Advertisements

Review: Snoo Smart Sleeper & Bassinet

Snoo Smart Sleeper

5/5

The SNOO Smart Sleeper offers parents safety assurance and peace of mind as it monitors and responds to children’s sleeping behaviors.

The perks: Claiming to be the “safest baby bed ever made” the SNOO Sleeper was co-created by pediatrician Harvey Karp, designer Yves Behar and MIT trained engineers. The electronic bed reacts to sleeping babies’ actions to soothe them.  With three microphones, the device can differentiate between a loud environment and a noisy child.

If the baby is fussy, the bed plays white noise and rocks the child back to sleep. The sleeper increases the intensity of its white noise and jiggle motion depending on the baby’s level of fussiness. The SNOO Smart Sleeper also has an easy-to-use swaddle that remains snapped into place in the device itself. With assistance from this monitor, both parents and children can gain the appropriate amount of rest they need – at both bed and nap time.

The headaches: The SNOO bed costs a cool $1,360. That’s quite expensive for many families, although the offered features are incredibly safe for children and helpful for moms and dads.

 

Snoo Smart Sleeper

Yet, the sleeper has received some criticism online, as some people believe using the robotic bed is a lazy alternative for parents who would usually pick up a child to rock him or her back to sleep. Reducing the risk for sleep exhaustion or deprivation, however, could be worth the hefty price tag to some parents.

Snoo Sleeper App

Final verdict: The offer to reduce children’s crying and improve the amount of time they’re asleep is enticing to parents, yet the cost of the SNOO Smart Sleeper will play a large role in the decision-making process. If people can afford the bed’s expense, they will likely experience positive results from the sleeper. The ability to monitor and react to baby behaviors makes this instrument a welcome addition to a child’s room and parents’ sleep schedules.

View on HappiestBaby.com

View on Amazon.com

Review: Alilo Smarty Shake and Tell Rattle

alilo Smarty Bunny Shake & Tell Musical Toy Rattle for Infants and Babies

3.5/5

In a nutshell: The Alilo Smarty Shake and Tell Rattle is an interactive tool that offers children various songs, rhymes and sounds to keep them occupied. The device not only plays music but is able to identify and vocalize colors. The rabbit-eared design is sure to be a hit among both babies and children.

alilo Smarty Bunny Shake & Tell Musical Toy Rattle for Infants and Babies

The perks: With color-identifying technology, families can simply place and press the Alilo Smarty over an object – the rattle will then say that color. Purchases include nine color cards that parents can use to test this feature. The device also comes with 20 different rattle sounds as well as preloaded tunes that are family favorites.

In addition to its light-up silicone ears, the Smarty has a battery that can be recharged via USB cable. The rattle comes in four colors – blue, purple, yellow and pink – and helps with children’s language development and word and color recognition.

The headaches: While the color sensor is meant to encourage both color and word association, the feature is not always accurate. It can be difficult for parents to switch the device between various settings, including rattle sounds and songs for sleep.

alilo Smarty Bunny Shake & Tell Musical Toy Rattle for Infants and Babies

Since the tail works to control the rattle’s volume, it’s easy for parents to change the sound levels without really wanting to. Additionally, there’s no way to set and lock the volume, so adults may have to consistently adjust for their little ones.

Final verdict: The lightweight Alilo Smarty Shake and Tell Rattle is an easy and interactive way to occupy children ranging from two months to two years old or older. The color identifier will keep kids occupied and the various songs available will soothe parents and children alike.

The device is easy to charge and the rubbery ears are perfect for teething babies. Due to its availability in multiple colors, the Smarty is perfect for both sons and daughters. At an average price of $39.99, the rattle may be a little more expensive than others on the market. If it keeps children engaged and happy, however, it may be considered a small price for parents to pay.

View on Amazon

Tips for Planning Your Kid’s 2nd Birthday Party

Hand with a lighter about to fire a two years birthday candle

Although many will say the “twos are terrible,” this age can actually be a ton of fun! The birthday parties can be great fun as well! Your two-year-old won’t have any expectations at this age, so there is no need to go crazy on an extravagant party. However, a fun theme, an activity or two, and little bit of planning can go a long way!

Here are a few tips for a successful second birthday party:

Invite Both Parents and Children

At this age, the parties are mostly about inviting close family and friends. Make sure if you are inviting small children that the parents are also invited to the festivities, because you will need to have the extra supervision. Note how your child does with different sized groups, and take that into consideration when making your guest list.

Schedule Around Naptime

Most toddlers are still taking an afternoon nap, so take this into account when party planning. For example, my son usually naps from around 1-3pm, so the best timing for us to have a party was either in the morning at 10am or in the afternoon at 4pm. We went with the later party time so we would have more of the day to prep, and that worked well for us.

Choose a Fun Theme

Although a theme isn’t necessary for a toddler party, it might make things more fun and easier to plan if you have a vision in mind. If your child has a favorite animal, toy, or character, you can choose a theme around that and plan food, decor, and maybe even some activities around it.

We did a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme for my son’s second birthday, and created felt masks for all the kids, blew up balloons with complete with turtle masks (a huge hit!), had a themed cake, and made turtle goodie bags for the kids to take home. The goodie bags were filled with snacks, a ball, stickers, and other small things for the kids to get excited about. My son was definitely into the idea of having a theme around the party, and it made for adorable photos as well!

Gather Ideas from Pinterest

If you do decide to have a themed event, it’s almost guaranteed that someone on Pinterest may have some great ideas for your party! We were able to find many DIY ideas and fun activities to make the party more interesting. Pick a few of your favorites and run with it!

Serve Finger Foods

Finger foods are the perfect party food for kids this age. Things like mini pizzas, fruits, veggies, sandwiches, or other things they can pick up with their hands will make it easy for them to eat…and easier for the parents!

Plan a Few Activities

Two-year-olds have short attention spans, and things could get a little crazy if there aren’t a few organized activities for them to do. I have also found that kids really do enjoy and are excited by a party activity. For example, last year we hired a musician for my son’s birthday. He played guitar and drums, and all the kids had little instruments to shake and bang along. They loved it, and all the kids were very engaged!

This year, it was a hot day, and we decided to blow up a little pool outside for them to play in along with a water table. The kids had an absolute blast splashing around and having something to do. If you have outdoor space, things like sidewalk chalk and bubbles are also fun outdoor activities for a party.

Do you have any tips to add for planning your kid’s second birthday party?

How To Deal With Young Kids Who Prefer To Be Naked

a toddler standing outside naked

Does your toddler spend more time in the nude than clothed? This conundrum is cute when they’re running around in a diaper at a young age, but can quickly become a problem if he or she refuses to put on clothing to leave the house. If this sounds like a problem you’ve faced, read on to learn about improving this struggle:

Why is my child avoiding clothes?

Kids ages 4-6 are learning about control. This is often why they fight things for no apparent reason. Getting dressed is one of the activities they know they are required to do, and they exert their control by refusing to do so. Some kids are particular about what they wear and would prefer to pick out their own outfits. Others just don’t want to don a specific item you’ve picked out and therefore would rather leave the house without. All of these reasons can be addressed. Let the fashionable or picky child choose his or her own look. Swap out a top your toddler doesn’t like. As for control, this gives the child back some choices, providing a sense that he or she is holding the reins when in reality that’s not quite true.

Is your toddler avoiding diapers? This may be another issue entirely. Some little ones have diaper rash that makes it uncomfortable to don a diaper. Make sure your kids’ bottoms are well cared for, using wipes and rash ointment whenever possible. Always ensure they are completely dry before putting on a new diaper to prevent worsening existing irritation. For some kids around age 2-3, removing the diaper is a sign you may want to start potty training. Try having your child use a potty training toilet to see how it goes. Always keep diapers on hand for naps, nighttime and trips out to prevent accidents.

“Avoiding diapers may be a sign of rash.”

Why is getting dressed so difficult?

Many a toddler turns the simple task of putting clothes on into a marathon effort for their parents. Getting little arms into a shirt and small feet into pants seems easy until you actually try to dress a tot yourself! Kids are constantly moving, making this a much more complicated effort. Thankfully, this time of difficulty won’t last. You can even turn getting dressed into a fun occasion instead of a daily fight.

How can I make it easier?

Set down rules. Tell the child he or she must wear bottoms, a top and socks at the bare minimum. Add on rules for layering as the weather gets cold. Letting the toddler dress him or herself provides another sense of control, making him or her actually want to get dressed to prove he or she can do it solo. Let your children choose their own outfits entirely or select one option from two-three choices. This way you can ensure they are dressed appropriately for the weather and occasion while still allowing some individual input from your kids.

For little ones who just love being naked, offer a specific time and place when they can stay nude. Outside of that time they should be dressed and will look forward to their next chance to run free.

Should You Take Your Baby to the Chiropractor for Colic?

A newborn baby in the hand of his mother

Parents are increasingly taking their babies and children to the chiropractor. They’re going in for a wide array of ailments, from colic to general wellness. (This is despite the medical community’s continuing research purporting that there is little to no benefit to chiropractic care for children, and possibly even some risk). Obviously moms are open to trying the treatments, often as alternatives to medications.

We were specifically interested in the use of a chiropractor for colic. Colic is a condition characterized by babies crying uncontrollably when they’re otherwise healthy. We got in touch with Dr. Jenny Brocker. She’s a board-certified Diplomate in Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics and president of the ACA Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics.  Dr. Brocker answered our questions about infants, colic, and chiropractors via email.

What if a mom suspects her baby has colic, is a joint manipulation or adjustment from a chiropractor for colic recommended?

Colic is really the term for a set of symptoms that are often clinically unexplained. The term colic refers specifically to a crying pattern that is seemingly unprovoked and not easily consoled. This really means that there is known cause of colic, so no single treatment will always improve the symptoms. A doctor of chiropractic, especially one specialized in pediatric care, has extensive knowledge of all the factors that can cause colic symptoms and the treatments that will be most effective in improving those symptoms for each individual patient.

At what age do babies benefit from seeing a chiropractor?

Babies and infants can benefit from chiropractic care at any age. Technique modifications enable babies to safely begin treatment at any age. Many begin treatment when they are a few weeks to a few months old, but I have had the privilege of treating babies who were just a few hours old. But this depends on the baby having a clinical problem to be addressed.

What can parents expect from a visit to the chiropractor with their baby, can you walk us through the diagnosis and treatment process? 

A chiropractic visit begins with a full history, including details of the current complaint, and following through with questions about the patient’s birth, their neonatal history, development, sleep habits, nutrition, bowel movements, current or past medical diagnoses or conditions, and family history. It then proceeds with a full physical examination. [This] includes measuring vital signs, inspection of the skin, facial, and cranial structures for any asymmetries or abnormalities, inspection of the eyes and mouth for any sign of abnormality, testing primitive reflexes when applicable, deep tendon reflexes, and assessing muscle strength and tone. The doctor of chiropractic then tests any applicable orthopedic tests, most commonly for infants this includes testing for signs of hip dysplasia, and assesses the baby’s range of motion.

The visit would then proceed with assessing the spinal joint motion. Feeling the joints consists of holding the infant in a comfortable position, usually sitting on the doctor’s lap or the parent’s lap, and gently moving the individual spinal segments from side to side and back to front feeling for any restricted motion. The treatment for a restricted segment involves a very quick, light force thrust applied into the direction of the restriction. There will often be a “popping” sound that is heard with an adjustment. [This sound] is created by little gas bubbles that are formed in the fluid inside the joint during an adjustment.

How do babies usually react to a joint adjustment? Are there any common reactions you can share?

Most of the time, babies have no reaction to an adjustment. Sometimes they will cry out for a moment because they are startled, but rarely do they cry for longer than a few seconds. After a treatment, babies are often very calm and relaxed, sometimes even falling asleep before the end of the visit.

Are there any risks to having a baby treated by a chiropractor?

There have been several studies published over the years concluding that indeed manual
therapies are safe for infants and children. The most recent review of the literature
published in 2015, which examined all published literature dating back 120 years to the
inception of the chiropractic profession, found a total of 15 reported serious adverse
events related to manual therapy, seven of which were attributed to chiropractors. In the
majority of these cases, a pre-existing underlying condition was present, leading the
authors to conclude that a thorough history and physical exam prior to administering
treatment may further reduce the incidence of adverse events.

How many visits do infants/babies usually require to see results?

Symptoms often resolve very quickly for infants. Usually, acute treatment is between 3-5 visits over the course of a few weeks. The more complicated the presenting complaint, the more treatment is often needed though rarely more than six to eight weeks.

When could a parent expect to see changes in their baby’s behavior as a result of an adjustment?

Often there will be some change in the baby’s behavior or presenting complaint right away. Either a colicky baby will be calmer and more relaxed, or a baby with difficulty latching will have a great latch right away. Other times such changes occur incrementally over a couple of visits. If baby’s symptoms are unchanged after several visits, the doctor of chiropractic will look more at what else might be going on with diet, supplements, stool testing, etc, to ensure that all possible contributing factors are being addressed.

Most pediatricians remain skeptical about the use of chiropractors for children. Read other opinions on whether you should take your baby to a chiropractor for colic here. 

10 Fun Facts About Dr. Seuss You May Not Know

Dr. Seuss Books

As one the world’s most beloved writers, poets, and artists, Dr. Seuss’ books have sold over 220 million copies and have been printed in over 15 languages.

Dr. Seuss's Beginner Book Collection
Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection by Dr. Seuss

His books delight adults and children of all ages, including the members of my very own household. “The Cat in the Hat,” “The Lorax,” and “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think” are staples in my children’s bedtime routines. In fact, my own father claims I made him read “The Cat in the Hat” to me every single night for 12 consecutive months. He also says you can skip every other page of the book without a child noticing, in case you are in the same boat. I am sharing 10 fun facts about Dr. Seuss that you may not know. You ready?

1. Dr. Seuss’ real name is Theodore Seuss Geisel.

2. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” sells about 200,000 copies a year, mostly because of its popularity as a high school and college graduation gifts.

3. “The Cat in the Hat” uses 225 words and “Green Eggs and Ham” uses exactly 50.
In case you were wondering, those 50 words are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

4. Dr. Seuss was an outspoken liberal Democrat. It is widely believed that “The Lorax” is his interpretation on environmental issues and an expression of his belief that humans are destroying nature.

5. “If I Ran the Zoo,” written in 1950, is the first recorded instance of the usage of the word, “nerd.”

6. March 2nd, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, has been adopted as the National Read Across America Day, an initiative started by the National Education Association

7. Though he devoted most of his life to writing children’s books, Dr. Seuss never had children of his own.

8. The German surname, “Seuss,” is actually pronounced “SOYSS,” rhyming with “voice.” Geisel switched to the anglicized pronunciation, “SOOS,” because it “evoked a figure advantageous for an author of children’s books to be associated with” – Mother Goose – and because most people used this pronunciation.

9. Over the course of his long career Geisel wrote over 60 books. Though most were published under his well-known pseudonym, Dr. Seuss, he also authored over a dozen books as Theo LeSieg and one as Rosetta Stone.

10. Dr. Seuss’ first book that he wrote and illustrated, “And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,” was rejected 27 times before it was published by Vanguard Press in 1937.

Thank you for inspiring generations of adults and children to read, learn, laugh and play.

Which Dr. Seuss books do you remember reading as a child? 

How to Eat (Semi) Healthfully at IKEA

IKEA Samara Store. IKEA is the world's largest furniture retailer and sells ready to assemble furniture

Exciting family dining newsflash, everyone! IKEA will be offering veggie non-meatballs starting today! Kid brothers to the classic, the new balls will be comprised of “tasty chunks of vegetables and a good protein level to support a main meal.” Sounds sort of good! Maybe even healthy too and since they are in ball form, attractive to the kiddos? These veggie balls (GRÖNSAKSBULLAR – try pronouncing that!) have got me thinking, what’s the healthy food at IKEA anyway?

I should admit that before researching this I thought recipes developed in a brisk and robust northern European country, where the flat-packed boxes are so clean and flab-free, would naturally be so as well. Or maybe that was just denial because it’s so wonderfully cheap and kind of fun. But I’ve read the (somewhat) frightening fine print, and there is no use running. Better to be informed than to eat a day’s salt in one sitting.

Here’s some food knowledge for you, not enough to make you too full, just some bites to chew-on, organized into first into adult’s and then kid’s, yum and yuck lists. Enjoy!

Adult yum:

  • Meatballs are ok! (wheew) They are surprisingly at the lower end of the calorie count, with 530 cal. for the 10 meatball dinner and 690 for the 15 (ugh) meatball dinner. Both are super high in sodium, both totaling in at more than ½ your total for the day, but sadly pretty much everything at IKEA is too salty. Salad bar anyone? Thankfully they don’t salt their raw veggies.
  • Pasta with marinara and meatballs, small salad and garlic toast is also a good choice. 650 cal., and 1000 mg sodium
  • Better if not boring is plain pasta with marinara at 330 cal. and 210 sodium. And it’s organic to boot!
  • Salmon is often a good choice, and IKEA says it is going to start only using fish caught sustainably. The salmon, potatoes and veggie dinner is a dainty 390 cal., but again too much salt, 1220 mg.
  • I don’t think our IKEA serves crepes, but if it did, I’d get that. More fun than plain pasta for sure, and filled with yummy things like organic mushroom and cheese. 270 cal., 680 sodium.

Adult yuck:

  • Babyback ribs are not ok! The full babyback rib meal is a whopping 1650 calories! Though if you wanted to be like my grandmother who swore she only ate one meal a day, this one would give you all the calories and salt you needed.
  • The herb roasted chicken might seem a good choice, but at 2,350mg sodium it has more than your day’s allotment. Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.
  • Say “Boo!” to the chicken tenders! 900 calories and 2,040 mg sodium.
  • The hot dog combo meal has 1,010 cal and 1,860 mg sodium. No!

Kids’ yum:

  • Mac’n’cheese! Let them dig in. With both the lowest calorie and sodium counts, 390 cal. and 420 mg sodium, this is the one time that mac and cheese is by far the healthiest thing on the menu.
  • Organic pasta meal. As boring as it is for the adults, but sadly, so many kids like boring. 390 cal. and 420 mg sodium.
  • Frozen Yogurt! But you can tell your kids it’s vanilla ice cream and if they don’t know how to read yet, they truly won’t know the difference. It’s super yummy and only 130 calories.

Kids’ yuck:

  • Chicken tenders are tempting, but try to resist! They have 450 calories, and 1,010 mg sodium. Way too much of both for a little kid.
  • Meatballs. I feel like I keep repeating myself, but again, too much salt! Only 280 cal., but 1.010 mg of sodium. Blech.

And the new veggie balls!? Not sure yet. I couldn’t find their nutritional information, but I’m hoping for a yum. The IKEA website says they are aiming high in the direction of health and sustainability so we may get lucky. Just go easy with that salt shaker, IKEA and we won’t need to drink so much of your lingonberry juice!

What are you favorite eats at IKEA?

What Organic Foods to Buy and What To Ignore

Explosion Strawberry juicy liquid with Strawberry fruit on pink background

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away… right? Maybe an organic apple. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), apples are the  “dirtiest” or most pesticide-contaminated fruit in the grocery store, and one of 12 commonly-eaten fruits and veggies that consistently carry high traces of chemical pesticides, even after they’ve been peeled and pulped for your baby. The EWG advises seeking out organic versions of the “dirty dozen” foods on the listwhich includes lettuce, grapes, and potatoesin order to reduce exposure to pesticides by a whopping 90%.

Organic versions of eggs, meat, poultry, rice, dairy products, and baby food are also a much safer bet than their chemical-laden counterparts. On the other hand, when it comes to a score of other produce, plus pasta, you can safely buy non-organic. You can also keep costs down by shopping at farmer’s markets, food coops, and discount chains like Trader Joe’s, and by opting for locally grown and in-season items whenever possible.

Here’s the 2019 EWG’s list of the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies to buy organic, and the 2019 list of the 15 fruits and veggies that are considered ok to buy conventional varieties. That means they won’t give your baby a dose of pesticides if you buy conventional varieties.

The “Dirty Dozen:” 12 Foods to Buy Organic

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes

15 Organic Foods You Don’t Need to Worry About

  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet Frozen Peas
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Eggplants
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwis
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflowers
  • Cantaloupes
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew Melons

Tips on Preparing and Decorating a Baby’s Nursery

Lot of light in a baby's nursery

Bringing home your baby is an amazing moment, and the last thing you want to do is ruin that happiness by opening the door to a half-empty nursery. Designing this room takes a lot of time and forethought, so you’ll want to get started as early as possible. Otherwise, you might find yourself painting walls and assembling cribs right past your due date.

Choosing your nursery room decor seems like it should be a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget essential items if you don’t go in with a plan. Here are the ins-and-outs of preparing your child’s first room, including necessary items, extras and decorating tips:

The nursery room essentials

You’re probably eager to start decorating, but it’s important to get the basics out of the way first. Use this checklist to make sure you have everything you and your baby need:

  • Crib, cradle or bassinet: You only need one of these, and since they’re all made according to federal regulations, you’ll have no problem finding a safe option that fits your budget. When it comes to your baby’s health, there’s little difference between the three options.
  • Crib mattress: Use the two-finger test to make sure you get the right size. If you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and crib, the mattress is too small.
  • Bedding and sheets: Make sure these are tight enough to fit snuggly around the mattress. Loose sheets – and a loose waterproof cover – can suffocate your baby.
  • Waterproof cover: Have at least two on hand so you can swap them in case one gets soiled. Again, choose one that fits the mattress tightly.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Make sure you get both. Unlike smoke, carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and tasteless.
  • Baby monitor: Choose one with at least two receivers so you can check on your baby from multiple locations. Also, keep in mind that cell phones and other wireless signals can interfere with these monitors. Keep your receipt and warranty on hand and exchange for a new model if you have any issues.
A nursery with a blue and dark brown color scheme.Make sure you have the essentials before buying the extras and nursery decor.

The above items are absolutely necessary, but there are a few other things that can make your life as a new parent easier:

  • Dresser:  If you want to reserve closet space for other storage, a dresser is a great place to keep your baby’s clothes. Plus, it also provides a flat surface for changing diapers, saving you money on a changing table. You may want to bolt this to the wall for extra security.
  • Rocker: If you plan to feed your baby in the comfort of your nursery, a rocking chair provides a soothing experience for you and your newborn.
  • Shelves, bookcases and closet organizers: Staying organized keeps your stress levels from going out of control. Have enough storage to give everything in the nursery its proper place. Again, consider bolting these to the wall.
  • Electric outlet covers: These aren’t necessary until your child starts crawling around, but they’re cheap enough that your budget shouldn’t suffer if you get them ahead of time.
  • Thick curtains: These will keep out the light while your baby naps during the day.
  • Diaper bins: Again, you won’t need this until your baby gets older – around the time he or she starts eating solid foods. Until that point, dirty diapers usually don’t produce enough odor to warrant their own bin.
  • Night light: This is great for providing visibility for late-night check-ins without waking your baby.

Decorating tips

Now that you’ve got the necessary items out of the way, it’s time for the fun part: decorating! This is your chance to create a comfortable space that’s perfect for you and your baby. There’s no single right way to decorate, but the following nursery room ideas can serve as a place to start:

Start with a theme or color palette

Having a vision in mind makes it so much easier to design a room harmoniously. Choose a motif that will grow with your baby. The more versatile the room is, the less you’ll have to spend to redecorate it in the future.

If you need help picking colors that don’t clash, use the Coolors tool. This free resource generates a seemingly unlimited number of harmonious color schemes that you can use to guide your nursery room decor choices.

Otherwise, you can choose a specific theme to guide your decorations. Some examples include:

  • Baby animals: This classic choice has been a favorite for decades. To turn this trend modern, choose decorations that make the animals look more realistic rather than cartoonized.
  • Plants: Emulate the current house plant craze by choosing plant-themed bedding and wall decals.
  • Skies: Soft clouds and twinkling stars are beautify without being ostentatious.
A couple painting walls a sunny yellow.Start with a theme or color scheme.

Add some unique touches

While copying nursery room ideas straight from a magazine will certainly make your baby’s room look nice, it’ll lack originality. Adding some personal touches will really make the space feel like home. Have a local artist create a fun family portrait, or take a page out of Ryan Dalton’s book. In a series of viral Twitter posts, Dalton showed how he and his wife gave their daughter a few canvases and tempera paints, then sat back and let her create her own artwork. The results were stunning, and little Maya seemed to have a great time exploring the paint.

You’ll have to wait a while for your newborn to be able to hold a paintbrush, of course, but this is a fun activity for when the nursery needs a little redecoration. Also, if you have an older child, you can let them make a painting specifically for their sibling’s room.

The Ice Cube Exercise for Labor Prep

Ice cube melting

No matter what kind of birth you’re planning—or will have—it’s pretty likely some intense sensations will be involved. In fact, sensations that are most commonly known as pain (though in Hypnobirthing they call it “discomfortable.”) I’ve never done it so I can’t tell you what it’s actually like, and most moms have that infamous pain amnesia, so they can’t tell you either. But first-hand accounts have leaked and I hear it’s a lot. Sometimes.

To prep for this intensity (which scares me in ways only the mysterious and foreboding can), I had a Skype session with a labor coach and we did a little experimenting with a version of the Ice Cube Exercise (from the book Birthing from Within) I’d heard about from my friend who’s taking a birthing class.

There are many riffs on it, but ours went like this:

1)   Take a bowl of ice and a small towel. Set a timer for one minute.

2)   Scoop up a handful of ice in your right hand. Hold until the timer goes off.

I spent the first 15 seconds cursing. And thinking: OMG, I will be the worst laborer ever. I am such a wuss. This ice pain is nothing like the pain to come. Wah. Ouch.

Then I remembered that thrashing about and complaining and self-berating only makes pain worse. (My medical history has exposed me to a range of long-lasting pain and/or discomfortableness I’ve learned to cope with). I also remembered that slow, deep breathing goes a long way toward diffusing and defusing pain. So I did that. I kind of dropped my awareness deep inside, shifted to slow deep breaths, and directed my attention away from the pain in my hands and toward what yogis call the “witness consciousness,” the part of us that watches the show of our lives without getting involved. (Ask yourself “Who is thinking this thought?” and you’ll get a sense of the witness).

It hurt A LOT less. It became more sensation, less pain.

When the minute was up I realized I could have kept going longer.

The coach laughed and joked, “Ok, we’re done here!” I guess I know this stuff better than I thought. Whew.

We did it a few more times—some minute-long blocks she jangled keys and blasted music to see how well I could drown out distractions and drop down then, because in a hospital, you can bet your ever-expanding ya-ya there will be distractions. My ability to work with the noise was mixed. Some sounds triggered anger (Uhg, this music is terrible), so then I had to breathe past that and burrow and breathe deeper still to find a quiet place within.

At my friend’s birthing class they did the ice exercise with partners so they could get a taste of the pain too. They also saw how the experience of pain shifted as they walked, moved their hips, and made sounds. (You guessed it: Pain decreased.)

Give it a go! If you’re alone, set your cell phone or egg timer for one minute each.

It’s of course only one of many ways to deal with pain—and contractions may hurt a lot more than some frozen water. But it is an excellent way to begin to train your brain in the old adage: “pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” Good for birth and life.