Kids and Gluten

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You have probably been hearing a lot about gluten lately. Grocery stores are beginning to place special signs out that note certain items that are “gluten-free.” Restaurant menus have a specific “gluten-free” section. Maybe you even know someone that has sworn off gluten. All of this attention on gluten may have you wondering if you and your family should begin a gluten-free diet.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. You may think that you only have to avoid bread and pasta in order to go gluten-free, but that isn’t the case. Nearly all processed foods contain gluten because it makes them taste better and improves the texture. This not only includes all foods that require flour (wheat), but gluten can also be found in deli meats, soups, and even French fries.

Why are People Avoiding Gluten?

Gluten doesn’t just affect adults. A reaction to the protein can happen at any age. Unfortunately, the foods we eat today are not as wholesome as they once were. Take the organic craze for example – people choose organic foods because they are grown without the use of harmful chemicals. Grain products are not any different. Wheat today, is not the wheat our ancestors ate. It is genetically modified to grow stronger, faster, and resist insects and certain crop diseases.

What doctors and scientists are beginning to discover is that gluten is making people sick. Some people cannot tolerate the protein and the body rejects it in a number of ways. The most common form of rejection is through digestive illnesses. However, gluten intolerance has also been linked to rashes, acne, headaches, mental disorders, and obesity (just to name a few).

Celiac Disease

Today, celiac disease is the condition most widely linked to gluten. It is an autoimmune disorder that triggers an attack on the intestines. When the intestines are attacked from the inside, the body has trouble digesting food and absorbing nutrients, which makes people feel sick and become malnourished.

Symptoms of celiac disease include:

· Gas

·Acid reflux

· Stomach bloating

· Diarrhea

· Weight gain or weight loss

· Fatigue

Untreated celiac leads to anemia, neurological disorders, and osteoporosis. A simple blood test will show if a person has celiac disease, or not.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

If you think a negative test for celiac leaves you in the clear, then unfortunately you’re mistaken. A whole new understanding of gluten has lead doctors to diagnose more than 18 million Americans with as “non-celiac” gluten sensitive. This means that the intestines do not have the internal damage that a person with celiac does; however, the body has all the same symptoms as a reaction to gluten.

Going Gluten-Free

The decision to go gluten-free isn’t easy, especially when a child is involved. People are trying a g-free diet because they are getting sick from gluten or they want to see what all the fuss is about. Many people that do not need to be gluten-free are eliminating it from the diet simply because it makes them feel better.

The positives about going gluten-free are:

· More energy

· Weight loss

· Clearer skin

· Resolved medical issues

That’s the good news. The bad news is that a gluten-free diet can be difficult to follow. For children this means always watching what they eat and no longer sharing snacks with the classroom or at a birthday party. Think of gluten intolerance as an allergy – it needs to be treated much like a nut or lactose allergy. Although your child will not need to carry around an Epi-Pen, he or she could get extremely sick if they have celiac disease and do not follow a gluten-free diet.

If you, or anyone in your family has any digestive issues (or any other unexplained illness), you will want to get tested for celiac disease.

In addition to testing for celiac, the only way to determine if there is a non-celiac gluten intolerance is to go gluten-free for at least one month. This means a lot of food label reading; however, medical experts agree that the best way to go g-free is to do so naturally. This means you should eat foods that are naturally free of grains such as meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. It may sound impossible – but it can be done.

The Gluten-Free Child

If your child tests positive for celiac disease, then he or she must follow a gluten-free diet at all times. It’s your responsibility as a parent to provide an age-appropriate explanation for why this is vital to their health. The diet will be difficult to follow at first, but once your child begins to feel better, it will all be worth it.

Be sure he or she knows all the foods they must avoid. Many companies are jumping aboard the gluten-free bandwagon and catering to this need. Look for food labels marked gluten-free and remember to stick to items naturally gluten-free when in doubt. In addition, check out your local bakery as you may find that they make some fabulous gluten-free baked goods.

A Gluten-Free Family

The very best thing you can do to support a gluten-free child is to go gluten-free yourself. Celiac disease has been noted as a hereditary disease, but even if you and the other family members test negative – consider going at it as a team. Becoming a gluten-free family will be important to your child because it shows support, makes mealtime easier, and keeps tempting foods out of the home.

Even if no one in the family tests positive for celiac disease, you may want to become gluten-free for all the health benefits. Eliminating gluten from the diet (even if only for a little while) cannot hurt. Give it a try to see how each person’s body reacts. You may find that it is the best thing for everyone.

Recommended Reading for Going G-Free

Without a doubt, unless you have already cut processed foods out of your diet, going gluten-free will be difficult for the first few weeks. This is only because it takes some time to get used to making different food choices. However, once you get used to it, you will automatically reach for that banana instead of the Goldfish crackers.
It is also important to know and understand that many people go through a withdrawal stage. This is perfectly normal, as the body is not getting something that it used to having all the time. Withdrawal symptoms range from person to person, but they can include things like headaches and moodiness. These symptoms will go away within a few weeks as the body becomes accustomed to not eating grains.

For more on gluten, and how to make the gluten-free transition, check out these best-sellers:

· Gluten-Free Kids by Danna Korn

· Living Gluten-Free for Dummies by Danna Korn

· Getting Your Kid on a Gluten-Free Diet by Susan Lord

· Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D.

· The G Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide by Elisabeth Hasselbeck

There are also hundreds of gluten-free cookbooks, so you’ll have no trouble coming up with delicious recipes the whole family will love!

Anytime a person makes a major change in their life, there will be some challenges. If gluten is making your child ill, eliminating the protein is the only way to get him or her back to health. As difficult as the transition might seem, once it occurs, everyone will notice the positive impact it makes.

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Traveling with Kids

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If you plan on traveling with the kids this holiday season, then there are a few things you should know in order to make the time go by smoothly. Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be nightmare. In fact, just a little preparation a head of time can lead to a hassle free (and headache free) trip.

The goods news about teenagers is that they are pretty easy to travel with. Regardless as to your means of transportation, teens are satisfied with their electronic devices and a pair of headphones. The trickier travel companions are the younger children…

If you have children under the age of 10, then preparation for the trip is key. You probably need no reminding that attention spans are short at this age, so be ready to gather several items in order to keep the little ones entertained.

Traveling by Airplane

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Air travel can be a pain in itself. With so many TSA rules and regulations, the last thing you want to worry about is how to handle the kids during the flight. So, no matter how long the flight will be, prepare as if you’ll be traveling for several hours.

· Pack extra clothes in the carry on. Everyone knows if kids can find a way to get dirty, they will. Pack an extra set of clothes in case of emergency i.e. spilled drinks, lunch landing in the lap, or even worse – throw up from an upset stomach. Again, don’t take a short flight for granted. Pack an extra top and bottom for precautionary measures. Parents of extremely young children and infants may also need to pack an extra shirt for themselves just in case of that messiness transfers on to mom and dad. Also, be sure your child is comfy in their travel clothes!

· If the airline allows phone and tablets – use them. Be sure to have fun, kid-friendly apps on the device and ready to go. Research new games before you get on the flight so you can surprise your little one with something new. If your device has the capacity to hold a movie or two, be sure to add a couple of those, as well.

· Bring new toys and activity books. Kids love everything that is new. Plan ahead and purchase a couple of new toys and books for the trip. The items don’t have to be expensive and can even come from the Dollar Store. Anything your child hasn’t seen before will keep them busy (at least for a little while).

· Don’t forget the obvious. Check, double check, and triple check that you have all the parenting essentials such as diapers, wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, etc. These items can be overlooked as you worry about entertainment, but don’t forget to pack the items you use every day. One of the best ways to be sure you have thought of everything is to go over a typical day in your head. As you think of an item, add it to the bag or to your list immediately. The more obvious the item is, the more likely you are to forget it.

· Bring snacks. Most airlines allow passengers to bring their own food aboard. Pack your child’s favorite snacks, including a few special treats. If there is something that your child likes, but you don’t always allow, then go ahead and let him or her have it this one time. Just watch out for the sugar content because the last thing you want is a hyper child with nowhere to roam.

Traveling by Car

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Traveling by car isn’t much different than by plane, except you get the luxury of bringing whatever you want with you, without restrictions. You also get to stop along the way for breaks and leg stretching. If you are traveling a long distance by car, be sure to schedule rest stops so that everyone can take a breather and regroup when necessary. If you have a child still in diapers, keep this in mind and don’t use the diaper to your traveling advantage – a dry baby is a happy baby.

· Electronics are a must. When traveling by car you won’t need to worry about what you can and cannot bring with you. Even if you are a family that restricts electronic use, consider breaking the rules during travel. Not only is it the holidays, but it will make your life much easier. Smartphones, tablets, and in-car DVD players are excellent resources to have on hand. Like traveling by plane, have the apps downloaded and ready to go. Remember that new games are the most exciting. If you don’t have a portable DVD player, check out your local retail store – they sell as a single screen player for less than $100 or dual screen for less than $150. If you have more than one child, you may want to spend a few extra dollars and buy a portable dual screen DVD player that plays two different movies at once.

· Pack a cooler. Snacks are also a must for long road trips, but don’t forget to also pack a cooler with drinks. This will help you to avoid stopping when it’s not necessary. It also cuts down on travel expenses to bring your own food and beverages from home.

· Make Comfort a Priority. Although you may be trying to pack a week’s worth of things into the car, make sure your child is comfortable. Give him or her enough leg room, a small amount of space to spread out their things, and a carry along pillow or stuffed animal. In addition, don’t worry about what they’re wearing – allow sweatpants and even pajamas.

· The Essentials. Again, the same tips for traveling by plane can be used for traveling on the road. Let your child pack a goody bag with a few of their favorite toys or activity books. And also make sure that you have everything you may need as a parent. This means all the everyday parental essentials, but at least if you forget something while driving, you can always stop at the nearest gas station.

General Traveling Rules

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In general, when traveling with kids:

· Be sure they get a good night’s sleep the day before (or take an afternoon nap)

· Be prepared to diffuse meltdowns and sibling squabbles

· Play visual games that will distract kids from tiresome travel woes such as, “I Spy”

· Remember to pack any required medications and travel emergency kits

· Give yourself plenty of extra time

And, in addition to all of this preparedness, don’t forget to pack your patience. Kids are just that, kids. Expect them to act like kids and don’t be surprised when they do. Not that you have to let your child be unruly or throw a temper tantrum, but expect some tired behavior so that you are ready to handle it when the time comes. Just think, if you are tired of traveling all day, how your child must feel.

Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a hassle. Remember to plan ahead, make lists, and check everything. It’s also okay to understand that you aren’t perfect and as much as you “plan” – something may be forgotten. Give yourself a break, improvise, and put those wonderful parenting skills to good use – you will get through it!

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2013 Hot Christmas Gifts – By Age Group

If you’re still doing some last minute holiday shopping, then you’re not alone. Many shoppers wait until the last weeks before Christmas to get their shopping done in hopes of some fantastic sales. For those parents that are still on the lookout for that hot holiday item, check out these top-rated toys and gadgets by age group.

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Infants

Shopping for an infant is super easy. There are lots of baby toys on the market. However, if you want to get something useful or memorable, consider giving a gift that grows with the child. This type of gift lasts through several stages, which is also helpful to the parent. The best gifts for babies are ones that have a dual purpose or capture this moment of their life.

Some fun ideas to consider include:

· Activity Centers like the Infantino Grow-With-Me Activity Gym & Ball Pit

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· The Ready, Set, Go 3-in-1 Trike by Alex Toys

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· Memory keepers like electronic photo displays or clay hand/foot print kits

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You also can’t go wrong with teething toys, books, or clothes. Shopping for kids at this age is quite simple because a lot of it is based on the needs of the parents. If you are shopping for someone else’s child, don’t be afraid to ask what the family needs most. Sometimes the most practical gifts are the best ones. If you are shopping for your own child, then get what you need no matter how boring it may seem. Your baby will like the bow and wrapping paper better than what’s inside, anyway.

Toddlers

As children get older, they get more fun to buy presents for. Toddlers are expressive and excited to see what’s beyond the box. Practical items like books and clothes are great for this age group, but if you are really looking to impress then consider some of this year’s hottest toys.

· Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo – you can never go wrong with a giant Elmo that gives hugs

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· The Very Hungry Caterpillar Rocker – if you don’t know the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle then you better get the book to go along with this giant rocking (but friendly) insect

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· Winfun Step to Play Piano Mat – this item is just as sounds, like in the movie ‘Big’, it’s a giant floor size piano built for tiny feet to stomp and play music on

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Toddlers love anything they can get their hands on. Interactive toys are great for this age. Look for items that have bright lights, sounds, and motion.

School Age (Elementary)

As children grow out of the toddler phase, they can get a little harder to please. Once a child is in school, they see things their friends have and begin asking for specific items. While getting a very specific list for “Santa” is helpful, it can also be a hindrance based on availability and price. Don’t be surprised if your Kindergartner asks for an iPhone this year. However, they probably don’t need one just yet, and might love these other best-sellers.

· LEGOS – boy or girl, almost every child loves LEGOS and they are still one of the most sought after toy sets in the world.

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· LeapFrog toys – LeapFrog is a company that sells a wide range of interactive toys for younger children. These educational gifts are great for the busy child that wants something electronic but isn’t quite ready to be introduced into the i-world of Apple, Inc.

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· Crayola gifts – Crayola has long been entertaining the young and young at heart with their crafty products. Popular Crayola gifts for young children include the Marker Maker, Doodle Magic Color Mat, and the Widescreen Light Designer.

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Other popular gifts are any toy that has the theme of your child’s favorite cartoon characters. School age children love Sesame Street, Disney Princesses, Spongebob, Hello Kitty, and the Smurfs… just to name a few. Chances are that the characters your child watches on the television, also have a whole line of retail toys to go along with it.

School Age (Middle) A.K.A. the Tweens

Oh the tween years… every parent has to love a time when their precious little child thinks he or she is full grown at the age of 11. This group may be the most difficult to buy for. They are hard to please and have an opinion on everything.
So what do you get for the tween on your list….?

Here is a list of this year’s top-rated sellers that are great for both boys and girls:

· Loom Band Kit – if you don’t what know what a loom band is, take a look at your child’s wrist. Similar to the Silly Band craze of a few years ago, loom bands are the hot new trend. Both boys and girls are making and trading their very own handmade rubber band bracelets. A kit comes with all the tools needed to make different styles, as well as several hundred multi-colored rubber bands.

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· Apples to Apples Junior – a fun and competitive card game that will have the whole family laughing for hours (yes, even the tween)

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· A watch or camera – since the pre-teen years are all about growing up consider getting the tween in your life an upgraded watch or camera. This age bracket is way beyond the plastic childish toys that look like the real stuff. Upgrade them to a nice, but fairly inexpensive watch or digital camera.

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Tweens also love anything that sparks their interests. So take a look at what he or she likes to do and get something that relates to their favorite hobby such as art, music, sports, etc.

*Helpful hint – if you haven’t already given in and purchased an iPod, iPad, iPhone or some other electronic device, this may be the age bracket to finally do so.

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Teenagers

By the time your child is a teen, you have come full circle on the gift-giving spectrum. Teens are nearly as easy as infants and toddlers. That is because most teens simply want one thing – money. Unless you really, really, really know the teen you are buying for then stick to the green stuff or a gift card. If you choose to venture out and get something unique, keep the receipt – just in case. Most teens are vocal about what they want for Christmas, so buying for this age group shouldn’t be hard at all, but it might be a little expensive.

Giving Beyond the Material Gift

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In addition to giving material items, you may also want to consider teaching your child a valuable lesson about gift giving. DonorsChoose.org is a charity that gives to American schools and students in need. The best part is, when you gift money to your child through DonorsChoose.org – he or she gets to pick who and where the donation goes. Schools from around the nation post their needs online and you not only get to give to a great cause, but your child gets a priceless lesson in giving at the same time. And if that’s not enough to melt your heart, your child will also get a personal “thank you” note directly from the teacher that he or she supported.

 

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Tablet Babies

Tablet Babies.

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Tablet Babies

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a big debate going on right now about using tablets, such as the iPad, to entertain infants. In fact, there are even baby toys on the market specifically designed to work with tablets. Fisher-Price has released an “Apptivity Seat” that allows baby to lay in the carrier and watch or play with an iPad at the same time. There is also an “iRocking” play seat and even an “iPotty” that allows older children to sit on a training toilet while an iPad rests in front of them. Talk about multi-tasking!

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The divide on this subject appears to be directly down the middle. There are just as many parents that approve of infant/tablet use as those that do not.

So which side should you take…?

The Pro-Tablet Side

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The professionals that are pro-tablet believe that interactive media play encourages brain development. They also feel that this inspires parents to play alongside with their baby. However, these same experts that say tablet play is okay, also state that the time should be limited. Babies need physical mobility and must be able to move around freely in order to learn how to roll, crawl, and eventually walk. All experts agree that babies certainly don’t need tablets for healthy development.

The Anti-Tablet Side

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The professionals that are against tablet use say that any child under the age of two is too young to be spending time using a tablet, television, or smartphone. These experts believe that because a baby’s brain develops at such a rapid pace, the stimulation from an electronic device can be too much for them to comprehend. Many feel that the use of a tablet also takes away from personal interaction between baby and parents.

The Facts

A big supporter of no tablet time for babies is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The association is dedicated to the health of all children and it recommends no screen time for babies under the age of two. The reason being is that there are no long-term studies yet on the effects of tablet play and brain development in infants. AAP believes that not only could tablet time be detrimental to the growth of an infant’s brain, but it can also lead to other issues like obesity, due to the lack of physical activity.
The experts that feel a small amount of screen time will not harm baby advise the time be kept to 15-20 minutes a day. For many parents, this is all the time they need to take a quick shower or to start dinner. Some parents see this as a way to entertain baby, while also getting a few things accomplished around the house.

Making a Decision

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Ultimately, the choice to allow your baby to play with a tablet is up to you. There is no book on how to parent correctly with modern technology. And although expert opinions vary, they all agree that if you decide to allow usage, you must limit the amount of time. Just keep in mind that there is nothing that can hold a candle to one on one interaction between baby and parent. If you decide to use a tablet so that you can get some chores done, be sure to also make the time to play on the floor directly with your baby.
As cliché as it sounds, the years go by too fast. Your child will have plenty of toddler, tween, and teen years to get acclimated to electronics. And believe it or not, there will come a day when you will wish these hectic moments back. Remember that everything you do now, sets a precedence for when your child is older. And when your teen is texting all throughout dinner, you may wish you had those few 15-20 minutes back again.

Set House Rules

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Whether you decide to use a tablet for baby play or not, be sure to establish house rules and make sure that everyone else in the home is aware of them – and follows them. If you are a two-parent household, have a discussion and see how the other person feels about tablets and babies. Try to come to an agreement and make sure grandparents, siblings, babysitters, etc. know your stance.
You also need to set rules as your child ages. If you are not allowing tablet use now, think about the age at which you will introduce electronics. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no more than two hours a day, of electronic device use for children two years of age, or older.

In addition to tablet play, your family also needs to set ground rules for phones, television, desktop computers, and gaming consoles. This is something you will have to deal with as your child grows older so it is essential to think about how much or how little you want digital media to impact your lives.

While setting the house rules, it isn’t a bad idea to discuss adult usage, as well. Like the old saying goes… “monkey see, monkey do.” Your child will learn many behaviors while watching you. Consider making a list that states when electronics can’t be used such as during dinner, during family game night, or after a certain time in the evening. As much as technology has improved lives, it’s also important to remember how to truly interact with loved ones.

Establishing the Content

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In addition to setting house rules, you also need to establish rules for content. This may sound like watching out for R-rated movies, but with tablet use starting at such a young age, it is also important to talk about the content you will allow. No matter what age you decide to allow tablet use, be sure the content is educational (this goes for all other electronic devices, as well).

When choosing apps for the tablet be sure they are:

· Age appropriate

· Friendly – make your child smile or laugh

· Educational – have a meaning or teach something

· Encourage interaction

And be sure you review all apps, don’t just download them because of a recommendation or cute characters. Take the time to play with the app yourself in order to be sure it is something you want your child playing with.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, only you can decide what is best for your baby. Remember that even the professionals that do not entirely disagree with “tablet babies” do advise minimal use. There are plenty of other activity sets to entertain your baby so you can get a few things done around the house.

If you are looking for non-tablet ways to keep baby busy check out:

· Skip Hop Activity Gyms

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· Baby Einstein Activity Center

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· Evenflo Bounce and Learn Exersaucer

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· Fisher-Price Luv U Zoo Jumperoo

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With so many products on the market, shopping can be overwhelming, especially with a tiny baby. Consider using an online website like Amazon that has a lot of products in one place in order to compare features and prices. The site also has consumer reviews, which can help you to know the quality of the product without seeing it in person.

Remember that your baby will have plenty of time to learn on a tablet when he or she is older. Use these electronic devices wisely and keep in mind that what’s important is how much time you spend with your baby.

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Fussy Baby – When to Call the Doctor and What to do the Rest of the Time

It’s completely natural to be worried when your baby is fussy. However, a fussy baby doesn’t mean an immediate trip to the doctor’s office. Although your baby can’t talk yet, the fussiness is a form of communication. And you can learn to understand exactly what is being said.

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A crying or fussy baby is communicating with you that he or she wants something. It doesn’t always mean that there is a medical problem.

The top reasons a baby becomes fussy is because he or she:

· Is hungry

· Is tired

· Has a dirty diaper

· Needs comfort

· Is too hot or too cold

· Is in a noisy environment

· Doesn’t feel well

Eat, Sleep, Change Diaper and Repeat

Determining which reason your baby is fussy may be easier than you think because much of it is based on your daily routine. Newborns eat, sleep, and need diaper changes around the clock. These are the first three things a parent should always be conscious of when caring for a fussy baby. It is important to establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible in order to keep baby happy.

Establishing a routine will also help you to avoid fussiness because you will know what your baby needs, even before he or she does. Be aware that as your baby grows, there is the need for longer feedings. If you know your baby is hungry and the fussiness continues after the feeding, it may be time to increase the amount of breast milk or formula given. And remember to burp your baby often in order to prevent gas pains, which can also cause baby to become fussy or upset.

Also keep in mind, that if you are breastfeeding, what you eat has an impact on the flavor of your milk. Be sure to follow the breastfeeding diet recommended to you by the doctor. If you are formula feeding your baby and there seems to be a lack of interest, a new formula may be required.

When it comes to sleeping, newborns can sleep up to 16 hours a day so a common sign of a tired baby is fussiness. As long as your baby is waking up for feedings, then it’s okay to allow him or her to get as much sleep as needed.

In addition to eating and sleeping, you may feel like all you do is change diapers. The average infant needs a diaper change every two hours. You don’t have to wake a sleeping baby to change the diaper, but you may want to use ointment to avoid diaper rash. If your baby is particularly fussy during diaper changes, try using warm wipes or a warm washcloth to eliminate the shock of a cold cloth.
It may seem impossible right now, but you will soon learn what your baby’s cries mean. Once a routine is established, you will begin to know if your baby needs to eat, sleep, or a diaper change.

Provide Comfort

If your baby is fussy, but you can rule out hunger, tiredness, and a dirty diaper, then simply try to comfort your baby. You can do this by making sure that he or she doesn’t feel too hot or too cold. A baby’s reaction to temperature is the same as yours so be sure there are no chill bumps or sweaty hands and feet. Also consider what your baby is wearing and although that sweater looks simply adorable, it may be very uncomfortable. If you wouldn’t want to wear something, chances are baby doesn’t like it either.
It is important to understand that babies have a natural instinct and desire to suck. A pacifier is extremely soothing to a baby. A fussy baby can often be calmed with the simple use of a pacifier.

Sometimes a fussy baby is just scared or lonely. If your baby is being fussy, take a look around and consider the environment. Is it new? Is it loud? Are there a lot of people around? Anything out of the ordinary can make baby want to cuddle in order to feel safe.

To soothe a baby that needs comforting try:

· Swaddling

· A warm bath

· Rocking in a rocking chair

· A pacifier or finger to suck on

· Singing softly

· Walking around holding baby close or in a sling

· A baby swing or musical mobile

· A car ride

· White noise – run a vacuum, hair dryer, fan, or other constant humming sound

No single comforting method works for all babies. But by trying different things, you will soon find out exactly what your baby likes.

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When to Call the Doctor

Although this isn’t want you to hear – some babies simply need to cry it out. If you have tried everything to get your fussy baby to stop crying, he or she may just need some time to calm down. However, if your baby cries for an extended period of time and is visibly upset, it is time to seek professional advice.

A baby that is frequently fussy for no reason is referred to as “colicky.” Colic means the baby cries for more than three hours a day, several days week – for no apparent reason. It is time to consult with your pediatrician if your baby is fed, rested, changed, and comforted, but still cries a lot.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot that can be done for a baby with colic. However, your doctor may recommend trying a new feeding method, gas drops, or even baby massages. The good news is that if your doctor determines that you have a baby with colic, he or she is otherwise healthy. And most colicky babies outgrow the fussiness within a couple of months.

If you have a baby with colic – don’t forget to take care of yourself. Keep your sanity by asking for help from friends and family members. Remember, it is okay to take a break from your baby to do something for yourself because this will only make you a better, and more patient, parent.

You should also call the doctor when your baby:

· Isn’t eating

· Isn’t sleeping

· Has a high fever

· Has a rash (other than diaper rash) or other physical signs of illness such as a flush face

One of the best parts of being a parent is the instinct you get when something just isn’t right. Trust your gut and never be afraid to call a medical professional for advice.

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If you are a first time parent, you may feel as though you will never be able to figure out what is wrong when your baby cries. It is normal to feel this way. Although it may find it hard to believe, there will come a day when you immediately know what your baby’s cry means and how to soothe it. It is all part of that wonderful gift of parental instinct and bonding.

Just remember to establish a routine and stick to it as much as possible. Be sure to take of care yourself so you can be the best ‘you’ for your baby.

For more on caring for a fussy baby, check out these best-selling books:

· The Fussy Baby Book by Dr. William Sears

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· The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

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· Calm the Crying by Priscilla Dunstan

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· Your Fussy Baby by Marc Wessbluth

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· Baby Sense by Megan Faure

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Car Seat Safety

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From the moment your new baby leaves the hospital, car seat safety becomes an important part of infancy and childhood. Living in a world with car seats, seat belts, and air bags has helped save thousands of lives. However, the best way to ensure your child is safe inside the car is to understand how and when to use the right car seat.

See the chart at the bottom of the page for more info.

Infant Car Seat Safety

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Although each state has its own car seat laws, there are several key car seat regulations that all parents must abide by – countrywide. Without exception, all infants must ride in the back seat. The middle section of the seat is often the safest because it is away from side airbags and both doors. If you have side airbags, it is necessary to turn them off while the child is very young. Air bags can implode and cause more harm than good, due to excessive force.

Infants must also be placed in an approved car seat carrier that faces the rear of the car. Years of accident testing has proven this is the safest position for a baby to be in. Infant car seats can be found in large retailers like Walmart and Target, and almost anywhere baby items are sold. Popular and trustworthy brands include names like Graco, Evenflo, and Safety 1st.

Infant carriers come with a detachable base that can be left in the car. The car seat clicks into the base, making getting baby in and out of the car extremely easy. The base must be used at all times, in order to ensure proper safety. Additional bases can be purchased for alternate cars so that you will only need one carrier. Infant car seats come with a convenient carrying handle and are also often part of a stroller system.

If you are new to infant car seat buying, be sure to read all the enclosed instructions that come with the seat. This will help to make certain that the seat is being used correctly. These seats are not meant for uses outside of the car such as feeding and sleeping.
Before buying an infant car seat, do a little research on the models you are interested in. Important features include comfort padding for baby, lightweight materials, and adjustable five-point harness straps. You may also want to look for an infant car seat that grows with your baby in order to get the most use for your money. Baby carriers can often be used until the child reaches 35 to 40 lbs.
Remember that it is vital to read all of the manufacturer’s instructions that come with the seat. The enclosed guide will tell you everything about the carrier from putting it together, to the proper placement of baby for maximum comfort and safety.

Toddler Car Seat Safety

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Once your baby has outgrown his or her infant carrier, it is time for a toddler car seat – also known as a convertible seat. Convertible seats can be placed either rear facing or forward facing, but must remain in the back seat of the car. Any child under the age of two should be placed in a rear facing car seat only. Once the toddler is two years of age, or older, the seat may be used in its forward position.

Convertible car seats are larger and bulkier than infant carriers are. They don’t require a base and can stay in the car when not in use. The average weight of a child that uses a rear facing convertible seat is 40 to 50 lbs. And like the infant carrier, these seats also come with a five-point harness belt for safety.

An average toddler past the age of two is considered safe in a forward facing convertible car seat. Thanks to the invention of “grow with me” car seats, you may be able to use the same one for a few years. You should always have the original manufacturer instructions handy. If you purchase an interchangeable car seat, you will need to refer to the guide because the seat belt and harness will need adjusting as your baby grows.

Most children use a forward facing car seat until they are of school age. All new car seats will include the recommended positioning based on a child’s height and weight. If your child’s head is taller than the headrest of the seat, and/or if the shoulders are above the harness slot, then you know it is time for a new car seat.

School Age Car Seat Safety

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The next (and last) car seat you will need for your child is a booster seat. This is not needed until he or she is at least five or has outgrown the convertible seat. Booster seats come with either a back or are backless, but they don’t include any harness belts. The purpose of a booster seat is to raise the child up to the level of an adult inside the car so the traditional seat belt can be used. Although your child may be uncomfortable, both the lap and shoulder belt are required with the use of a booster seat. The average age a child outgrows the booster seat is 8 years old. However, it is necessary that you check with your state laws and know the seating rules for child passengers. This information can be found on your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website.
Safercar.gov is also an excellent resource site for parents with children from newborns to teen drivers – check out the ‘Parents Central’ tab for all the latest car safety information.

Buying a Used Car Seat

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Regardless as to which type of car seat your child needs, there are several essential things to know if you are considering buying a used seat.

· Be sure the seat comes with the original instructions

· Research the seat to make sure it has never been recalled

· Used car seats should always be newer than 5 years old

· There should never be missing or damaged parts

· Know who you are buying from, or at least know the car seat’s history

Buying a used car seat can save you money, but it may not be worth the risk unless you are certain that the seat is in excellent condition. You can check with your local fire station or police department to see if they do car seat checks. These agencies are always up to date on the latest car seat safety information and will be able to help you with any safety concerns.

Don’t Let Your Child Call “Shot Gun” Just Yet…

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Although you may not realize it, even after your child outgrows the use of a car seat, he or she should remain in the back seat of the car. Again, state laws differ, but child safety experts recommend that children are safest in the back seat until the age of 12. This is due to a concern with the intense power of front air bags.

If your state allows a young child to ride in the front seat under the age of 12, it may recommend that the passenger’s air bag be turned off while the child is in the front. Turning the air bag on and off for different passengers may be hard to keep up with and you don’t want to put other passengers safety in jeopardy. It is in the best interest for everyone to have your precious cargo remain in the back seat for as long as possible.

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