Finding the right day-care center requires a balance of many practical issues: location, cost, hours of operation. And you of course also want a nurturing staff. "But bottom line, your child's health and safety is what matters the most," says Patricia Skinner, executive director of the Capital District Child Care Council, a resource and referral agency serving six counties in the Albany, N.Y., region. "After all, it doesn't matter how stellar the caregiver's interactions are if there's broken glass on the playground," she says. Jump to full text of this article.
Whether you are expecting your first child or your second, as you are gearing up for the arrival of this little bundle of joy, one area that seems to get overlooked is how this new baby will change your life once he or she arrives on the scene, and especially how a little one will affect your relationship with your partner. The reality is that for any couple, whether they have been together for a short time or have weathered many changes over a number of years, this transition will alter every aspect of your relationship. The first few months are especially the most difficult, as each person grapples with the new responsibility and what that responsibility means on a day, to, day basis, and how it defines their relationship with each other.
There are concepts such as: What sacrifices will be made by each party for the benefit of the child? What duties will be covered by each person? And how will the responsibilities of work and family come into play? These are rarely discussed up front and end up becoming sore subjects within a relationship. This is because they are being worked through while each person is sleep deprived, emotionally spent, and overwhelmed with their new responsibilities.
This transition, however, can also create an opportunity for an even stronger relationship if the foundation for working together is laid down ahead of time. Which is why I created the book 101 Questions for Expectant Parents; Preserving Your Relationship through the Transition; as a talking tool to talk through the changes that will occur as couples welcome baby into their family. Communication is so critical for a harmonious relationship to exist and a solid partnership to work and time needs to be taken to communicate about changes on a regular basis.
While the first six weeks are a tough transition your relationship as a couple and as parents to your child will hopefully last a lifetime, and that requires constant nurturing of both. Below are ways to preserve your relationship through the early years with your baby.
1. Find time to talk when not emotional to discuss conflicts.
There are always going to be times when disagreements occur, but the key to working through those moments is to make time to talk when each person is not defensive, and real communication can occur. Sometimes that may not happen for several days, allowing each person to cool off and be able to listen to the other person's point of view. But agree to make that time and clear the air.
2. Be open to listening to the needs and feelings of your partner. Sometimes couples need private time to reconnect, learn how each other is feeling, and open up about what they perceive is missing. Life can be so busy and chaotic that weeks can go by with Mom really needing a hug and Dad truly wanting intimate time, and neither are able to get those needs met.
3. Talk about your physical and emotional needs to maintain closeness and intimacy.
While talking about what each other might need in the short term, also talk about what initiatives you want to put in place now that spontaneity is not as easy to achieve. Can you arrange date nights in the bedroom, where you can make plans to meet up right after putting the baby down. Or what about trying to rendezvous in the middle of the day when the baby is taking a nap. Now is the time to be creative, rather than allowing the moment to unfold. Be proactive because it won't happen otherwise.
4. Plan a regular date night.
This is another way to reconnect to who you are as a couple and not just as your baby's parents. Find a great babysitter (whether it be a grandparent or family friend) to watch your baby so the two of you can go off and do something fun. Or plan a night as simple as having a picnic in your own house with private time. Dedicate this time to yourselves. It will keep your relationship fresh.
5. How do you appreciate and cherish each other on a regular basis?
With a new baby occupying your full attention, it's easy to take one another for granted. So try to make an effort to do little things to show how much you care. A few examples are leaving a note for your husband before he goes off to work, having Dad rub Mom's back or shoulders when the baby is sleeping, cooking a special meal, offering to take the baby and give each other a break, or arranging a babysitter so the two of you to go out together, alone.
6. Learning how to collaborate?
This is where parenting as a team comes in. Start to learn how to come together and agree on the parenting methods you will use. Find ways to help each other with the responsibilities, and utilize one another's strengths and weaknesses. Communication is vital because each person needs to talk about where they require assistance, what they like or don't like about what their partner is doing, and what compromises will be made.
Remember that when parents are happy, baby is happy.
Tracey Serebin, is a Family Communication expert with an office in Franklin Lakes, NJ, working with kids, parents and families. She is author of 101 Questions for Expectant Parents; Preserving Your Relationship through the Transition book and host of Family Matters Radio Show on WebTalkRadio.net. Visit her at www.TraceySerebin.com
According to an article on the M2Moms blog, new and expectant mothers are not given much information from their healthcare providers about the possibility of preterm birth and preventative lifestyle measures as well as the risks and options regarding preterm births. You can read more about the survey on the March of Dimes website.
A CD of soothing lullabies by nationally acclaimed and multi-million-selling pianists, The O'Neill Brothers, was developed after a national search for song ideas -- and the touching or inspiring stories behind them. The resulting CD, "Lullabies: By Request," features 16 tunes submitted by moms and grandmas from across the country that are specifically designed to help infants and children relax and fall asleep, and encourage a child's development. It was developed in consultation with a music therapist who has developed pediatric music therapy programs for the Mayo Clinic and several other hospitals.
The CD was also inspired by an experience that impacted the entire O'Neill family. Last May, older brother Tim O'Neill and his wife Annie had premature twins, who spent seven weeks in the NICU. They're doing fine now, and Tim and Annie attribute at least some of the babies' recovery to the piano music they played for them throughout their hospital stay. Tim and Ryan O'Neill were inspired to record the new CD to help families who are going through a similar experience, or who have babies, toddlers or even older children who need help falling asleep.
The CD will be available at PianoBrothers.com, iTunes, Amazon and in gift shops across the country (MSRP: $13.98; individual tracks available for 99 cents).
But find MomTalk on Facebook and receive your copy free!
Take Steps to Prepare for the Cost of a Bigger Family
A couple's decision to start a family leads to one of the most significant periods of transition in their lives. Along with a host of new responsibilities comes the financial impact that children have on a household. This is not something to be taken lightly. You may be focused on immediate expenses like diapers, booties and baby food, but that's just the start. By some estimates, the cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 can fall in the range of $200,000, and possibly much more depending on any number of variables related to lifestyle, education and healthcare costs.
These numbers make it apparent that it takes not just a village to raise a child, but a fair amount of money as well. But take heart: families have been managing to make this work since people first roamed the earth. The key is to make sure you have your financial house in order before the new arrival comes on the scene. Here are some critical factors you can't afford to overlook:
The first expense that comes to mind is the cost of delivering a baby. Are you covered by medical insurance? How about dealing with any potential complications, either for the mother or child? Beyond that, will you have to pay additional costs to add the child to your existing insurance policy?
Child care expenses
Some new families prefer to have a parent stay home to raise the child. Though ideal in many respects, this option also comes at the cost of one potential income, which can put a big squeeze on a family budget just at the time when the headcount has expanded by one. On the other hand, if both parents plan to be back at work full-time, daycare costs become part of the equation. Depending on where you live and the options available to you, this can easily amount to several hundred dollars of additional expense per week--a significant cash outflow even in most dual-income households.
Other everyday living expenses
Is your house or apartment big enough to handle the arrival of a new child? If not, you may need to move into a larger space. A new addition to the family also means another mouth to feed, so your grocery bill is likely to go up. Clothing is another ongoing cost, and your entertainment budget may rise as well, if for no other reason than the need to pay a babysitter when you want to go out.
If you choose to send your child to a private school for grade school and high school, you could be in store for some hefty tuition bills. And the cost only escalates for higher education. If you're planning to assist your child with college expenses, you may want to consider making monthly contributions to an education savings fund. The sooner you begin saving, the better financial shape you'll be in when it comes time to write out the checks.
The arrival of a new child into the family is an exciting and exhausting time in a parent's life. On top of the day-to-day tasks involved in running an expanded household, you'll have new responsibilities related to the development and well-being of your new son or daughter. Given all you'll have to juggle, you won't want to waste time worrying about whether your financial future is secure. Talk to a financial advisor to etch out a plan to reach your long-term goals. Being proactive today will mean more time to enjoy the treasures of parenthood that lie ahead.
Making the transition from breast or bottle to solid foods is a big event for both you and baby. Starting on solid foods is not just about nutrition; it is baby's exciting introduction to the world of new flavors and to the enjoyment of chewing and eating. Here are some tips for starting out on the right foot with solid foods.
Is your baby ready?
Most doctors agree that you should wait until your baby is at least 4 to 6 months old and can hold her head steady in an upright position before you introduce solid foods. Jump to full text of this article here.
I was so afraid that I would find out, only after my baby was born, that I had no maternal instinct, that I lacked the chromosomal manual that would allow me to coast through motherhood. I quickly learned that I did have some level of maternal instinct. But within a few weeks of motherhood it seemed like my instinct for sleep had been swapped with my instinct to parent. I would awaken at the slightest sound, would opt to clean instead of nap even though I was exhausted. I not only didn't sleep, eventually it was like I physically couldn't sleep. The less sleep I got the more simple things became complicated and parenting less enjoyable. I can now recognize that I was dangerously sleep deprived.
According to Science Digest, most new mothers are. A recent study showed that many subsist on an average of 5.4 hours of sleep during the first eight weeks of birth. This leads to impaired judgment, memory loss, and an increase risk of illness, and postpartum depression. A Harvard study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology even suggests that postpartum women who suffer from sleep deprivation have "three fold higher risk of substantial weight retention". Well-intentioned advice for new mothers to catch up on sleep by 'napping with the baby' or to 'ease up on housework' is not always helpful. Realistically when there is more than a newborn in the house, or a career is involved, life, to a certain extent, has to go on. One thing that can be very helpful for new mothers is to tune into their basic instincts when it comes to their needs, just as they listen to their maternal instincts when it comes to caring for their child.
During daytime hours, humans have natural survival instincts that keep us alive. Feelings of thirst prompt us to hydrate and hunger inspires us to eat. During the day we are also wired to seek and expect light. On a very primal level our bodies are in tune with daytime exposure to light and nighttime exposure to darkness. In the 1980's Scientists at the National Institute of Health (NIH) discovered that the sleep/wake cycle is regulated the Suprachaismatic Nucleus, or body clock. This part of the brain relies on bright light, like sunshine, and darkness to tell the body to wake up or remain sleeping.
Many postpartum women spend much of their waking hours indoors, where they are exposed to scarce amounts of bright light. They are often up and awake at night to feed or tend to the baby, which exposes them to light during the time their body expects darkness. On a very primal and basic level, the relationship of light/dark as it contributes to our ability to sleep is imperative in our ability to be and feel rested. In new mothers, who are not exposed to enough bright light during the day or darkness at night, this can cause their body clock, basic sleep instincts, to be thrown completely out of whack.
Darkness is critical in the production of melatonin, a powerful antioxidant that is also referred to as the 'sleep' hormone. Melatonin in the blood makes us feel drowsy and signals to the body that it is time to sleep. The eye has nerves that run from special sensors in the retina that are connected to the pineal gland. When the eye senses darkness, the pineal gland produces melatonin. If a new mom is in semi-darkness, or dim light during the day small amounts of melatonin will be leaked out. This can cause her to feel drowsy, as well as inhibit the production of large quantities of melatonin in the evening, when it is supposed to. Exposure to bright light during the day decreases melatonin production so she won't feel drowsy during the day and has also been shown to increase serotonin levels. This is critically important to new mothers as serotonin is associated with mood and energy levels, and can play a role in preventing depression.
While it may not be possible for a new mom to nap or have a solid nights rest, just getting outside and seeking exposure from sunlight can decrease feelings of sleepiness and better her mood. Using a small nightlight or low blue light, to limit the amount of light she is exposed to in the evening can prevent melatonin disruption allowing her to feel more rested, even on less sleep.
I once heard that a mother lifted up a car because her child was stuck beneath it. Our maternal instincts are fierce. We can and will do anything to protect and provide for our children. But we can do nothing well if we are sleep deprived. Reconnecting with our basic instincts for sleep can make a world of difference in our survival as parents.
Rachel Swardson Wenham is a mother, writer and the founder of "Go Home Gorgeous".
"Go Home Gorgeous" provides luxury postpartum care for new parents. From in-hospital spa treatments, shower gifts and a comprehensive night nanny service designed to mother the mother as well as care for the new baby.
"Don't Just Leave the Hospital...
Go Home Gorgeous!" GoHomeGorgeous.com