baby

5 Fun Halloween Traditions

When beginning to celebrate Halloween with your own kids we all hope we fill our children’s memory bank with fun Halloween traditions. Check out some of our ideas below to inspire your family!

A special dinner

Chilli! Pizza! Pasta! You can get creative and make mummies out of hot dogs and croissant rolls or keep it simple ordering a pizza. But making the dinner you eat on Halloween the same every year can make a lasting memory. Every year your kiddo can come to rely on this tasty meal that they know and love.

Halloween games

While your children patiently await the designated trick or treating time you can play games! You can try witch hat ring toss. Simply purchase a witch hat and some diving rings. Or you can make the hat out of poster board and cut rings from paper plates! (Get creative!) Boom! You got yourself a game! Pin the tail bone on the skeleton cat is a good one too! Or pin the nose on the Jack-o-latern!

Spooky music dance party

Go through Spotify or Apple Music and find a good kid friendly Halloween mix. Then CRANK UP THE JAMS! Spooky music is the perfect music to try out some new dance moves! Also getting the wiggles out is always a good idea.

Creepy slime

What better day to make ooey gooey yucky slime! If you are looking for a recipe and a “how to” check out our other blog here. Go crazy with the green dye! You can even head to the craft store and pick up little Halloween themed trinkets to mix into the slime.

Roasting pumpkin seeds

Did you carve pumpkins? Rinse off those seeds and roast them! These become a fan favorite fast. Kids love putting their hands all over the pumpkin guts and scooping out the seeds. You can add salt and pepper, or other spices as well to tailor them to your likes. Check out this tutorial if you want some guidance. Who doesn’t love a delicious healthy snack to enjoy too!

These are just a few of the things you can do to strike up some family Halloween traditions. You don’t have to do anything elaborate. You can keep it simple but add in some extra fun! Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Authored by Andrea Stainbrook

3 Tips For Selecting a Stroller

Selecting a stroller is just one of the many baby item purchases we make as we prepare for a new baby. When thinking about what is the best stroller for your family you need to think about a few things.

What will you use it for?

If you are living in the city and plan to use it all over town you may want certain features like wheels that are made to go over a variety of terrain. If you know you will be driving places and taking the stroller in and out of your vehicle you will likely place some importance on if the stroller can fold and how much space it will take up in your car. So think about when and how you will likely use your stroller to know if the features offered make sense for your lifestyle.

Recently Amy (MDDS co-owner) and I attended a presentation with Jamie Grayson the Baby Guy Gear Guide. Aside from being hilarious and knowledgable he gave great pointers on picking out strollers and we couldn’t have agreed more. Here are the top 3 things to look for when stroller shopping.

THE TOP 3 STROLLER SELECTION TIPS

  1. HANDLE BAR– Look, parents hold a lot of things in their hands. Diaper bags, babies, toys, shopping bags, lattes…….. so picking a stroller that is easy to use with ONE HAND is a great idea. Being able to maneuver easily while carrying all the things is simply lovely.
  2. BRAKES- All strollers will have brakes for locking it into position when you are not looking to roll. In summer season we may use our strollers more often as well as we tend to wear lots of flip flops and sandals. So practice using the brakes on the potential stroller you love. You will want a stroller with brakes that are easy to use even while wearing a flimsy flip flop. This may sound silly but your toes and patience will thank you!
  3. BACK WHEELS- The main thing here is when you may want a bigger back wheel. If you are a regular walker or have lots of steps to go up down you will want wheels that are bigger in the back. They can handle a bit more rough and tumble.

There are so many great brands out there to choose from. Go check some out in a local baby store like Modern Natural Baby. Take a moment to really consider what uses your stroller will primarily serve. Cross reference that with the features available, your price-point, and of course the top 3 tips listed here. Happy shopping!

Authored by Andrea Stainbrook

Holy motherforking shirtballs, I’m nearing the end of pregnancy!

The end of pregnancy is quite literally all the feels.  It can be a roller-coaster! You seem to be in this new weird place.  One foot into pregnancy and wondering what this new life will look like with this baby.  But also one foot already in the future as a new parent. Our minds are preparing as best they can, our homes are ready (or almost). We may have already been through that nesting spell.  Car seats, bassinets, diapers, baby’s first outfit, and a birth bag are all getting checked off the list. It could be…..any…..moment. 

For months and months we watched our bellies expand.   It was gradual yet it also felt like all of a sudden. Just when we thought, “Ok, this is big I don’t think it can get any bigger,”  our bellies grew just a little more. The fluttering movements changed into jabs, and rolls, and stretches, and “oh my gosh get out of my ribs!”  We put up with nausea, aches, pains, bolts of lightning through the crotch, and learning how to navigate normal, daily routines in our rotund beautiful bodies.  After awhile socks are just too much effort.  Am I right?

Our physical bodies aren’t just the only thing riding the roller-coaster of growing a human at the end of pregnancy.

Our minds are taken through the washer like it’s on a heavily soiled extra rinse cycle. They would dry out but sometimes it is like when the load gets put in the dryer but no one hits the start button.  We are excited, then miserable, maybe worried, maybe anxious. Some days we feel like crying. The best thing to do when that strikes us is to just let it out. A good sob is healing for the soul. We may even be so happy to still be pregnant and not taking care of the newborn we long to hold. That is OK too!

Other moments our minds may be in that happy, excited state. The thought of cradling our newborn in our arms may be elating. Whether happy or not many times we think, “I just need to make it to the end of this pregnancy.”

Then the end comes.  

What will this birth be like?  How will life be with a newborn?  Am I ready for this next chapter?

The end of pregnancy a mindfork.

We want to make sure we are doing all the things that can help us prepare for a smooth labor and birth.  But we also want to not overdo it and not stress ourselves out. And then there’s the new things your body starts doing too!  Every new sensation sends us to thinking, “Is this it?!” There’s discharge, and contractions, and mucus plug, and loose bowels.  All of it means labor is coming, and all of it means it could still be days or weeks away. The inability to be in control of when this baby will come can be so frustrating.  The baby is the only one who has any control and our communication with them in the womb is well…hard.  

If you are feeling a little out of your gourd or emotional as you await baby’s arrival know you are not alone.  Most of us as we near the “any minute” stage of pregnancy are right there with you. One minute elated we reached the end! Hooray! Then the next minute we are scared for what’s ahead. “What will this parenting gig really be like?” Then one minute back to “Yay I can’t wait to meet my child!” and then maybe back to “When will this baby come?!”

So it is always a good idea to talk about your feelings and thoughts to a trusted partner or friend.  Call your doula! Take some slow relaxing deep breaths (which is also great practice for birth!). Try to enjoy the last moments of feeling your little being move inside you or whatever may be your favorite part of being pregnant. 

Please know you will be a wonderful parent. You already are!

Having a baby is a huge life transition. Nearing the end of pregnancy can make it all the more real, which is why these feelings can come upon us. Rest assured you are not the first to go through the emotions you are as you sit in these final weeks, days, or moments of pregnancy.  Every parent who has been in your shoes feels you and hears you.

Authored by Andrea Stainbrook

What is Gearapalooza?

This week an event rolled through the Metro Detroit area. It was the Gearapalooza! This event is held by Bump Club & Beyond. I had never been before. Amy Hammer and I were invited to check it out and we seriously loved it!

So what exactly is this event? Is it an expo? What type of gear is there?

The way this event breaks down is simple.

  1. Mingle and eat some food.
  2. Check out the vendors and their super sweet stuff. Types of gear to check out included strollers, breast pumps, carriers, unique high chairs, swaddles, food mats, car seats, and more!
  3. Be a part of an engaging presentation by the The Baby Guy.
Amy with the Skip Hop Backpack Diaper bag. One of their most popular products.

3 things we loved about the event:

  1. It wasn’t overwhelming to navigate.
  2. The vendors and what they offered were legit awesome. The brands represented, the local businesses, and the gear was cool stuff. From Ergo, Love to Dream, to Honey Space for Moms, and Modern Natural Baby.
  3. JAMIE THE BABY GUY. He broke down what to look for in car seats, strollers, mattresses, and breast pumps. All with commonsense no non-sense talk. He is charming and easy to learn from!
  4. OK I guess there’s 4 things…. THE RAFFLES AND SWAG were phenomenal. They gave away high quality higher end car seats, strollers, and more. There were quite a few winners. And what you received as you walked out the door did not disappoint.

I know, I know, I am telling you about an event that already past. But it was so darn enjoyable I wanted to make sure you marked your calendars for when it swings through again! It won’t be happening in Detroit again this year but there is a Chicago date ahead!

If you were ever curious about what in the world this event is and “Should I go?” well now you know that it just may be right up your alley and a totally fun way to spend an evening! Perhaps you will even win something cool!

By Andrea Stainbrook

True stories from the NICU

September is a time to think about and bring awareness to NICU parents, babies in the NICU, and the medical teams that work so hard to care for these babies. The National Perinatal Association even breaks down this week of September to recognize and honor all of those involved in NICU care. You can check out their website to learn more. (For this week September 26 is NICU Remembrance Day, September 27 is NICU Giving Day, September 28 is NICU Staff Recognition Day, September 29 is Sibling Support Day, and September 30 Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Day.)

Some of us may know someone with an experience in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Our hearts are there for our friends, neighbors, or families, but we don’t always know what they are going through exactly or how to support them. In honor of September’s NICU Awareness, I reached out and asked a few parents some questions about their experiences in the NICU. Their answers are real and raw, and sometimes gut-wrenching. You can feel the emotions in their words. Their answers are their truths and hopefully we all better understand what these experiences are like and maybe even how to better support those we love if or when they are experiencing a NICU stay.

What surprised you as the most challenging part of having a child in the NICU?

“Recovering from birth and not having a comfortable place to be near my baby.”

“Being separated from your newborn. I felt it whether I was physically not in the room with her or even physically in the room with her. I just felt separated from her and as my first, it was the hardest thing feeling like I couldn’t just be with her after her birth which was all I wanted.”

“My baby being in the NICU was a shock to me. Both my husband and I are very healthy. I had a normal healthy pregnancy and my baby was full term. I just never thought that I would have a baby with complications. “

One of the most challenging things, to this day, is that I don’t feel like my baby and I ever got that snuggling, in our own world, feeling. I only got to hold him a few seconds after birth.  I definitely had to grieve the loss of the birth/postpartum I thought I’d have.

What positives did you feel about the NICU and its staff?

“Their willingness to help me with breastfeeding/pumping. They went as far as to get all the supplies and try to make a private spot for me to pump near my baby to help stimulate milk production despite sharing a room with 5 other babies.”

“The nurses were amazing! They taught my husband and I so much about caring for a newborn (taking her temperature, giving her a bath, swaddling, etc.). Although our mom/baby nurses were great, the NICU nurses were so supportive and went about teaching us so many things about newborn care that I felt so much more prepared.”

“That they saved my child’s life. He’s a thriving toddler now and without a doubt it’s thanks to the doctors and nurses who took care of him.  Also, the NICU staff was very supportive of our breastfeeding relationship. They also taught us how to care for a newborn. Sometimes my husband and I refer to our time there as “baby boot camp”. They taught us how to change diapers, breastfeed, bottle feed, and bathe the baby. Babies in the NICU are also on a very strict schedule and we just kept that schedule even when we got home. It helped us feel like we knew what we were doing.”

What did you feel was negative during your baby’s NICU experience?

“In retrospect the doctors and nurses were trying to help my baby. But due to all those post birth hormones and the fact that I was also very sick, I literally thought the doctors took my baby from me. It was very traumatic.”

” I wished there had been more private spaces at our hospital where I could have been more comfortable while holding our baby and recovering. Also, although I loved the nursing staff for the care they were providing and newborn care aspects, I felt it was lacking in support of breastfeeding.”

Driving away from the hospital without your baby was almost a physical pain for me, like I was leaving half of me there, and just a shell was heading home.

If you knew someone whose baby was getting admitted to the NICU what would be your best advice?  Tips?

“To check in with them!!! To offer to bring them a meal if they are still at the hospital. And if they are home and their baby is in the hospital give them support. Even if they don’t come right out and ask, just a text is great. Even just popping over for some company to help keep their mind off things.”

“Tips- take lots of pictures because you don’t always know what the outcome could be.”

“Speak up for your needs and for your baby’s! Do not hesitate to advocate for your needs. I wish I would have asked for more comfortable areas to sit, I’m sure they would have been able to figure something out but I didn’t want to be a burden. I felt like I would have been able to be there more had I done that.”

I think it’s really cute how they call the babies “NICU graduates” when they leave the NICU. 

What do you think the general public doesn’t understand about parents with babies in the NICU?

“That PTSD can occur after their stay.  The beeping of the monitors, the urgency of the doctors, the critical decisions that can be life altering for your child/family.  Even if parents end up leaving with a baby in their arms, their stay in the NICU changes them.”

“It’s not all premature babies who are in there – Evelyn was full-term and a large baby! I never even thought we’d have a baby in the NICU because she was full-term. But with jaundice that wasn’t going away as fast as it should have, it was definitely the place she needed to be.”

“That even if the baby is the NICU for something seemingly minor, to a new mom and her partner it’s life altering and the scariest! Unless you have been there it’s hard to understand, I think. But check in and don’t just assume everything is fine.”

What would have or did help you feel supported during your baby’s stay?

“Since we didn’t plan for the NICU we didn’t really pack or have anything for a long hospital stay. I ran out of clean clothes and toiletries. My mom had to bring us more clothes. Bringing us food, clothes, and coffee meant the world. Also just visiting so I could have someone to sit with meant the world.”

“The nurses helping me to order meals since I was a breastfeeding mother. Even though my baby was in no position to eat (sedated/ventilation) they helped get me breastfeeding supplies, helped me store my milk with my child’s name on it in the fridge and made sure I was getting enough to eat and drink.”

” A more private space to recover. The hospital did let us stay in our room one night longer (allowing us to have to leave her for just one night), but the hospital was full. I was so thankful that we could stay that first extra night, but it would have been so much better to have some space to be comfortable after I had been released. Also – (sorry for the TMI) – it was the worst to change pads in a hospital public bathroom. It was a little thing but on top of everything else it was just so hard!”

The care and love the nurses had for those babies. You could feel the support and care that the nurses had.

A big thank you to the parents who shared their stories here. Overwhelmingly we can feel how the medical staff is caring and how grateful these parents are to the team that supported their babies. You can also hear in their words how difficult it is as a parent to navigate it all.

Reach out to these people. So bring a new parent a coffee and offer a hug! High five a nurse and thank her for her work! Write that neonatal physician a note reminding them of how many families are grateful for all they do!

by Andrea Stainbrook

Simple tips for a successful beach outing

Summer is upon us in Michigan! That means it is time to hit the beach! Beach outings with little ones in tow can sometimes be stressful. So follow these tips to help keep you from being a sweaty, hot, overwhelmed mess.

Tip #1- Gather all your items first

Know you are planning to hit the beach that day? Start collecting your items that you want to bring and place them in one specific spot. This way when it is time to leave you will have everything in one place. If you dig lists make your list and start gathering as soon as the night before. Possible items you may want to remember:

Kid practical items: swim diapers, sunblock, sun-hats, change of clothes, water shoes, sandals, snacks, water bottles

Beach practical items: beach blanket, towels, umbrella, beach chair, sand toys, flotation devices if allowed (check with each beach’s rules)

Tip #2- Plan where to go and for how long

Once you decide which beach you want to visit, maybe Spencer Beach, Kensington Park, or Stony Creek, get an idea of how long is the right amount of time for you. There is no wrong answer here. A short stay is just as fun as a long stay. If your stay is longer make sure you upgrade your snacks and include a meal like sandwiches. The worst is being hungry after a lot of playing and sun! It is also always a good parenting tool to give reminders to your little ones that your leaving in 30 mins, 20 mins, 10 mins etc. in case leaving fun places is hard to do.

Tip #3- Enjoy making memories

Hang out with your kiddos! Make a sand castle with the biggest moat ever! Dip your toes in too! Take pictures! Expect moments of sand in your food, maybe your eye, and a kiddo melting down for a second or two. But also expect your baby or kid to have a great time and make their own memories.

There is something magical about a Michigan summer. We truly know how to soak up the sun after months of cold and snow. Let the sun hit your skin, the smell of the lake air hit your nose, and enjoy playing with your family!

What is a fetal non-stress test?

Due to certain pregnancy concerns, routine measures past 28 weeks, going past your due date, or any reason your doctor/midwife deems necessary you may find yourself being told you need a fetal non-stress test or NST.

So what is an NST?

This test is simply looking to see how baby is doing. It is called non-stress because there is no added stress put on the baby during the non-invasive procedure.

Typically what it can look like is going into your provider’s office or sometimes to the hospital and getting connected to the monitors. (This blog talks about the monitoring process too) One external monitor is measuring any contractions if they are happening and the other measures baby’s heart rate. You will be connected for about 20-30 minutes while your care provider checks your baby’s heart rate, movement, and how it is reacting to the contractions. The provider is just looking to see if there are any signs of distress in your baby with that information.

Sometimes babies are more in the mood to sleep than move during an NST. Drinking something ice cold may help wake her up! If your baby still doesn’t want to move sometimes a “buzzer” can be used by the nurse to stimulate baby to move.

Based off what your doctor or midwife learns from the NST you will be given instructions if anything different needs to happen. This test is one way your provider can get a peek into how your baby is doing.

Written by: Andrea Stainbrook

Newborn Sleep Guidelines

It is always a good idea to stay up to date on current recommendations. The AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, has specific guidelines for safe sleep practices.

Placing babies (through one year old) on their back to sleep is the most current recommendation for safe sleep. Room sharing is considered ideal for the first six months. This means having your baby on a firm sleep surface, i.e. crib or bassinet, laying on its back somewhere in the room with you the parent. Swaddling your baby is just fine! Keep loose items and bedding away from your baby.

Many babies like to be swaddled.

Sleeping in a Rock n’ Play Sleeper is not safe and the item has been recalled.

Here are some recommended links and articles from the AAP:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx

https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/child_death_review/Pages/Safe-Sleep.aspx

https://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/

Our Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas stay current with the recommendations set forth by the AAP and follow their guidelines when caring for your baby. If you have more questions or concerns reach out to your pediatrician.

When do I head to the hospital?

The day has arrived! You think you are in labor!

First how do you tell if it is really labor?

So you notice you are having contractions and they seem to come and go. You can try timing them. To time a contraction you time the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next contraction. This is how far apart they are. Note the duration of the sensation as well. What you should start to see is a pattern. There are many apps for timing this or you can use an old fashioned watch or clock.

Check out the apps available to you on your phone before labor begins. There are many to choose from!

Longer, stronger, closer together is the key to a labor pattern.

Your contractions should fall into a rhythm of sorts. Maybe they begin at 8 minutes apart lasting about 30 seconds. Then you feel a shift of intensity and you time them again. Now you notice they are 6 mins apart lasting 40 seconds. This appears to be a labor pattern. The sensations are getting longer, feeling stronger, and are closer together than they were before.

When is it time to head to the hospital?

The 5-1-1 or 4-1-1.

When your contractions are 5 minutes or 4 minutes apart, lasting one minute long, for the course of an hour, it is time to head to the hospital. Ideally you will get to the hospital in an active labor pattern.

Notify your provider that your are heading in or you can always ask them if they feel its a good time to come to the hospital as well. Of course talk to your doula as soon as you think anything is going on. She can offer suggestions, listen, and remind you of ways to cope!

Not sure if it is in fact labor? Looking for guidance on how to distract and cope through early labor? Call your doctor/midwife and your doula!

There are some variables that can change when to head in. If you are high risk, GBS positive, or your water is broken, are some instances that can change the timing. It is a good idea to discuss with your doctor or midwife what it looks like when you think you are in labor. Let them tell you what they prefer in your specific instance.

So remember, longer, stronger, closer together and the 4-1-1 will help you decide when it is time to go! Safe travels ahead!

Dogs and bringing home baby

I remember when we got our oldest dog, George. My husband and I were young and had just moved across the country from Michigan to Arizona. Together we walked through the aisles of the shelter looking in every kennel. From barking faces, jumping paws, and puppy dog eyes we noticed him. Curled up and looking at us like, “I know right? These other dogs are loud!” There was George.

We took him for a walk outside and he was perfect. Chill, medium-sized with a funky tail that looked like it never fully grew. We were smitten and that was it. We took him home.

We quickly added a basset hound, Jerry, to our family as well. He was the sweetest and had the deepest howl.

Years passed and we discovered our first baby was on its way! With these two pups and the new pregnancy also came feelings of, “what will it look like to have a baby and the dogs?” “Will my dogs get along with the baby?” “How will I take care of everyone?”

Having a baby shifts your whole world period. Every aspect of your what you consider part of your daily life before your child arrives is affected. So it is normal to be concerned about your fur-babies as well. It is OK to process your feelings on the changes about to happen. And it is realistic to worry about your pet’s transition and adjustment as well.

So set your dog up for success!

While you are still pregnant you can have some of the baby items out and around. This way they visually start seeing their surroundings change. If you have a dog that doesn’t roll with change much (some dogs will bark at the furniture after you moved it) this may be an important step. Baby gear tends to appear in every room!

You can try to have your dog get familiar with your baby’s smell even before you arrive home. Have a visitor take the newborn hat or receiving blanket that your newborn has been in home to your dogs. Let them smell and inspect it.

Set up positive associations with your baby!

Have treat bowls throughout the house, especially near places where you will be lounging with your baby often. When your dog comes near your baby give them a treat!

BABY = GOOD

Did your baby kick your dog on accident when it stretched out its leg? Doggy gets some cheese! A nice high reward!

Have care in place for your pet.

Once you are home you may want to hire a dog walker, schedule extra doggy day care visits, or take advantage of helpful friends and family to give your dog extra love and exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog. On top of that your attention is now split so they get some extra cuddles in.

Life after baby is an adjustment. This means for the WHOLE family including your dogs. Most dogs are loving, understanding, and adjust just fine. Some even seem to take on a protective role over your baby. It’s beautiful to watch your children grow and become dog lovers themselves. There is something so magical about the relationship we have with our pets, and its awesome to share that with our babies.

Written by Andrea Stainbrook