Archive for ‘Parenting Tips’

December 10, 2011

Tips for Infant Skin Care during Winter

Winter can be harsh on an infant’s skin.  Frigid air outside can chap and burn an infant’s sensitive skin within a few minutes of exposure while the heat used inside can cause extreme dryness.  In order to balance the scales of healthy skin, there are things that caregivers can do.   Prevention and management are the two main goals when dealing with infant skin care issues.

The best policy for infant skin care in the winter is to be proactive.  Using preventative measures will help ward off any unwanted irritations for an infant.  Preparing a baby’s skin before a problem arises will save an enormous amount of worry and frustration.   Here are a few tips to prevent winter skin problems.

*When taking your infant out into the elements, be sure that every inch of skin is well covered.  Use mittens, hats and scarves to cover areas that regular clothing do not cover.

*DO NOT put anything over the nose or mouth of an infant.  This can restrict air flow and cause suffocation. To protect an infant’s face outside, simply cover the infant’s head loosely with a small blanket and shield them from the blowing wind.

*Use non-allergenic baby products for bathing and diapering.  These products are specially designed without the use of perfumes or dyes.  For an infant’s delicate skin these products work best in preventing unnecessary flare ups of irritation.  If babies’ skin is irritated, choose a warm wash cloth during diaper changes instead of store-bought wipes.

*Use a humidifier in the infant’s room.  Humidifiers add moisture to the air and help to keep skin hydrated.

If an infant’s skin begins to show signs of distress due to cold and heat, there are several over the counter medications that are effective in relieving dry, itchy skin.  Oftentimes, these medications can also be used for treatment of minor windburn and chapping.  Most minor irritations will disappear within a day after application of medication.

If over the counter medications fail to diminish the irritation, there could be a more serious issue.  Some infants have extremely sensitive skin that can become injured or inflamed more often and in more severity.  It is important to discuss with your pediatrician any skin changes your infant experiences for longer than 3 days.  It may even be more prudent to contact your physician within the first day if the rash or irritation seems abnormal.  Dry skin can be confused with mild dermatitis or even psoriasis.

It is always a best practice to seek professional council when the safety and well being of your infant is at stake.  While personal research and do-it-yourself treatments can be useful at times, they should not replace your care provider.


November 5, 2011

Terrible Twos and Your Toddler – part one

Often referred to as the “terrible twos”  it is a developmental stage that usually begins sometime in the toddler years.  This stage can start anytime during the child’s second year – therefore anytime after their first birthday and sometimes even before.

This stage is characterized by toddlers being negative about most things and often saying “no”, the terrible twos may also find your toddler having frequent mood changes and temper tantrums.   To help parents cope with this normal stage in your child’s development, you should always remember that your child isn’t trying to be defiant or rebellious on purpose.  He is just trying to express his growing independence and doesn’t have the language skills to easily express his needs.  This can also be the reason why your toddler frequently gets frustrated and resorts to hitting, biting and temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way.  By learning about this normal stage in your child’s development, it can make it easier to get through it and make sure you are not contributing to more battles than are necessary.

Some tips to help your toddler during the terrible twos include:

  • Have a regular routine for meals, naps, bedtime, etc. and try to stick t them each day
  • Offer limited choices only i.e. “would you like apples or oranges for your snack”.  This helps toddler feel like he is making choices and has power over things, while not being able to choose unhealthy alternatives.
  • Learn to set limits and don’t be surprised when your child tries to test those limits to see what he can get away with.
  • Don’t give into tantrums
  • Begin to use “time-out” and take away privileges as discipline techniques
  • Provide your toddler with a safe environment that is well child-proofed to explore and play in.  It isn’t fair for your child to get in trouble for playing with something he shouldn’t play if you left it in reach.

Please look for part two in the December issue: “The Terrible Twos Countdown Calculator”


September 1, 2011

Got Sleep?

Make Sure Your Child is Getting Enough Sleep

By Angela Ishmael of

Parents often struggle with how much sleep their child should be getting. I always advise parents to think about sleep in 24-hour blocks and not night and day. We want our children to be getting most sleep at night and just top themselves up during the day with naps (if needed). If your child is napping well during the day and going to sleep at night at a reasonable time (for your family), sleeps well at night and wakes in the morning is a happy mood then everything is fine.

If your child takes a long time to fall asleep, wakes early in the morning or spends a lot of time awake during the night, then you may want to shift things around a little. Firstly, you should cut down on naps (or stop them altogether). When you alter any sleep you shouldn’t expect to see any change for at least 3 days. Be patient!

How Much Sleep Should My Child Get?

Remember, your child is an individual and has his or her own sleep needs, the above should only be used as a guide. As long as your child is waking in a good mood after naps and in the morning, you can feel assured that they are getting the right amount of sleep.

Contact Angela at:

You can find Angela online at:

August 1, 2011

5 Tips for making Travel Easier for Your Child

By Angela Ishmael of

It can take a while for children to feel relaxed in a new bedroom and bed and this can make going on vacation a bit of a challenge.

Here are 5 ideas on ways you can make it just a little easier for your child and you when you are staying away from home.

1. Take the bottom sheet off of your child’s crib/bed and take it with you. Put it on the crib/bed at your destination. Take your child’s pillow with you if you can. If you are unable you can just take the pillowcase.

2. Take the pj’s your child was wearing the night before you left with you. We want to try and make the crib/bed as much like home as possible. Taking all of the bedding from home will make the bed smell the same as home. You may also want to take some stuffed animals from home, even if your child isn’t attached to anything in particular, having familiar things around will help your child feel more secure and able to relax just a little easier.

3. Try and keep your routine the same. It’s hard when dealing with different time zones, but try to keep your routines as familiar as possible. Your child again will feel more secure and able to relax and unwind just a little easier.

4. Dealing w/ Jet Lag: One of the biggest pitfalls to avoid is not paying attention to the direction of travel and when your kids sleep. So, when traveling east, better to keep the child up and get that initial bed time closer to local time than fall asleep too early and get up much earlier than local breakfast time. Similarly, when traveling west, your child may have trouble falling asleep that first night. Have books and a movie on hand but wake your child up at local time the next day regardless of what time your child actually falls asleep.

5. Give your child a little extra help at bedtime. They are going to bed in a new environment and even though you are trying to make things as familiar as possible your child may wake up during the night and wonder where they are! Go to them and reassure them that everything is okay and they are safe and you are near.

Personal Bio:

Angela is the Community Manager of She is a small town beauty queen who traded in crown and town in search of a new adventure. When she is not blogging, you will find her hand in hand with her husband teaching kids in the slums of Nairobi or building homes in the hills of Mexico. She comes from a big loud Italian family, with 5 brothers & sisters. Build relationships is her passion! She talks wildly with her hands and loves to cook; bonus her husband loves to eat, it’s a win-win! Angela and her husband are expecting their first baby girl this fall! It will be their greatest and most rewarding adventure of all.  SwankyMoms is her labor of love! She promises to bring you the latest tips & trends, deals & dish. She has a passion for children and supporting the strong women behind them!

You can find Angela online at:

July 7, 2011

A “Healthier Approach” to Eating Well in Your House

By Dr. Natalie Geary, Pediatrician, author of

“The Food Cure for Kids”

I have been asked by so many parents as part of my consulting work on nutritional healing to help devise a “ plan” for their household. I am excited to say that my book is out that addresses a lot of these issues but here is a quick summary of my advice.

The idea is to encourage your child to participate in healthier eating habits. Encourage your child to make some simple changes for better eating like replacing white bread with whole grain preferably a rice or gluten-free grain or bread. Slowly start to switch to a lower dairy based diet: use rice milk, yogurts, almond milk etc. Then you can begin to start to push more fruits and vegetables and explain why its important to not eat only starches.
Take your child shopping with you and help them pick foods that are better choices- if they are old enough to read they can look at labels with you and involve themselves in the decision-making. If they are old enough you can also have them help you clean out your pantry of unhealthy choices and have them make a list of ways to make healthier snacks
Make your own “cookbook” using magazines and picture cut-outs picking healthier foods. Decorate the kitchen with options to remind yourself and your kids that eating is to grow strong and healthy. Pick categories of foods for them to choose from with pictures so they can be reminded what they pick from each category.

Make an effort to include your child in any farmer’s market or outdoor market where there is usually a lot of vegetables and fruit that you can often handpick or at least touch and feel. Be sure to get a mixture of colors and shapes of veggies and fruit so they stay interested. Then let them choose their favorites and stick with it. Encourage them to try different colors and shapes of food. This will insure they sample different nutrients.

School lunches are usually a nutritional nightmare. Stand up for your child’s nutrition at school and if they are serving garbage-type foods, insist that your pediatrician sends a letter stating that your child needs to carry a lunch to school. . This sounds like a huge headache but will do more for your child’s nutrition than you can imagine. Same for after-school hunger,  even though it’s tempting to grab a lunchable” remember that all your hard work on the weekends will be for naught if your kid is eating garbage every day at school.

June 1, 2011

Sleep Issues: Tips and Tricks

There is no sleep formula for newborns because their internal clocks are not yet fully developed.  Newborns generally sleep approximately 16 hours a day and in 3 to 4 hour spurts before waking to eat.  Baby’s stomachs are small and can only hold small amounts of milk at a time and therefore pediatricians don’t recommend letting your baby sleep for more than 4 hours without a feeding.

Most babies will start to sleep through the night between 3 and 6 months but it is not unusual for babies to continue waking during the night until they are one year or older.

In the book The Baby Whisperer, author Tracey Hogg suggests a “dream feed”: before parent goes to bed you give your baby a bottle while they sleep and then put them back in their crib. Babies will feed without waking and be satisfied for a longer period – giving mom or dad the opportunity for longer periods of sleep.

Routine is important in any baby or child’s life.  Predictable routines provide children with a feeling of security and control in their lives.  While daily routines are critical so are nighttime routines.  Ideally your baby should be placed in their crib before falling asleep.  Any soothing activities performed consistently and in the same order each night can make up the routine.  Your baby will associate these with sleeping and help him/her wind down.  You want your baby to fall asleep independently and a routine encourages babies to go back to sleep if they should wake up during the night.

What are your tips/routines for getting your baby to sleep?  If you have some helpful suggestions for our readers please email


May 1, 2011

Reading to Your Baby

It is never too early to start reading to your baby.  The American Academy of pediatrics recommends reading aloud daily to your baby starting at 6 months of age.  However starting at the newborn stage provides a great opportunity for cuddling and bonding.  Although your newborn can barely see a foot in front of herself nevermind show interest in a book, they will still appreciate the soothing sound of your voice.  Starting young helps to develop a routine.

A baby starts learning to talk from the day that they are born: it takes months of hearing language before they speak their first words.  Reading will help build your child’s vocabulary, stimulate her imagination, and improve her communication skills.  In fact, the more you speak to your child, the better it is for her growth and development.  Studies show that language skills and intelligence are related to how many words an infant hears each day.

Talking to your child about their surroundings and the events in your day are excellent ways to facilitate this and books are also another great way to add variety to your verbal interactions.

During the first few months your infant will be picking up on the rhythm of language rather than the content.  Therefore when it comes to reading anything goes – children’s books, magazines or even a novel that you are trying to finish.  Just be sure to keep the tone cheerful and upbeat.

Once your baby gets to about 6 months of age they will enjoy pictures with bright colours and sharp contrast.  Board books are always a great idea as they can survive baby’s wear and tear.

Ten benefits to Reading Aloud to your Baby:

  1.  Promotes listening skills
  2.  Increases the number of vocabulary words babies hear
  3.  Develops attention span and memory
  4.  Helps babies learn uncommon words
  5.  Helps babies understand meaning of words
  6.  Helps babies learn concepts about print
  7.  Helps babies get information from illustrations
  8.  Promotes bonding and calmness for both baby and parent
  9.  Stimulates imagination and the senses
  10.  Instills the love of books and learning

Some Suggested Books for Babies:

  • Brown Bear by Eric Carle
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise brown
  • Go Dog Go by R.D. Eastman
  • Pat the Bunny by Edith Kundardt Davis
  • Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
  • Toes Ears and Nose by marion Dane Bauer

Some Suggested Books for Toddlers:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
  • The Napping House by Audry Wood and Don Wood
  • Baby Happy, Baby Sad by Leslie Praticelli
  • Quick As a Cricket by Audry Wood and Don Wood

Source:,,, suite101.c0m

April 5, 2011

Healthy Sleep Habits

what baby’s dreams are made of

by Tracey Ruiz, The Sleep Doula

Developing healthy sleep habits early on is important for both babies and their parents.  Creating a routine that your child grows to know will help encourage longer stretches of uninterrupted sleep which parents want and babies need.  Here are some great tips and tricks to help you and your baby get that well deserved rest.

  • Have a consistent routine that helps baby distinguish between day and night. Bed Time routines don’t have to be long, drawn out or complicated. It can be as simple as: a final evening feed, a diaper change, pajamas, a book, and into bed.
  • Try to put your child down awake. Even if baby falls asleep during the last feed, try changing their diaper and put them back down to break up the food sleep association.  This will also begin to prepare them for self-soothing.
  • Be prepared that baby will stir and move around throughout the night due to their naturally shorter sleep cycles. Allow baby to stir from one sleep cycle into the other.  You may be pleasantly surprised that baby will lull themself back to sleep without your help.
  • Try to keep their environment consistent throughout the night. For example, if you are using white noise, make sure it runs all night long. A fan running all night long not only can provide white noise but will also provide increased air circulation in the room, helping to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Ensure you place your child in a safe environment with no loose blankets, no bumper pads or toys.  Place your baby on their backs and swaddled if still under four months.

Hopefully with these tips, both you and your baby will get the sleep all parents dream of.

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