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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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Top 10 Reasons Baby Hugs Are the Best

By Charlene O'Hanlon

Whether you're a new mother or a seasoned veteran, hugs from your kids are simply the best. There is nothing like a hug from my children to make me smile, especially if I'm coming off a bad day.

It wasn't long ago my toddler was a squirmy, pudgy baby, rolling around and discovering his toes on a daily basis. And there were those days when teething made him a cranky, crying puddle of drool-and I, too, became cranky and weepy because there was nothing I could do to help his pain. Then, one day as I was holding him and trying to help him through the pain, the little guy threw his fat little arms around my neck and squeezed. I don't know if it was conscious action on his part, but the second he did that I relaxed and thought, "This is why we do it."

Baby hugs are awesome for many reasons. Here are my top 10 reasons:

They provide validation: When your little one gives you a hug-whether it's of the two-arm variety or the hair-grabbing, I'm-going-to-eat-your-nose variety-all the hard work and effort you've put into this job of being a parent is validated. One hug makes okay all the late-night walks to get the little one to sleep, baby food smeared on your shirt and desperate searches for lost pacifiers.

Your baby recognizes you are your child's world: Hugs tell you that your child knows who you are: the person your child relies on to be happy and healthy. Babies can't say, "Thank you," but let's face it, a hug is better.

Drool, wonderful drool: Only parents know the joy that comes with having a shoulder soaking wet from the drool of a baby's hug.

Hugs are free: A child's hug provides moments of sheer parental bliss. They cost nothing, yet do so much for us.

Baby hugs often are unexpected: There is never advance notice with a baby hug-you could be adjusting your little one's shirt and, bam! There's a hug. Guaranteed to make you smile for hours.

Hugs build/reinforce the bond: It's no accident that marriage counselors suggest that couples having issues make time to hug each other daily, to help bring the couple closer and reinforce the marital bond. It's no difference between parents and their children-a daily hug tells both of you how much you care for the other.

It's the best way to say "I love you" without words: But when your child first tells you those three little words ... well, that's a different story altogether.

My blood pressure drops: Even when I've had the worst day ever, hugging my child instantly calms me, and when the little guy initiates the hug, I could stay in my rocking chair holding him for hours.

Hugs recharge my batteries: Just like lowering my blood pressure, hugs from my little guy help me keep going, even on the days when I want to drop from exhaustion.

Hugs make it all worthwhile: Let's face it: Parenting is stressful. Every day is a new challenge. To the uninitiated, a hug from your child may not seem like much of a reward for all the stress, but parents know those hugs are more precious than gold, making every diaper change, every fussy feeding session and every late-night sleeper change worth every second.

Read More by Charlene O'Hanlon

Parades, Planes and Road Trips: Awkward Diaper Changes


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Make a Big Splash with Water Play

From bath time to swim classes, interacting with water can be an exciting and fun way for your baby and toddler to learn through play. Here are some suggestions for incorporating water play into your child’s routine. 

Form strong bonds in the water

Building trust and letting your baby know that you support them can be easily accomplished in the water. By holding on to your child and letting them experience water in the safety of your arms, you can share the joy of buoyancy and let them feel the security of your embrace. Most pools require swim diapers because they help minimize any accident your child may have. Just don’t forget the Huggies® Little Swimmers® to ensure that your child has the right diaper on for water play. When forming these strong bonds in the water, always remember that water safety for your child is paramount. Make sure you're up to date on the latest guidelines about water safety from a reputable source like the American Academy of Pediatrics, and check in with your child's physician for more guidance.  

Turn a nightly bath into an art class

Bath toys are always a treat, but bathtub crayons can really expand your child’s imagination. Keeping a small bucket of bathtub crayons will help build creativity and enhance motor skills by allowing your child to write letters, draw figures, and experiment with colors and shapes. Your child can even help wash away their masterpiece when the bath is done. Always remember to keep a close eye on your child during bath time and to be extra careful when playing with small objects like crayons. 

Run through the sprinklers

You don’t have to live near a pool or ocean to have fun with water – just head to your nearest playground with a water play area or connect your garden hose to a lawn sprinkler and let the fun rain down!  Kids can learn how to jump through the water, spot rainbows forming in the mist and share in water play with other kids in the playground. And even though it’s a sprinkler, Huggies® Little Swimmers® come in handy here as well since they won’t swell up as they get wet, and the Easy Open sides make playground changes a breeze.

Build motor skills through swimming

Signing up for a swim class will help encourage your child's safe water play as well as teach water safety tips so that you and your child can approach the water with confidence and smarts. 

Always remember that every baby needs a coach and a flotation device should never be a substitute for your helping hand. Safe water play is a fun way to help your little one figure out the world around them. By being prepared with the right water-specific products and always keeping a close eye on your child around water, you can incorporate water into your child's daily routine in creative and enjoyable ways. 

Image : Getty

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5 Ways to Savor Summer’s End with Your Family

Everywhere I turn, bits of fall are around me. Many folks are back to school. Stores are now stocking fall and winter clothes and decor. Pinterest is already full of Halloween ideas and warm, comfort food recipes. But you know what? Summer is not over! Not just yet! Technically, we still have about a month of summer left, so I’m going to soak it up and enjoy every last bit.

Here’s how we’re celebrating the end of summer…

Splash Parks & Swimming Pools – By Labor Day, most of these will be closed until spring. So we’re taking advantage of them these last few weeks!

Festivals & Fairs – Even though school is in session, there are still many outdoor festivals and fairs. Look for parades, craft events, farm open houses, rodeos, and more!

Summery Eats – Savor the last month of summer by eating summery foods! BBQ, meat on the grill, watermelon, corn on the cob, and ice cream!

Late Nights – The sun is still setting late in the evening. We’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors, soaking up the summer sun.

Summer Wardrobe – The weather is still HOT HOT HOT! So we’re still donning our summery gear.

Image : Disney Baby

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6 End-of-Summer Activities to Do with Your Little One

Summer is quickly coming to an end (in fact, in our town, school started three weeks ago!), so now is the time to take advantage of these last sunny days.

In June, it seems like there is so much summer ahead, but with it winding down, it’s the perfect opportunity to squeeze in a few more warm weather activities with your family. Try one or all of these and enjoy the sight of those little dimpled knees and elbows in swimsuits and shorts. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

  1. Go for a swim. Get a few last uses out of your baby’s swimsuit – they’ll be too big for it next summer!

  2. A picnic dinner. I don’t know what it is about eating outside, but it’s just magical. Don’t feel like you have to go crazy; some simple sandwiches or takeout is plenty fun for everyone.

  3. Visit the farmer’s market. Summer produce is the best and getting it straight from the grower is the the way to go. My girls love scoping out the stands, trying a few samples, and picking up a couple of things to try at home.

  4. Make popsicles. Nothing says summer like a homemade popsicle. And they’re so simple! Just pour in some leftover smoothie or blend up a fruit or two with some juice and voila!

  5. Spend the morning at the park. Ditch your usual responsibilities and let your baby enjoy the fresh air (and you’ll love it too!).

How will you enjoy the last days of summer with your little one?

Image : Disney Baby

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5 tips for planning a family vacation

So you’ve set aside the time for a family vacay—now what? Traveling with a baby, toddlers or older kids definitely requires planning ahead, regardless of whether you’re taking a road trip or hopping on a plane.

But before you commit to a specific destination, it might be helpful to explore what’s trending with families now.  

“Families today want experiences,” says Suzette Mack an independent travel advisor and family travel specialist with Brownell Travel in San Jose, California. “They’re not searching for accommodations that offer drop-off programs for kids. What they are looking for is adventure travel and unique activities that they can enjoy together with their children.”

Ready to plan a successful family trip that will create memories that last a lifetime? Your family adventure doesn’t have to include luxury accommodations or an international destination to be memorable. There are plenty of adventures waiting to be had in national parks and other fun stateside locales.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you start planning your next family vacation.

Forget following the crowd

While it can be tempting to choose a destination or resort based solely on reviews or personal recommendations, this isn’t always a winning strategy. Before deciding on your final destination, take a little time to reflect on what your family likes to do and the kinds of activities make them happy. Certain destinations may look great online, but if the locale doesn’t mesh with what your family enjoys, then it may not be worth the effort or expense.

Pace yourself

Overscheduling is probably the most common family vacation mistake. Trying to see and do too much can backfire and leave everyone feeling rushed and exhausted. “Kids need a lot more down time on a vacation than parents do, so family trips should be paced accordingly,” advises Mack. Make it a priority to leave a few afternoons open for free play. Keeping a balance between down time and active sightseeing will help keep all the kids in your clan happy.

Splurge on a sensible luxury

Easy peasy is definitely nice when it comes to traveling with kids. If you have the budget, spring for an extra that will help make the journey easier for you and your family. For example, hire a tour guide when you arrive in a new city to help you get acclimated to your destination. If your plans include international travel, splurge on a private transfer so that you have the comfort of knowing that you have someone meeting you at the airport who knows how to get you (and your tired family) to the hotel without any unexpected surprises.

Consider a cruise

If you’re on a budget, and a cruise fits your family’s definition of fun, then you should know that there are definitely deals to be had on these kinds of vacations.  “I have had clients get screaming-good deals on cruises only a week or two before departure,” says Mack. “This is because they were flexible and didn’t care what ship they were on or which cabin they got.” Keep in mind that connecting cabins and other prime spots tend to sell out early.

Prep for travel with baby

Taking off on a vacation with your little one can definitely be done, you just have to plan ahead and manage the logistics. Your best bet is to have a home base and stay in the same accommodations for the duration of your trip to minimize stress on both you and baby. Taking things slower than you normally would on an adults-only trip can help too.  If you’re traveling outside of the country, stick to a destination where you know the language. And of course, remember to pack light. 

Image : Getty

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The Benefits of Water Play

Remember how much you used to enjoy playing in the water back when you were a kid—how excited you'd be whenever you got to spend the day at the beach or the pool?

Now that you are a parent, you can share the magic of water play with your child. And not only will your child be having fun: he’ll be learning and growing at the same time.

Four ways water play encourages healthy development

Sure, kids and water make for a guaranteed good time, but water play is not just fun and games. Here are four powerful and far-reaching ways that water play can help promote your child’s healthy development.

1. Water play encourages physical development

Water play is the ultimate full-body workout. “Water provides resistance, which helps to build strength,” explains Claire Lerner, Senior Parenting Advisor with ZERO TO THREE. And, she notes, the benefits of water play multiply when your child is wading or swimming because being immersed in water means that he’ll have to work on all-important balance and coordination skills, too.

2. Water play encourages kids to get social—and in a way that helps to minimize conflict

Kids don’t have to fight over water because there’s enough water to go around. Consequently, water play “can require less intensive sharing than if you’re sitting on the floor with a bunch of trains and everybody wants the caboose,” explains Lerner. And, what’s more, the soothing properties of water can help kids to regulate their emotions and behavior, meaning that conflicts are even less likely to erupt.

3. Water play encourages discovery

It’s no wonder your budding scientist is fascinated with water. There are so many scientific principles to discover—everything from watching how water reacts when you swoosh it around to trying to predict what will sink or float (a sponge versus a boat). And, as an added bonus, it's budget-friendly discovery play. You don’t need a rush out to buy a whole bunch of new toys. Simply use what you already own, including ordinary household items like plastic measuring cups.

4. Water play encourages creativity and imagination

Think about what happens whenever you have a group of kids romping around in the water: how imagination tends to take over. “You see kids making up games about who’s the shark and who’s the dolphin,” says Lerner. This kind of role-playing gives kids the opportunity to work on a broad range of skills. It encourages storytelling and promotes language skills and perspective-taking abilities (the ability to see things from another person’s point of view).

As you can see, the benefits of water play are pretty far-reaching. “Water play nurtures all areas of development,” says Lerner. “That’s the beauty of it. It’s not one-dimensional.”

Getting started

Ready to make a splash?

Here’s how to get started with water play.

  • Look for quick and easy ways to incorporate water play into your family’s regular routine (think bathtub or kitchen sink).
  • Round out those home-based water play experiences by seeking out water play activities in your community (at the local rec center) and beyond (by choosing a hotel with a pool the next time you’re traveling as a family, for example).

Don’t forget to tote along some Huggies® Little Swimmers® Disposable Swimpants, as many pools require them if your child isn't yet potty-trained. Be sure to always remember to pay extra close attention to safety when your child is playing in or around water, stay within arms reach and eliminate distractions like smartphones. 

Image : Getty

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Dad holding baby outdoors

9 Fun Father and Baby Outing Ideas!

We try to make sure that my husband has time with our son — and so far, they’ve gone on quite a few adventures together. Here are 9 of our favorite ideas for outings that will hopefully inspire your family as well!

Take Baby out to a local sporting event

Take baby out to a local sporting event. For us, that meant a Devil Ray’s baseball game. Dad even bought a little baby baseball cap so our son could show his team spirit!

Have fun in the sun

For us, that means pools and beaches but you can have fun in the sun even if you’re landlocked. Slap on the sunscreen, fill up an inflatable pool, or play in the sprinklers if your kids are a bit older.

Visit the local library

The kids section is full of fun books, colors, and sometimes even toys. Most local branches have special programs for kids too. Our local library does a “storytime” for babies that is full of songs and puppets.

Go treasure hunting

We love to shop for vintage and antique cameras, so heading out to one of the flea markets or antique shops is a fun little excursion. Bonus points if you find an awesome and inexpensive trinket to bring home to Mama!

Share a hobby

My husband is a drummer, so he’s been spending time in our drum room with our son teaching him the basics. What kid doesn’t love to bang on things that make noise, right?

Look for birds

Heading out to the local bird sanctuary can be lots of fun. We have a place locally that nurses birds of prey back to health. Our son got to see huge owls, eagles, and falcons up close. Most cities have bird sanctuaries you can check out and admission is usually inexpensive.

Go grocery shopping

This isn’t a super fun one, unless you’re dorks like us and you like shopping for food, but it is a nice way to give Mom some time alone at home while you also take an errand off her hands.

Play in the park!

Getting out of the house and enjoying the fresh air is extra simple when you head to a fun public park. Take a walk, play on the swings, and enjoy the breeze.

Get to work

If your job allows it, it can be fun to take your baby along with you on a job. We are photographers by trade, so sometimes my husband will strap on our baby carrier and take our son along on a shoot just for fun.

Experience the comfort of Huggies Little Snugglers

Image : Disney Baby

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Extending the Swim Season

Kids love summer because it promises sun-soaked outdoor fun. They reserve a special smile for the joy of splashing around in that kiddie pool. As the colder month’s approach, it’s easy to write-off swimming from your child’s activity options, but this doesn’t have to be the case. With a bit of creative spirit, you can incorporate water-based fun into your child’s life all-year-round. 

Here’s some ideas of how to keep your little one’s life aquatic regardless of the month on the calendar. 

Bathtub Playdate


Part of your little one’s love of swim time is about more than just being in the water, they know the pre-swim routine means they are about to have a ton of fun. They also love nothing more than splashing about with their little buddies. Re-create this experience for them during the colder months by inviting over a swim mate for a bathtub playdate. Deck them out in their favorite swimsuit, let them pick out fun water toys and get their floaties on, all of sudden the tub is just as fun as the kiddie pool. 

Kiddie Toy Carwash


When it might be just a bit too cold for a kiddie pool experience, consider this fun backyard option. Our little ones love the carwash with all its soap and suds, you can create a kid-sized version just for them.  Arrange some garden hose powered sprinklers and replicate a carwash (make sure the water isn’t too cold). Have your little one pick out their favorite miniature vehicle, something like a toy car or tricycle and let them lather it up with some child-safe soap before they give it a wash. You'll end up with some very clean toys, and a very happy toddler!

Join a Swim Class


Wherever you live there are usually indoor public pools right nearby. Look into your options, from public pools that have special classes for youngsters, or the local YMCA offering parent and baby lessons. These resources provide a great opportunity for you and your little one to bond in the water together, with the help and expertise of professionals. They are sure to make some new little friends in class too. Be sure to bring along some Huggies® Little Swimmers® Diapers when you head to the pool, many places require them if your child is not yet potty trained. 

Sailboat Playtime


You can turn this great arts and crafts project into a bath time adventure! Let your little one make their very own bath toy. All you need is some foam art board, straws, construction paper, and magic marker. Work with your little one to cut the foam into a fun shape to form the sailboat base, then cut a hole to place a straw into the buoyant foam base to act as the boat’s mast. After this is complete, attach a piece of paper to the straw that will serve as a sail. Let your child decorate it as they see fit with markers, and then you’re ready to hit the tub. You can show them how to blow air on the paper sail to move the boat around, then watch as the wonder and excitement fills their little face.

Always be sure to pay extra close attention any time your child is in or near the water. Be cautious and keep your eyes on your little one at all times, free from any distractions. This will help keep your little one safe while they're having a great time. 

Image : Getty

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5 Fun Family Winter Activities

When the air gets colder and the days get shorter keeping your little one entertained can become more of a challenge.  But, there are plenty of fun indoor and outdoor activities that can help you beat the boredom blues and keep your child active and busy through the winter months.

Head to a local museum or aquarium

If you have a local children’s museum with hands-on exhibits, you can usually purchase a family membership so you can have access to exclusive members hours and scheduled events and shows.  An aquarium will provide hours of entertainment while your child watches the marine life swim by and have plenty of room to run around inside.

Sign up for Swim Classes

Winter is the perfect time to sign up for some mommy and me swimming classes at an indoor pool at a local club or gym.  Taking classes through the winter months will give your child confidence and skills they can continue to develop once the weather turns warmer, and has the added benefit of giving you and your child some active bonding time in the water. Don’t forget Huggies® Little Swimmers® Disposable Swimpants, which most pools require for children who aren’t potty trained.

Indoor Waterpark Adventure

You don’t need beach weather to hit the water. Check your local area listings for nearby indoor waterparks with dedicated areas just for kids under 5. These parks provide a great opportunity for lasting memories, and the chance to enjoy some water-based fun despite the dreary weather. 

Storytime at the Library

Many local libraries have a dedicated children’s section with read-aloud times programmed especially for toddlers. Story time is a great opportunity to have an indoor play date and expose your child to some wonderful picture books, all in a warm and toasty library. As a bonus, your library is always free!

Create an Art Space

Having bins of toddler-friendly art supplies will allow you to provide instant indoor creative activities for your child and any friends who come over on a cold winter day. Washable markers, finger paints, stickers, easy to grip stamps and ink, large pads of craft paper, and Play-Doh can provide hours of fun for your child. Set up a child-sized table and chairs in a corner so your little one can easily access their supplies. Keep it simple and organized so your child can help clean up when they’re done with their masterpieces.

Winter months don’t have to mean boredom and cabin fever. Plan outings that make for interesting and amusing experiences for you and your family, and be sure to take advantage of activities tailored to your child’s age. A little preparation can help you beat the winter blues and have fun all year round. 

Image : Getty

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DIY Fabric Photo Book

Here’s how to create a soft and durable personalized photo book that showcases everything that matters most in your baby’s world and that doubles as a treasured keepsake, too.

Note: You don't need to possess super-sophisticated sewing skills to pull this off. We've kept the sewing to a minimum!

Here's a quick snapshot of what's involved:

You'll be....

  • Creating a series of book spreads (double-sided spreads made up of four pages in total: two on the front and two on the back). These will serve as the pages of your book.
  • Printing out your photo images on special inkjet printer fabric that is designed for this purpose.
  • Sticking your photo images on to the book spreads.
  • Stitching the book spreads together to create a book that baby will love.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Now here are the instructions in detail....

What you’ll need

Equipment

Computer and inkjet printer

Scissors and/or rotary fabric cutter

Iron

Tapestry needles and/or a sewing machine with a denim needle

Supplies

Six 11” x 5” rectangles of fabric for the front and back of three book spreads (each book spread consists of two 5” x 5” pages separated by a 1” gutter up the middle, with the gutter being used to sew the book spreads together)

Three 11” x 5” strips of fusible adhesive (an iron-on adhesive fabric that you'll be using to stick the front and back of your book spreads together) plus additional strips of fusible adhesive trimmed to the same size as your printed fabric photos

One package of inkjet printable fabric sheets (specially-designed sheets of fabric that are backed with paper and designed to be fed through your inkjet printer)

Thread (for sewing the three book spreads together)

What to do

Step one: Assemble your book spreads

You will need a front panel and a back panel and a panel of fusible adhesive for each spread. Stack the panels in layers with the good side of the fabric facing out on each side of the book panel and the fusible adhesive sandwiched in the middle. Iron both sides of the panel until the fusible adhesive has fused the front and back of each book spread together. Repeat until you have three fully assembled book spreads.

Step two: Print your photos on the fabric

Start out by using the photo editing software on your computer to crop each image to the desired shape and size. You may want to consider using circles rather than squares in order to encourage your photos to remain stuck in place over the long-term. (Sometimes the corners on squares have a tendency to want to come unstuck.) You might also want to use your favorite graphics program to create some eye-catching graphics or text-blocks (perhaps a favorite quote or a family member’s message of love to your child). Once you’ve edited your images, follow the inkjet printable fabric manufacturer’s instructions for printing. You’ll want to pay particular attention to the recommendations regarding image resolution; and you’ll want to feed the fabric sheets into your printer a sheet at a time.

Step three: Wash the printed fabric

Remove the paper backing from each printed sheet of fabric and then soak each sheet of fabric in a basin of cold water. Then press each sheet of fabric between white paper towels, gently applying pressure so that you are able to remove as much excess water as possible. If the fabric is still damp, either allow it to air dry a little longer or carefully press it dry using a hot iron.

Step four: Trim the printed fabric photos

Cut out your photos and trim away any excess material. Then, using each photo as a template, cut pieces of fusible adhesive to the exact same size as each photo. (You'll be using this inner layer of fusible adhesive to stick the printed fabric photos to the book spread in the next step.)

Step five: Add the printed fabric photos to the book spreads

You may find that it works well to preassemble your book before you use the fusible adhesive to position each photo permanently. Stack the three book spreads on top of one another so that you’ll have a sense of the book’s flow. Then note which photos should appear on the left and right sides of the front and back of each panel. When you’re happy with the way everything looks, use your iron and appropriately sized pieces of fusible adhesive to attach each photo to the desired location on each book spread. (Once again, you'll be using the fusible adhesive to stick two pieces of fabric together. In this case, you'll be sticking your printed photos to the book spreads with the layer of fusible adhesive.)

Step six: Sew your finished book spreads together

Stack the book panels in the correct order (the way you want the book to flow) and then stitch the book panels together up the middle (either by hand sewing or using a sewing machine). Voila! You’re finished. Time to share your book with your baby!

Image : Getty

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