At Swami Mommi, we’re always inspired by family, creativity and our own “We Can Do It” spunk. Telling our family and friends that we love them offers us the challenge to include as many people as we can in a fun way! These little darlings deliver love to kids of all ages, and adults too! Let’s let these cute lovebirds do our bidding, shall we?
Supplies For This Craft:
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Step One : Select the medium size pom-pom maker. Open one side and begin winding yarn around the legs. Once the entire side is wound with yarn, cut off the yarn from the yarn ball. Then do the same on the other side of the pom-pom maker.
Step two: Now cut the yarn on each side of the pom-pom maker as shown. Don’t pull any yarn out, until you use the thread to tie it around the pom-pom maker to secure the yarn into a ball. Once secure, pull the pom-pom maker apart and your ball will appear completed! Trim off any unruly pieces of yarn that don’t make the ball look good, but make sure to keep the thread intact as you will use the full length.
Step Three: Draw a heart on pretty cardstock paper of your choice. Cut it out and then cut out a small dividing line between the lobes (these will be your birdy’s feet). Don’t cut all the way through, but just enough to string the upholstery thread through from the pom-pom, and tape on the back.
Step Four: Cut out a small square of cardstock. Fold the square in half and trim a bit to make a cute little beak. Glue it onto the pom-pom, and then glue on the wiggly eyes.
Step Five: Cut a long strip of cardstock for the love note. Leave enough space at the end of the strip for the pom-pom bird to be glued onto it. On the space that’s left on the paper, write a Love Note!!
Step Six: Pick 3 of your favorite colored feathers. Arrange them behind the eyes or in the back of the bird as desired, and then glue them in place.
Last Step: The very best part! Give your Pom-Pom Lovebird to someone you love! Have a safe and very happy Valentine’s Day! <3 <3 <3
Attention Skills: The #1 Skill Kids Need So They Can Learn AND Have Healthy Emotions.
Kids need certain level of sustained attention to read, write, and learn.
Starting at the beginning…how can we start our kids out from birth on the road to happy kids? How can we help our little ones be happy big ones?
Taking stock of our own attentional habits is a good place to start. Creating environments where our babies can thrive make a difference in our kids’ attentional development. If we can’t attend long enough to know what our babies need, then we better slow down and focus. We are the only ones who can help our babies, and they are DEPENDING on you to do it!
Below area the basics to watch for in caring for your baby. They will help them grow up happy and loved. One day, all the love and care will come back to you ten fold.
Babies can benefit from many things we as parents do. From birth, we know that supporting brain health is often most simply done by providing good nutrition. It is very important to understand that the stomach links directly to the brain. The stomach makes up the enteric nervous system, and it is crucial in making neurotransmitters that are important for attention and mood, much like the brain. Additionally, the gut is the first place where a child’s immune system is turned on. Traveling through the birthing canal helps the baby ingest beneficial bacteria from the mother to turn on immunity. Immunity secures the future gut health over the long term, and overall health as well.
A balance is also necessary. In talking about children, sugar is one of the main culprits that rocks the once-nutritious apple cart. Years ago, sugar was a special treat, a few times a week if a kid was lucky. In the 70’s and 80’s, when the US government allowed food manufactures to legally market directly to kids, we saw a tremendous increase in food placement ads directed at kids. Most of the foods were sugar-rich and nutrient-low. Now sugar and processed food are staples for most daily meals for kids. As parents, we have two challenges; first to locate both healthy and convenient options in grocery stores, and then to communicate to our kids that just because a superhero is on the bag, the food is not necessarily filled with good things.
At the baby age, we can attend to our babies needs, without the burden of explaining superhero food labeling; however, we also have the breast food/best food dilemma. Breastfeeding is great in that it helps the gut turn on the immune system by providing antibodies from the mother directly into the babies’ digestive systems. GREAT! But moms often work outside the home, and in the USA, women have very little maternity leave. If a employer doesn’t allow for pumping breaks, or a mom can’t afford to buy a $200 breast pump (really?) what is a mom to do? Some moms are able to figure out a way to breastfeed, but others move on to formula. Formula is great for nutrients…AND refined sugar. Lots of it. Refined sugar is banned in all formula in some countries in Europe…but it is in almost all formula in the US. Makes me wonder what is the most nutritious formula. I was lucky to find a formula with an alternate sugar source when we needed to supplement with formula, but we paid several dollars more per container.
Sensory soothing also assists babies and toddlers in self-regulation, an important component to attention. They have a better chance to self-calm and soothe themselves when their general environment is characterized by safety and support. This basic idea, of trusting their environment, helps them to lay down brain architecture that supports development. Chronic stress, on the other hand, does the opposite, with milestones not being met as a result. Research presented by The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University supports the correlation between toxic stress and developmental delay. So creating homes with positive family relationships that are supportive for the baby are the first steps in laying down brain connections that support attention. Simply put, the less stress in a home, the more attention skills develop.
As kids get a little older, we have more time to observe our own habits related to attention. Although seemingly still very young, our toddlers will begin to observe and copy our habits. It’s a critical time to make sure their environment is set up to facilitate attention. So let’s ask ourselves; how much time are we distracted from our kids? Do we look them in the eye, or sideways as we check our messages on our phone? Also, what media is distracting our kids? Auditory and visual media affect attentional skill development significantly, so it’s time to think about how much media time your kids are getting on a daily basis. This total includes music, T.V., video games, computers and mobile devices. What is the total for each toddler? What is the total for the family as a whole? The higher the total media time, the lower the total sensory and motor and social developmental time. So the lower the total media time, the better.
If you think your child might be behind in technology as a result, I can assure you that the technology is only going to get easier to use, and what we are using now will be outdated. By the time you child has good attention skills, they will be even more prepared to jump on the trend of media, whatever that shall be in the future.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with a computer game developer while sitting at the same table at a recent wedding. He graduated from a highly ranked University and worked for a prominent gaming company. I asked him if he was seeing kids’ video games being made that were interested in teaching developmental skills. He reported that the main industry goal is to make a profit, and that educational games didn’t bring in big returns. Consideration for kids’ developmental futures is actually not a priority. He said the industry was more about getting the kids hooked and wanting more video games.
Working with attentional skills and brain development for over 15 years, I understand that the format for media is often designed to influence addiction as well. The constant frame changes present in our current video formats trains the brain to change focus every 1-2 seconds. This is detrimental for developing brains. It lays down architecture that decreases long term attentional skills. Additionally, the executive function centers of the brain are off, and these are the ones that allow for sustained attention, task completion, and problem solving. Video games are similar.
In France, for example, no children under the age of 3 watch TV, as per the French way of thinking. Why? Research study after research study has found that media use at early ages has a significant negative effect on speech skill development and motor learning. In the US, the American Medical Association recommends no TV viewing for kids under the age of two, but profit-driven media companies market their wares to parents who actually are told it will enhance their toddlers’ development. Again, profits take precedence over the betterment of our children. So limiting family media time, and actually not introducing media to children until they are already exhibiting strong attentional skills is recommended. So What is the Toddler Parent to do in the meantime?
Try following these simple ideas to create an environment that your toddlers will love, and will hopefully provide parents with time to make dinner or take a break when necessary.
Top 10 List for Parenting an Attentional Toddler/Child:
1. Un-plug media for toddlers and young children, and create a time and space for adults to check media when children are not around. Use tools such as a smartphone to connect with other, as a way to model connection, not addiction.
2. Create a child-safe play space that is neat and more “low” stimulation than “high” stimulation. Visually busy walls in classrooms decrease attention in students. Make your home well organized with bins, and shelves where clutter and toys can be put away.
3. Set up toys and activities that are easily accessible so
kids can get them on their own. Gross motor activities like
indoor bowling, sit-and-spins, and other indoor-outdoor safe games are idea for this age.
4. Select and provide toys that encourage creativity such as building and problem solving construction games. The younger the child, the bigger the blocks.
5. Rotate toys every 2 months or so to keep the toys interesting. Use big bins to keep them orderly and easily stash-able each month. Kids will love to pick their own games and toys, as choice and curiosity rule!
6. Sensory games, toys and activities that focus on physical touch. Soft toys, pompoms, goo, building pillow forts, getting covered in pillows (safely) and playing games of tickle, tag and HUG! The touch sense is what needs stimulation at this stage of development the most.
7. Happy and joyful play with positive words and encouragement. Laying down basic neurons for successful feelings and fun play will come in handy when they get older and bigger challenges arise. When a child likes to work thought new experiences with their parent, they have a life-long support right from the start. They will be braver and more willing to try things given a strongly connected parental relationship.
8. Kids crave limits. Working with kids showed me that firm and gentle limits win the kids over every time. Following firm limits with positive and specific
praise makes kids feel proud and able to self-regulate. They know that, given certain limits, they can control themselves. As long as the parent is safe, meaning that they (the parents) are not hitting or yelling in the home, and are providing food, clothing and safety, kids trust the parents’ rules are in their best interest. If the kids can follow these limits, they feel über safe.
9. Use puppets! It sounds strange, but emotional regulation helps attentional skills. I have had kids tell my puppets things
they would never have told me otherwise. Hard emotions are easier felt and processed when aided by a fluffy puppet. I have had kids tell my puppets they didn’t want to be on their ADD medicine, just because the puppet was “acting” hyperactive and that maybe “the puppet needed some medicine”. Your kids will totally dig puppets, and even more so the sillier you get!
10. Sit and read books, for at least 20 minutes every day. Make sure the pictures are of good artistic quality if you are doing picture books. The more realistic the pictures, the better. As your toddler grows they will notice more and more details in the pictures. As you begin reading more and more words, your child will begin following the basic words and develop eye-motor skills. Finally, the attentional head/neck position they will use for the rest of their life is the exact position for reading a book. The position of head tilted forward and down is the position that facilitates attention for learning. The positional system in your inner ear knows this, and it’s important to develop brain neurology in this position.
So you come home with your new beautiful baby with no instruction manual. It seems there is a new challenge everyday, and you just don’t have any idea how well you are doing as a new parent. Doesn’t seem fair does it? Especially, because you would like to be the best parent ever, since you love your little darling so much.
But the good news is that developmental milestones are the markers we can use to see if we are parenting well! So there is a way to make sure we are giving our kids what they need. Just no one told us!
The closest thing we have to seeing how well we are fairing, from a developmental perspective, are developmental milestones. A sort of “Developmental Report Card” for the parents. The reason I say “for the parents”, is because if parents make good choices for their babies and kids, then babies and kids flourish. If they don’t make good choices for their babies, then there are “developmental gaps”, as well as a whole bunch of bad behaviors.
By checking in with developmental milestones from the beginning of your child’s life, you can see if your baby is progressing in gaining the skills they need. Milestones are not an exact science and every child is different, but you will start to see patterns in your child’s development if you pay attention. You will find ways to adjust or support you babies environment so they flourish. As they grow older you can keep an eye on their development as well.
Working in developmental for 17 years, I have seen more than my share of parents who have differing levels of concern for their child’s development, with some too busy, too inattentive, or to self absorbed to check in on their own parenting skills. But by an large, most parents do care.
The plot thickens when we realize that as parents, we can’t see our own maladaptive patterns and how they are affecting our own kids. To ward off habits like getting over busy, spending too much time on our devices, and neglecting our own emotional health and self care as parents, we can use milestones to guide us back onto a path of wellness for our whole family.
Paying Attention To Our Parenting Choices
Mindfulness is of course important because it allows parents to focus. Spending just a few minutes each week looking at a milestone guide can give you the edge in keeping your kids on track.
Non-Judgement is also important here. You look, watch, take data, and report. No judgement. No “I am so wrong”, or “I totally messed this one up”. You look, see, and take data. AND make adjustments accordingly.
Finally, by comparing your data to Developmental Milestones, you get a score. Not a grade, just a score.
Did your data match the developmental milestones? Is your baby meeting the benchmarks, to a greater or lesser degree? Or are they not even near the developmental milestone benchmarks.
Where do Developmental Milestones Come From?
Developmental milestones are taken from objective observation of literally thousands of babies. Usually, they are taken by university professors, as part of scientific studies, or by clinical therapists. They are the “average” markers for child development, guiding parents to get an idea of what average skill development looks like so their children can do good work in school, behave in the community, etc.
It is very possible that your baby or child may be ahead of average in some areas, right about average for other skills, and a bit behind in a few areas. But what if there are several areas of development that are lagging behind?
It’s time for change. Refocus. Make sure you are giving you kids the developmental experiences they need. Asking a friend, hiring a therapist, or researching online for activities and care ideas would be the recommendation.
Looking at your child’s development can be helpful for future skill attainment. Early detection is key!
Will Developmental Milestones Help My Kids?
Yes! I have used this approach with success. For example, I noticed that my own children were on the lower end of size developmental milestones, being little “peanuts” as I so lovingly call them. We didn’t worry because growth was consistent and within normal. But when I noticed that my 10 months old baby was not sleeping through the night when the average baby was sleeping through the night, I changed what I was doing. We set more structure, kept her up a bit more during the day, built in more social time, and got a noise machine for her to sleep with. With those changes, our little baby became a serious snoozer!
I have seen the same changes make a difference in my work as a therapist. Giving parents ideas for changes at home make a difference. The kids most often grew in skills more rapidly when the developmental milestones charts were used.
Mommi’s Developmental Milestone Guide
Without a therapist, it’s hard to know where to get a good Milestone guide. So I’m going to share with you the development guides I use in my therapy practice. These are the highest quality guides you can use. They are statistically proven to show what a child needs to know. They allow progress to also be shown statistically.
All you really need is to keep this guide somewhere close and where you will remember to refer to it. Printing our works the best. I really suggest you put it up in your home. Our devices might provide an alarm or reminder to check in with the development guide each week too.
Once you know what you need to be working on with your child, just search around for some great activity ideas. I use Pinterest, but find I often forget hours later what I found online. I really like to use books from the library and write lists of what I plan on working on each week. Usually 1 or 2 activities added in to our buys schedule keeps me moving in the right direction for helping my kids gain new skills at home. In therapy, I usually have about 5 activities per week I am working on with each child.
The areas below are the most prominent developmental areas to look at with your child. Take a look. Make a list. Have of a goal of doing activities with you kids. It will make a difference. AND you can feel like you are parenting well!
Basic Developmental Milestone Categories Include:
Fine Motor Development
Gross Motor Development
Emotion Development/ Emotional Regulation
Symbol Use for Letters And Numbers:
Reading Skills and Comprehension
note ** I should note that some children do have specific conditions that warrant therapy, and it is always good to check with a therapist if you feel as a parent your child may have a specific problem. However, this article is targeted at developing kids without congenital difficulties or a developmental diagnosis.
This list is just the beginning of getting to understand you kids development. Below are some links to more detailed developmental information from the best therapists I have found who are writing about the topic of developmental milestones.
Detailed List of Resources for Developmental Milestones
Oktoberfest parties can be fun for kids, and a time for them to eat well and try new foods. My family proved it can be done!
So many families enjoy the sights and sounds of Fall. It’s colorful, cozy and most of all FULL of candy and sweets. Besides candy and pumpkin specialty sweets, how can we get our kids to eat a decent meal when they are flooded with creepy, gooey, pumpkin-y treats? And on top of all the sugar and chocolate, what really stinks, is that fall is the time of year they need nutritious food the most so they don’t come down with a case of the “Ick” (aka cold and flu).
But I have been around the block a time or two with kids and food, from extreme picky eaters as clients, to kids at birthday parties that won’t even try a cupcake due to it’s color and shape. Fall food for kids is a walk in the park, and this park is full of beautiful leaves and tasty treats. So no worries; it’s harvest time!
Why Oktoberfest? Using Creativity to Feed Kids.
My kids are pretty good eaters, but I have to be honest. I work with them a LOT on growing our own food, knowing our farmers, teaching them how to bake and cook, and setting the expectations that they eat well in order to get sweets. Oktoberfest is one fall party that is going to make my job easy.
First off it’s a party. A great big harvest party, and except for the beer, it is one party that has lots of delicious food as a focal point that is kid-friendly. With a little research and a look in my Slovak family cookbook, my imagination and party plans start to seem very, very possible.
Even better yet, my cousin is throwing a picnic this weekend and I have hinted about the Slovak and German family roots we share as a reason to have ethnic food. She gets the hint and starts planning the menu, but with some minor reservation. She needs to feed almost 10 kids and isn’t sure how to turn Oktoberfest food into kids’ food. I assure her that we can easily transform the picnic into a family memory that will include the kids.
Why Family Makes Food All The More Delicious
It isn’t a secret that eating with family makes families stronger. But as a developmental therapist, it’s often forgotten that parental example of eating is one of the strongest indicators of how well (or poorly) a child eats. This says that parents and family, including siblings, set the example for the kids. Family members that realize the impact their eating habits has on future generations usually choose to eat more mindfully.
So getting together, sharing food, and being social are key factors in teaching kids to eat. So picking some foods that are healthy when having a family meal or a party is essential.
A Pot Luck is a Lucky Pot.
If everyone can bring a dish that is built around a theme, with the goal of making for a delicious meal, then how could a family party not be successful? Duplicate foods, too many of one item such as desserts, and food allergies make the modern family party a little tricky.
It was best for the host, my cousin, to check in with all the guests ahead of time to see if there were any food allergies before planning. She discovered that we needed to address gluten free and dairy free options.Then the menu can be developed and volunteers can be asked to bring specific foods. For our family Oktoberfest, my mom had already offered to bring 2 dozen pierogies. Off to A delicious start!
Bratwurst is a tasty choice for Oktoberfest!
Brainstorming an Oktoberfest Meal for Kids
It’s always a good idea to have a plan when hosting a party, especially when kids are involved.
Now for some there may be no need to go beyond the buttery pasta pocket filled with potato and cheese that is the classic pierogie, but being realistic about what kids might find tasty, and also what they might need in terms of well balanced nutrition, my cousin and I come up with a few ideas for kids food.
There are so many choices when it comes to Oktoberfest foods. With options ranging from bratwurst sausages to German potato salad, we have a good start. Add in pretzels, cider, spaetzle (fried noodles), pierogies (stuffed dumplings), sauerkraut, simple Instant Pot pulled pork goulash, cucumber salad, stuffed cabbages, and more. My German, Hungarian and Slovak ethnic ties of a few generation ago make this menu a dream! This is a super easy meal plan endeavor.
But how to make this all kid friendly? Easy.
A meal of Bratwurst and mashed potatoes (WITH toppings from the mashed potato bar) make a great meal for kids. Just add mustard!
Super Easy Oktoberfest Food For Kids
Here’s the list we came up with, which we easily assigned to family members to bring the day of the party.
Bratwurst Sausages cut up in small bites and a gluten free pretzel stick to use as a handle to dip each bite in stone ground mustard
Slovak breaded and fried chicken thighs
Pierogies (stuffed noodles and butter)
Spaetzle Fake-Out: Instead of fried noodles, just make noodles of any shape and add melted butter and kraut
Pretzels and dipping sauce
Mashed potato bar with toppings including kraut, both organic cold garlic and hot, diced sausages, cubed brats, butter, salsa, cheddar cheese, and pulled pork goulash. Serving glasses were available to make the mashed creations look like ice cream sundaes!
Pulled pork goulash (Instant Pot)
Hot dogs wrapped in dough (what some call Pigs in a Blanket)
Cucumber Salad (Slovak style with vinegar and paprika)
Apple cider and water to drink
Sausage in dough clothes make a fun food for kids at Oktoberfest! They are always a wiener!
Now most of these foods are easy to make and with a quick internet search they are easy to create from a good recipe. But our family has some true favorite recipes to share. Here is one my cousin made that was AMAZING!
Simple Instant Pot Pulled Pork Goulash
This recipe was made using the Instant Pot manual function.
Ingredients 2-3 pork loin or butt roast (bone in optional, cut in half if too large for pot) 2 T ghee ½ onion (chopped) 2 cloves garlic (minced) Sliced white mushrooms (12 oz) Penzey’s Steak Seasoning 2 T Hungarian Sweet Paprika 1 can diced tomato (14.5 oz) 3 cups organic beef broth 1 jar roasted red pepper strips (drained) Ground black pepper
Instructions 1. Set Instant Pot to Sauté function. 2. Trim all visible fat from roast. Cut in half if too large for pot. 3. Add ghee to instant pot when ready. 4. Sprinkle pork with steak seasoning. 5. When ghee is hot, brown pork on each side until nicely browned, could take up to 10 minutes. Brown in batches if halved. 6. While pork is browning chop onion, prepare mushrooms, and mince garlic. 7. Remove pork to a plate. 8. Add onions to pot and sauté for 3 minutes. Sprinkle paprika over onions and add garlic. Stir and brown for another 3 minutes. 9. Stir in mushrooms and brown another 5 minutes. 10. Return pork and add diced tomatoes, roasted pepper strips, and beef stock to Instant Pot. Lock lid and cook on manual function for 60 minutes at high pressure. Let pressure release naturally. 11. Shred pork using two forks. Set pot to keep warm until serving time. Suggestions Add ½ t caraway seeds in step 9 optional Roast your own red pepper Serve over mashed potatoes with dollop sour cream Cook in slow cooker for 8-10 hours on low, or high 4-6
How Our Family’s Oktoberfest Celebration Helped the Next Generation Eat Better.
After the celebration, it was clear we had some solid new food our whole family enjoyed. My daughter told me she had a blast, and loved all the amazing and wonderful food. She said this to me the next day without me even asking. So a shout out to my family -“You are one Oktoberfest inspiration for the next generation of kids! I am proud to be Frau Melissa in this group of Eastern European Foodies!”
Kids’ Food Winners for Oktoberfest
The sauerkraut and black forest cake were the clear winners at our Oktoberfest celebration, but the Goulash came in a very strong Third.
Octoberfest food that our family loved. Sauerkraut and sausage took first place.
The Black Forest Cake was delicious and an easy new food for kids to explore. It took 2nd place this Oktoberfest!
Kids love soup, so this goulash was an easy new food for kids to try. It took 3rd place, but it was so good I took seconds.
Visit Swami Mommi on Pinterest to share a pic of what easy food you cooked for Octoberfest, or let us know how it went! Hopefully your family and especially kids found it wonderful!
10 Good Habits For Caring For Your 1 Month Old Beautiful Baby
We have many options for prenatal care. There are many classes we can
take as moms and dad expecting a baby, and there are many different
Of course, we now have to deal with insurance restrictions on where
we birth, based on our insurance carrier, and we often have somewhat
limited natural birthing options, however if there is a will there is a
way to get the birthing experience you desire. Keep looking for what
feels right to you.
Postpartum Care is another thing altogether. After
experiencing my blissful birth in the hospital, I was left without much
care. I was very fatigued despite having my amazing husband on homemaker
duty for 4 weeks while he was on paternity leave. Breastfeeding was
tiring through the night, I was of course hormonal, and just getting
used to my regular body again. It was rough.
Once my baby was here, I decided I would use Pinterest and Social
Media to see what I could do to welcome my beautiful baby in a blissful
way. Thanks to social media, I felt that I was not alone in wanting to
make postpartum a good experience. There were many posts on Pinterest
and many blogs focusing on this issue.
Thanks to social media, as well as my daily meditation, I felt a part of the sisterhood of new moms connected in the daily challenges and successes of being a new mom!
Here is a list of things you can do to welcome your
beautiful baby in a blissful way so positive memories and radiant health
can be a part of your postpartum story too!
1. Rest: You deserve it. You just gave birth! That is amazing! Congratulations.
2. Breastfeed (if you can): St. Clair Lactation was
amazing. If you are birthing I suggest this hospital simply based on the
lactation department alone. My first baby did not get to breastfeed. I
tried. My second, thanks to St. Clair Lactation has taken to the breast
wonderfully, mostly because they were so direct in how they taught me
what I needed to know. Having said that, it is not easy. It takes
extreme will, especially in the first 3 months. It gets somewhat easier
after that, and you have experienced a bond with your baby that is very
unique. Check out http://kellymom.com/ for great breastfeeding resources.
3. Baby Message and Bath: Use coconut or jojoba oil
(find at Whole Foods) for a little message before a bath. Message only
to your babies enjoyment, and stop if it is too much. Make sure to towel
off excess oil so they are not slippery and use extra care when bathing
them and taking them out of the bath. I find that my baby is slippery
when coming out of a bath even when I don’t do the message before hand.
4. Jojoba Oil: This oil is balancing and helps heal
and support skin. I used it where ever my baby was dry, and on her
cradle cap. Within an hour her skin was rebalanced.
5. Calm Sensory Environment: Newborn babies have
fully active hearing, so limit loud music and T.V., especially media
that has violent content. Calming music is great. Sitting in nature is
also soothing. Going to the mall and then a noisy restaurant is too much
too soon. The longer they can grow their brain in a calm soothing
environment, the better. Your calm baby will thank you. Even if you
have a difficult to sooth baby, it will help in the long run.
6. Have a Night Routine for Baby: It helps them get
used to the idea that extended sleep is nearing. Give a bath, sing a
song, read a familiar book, say a prayer, breastfeed, or whatever you
feel is special to you and your baby. Do what feels good to you, just do
7. Practice the “Magic 2 Questions”: Is my baby
crying because 1. She is hungry? or 2. She is sleepy? If you find that
you are eventually good at answering these questions for your baby, your
baby will most likely not cry as much.
8. Speak Loving Words: Create loving habits now.
Promise to treat your baby with love when you talk to them. They have a
fully operating hearing system and they are learning with every word you
say. Let them know you love them and respect them. Even if you didn’t
feel loved as a child, make the change now and commit to positive change
in your family line. Use Loving Words.
9. Relax: Enjoy your baby. Your baby deserves to get
to know you. What we give our kids today, comes back to us later. Don’t
let this opportunity slip by. Your heart will thank you for it.
10. Don’t Yell at Your Baby: Yelling is as
destructive as hitting. Don’t hit your baby either. I know this may seem
basic, but it happens a lot. I have seen it when working with some of
my patients with developmental delay. The bottom line: When you baby feels safe, they develop normally. If they feel stressed or unsafe, they don’t. So don’t yell or hit your baby, and don’t let anyone else do it either. Protect your baby.
One extra habit that is super important! #11. Play With Your Baby:
Newborns can hear, can become familiar with songs, and can understand
basic words like eat, sleep, and “I Love You”. Once they are 3 months,
their smiles will prove it. Let them explore baby safe toys, touch
different textures and tickle their feet. As a mom, you will enjoy this
“baby play” maybe even more than they do.
Depression, the Baby Blues, hormones, no sleep, healing body. Yes,
there is so much going on after birthing, and what used to be a 5-7 day
stay in the hospital for birthing aftercare, has become 1-2 days. Some
women like short stays, but some of us need more. I was one of them.
And because I am not in the minority, by any means, I thought I would
share what I learned to help me feel better during my postpartum
period. Actually, most of what I learned about caring for myself, by new
baby and the rest of my family I learned as a therapist and from doing
my own research online and in books. With 80% of women in the United
States experiencing some form of postpartum blues, I think we all need
to share our knowledge on this topic.
I should also recommend that if you are a mom reading this who is
experiencing postpartum depression, seek professional help. Your family
doctor or OBGYN will have the skill to determine how best to help you.
There is no shame here. Get help. It will help you, your baby and your
Comforting Postpartum for Mom
Ideas shared here helped me. I did not have postpartum depression or
the blues, but I sure was tired, new to breastfeeding, at times unsure,
at other times emotional and hungry! The ideas I’ll share helped and if
you are feeling similar, they might just help you too.
Experiencing such an awesome delivery, I wanted a postpartum time
that was equally as blissful. Pittsburgh had little to offer me so I
turned to social media. I got my answers and turned extreme fatigue into
Also while digging through my basement on afternoon, I found a Yoga
Journal Magazine from several years back. The magazine contained an
article about Ayurvedic postpartum care for women who had just gone
through birth. I really liked the different activities that the magazine
author discussed so I began to research more information on the topic
of Ayurveda and postpartum care. I was confident, having used Ayurveda
practices in the past, both in my professional and family life, that I
was on the right track.
Here is a list of 5 super easy and comforting postpartum activities you might try to feel your best after birthing.
#1. Warm and Soft blankets: Using
uber soft blankets to sleep in instead of sheets made me feel cozy.
These blankets I got special, and although they cost a little, the days
following birthing were deeply restful as a result.
#2.Warm milk an hour before bed with cinnamon, cardamon, and maple syrup:
I risk sounding like a kid, but the warm milk before bed is not jus for
kids. It’s for mom’s too. Total comfort. I used rice milk, and
substituting different types of milk is ok if allergic to cow’s milk.
#3. Whole body warm oil message daily:
I started with coconut oil, and then eventually got a bottle of
balancing jujoba oil. Many sources recommended cured sesame oil.
#4.Wrapping my belly: It isn’t
certain if and why belly wrapping is beneficial for everyone, and it
wasn’t necessarily an Ayurvedic suggestions, but I decided to try it
anyway. I realize I’ll need to do some core body work to obtain a more
conditioned abdominal muscles going forward, but the belly wrapping
itself was very comforting. It just felt like a big hug for a job well
done. It was supporting to my abdominal tissues and organs, as well as
lower back. I felt great in my clothes, and messaged my tired abdominal
muscles during the morning and afternoon when I wore it. I tried using a
muslin cloth and ace bandages, as well as the combination, but had no
luck, as the material kept shifting. I eventually went to Target and
bought a tight elastic abdominal wrap in my size. Apparently called
“shape wear”, some women wear them all the time, even when they did not
recently give birth. Think modern comfortable girdle.
# 5. Deep sleep: After reading “Birthing from Within” with Pam England, http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/
as well as several Ayurvedic sources, I felt good about my choices
before giving birth. Knowing that sleep was the fuel of my daily life, I
took special note when England suggesting not being averse to bottle
feeding or supplemental formula for a better postpartum, especially
related to mood. Additionally, Ayurveda sources noted how deep sleep is
necessary to allow deep healing after the huge task of giving birth.
After my husband went back to work, I needed deep sleep to feel
better so we began at week 5, 1 formula feeding at bedtime. I pumped and
stored away the milk for the future, an added bonus. We continued to
breastfeed the rest of the time. The formula, as well as keeping baby up
a bit more during the day helped get me the rest I needed.
#6 One to Grow On: One to grow is “to bed before 10pm”.
I’m still working on this one, but the closer to 10 or earlier to bed,
the better I feel. As I move through week 5 and 6 of postpartum, I hope I
can give myself this added gift.
So all the best for your postpartum, for your baby and your entire
family. Remember, because it feels great, you can be your own postpartum
Swami Mommi too!
Pregnancy can seem like forever. But looking back after birthing it can often feel like the blink of an eye. Whatever your experience, it is a time to prepare yourself and family for the new baby, cherish your own creative power, and take care of yourself so you can stop to notice the joy during this amazing time in your life.
Make Sure You Take the Time to ENJOY. (Embody Joy)
Trust your own Wisdom, or develop it further.
Sacred life is born through you. This life is Eternal.
Breastfeeding Styles: What Type is Your Little Feeder?
I know we all talk about what type of personalities moms have before and after birthing, and how that might affect their success at breastfeeding. I for one thought that my organized style could get in the way of my “free-feeder”. I have learned to work with my little bundle and help her, just like she helps me. I have realized it’s not just about my personality, but hers too!
After reading the Sears book, “The Breastfeeding Book”, I was able to figure out what type of feeder she was. The Sears describe several different personalities of breastfeeding babies, so for fun, I will list them here taken directly from their book. I should note this is a great book that takes mom’s from newborn through toddler breastfeeding!
Breastfeeding Personality Styles:
The Gourmet: Baby relishes everything about breastfeeding- the taste of the milk, the feel of mother’s skin, the suck, the swallow. He licks, fondles, nestles, and goes to great length to prolong the experience.
The Efficiency Expert: She gets right down to business. She can drain a breast in five minutes and finish the other side just as quickly. She has places to go and people to see. She doesn’t miss much
The Nip’n’ Napper: He alternates between eating and sleeping. Newborns often exhibit this sort of personality.
Mr. Suck a little, Look a little. He is easily distracted. This on and off the breast behavior is typical of 2 to 4 year olds, who can now see across the room.
The Luxuriator : She loves to breastfeed so much that she often settles into a comfortable nursing position, like you would in an easy chair. She plays with your nipple, your hair, and what ever else is within patting distance. While luxuriating, she may pause and gaze adoringly at your face and reward you with an appreciative smile, as if to say. “Thanks Mom, I like being here.”
I think my baby has gone through several of these personality types, and I have loved them all. It is actually good to know them, so when new personality phases show up, we realize it’s just a phase. It seems to me that as babies develop and grow they change how they feed, making this whole breastfeeding time so exciting and interesting. From the newborn who wouldn’t eat without a cool towel on her forehead to keep her awake, to the loving gazes my baby gives me of late, I can’t think of a more fun way to explain to friends and family how my little baby eats. I hope you enjoy the list too!
A recipe from African babies that will be nutrient rich for every baby that eats it!
Hungry Babies Need Food
In our suburban area of Pennsylvania, there were more than 250 babies in need of food last year. That’s not even including the kids and other family members who were in need of food. This is staggering, given the Whole Foods and Giant super food stores not far away. Why are there so many babies that are hungry in an area that has so much food?
It seems hunger is a world wide problem, and yes, right here at home too. Lack of food, lack of money, or lack of knowledge on what to feed our precious babies all contribute to malnutrition.
Helping Baby’s Worldwide with First Foods
Travel to Africa taught me a thing or two about how to help kids in a different culture. My take home message was, “Let them lead the way.” I might know health care in the United States, but had little cultural reference for life in Africa, specifically Kenya. Ethnocentrism, a way of thinking that my own way is best, can cripple a “do-gooder” like me in a different culture, and I was blessed to have the leaders in our group warn us of it’s misleading ways.
On the flip side, other cultures can inform us and provide us with an alternative way of thinking, which we can then apply to our own life. For example, I came home wanting a more loving and caring health system, and a less mechanical and technological focus. I saw real people getting better with care and love, and little medication in Africa. I saw communities bring strength to those who were suffering with very little technology. Healing through hands on care, time spent, and commitment to a good outcome.
Baby Puree from Africa that has all the necessary nutrients. Protein, fate and carbohydrates.
A Guide for Baby’s First Foods
Having shared such an amazing visit with many Kenyan’s, and to still have friends in Uganda and Kenya, I know that there is a need for more information and solutions for good infant nutrition. Guidance for babies first feedings are relevant to us here in the United States, as we are currently looking at infant malnutrition and mortality as well. In my state of Pennsylvania, we in fact have a very high infant mortality rate.
It’s time for everyone to contribute to a solution.
To contribute, I’m sharing an amazing recipe from the blog “Nutrition Normalised” as a simple feeding solution provided from Mulago Hospital in Uganda, Africa. At “Nutrition Normalised” the tag line refers to ending malnutrition with everyone contributing to the solution. It’s time we all had the welfare of children on our radar, weather at home or abroad.
Weather you are a mum in Africa, a mom in a food desert in the United States, or a mom who is so busy she can’t eat enough to support breast feeding (yes, a sad but often result of stress), or a cook at a homeless shelter in the United States, this recipe is worth sharing. It’s well balanced and supportive to a growing baby.
Given 20 years of feeding experience, not only am I concerned with the ability of a child to enjoy the texture of the food they eat so they can build sold foundations and happy food experiences early in life, I am also wanting highly nutritious food for each baby. This is a great recipe, first because it can be mashed into a very thin texture. Remember to check with you pediatrician to make sure the texture is a safe texture for your first feedings. Some babies need a runnier texture, others need it thicker.
Nutritionally, it looks good too. I see protein, fat, and oil in a balanced proportion. All this can be purchased at a local grocery and frozen to last several days for multiple meals at a low cost. When buying ingredients try to get them as fresh and pesticide free as possible. For a complete Baby First Foods guide check out the Swami Mommi First Foods Guide.
Processed (cupcake above) and store bought baby food is not packed with the necessary nutrients baby needs.
In the United States, we use a lot of pesticides so fresh organic beans and frozen casava may be the best choices. Also, when feeding fish make sure to see if they are third party verified for low metal toxicity, as mercury is a high contaminant. The fish provides a strong fat good for brain development, but fish oil tested by a third party to control for heavy metal toxicity is recommended. I have personally done research and find Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA Oil to be good as of October 2018.
In the US, I would suggest making the Kitoobero, but only use fresh fish once every two weeks, and the Nordic Naturals 3-4 times per week as a supplement. We really do have polluted waters and there are warning now on how often to eat certain fish since they carry the pollution. However, only do this once you check with your pediatrician to make sure there are no reasons that would make it unsafe.
Fish oil is a supplement, not a food per say, so checking with your pediatrician is 100% recommended. I also suggest you do some research of your own to fully understand the benefits of Fish oil in developing children. In the recipe, I would suggest trying a little fish oil added at a time, to see if you baby likes it. Cooked fish is yummy, but a whole spoonful of fish oil can be overwhelming.
Wherever you live, make sure little babies don’t have unnecessary chemicals in their food, as growing is enough work for the babies body already. It doesn’t need to concentrate on detoxifying the body too. “Nutrition not Pollution” is a slogan I tell all the families I work with in my feeding practice.
Please share this with as many families and places online as you can. Let’s get the word out so our littlest babies have a strong start. It’s you and me who can make the difference, so let’s do it! Across oceans, or across social platforms, let’s make the world a little kinder for our babies.
Let’s work together to share good ideas and recipes so our kids can get what they need to grow strong and healthy!
For more ideas for food for your baby, that is as close to nature as possible, and also thoughtful about social considerations visit Baby Food Recipes and Ideas.
A Big Thank You to “Nutrition Normalized” for posting this great recipe!
“Be kind to yourself! Don’t judge your sensory play set up by how fancy it is but instead by the response you get from baby.”
“Use the basics to get great results. Sand. Rice. Leaves. Water.”
“Use nature to help you build a sensory bin. Create it with nature. Then put it in nature!”
Baby’s are ready to explore! The more sensory experiences they get in calm environments the better. Why a calm environment? Because they can become master sensory regulators! That means a calm kid now and into the future!
And as a mom and developmental therapist, I follow my instincts and keep it simple when it come to calming sensory play! I have found that the simpler the better.
Simple sensory play set-up for us moms keeps moms calmer. If mom is calmer, that helps the child to be calmer. Additionally, the simple set up, in my experience, allows for a calming affect. Simple setting. Simple materials. Items like rice, sand, water, and leaves for example might seem to plain, but they pack a big sensory load on a child’s developing sensory system. They are all you need to create mindful sensory play.
So baby and I are doing just that these days, exploring simple textures at our home where it is calm and free of distractions and chaos. (These activities can be done with babies, preschoolers, or older kids.) We often do these activities out in nature to make an even more serene environment as the backdrop for our sensory fun.
I am mindful of the calming environment I choose to complete the activity in, and also enjoy the environment when we are doing the activity. This allows for low distraction for baby and for me to be aware of the sights and smells and sounds. This is mindful parenting in planning and also mindful parenting when playing. The result is s sensory bin that is not only fun, but calming!
This activity works for older kids too, or kids that might need to learn to tolerate sensory textures with greater ease. By building experiences that are exploratory and fun, children create confidence in dealing with sensory information, knowing they can handle it, simply because they have been successful in the past.
So let’s dive in!
Today we chose rice!
Materials: Clean bin or bucket, 1-3 bags of dry rice, bowl for pouring, paper towel rolls, and a basic ring stacker toy
That’s it! Super Simple.
This activity lasted about 15 minutes, which I felt showed good attention for baby. Within the first few minutes, baby was in the bin and exploring! She needed my help to step over the rim of the bucket, but otherwise, she was in her sensory play zone!
When we got started, baby needed to touch and feel and EAT some rice. I figured this would happen. It’s new, and baby always explores new things with her mouth. I figured rice would be fine, and made sure to watch her 100% of the time to make sure not much of the raw rice could get eaten. I told her each time that she should not eat it and to take it our of her mouth. She did.
I don’t recommend beans or other larger items until baby isn’t mouthing anymore. If a grain of rice gets by my patrol, no big deal. It would get digested and expelled easily within the day. Larger beans like pintos or lentils are NOT what I would want to use. I certainly would not want to have to go searching for beans in baby’s mouth when I can easily use rice. Plus, if I stay calm not worrying about chocking hazards, baby stays calm, and we have more fun.
*As an added note, kidney beans should never be used with kids in sensory play no matter what the age. Kidney bean have toxins that need to be boiled off when cooking so they can be eaten safely. If kids get hold of them and eat them, or the dog decides to have a few, it won’t be good.
Once I knew baby was tolerating the rice on her feet and hands, I thought I would increase the challenge by sprinkling rice down on her. She got rice in her hair and didn’t seem to mind at all. She actually found it interesting and tried to “rain” the rice onto me too! The perfect time to sing a rain song such as “Rain, Rain Go Away” or “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, Baby is Snoring”.
Baby decided to make up her own game up too. Peek-a-boo is a great game in such a big bin! Can anyone find baby?
Sensory Play Can Be Over-Stimulating
I keep it simple with the toys on purpose so baby could enjoy the rice and not get over stimulated. Some babies actually find the rice to be too much sensory input on the skin, so be mindful if baby needs a break. Other kids don’t mind rice at all. It just depends on each kids sensory needs.
It’s easy to get over zealous, putting all kinds of texture combinations together with sensory play. But remember, we are trying to provided sensory input in an environment that lets baby stay focused and regulated. The more calm and focused, the better baby will process the sensory input and tolerate it in the future.
The most important sensory play rule when dealing with new textures really comes down to this: Don’t bring chaos, bring calm.
Be kind to yourself! Don’t judge your sensory play set up by how fancy but instead by the response you get from baby. Baby should enjoy the task for several minutes, attending to the different parts, taking in the new and unique textures, all while being calm. Such observations are good indicators that the new sensory input was processed well. It’s a sign you have done a good job planning.
We learned to pour too!
The bowl made a great scoop to show baby how to pour. This activity is a great way to introduce pouring before getting out the Montessori pitcher and practicing with beverages. Even better, tomorrow I am going to include the pitcher and let baby practice pouring rice from the pitcher to the container. Added fun!
So, give this sensory bin a try! We had such a great time! I could tell by the sparkle in her eyes! No kidding.
Share your own experiences if you give this a try or if you have tried something similar. Here at Swami Mommi want to hear all about you and your baby’s heart warming sensory play!