart. The soil should stay moist but not wet. Water with fish emulsion weekly until the plants are 3” tall. When harvesting, cut an inch above the base and it might grow back. If the plants freeze, cover with hay or mulch and they will continue growing the following spring after you remove the covering. Very warm weather will cause plants to flower and seed.

Dandelion roots can be used for a detoxifying tea and the crown and leaves can be eaten in salads or stir fries. Dandelion greens are very nutritious. The flower buds can be used to make wine.
These are best planted in a pot to prevent infestation of the garden. Sow seeds outdoors, 2-3 weeks before the last frost. Dryness and heat with make the leaves bitter and they become bitterer later in the season. These plants will come back year after year if you leave one or two behind.

Garlic is a very easy plant to grow and can be used in all types of dishes. Just find a garlic clove you like and stick the flat end down in the ground (about 2”) in the early winter months. The bigger the clove is, the bigger the outcome will be. The plants will need an inch of water each week during the spring. Flowers in June can be cut off and used in cooking. Only dig up when half to three-quarters of the leaf turns brown. Tie the garlic in bundles and hang in a dry shady place for 4-6 weeks.

Echinacea is notorious for its immune-boosting abilities. The root is used medicinally after the 3rd or 4th year of growth. It has lovely flowers.
Sow seeds ¼” into the soil when the soil is 55 F or above. When plants are 1” tall, put them 18” apart. Keep the soil fertile, relatively dry and make sure the plants get sun with partial shade.

Fennel bulbs and stalks can be eaten and the leaves can be used in sauces. The oil can be used in liquors, candies, or soaps. The seeds can be used for seasoning. This nice perennial is touted for its ability to boost milk supply in breastfeeding mothers.
Sow directly into the soil as soon as soil can be worked. You can do another planting in mid-summer too. Fennel should have full sun and be in well drained soil. Fertilize once or twice a season. Pull out every other plant when bulbs are tennis-ball size. This plant will continue growing even through frosts.

Alfalfa fixes nitrogen into the soil and is a very nutritious vegetable. It can be rotated with red clover for soil balance. Alfalfa can help shorten bleeding time when recovering from childbirth.
Sprouts can be grown indoors by putting seeds in a jar with soil and covering with a woven cloth or pantyhose. Fill the jar with water that comes 1-2” above the seeds and allow to soak overnight. The next day, turn the jar over to let the water drain. Roll the jar around so seeds stick to the sides. Rinse them everyday for 4-5 days, after which they are ready to harvest. Let the harvested sprouts sit in the sun for 15 minutes or so to activate enzymes. Use sprouts immediately or refrigerate briefly.

Dill has pretty flowers and the seeds are used to make dill pickles. This perennial’s flowers and leaves are perfect for seasoning fish and dips.
Sow thinly in April and fertilize with bone meal. Dill needs about a spade and a half to grow into. Plants should be about 9” apart and get full sun. You can sow them again in the spring and early summer. Dill needs very little care, only water in dry areas.

Milk Thistle
De-spined thistle leaves can be used in salads and the flowers, stalks and roots can be cooked. Milk Thistle has often been used for breastfeeding women to promote milk production. This annual typically grows wild, and with little care can be grown just about anywhere.
Put seeds ¼” under the soil after the last frost. It likes high temperatures and dry soil. Fertilizer increases seed yields. Seeds have to be dried and powdered to make supplements.

Lemon balm
This perennial is good for menstrual cramps, colds and skin problems. It can be used as a tea, a seasoning or in a salve.
Start from seed indoors weeks before the last frost or buy seedlings. This plant prefers some shade during the hot part of the day. It doesn’t need much water and likes loose, fertile soil. It can be harvested 3 times a summer. These plants will self seed.

You don’t need to buy expensive fertilizer for every plant. An all purpose or "for vegetables" fertilizer will do for all plants. You can also buy bone meal, fish emulsion or use grass clippings. 1/2 inch of grass clippings prevents weeds, conserves soil moisture and infuses nitrogen into the soil. Avoid clippings from lawns that have been sprayed with pesticides. If buying fertilizer, use the nitrogen number as your guide, because that is the part that gets depleted most. If plants get too little, they will be small and spindly. If they get too much, they will be huge but produce behind schedule.
You can get seeds from foods you buy. Roots and bulbs like potatoes and garlic can be placed in the ground before the temperature starts to rise. Fruits and vegetables with seeds can be deseeded, allow the seeds to dry in the open air. To get seeds from the plants you’ve already been growing, hang the plant upside down with a paper bag to catch the seeds, as it dries the seeds will fall in the bag.

Having a garden requires some work, but the outcome is always worth it. Once you’ve established your garden, it takes very little to keep it going and can save you money at the store. Plus, there is no question of where your food came from. Gardening is also a light exercise that is good for the body. The kids can help too and learn a lot about plants. Gardening can be fun and rewarding for the whole family!

Do you garden?

My “Pot” Garden [Care2]
Organic Fertilizers [Care2]
Woman’s Care Garden – Plus Herbal Remedy Recipes [Care2]
When to Start Seedlings [Care2]
What Organic Fertilizer Works for Everything? [MotherEarthNews]
Build Better Soil With Free Organic Fertilizer! [MotherEarthNews]
After the Baby's Birth: A Complete Guide for Postpartum Women [Google]
Learn how to get garden seeds from your grocery store! [littlecountryvillage]
Using and Growing Lemon Balm [oldfashionedliving]

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Science of Baby-wearing

You may have seen parents carrying their infant in a tight, colorful satchel draped over their shoulder or in a convenient pocket on their chest. Baby-wearing has just been re-discovered in America but has quickly become the transport method of choice for many parents. Other parts of the world have been hip to this mode of transport for centuries and there are a lot of good reasons to consider it.

The close feeling of comfort and security your baby receives from being worn allows them to view the world without stress and their high perch enables them to see things they otherwise wouldn’t. They are able to watch parents in their daily-to-do, helping them to learn about the world around them and feel a part of the activity. Since the baby is at eye-level with adults, they tend to interact more and may feel more equal. Plus, when they need something basic they know you are right there to help them.

It’s been shown that rhythmic movement promotes relaxation and has a host of other benefits. While a parent is engaged in rhythmic movement like walking or gardening, the carried baby not only senses the parent’s relaxation but also becomes relaxed from the movement. It allows the baby to sleep and helps their digestion. The movement actually helps the baby to become more aware of their body as well. It increases circulation, respiration, and helps to develop the vestibular nervous system (controls our balance and sense of space). It also promotes the baby to hold their head up and strengthen their muscles.

Psychologists have discovered that movement, touch and smell are essential in piecing together our feelings of being loved. When we are missing any one of these things that correlate as trust, affection and intimacy we tend to feel isolated, which can elevate our stress hormones and delay development. The walking motion of the parent reminds the baby of the movements of the womb and the closeness of the parent’s face with their familiar voice and smells keeps the baby calm. In a study of babies who were worn for three hours a day or more, those who were worn cried over 40% less and the typical evening fits were reduced by over 50%. 

Studies have shown that premature babies grow faster when held and touched often. This finding has led to several programs around the world, most notably Kangaroo Care, where premature infants are placed on their parent's chest for skin to skin contact up to 2-3 hours a day.  Premature babies put in a swinging bassinet have also been shown to gain weight faster, had less health problems and were discharged from the hospital quicker.

When the baby needs something, it’s much easier for you to realize it while wearing the baby and react quickly. A bowel movement, growling stomach, or sleepy body is much easier to read when the baby is close. This heightened sensitivity leads the baby to feel more secure. For breastfeeding moms, baby-wearing is ideal because the baby can easily nurse on demand and certain slings are made with an extra flap of fabric so that you can cover yourself with it if desired.

Baby-wearing is beneficial for the whole household. Those who use slings say that the transition from the sling to the crib is smooth and the baby falls asleep faster. The father or other family members can get some bonding in with the baby by wearing him. Baby-wearing provides exercise contributing to weight loss, strengthened muscles and consequently, increased feelings of wellbeing. The closeness may also help with the “baby blues” because mothers will feel the closeness they experienced while the baby was in the womb. 

Societies who routinely wear their babies and respond to their cries immediately produce children who tend to become independent faster than American children. Plus, scientists have found that in predicting the violent nature of tribes, one factor determined with accuracy how peaceful or violent they were: whether the mother carried the infant throughout the day for the first year of life.

There are many carriers available with a variety of features. You’ll need to find one or two that suit your needs specifically. If you are an avid hiker or especially active, a backpacker might be the right product for you. Breast feeding women might prefer a front pack or a sling and should consider not having something tightly wrapped over their chest. It's a good idea to make sure your sling can be adjusted with one hand while wearing it. A basic sling (without the rings) seems to be the most comfortable for the first year but toddlers may need a more versatile one. A bundler is good for people with weak backs because you can space out the weight on your body. Women with small frames may want to avoid bulkier, padded ones. You’ll need to experiment because there are a lot on the market and each might be better or worse for certain occasions.

There are many ways to use slings and carriers so read up on ways to use the ones you like. Even if you start using a carrying device early and it doesn't work out, go back to it later when you may find it to be more useful. The baby will have his say of which one he is comfortable in but may need some re-positioning to figure out the best way to wear him. Only start using a sling when the baby is already in a good mood. 

There are certain safety concerns for the baby when using a carrier or sling. Carriers that let the arms and legs dangle could put stress on the spine. Carriers that allow the baby to have the legs support their bodyweight (like Indian-style sitting) are better. For front carriers, babies should be worn facing the chest for the first 4-6 months and then you can turn them to face the world after that point. When the infant cannot support the head, support is needed, so a sling is preferable. It’s best to place the infant on their back like in a hammock. They later can be placed at the hip sitting up and toddlers can be worn piggy-back. When wearing the sling, stay aware of the baby’s temperature, you may be hot from walking but the baby could be cold from the air.

Carriers and slings can cause back pain so be sure to wear them properly and find ways to avoid any kind of discomfort. Ease in to wearing your baby because the relaxed ligaments from pregnancy and birth can make it easier to be hurt by a constant eight pound load or more. Wear the sling high to prevent any back issues. If you have pain in the back, neck or shoulders, take a break. Gradually increase the time as you go and your muscles will get stronger. Strong abdominals lead to a stronger back and stretching can eliminate any knots you might get from wearing. Always be aware of your posture and don’t slouch. Walk with your head up and shoulders back but slightly relaxed. Bend at the knees to pick things up.

Once you’ve been wearing your baby for a substantial amount of time, you will probably find it to be incredibly beneficial to all parties involved. It seems like we were meant to carry our babies. Other mammals that carry their babies have a similar milk composition with low protein and fat, as opposed to mammals that leave their offspring and come back to feed them. Baby-wearing is such a natural way of caring for an infant that even the people in your life who are opponents will eventually come to see the light. This ancient method of transport just might make your life easier and keep your baby happy so give it a try!

Do you wear your baby?

Photo Credit: Jenrose 
Ten Reasons to Wear your Baby [TheNaturalChildProject]
11 Ways to Soothe a Fussy Baby [AskDrSears]
the baby sling [DIDYMOS]
Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying: A Randomized Controlled Trial [portareipiccoli]
Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment.[NIH]
Benefits of Babywearing [TBW]
Rock A Bye Baby [TimeLife]
Infant Carriers and Spinal Stress [Continuum-Concept]
Babywearing [visi]
Why Babywear? [continuum-family]

Featured Babies of the Week

Every week we feature the best baby photos sent to us through our Babies of the Week contest. We receive photos from parents from all over the world. Here are a few of our favorites:

Tyler James was born on Mother's Day last year. Mom says, "Tyler is the first child for both my husband and I and we are completely in love with him. His sweet little laugh can put a smile on anyone’s face and often has me in stitches it’s just so darn cute. He is one of the happiest babies I’ve ever known – there is rarely a moment where he is not smiling and hamming it up for anyone that might look in his direction. My husband and I feel extremely blessed to have such a happy little guy who doesn’t mind us constantly taking picture after picture of him. Every mother is biased that her baby is the cutest and I’m no exception. Just look at his sweet little face. If I’m having a bad day or feeling a little blue, I can look at this picture and instantly feel better. I hope this image puts a smile on your face the way it does mine!"

Ivana Martina was born in November, 2010, here she is celebrating her first birthday with some cake. Mom says, "Ivana loves smash cakes!!!! She has a great time at her birthday!"

Andrew Nicholas was born on February 28th, 2011. Mom says, "Andrew loves splashing in the bathtub, playing with his brothers and smiling for the camera!!!"

Tyce was born in July 2010 and he is pictured here at his first birthday. Dad says, "There are so many things that make Tyce special....he has a great happy personality, is ALWAYS on the go, is inquisitive about pretty much everything, and goes CRAZY for bananas!  He was still trying to figure out the walking thing on his first birthday when this photograph was taken so he would just walk on his hands and feet everywhere (no knees).  Little did we know he would conquer walking only 4 days later!  He is very kind spirited, loves bath time, and especially loves the outdoors with our dogs!  Tyce is our first child and we couldn’t be a happier family.  He has been THE entertainment for the past 5 months and we are so blessed to have him in our lives."

Emily Rose is from Rhode Island and was born in December, 2010. Mom says, "She is a happy little girl......Seen here during Hurricane Irene.... Always making sunshine, even during a Hurricane. She is our free spirit and joy!!"

Daniel was born in April, 2011. Mom says, "What makes Daniel special is that the fact he came into this world early and has continued to thrive even in the face of his genetic condition. We welcomed him into our family through adoption and it has been the best thing that we could have ever done."

Thanks to all the parents who sent us their pictures. You can see the rest of the featured photos on the front page of BabyWeekly. To enter your baby picture for the Baby of the Week contest, please click here. Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, it may take many months before your baby's photo is featured.