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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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.

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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

    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.

    How To Plan a First Birthday Party

    How To Plan a First Birthday Party
    How To Plan a First Birthday Party

    The first birthday is such an exciting time.  It means that your adorable, snuggly little baby is now a toddler, and it means you have successfully been a parent for an entire year.  This means it’s time for a celebration!

    Now the question, “How Do You Plan a First Birthday Party”?

    First, let’s address who this party is for.  Yes, the party is a first birthday party for your child.  However, your child isn’t going to remember the party and doesn’t care one way or another if you throw a big party.  The first birthday is really for the parents, and that’s perfectly okay. 

    I had no shame planning an elaborate first birthday party for my son.  It’s one of the few times I will get to throw him a birthday without him caring what the theme is and what we eat.  Keep reading for my tips on how to make the first birthday party a success.


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    1. Decide on a Theme

    You can go with anything because your baby is too little to care.  Pick something age-appropriate that you enjoy.  Some theme ideas include the number one, books, movies, Disney, trains, unicorns, and many others. We went with a storybook theme.

    Dr. Seuss birthday party invite.

    2. Choose an Ideal Time

    Think about what time of day your baby is happiest.  Is it in the morning?  If so, a breakfast party might be best.  Is it after the midday nap?  Then go for a late afternoon party.  You want the time of day where your baby is most likely to be well-rested, well-fed and happy.


    3. Pick a Date

    If your baby’s actual birthday is mid-week, consider having the party on a weekend to allow more people to attend.


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    4. Determine What You Will Do With Cards and Gifts

    When people come to a birthday party, they plan to bring a card and a gift.  This will result in a stack of toys and clothes and cards.  If you need those things for your baby, then that’s great.  If not, consider alternative options, and make your wishes clear on the invites.  For example, I really didn’t want a stack of cards, so I requested that in lieu of cards people bring a book with a note to my son written inside.  This built his library substantially and won’t just get tossed or thrown in a box like cards would. 

    If you don’t have space for a lot of gifts, suggest that people make a donation to your baby’s college fund instead of bringing a gift.  These donations are tax deductible and won’t add to the huge number of baby items you already have.

    6 science based baby board books

    5. Choose Food That Works for Adults and Your Baby

    The party will likely consist of a lot of adults, but you want food that your baby can eat as well.  You could even add some foods that fit your theme. We tied all the food into different picture books and had a mix of fun snacky foods and sandwiches.


    6. Keep the Smash Cake Basic

    The pictures of a baby covered in cake are absolutely adorable, so it stands to reason that you want to provide a cute smash cake that fits with the theme of your party.  This is fine but know that traditional frosting is a lot better for smashing than fondant.  My son had an adorable, themed smash cake with a fondant design.  The only problem was when he went to smash it, it just bounced because the fondant didn’t smash.  He grabbed a piece of fondant and chewed on the sugar and no interest in the rest of the cake.  At his second first birthday party, his cake had basic frosting and he had a lot for fun smashing it and making a mess.


    7. Keep Your Expectations In Line

    Baby is likely not going to get all that excited about opening presents.  Toys may result in some excitement, but if you open a toy for baby to play with right away, he likely won’t want to pay attention to any other presents.

    Baby sitting with present.

    8. Keep the Party Short

    A lot of people, food, decorations and gifts can be overly stimulating.  Even if well-rested, your baby will likely only be in the mood for a big party for an hour or two.

    Baby crying while sitting next to a cake.

    There you have my tips for planning a first birthday party.  These are all things I learned from experience, so I wanted to share them with you to help you avoid the same issues.

    Your turn – have you planned a first birthday party?  If so, what tips do you have?

    How To Plan a First Birthday Party
    How To Plan a First Birthday Party

    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!

    Like what you read? Subscribe in the sidebar to getting a weekly update on great new content!

    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.

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    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.

    Must-Have Classic Picture Books

    Must-Have Classic Picture Books

    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.

    Must-Have Classic Picture Books

    We all know that it’s good to read to kids starting at birth.  Generally kids aren’t too picky about the book at first; however, you will get tired of reading the same book over and over.  Make sure to start early with introducing your kids to the classic picture books you know and love from when you were a kid.  They have stood the test of time for a reason after all!  If you are a grandparent, then stock up on these books (or dig them out of storage) for a trip down memory lane to when you were a new parent reading these books to your kids.  These books make perfect gifts for kids and parents alike!



    Picture book Stellaluna

    Stellaluna

    This book is about a bat who gets lost and endsup growing up with baby birds.  Theybecome friends and when Stellaluna finds her way back to the bats, the friendsrealize how different they are but that they are also similar.  The final lesson is that they are friendsdespite any differences they may have.  Thisbook is on the longer side but has vibrant pictures throughout.


    Picture book Oh, the Places You'll Go!

    Oh The Places You’ll Go

    This book starts off encouraging about how you will be successful, but then it takes a turn by addressing the fact that sometimes things will go wrong.  It then shows the character getting his groove back and being on top once again.  This book is a great example of how things may go wrong, but you can work through them. The pictures are bright with a lot of details to take in.  The book is on the long end.


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    picture book The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    This is a cute book with brilliantly colored pictures that take your kiddo through a variety of foods the caterpillar eats before becoming a butterfly.  There is opportunity to practice counting and identifying common foods.  This book is short in length.


    picture book Where the Wild Things Are

    Where the Wild Things Are

    This book takes you on a trip into a little boy’s imagination.  On the trip, the boy becomes king of the wild things but decides he would rather go home and eat his dinner.  The pictures are somewhat dark but contain a lot of details.  The book is short in length.


    picture book Officer Buckle and Gloria

    Officer Buckle and Gloria

    This book is the story of a police officer and his dog Gloria.  They go to schools and give safety tip presentations.  However, the students only listen because Gloria is an entertaining partner.  This book is a moderate length.


    picture book Curious George

    Curious George

    This series is about a little monkey that is very curious which results in him getting into all kinds of trouble.  A wide variety of stories are available to entertain any child’s specific interests. These books are moderate in length and have colored pictures.  However, the pictures may not be as bright and engaging as some of the other books on this list.


    picture book Green Eggs and Ham

    Green Eggs and Ham

    This classic book is about a character that has no desire to try green eggs and ham. He’s convinced that he doesn’t like it. However, through rhyming nagging, he tries it and decides it’s pretty good.  This is a great way to address trying new foods with kids.  The book is moderate in length.


    picture book The Poky Little Puppy

    The Poky Little Puppy

    This book is about 5 puppies who keep getting into trouble for digging a hole under the fence.  The poky puppy is the last one home and lucks out a few times, but the last time he gets caught too.  This book is moderate in length and has bright pictures.


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    picture book Harry the Dirty Dog

    Harry the Dirty Dog

    Harry doesn’t like getting baths, so he hides the scrub brush and goes on an adventure. He gets really dirty to the point his family doesn’t recognize him.  He ends up begging for a bath to prove he’s Harry.  This book is moderate in length.  The pictures are colored, but not very bright.


    picture book Clifford Goes to Dog School

    Clifford the Big Red Dog

    Clifford is a giant red dog.  These books are about him, his owner Emily Elizabeth and their friends.  There are a variety of stories, but they all focus on a big idea that Clifford has.  These books are moderate in length and have colored pictures to keep young kids entertained.


    picture book Are You My Mother?

    Are You My Mother?

    This book follows the journey of a baby bird that fell from his nest.  He doesn’t remember what his mother looks like, so he keeps asking various animals and things if they are his mother.  In the end, he gets put back in the nest and his mother finds him there.  This book is a short read, but the pictures aren’t as engaging as some of the others on this list.


    picture book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

    Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

    This book is a story about a town where all the food comes from the sky.  However, the town eventually meets its demise when severe “food weather” strikes day after day and the citizens run for their lives.  This book has lots of pictures, and it is longer than many of the others.


    picture book The Cat in the Hat

    The Cat In The Hat

    The Cat comes to visit on a rainy day when the mother is out.  He then unleashes all kinds of chaos on the house despite the pet fish protesting.  In the end, everything is cleaned up before mother comes home.  This book is longer than the others and the pictures are somewhat enticing. 


    picture book Goodnight Moon

    Goodnight Moon

    This book starts with a description of a room and then says goodnight to everything in the room.  This book has bright pictures and is very short and basic.  It’s a great book for a child just learning to read.


    picture book Madeline

    Madeline

    This is the story of a little girl in Paris.  She comes down with appendicitis and has to have surgery.  When the other little girls go to visit her, they see how much fun she is having in the hospital and they want to have appendicitis too.  This book is moderate in length and has colored pictures, but they aren’t all that bright.


    Final Thoughts

    I am a firm believe that all kids should get a few books for Christmas.  These ones are classics that have stood the test of time.  Since these books are ones today’s parents likely remember from their childhood, they are perfect to share with their children!

    For more gift ideas, check out these baby clothes tips.

    What were your favorite childhood books?  Let me know in the comments.

    If you liked this content, make sure to subscribe for more great information!

    Must-Have Classic Picture Books

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

    Homemade Baby Food 101

    Homemade Baby Food 101

    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.

    Homemade Baby Food 101

    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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      Overwhelmed at the thought of starting baby on solid foods?  Grab my free baby food meal planner HERE!


      Feeding baby.  The one thing that has stressed me out more than anything else since I became a mom.  But like all challenging things, I find a good way to overcome that is to change your mindset.  To that effect, I thrive in finding the healthiest, most affordable and most convenient way to feed my 9-month old son.   This ends up usually being homemade baby food.

      In this post I’m going to talk about how I make 90% of Paxton’s baby food.  However, if you aren’t to that stage yet, but breastfeeding exclusively isn’t working out (despite my best efforts I’ve used a lot of formula), check out my previous post on affording baby formula here

      How To Make Homemade Baby Food In 6 Steps

      Step 1: Outline Your Goals

      When you start your baby food making journey, you want to answer a few questions, so you accomplish what you want with the least amount of money, time and effort.  As a mom, I find that all three of those things are in short supply, so I try to conserve them as much as possible.

      • Are you planning to use exclusively homemade baby food, or intermix it with store-bought?
      • Are you passionate about baby only getting organic food?
      • How much freezer real estate do you have available?
      • Is baby eating finger foods yet or strictly purees?
      • What is baby’s consistency preference?
      • Any family history of allergies?

      Step 2: Decide How Often You Are Going to Make Homemade Baby Food

      You could make fresh baby food every day, but as a working mom, that’s really not practical for me to do.  I also know plenty of stay at home moms that don’t have time to cook a meal from scratch for baby every day.  If you do, more power to you, but if not, decide how often you are able to make baby food.  I plan to make some baby food every other weekend or so.  Therefore, I want to make sure there is enough quantity and variety to last a couple weeks.  Also consider if baby eats any adult food.  My son is to the point where he eats cheese, yogurt, bananas, etc. so I can sub those in instead of homemade food once in a while.

      Step 3: Make a Plan

      If there are certain things that baby really likes, make them in bulk.  This goes back to time-saving. However, for new things, make a small amount until you decide if baby likes it.  You should definitely retry things many times, but some of them are just too much of a battle no matter how much you try.  You don’t want a freezer full of something that puts you and baby in a bad mood every time you feed it. 

      I suggest making at least one new food each time, so that you have variety to introduce.  Once you have identified a few food baby enjoys, then make these often enough to keep a freezer stash.


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      Step 4: Assemble Your Toolkit and Ingredients

      When making baby food, you will need cookie sheets for baking, a steaming pot for steaming, containers to freeze food in, and a blender of some type.

      A bag of sweet potatoes and a bag of carrots
      A bag of sweet potatoes and a 5-pound bag of carrots are what I’m making into baby food today.

      I see no reason why someone needs to buy the blenders made specifically for baby food.  If you have a ninja, mini ninja, or some type of smoothie blender, then you are set.  I use my mini ninja pictured here and it works great!  There are plenty of storage things designed for freezing and storing baby food. I have these ones. However, I find that basic ice cube trays with lids from Target work great!  I also found these tiny ice cube trays that are great for making things as mix-ins.  I’ve made pears and zucchini in these.  Paxton eats a solid 2 ounces minimum now, but if you have a younger baby, having smaller cubes allows you to mix a couple of things without ending up with tons of food.

      Various sized icecube trays for freezing homemade baby food

      Once you have everything necessary for making the baby food, you need a way to store the frozen food.  If you have a baby food tray or ice cube tray that has a lid, you could store it in the tray.  You could also package the food into pouches and freeze these.  I have this machine to fill pouchesbut have never used it.  My hesitation is because the pouches aren’t really easier to feed at this stage and I can’t thaw them in the microwave.  I let everything freeze in the trays and then put the cubes into gallon-sized Ziplock bags.  I can write on the bag what it is and the date I made it.  It keeps the food from getting frost and is easy to store and label.

      Ziplock bags full of various types of homemade baby food cubes

      Step 5: Making Homemade Baby Food

      To actually make the food, you will wash, chop, peal and cook as required to get something that can be pureed or squished between the fingers (for older babies).  Most things can be either steamed or baked, but in general, baking preserves the nutrients a little better than steaming.  Once cooked until very soft, you can puree in your blender of choice.  Some things (like potatoes) will need a little water, breast milk or formula added to make it thin enough.  Other things (like pears) will be plenty watery without adding anything.  Below is a table of things I have made for Paxton, and my notes on making them.

      Chopped carrots on a white cutting board
      Carrots steaming on the stove
      Homemade baby food in containers ready to freeze
      Homemade baby food cubes on a red cutting board
      Here are the carrot cubes ready to put into a labeled bag.

      Step 6: Storing and Serving Homemade Baby Food

      Once the food is made, you can freeze it for up to 2 months.  Once thawed, you want to use the food within about 24 hours.  When reheating, I put the desired number of cubes into a baby bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  I stir and add an additional 30 seconds if required.  I then mix with Greek yogurt, oatmeal or rice cereal or applesauce as desired.  Alternatively, you can put the food for the next day into the fridge to thaw and serve it cold.  Baby doesn’t know what should be hot and what should be cold.  As long as it’s not frozen and not too hot, you are okay.  You do need to make sure you heat slowly and stir the food well to make sure there aren’t any hot spots.  I also mix the food with something cold like Greek yogurt or applesauce to further cool it down.

      “Homemade” Baby Food That Works Well For Baby, But Doesn’t Require Prep

      • No sugar added applesauce (just apples and water)
      • Bananas
      • Plain Greek yogurt
      • Avocado

      Note: Make sure all peels are removed prior to freezing.  I cook the sweet potatoes with the peel on and then scoop out the middle.  Everything else, I peel prior to cooking.  I also chop everything else prior to cooking so that it doesn’t take as long.  For butternut squash, I slice in half and scoop out the seeds prior to baking.


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      Note: There are different stages of solids.  When first starting baby on solid foods, you will want them very smooth and a little runny.  As baby gets more comfortable, you can increase the thickness.  Once baby is around 9-months old and can pick up food, you can start serving small pieces of food that can be squished between the fingers (like really well-cooked pasta or veggies) and things that dissolve quickly (like Cheerios).  Also, when first starting solids, only introduce a new food every 3 days or so.  This allows you to observe for any allergies.

      Ready to start planning meals for baby?  Get my free age-specific meal planner HERE!


      Homemade Baby Food 101
      Homemade Baby Food 101

      What homemade baby food have you made?  Was it successful?  Let me know in the comments.

      If your baby is drinking any formula (babies should drink breast milk or formula until they are at least a year old), check out my post on Affording Baby Formula.

      Like what you read? Subscribe to email updates to receive updates straight to your inbox!

      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.

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

        Homemade Baby Food 101

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

        10 Tips for Choosing Baby Clothes

        10 Tips for Choosing Baby Clothes
        10 Tips for Choosing Baby Clothes

        Before having a baby, I thought baby clothes were cute and you selected them based on which ones were cutest or cheapest.  Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot in the past 9 months, so here are my 10 tips for first-time parents choosing baby clothes.

        My Top 10 Tips

        1. Don’t register for or buy clothes in newborn or 3-month size.  People love to gift you with tiny baby clothes, you will have way more clothes than your tiny human can wear before growing out of them.  If you
          see something that you have to have, buy it in a bigger size.
        2. Know that sizes don’t line up with actual age.  A newborn baby may wear newborn clothes for a while or start out in 3-month clothes.  My 9-month old is wearing clothes ranging from 9-18 months.  It depends on the brand, material and style what size fits when.
        3. Make sure what you buy is weather appropriate.  Along with above, make sure if you live somewhere super hot like us that you aren’t buying long sleeved shirts your baby will grow out of before it finally gets cold enough for them.
        4. For newborn-6 months, don’t get any shirts that don’t have the layette (snaps at the bottom). Until baby can sit up on his own, shirts that don’t have the snaps will ride up constantly.  T-shirts were super
          annoying until Paxton could sit up. However, now they are great. 
        5. For shirts without layettes, plan to always be one size ahead in these compared to the rest of the clothes.  Because these can ride up, you want them a little bigger so that baby’s belly isn’t sticking out.
        6. Sleepers are great.  When you pick out ones that baby will wear before 4 months or so, get ones where the zipper starts at the top and ends at the bottom.  This probably seems like a really random detail, but when you are changing diapers and swaddling and unswaddling multiple times a night, only having to unzip part way is a lifesaver.  Once baby is generally sleeping through the night and not swaddled, the direction of the zipper doesn’t really matter.  Pro tip: Target
          has a good selection of ones that zip from the top down, but not every style they carry does this.
        7. Stay away from the thick sweaters and coats in tiny sizes.  Even if it’s cold, these aren’t recommended in car seats because the straps won’t fit right.  These may be super cute on a tiny baby but when it’s cold, you are going from one building to the car to another building.  Often times you do all this without taking baby out of the car seat. Even if you do take baby out, it’s so much effort to get those tiny, flimsy arms into thick sweaters and jackets, you likely won’t bother.  Save these for when baby is a little bigger and can at least help get them on.  In the meantime, dress baby in long sleeves, pants, socks and a hat and tuck a blanket around him once he’s in the car seat. You can also get a car seat cover to help keep the wind out.
        8. You don’t need plain white anything.  Babies always find a way to get their clothes dirty.  Exactly how will vary with age, but plain white is way more work to clean than it’s worth.  You will also have so many cute clothes for baby to wear, that using something plain white seems like a waste of a cute outfit opportunity. 
        9. When baby gets older, go with sleepers that don’t have feet.  This helps them fit a little longer than the ones with feet.  
        10. If you plan to take baby swimming, get a rash guard so that baby is completely covered on the top half.  We got Paxton a one-piece suit which had long sleeves, mid-length legs and a hood.  This was super cute and great for keeping me from worrying about sunburn. 

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        With regards to shoes, you don’t need them right away. However, there are some important considerations (and they are super cute). Get tips for selecting shoes here.

        If you want more suggestions on what to register check out my real registry checklist here and my review of what nursery items are really needed here.

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        10 Tips for Choosing Baby Clothes