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Getting your little one to sleep like a baby can be a lot easier said than done. Huggies has compiled articles, advice and answers on how to get both you and your newborn snoozing soundly.

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Massage? Oh yeah, baby.

Dating back to ancient times, infant massage is a time-tested and thoroughly researched practice proven to enhance a baby's ability to thrive and bond with his or her parents. Not every massage therapist is knowledgeable about infant massage, so it's important to seek out a professional who is properly educated and trained.

Bryn Rath of Tranquil Massage in Colorado is a certified massage therapist and ten-year veteran of infant massage. She helps shed light on this specialized segment of natural health.

The benefits of baby massage

Setting the foundation for a nurturing relationship, massage impacts babies on both a physical and emotional level. "Massage demonstrates healthy and loving touch from the very beginning of a child's life and extends the lessons of trust and love into adulthood," advises Rath.

Therapeutic touch is of particular benefit to babies who are premature, have developmental problems or are drug-exposed in utero. Studies show that massaged premature babies (as opposed to babies who are not massaged) are better able to gain weight and develop neurologically, which often reduces the time spent in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Other benefits include the relief of colic and digestive problems, heightened communication between you and your baby, increased quality and quantity of sleep and the reduction of physical and emotional stress. Regular and attentive massage also helps you become more familiar with your baby's body, establishing a "baseline" for what is normal.

Set the stage

The environment in which you massage is just as important as the massage itself. Be sure to eliminate distractions (for yourself and your baby). Soothing lighting and a warm room are ideal. Plan to spend 20—30 minutes with your baby every day. That may sound like a lot," says Rath, "but parents are surprised at how quick the time goes and how much they enjoy connecting with their babies during those precious moments."

The baby massage technique

Many of the ways in which we interact with our babies can be considered massage, such as rubbing their toes or doing "bicycle legs." While infants will benefit from this simple touch, following an actual massage sequence provides a more structured opportunity to connect. While it is best to seek the instruction of a certified infant massage therapist, there are a few techniques that parents can try to first familiarize themselves with the art of touch.

According to Rath, the most important part of infant massage is the abdominal section. "Babies don't have perfect digestive systems and they may have difficulties digesting and expelling gas whether they are breast fed or formula fed," she says. "Abdominal massage can help babies with these issues."

How to give an abdominal massage — The "I love you" stroke

  • Start with baby lying down in front of you, facing up, either lying flat or propped up with a pillow or Boppy.
  • Starting on baby's left side, draw an "I" with your fingers, going straight down from bottom of the left ribs to the top of the left hip bone.
  • Then make an upside-down, backwards "L" by starting at the bottom of the right rib, going straight across to the bottom of the left rib, and then down to the left hip.
  • Make an upside-down "U" by starting at the right hip, going up to the right bottom of ribs, across to the bottom of left ribs then down to left hip.
  • Your baby will especially enjoy the experience if you sing while massaging, "I...love...you" with each corresponding stroke.
  • Finish the stroke by making a big circle all the way around the belly, moving clockwise, and say, "Always."

When should you start massaging baby?

Talk with your doctor, but it's wise to wait until your infant is at least three weeks old before starting massage. This gives parents enough time to get to know their new addition and learn his or her cues. At first, most parents are almost too gentle in their efforts.

With practice, you may learn that your little one enjoys a bit of pressure — but not too much. As always, if there are any underlying health conditions, parents should consult their physician first.

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Brain Power Playrooms

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How to Take Great Pics of Baby’s Movement Milestones

Your baby will experience so many amazing movement milestones during her first year. There’s a lot of action that takes place in between the first time she rolls over to the day she starts walking on her own! And capturing those precise moments in pictures can sometimes be challenging.

“The more active your baby is, the more patient you have to be to capture those movement milestones,” says Lisa Turner a professional children’s and baby photographer in Denver, Colorado. “It might take 50 to 100 shots to get one picture that is fantastic.”

The good news is that you don’t need to invest in a super-expensive camera, whatever you’re willing to use on a regular basis will do. Here are the tips you need to take amazing pictures of your baby’s precious movement milestones.

Focus on light.

Proper lighting is essential.This is especially true when using a smartphone. You can’t manually adjust the shutter speed on a smartphone camera, but those adjustments do happen automatically based on the amount of available light. “A dark setting is going to give you a slow shutter speed, which will make your picture turn out blurry,” says Turner. “Having ample light allows you to capture baby’s action and freeze it.” Natural light is best, so head outdoors with baby or find a room with north-facing windows for consistent, even light.

Move in closer.

If your cutie is walking, you’re going to want to capture more than just a little speck standing solo in the backyard. To really photograph the action, get in close. Try engaging with your little one to capture natural expressions. Enlist an older sibling to serve as your official photographer’s assistant and have her playfully talk to your little one while you snap the fabulous pics.

Use angles to your advantage.

Is your sweet pea rolling over and picking up her head, but not sitting up yet? For best results, put a blanket down and stand over baby so that you can shoot pictures of her from above. If you’ve got a crawler, position her far enough away so that she can crawl toward you and you can take pictures of her in action. Try getting down low for an angle that will allow you to photograph baby’s face as she moves toward you.

Consider your timing.

There are certain times of day that offer ideal lighting conditions for taking great pictures of your little one’s movements. If you can, shoot your pictures first thing in the morning for some of the most pleasing light. Another great option is the last hour before sunset, which professional photographers often refer to as “the golden hour” because of the gorgeous and hazy golden light that is given off by the setting sun. If these two options don't work with baby’s schedule, pick a shady spot outdoors at any time of day.

Finish with an app.

Once all of your fabulous pictures have been taken, you can create a keepsake scrapbook of baby’s movement milestones. Before you print, do a quick search on editing apps so that you can add some finishing touches to your pics. Many apps offer filter options, cropping features, blurring tools, and more that will make your pictures look as if they where shot by a pro.

Image:Getty

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First Valentine’s Day With Baby – A Special Time for Hugs and Kisses

Valentine’s Day has always been special for you and your partner. You may get a bunch of beautiful flowers or a box of chocolate truffles, or go out to an intimate dinner with champagne and candlelight.

But now your two has become three (or more) as baby enters the scene and the holiday takes on a whole different meaning. After all, is there anything that makes you love your partner even more than catching him making goo-goo eyes at your baby and singing a little tune while diaper-changing? Or finding baby snuggled on his chest while they both catch some well-deserved ZZZZs?

You know your expectations about the holiday have shifted if the idea of finding a sitter and trying to zip yourself into a non-maternity dress for a night out is anything but dreamy. Parenthood has changed your whole idea of romantic: finishing an entire meal together without being interrupted by baby’s cries now qualifies. So perhaps it’s time to find some new traditions. After all, Valentine’s Day with a new baby is truly a celebration of love and the best moments are just being together.

Here are some ideas of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day now that you are a new parent:

  • Write an annual Valentine’s Day letter not only to your partner, but to your baby, outlining all the ways you love him/her. What makes you smile? What makes your heart sing? Make a special heart box to store them in to read together each year on February 14th.
  • Put that heart-shaped cookie cutter to work on pancakes, cookies, sandwiches, pizza and more. As soon as baby is old enough, let him or her get in on the action making a delicious mess with frosting, heart-shaped sprinkles and more. Then let the feast begin.
  • Once baby is walking, leave a trail of pink and red cut-out hearts that lead to a Valentine’s Day treat (perhaps a new huggable stuffed animal or heart-shaped pillow) or even to the breakfast table adorned with balloons, heart-shaped pancakes and pink strawberry-flavoured milk.
  • Make a keepsake hug. Dip baby’s chubby little hands in washable paint and stamp on card stock with a little love message. Do this every year for a holiday timeline of baby’s growth.
  • Of course you hug and kiss baby every day, but make it special on Valentine’s Day. Have a morning snuggle hug fest in bed where you shower the family with love. Dress in heart-inspired outfits, eat some sweets and take silly selfies while you engage in a family hug. After all, the first hug they ever feel is from you.

Even though your baby is the new love in your life, don’t overlook your partner. Try to carve out some time today when it’s just the two of you…even if most of your talk is about the amazing new member of the family.

I always encouraged my husband to forgo the store-bought cards and write me some sentimental sweet nothings of his own to let me know what I really mean to him. I believe that something from the heart is always best. So grab a pen and remind your partner why you are together. And be sure to mention how appreciative you are for the wonderful things he or she does for you and baby. Now that’s love!

Image: Getty

 

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Transitional Playroom Design: Ideas That Grow With Your Child

Creating a bedroom or playroom that grows as baby develops can be a life saver for mom and dad. As you plan a living space for your little one, incorporating long-term furniture pieces, timeless decor, and items that encourage development will all help you not only stretch your decorating dollars — but build a space baby will love for many years to come.

Creating the perfect playroom for your baby can seem daunting. Color schemes, furniture, decor — where do you start? We talked to design experts about how to create a long-lasting bedroom or playroom for your child that will withstand the transition from baby to toddler years, and even beyond.

Think ahead

When mapping out your new baby’s living space, consider designs you love. “Design (the room) in a way you will enjoy and that will soothe you,” says Sherri Blum Schuchart of Jack and Jill Interiors Inc. (jackandjillinteriors.com). “In several years, your baby will have an opinion and should definitely have a say in how the room transitions into a room he or she can be proud of, and that reflects his or her individual style.” But right now, your baby only needs a few things: love, safety, food, and comfort. You’ll be spending countless hours feeding and loving the baby in the nursery and playroom, so make sure the design and decor feel right for you.

Designs that grow

“Arrows, Aztec patterns, and woodlands animals, (foxes, squirrels, and raccoons) are today’s hottest trends for boys and girls,” says Blum Schuchart. “These themes, if not too ‘cartoony,’ can transition easily from toddlerhood playroom to teen hangout.”

Transitional elements

  1. Convertible crib
  2. “Consider buying a convertible crib rather than a traditional crib that serves no purpose for the child once they outgrow the crib stage,” suggests Blum Schuchart. “There are dozens of convertible cribs on the market today that transition from crib to toddler bed, and even later into full-size bed. This saves parents from needing to buy a completely new piece of furniture in the future.”

    When shopping for your crib, be sure to first do your research and check for current crib safety standards.

  3. Dresser
  4. Instead of a changing table, consider securing a changing pad to the top of a dresser or in the main opening of a media center. These furniture pieces will long outlive a changing table, and can be used down the road to house toys, clothes, and more.

  5. Shelves and open bookcases
  6. Safely securing shelves and open bookcases in your child’s play space will give you a place to stow toys and baby supplies now — and a spot that later can house your child’s favourite books, stuffed animals, clothes, or knickknacks.

  7. Armchair
  8. Instead of a nursing glider, look for a comfy, padded armchair. A solid, timeless chair silhouette can be reupholstered as your baby grows to fit her developing and evolving style.

Image: Thinkstock

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What to do during your Spring Staycation

Everyone feels like celebrating when the weather starts to warm up. But even though many people may take a holiday vacation at this time, not everyone has the luxury of being able to take off for an extended spring break trip.

So if you’re not going to be jetting away to some exotic locale—no worries! What matters most is quality time with your little ones, family and friends. Here are some fun ideas to help you celebrate springtime a little closer to home.

Swim in the hotel pool.
Even if you’re not traveling, you can still experience the favorite part of every toddler’s vacation—swimming in the pool—without paying for an expensive hotel stay and meals. Many upscale city hotels and country resorts offer reasonably priced day passes that are made for people who just want to use the pool facilities and skip the overnight stay. With just a little research, you could find the perfect spot for a hotel pool getaway near you. Have worry-free water play with Huggies Little Swimmers disposable swim pants​, now with your child’s favorite characters.

Go on a baby animal safari.
Springtime means babies in the animal world. Head to your local zoo, or a farm or nature center, and spend the day exploring to see if you can spot any newborns. Load up a backpack with safari gear such as binoculars, a magnifying glass and a mini notebook and colored pencils for drawing. Point out interesting animal behaviors to your little one and compare and contrast the care the baby animals receive to how you took care of your child when he was a baby.

Get your hands dirty.
If weather allows, get in the dirt outside and plant something. Playing with dirt and mud is a great hands-on sensory activity for toddlers. You can also do this activity indoors by planting seeds in pots and talking about how plants grow. By checking the pots every day, you and your toddler can watch the entire life cycle of a plant unfold, by watching the seed develop into a seedling and eventually an adult plant.

Host a “springathon” playdate.
Reach out to other moms and parents and invite them and their little ones to an extended playdate. After playing outdoors, serve up a simple spring-themed lunch by using flower shaped cookie cutters to make a variety of sandwiches, then serve up a salad of spring greens and help the kids make their own flower pot dessert. Wrap things up with a story time activity, featuring spring-themed books read by the parents in the group.

Make a bird feeder.
Early spring is actually a great time to feed the birds in your neighborhood because there aren’t many natural seed sources available for them at this time. And don’t worry, making your bird feeder doesn’t have to involve using a hammer, nails and wood. There are lots of toddler-friendly ideas available online that require little more than birdseed, twine and peanut butter or vegetable shortening.  You can use empty toilet paper rolls, pinecones and even hollowed out orange rinds to create your birdfeeder and have lots of springtime fun. 


Image : Getty

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Add Swim Diapers to Your Summer Diaper Bag Essentials

With summertime in full swing, chances are there’s plenty of sunshine and water play in your family’s plans. Whether your baby or toddler is in a pool, the ocean, or a lake, a swim diaper is a water play essential. Keep your little one’s bottom covered and comfortable while making sure the inevitable messes stay contained.

Why use swim diapers? Unlike regular diapers, swim diapers are made specifically for use in the water. They don’t absorb liquid like everyday diapers so they won’t swell up in the pool, and that also means they won’t contain urine. What they do do (no pun intended) is help prevent the spread of fecal contamination and E. coli by keeping the inevitable poopy diaper contained. By helping to prevent the infection-causing bacteria from spreading in the pool, everyone stays healthier.

Disposable swim diapers come in various sizes and pull up easily, making it a cinch to slip them on right before your little one goes into the water. But since they don’t absorb urine don’t switch them out for regular diapers until your child is ready to go in the water. They should be changed as soon as they are soiled, preferably away from the pool area in a bathroom or designated changing area. Disposable swim diapers should be thrown away after every incident, and a new one put on baby before their next water activity. If you’re at a beach or lake, you can put soiled diapers into an empty baggie until you have access to a garbage can. Swim diapers come in cute styles and patterns, but you can easily put on a bathing suit bottom right over them.

You should check your baby’s diaper every 30 to 60 minutes. Keeping the pool contamination-free benefits everyone and helps keep a healthy swimming environment for all to enjoy. If you’re potty training you may want to use a swim diaper just in case, but take your toddler to the bathroom for potty breaks on a regular basis.

Many public swimming areas, especially public pools, have their own rules about swim diapers. Some require different types of swim diapers or an additional swim pant, and regulations about where to change dirty diapers are usually posted.  You can always call ahead to find out if your destination has specific rules about swim diapers.

Be sure to include swim diapers in your diaper bag this summer so you’re always ready for your baby to join in the fun at the pool or beach without worrying about creating a poop-tastrophe!

Image: Getty  

 

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Baby Travel Checklist

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Infant Care Basics

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Shamelessly Mushy Things I Do With My Baby

“When my son was a baby, I’d gleefully announce ‘Kiss Patrol!’ and kiss him all over his belly. Now that he’s 10, I yell, ‘Kiss Patrol,’ chase him around the house, tackle him, pin him down, and kiss his belly. Each time it gets harder to do, but I still win!”

—Sherry Belul, mother of one, San Francisco, California

“When Evan was a baby, I’d squish his cute little bottom and tell him he had sweet cheeks. It definitely made an impression on him! When we were at a wading pool when he was 2, he walked over to a little girl, patted her, and called her sweet cheeks! Me and the other mom both cracked up.”

—Shana Davis, mother of two, West Linn, Oregon

“Our first son was 9 pounds when he was born. He was cute as a bug, so we called him ‘Buglette.’ When our second son started to walk, his toddling gait was so cutely troll-like that we came up with an appropriately cute troll-like nickname: ‘Shtunkles.’ My wife and I still use those names, in various forms, for codes and passwords in our lives!”

—Jamie Felberg, father of two, Lubbock, Texas

“I’ve always been partial to belly smooches—the more lip-smacking the better. My baby’s reaction? Big belly laughs, of course!”

—Bob Brody, father of two, Queens, New York

“Once in awhile, I throw on my swimsuit and get in the tub with my son. He loves it when I squirt water at him with this little whale toy. It’s just good, clean fun—literally!”

—Michael Kline, father of one, Woodland Hills, California

“You know that teardrop divot between your nose and your upper lip? On my twin baby boys, they are absolutely irresistible kissing spots. I swear, I must kiss their upper lips a million times a day.”

—Melissa Clark, mother of two, Rapid City, South Dakota

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