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Finding Balance

Becoming a mom is a wonderful experience (of course!), but between working, cleaning, and caring for your baby, it can also be time-consuming. Huggies has some quick, easy ways to help give you a break.

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It Really Does Take a Village

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

Raising kids is hard work. Actually, it's really hard work.

When my husband and I found out we were expecting for the first time, immediately we started thinking, We should move closer to our families. It was the best decision we ever made. Initially and admittedly, we did it to have those over-eager babysitters in place, but since that time, it has evolved into so much more than that. Being close to our families has been one of the biggest joys in our lives, and in our kids' lives as well.

I grew up with little to no extended family around. We would get the occasional visitor from overseas every couple of years, and my grandmother would visit annually to keep her Green Card active, but aside from that, our holidays primarily consisted of the four members of my family. I was envious of my friends who had the big, raucous holiday celebrations and family gatherings. Our quiet Thanksgiving foursome, while lovely, seemed so muted in comparison.

Fast forward to today, with our three kids, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles around, and I now relish every family gathering, every big sports game we convene at and every birthday celebration. Not only do I feel so lucky to have such a strong support system around, but I'm also so thankful for the relationships my kids have with their grandparents and extended family. That's something I never had the pleasure of experiencing myself.

And I'm not going to lie-the help is wonderful, too. My parents have been the only way that my husband and I have been able to sneak away for the celebratory night away or mini adult vacations. Three days of kid-free time? Thank you, Grandparents! Taking the kids to see that animated Pixar movie for the fourth time? Thank you, Auntie!

Between family and the wonderful friends we have, many of whom we have met because of our kids, I've come to realize how important it is to have a support system in place. Having people to rely on, vent to, ask questions to and experience all the joys of having kids with makes a really difficult job so much easier.

And the adult-only nights away every blue moon certainly don't hurt, either.


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Hugs Born From the Heart

Holding your child for the very first time is an almost indescribable moment. We spoke to some parenting bloggers who adopted their children to learn more about the first time they met and held their new child - and the powerful emotions and hopes they felt upon cradling their child in that first hug. 

“As soon as I held my son I had an overwhelming feeling that we had known each other before and that we were back together again,” said Mitch Chaitin, author of GayDadNYC.com  “I cannot explain it, but it was a feeling of recognition, and I knew that we would have no worries moving forward…this was our son.”

Maria Bailey host of "Mom Talk Radio," was in the delivery room when her first daughter was born.  “The first time I held my first adoptive daughter, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for her birth mother, whom I had just watched deliver her.  I felt indebted to her generosity and sacrifice and silently vowed to grow this child to be the best adult possible as a means to repay her.”

For Linda Grant, the writer of NYCSingleMom, the adoption of her daughter made her family complete. " The agency called me a few days after she was born. She was fourteen days old when I held her for the first time. All I could think was that after years of waiting, my dream to be a mother finally came true.”

Not all children are adopted as infants. Jill Robbins, a Texas based blogger who writes at RippedJeansandBiFocals.com, adopted her son when he was two years old. According to Jill, “The first time I held Zack in my arms I felt joy and sadness. I loved him instantly. He was two and he really didn't have any clue about what was going on...I'd waited for him, and getting to hold him for the first time and having that wait be over was...well, it's very much the same feeling any mom has when holding her child for the first time, no matter how she came to be a mom.” 

Image : Getty

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3 Dads Dish on Bonding

Experienced dads have lots of great advice to share with daddies-to-be. Here, three dads of babies, toddlers and older kids share their best tips and strategies for new fathers.

Josh Rodriguez

Home base:
Austin, Texas

Kids:
Two, three and seven years old

Bonding advice:

Be present at baby’s feedings
I would always try to be in the nursery whenever my wife was breastfeeding our babies—even if it was late at night. Whenever my wife needed something, I was there to support her. After she was done breastfeeding, it was my special time to bond. I would burp and change the baby and then enjoy some quiet holding time.

Make time for skin-to-skin contact
I’m a big believer in skin-to-skin contact and it’s something that I was very intentional about with all of my babies. After a feeding or a bath, when my babies were in their diapers, I would take off my shirt and just have them lay on my chest for a little while so that we could snuggle.

Turn bath time into bonding time
Because my wife sometimes works nights, I've been in charge of bath time since my kids were babies. This nighttime routine doesn’t just involve bathing; you have to dress and diaper baby, brush her gums or teeth and comb baby’s hair. It's a routine that can involve a lot of great bonding time because there are plenty of opportunities in between all of those tasks to hold your baby close and give lots of kisses.

Mike Donoghue

Home base: 
Brooklyn, New York

Kids:  
Six-month-old baby

Bonding advice:

Build daddy bonding time into your birth plan
Both my wife and I wanted to be able to hold, hug and have skin-to-skin contact with our baby as soon as possible after she was born. This was something that we included in our birth plan and very clearly communicated to our doctors. Being able to hold our baby close in the moments after her birth was very important to both of us. 

Take time off after baby is born
Taking a paternity leave to bond with my baby was a priority for me. I realized our baby’s first few weeks were a precious time that I really wanted to experience. I knew I could catch up on work if I took time off, but I would never again have the opportunity to share this time in my daughter’s life.

Help your baby start and end her day
I like to be the one to wake our baby up in the morning, so I’m always the first to pick her up from her crib. I hug and hold her and then get her ready for the day. I also feed our baby every night. No matter how much I have going on at work, I always make sure that I’m home on time to feed and hold her before she goes to sleep.

Darrell Humphrey

Home base: 
Charlotte, North Carolina

Kids:
Three and five years old

Bonding advice:

Consider being a stay-at-home dad
When I attended a local parenting class for dads, they talked about how to feed and diaper a baby. Many people assume dads won’t be as involved as moms – the class never mentioned being a stay-at-home dad as an option. I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for almost five years now and it has been an amazing way for me to bond with my kids, both when they were babies and now that they are three and five years old.

Ponder your own childhood
Consider what you loved as a child, and what you missed out on. Taking a little bit of time to think about this can help reveal what your baby might need from you. I missed time with my parents and now, as a stay-at-home dad, I have the time to snuggle and play with my kids. That’s something that I didn’t get a lot of when I was growing up.

Be the kind of dad that hugs
My dad is not much of a hugger; he’s more of a fist bump or handshake kind of guy.  That’s why I was determined to hug my babies a lot when my wife and I started having children—I definitely was not going to fist bump my newborns! Now that my boys are a little older, we’re still hugging and I will keep on hugging them throughout their lives.

Image :Getty

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10 Secrets to Getting Things Done as a Work-at-Home Mom

Being a full-time mommy and working from home is like juggling two full-time jobs at once. Remember the days when everything on your “to-do” list was checked off and there was nothing left for you to do? Remember when we were kids and used to get “bored”….those days are no more! ;) I’ve found that there is ALWAYS things to be done. When my husband asks, “Are you done with work for the day?” or “How much left do you have to do?” my answer is usually, “I’m never done, but I’ll stop if needed!”

It seriously is such a huge joy and blessing to have the ability to stay at home with my son, run my own business, and create my own hours. I couldn’t be more thankful. I’m exactly where I want to be. However, that certainly doesn’t make each day easy or my task list finish itself magically…no fairy godmother here. ;)

I have a lot of roles in my life. On top of having the honor of being Soren’s mommy, I also blog full-time for my business, run a graphic design company with my business partner, plan annual events, travel, speak, write for various blogs, run a YouTube channel and do my very best to keep up with our home, OH! and spend time with family, friends, and my sweet husband. Whew! I get asked the question a lot: “How do you do it all?” Well get ready, because I’m about to reveal all the secrets for getting things done…;)

  1. You Can’t – You thought I might have stumbled upon a secret formula or machine that makes time stand still? So sorry, I haven’t found one yet…but let me know if you do! The biggest secret to having a busy life and “getting things done” is realizing you CAN’T get everything done and you shouldn’t put that expectation on yourself OR let others put that expectation on you. Do what you can, when you can. Be adaptable.

  2. Sacrifice – While I wear a lot of hats, more often then not I’m wearing 3-4 REALLY WELL and letting the others get dusty. This analogy simply means that on a weekly basis certain roles are sacrificed and aren’t completed to the best of my ability. For example, I might be winning at getting house chores done for the week but let my inbox get filled to the brim. Or maybe I’m on top of my email game but I haven’t showered. all. week. You can’t do it all, so it’s important to be okay with that and realize some things might be sacrificed here and there.

  3. Set Priorities – Since we know things will be sacrificed it’s important to prioritize your roles and tasks. What are the most important things to you? For me it’s being a mom and spending time with Jon especially. This means that I do my very best not to sacrifice these roles in my life and allow other things to “get dusty” if needed before I would let those things “get dusty” in my life. This makes putting things off until another day a little easier when you know what you want to say “no” to and “yes” to.

  4. Be Intentional – When little ones go down for a nap, this is typically the best time to get things done. Be intentional with this time! Use a prioritized task list and work through it one at a time. Try to keep yourself from filling your time with un-important tasks like browsing the internet or binge-watching your favorite show. If you only have 2-3 hours stay focused. :)

  5. Plan Your Week – I like to start off each week sitting down and planning everything out. Where do I need to go? Errands? Big to-do’s? Events? Wish-list items? Scheduling appointments and outings in your calendar and put together your task list for the week. Have a task list of things that MUST get done and another for things you’d like to get done, bonus tasks if you will. :) This will make it easier for your brain not to panic when you see so many un-checked boxes because you know you are focusing on the priorities and letting yourself be okay with only accomplishing a few (or many none) of the wish-list tasks.

  6. Accept Help – If you are fortunate enough to live close to friends, in-laws or parents that are willing to lend a consistent hand, be sure to take them up on the offer! You could also consider hiring a nanny for one day or a few hours each week. My mom comes over and watches Soren for me on Thursdays, and this allows me to plan to make a good dent in my task list. I usually stay at home so I can continue to nurse Soren if needed, but sometimes I will head out to a coffee shop to really focus if I’m working on a large project.

  7. Work at Night – Sometimes, but not every night, I dedicate the evening to work. I don’t want to do this every night, because I still want to make time to spend with Jon and have “me” time or meet up with a friend for a late night latte. But about 1-2 times each week I work a lot in the evening. After Soren goes to bed at 7 p.m., I usually have about 4 hours of good uninterrupted time to focus and get things done. If you are not a night person, then I might suggest working in the early, early morning before your little one gets up for the day.

  8. Stay Organized – It can save you so much time and effort if you stay as organized as possible in your work life. If you have a desk at home, make sure there is a place for everything so things are easy to find. Also, make sure your computer is organized! If this gets away from you and you can’t remember where you put an important email or if you wrote down the time of an important event it will cause you a lot of un-needed stress. Create folders in your inbox, on your desktop and in your office to store things to you need. Use organizational apps like task lists and calendars that sync to all of your devices for easy access. Who needs to be wasting 30 minutes tracking down information when you’ve got other work to do?! :)

  9. Stop – The last thing I want to be is a “workaholic” I never want to sacrifice my well being or the well being of my family for work. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do but it will never be more important than my family. If I ever get to a point where I feel completely overwhelmed, stressed and out of sorts I like to take a step back immediately. Sometimes this means un-plugging for a week, sometimes it means taking the day off and not worrying about work, and other times it means not working that night and just soaking in the tub with a cup of hot cocoa. Be okay with taking a break. You want to feel re-charged and energized to get things done and sometimes stopping it just what you need to accomplish that.

  10. Experiment – And finally, know that what works for one person might not work for everyone and what works today might not work in three months. Be willing to adjust and adapt your schedule as needed to fit the needs of you and your family. Experiment with different schedule changes, seek advice, and check up on yourself often.
  11. You can do this mama!! xox

    Image : Disney Baby

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5 Things I Do Throughout the Day to Make Parenting Easier

With two little ones in school, Macks at home with me all day, and trying to manage a full-time job from home, I am always looking for ways that I can make things easier on me throughout the day. Our schedule is pretty concrete, so I try to stick to that to make our day go more smooth, but there are also more things that I do to make my life as a mom easier.

1. Keep a changing station in the room you spend the most time in.

We spend most of our time in the living room downstairs. After a couple of days in our new house I was so tired of going up and down the stairs to change Macks’ diapers, so I set up a cabinet in the living room that has diapers, wipes, and a portable changing pad for easy access when he needs a diaper change downstairs.

2. Keep snacks handy at all times using reusable bags.

I love these reusable bags from Bumkins. They come in a variety of sizes so that I can fill them with different snacks for all of my kids. I’ll fill up a couple at the beginning of the day and keep them in my purse so that whenever one of my girls tells me they are hungry, I don’t have to stop and get them something. I just pull out the bag and hand it over.

3. Have toys in a place that they frequent often.

Macks loves to open up cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. I’ve childproofed everything but one cabinet and drawer and I’ve filled those with containers and toys that he can play with while I am in the kitchen. He feels accomplished because he’s opening and closing things and pulling them out and I am able to get things done because he is occupied.

4. Have a bag of necessities that stays in the car.

We’ve only owned a car for about six months since moving from the city and it didn’t take me long to learn that I needed to have a bag in the car that just stayed in there. It’s full of all of my necessities while we are out and about. I have a soft and warm blanket, like this Winnie the Pooh fleece blanket. It’s filled with diapers and wipes, his favorite Mickey Mouse toy to keep Macks entertained, and baby food pouches in case he gets hungry.

5. Write it down.

Because I have so much going on all of the time, I keep a pen and paper nearby or in my purse at all times so that when I think of something that I need to do or something that worked throughout the day, I write it down. I go back to that list each night and catch up and check things off of that list.

What do you do to make parenting easier?

Image : Getty

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Dad and son hugging

The Most Precious Hug I’ve Ever Witnessed

I’ve never been a hugger. I’m not really sure why, but I’ve just never really loved hugs. I feel loved more through quality time, a well-timed compliment, or a thoughtful gesture. My husband, on the other hand, loves a good hug. My mother-in-law once told me that even as a little boy, he had absolutely no space bubble. He loved nothing more than to cuddle up on her lap, reading books all the live long day.

As you can imagine, my non-hugging ways and his hugging ones are sometimes at odds. Over the years we’ve been married, I’ve become more of a hugger, but even before having kids, he would mention how excited he was to have kids, because maybe — just maybe — one of them would end up being a snuggly, hug-lover too.

About four years into our marriage, our oldest daughter arrived and we became parents for the first time. We were over the moon and completely smitten with her. My husband was elated to be a father and was so sweet and attentive to her every need. As she grew though, as much as she did love her Daddy, she proved that she had taken after her mama in the snuggling department. Much to my husband’s disappointment, she wasn’t exactly the hugger he had been hoping for — though she did have plenty of other redeeming qualities.

I felt a little bit sad that fate had dealt him a raw deal with two loves in his life who did not share his affinity for cuddling, but he held out hope that perhaps one of our other future offspring might fill the void one day. Then, when our daughter was two-and-a-half, we welcomed Baby #2 into the world: our sweet, little Clive.

Clive could not have been more different from his big sister. Where she was often stoic and not easily impressed, he was gregarious and loved being engaged. She didn’t laugh for the first time until she was nearly 6 months old, but he laughed easily and often starting early, before 3 months. She was a curly-haired brunette and he had the lightest blonde, stick straight hair. She was dainty and delicate and more cautious; he was a bit like a bull in a china shop — bulldozing through his days with gusto. The most notable difference though, was that this kid LOVED to cuddle. If he could’ve been snuggled all day long, he would’ve been perfectly happy. He loved to be held and snuggled and would happily sit in our laps for as long as we would engage him. He adored (and still does adore) any and all human contact.

As you can imagine, this development thrilled my husband’s heart. He had finally gotten his snuggly baby, and I will never forget the first time Clive went up and hugged him completely out of the blue and of his own volition.

My husband was making our daily espresso at his coffee bar as we rushed to get ready for church one Sunday morning. As he was distractedly pulling shots and pouring them into cups, he noticed a tugging on his leg. He looked down to see Clive there, putting his arms up saying, “Hug you Dada.” It was such a sweet thing to see, as my husband abandoned his coffee pot and crouched down to our son’s level for the most precious hug I’ve ever witnessed. The pure joy that washed over my husband’s face and the look of complete peace on my son’s face as they shared this hug will forever be stored away in my mama-memory-bank. They hugged for a good 20-30 seconds, and I was able to pull my phone out of my pocket and quickly capture the moment in a photo. I’m so glad I did, because it is one that I look back at often, telling my husband, “Awww! Remember that?”

My husband is so thankful he finally got his “hugger,” and truth be told, our boy’s penchant for nonstop human touch has brought his sister and I around too. Maybe we are huggers now after all.

Image : Disney Baby

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Song and dad playing outside together

15 Simple Ways to Show Your Child Love

I love my daughter to the moon and back, but sometimes I wonder if she knows it. Even though she can’t tell me that she understands my love for her yet, there are many little ways that I’ve found to show her my love, and over time I’ve seen in her responses that it’s pretty clear that she knows she is loved.

Here are 15 simple things you can do with your child or grandchild to show them love.

1. Snuggle.

Nothing says “I love you” like a good snuggle session – even the tiniest babies can understand the love behind this. Hugs and squeezes, cuddling in bed in the morning — all of these things are an important part of building a strong bond between you and your child.

2. Drop everything.

We live in a world that is “go, go, go” and I will be the first to admit that I often find myself more attached to my phone, computer, and daily schedule than I should. I realize that work needs to get done, but make sure that sometimes you just drop what you’re doing, put away your phone and computer, and just take time to focus on your child. You don’t have to do anything exciting. Just being there and being present will demonstrate love.

3. Talk.

Just because they might not be able to talk back yet, doesn’t mean you can’t still talk to them. Tell your little one stories of your childhood, tell them about your favorite things – just talking to them is a way to show love.

4. Listen.

This is something I’m working on. I’m pretty good at talking to my daughter, but I don’t always think to stop and listen, since she’s not really speaking many coherent words yet. But, recently, I just stopped to listen, showing her non-verbal signs of active listening and she babbled on and on for about five minutes straight! Give your baby a listen – you’ll both be able to appreciate it.

5. Sing!

Hearing the sweet (at least to their baby ears) sound of your voice is a special and intimate way to show your child your affection. Sing some of your favorites – they’ll stick with your child as they get older. Or, even if you’re not much of a singer, make up a special song for your little one that is “their song” and sing it to them often.

6. Smile.

The simple act of smiling with and at your baby will provide them with non-verbal cues from you that they are loved.

7. Say “I love you.”

There is no such thing as telling your baby that you love them too often. I’m pretty sure I tell my daughter I love her at least 18,000 times a day, but at least she’ll never have any doubts.

8. Have a dance party.

Turn on some fun tunes and dance around with your baby – nothing says I love you like having fun together!

9. Give butterfly kisses.

I forgot all about butterfly kisses, but they are a sweet way to share your affections with your little.

10. Get down on their level.

Compared to our babies we are giants lumbering above them, so take the time to show you care by getting down on their level. Lay down on your belly next to them while they’re having tummy time or sit criss-cross-applesauce on the rug with them while they’re stacking blocks. This will most definitely make your little one feel important and cherished.

11. Go on an outing.

An outing doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, but take a walk around the neighborhood, go visit the neighbor’s chickens, just do something fun and novel together. Getting out and doing activities together is a part of bonding for the both of you.

12. Build a fort.

Even teeny tiny babies enjoy the changes between dark and light, and building a simple blanket fort (even just throwing a blanket over the dining room table!) can be a bit of fun and show love.

13. Explore together.

Walk around your house or neighborhood and check out all the things there are to see. Tell your little one about the photos hanging on the wall or what some of the kitchen utensils in your drawers are used for. This is a fun activity that will also help your little one learn about the world.

14. Be silly.

Have fun together – don’t take yourself too seriously. Be silly with your baby. Make funny faces and do funny voices when you read them stories. Your baby will love it.

Image : Getty

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Screenshot of Smartphone apps page

10 Must-Have Apps for New Moms and Dads

Even before Judah arrived, I always knew I would be the kind of mom who is on the go and plugged in, because I’m simply the kind of woman who’s already on the go and plugged in! In those very early days as a bleary-eyed new parent, when Judah was still just a tiny newborn, my smartphone was a lifesaver.

From my experience, as a total geek mom who loves her gadgets and tech, there are so many apps out there for new moms and dads – and it can feel overwhelming about which app does what, and if you’ll really even need it. After lots of app downloads since Judah’s been born, here are my 10 favorite tried-and-true must-have apps for every new parent: from logging diapers to meals, ordering baby essentials, and even just capturing those one of kind moments to share with family and friends – these apps have it all!

Apps to Keep Tabs on Baby’s Day

Baby Nursing/Breastfeeding

This was, hands down, my favorite, most-used app when Judah was first born. For nursing moms, this free app (with In App Purchases) is an absolute essential. You can comprehensively track your nursing and breastfeeding data, from timed nursing (including from which side) all with just a simple tap on your screen. You can also record your baby’s growth data and store videos, pictures, and sound. The Premium version ($3.99) includes tracking support for Bottles, Diapers, Pumping, Sleeping, Solids, Bath Time, Doctor’s Visits, Medication, and Vaccinations. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Eat Sleep: Simple Baby Tracking

This free app does exactly what it says: it allows you to track your baby’s diapers, what and when they’ve eaten, and their sleep habits. You can even look at baby’s data over time, from daily, weekly, and monthly views, too. When you’re feeling like a “mombie” with your newborn, a baby tracking app like this is just the thing for sleep-deprived parents! Available in the App Store.

Apps to Help Keep Baby’s Essentials at Hand

Diapers.com

This free app from Diapers.com is perfect for new moms and dads who can barely find time to get out of the house and to the store. You can make sure you’ll always be stocked with diapers for your newborn with this app on your phone, because it makes ordering diapers as simple as just a few clicks! You also get free shipping on all orders over $49 and shipping only takes 1-2 days. And you can get more than just diapers with this app, so it’s perfect for staying stocked up on baby essentials whenever you need them. Available in the App Store.

Babies “R” Us Mobile Shopping App

This free app came in handy even before Judah was born: we could update our registry right from our phones! Once Judah arrived a few weeks earlier than expected, we were able to make updates to our registry as friends and family wanted to send us any essentials we needed for our preemie. In addition to updating your registry, you can find items available for in-store pickup and even order them right from your phone. A handy app to have as you pin down necessities for baby, both big and small. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Apps to Help Baby Get to Sleep

Sleepy Sounds

This free app was definitely an essential when Judah developed colic, and we had to break out an entire arsenal of new techniques to help him get to sleep. Sleepy Sounds features lullabies, white noise, and nature sounds to help baby get to sleep. You can set a timer for each sound, too. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

La Luna: The Story Project

The one iPad app ($1.99) I have to recommend is perhaps one of the most beautiful on this list. Featuring Pixar’s award-winning animated short, La Luna, the iPad app transforms the cartoon into an amazing interactive storybook where you can watch the film or read a storybook version of it, as well as watch behind-the-scenes footage. With its gorgeous imagery and soothing soundtrack, this app is perfect for bedtime. (Judah loves this app.) Available in the App Store.

Apps to Capture Magical Moments With Baby

Instagram

This free app is perfect for capturing all your magical, precious moments with baby – and add cool filters to them, too! I am a big fan of Instagram, especially as a way of capturing those moments. It can also record up to 15 seconds of video, so Instagram is a great way of creating baby videos that get right to the adorableness without any filler. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Dayli

As much as I love free apps, sometimes it’s totally worth it to pay for apps that do something truly unique – like watch your baby grow every single day with this amazing photo journal app! You can take a photo of baby’s face every day (or any interval you choose) and Dayli compiles a time-lapse video of all the photos. It even includes guides to line up faces perfectly each time. Available for $2.99 in the App Store.

Apps to Share Your Family Fun

Skype

With family and friends all over the globe, Skype has been the perfect way for Judah to keep in touch with all of the people who love him. Not only does he get to talk with them, he gets to see them too, with Skype’s free video call service. So long as who we’re calling has a webcam or even a smartphone camera, we can have video chat moments together as extended family whenever we want! Available in the App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore.

Shutterfly

This free app is a mobile extension of the popular digital personalized photo products and service website. With it, you can easily create personalized photo books and other gifts right from your phone’s camera roll. Trust me, you’ll be taking millions of pictures of your baby, so this is a convenient way to bundle your memories of baby each year – and a super easy way to send out sweet grandparent gifts during the holidays! Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Image : Disney Baby

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Even Ballerinas Need a Hug

The day my three-year-old daughter was asked to leave ballet class I thought I would die of embarrassment. Sure, she and her twin sister had stirred up some trouble in toddler soccer class. It seemed the "coach" didn't appreciate them turning the goal net into a spaceship, much to the delight of the other kids, but not to the other parents. However, ballet was supposed to be the thing my daughters would naturally gravitate towards. Not because they were innately graceful - they weren't - or in love with tutus and princesses - they didn't care - but because I had spent the vast majority of my childhood as a dancer.

The first time Ms. Audrey, the ballet teacher, brought my daughter into the waiting area, she very nicely explained that my daughter told her she didn’t really feel like participating. So the two of us just sat outside the class until she got bored enough to go back in. 

A week later at the second lesson, my daughter spent most of the class underneath the piano, feeling the vibrations that the strings were making, and told the teacher she wanted to figure out how the sound came out.  Needless to say, there wasn’t much dancing to be done that day.

The third class was an all out rebellion.  According to Ms. Audrey, my daughter danced when she felt like it, questioned the teacher’s choice in music, and created a veritable conga line at one point, upending the entire plan for the class. Hence the request to remove my daughter from ballet class altogether. 

All of the other little girls followed the teacher without hesitation – or at least they tried. They pointed and flexed their feet, made giant suns with their arms stretched overhead, and waited their turn to leap across the floor.  Was I proud of my daughter that she was such a non-conformist, literally marching to the beat of her own drum? I am ashamed to admit, I was not.

In that moment when the teacher brought my sullen daughter into the waiting area filled with the other moms and babysitters – all of whom had witnessed my daughters’ previous exiles  I was disappointed. I couldn’t wrap my head around why my daughter just wouldn’t do what was expected, just be like the other 3-year old little ballerinas, yet again. And, of course, I wondered where I had gone wrong.

My daughter climbed into my lap clad in her pastel pink leotard and tights with a giant pink tutu splayed out around her, and snuggled in deep as I wrapped my arms around her in a tulle-filled hug.

“Is there a reason you won’t listen to Ms. Audrey?” I asked her.

“That’s not how I like to dance,” she said.

“OK,” I responded, “but that’s what ballet is. You have to learn the real steps so you can put them together to make one long beautiful ballet.”

I could see her process this idea in her mind. 

She squeezed me tighter.

“I’d rather be out here with you,” she said. Then she looked up at me thoughtfully, “Maybe when I’m six I’ll try again.”

“Sounds like a plan.” I agreed.

Though secretly I hoped that no matter how old she got, she would keep dancing in her own unique way – and coming back to me for a reassuring hug.

Image : Getty

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Dad and baby in stroller on the sidewalk

3 Simple Tips for Making Your Baby Gear Last

Having a great car seat, stroller, high chair and play yard is essential to a baby registry list. Sometimes, purchasing these pieces for your little ones can seem like an investment. I know whenever we’ve bought essential pieces for Soren, my first thought was, “How can I make this last and stay nice not only for Soren but for future siblings?” Because we all know that babies are MESSY. It’s almost a right of passage as a parent to constantly feel sticky, slobbered on, and have stains everywhere. And I’m sure we ALL avoid wearing white and purchasing any white furnishing for our homes! I know I do! ;)

So, how can we keep baby gear clean and make it last from one baby to the next? Check out these simple tips on making your gear look like new throughout the years.

1. Use Wipes for Everything

I use baby wipes for EVERYTHING now. Maybe it’s because they are also within arm’s reach? In any case, wipes are incredibly useful and such a multi-purpose product. I recommend keeping an extra bag of wipes sealed in the car, in your kitchen, and with your stroller. If baby makes a mess, use wipes to quickly get it up, so you prevent staining and dirt build up. Wipe down straps, buckles, trays, and fabric to quickly clean up small messes when you’re on the go! You can also purchase saline wipes. These work great too. I also recommend purchasing a few travel wipe dispensers and keeping them handy as suggested above.

2. Remember the Power of a Bib!

Bibs are great for keeping baby’s clothes clean, but they are also great for catching things that could potentially land on baby gear. Whether your little one is snacking on the go or eating a meal in his/her high chair, always make sure to put on a bib. Store bibs on a command hook behind your high chair for quick access, and always keep a few in your diaper bag for on-the-go needs! We especially love these waterproof bibs with the catch-all pockets. They are so easy to clean!

3. Give It a Regular Spring Cleaning

Be sure to set aside time every few weeks/months depending on what is needed to take the padding off your gear and run it through a delicate wash cycle. Let these air dry to prevent any shrinking. Don’t forget to use a high chair/gear cleaner to really wipe up messes and make sure your gear is free of anything icky. Maintaining the cleanliness of your gear day by day in simple ways will make it so much easier to keep up with and clean!

Looking for gear to add to your collection? Check out more Disney Baby gear over here!

Image : Disney Baby

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