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Children

  • Happy Mother's Day!

    bouquet.jpg Photo by Angela Sadler

    Mother’s Day is around the corner this Sunday, May 11th. If you are pregnant with your first child, then you qualify as a mother! Let the celebrations begin! Mother’s Day is a day we Moms can all appreciate. It is a time when we think of our own mother as well as scramble to buy a card and appropriate gift her, our Mother-in-Laws and other “mother figures” in our lives.

    As a Mom of three, I know it’s easy to get lost in the craziness of this time in May with many school activities jam packed into schedules, Teacher Appreciation Weeks, School Performances and Open Houses, Dance and Music Performances, Art Shows and everything else nearly every day of the week and month, not to mention homework! These are the days I feel I need a personal assistant to tell me what to wear, where to go and to point me out the door – but that’s just the service we are providing for our children, right?!

    Although busyness and motherhood seem to always co-exist, with a healthy dash of craziness, Mother’s Day is a time when we Moms should pause, reflect and relax, even for a few hours (or moments) just to savor all that we have. We are blessed to be mothers and to be able to raise and nurture our children. We are one of the most influential people in our children’s lives who they look up to, even if it doesn’t always seem like it in the midst of a toddler meltdown at the grocery store or when hustling them in and out of car seats while juggling diaper bags and snacks. We will always be their mothers, even when they are grown up and maybe someday have families and children of their own.

    My kids get very excited about Mother’s Day and I know I should not take that for granted. They are very proud of their homemade cards and school craft Mother’s Day creations as well as any knick-knacks they may have picked up with their Dad at the store. Those homemade cut out glue-sticked cards and pictures are my favorite (I always promise to laminate them and maybe one day I will!)

    Mother’s Day is truly about being appreciated for all that we are in our children’s eyes (and our Partner’s eyes as a mother to our kids). It’s our time to be open to relaxing and receiving that love for a whole day (even a whole hour!) If you are pregnant, you are on your way to meeting your child very soon, so savor Mother’s Day (while it’s still quiet!) and maybe enjoy a kick in the tummy or a cute ultrasound picture of your baby. Sooner than you think you will have a pile of homemade cards to laminate someday!

  • Happy Birthday Audrey Hepburn!!

    Today it is Audrey Hepburn’s birthday who is my all time favorite Hollywood actor, humanitarian and beautiful do-gooder. I have always loved Audrey Hepburn’s style, demeanor, acting, personal story and especially her heart for children and those underprivileged around the world.

    This is one of the reasons I named my daughter, Audrey, who also has tremendous grace and charm, although I am trying to steer her clear of any Hollywood acting ambitions! However, she does enjoy dance and fashion, and for now that seems close enough to her namesake for me!

    I recently learned that Audrey Hepburn was one of the first fashionistas of Hollywood. She was close friends with Givenchy who proudly dressed her for many a red carpet and award show events starting with their first collaboration for the movie, Sabrina. Although Givenchy was initially disappointed he was working with Audrey Hepburn, he was expecting Katherine Hepburn and had formed a movie wardrobe for her. He quickly changed his tune as he got to know Audrey and developed a deep respect and admiration for her that would last a lifetime. He later called her “his muse” as they formed a professional and personal lifetime friendship with many famous timeless styles designed around her input and image.

    Audrey was a pioneer of many classic styles that still endure today. She sported the LBD as her daywear and evening wear in the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She also showed how personal style is not just about what you wear but how you carry it off. Sometimes less is more, along with some unabashed bright red lipstick and two pearl earrings.

    Audrey was also a fan of the fitted black cropped pant and the classic loafer which she sported in the movie, Funny Face. There, alongside Fred Astaire, Audrey showed off her dancing chops as well as her whimsical attitude and comedic side. These looks she would also wear off the set for the rest of her life.

    On Audrey, even the simple white collared shirt could be a class act. She gave menswear inspired fashion choices a flair of femininity and beauty. A basic white collared shirt could be the frame for a beautiful face and a smile and give an air of empowerment to a woman who wanted to be taken more seriously in her day. She often said a Givenchy collared shirt would make her feel more confident in her own skin. She showed how clothing and wardrobe choices were deeply personal choices around not only your body type, but your personality, identity and even your mood you wanted to portray (or improve!) They sent a message to the outside world about what you wanted to show of yourself and your soul and how you wanted to be received.

    Audrey Hepburn is one of my biggest fashion inspirations. She is one of the reasons I was inspired to start a fashion business. Although I will never personally be as elegant or chic as she, I love her unselfish spirit of generosity and especially her boundless love and support of children all over the world. I think her spirit of love, kindness and real giving is her greatest gift of herself. It is that unaffected enduring essence of her that is captured in her photos, images and even her movies when we look back and see her true beauty of her physical self and soul as we remember her today.

    Happy 85th Birthday Audrey!! We love you!!

  • Mom Blogger and Burn Victim Survivor, Stephanie Nielson, Shares thoughts on Motherhood

    As a Stay at Home Mom I am always looking for inspirational stories about mothering to inspire and motivate me to be a better mom. The other day I noticed a story about an amazing woman, Stephanie Nielson, who survived a plane crash with her husband, Christian Nielson, in 2008. Both Stephanie and her husband were badly burned by the fire from the plane explosion, with Stephanie sustaining burns of over 80% her body.

    Stephanie was put in a medically induced coma for 10 weeks to survive the burns. Today she is alive and well as a mother of 5, but not without daily physical challenges and pain and scars from the accident, including significant burn scars on her face and hands.

    Stephanie has a Mommy Blog called the NieNie Dialogues which she started before accident in 2005 as a 23 year old wife and mother of four. She continued with her blog after her accident when she could use her hands again to type and even published a memior about her experience, “Heaven is Here” in April 2012, the same day her fifth child, Charlotte, was born.

    Recently Stephanie was the keynote speaker at a RootsTech Conference, a family history and technology conference. She spoke about the importance of documenting your lives.

    "Document your families," she said. "Document your life. You may not have been through a plane crash, but you do have a story. Everyone has a story, and it needs to be told."

    She also spoke about the preciousness of motherhood and how being a mother to her children was the driving factor in her survival and recovery from her accident. However her path to health and recovery was not easy.

    “Each day, when I was in this excruciating, horrible pain, doctors and nurses would change my bandages, sometimes twice a week, and I still couldn't move on my own," Nielsen said. "Each day I was so discouraged. Each day I became a little more depressed, and my dream of being that mother I've always wanted to be my entire life was disappearing."

    When her kids first saw her after she awoke from her coma, she said they expected to see their mother the way she used to look and were shocked and frightened to find her disfigured and badly scarred. Her daughter, Jane, took one look at her and was too frightened to look at her again.

    "After the visit I pretty much cried that entire day and night and weeks and days that followed," Nielsen said. "I decided that I never wanted to be a mother again. But as the days went on, I thought a lot about our meeting. I think that meeting was both horrible as it was inspiring. I wanted my job back."

    Gradually she was able to get that job back of being a hands-on mother again. She was also able to get pregnant again and have another baby with her husband which was a dream of hers since before the crash.

    Stephanie encouraged those at the conference to capture memories and document their family’s lives. It does not have to be through blogging as she does, but any tangible way – through scrapbooking, journaling, audio – and to never stop doing so. She told the people at the RootsTech conference that these documented memories will be a gift for their children and future generations.

    "You are here today because you love your family, because you want a connection with your descendants," Nielsen said. "I encourage you to find stories with your loved ones that can help you develop an attitude of gratitude for the ones who came before you. We are all survivors of something."

    This story inspired me not only to begin to scrapbook and start putting together those family albums and wall photo collages I have been promising myself to do since I first gave birth to my son 11 years ago, but also to take the time to actively appreciate my kids and the gift of motherhood more.

    As Stephanie says, motherhood is “a job” and one that we are privileged to have. It’s not an easy job, but it can be a very fulfilling one and meaningful one if we take the time to appreciate the small moments of each day and to develop an attitude of gratitude. By taking the time to document and savor these experiences we help both ourselves be more joyful and grateful in our lives and provide our children with a wealth of experience, love and learnings to pass to future generations.

    Like many of us, I am one of those moms who takes a lot of photos and captures a lot of images of my kids on my cellphone. We have literally thousands of photos stored on our computer of our children through every stage of their lives and then some – film is cheap, right? I am good about passing along a quick photo of my kids to grandparents and relatives or even a short video clip. However I have not been good about taking the time to put together something meaningful and accessible with all those photos for my immediate family, so we can enjoy the best of these cherished images on a daily basis and be reminded of the special moments we have had together in our lives.

    There is a wealth of goodness in each day and we don’t need to be in a plane crash or to be a burn victim to begin to understand the messages that Stephanie’s inspirational story tells us. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday to do lists and the exhaustion of trying to keep up with the daily demands of parenting. Just taking a step back and altering our perspective a little to look for the light and goodness of each day and even just to be grateful for our physical abilities to be a mom, is something most of us can take to heart. I know I can.

  • The Mommy Guilt Syndrome - Good or Bad?

    According to many polls, it is surveyed that as many as 94% of moms feel guilty about some aspect of their parenting. This guilt ranges from the amount of time they spend with their kids, the way they feed their kids (breast milk or formula, nutritious or junk food), to the type of diapers they use on their kids (environmentally friendly), yelling at kids, leaving kids at daycare of with another caregiver, the list goes on. There is always something to feel guilty about.

    My advice as a Mom of 3 to new and first time parents is that there are no perfect parents and no perfect kids. No matter how perfectly you try to parent your kids they will not be perfect and neither will you. You can try to do your best most of the time. However, there are days when those standards will have to slip.

    Today I was home with my sick 4 year old and I am recovering from minor leg surgery from a few days ago. Although I can hobble around a bit, I am supposed to sit still and let the wound heal. My son has plenty of other plans as his fever seemed to have cleared as soon as the School Bus drove past our front door. After a few games of Hedbanz and Lincoln Logs in addition to me hobbling about to fetch snacks, feed the cat and make lunch, I decided to call it a day. My son was treated to his favorite Ninjago Snake Attack Movie that I only very sparingly let him see, not only because these Ninjas are excessively violent at times but mainly because my off the charts snake phobia. But after feeling the twinge or two of pain in my leg and the even more pronounced twinge or two of excessive boredom in my brain from hours of mind numbing games (that I felt guilty I should not be feeling), I threw in the towel and allowed him to indulge in several hours of these movie festivities while I retreated to another room, well away from the attacking snakes video.

    Did I feel guilty about this? Not a lot, maybe a little. Am I a bad parent? I don’t think so. If I did this every day, then yes I think that would be detrimental to my child’s development and show a serious lack of effort on my part. But once in a while, when we both really deserve it, sure, no harm done. However, if you were to ask me this question 6 years ago when my oldest son was this age, you would have gotten a very different answer. Yes, I would have felt incredibly guilty if I did anything like this, but this scenario would never have occurred. First we would not have had any movies of this type in our house, nor would we have access to NetFlix and not in a million years could he watch anything other than educational TV, Bob the Builder or The Wiggles (now I am burnt out on all of the above). Second I would have used this time as an opportunity for him to work on his coloring, or for me to home school him on adding and subtracting with string and pegs (yes, I was one of those “Tiger-like” Moms), although he would not learn these skills in school for another year or so. But I am a different parent at 44 and with my third child, who also has a very different temperament than my first child and does not find hours of adding games all that fun after a few minutes, nor do I at this stage. So in this case I think my degree of guilt has subsided with age, experience and number of children.

    Many people might mistake me as a deadbeat parent to my youngest child on certain days of the week or hours during the day. I disagree. I actually believe my less stressed out and more laissez faire approach (or less present approach as I am parenting two other children with their own plates full of activities, homework and playdates), has encouraged my son to do more for himself. He knows that Mommy is not hopping around the house to anticipate his every need. So yes, he has a few more sugar snacks than the other two would have at his age (they had none other than fruit!). He has a little more TV time that usually is not educational and I do not drill him on reading and math all the time (although his siblings like to try their hand at homeschooling him from time to time with varying levels of success or dispute, depending on the day). I do however make sure he is safe, cared for, loved and feed every day which I think is the primary responsibility of any parent.

    On the flip side my youngest is remarkably helpful and self-sufficient. He helps me with many chores, loves to help with cooking/mixing and baking things, he helps with the dishes, cleans his room, vacuums and dusts, dresses himself, makes his bed and is overall a very confident kid, proud of what he can do like his big brother and sister (and sometimes better). Maybe he has a few more scrapped knees and maybe his outfits don’t always coordinate perfectly, but I am pretty sure he will be able to do his own laundry and cook for himself by the time he goes off to college as he’s well on his way to mastering those skills now. Plus I can daydream that one day his future wife, my future daughter in law, will profusely thank me for raising such a self-sufficient guy while I nod knowingly.

    On the other hand, guilt is not always a bad thing if it is used wisely and in proper context. Guilt is an internal alert system our body has to tell us that something is potentially wrong and we need to address it. It is a sign our body uses to encourage us to get on the right track and change a behavior, or make a different choice. Maybe we shouldn’t trust a particular caregiver. Maybe Johnny does need to eat healthier and cut back on the junk food. Yes we should watch what we put into our bodies when we are pregnant and stop dangerous habits like smoking or drinking too much. But we also have our common sense to override that guilt and cut ourselves some slack from time to time (not in smoking), but in most of our parenting decisions. Overall parents who apply love, consistency, their best instincts and joy to the job are on the right track any day of the week. We all need our cheat days every now and then to recharge. As long as our baby/child is safe and well cared for, I think we can cut ourselves some slack from time to time.

  • Reese Witherspoon: My Baby “Stole My Brain” And Her Girlfriends Rallied

    Reese warned us that her baby boy, Tennessee, “stole her brain” a few weeks ago in an interview with British Magazine, Red. The Oscar-winning actress, 37, had her third child, Tennessee, in October with husband Jim Toth. She is also mom to 13 year old daughter Ava and 9 year old son, Deacon.

    “Ever since I had the baby, I can’t remember anything. Serious, this child stole my brain,” says Witherspoon. “I’m losing friendships over forgetting to get back to people. But you can’t keep up with everything,” explains the busy mom.

    It is comforting to know that celebrities can get “Mommy-brains” like the rest of us when we are running on little sleep and chasing after kids, particularly when there are multiple children to take care of the same time plus other responsibilities.

    Reese says taking care of all three of her kids mentally is “like CNN ticker tape running through my mind at all times….”’Where is Ava? She’s okay. Good. Where is Deacon? He’s okay. Good. Where is Tennessee: Is he okay? Great. Back to Ava….’ It doesn’t stop.”

    Reese’s emotional reserves have been put to the test lately with her recent arrest for disorderly conduct at the same time as her husband’s DUI. She has publicly admitted that she and her husband are “deeply embarrassed” adding “we know better. “ Clearly this mom was on overload and was letting loose a little too much that evening to be in a car driven by her husband who was also under the influence.

    Reese does credit her girlfriends for getting her the hard times. “I don’t know what I would have done so many times in my life if I hadn’t had my girlfriends.” She adds, “It’s nice to hang with Drew because we both just had babies and we can support each other,” she says of Barrymore, who also welcomed a baby last fall, daughter Olive. “And Cameron is such a funny, bright, gal. She’s an incredibly sharp business-minded woman, but she disguises that side of herself. It’s her secret alter ego.”

    Shortly after her arrest Reese relied on the help of her girlfriends, including Chelsea Handler, to help her weather the publicity storm. She admits, “They have literally gotten me up out of bed, taken my clothes off, put me in the shower, dressed me, said, ‘Hey, you can do this,’ put my high heels on and pushed me out the door!”

    We should all remember to lean in on our girlfriends, particularly after having a baby, dealing with baby blues. Husbands and partners are great and essential to help with everything baby and otherwise. But our girlfriends do wonders for our psyches and can cheer us up during our baby blue and “Mommy brain” fog, they can keep us laughing and smiling though the best and worst of it all. So, don’t forget to call your girlfriends whenever you need a pep talk or a laugh (or they need one).

  • Most Popular Baby Names For 2011

    Here is a list of  the most common baby names in 2011 per the Social Security Administration.  Is your baby's name in the list?!?

    Top 10 Baby Names for 2011

    Rank

    Male name

    Female name

    1

    Jacob

    Sophia

    2

    Mason

    Isabella

    3

    William

    Emma

    4

    Jayden

    Olivia

    5

    Noah

    Ava

    6

    Michael

    Emily

    7

    Ethan

    Abigail

    8

    Alexander

    Madison

    9

    Aiden

    Mia

    10

    Daniel

    Chloe

  • Top 100 Baby Names Of 2011

    Baby Center has compiled a list of the top 100 boy and girl names for 2011 based upon submissions of 300,000 names.

    And the most popular names are:

    Top 100 Girl Names In 2011
     
    Top 100 Boy Names In 2011
    1. Sophia   1. Aiden
    2. Emma   2. Jackson
    3. Isabella   3. Mason
    4. Olivia   4. Liam
    5. Ava   5. Jacob
    6. Lily   6. Jayden
    7. Chloe   7. Ethan
    8. Madison   8. Noah
    9. Emily   9. Lucas
    10. Abigail   10. Logan
    11. Addison   11. Caleb
    12. Mia   12. Caden
    13. Madelyn   13. Jack
    14. Ella   14. Ryan
    15. Hailey   15. Connor
    16. Kaylee   16. Michael
    17. Avery   17. Elijah
    18. Kaitlyn   18. Brayden
    19. Riley   19. Benjamin
    20. Aubrey   20. Nicholas
    21. Brooklyn   21. Alexander
    22. Peyton   22. William
    23. Layla   23. Matthew
    24. Hannah   24. James
    25. Charlotte   25. Landon
    26. Bella   26. Nathan
    27. Natalie   27. Dylan
    28. Sarah   28. Evan
    29. Grace   29. Luke
    30. Amelia   30. Andrew
    31. Kylie   31. Gabriel
    32. Arianna   32. Gavin
    33. Anna   33. Joshua
    34. Elizabeth   34. Owen
    35. Sophie   35. Daniel
    36. Claire   36. Carter
    37. Lila   37. Tyler
    38. Aaliyah   38. Cameron
    39. Gabriella   39. Christian
    40. Elise   40. Wyatt
    41. Lillian   41. Henry
    42. Samantha   42. Eli
    43. Makayla   43. Joseph
    44. Audrey   44. Max
    45. Alyssa   45. Isaac
    46. Ellie   46. Samuel
    47. Alexis   47. Anthony
    48. Isabelle   48. Grayson
    49. Savannah   49. Zachary
    50. Evelyn   50. David
    51. Leah   51. Christopher
    52. Keira   52. John
    53. Allison   53. Isaiah
    54. Maya   54. Levi
    55. Lucy   55. Jonathan
    56. Sydney   56. Oliver
    57. Taylor   57. Chase
    58. Molly   58. Cooper
    59. Lauren   59. Tristan
    60. Harper   60. Colton
    61. Scarlett   61. Austin
    62. Brianna   62. Colin
    63. Victoria   63. Charlie
    64. Liliana   64. Dominic
    65. Aria   65. Parker
    66. Kayla   66. Hunter
    67. Annabelle   67. Thomas
    68. Gianna   68. Alex
    69. Kennedy   69. Ian
    70. Stella   70. Jordan
    71. Reagan   71. Cole
    72. Julia   72. Julian
    73. Bailey   73. Aaron
    74. Alexandra   74. Carson
    75. Jordyn   75. Miles
    76. Nora   76. Blake
    77. Caroline   77. Brody
    78. Mackenzie   78. Adam
    79. Jasmine   79. Sebastian
    80. Jocelyn   80. Adrian
    81. Kendall   81. Nolan
    82. Morgan   82. Sean
    83. Nevaeh   83. Riley
    84. Maria   84. Bentley
    85. Eva   85. Xavier
    86. Juliana   86. Hayden
    87. Abby   87. Jeremiah
    88. Alexa   88. Jason
    89. Summer   89. Jake
    90. Brooke   90. Asher
    91. Penelope   91. Micah
    92. Violet   92. Jace
    93. Kate   93. Brandon
    94. Hadley   94. Josiah
    95. Ashlyn   95. Hudson
    96. Sadie   96. Nathaniel
    97. Paige   97. Bryson
    98. Katherine   98. Ryder
    99. Sienna   99. Justin
    100. Piper   100. Bryce

     
  • Fergie preparing for motherhood?


    Fergie has revealed that she is planning to cut down on her work before becoming a mother.

    The Black Eyed Peas singer admitted that from next year she plans to be "very selective" with her career.

    When asked if she plans to bring her children with her on tour like singer Sarah McLachlan, Fergie replied to HollyBaby: "I'm trying to slow down on the touring, that's the plan for next year, just being selective - only big things.

    "I've been touring for eight years straight on and off, so it's time. I need some balance time."

    The 35-year-old added that she believes her husband Josh Duhamel will make a good father.

    She explained: "He'd make an amazing father. He's great with kids. I mean he can pick 'em up and swing them around. He was around kids all his life so he's going to help me because I wasn’t around young, infant babies.

    "He knows how to change a diaper. He knows how to do everything, so I'm the luckiest wife."

  • Enjoy your kids: They don't stay young for long

    The picture currently on the desktop of my computer is of my two older children.

    My daughter, the oldest, is about 2 years old and is lying on a pillow next to her 4-month-old baby brother. Her light brown hair is wispy and her arms have that chubby toddler look to them.

    My son is wearing a blue onesie, his tongue is sticking out, and he has that funny, unfocused wide-eyed look that only babies get (probably thanks to the camera hovering over his face). The picture is already five years old.

    When my kids were very little, during what I called my baby years because it felt like I had one baby after another during the course of five years, people often commented on the same thing: Enjoy this phase, it'll go by fast.

    Caught up in diaper changing, waking up multiple times a night and not being able to leave home without a giant bag of supplies, I thought to myself, "Enjoy this? I'm exhausted - I can't wait till the day they can all walk by themselves!"

    Don't get me wrong, I love my children and loved them when they were very little, too. However, I still recall the work of keeping an eye on a baby nonstop just in case he crawled too close to the steps or put some random piece of trash in his mouth. Or juggling a car seat and a toddler who liked to run away from me at the park (my daughter did this all the time!). Or the effort it took to get three kids in and out of the car when none of them knew how to buckle themselves.

    Today, though, I'm feeling a little more sentimental and am beginning to understand what people mean when they remind me to enjoy this phase. Seeing a picture of my daughter at 2 years old is a reminder that we can never go back in time. I will never get to spend time with her at that point in her life again. That infant/toddler phase is almost over for our family now that my youngest is a few months shy of turning 4. I see our old pictures and think, wow, they were so little (and so cute). They're not even very big now!

    What will I be thinking in 10 years?

    Twenty years?

    Naturally, time will keep passing. I'll keep trying to remember to enjoy watching my kids grow, but inevitably I'll always look back and be amazed at how quickly they change.

    Just this weekend, we took the kids on a bike ride, and I thought about how often my husband and I looked forward to being able to have outings like that.

    Well, here we are at this point in time. Can we step back and appreciate it the way we ought to?

    Jen Kayton is a freelance writer and mother of three children. She also works at Colorado State University. You can reach her at jenniferkayton1@hotmail.com.

  • Eight Sleep Tips for Every Child

    This article by Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution

    Up to 70% of children under age five have sleep problems. Sleep issues are complicated and have many causes. They’re hard to deal with because when children aren’t sleeping, parents aren’t sleeping, and that lack of sleep affects every minute of every day for every person in the family because lack of sleep isn’t just about being tired. Sleep has a role in everything -- dawdling, temper tantrums, hyperactivity, growth, health, and even learning to tie his shoes and recite the ABCs. Sleep affects everything.

    The following ideas are of value to almost any sleeper, of any age. These tips can bring improvement not only in your child’s sleep, but also in her daytime mood and last, but not least – improvements in your own sleep and outlook as well.

    # 1 Maintain a consistent bedtime and awaking time.

    Your child’s biological clock has a strong influence on her wakefulness and sleepiness. When you establish a set time for bedtime and wake up time you “set” your child’s clock so that it functions smoothly.

    Aim for an early bedtime. Young children respond best with a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 P.M. Most children will sleep better and longer when they go to bed early.

    # 2 Encourage regular daily naps.

    Daily naps are important. An energetic child can find it difficult to go through the day without a rest break. A nap-less child will often wake up cheerful and become progressively fussier or hyper-alert as the day goes on. Also, the length and quality of naps affects night sleep – good naps equal better night sleep.

    # 3 Set your child’s biological clock.

    Take advantage of your child’s biology so that he’s actually tired when bedtime arrives. Darkness causes an increase in the release of the body’s sleep hormone -- the biological “stop” button. You can align your child’s sleepiness with bedtime by dimming the lights during the hour before bedtime.

    Exposing your child to morning light is pushing the “go” button in her brain — one that says, “Time to wake up and be active.” So keep your mornings bright!

    # 4 Develop a consistent bedtime routine.

    Routines create security. A consistent, peaceful bedtime routine allows your child to transition from the motion of the day to the tranquil state of sleep.

    An organized routine helps you coordinate the specifics: bath, pajamas, tooth-brushing. It helps you to function on auto-pilot at the time when you are most tired and least creative.

    # 5 Create a cozy sleep environment.

    Where your child sleeps can be a key to quality sleep. Make certain the mattress is comfortable, the blankets are warm, the room temperature is right, pajamas are comfy, and the bedroom is welcoming.

    # 6 Provide the right nutrition.

    Foods can affect energy level and sleepiness. Carbohydrates can have a calming effect on the body, while foods high in protein or sugar generate alertness, particularly when eaten alone. A few ideas for pre-bed snacks are: whole wheat toast and cheese, bagel and peanut butter, oatmeal with bananas, or yogurt and low-sugar granola.

    Vitamin deficiencies due to unhealthy food choices can affect a child’s sleep. Provide your child with a daily assortment of healthy foods.

    # 7 Help your child to be healthy and fit.

    Many children don’t get enough daily physical activity. Too much TV watching and a lack of activity prevents good sleep. Children who get ample daily exercise fall asleep more quickly, sleep better, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed.

    Avoid activity in the hour before bedtime though, since exercise is stimulating – they’ll be jumping on the bed instead of sleeping in it!

    # 8 Teach your child how to relax.

    Many children get in bed but aren’t sure what to do when they get there! It can help to follow a soothing pre-bed routine that creates sleepiness. A good pre-bed ritual is story time. A child who is listening to a parent read a book or tell a tale will tend to lie still and listen. This quiet stillness allows him to become sleepy.

    Work with these eight ideas and you’ll see improvements in your child’s sleep, and yours too.

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