14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

If you are a parent with a baby that is more than a month old, you have probably heard about the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3).  This is a questionnaire that you will fill out every couple of months for your baby for the first five years, and it’s designed to screen for developmental delays.  The questions center around development in skills separated into 5 categories – communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal-social.  Each category contains 6 skills and asks you to rank each one on whether your child does it always, sometimes or not yet.  The score for each category is compared to what is considered average for a child of the same age.  It then is easy to tell if your child is at risk or falling behind in a certain category. 

While all the categories are important, this article answers the question “how to help baby develop gross motor skills” by focusing on activities that can be used to improve gross motor skill development in babies up to 18 months old.

14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

My son is one of those kids that is overly cautious and not into working any harder than necessary.  The result is that he has been behind in gross motor skill development pretty chronically for the first 1.5 years of his life despite being on track for the other 4 ASQ-3 categories. 

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some activities to incorporate to encourage the development of these important skills.  However, before you start, you will want to figure out what motivates your child.  For my son, food and car keys were the ultimate motivators.  Other items just didn’t hold enough appeal to get him to do things he didn’t want to.

Babies Not Yet Crawling

If your baby isn’t crawling yet, then focus on activities that build a strong motor skill base.

            Tummy Time

Tummy time is important from birth.  This is the first type of exercise baby will do start working on those motor skills.  If your baby hates tummy time, don’t be disheartened.  There are ways to do modified tummy time to get baby used to the idea.  Some ways to modify include using a Boppy pillow to prop baby’s chest up and laying on your back and putting baby on your chest.  These methods get baby off her back and used to being on her stomach.  However, it’s important to eventually progress to traditional tummy time for the full benefits.  You should aim for increasing amounts of tummy time (at least 30 to 60 minutes a day), but this can be broken down into sessions that are only a couple of minutes long.  Doing a minute or two of tummy time after every diaper change is a way to get in some good practice.


            Rolling

Rolling is one of the first major gross motor milestones.  Lots of tummy time helps encourage this skill, but once baby develops it, keep encouraging rolling.  Rolling is a great way for baby to start getting from point A to point B before crawling, and all that rolling helps further strengthen the abdominal muscles which are important for the upcoming gross motor milestones.

Baby rolling over to reach a toy is a great way to encourage motor skill development.

            Sitting

Baby will likely want to sit and look around well before she is actually able to stay upright on her own.  Encourage this by sitting baby on the floor between your legs.  Let her use your legs to help balance.  Slowly decrease the amount of support you provide and see how long she can sit before you need to help her rebalance.  At first this will be exhausting for baby but doing this consistently will quickly build up her stamina.

Baby sitting in a Bumbo seat to strengthen gross motor skills.

            Kneeling

Once baby has the core strength to roll over and stay sitting on his own, you can start encouraging him being on his knees.  There are a few ways to go about doing this.  An activity table is great because it’s low enough that baby can kneel and reach the buttons.  However, it’s too high to reach them while sitting.  Putting baby on his knees to balance against the table and play helps him get used to supporting his weight with his knees which is important for crawling. 

You can also help baby get into a crawling position and hold the hands and knees pose for a minute.  This can be done by helping to support baby’s legs in the crawling position and gradually decrease the support as baby gets stronger.

Baby kneeling by a play table helps get him ready to crawl.

            Jumperoos

Jumperoos can be fun for babies as they start to reach the point of having enough core strength to sit up.  These encourage putting weight on the legs and bending the knees to bounce.  However, keep in mind that while the legs get stronger, the support provided by the jumperoo is enough that core strength isn’t developed as much, so it’s important to encourage core strength development through other methods.

Note: Some babies are very interested and willing to get moving.  However, others are more reluctant and would prefer to have mom and dad (or older siblings) move them from point A to B.  Pay attention to your baby’s personality and know that you may have to let him struggle for a bit to learn that he is capable of moving himself.  With my son, he learned to roll, sit and stand while leaning against something.  However, he had no desire to move himself from laying to sitting or sitting to standing. 

A baby sitting in a Jumperoo and smiling.

Babies That Are Crawling (or close to it)

            Encourage Pulling To Stand

Before baby can walk, he has to be able to stand.  Some babies quickly figure out that they can get into a lot more trouble by pulling up on coffee tables and grabbing papers, cell phones or food.  However, if your child is more hesitant, pull out the super desirable object you identified at the beginning and place it on a low table.  Make sure your child is sitting near the table and knows the object is there. For some children that may be enough to entice them to stand.


Couch Climbing

If your baby isn’t willing to pull up on a coffee table, you may need to start with a lower object.  In this case, remove your couch cushion.  Sit baby on the floor by the cushion-less couch and use your tempting object to convince baby to pull up.  You may need to provide a little boost, and that’s okay.  Keep trying and each time provide a little less help.  Chances are good, baby will figure out he actually is capable of doing it himself. 

Once your child is pulling up, you can still use the cushion-less couch trick to teach baby to climb onto things.  A couch without a cushion is the perfect height for a new climber to gain some confidence.


            Playgrounds

Climbing is great for babies to continue developing their gross motor skills.  Playgrounds with play equipment involving steps, tunnels and slides are great for encouraging your child to explore, navigate different terrain and work on those climbing skills.  I suggest finding a playground that has separate play areas for little kids versus older kids.  This seems to keep a slower paced area that is safe for your little one to play without getting trampled by the bigger kids.  These little kid play areas are usually shorter which makes it easier for you to stay close and offer a helping hand while keeping your feet on the ground.

If you are struggling with bad weather, don’t forget to look for indoor playground options.  Many fast food restaurants and shopping malls have indoor play areas.  Many cities have indoor play centers of various designs as well.  These places can be great for getting energy out of a new mover on a rainy day.

Toddler playing at a playground.  Playgrounds are a great way to encourage gross motor skill development.

            Push Toys

Sometimes our kids are reluctant to walk because they lack confidence.  Push toys can be great for strengthening the walking muscles but still providing a secure, supportive feeling.  I really like this Melissa and Doug Alligator Push Toy as a starter push toy.  It’s solid and sturdy which provides a lot of support.  However, once walking with this got easy, a plastic push lawn mower was a good next step.  The plastic push toy wasn’t as stable, so it required more self-support from my son. 

I suggest incorporating a walk with the push toy into your daily routine.  We started walking down the street every day after I got home from work.  My son would push his toy down the sidewalk, and I would supervise and make sure he stayed on the sidewalk.  This helped him develop the necessary muscles while still feeling secure.  I found walking outside was more effective than inside because inside he kept running into things and would quickly get frustrated.


            Toys Requiring Hands-Free Standing

Toys that require your toddler to stand without holding own are great for distracting them enough that they will stand without support.  We got a plastic t-ball set that my son was intrigued by enough that he would stand and take an occasional step without any support. 


            Shopping Carts

This goes along with encouraging more walking.  Some stores have kid-sized carts that are just the right height.  However, if your local stores don’t have these tiny carts, kids can still help push the full-sized cart.  You will need to help, but pushing a big cart makes your toddler feel important and gets in valuable walking muscle exercise while you are shopping.


            Walking While Holding A Hand

Once our son would walk while holding someone’s hand, we started having him walk everywhere holding a hand.  When we went to the store, we would have him walk from the car into the store while holding our hands.  When we run errands, he spends a lot of time in a car seat, so this routine helps him get exercise while we get things done. 

We found that this, plus daily push toy walks and pushing the shopping carts really helped him get the confidence to take his first steps.


            Walking On Uneven Ground

Walking on surfaces that are completely (or almost) flat and hard is a great way to start.  However, to up the difficulty level for your little one that doesn’t want to let go of your hand, go for some uneven surfaces.  Walking through the grass or on the mulch at a playground is a great way to work on stabilizing muscles.


            Tempt the First Steps

Eventually, your little one will need to get brave and take the first unsupported steps.  You will start to notice when your child is ready to take the first steps and just needs to develop the confidence.  This is where you can pull out the shiny object you identified above.  Tempt your child with something they love but usually can’t play with, but only allow them to have it if they are standing unsupported.  You can also encourage them to step forward one or two steps to reach it.  Just make sure that you do provide the reward and let your child play with the object.

We did this with our son and car keys.  We went into the middle of the room and stood him up, then gave him the keys and let him stand on his own.  He was so entertained that he forgot that he wasn’t holding onto anything.  When he would realize and sit down, the keys went away, and we would start over.  We then started getting him to take one or two steps to get the keys.  Once we did that a couple of times, he suddenly realized he could walk and started walking everywhere.

Toddler standing up and looking in a wallet.

Did your child take off walking early or were they a late walker?  What worked for you to encourage gross motor skills?

14 Secrets to Influencing Gross Motor Skill Development

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How To Manage Living Far From Family When You Have a Newborn

How To Manage Living Far From Family When You Have a Newborn

Depending on who you ask, it can be a blessing or a curse to live far from family when you have a baby.  I spent an entire post outlining the pros and cons of having a baby when you live far from family. However, it may be the situation you find yourself in.  Here are tips for labor, delivery and postpartum when you live far from your family.

How To Manage Living Far From Family When You Have a Newborn

You probably don’t need your family there while you are in the hospital.

Your due date is really just a guess on when your baby will be born.  In reality, it will likely fall somewhere in a 4 to 5-week range.  This can make it really hard for family to plan travel to be there precisely when you are in labor without risking missing the baby entirely. 

Also, while you are in the hospital, you have your husband to help and an entire team of nurses and doctors taking care of your every need.  We didn’t even change a diaper until we got home because the nurses did it every time.  Depending on if you have a natural birth or C-section and what complications occur, you will be kept in the hospital anywhere from 24 hours to 4 + days after giving birth.  There really isn’t much for your family to do other than be in a cramped room.  To solve this, ask your doctor how fast past your due date they will let you go prior to induction.  Have the first family visit take place a week after that date.  This will ensure that baby is here and you are home prior to having family come.


Take advantage of family visits. 

When you live far from family, they are likely planning to visit for a week or more at a time to make the trip worth it.  Take advantage of this to have round-the-clock help.  I wanted my mom to be the first to come visit, and my mother-in-law to be second.  Therefore, I had my mom come 2 weeks after my due date (based on the above formula).  She stayed for 2 weeks.  Then my mother-in-law came and stayed for a week.  During this time, I pumped enough to have a bottle prepared prior to bed each night.  Then our moms would get up with the baby for the 6am feeding.  They were already awake because of the time difference, and it gave us a solid 6 hours of sleep before I needed to be up for another feeding.  The result was we felt pretty human the entire first month.

photo of a grandma with her newborn grandson who is yawning

Practice going out while you have help. 

While you have family visiting, go out to eat, go to church, go to the mall, etc.  Use the extra set of hands to help while you are learning how to juggle a newborn and everything that goes with a baby.  Make sure to get all my tips for going out with a newborn.


Plan for time without family prior to going back to work. 

If you will be returning to work after having a baby, you will want a week or two right before you go back where you don’t have family visiting.  This gives you, your husband and your baby time to figure out a routine that will work.  Check out my other tips for returning to work after maternity leave to make your transition as smooth as possible.


Schedule family visits with a buffer in between. 

When our son was born, the day my mom left, we dropped her at the airport in the morning and picked my mother-in-law up a few hours later.  In hindsight, it really would have helped to have at least a 24-hour buffer to adjust.  I was still emotional from my mom leaving, and not mentally ready for another visitor that fast.  I also wanted time to just hold my son and let him sleep on me without having to share him with family.


Plan the next visit before the current one ends. 

With the emotions after birth, it can be difficult saying goodbye to family.  I found it was easier to know when we would see each other again before the current trip ended.  Sometimes this was our family visiting again, other times, we visited them, or sometimes we met somewhere in the middle for an extended weekend.


Estimate how much time your guests will want you to entertain them versus entertaining themselves or simply being happy to take care of the new baby. 

My mom was happy to go out and do things, but also brought work with her to occupy herself if the baby was asleep and we wanted to rest.  We had other family that wanted time to go do the tourist things in the area and were happy to do this on their own.  Figuring out what everyone wants helps to manage expectations.

photo of parents with grandparents and a baby with napa valley in the background.

Get involved with a church. 

This is a great way to meet like-minded people.  If you find a church full of other young parents, they can be great support for you as you navigate new parent life.


Final Thoughts

If you are pregnant and don’t live near family, there are many pros and cons.  However, it’s important to make the best of it and have a plan in place prior to giving birth.  Consider who will be coming to visit, how long they want to stay, and what order you want them to come in.

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family

Maybe you love where you grew up and couldn’t imagine living far from the place you have always called home.  Maybe you are on the other end and spent high school counting down the years until you could escape to somewhere more exciting.  Either way, as a responsible adult you are now considering having kids and are wondering if you are better off raising your children near family or farther away. 

I’ve lived on the other side of the country from my family as well as my in-laws while having my first child.  Here are some things to consider about having kids while living far from family.

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family

I’m a positive person, so we will start off with the pros of living far from family.

Pros of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family


1. There is no pressure to allow family to be present at birth 

If you live a short drive from family, there is a good chance your mother, mother-in-law, sister, aunt, grandma, or anyone else you can think of may decide they are entitled to be present for the birth of your child.  You may not want an audience, but it can be really hard to tell the well-meaning family they aren’t invited.   If you live a plane-ride (or very long drive) away from the family, you won’t be able to predict exactly when you will go into labor, so they won’t be able to plan a visit without risking their stay ending before the baby is born.  It was really easy to have a labor, delivery and hospital stay without anyone except for my husband.  I was happy to show off our new baby once we got home, but the hospital stay was a whirlwind of recovering and figuring out breastfeeding.  I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else there.

Mom holding a newborn baby in the hospital.

2. You have more freedom to develop your own parenting style 

There are so many opinions on the “right” way to be a parent.  However, the right way for you is the way you and your husband decide to parent.  This should be a decision made based on your preferences and not on pressure from family.  Being far away means you don’t have family around offering their input as often.


3. You have more power over the visit schedule 

If you live near family, well-meaning family may feel entitled to drop by for a visit whenever the mood strikes them.  If they happen to be coming over to clean for you, then it may be welcome.  However, they likely aren’t planning on that.  If you live far from family, it requires planning visits ahead of time.  This allows you to make sure both families aren’t there at once (unless you approve it), and to have buffers between visitors if you desire. 


4. You and your husband learn to rely on each other 

If you have a great relationship with your mom, it may be really easy to get her help and input on every parenting question and call her for babysitting frequently.  However, it can be easy for you to rely more on family than your husband which can make it hard to form a parenting team.  Being far away decreases your ability to rely on family and allows for a stronger parenting team to be formed between you and your husband.


5. When family visits they stay with you 

This means that they are already planning to be present for those 2 am wakeups.  If there is a large time difference, you can utilize it to have family help with overnight feedings or rocking baby back to sleep.  We had almost four weeks of help between our mothers visiting right after our son was born.  During this time, I pumped enough to have a bottle prepared at bedtime each night.  Our mothers would get up with our son and give him a bottle for the 6 am feeding which gave my husband and me a six-hour stretch of sleep before I needed to be up for the next feeding.  The result is we actually felt pretty human during the first month.


6. Your child gets well-traveled at an early age

I believe helps make baby and the parents more adaptable to new situations.  My son went on 10 round-trip flights during his first year.  The first trip was stressful, but after that we got a system figured out and it wasn’t a big deal.  Here are all the tricks I learned for flying with a baby

Dad holding a baby on an airplane.

Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family


1. If you want family present at birth, this can be hard to plan 

Often affordable plane tickets have to be purchased well in advance.  With a 4 to 5-week range around the due date, it’s difficult to pinpoint when people should come to visit. 


2. Family doesn’t get to visit as much 

For your family to visit the new baby, either they need to travel to you, or you need to travel to them.  Also, when they come, they usually stay with you which means extended time with family versus short visits.  Depending on your situation, ever-present family may be a major additional stress when you are already stressed with a newborn. 


3. Family visits can be difficult if you have parents that don’t travel or have health problems that make traveling difficult  

If you are in this situation and will have to be the one traveling, make sure to get all my tips for flying with a baby.  You can also use my Family Travel Planner to make the travel planning process much easier.


4. You might feel like you are missing out 

We lived a 5-hour plane flight from all of our family for almost 3 years.  The only times I really broke down because I didn’t have family nearby was when we found out we were having a boy and when my mom left after visiting right after my son was born.  These were times when I did really want to share them with my family, and I felt like a phone call or FaceTime just didn’t cut it.

A couple holding a baby boy balloon.

5. You don’t have as much help 

When you live near family, they are often happy to babysit or be an extra set of hands.  However, living far from them means that you don’t have these built-in, free babysitters.  Friends can be helpful, but you can only impose on them for free babysitting so much.  Living far away meant we couldn’t go to the movies without paying a babysitter or going when we had people visiting.  We made a point of taking our son out to restaurants, the store and the mall starting when he was only a week old.  Therefore, it became normal for him and us, so going out to eat or shopping with him in tow isn’t a big deal.  Definitely get my tips for going out with a newborn to make your life easier.


6. Holidays can be hard 

For holidays, you will likely be traveling back to family or spending them without family.  Either way it can be hard.  We traveled back to visit family.  Like I mentioned above, traveling itself wasn’t a big deal.  However, with Christmas, it was difficult having to consider luggage allowances and making sure our son didn’t get too many large or heavy gifts that we would need to figure out how to get home.

Baby in a car seat surrounded by luggage.
This was the amount of luggage that we traveled with when visiting family for two weeks over Christmas and New Years.

7. Guilt trips from family about living far away 

You may hear comments from family (likely grandparents) about how they don’t get to spend time with their grandchild because he lives so far away.  Even if you don’t hear these comments, you may feel guilty that your parents don’t get to spend much time with their grandchild.  This is likely to be more significant if your baby is the first grandchild. 


Final Thoughts

Do the pros of living far from family outweigh the cons?  That depends on your family situation.  For us, we made do and logged some serious frequent flier miles.  It was good for my husband and I to grow as a couple and figure out the whole “new parenting” thing.  However, we will now live driving distance to our families.  It’s not close enough that people can drop in unexpectedly, but it’s close enough we can fill an entire car for the holidays and not have to worry about how much baggage we are dragging along.  For us, I feel like that is a good compromise.

What do you think? Do the pros or the cons weigh heavier in your opinion? Let me know in the comments!

Pros and Cons of Having a Baby While Living Away From Family

Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

Before becoming a mom, leaving the house to go to the store, or a restaurant or anywhere really was easy and took little thought or planning.  However, once you become a parent, leaving the house is a whole new level of difficulty. 

When my son was a newborn, leaving the house looked something like this:

  1. Nurse the baby
  2. Change a diaper and make sure clothing for everyone was weather appropriate
  3. Make sure diaper bag is fully stocked (don’t forget to grab my diaper bag packing list)
  4. Eat a snack/meal
  5. Nurse baby again
  6. Change diaper again
  7. Finally leave the house (~3 hours later)

Obviously, the amount of time it takes to prepare to leave the house can keep many new parents home bound.  However, getting out of the house as a new parent is essential for your sanity!

Unless you or your newborn has health issues or the weather is absolutely awful, I suggest starting to make short outings the first weeks after you come home from the hospital.  Here are my answers to common questions and tips for different activities that are completely doable with a newborn.

Where to Take a Newborn

Newborns are surprisingly portable.  Until about 4 months, they are able to sleep anywhere, and you can transport them both in and out of the car with a car seat and stroller travel system.  You can take a newborn most places that you would go anyway. 

It does take a little practice to juggle all the extra items you need to bring, and plan for feeding sessions. If you have family visiting, enlist help for your first few outings.  It’s great to have an extra set of hands and the person can spend time with you and the baby and no one is thinking about how messy the house is.

During my son’s first 2 months, we went to the grocery store, target, various restaurants, the mall, church, and wine tasting.  Enjoy the portability of your baby now because once they get older they become less portable and require more planning. Follow the tips below, and you can take your newborn out as part of your normal activities.

Taking a newborn out doesn't have too be extremely difficult.  You can do most activities with a newborn in tow.

Taking a Newborn Out Before 6 Weeks

Six weeks seems to be the magic number with babies, but things don’t really change that much at six weeks.  Your baby is still portable, and many children don’t get their first vaccinations until they are closer to 2 months.  The biggest thing that changed for us at six weeks was I went back to work (read more about that here and here).

The biggest concern with taking a very young baby out is that they will catch a virus.  Viruses that are minor annoyances for adults can result in severe illness in babies.  However, a few precautions can greatly decrease the chance of your baby catching something.

1. Don’t let others hold your baby

If someone asks to hold your baby, you are allowed to say no.  Exercise this right!  The less people that hold your baby, the less likely baby will get sick.  This also applies to letting people rub his hair, kiss him or touch his skin.

2. Utilize a car seat cover

Many respiratory viruses are passed through coughing and sneezing.  If you use a stretch car seat cover like this one, you can block respiratory particles from infecting your baby.  It also helps keep people from touching your baby and provides a dark, quiet area for sleeping.

3. Practice baby wearing

If you aren’t planning to carry the car seat with you once you get where you are going, then your best defense is baby wearing.  This keeps baby snug against you and protected from respiratory particles.  It also helps deter people from touching or wanting to hold your baby.


When can you take a newborn out for a walk?

You can take a walk with your newborn as soon as the weather cooperates.  You want to do your walk at a time of day where it isn’t super hot or super cold.  Also make sure to provide adequate warmth and/or sun protection.  Newborns have very fragile skin, so err on the side of too much sun protection in the form of a stroller shade, car seat shade, and/or car seat cover.  If the weather is okay taking the baby for a walk can be great for both of you, and you usually won’t have to fend off too many people.

The best time to take a newborn for a walk will vary by location.  You will want to decide based on the weather and what you feel like.  Chances are good your newborn will sleep for most of the walk anyway, so at this stage, you don’t need to worry about nap times.  Usually, earlier in the morning or early evening work well because the sun isn’t as bright as it is midday.  However, if the sun is out, you will still want to make sure baby is shaded.



When can I take my newborn to a restaurant?

You can take baby out to a restaurant as soon as you are ready to go out.  You will want to make sure your diaper bag is fully packed, so that you are prepared for any dirty diapers or feeding needs.  I found that taking the car seat into the restaurant is the best way to have a calm meal.  Infant car seats generally will fit into the booth and restaurants often have high chairs that when flipped over hold a car seat.


When can I take my newborn to church?

We took our son to church when he was 1 week old.  You will want to follow the tips above about keeping people away, so your baby doesn’t get sick, but otherwise, it’s pretty easy.  We took the car seat into the church and sat at the end of the pew so the car seat could be on the floor next to us.  This also allowed for a quick escape if necessary.  Just make sure you don’t pick a seat right next to a speaker. 

Many churches have a room for nursing mothers.  Scout out the location of this room when you arrive, so you are prepared if necessary.  Churches also usually have child care that extends to infants.  However, I would recommend keeping your baby with you for the first couple of months – usually they will sleep anyway.


Related Content

Can I take my newborn to a wedding or other family gathering?

Major family events are often ones you don’t want to miss, but your family and friends likely didn’t plan their special day around the age of your baby.  Therefore, you may find yourself needing to choose between taking your newborn or staying home.  My best friend got married when my son was 4 months old, so off to a wedding (on the other side of the country) we went.  Many of the principles from above apply here.  However, if it’s something that is going to have a DJ or other loud music, make sure to grab a pair of these baby headphones.  Without them loud noises can quickly overwhelm a newborn.  However, with the earmuffs, a party with flashing lights and dancing can be great fun for a baby.  My son loved dancing and looking at the lights with his headphones on.

Taking a newborn to a wedding with noise canceling baby headphones works well.
Photo taken by Josh + Jeanette

Final Thoughts on Leaving the House with a Newborn

Getting out of the house is good for the whole family, so you shouldn’t be scared to leave the house with a newborn.  Just make sure to follow these tips and plan short outings initially.  Pretty soon you will gain confidence and running errands or going places with your newborn won’t be a big deal at all.

Taking a baby out on an airplane doesn't have to be overwhelming.  This infant in a car seat looks very content in the window seat.

If you start getting really brave, you could fly with a newborn.  If you decide to brave that (we did when our son was 4 months old), make sure to read these Tips for Flying with a Baby.

Tips for Going Out with a Newborn

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Giving Medicine to a Baby 101: The Essential Guide

Giving Medicine to a Baby 101: The Essential Guide

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Giving Medicine to a Baby 101: The Essential Guide

We all have our go-to medications stocked in our medicine cabinets for the adult members of the family.  Maybe yours include Motrin, Tylenol, Triple Antibiotic Ointment, and/or allergy medications.  Most of us have a pretty good idea how to use these safely and can follow the directions on the bottle.  However, the game changes when we are talking about babies and toddlers.  They get the same ailments such as pain, fever, and allergies, but the directions on the packaging often don’t cover our littlest family members. Here is everything you need to know about giving medicine to a baby or toddler.

As a pharmacist, I wanted to provide answers to the most common questions parents ask. However, this information should not be taken as medical advice because I don’t know all the details of your child’s illness. 

Each situation is different, so it’s important that you use this information only as a guide and speak to your pharmacist and/or doctor about your child’s specific symptoms, and other characteristics.


When Should I Call the Doctor?

As a general rule of thumb, things are more severe the younger your baby is.  If you have a newborn, it’s a good idea to contact the nurse helpline or doctor whenever your baby is sick.  However, once your baby is a little older, you can treat low-grade fevers and minor colds at home as long as he’s generally healthy otherwise. 

Doctor’s offices will usually have a nurse helpline that you can contact with questions and they can help you determine if your baby needs to be seen.  When in doubt, err on the side of caution and call this number.  It’s free and the worse that happens is you sit on hold for a bit waiting for your call to be answered.


Reading Medication Labels

Over-the-counter medications or OTCs are medications that you can purchase without a prescription.  These are medications that the FDA has determined can be used safely based on the directions on the label. 

Drug Facts

The Drug Facts section on the label is where all the information you need to use the medication safely is located.  This is what the FDA has determined is necessary for you to know to use the medication without a doctor or pharmacist being involved.  It includes 7 sections which I will go over below.

Active Ingredient

The section states what ingredients are included in the medication with the intent of providing the intended action.  The drug is listed by its generic name and the amount and purpose of the medication are stated.  This section is how you can tell the difference between products with similar packaging and names. 

If you see ‘HPUS’ included in this section, it means that the medication is a homeopathic remedy.    Homeopathic remedies are beyond the scope of this article.  However, the basic principle is that illness is cured by giving tiny amounts of a substance that would be toxic in larger amounts.  Homeopathic remedy strength is indicated by HPUS and the less of a substance that the product contains the stronger it is.

Uses

This section lists the different symptoms the medication is likely to work for when dosed based on the information on the box.

Warnings

The warnings section is often the longest, but it’s a very important section.  Here you will find warnings about allergies, when to stop using and when to talk to a doctor or pharmacist prior to using the medication.

Directions

The directions are often what people jump to first, but the above sections are also important to read.  The directions state how much of the medication to take and how often to take it.  This is often divided into sections based on age.  However, you will find that many medications don’t providing dosing for children under 6 months or under 2 years.  This is because the FDA doesn’t think the medication can be safely used in this population without oversight from a doctor.

Other Information

This is other information that may be helpful such as how to store the medication.

Inactive Ingredients

These are the ingredients that aren’t expected to have beneficial effects.  These products are added to help form the tablet or liquid or to add color or flavor.  Medications all contain inactive ingredients in addition to the active one.  You would want to look at this section if your child has allergies as there may be an inactive ingredient that they are allergic to.  However, if you aren’t concerned about allergies, you can generally ignore this section.

Questions or Comments?

The final section is a phone number to contact the drug company if you have any questions or comments about the medication.


Giving Medications to a Baby

Medications for babies are in liquid form.  You will need a method to measure the dose and a method to administer it.  For measuring, you could use a syringe or measuring container.  Generally, medications will come with a plastic cup or syringe for measuring.  These are marked with milliliter or mL.  The directions on the packaging will tell you how many mL to give.  If the medication doesn’t have a measuring device or it gets lost, you can purchase one at most drug stores.

The measuring devices can also work to administer the medication. However, depending on the age of your child, a small cup may not work for giving the medication, but a syringe often works well for giving medication to a baby.  There are many handy devices available if you prefer.  These include pacifiers and tiny bottles that are designed for you to put the medication into them and then baby gets the medication while sucking.


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Giving medication can get challenging though, so parents have come up with some hacks for making the process easier.  For babies, a pacifier with an open back (like the hospital gives you) is about the right size for fitting a syringe into.  Cut a hole in the tip and while your baby is sucking on the pacifier, slowly squirt the medication out of the syringe.

For toddlers that have mastered drinking from a straw, cut the back out of an empty juice box.  Then put the medication in a small cup into the juice box for the toddler to drink from a straw.

What you don’t want to do is mix the medication into a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk or another liquid.  The reason is that often a child won’t drink the entire amount and then you don’t know how much medication was actually consumed.  Also, letting the medication sit in liquid for an extended period waiting for your child to drink it, can make the medication less effective.  If you do mix a medication into a drink, make sure that the entire drink is consumed in one sitting.

Antibiotic-Specific Tips

For antibiotics, you will need to make sure you shake the medication well before measuring out a dose.  Antibiotics come as suspensions which means that when they sit for an extended period, the medication will sink to the bottom of the bottle.  By shaking it, you make sure that the medication is evenly mixed before you measure a dose. 

Many liquid antibiotics need to be refrigerated and they are also only good for 10 to 14 days.  The pharmacist will tell you if it needs to be in the fridge and how long it’s good for.  It’s important that you keep antibiotics in the fridge if they require it.  This can also make it taste better which is a win. 

It’s important that your child take the entire course of antibiotics.  If the doctor prescribes it for 10 days, then you need to give it for 10 days.  Your child should start to feel better well before 10 days is up, but if you stop the medication too early, the infection can come back.  At the end of the prescribed treatment, you want to discard any leftover medication.  Antibiotics aren’t good for very long once they are mixed, so the medication won’t keep for future use.


Over-the-Counter (OTC) Baby Medicines

Baby Medicine for Fever

A fever is the body’s natural defense mechanism and indicates that there is some type of infection the body needs to fight.  Therefore, it isn’t completely bad.  If your baby has a mild fever and doesn’t appear to be too affected by it, then it may not need treated.  However, if a fever gets too high it can lead to seizures.  If your baby or toddler has a fever, it doesn’t hurt to contact the nurse hotline.  They may tell you it’s okay, but it never hurts to check since a fever does mean there is something else going on. 

If you need to treat the fever, the medications that could be used are Infant’s Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Infant Motrin (ibuprofen).  These medications are both available over the counter.  Make sure to read the directions on the product you are using because there can be slight differences. If you need help figuring out how much to give, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. 

When your baby has a fever, dehydration is more likely.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to have Pedialyte on hand to help encourage fluid intake.

Baby Medicine for Colds

There are a variety of readily available medications for adults with a cold.  However, these are not recommended for use in babies or toddlers.  If you see a product advertised as cold medicine for a baby or toddler, it’s likely a homeopathic remedy. 

Having a nose suctioning device like this or this is helpful to decrease congestion.  For a full list of what you can do to help your baby feel better, check out this post.

Baby Medicine for Allergies

This is another condition where the adult medications are usually not appropriate.  If your baby appears to have seasonal allergies, talk to your doctor about recommendations.  If you are concerned about food allergies, bring your concern up to your doctor prior to introducing solid foods.  Your doctor can recommend something to have on hand in case an allergic reaction occurs.  Benadryl is a common recommendation, but the dosing on the package only goes down to 2 years old.  Therefore, your doctor needs to tell you what dose to give.  It is worth noting that children can react to Benadryl differently than adults.  Adults will usually get sleepy from the medication, but children can actually become excited.  Therefore, this medication should never be used to help your child sleep.


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Baby Medicine Cabinet Essentials

When preparing for a baby, it’s a good idea to have certain medicine cabinet essentials on hand.  The following are the items I recommend having about home before you actually need them.


There are the tips straight from the pharmacist’s mouth.  As you can see, there are a lot of times when you will need to contact the doctor with regards to your sick baby.  You will eventually get a feel for what requires a call and what doesn’t.  I also strongly recommend asking your pharmacist for advice.  These tips are general information, but your local pharmacist can provide more specific information for your situation.

Giving Medicine to a Baby 101: The Essential Guide

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20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

Being a mom is challenging, so as a survival instinct we find the easiest, most efficient way of doing things.  I want to save you the trouble of trial and error, so I’m going to share with you all the worthwhile hacks I’ve learned since becoming a mom.  Read on to learn how to hack mom life.

The Top 20 Hacks

1. Laundry Basket in the Tub

Get a normal, rectangular laundry basket and drill about six small holes in the corners.  Place this laundry basket in your bathtub.  When you bathe your older baby/toddler, the laundry basket gives them support with slates they can grip.  It also keeps the toys contained so that they don’t keep floating out of reach.

The holes drilled in the bottom helps facilitate the water draining out once the bath is over.


2. Bib Storage

Put a large command hook on the back of the high chair.  Use this hook to store bibs.  This frees up drawer storage space and makes sure that you always have a bib handy at meal time.

Bibs attached to the back of a high chair with a command hook.

3. Activity Board

Babies love to play with household items that you may not like them playing with.  Examples include phones, doorstops, lights, and buttons.  One way to satisfy your baby’s curiosity in a parent-approved way is to create a board that incorporates these ‘forbidden’ items.  We created one with doorstops (that don’t have caps that come off), push lights, a big metal hook, a tape measure, and a door lock.  Other things we may add in the future include an old telephone or remote, a magnetic section with large magnets and a curved pipe that a ball can roll through. 


4. The Perfect Storage Containers

Those drink mix packets that you can get at any store, come in plastic containers that are perfect for storage.  These containers fit inside the bottle pockets in diaper bags and are the exact size to fit graham crackers.  You can also store other snacks in them.

Graham crackers spilling out of a drink mix container.

5. Size Up on Diapers at Night

If your baby starts flooding diapers overnight, go up a size or two.  You can do this with normal diapers or use overnight diapers that are a size or two larger for extra leak protection for good sleepers.

Size 5 daytime and size 6 nighttime Huggies diapers.

6. Make Diaper Bag Stroller Straps that Actually Work

Sometimes diaper bags will come with stroller straps, but these seem to always be too short. I bought a hook to hang my bag on but it kept swinging all over the place. The solution that finally worked was to use a thin chain and clip to make hooks for the diaper bag.  These work so much better than the ones that came with my diaper bag.

Stroller handle with chain and clip attached.

7. Use Gallon Ziploc Bags for Everything

Gallon bags are amazing.  They are great to keep in your diaper bag for storing dirty diapers or dirty clothes.  You can also use them when packing.  We use gallon bags for each outfit complete with all accessories.


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8. Clip a Toy to Your Diaper Bag

Diaper bag space is at a premium, but it’s a good idea to always have a toy handy.  Get a toy with a clip or ring and hang it from the outside of your diaper bag. I like this one and this one. This way you always have one, but it doesn’t use up any precious space.


9. Add a Clip to Your Diaper Bag

As a mom you will learn to juggle a million things and keeping track of keys can be hard.  Put a carabinier clip on the outside of your diaper bag.  Then when you get out of the car, hook your key ring onto the clip.  That way your keys are readily accessible but secure. I use a clip with a locking mechanism so that my keys don’t accidentally fall off.


10. Warm Bottles in a Coffee Mug

When you are getting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby and need to warm up a bottle, you want it fast.  Keep a large coffee mug handy for this.  To warm a bottle just fill the mug 1/3 full of water, microwave for 30 seconds, and then place the bottle in the mug for a couple of minutes while you do a diaper change.  This will warm the milk without causing hot spots.


20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

11. Store Diaper Change Items in a Top Drawer

Instead of taking up space with a diaper change caddy, use the top dresser drawer to store all the items you need for a diaper change.  Plastic storage baskets are perfect for keeping this drawer organized. This is also helpful when your baby gets a little older and wants to get into everything that is accessible. If the diaper change things are stored inside a closed drawer, the temptation to get into them is removed.

Diaper changing items in baskets inside a drawer.

12. Roll Baby Clothes

Baby clothes are small, so you can fit a lot into a drawer.  However, when you start stacking them the ones on the top get worn and the bottom ones get outgrown without ever being worn.  By rolling clothes to store them, you can fill the drawer and still see everything that’s in there for ready access. Join my organization challenge where I explain exactly how I roll baby clothes to make sure I can see what’s on them.

Rolled baby clothes in a drawer.

13. Create a Dump Bucket

Babies that are just learning to sit-up don’t need fancy toys.  They can be easily entertained with some spoons or fun fabric.  Get a dollar store plastic container and fill it with dollar store kitchen items and other household items that are baby safe.  Babies love to dump the items out and play with them.  Get all the details on how I made one here.

Baby chewing on a plastic spoon surrounded by household items.

14. Use an Ottoman for Toy Storage

Ottomans are perfect for storing toys because they can also double as seating in your living room, look nice and still allow easy toy access.


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15. Roll a Spare Outfit for Your Diaper Bag

Use the rolling technique below to put together an entire spare outfit that only takes up a little space in the diaper bag. By rolling the entire outfit together, you have quick access to a full change of clothes in case of an accident while you are out.

Step by step visual on how to roll a diaper bag outfit.

16. Super Glue Bath Toys Before Use

Those bath toys that have holes to squirt water may be fun, but the inside gets moldy after only a few uses.  To prevent this, put super glue over the hole prior to the first use.  Your baby can still have fun playing with them, and you don’t have to worry about the inside filling with mold.


17. Remove a Couch Cushion to Help Baby Stand and Climb

When babies are learning to pull up to stand, they need something low but sturdy.  The couch with cushions is usually too high, but if you remove a cushion, it’s much lower.  You can then put a favorite toy or snack on the couch and encourage baby to pull up and get it. This also works to teach baby to climb onto things.


18. Decorate the Nursery with Stock Photos

You want to put together a cute nursery for your baby, but after a couple of years they will want a new theme, and this cycle will continue.  Instead of spending a lot of money on prints or painting or using decals on the walls, purchase some simple frames and get prints of stock photos.  These photos tie together a nice nursery theme but are inexpensive.  When it’s time for a new theme, just replace the photos. You can grab great stock photos at Pixabay.

Nursery with animal pictures in frames.

19. Use Expandable Legal Folders to Store Puzzles

Chunky board puzzles are great for babies and toddlers.  However, storing them can be hard.  They don’t have nice boxes like more advanced puzzles and the racks designed for storage take up prime floor space.  Instead of this, use expandable legal folders to store the puzzles.  They can then be placed upright in a decorative box.


20. Use the Baby Story App for Milestones Instead of Stickers

Everyone wants cute monthly pictures, but the stickers don’t stick well and after a couple of months, babies start pulling them off.  Instead of spending $12 on a pack of stickers, spend $6 to get full access to the Baby Story app.  You can use some of the features for free, but the full access gives you everything you could want.  This app provides a variety of monthly “sticker designs” as well as other fun designs and the ability to add text.  It’s really simple to use and lets you customize the color of everything.


There are the top 20 mom hacks that are worth your time.  Did I forget anything?  Let me know in the comments.

20 Mom Hacks That Are Pure Genius

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Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

The 4 to 6-month mark is such an exciting time because you can start teaching your baby about solid food!  But it can also be nerve-racking as you worry about choking and wonder if your baby will have any food allergies.  Keep reading for information to help you introduce solid food to your baby with confidence and make eating fun.

When to Start Solids

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six month and that solids can be started at the 6-month mark.  However, there are many babies that aren’t exclusively breastfed during this time.  Babies receiving formula may still want to wait until the 6-month mark.

For my son, we ended up starting solids right at 4 months.  At that point, we couldn’t keep him full with only formula and he was showing the signs that he was ready to start solids.  This worked well for us; however, each baby is different.  Check with your doctor to see when it’s recommended to start solids.

Signs Baby is Ready to Try Solids

  • Tongue reflex is no longer pushing food right back out
  • Baby can sit up with minimal support
  • Baby is interested in mealtime (i.e. trying to grab your food)

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Baby-Led Weaning

Baby-led weaning is where you wait to start solids right at 6-months by offering soft finger foods. This means that you don’t need to buy special baby food because your baby can eat many of the same things you are eating.


First Foods

It used to be recommended to start with rice cereal followed by oatmeal.  These foods have a low potential of allergies, and they are relatively bland.  They can also be mixed with breast milk or formula.  Start with a lot of liquid and slowly increase the thickness as baby gets used to it.  This post has a lot of great tips for selecting baby cereal.

Warning: Never put cereal into your baby’s bottle because of the choking risk.  Even when very liquid, use a spoon. 

If you aren’t feeling the baby cereal, it’s now known that other foods can be appropriate.  Avocados, bananas and sweet potatoes all make good options for first foods.  Just follow the same principle and mix with breast milk or formula and slowly increase consistency as tolerated. 

Introducing Common Allergens

It used to be believed that you need to wait until your baby was at least a year old to introduce things like peanuts, eggs, and wheat.  However, if you don’t have any family history of food allergies, then it’s thought to be better to introduce these foods early.  Just keep in mind appropriate consistency.  Peanut butter can be too thick for baby for example.

baby in high chair with food on his face

Consistency

At first foods should be pureed to a drinkable consistency.  As baby gets used to it, you can slowly start thickening the food.  Some babies object to thicker textures, so take this progression slowly.  Once baby can start picking up food between the thumb and forefinger, you can start introducing bite-sized pieces of cooked veggies, pasta, etc.  A good principle is that pieces should be small and cooked enough that they can be easily squished between your fingers.  This means making veggies and pasta well-done. 


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Introducing New Food

It’s recommended that at first, you introduce one food no more often than every 3 days.  This gives you time to make sure your baby doesn’t have a reaction.  During this time, you want to feed the new food, but you can also offer foods that you have previously introduced. 

If your baby doesn’t like something, keep trying it.  It sometimes takes 10 or more times for a baby to decide he likes something.  The various flavors take some getting used to when all you’ve ever had is milk. Some foods that I found work well include zucchini, sweet potatoes, peaches, pears, plums, avocado, and cauliflower.

Baby in high chair eating broccoli

Foods NOT to Try During the First Year

Nuts, popcorn, raw veggies, whole grapes, and hotdogs aren’t recommended because of choking risk.  Grapes can be cut up and other berries like blueberries can be squished to reduce this risk.

Get Your FREE Baby Food Meal Planner

Get a printable meal planner specific to your baby’s age. Each meal planner includes age-specific servings, a place to brainstorm foods and a calendar to plan meals and check which food groups are included.

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    Amount of Food

    When you are used to looking at adult serving sizes, it can be hard to gauge what an appropriate amount of food for a baby is.  At first, even the small containers of baby food will be too much for one sitting. 

    When feeding your baby, pay close attention to signs that your baby is full.  These signs include, covering the mouth, pushing food away, turning away, getting distracted, and spitting food out.  Signs that baby is still hungry include pulling the spoon to his mouth, focusing on you and the food, getting excited when you provide more food.  When you are feeding your baby, you don’t want to force food in after he’s full.  Once baby is able to feed himself, then it becomes easier to tell when he’s done. 

    Remember that most of your baby’s calories will still come from breast milk or formula for the first few months of solids. 

    For a helpful guide to daily servings, grab my baby meal planner here.


    Other Tips

    Baby Food Storage

    Once you have fed baby directly from a container, you should discard any remaining food.  Therefore, it’s wise to transfer food from its container into a bowl a little at a time.  If you do that, unused baby food can be stored in the fridge for about 24 hours. 

    Baby laughing in high chair with food on his face.

    Utensils

    Baby will not be able to pick up food until he develops the pincher grasp around 8 months.  Until this point, you will need to feed your baby.  Once he starts developing the pincher grasp, cheerios make a good option for practice. 

    Adult spoons will be too big, so make sure to have some silicon or plastic baby spoons on hand.  I find that these spoons work well at first because they are tiny on the end, but they have long handles which allows your baby to help guide the spoon.  However, once your baby starts to want to feed himself with the spoon, these larger ones work a little better.

    Another option is to use a fresh food feeder like this. It allows the baby to chew on foods without the risk of choking. I didn’t find a lot of success with these, but for tips from a mom that did have success, check out this post.

    Keep Meal Time Fun

    For the first few months, your baby will continue to get most nutrition from breast milk or formula.  You are offering solid foods to introduce the concept of foods and the art of eating.  Therefore, don’t worry about how much baby eats.  Likely only a tiny bit will be eaten at first, but this will increase over time.  Keep offering a variety of foods.


    Final Thoughts

    Don’t stress too much about starting solid foods.  Take your baby’s cues and ask your doctor if you have concerns.

    For tips on making homemade baby food and ideas of things that make good first foods, check out this post.

    Starting Solid Food with Your Baby

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    How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

    How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

    Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

    Feeding baby is often the most stressful part of being a new mother.  If you are breastfeeding, how do you make sure that baby is getting enough milk? If you are formula feeding, how much should a baby be eating?  There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer, but here I’ll answer some common questions to get you started in the right direction.  If you are still concerned, make sure to consult with your doctor or a lactation consultant.

    FREE Newborn Feeding Log

    Are you worried about how much your baby is eating? I was as a newborn, so I designed this feeding log to track my son’s feeding. It’s designed to help moms that are breastfeeding, formula feeding or a combination. Use this log for quick tracking that you can take to doctor and lactation appointments.

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      If you are concerned about how much milk baby is getting, make sure to download my feeding log.  I designed this as a new mom to get a picture of how much my son was eating.  I was trying to breastfeed but was constantly concerned he wasn’t eating enough, and his weight gain was inconsistent.  This allowed me to quickly and easily track every nursing session and bottle he received.  I had a sheet for each day that I kept in a folder.  I then took the sheets to doctor appointments and meetings with the lactation consultant.  It was immensely helpful to have this information recorded so that I could accurately answer the questions.  You can get my log here.

      newborn feeding log page

      How much milk should a baby be drinking?

      Each baby is different, but here are some common guidelines to give you an idea.

      • Newborn: 2 to 3 ounces every 3 or 4 hours
      • 1 Month: 4 ounces every 4 hours
      • 6 Months: 6 to 8 ounces 4 or 5 times a day

      Another way to look at it is an average baby will consume 2 to 3 ounces a day per pound of body weight up to a maximum of 32 ounces per day. 


      How can I tell how much milk my baby is drinking when breastfeeding?

      Weigh baby before and after feeding.  Breast milk has a density close to 1.  This means that the weight of breastmilk is approximately equivalent to the volume. Therefore, if you give a baby 1 oz of breastmilk, the baby will gain about 1 oz if weighed right after feeding.  You can use this information to monitor baby’s intake from breastfeeding.  Weigh your baby immediately before feeding.  Then breastfeed until your baby is satisfied.  Once your baby is finished feeding, weigh him again.  The weight gained is approximately the volume of milk that your baby drank.  You do need a sensitive scale designed for babies to do this.  Here is one version of a scale that would work if you are concerned enough to do this after multiple feedings a day.  However, if you just want to get a basic idea, you can do this in the doctor’s or lactation consultant’s office.  Some locally-owned baby stores also have nursing rooms with scales that you can use. 

      Do NOT waste money on devices designed to tell you how much baby is eating while nursing. I purchased this one to try and sent it back after a couple of days.  Devices like this are not to the point of being accurate and they are extremely cumbersome to use.  If you are already questioning your ability to breastfeed, the last thing you need is something else to juggle while trying to get baby to latch.


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      How can I tell if my baby is getting enough milk when breastfeeding?

      • Monitor baby’s fullness cues.  If baby latches on and nurses readily and then falls asleep, that’s a good indication that your baby is full.  When a baby is finished nursing, they often make a satisfied face.  My son would pick his head up, purse his lips and seem to be saying, “That was tasty!” right before curling up on me to sleep. 
      • A full feeding should sustain baby for at least 2 to 3 hours.  If your baby is wanting to nurse more often, pay attention to if he really seems to be hungry.  A baby may nurse more often for comfort and not because of hunger. Also, babies will nurse more frequently during growth spurts.  However, these periods shouldn’t last more than a couple of days.
      • Monitor for consistent weight gain. Babies naturally lose weight in the first couple of days after birth; however, they should be back to birth weight within about a week.  If your baby isn’t gaining weight, he may not be getting enough milk.
      • Watch baby eating to determine if he’s actually swallowing.  If your baby is taking long sucks and swallowing after no more than 4 sucks, then he is getting a decent amount of milk and actually eating versus suckling for comfort.

      What should I do if I don’t think my baby is getting enough milk?

      The first thing I suggest is meeting with a lactation consultant.  They are trained to evaluate your baby’s latch and feeding and give tips on ways to improve or make it easier.  Before deciding you need to supplement, meet with someone whose job it is to help women with breastfeeding. 

      If you are concerned that your supply is low, there are numerous lactation boosting recipes you can try like this lactation boosting protein shake.


      Is it alright to let someone give the baby a bottle of pumped milk once in a while?

      Yes, it can be wonderful for your sanity to let dad give your baby a bottle overnight while you sleep. However, there are a couple of valid concerns with giving your baby a bottle instead of nursing.  I’ll outline the concerns and tips for preventing any problems. 

      Concern #1: Baby will prefer a bottle to nursing.

      Drinking from a bottle is way less work for your baby than nursing.  The milk also tends to flow more quickly and doesn’t require time for a letdown.  Paced bottle feeding is important to make sure that your baby doesn’t get the idea that a bottle is better because he can now chug his milk.  Before giving your baby the first bottle, check out this article on paced bottle feeding!  I didn’t know about this before offering a bottle, and my son quickly decided nursing was way too much work, and he would rather have a bottle.

      Concern #2: Skipping a feeding will decrease your milk supply.

      This is another concern rooted in reality.  Breastfeeding is a supply and demand situation.  If demand goes up, supply will increase.  Conversely, if demand goes down, supply will decrease.  If you start consistently skipping an overnight feeding to get 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, you will start to see a decrease in milk supply. The first couple times your breasts will be really full when you get up, but after a couple days they will start being progressively less full.  This can be a slow decline that’s a slippery slope you don’t notice happening until your supply has dropped a lot.  Ideally, if baby gets a bottle, you should pump instead.  However, that often negates the benefits of having your partner get up for a feeding. To make this easier, make sure you have an efficient pump. You can view my breast pump comparison here.


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      You have a few options. I suggest trying them all to figure out which works best for you but be very conscious of if you milk supply starts to drop.

      • Let your someone else feed your baby a bottle while you sleep (don’t go more than 6 hours between nursing sessions though).  Pump a couple of times after feedings during the day to get the milk for the bottle and help keep your supply up.
      • Have your partner get up with the baby and change the diaper, then bring the baby to you in bed to nurse.
      • Have your partner feed baby a bottle while you pump.

      You can do a combination of these as well.  Maybe you sleep through one or two feedings a week, but not every night.  Just make sure that anyone who feeds your baby a bottle is practicing paced bottle feeding and not letting baby chug the bottle to get back to bed faster.  If your baby will be getting a bottle regularly, it is a good idea to periodically do before and after feeding weights for a nursing session to make sure your baby hasn’t been getting lazy with nursing knowing that a bottle will be forthcoming at some point. 


      How can I keep track of how much my baby is eating? 

      You want to document not just the quantity of feedings, but also the quality.  Also, you will want to log any bottles baby receives.  There are numerous benefits to keeping track of baby’s feedings including seeing a pattern develop of how much baby needs to eat and tracking spit-up/other GI issues. Remembering to track can be difficult when you are an exhausted new parent.  Download the tracker I used here, to make tracking simple regardless of whether your baby is getting breast milk, formula, or a combination. If you are feeding formula at all, check out this price comparison to find the best value.

      FREE Newborn Feeding Log

      Are you worried about how much your baby is eating? I was as a newborn, so I designed this feeding log to track my son’s feeding. It’s designed to help moms that are breastfeeding, formula feeding or a combination. Use this log for quick tracking that you can take to doctor and lactation appointments.

        We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

        How do you monitor how much baby is eating?  Let me know in the comments.

        Also make sure to check out these posts!


        If you found this helpful, make sure to sign-up for my newsletter in the sidebar, so you don’t miss any great content!

        How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

        Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Who knew that someone so tiny can come with so much stuff –certainly not my husband and me!  When we moved into our 4 bed, 3 bath house we thought we had space to spare, especially with an entire room dedicated to a future tiny human.  However, by the time we had everything we thought we needed and everyone told us we needed, we had filled that room and then some.  Some of the stuff people gave us/said we needed ended up being wonderful and other things aren’t so necessary.  Below is my review on what common baby toys are really necessary. Make sure to also read my review on nursery items here. You can also see what is worth registering for and what isn’t here.

        Rating Scale

        –       Green: Definitely recommend purchasing

        –       Yellow: Might be good to have

        –      Red: Don’t bother

        Bumbo Chair: Rating Red

        I didn’t have one of these initially.  However, when my son was about 3 months old, he wanted to be sitting upright and had pretty good head control.  However, we had to hold him in that upright position.  I decided a Bumbo chair would be perfect for allowing him to sit on his own some.  In reality, the baby has to be pretty close to sitting up unassisted to use the Bumbo chair, and the legs are tight enough that my son’s legs barely fit by that point. It took up space in our living room and got used a handful of times.  I think my cat used it more than the kid.  Totally not worth getting.  My husband renamed it the ‘Dumbo chair’ because he wasn’t impressed. If you want to see what you are missing, you can view it here.


        Infant Play Mat: Rating Green

        I didn’t think we needed this before our son was born.  However, when he was about 3 weeks old, we were tired of holding toys over his head for him to look at.  We got a play mat that has toys overhead and is designed for baby to lay on.  They make ones with things for baby to kick to make lights and music.  However, the one we got was basic and quiet.  It worked great, and we used it all the time until Paxton started rolling over. This is the one we had.


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        Teething Toys: Rating Yellow

        Every baby is going to teeth at some point.  During this time chewing on things will be a favorite activity.  Teething toys come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures to provide relief to sore gums.  My son will chew on the teething toys if I give them to him.  However, he is just as happy chewing on a wooden block, a spoon or anything else he gets his hands on (cell phones are a favorite teething toy).  As long as he has something he can stick in his mouth, he couldn’t care less if it’s designed for chewing.

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Foam Mats: Rating Green  

        These are perfect to have until baby starts crawling.  You can buy mats in bright colors and patterns designed for kids, but they can be pricey.  Instead, we bought a package of foam mats from Costco for $12.  These were a plain black and could be wiped off easily.  We set them up on our white living room carpet and made that Paxton’s main play area.  They provided an extra layer of cushion for a baby just learning to sit unassisted and made for easy cleanup for spit-up and milk.  We didn’t get these until our son was about 5 months old. However, they would have been great to have from the beginning. 

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition
        My son playing on his foam mats.  

        Activity Table(s): Rating Green

        You don’t need these until your baby is a little older, but they are great for 6+ months.  I really like the designs where the legs are detachable. We had one that we used for a few months without the legs once my son could sit up, then when he started standing, we added the legs.  Now at almost a year, he loves crawling over and pulling up on it to play.  The music and lights are favorites.  We got one that sings/talks in both English and Spanish. When I get tired of listening to the ABC’s in English I switch to Spanish.  We have this one.


        Walker: Rating Red

        The walkers where you put your baby into them and they have wheels are not recommended by the AAP because they can be dangerous by allowing really little babies to get into things and fall down stairs.  There hasn’t been shown to be any benefit from using these.  Therefore, these walkers should be avoided.  This is the type of walker that isn’t recommended.


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        Push Toy: Rating Yellow

        If you really wanted your baby to have a walker, for older babies, compromise and get a push toy. These are designed to be used as baby is learning to walk.  They can still pose dangers, but by the time baby is using them, they are already crawling and pulling up on things.  I have a wooden one by Melissa and Doug (you can see my video on it here).  There are also options that have activity things on the front to play with while sitting like this one.  I rated this as yellow because I think it’s good for my son to practice walking and to experience the cause/effect concept of pushing it. However, he wouldn’t care if he didn’t have it.  Here is the toy we have.


        Exersaucer: Rating Green

        This is a must-have for your sanity.  I said you don’t want walkers; however, the beauty of this is that it’s like a walker but doesn’t move.  I highly recommend getting one that allows your baby to jump up and down in it. This is a great way to get out some energy in a baby that isn’t mobile yet.  It also works to briefly contain an older baby.  I put my son in it when I need a minute of him not getting into things. He gets bored more quickly than when he was younger, but I can usually buy myself at least 5-10 minutes. This one is similar to ours.


        Stuffed Animals: Rating Green (in moderation)

        These are the quintessential childhood toy.  Stuffed animals come in so many cute, cuddly styles.  Babies love them to play with.  I have a couple that my son likes to push his head into when he gets tired, and I keep one handy to entertain him while he’s on the changing table.  They can also be used to decorate your nursery.  However, the number of stuffed animals can grow quickly if you’re not careful.  If you have stuffed animals, you will also want to get an animal net like this one. 

        Important Note: Make sure not to put anything, including stuffed animals, into bed with a baby less than a year old.

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Miscellaneous Electronic Toys: Rating Green (in moderation)

        There are a ton of choices when it comes to plastic toys that run on batteries to entertain your little one.  These often play music, talk and light up.  They can be great fun, but you will get tired of listening to them no matter how cute the music sounds in the store.  Make sure you have toys that don’t require batteries on hand for when you need a break from the same song over and over.

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Miscellaneous Wooden Toys: Rating Green

        These are great because you don’t need batteries, they are sturdy, they make good chew toys for teething babies, and they don’t make as much annoying noise as the electronic toys above.  My son loves playing with/chewing on wooden blocks.  An activity cube is also a hit.  I really like the Melissa and Doug toys.  There are so many cute wooden options that are built to last.  This one that involves pounding is next on our list because our son loves to pound things these days.

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Rattles: Rating Green

        These toys are great for younger babies to practice picking things up, gripping things, passing items back and forth and the cause/effect of shaking.  They come in a variety of designs ranging in loudness.  I suggest a few different designs.  Ones with big holes are easy for younger babies to hold and thicker ones are great for older babies who want to use it to pound on things.


        Books: Rating Green

        There are so many benefits to be gained from reading to baby right away.  When baby is really little, you can read whatever you want.  Baby just likes hearing your voice.  However, as baby gets older and more active with better eyesight, you will want books with bright pictures.  Board books are great because they are hard to destroy and brightly colored.  Touch and feel books and ones where you press buttons for sounds are also great options to keep baby engaged.

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Dump Bucket: Rating Green

        This is my take on the sensory bin concept.  I renamed it the dump bucket because my son loves finding it and dumping everything out to find the perfect item to play with.  You can read how I put this together for less than $10 here.

        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Ottoman Storage: Rating Green

        With all these toys, you are going to want some storage.  I have a couple of these ottomans that are perfect for storing toys. They look nice with our living room décor but hold quite a bit.  They can also double as extra seating when people are over, cat beds, and my son enjoys using them to pull up on.


        Final Thoughts

        You likely noticed that I rated many of the above items as Green.  I’m a big fan of the variety of toys and then I switch out the readily accessible ones periodically.  I find that providing toy variety for my son sometimes is helpful for keeping him distracted so he doesn’t get into things he shouldn’t.  However, if you prefer a more minimalism concept, you can cut out many of these items in favor of letting baby play with pots and pans and other safe household items.

        Do you agree with my assessments?  Why or why not?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

        For more great information on what baby items you need and don’t need, check out these posts!

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        Where Did All This Stuff Come From? – Baby Toys Edition

        Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

        The Best Shoes for Babies & Toddlers With Wide Feet

        The Best Shoes for Babies & Toddlers With Wide Feet

        Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

        The Best Shoes for Babies & Toddlers With Wide Feet

        Is there anything cuter than squishy little baby feet? I don’t think so.

        So, it makes sense that none of us can resist all of those adorable baby socks and shoes?

        I mean, I had a shoe collection ready to go before my son was born that rivaled my own.

        So, imagine my surprise when I learned that just like adults – baby feet are not one-size-fits-all.

        Sadly, many of those first pairs of shoes I bought ended up donated without so much as having the tags cut off.

        Now that I’ve learned the expensive way how to find the best baby and toddler shoes for wide, thick little feet – I’m sharing all my best tips with you.

        Go forth and buy all the wide little shoes. I support you.

        circle of girl baby shoes

        But First, When Does Your Baby Need Shoes?

        Before we dive into those sweet shoe recommendations -let’s cover some basics:

        It may come as a surprise that babies actually do not need shoes. While socks and soft-soled baby shoes provide warmth – your baby does not actually need supportive shoes. In fact, restrictive or structured shoes may actually impair their mobility. Whenever possible, allow them to go barefoot, so their feet can breathe, stretch, and grow.

        That means that when shopping for shoes for your precious little nugget – you are really looking for soft-soled shoes made of soft, flexible materials that will allow them to move their feet comfortably. And, you’re only using them for as long as necessary.

        Once they are pulling up to stand and starting to walk, shoes begin to serve more of a purpose. Their shoes will protect their feet from sharp objects and provide a flat, supportive surface. But, still, when they’re home and in a safe environment, the best way for baby to learn to walk is barefoot  – so their flat feet can build arches and strengthen ankles.

        circle of boy shoes

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        Types of Baby & Toddler Shoes

        Once you’re ready to start shopping, you’ll want to know the key vocabulary.

        Pre-Walking Shoes:

        These are designed to be flexible and made with breathable material. Typically, these are more for the cute factor rather than serve a real purpose.

        However, some babies are incredibly adept at kicking off their shoes. For these little Houdini’s, you may find yourself snapping up a pair of those baby moccasins you see everywhere.

        A few of the most popular baby moc lines include:

        Walking Shoes:

        Once your precious little snowflake starts taking those first few steps, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a more structured shoe.

        But, not so fast, truth is – barefoot is still best when you know the environment is safe for them to strut.

        When you are ready to invest in those first pairs of real shoes, you’ll want to look for a few key criteria to determine the best shoes for your baby learning to walk.

        1. Do they have flexible, nonslip soles? This means you should be able to bend the toe of the shoe up easily.
        2. Are the shoes comfortably padded? Make sure the material is soft and there isn’t anything that will rub the toes, feet, ankles or heels. Baby skin is soft and won’t stand a chance against rough materials.
        3. Do they close securely?  You don’t want the shoes coming off or flopping around when your little one is already unstable. You want them to be easy to get on, but secure once fastened.
        4. Are they the right size? Believe it or not, babies’ feet can grow fast. You’ll want to re-measure every couple of months to make sure their shoes fit properly and allow their feet room to grow.

        Related Content

        Also, if your child has feet on the wider size, you may find that many baby shoes just don’t comfortably fit.

        That’s where I come in. You’re veritable Wide Feet Shoe Fairy. You’re welcome 😉

        Line of baby shoes

        Baby & Toddler Shoe Brands For Wide Feet

        Through trial and error, I have found 7 high-quality, affordable, adorable shoe stores that make wide enough shoes for babies and toddlers with wide feet.

        Let’s go shopping:

        See Kai Run:

        With fresh, fun prints, comfortable shoes and great sales, See Kai Run is a don’t miss on the baby shoe circuit. Their site is well organized and you can print out a size chart to measure feet and accurately determine a size. Now, if only they made sizes for adults…

        Black high top boots for baby girls
        High top boots from See Kai Run

        Pediped:

        Another big winner. Pediped’s are made so well – they’ll outlast your child. Plus, if you sign up for emails for the Pediped Outlet, you’ll be notified of big flash sales. I recommend ordering one pair first to make sure size and style work for you – as most of their deep discount sales are final sale. But, once you know what works for your little one, you’ll be able to snatch up a few pairs for less than what you’d pay for shoes at a discount store.


        Dr.Scholl’s From Nordstrom Rack:

        I love shopping Nordstrom Rack online because they have access to the full inventory, rather than just one store. I found Dr.Scholl’s online one day and remembered how comfortable they were for adult sizes and snatched some up. They ended up being fan favorites around here. They held up well enough to be donated to a friend’s baby and they said they loved them, too.


        Surprize by StrideRite for Target:

        This line is a more affordable version of the beloved Stride Rite line – but you won’t see a sacrifice in quality. Online they have even more options than in-store. These are cute, durable, and affordable. What else are you looking for? 😉

        The Best Shoes for Babies & Toddlers With Wide Feet
        The Best Shoes for Babies & Toddlers With Wide Feet
        The Best Shoes for Babies & Toddlers With Wide Feet
        The Best Shoes for Babies & Toddlers With Wide Feet

        Nike Tanjuns:

        At one point, my daughter had grown out of all her shoes and I hadn’t found a brand locally that could work. With shoes ordered and en route, I just needed a quick fix. I rifled through a bag of shoes donated from a friend that I had dismissed because all of the shoes were not wide enough, and found a pair of Nike Tanjuns at the bottom.

        Waddya know, because of the soft sides, these worked great. Nike has since been added to our baby and toddler shoe rotation and my son declares that his Nikes are his 2nd favorites. I find the best deals on Nike Tanjuns on Kohls.com.


        Puma:

        Yup, you guessed it – Pumas are his absolute favorite. He says they make him run “extra fast like the Flash”. They’re some of my favorites, too, because they come in adorable style and color options. You can find them for a steal at stores like DSW and they often participate in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale – which is where I snagged my daughter’s sparkly pink Pumas that strangers stop and ask me about.

        Both my kids wore their Pumas for a recent trip to Disneyland and after a whole day of walking and playing, neither of them had so much as a red spot on their feet.

        I love you, Puma.


        Livie & Luca:

        If you’re looking for some adorable dress shoes for those family photos or that holiday party, look no further – here you go. Livie & Luca makes the most gorgeous dress shoes, sandals, and boots. But, they are pricey. I watch for the sale on sale and that’s when I buy. Because these are like special event shoes for us – I don’t choose them when she’s playing all day.

        I might have to grab some of their adorable winter boots, though, since she’s been wearing my Uggs around the house. Hmm…

        white baby girl dress shoes
        Special occasion shoes from Livie & Luca

        There you have it! 7 well made, fashionable, affordable shoes that are wide enough for your baby or toddler.

        Many of these retailers offer great sales, or special discounts when you sign up for emails.  They may even be available at a store near you.

        I hope you find something that both you and your child will love. If you have a favorite that I forgot – let us know in the comments below!

        For more information on baby items, check out these posts.

        Have a fabulous day,

        Erica

        Make sure to subscribe in the sidebar for updates, so you don’t miss out on any great content!

        Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.