20 Baby Memory Books & Baby Journals

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Recording baby milestones and adding photos to a baby book. It’s something we all want to have done but maybe don’t want to do. If filling out all that information sounds hard, you need to check out these options. From easy-to-use apps to books with written prompts, you’ll get lots of help recording those magical memories.

Inclusive for All Families

With neutral language about families and holidays from several religions included (just remove the ones that don't apply to your family), the RubyRoo Baby Memory Book Baby Journal tries to make itself inclusive to all families. The book covers pregnancy to age 5 and covers milestones, vacations, celebrations and more, including six blank pages for photos and memories specific to your family. There are three covers to choose from: floral, woodland and adventure-themed.

Available at amazon.com, $30.

Three Years of Memories

Document the first three years of your child's life with this handy baby book. In addition to space to record the basics about your birth and family, there are lots of fun prompts about your home, baby's visitors, daily routines at different ages, favorite activities, holiday celebrations, and friends. There's an expandable pocket at the back of the book for storing keepsakes, with an elastic enclosure to keep things all together.

Available at quartoknows.com, $22.99.

Gender-Neutral & Gorgeous

This gender-neutral journal covers your pregnancy and the first year of baby's life in style, with a linen cover, gold embossed title, illustrated end pages and a linen box to store the book in. The guided journal features prompts you'll look forward to filling out, including favorite toys, funny things baby is doing and memorable moments for each month.

Available at writetomeshop.com, $59.95.

photo: C.R. Gibson

Go Beyond the Book

This baby memory book from C.R. Gibson, "A Book of Baby's Firsts," includes a washable-ink pad so you can document and remember just how teeny your baby's feet and hands were. The Bundle Bright line also includes the smaller and very Instagrammable "Our Magical Memories" ($6.77), which comes with 25 flippable cards you fill in with baby's milestones. Pages can be rearranged however you like.

Available at amazon.com; $16.79 for the rainbow cover "Book of Baby's Firsts," and $19.9 for the zebra cover.

Helpful Photo Prompts

In addition to lots of space for your photos, this interactive photo journal from Artifact Uprising includes written photo prompts to help you tell your child's story: bath time snaps, favorite spots to snuggle, the day baby met special people. Thanks to the four-ring binder, you can rearrange or remove any pages that don't work for your family. The customizable construction also means you can add extra pages where you want them.

Available at artifactuprising.com, from $99.

Focus on the Family

When We Became Three documents mom and dad's relationship and pregnancy as well as the milestones for baby's first and second year. And yes, there is a When We Became Four book. Clever questions and checklists make this book fun for couples to fill out, which is a big plus for busy new parents.

Available at amazon.com, $11.29.

A Walk on the Wild Side

Record the first 12 months of baby's life with National Geographic's Welcome Little One keepsake baby book. In addition to spots to record baby's amazing milestones, the book includes cute animal photos, heartwarming poems and quotes, and stickers for each monthly milestone. This is one book you and your child will love to page through for years to come. 

Available at amazon.com, $20.33.

Time Machine

Share with your little one what the world was like when they were born with This Is Your Book, by graphic artist and father Ryan Maconochie. In addition to recording baby’s vitals with sleek visuals, this book includes prompts about current events, pop culture, your favorite things and musings on baby, like which names you scratched off the list.

Available at amazon.com, $17.95.

The Total Package

The Story of You has thought of everything new parents could want in a baby book. There are prompts you can fill out (about pregnancy, funny moments, and holiday memories), plus open spaces to record special moments and add photos as you like. The binder format lets you add, remove and reorder pages. And you can buy additional pages to record circumstances such as adoption, foster care, a NICU stay, infertility, and a heavenly baby.

Available at emilyley.com, $62.

Scrapbook App

No matter how far away your loved ones are, they can feel like they are with you for all of baby’s firsts with the free Moment Garden app. All those precious moments are backed up and kept private for you to share with those you choose. Want a physical book too? Print a hardcover or softcover book whenever you like.

Available at momentgarden.com; the app is free, and a book costs $9-$49.

Black-and-White Dream

The Dreamcatcher black-and-white baby book from Etsy shop Mushybooks offers a sleek, gender-neutral design. Its 50 pages include all the moments you would expect from a baby book (birth story, firsts, favorites. etc.) with an aesthetic that's clean and simple so your baby can shine. Pages can be added or removed as desired.

Available at Etsy shop Mushybooks, $75.56+.

Mini Brag Book

Take photo books to tiny dimensions with Minibooks from Social Print Studio. Compile all your favorite baby photos into laminated, spiral-bound photo books. Slip them into your purse or pocket, so you always have pictures of mini-you to share with friends and family. This makes a great gift idea for grandparents too!

Available at socialprintstudio.com, 2 books for $16.

Not-So-Precious Moments

Take a non-traditional approach to memorykeeping and celebrate all of those alternative baby moments with Baby’s First Tattoo, by Jim Mullen. With this humorous approach to baby books, you'll never forget those other important moments, like: baby’s first tantrum in a crowded grocery store or places baby crawls that parents didn’t think possible.

Available at amazon.com, $10.39.

Box It Up

Not every baby milestone fits into a book. The fabric boxes of The Library: Baby Keepsake Box can be displayed like books but hold so much more than a traditional tome. In this handcrafted memory box, you can save baby’s favorite blanket, a lock of hair, the first pair of shoes and more. There are even vertical files for important documents or photos.

Available at savor.us, $89.95.

Email Reminders

Do you have trouble remembering to jot down those milestones? My Own Little Story is an online baby book that offers free email reminders to help you keep track of baby’s special moments. It even has a snooze button for those milestones baby hasn’t hit yet. Print your book once you have 10 milestones, or wait to create a larger book with up to 36 milestones or 72 printed pages.

Available at myownlittlestory.com, $30-$78.99.

Easy Phone Photos

Chatbooks took a candid look at the craziness that is motherhood and offered a supremely simple solution to printing photos from your phone. The app will automatically arrange your photos in chronological order for you. All you have to do is add captions and pick your cover to capture all of baby’s special moments. 

Available at chatbooks.com; $5+.

Nature's Approach

With an emphasis on your baby’s interactions with the natural world, The First 1000 Days: A Baby Journal by Nikki McClure lets you record your baby’s birth story as well as their first tree, moon and garden. The bold papercut illustrations will captivate even the youngest eyes.

Available at amazon.com, $15.95.

A Noteworthy Book

The Mom's One Line a Day book simplifies the baby book by letting moms write one short note a day to document an event, experience or that day's feelings. With room for five years' worth of notes, you can document the magic of your little one's early years without too much effort.

Available at amazon.com, $12.79.

Love Letters

Letters to My Baby allows you to write your child letters about your hopes, dreams and memories. Once written, you seal them until your child is old enough to read them. There are prompts for each of the 12 letters to help you craft what you write. 

Available at amazon.com, $11.24.

The Guilt-Free Baby Book

No need to spend countless hours creating a scrapbook-like memory book because this book from Lucy Darling has done the work for you. Available in a variety of themes, there's space to document firsts, favorites and monthly milestones amid beautifully designed pages.

Available at lucydarling.com, $34.99.

 

Katie L. Carroll, Jane Putnam & Eva Cerise

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We Heart Gummy Grins! 15 Teething Tips for Babies That Really Work

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The first sign of teething? So much drool; so little sleep. Add to that cranky, clingy and weepy behavior and a whole lot of chewing and you know those chompers are coming through. Not sure how to soothe a teething baby? We’ve rounded up our best tips to ease your child’s discomfort.

photo: iStock

1. Rub baby’s gums. Wash your hands, and then give your baby a gentle gum massage. The pressure from your fingers will counter the pressure of the teeth breaking through. It will feel good and offer your little one some relief from sore, swollen gums.

2. Refrigerate a pacifier. Chilling a pacifier will make it even more soothing and may lightly numb the gums to dull the pain.

3. Wear baby-safe (and baby-approved!) teething necklaces. Teething necklaces look stylish and give your child an easy-to-grab item to gnaw on. Check out our roundup of some of the most stylish teething jewelry.

4. Try teething drops. Teething drops can be a life-saver for sleep-deprived parents. Ask your pediatrician for recommended products.

photo: iStock

5. Make milk popsicles. Some babies and toddlers refuse to eat while teething, mostly out of discomfort. Keep your little one fed and hydrated while soothing those gums by making milk or formula popsicles. Use BPA-free popsicle forms and fill with either breastmilk or formula. Popsicles can get messy as they start to melt, so slip a bib on your babe and place them on a washable towel or blanket, or over flooring that can be cleaned easily.

6. Serve frozen apple chunks. Cut a large piece of apple, let it chill in the freezer for an hour or more, and offer it to your baby. As with all foods and toys that your child gums on, stay close by to make sure no pieces break off, which could present a choking hazard. A frozen bagel works too. Place frozen fruit in a mesh feeder to reduce choking risk.

7. Try different types of teethers. As you know, babies have strong preferences on lots of things, and teethers are no exception. For shopping help, check out our list of top teethers, from wood and rubber options to teethers you can freeze for cooling comfort.

photo: iStock

8. Wear your baby as much as possible. If your teething tot is clingy, strap them into a structured carrier, facing inward. They'll feel comfort from being close to you, and you can still get things done. Win-win.

9. Keep baby’s face dry. Wiping the waterfall of drool that comes with teething from your baby’s mouth, chin and cheeks helps prevent skin irritation, which can add to a baby's discomfort during teething time.

10. Freeze a wet, textured washcloth. Moisten a textured washcloth, wring it dry, and place in the freezer before giving it to your baby. Terrycloth or a ribbed texture will offer added relief by creating friction as baby gnaws on it.

11. Refrigerate a small spoon. A spoon is something your child can hold on their own, chew on, push against their gums, and even play with to distract themselves from teething pain. Keep a few spoons in the fridge so you always have one at the ready. Those new teeth can really sneak up on you.

12. Serve chilled purees. Put pureed foods in the refrigerator prior to feeding your baby so the food is cool on their gums. It will feel nice and may encourage your child to eat more.

photo: iStock

13. Become a chew toy. Wash your hands in cold water and then offer a chilled pinky for your child to gum on. You can also show your child how to gum on their own fingers, to help them self-soothe.

14. Give your child a foot massage. Studies in reflexology have identified connections between toes and the head and teeth. Gently massage your child’s foot while focusing on the toes to see if that provides any comfort.

15. Offer extra cuddles. Cuddles are the best treatment. If you're nursing, offer the breast more often than usual to ensure your baby is nourished and to provide additional comfort. Bottle feeding? Snuggle during and after feeding time.

—Jane Putnam

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Say after me: Getaways with young kids are not a vacation, they’re a trip. Now that you’ve set the right expectations, check out these baby travel hacks that will make your trip a little less work and a lot more enjoyable for you and everyone else involved. Whether you’re flying with a baby or taking a road trip, these are the keys to a good getaway.

photo: iStock

1. Plan activities.
For older babies who are active and staying up for longer stretches, plan simple activities to pass the time and keep them engaged. One idea: Bring a water bottle filled with pom-poms for your little one to take out and put back in. And bring interactive books to hold your babe’s attention.

2. Ship diapers and wipes to your destination.
You have enough stuff to squeeze into suitcases. Use a service like Amazon to send diapers and wipes ahead of time to your destination. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask them if they’ll accept deliveries prior to your arrival.

3. Nurse or feed your baby during takeoff.
This is an important one. To help your little one deal with pressure changes in the cabin during takeoff (and landing!) that could make them uncomfortable, nurse or give your baby a bottle at that time. The sucking distracts your child and alleviates much of the discomfort.

4. Request a portable crib in your hotel reservation.
Most hotels will offer a portable crib at no extra cost. Request it in your reservation, so you can make other arrangements if the hotel informs you they can’t provide it. Pro tip: Bring your own crib sheets with you. They won’t take up much space in your luggage and will be soft and smell familiar to help your child drift off to sleep in their new location.

photo: iStock

5. Baby-wear to keep hands free.
Definitely bring your baby carrier or wrap. This frees up your hands for carrying luggage and other important items, like handing your ID and boarding pass to TSA. Plus, being close to you will likely keep your baby calm and happy in unfamiliar, sometimes stressful, environments. If you’re traveling by car, keep your wrap on or your carrier easily accessible, like on the floor right by baby’s carseat, so it’s quick and easy to put on at every stop.

6. Wear a badge to hold your ID, ticket and baby’s birth certificate.
You know those clear name-card badge holders they distribute at conferences, with a lanyard? Use one of those to hold your license, boarding pass and baby’s birth certificate. No digging through your purse or running the risk of it falling out of your pocket. Simple, accessible and no fuss.

photo: iStock 

7. Simplify the car seat situation.
If you’re flying, you can usually check your car seat at the ticketing desk for no charge (call ahead to confirm with your airline). Make sure they put a plastic bag over it (you can also purchase a sturdy bag for your car seat online). Or, if you want to eliminate the hassle of bringing it with you, arrange to include a car seat in your rental car. If you’re taking ride-sharing services, check their app to see if they offer cars with car seats in that area.

8. Pack odor-blocking diaper sacks.
A blow-out at 30,000 feet or in the middle of the desert with no trashcan in sight doesn’t have to be a total disaster. Pack Arm & Hammer diaper dispenser bags or even just plastic grocery bags to mask the smell of the dirty diaper. Nobody wants to lug a stinky diaper around or assault others’ noses, but at least this will make it a little more pleasant.

9. Pack a baby essentials kit.
Keep a pacifier, wipes, sanitizing wipes, pacifier wipes and other essentials easily accessible, in your purse or diaper bag. This goes for flights and road trips. When there’s a mess or a howling baby, you’ll want to access these items as quickly as possible.

photo: iStock

10. Bring snacks—for baby and you.
Pack simple, low-mess snacks for your baby, like puffs or pouches. And it’s important you stay fed as well. Pack protein-filled snacks to keep you energized during your travels and a decadent treat as well. If drama ensues, you’re going to want the good stuff to help you through it.

11. Keep extra clothes in your carry-on bag.
Keep an extra outfit for baby and a shirt for you in your carry-on or diaper bag for air and car travel. The goal is to keep it easily accessible so when a blowout, spit-up or other potentially outfit-ruining scenarios happen, you can solve it without having to wait for landing and checked baggage retrieval.

12. Think location, location, location for the hotel room.
When you book your hotel room, ask for it to be away from the elevators, pool and vending/ice machines. While you can’t control if the hotel room is perfectly noise-free, choosing your room carefully will help make it a quiet space.

photo: iStock

13. Pack a noisemaker to help baby sleep.
Increase the quiet factor in your room by bringing a small, portable noise machine with you to mask noise from other rooms. Don’t want to haul something else with you? Download free white noise or wave sounds to play from your phone or tablet.

14. Do a thorough check of the hotel and car before leaving.
Before checking out or returning the rental car, look under beds, under seats, the trunk and glove compartment, because something will likely be left there. And always double-check that your baby’s favorite lovey and stuffie is with you at every transition and location change.

—Jane Putnam

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Hop to it and fill up your baby’s Easter basket with these 17 gift ideas. From soft outfits and books to sweet stuffies and toys, they’re all candy-free but as sweet as can be. Read on for baby Easter basket ideas your little bunny will love.

Lamb Rattle Booties

These GUND baby booties will look adorable while keeping your newborn's toes warm and cozy. These sweet lamb booties (size 0-3 months) attach with hook and loop fasteners and have a gentle rattle inside to entrance your little one. Machine washable.

Available at amazon.com, $15.

 

A Book About Beatrix Potter

Best known for her children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, English author Beatrix Potter wrote 23 children's stories and was a talented artist. In this sweet rhyming board book, we learn about her love for animals and how she left more than 4,000 acres to the National Trust. Beatrix Potter Wrote Stories is part of Gibbs Smith's Little Naturalists book series, which includes children's books on other famous naturalists, including Jane Goodall, John James Audobon, George Washington Carver, Wangari Maathai and more.

Available at gibbs-smith.com, $9.99.

Cozy Jogger Set

Your little one will welcome spring in style with this jogger & sweatshirt set from Maisonette's new Maison Me Baby line of elevated everyday essentials. The French terry Jones Sweat Set also comes in a dusty red stripe. In soft tones of blue, pink, sage and gray, these striped and solid pieces can be mixed and matched for endless adorable combinations.

Available at maisonette.com, $40.

A Cement Truck Friend

Guaranteed to make a child's eyes light up and safe for all ages, this cuddly cement truck from Hess will be your child's best buddy, with its realistic truck details, squeeze-activated lights, and sweet, smiling face. Soft enough to snuggle with at naptime and sturdy enough for playtime, this cement mixer plays two song favorites "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and "The Alphabet Song." Squeeze the roof lights to activate nightlight mode, which shuts off after 15 minutes.

Available at hesstoytruck.com, $29.99. 

A Tasteful Teether

With two tasty ears to nibble on, soft wood to grab onto, and absorbent fabric to catch dribbles, there's a lot for babies to love about this soothing teether. When teeth are popping up, wet the fabric and freeze it for a nice, numbing treat. We also love the bunny-themed silicone & wood teethers ($14). They have a nubby texture for sore gums and come in light gray, lilac, blush pink and bright aqua.

Available at louloulollipop.com, $12.

Bodysuit for Some-Bunny Special

Your little bunny will look adorable in this organic-cotton bodysuit made without toxic chemicals, pesticides or artificial dyes. The sweet designs from mini + meep are hand-painted with watercolor and ink by the company's founder, based in Asheville, NC. When you purchase this bodysuit, the company provides four meals to children in need.

Available at miniandmeep.com, $27.99. 

Sun Protection Hat

With warmer weather on its way, this is the time to invest in a cute sun hat. This wide-brim hat provides full sun protection and stays on thanks to a tie chin strap. It has UPF 50+ sun protection and keeps baby cool with lightweight, quick-dry material and a wicking liner that pulls moisture away from baby's head. The adjustable toggle customizes the size for your baby's head and grows with them. Available in 0-6 months, 9-18 months and 2T-4T and in lots of cute colors and patterns.

Available at greensproutsbaby.com, $14.99.

A Bunny to Love

This plush bunny from GUND's new Tinkle Crinkle line is both a soft, snuggly companion and a sensory toy with colors and textures to explore. There's a flower-shaped, nubby teether for chewing and a ring on top to hang this bunny from a car seat or stroller for outings.

Available at gund.com, $15. 

Foot Finder Toys

Twiddle Ons foot-finder toys slip on like socks and give kids hours of feetie fun. The colorful sock toys have built-in rattles, crinkly material and colorful designs to keep kids captivated. Best of all, these smart socks are designed to stay on babies' feet.

Available at sockons.com, $13.50.

A Cozy Quilt

Copper Pearl is known for luxurious fabrics with darling designs, and this three-layer Easter quilt is no exception. Made from a polyester/rayon blend, it's super soft, breathable and slightly stretchy. And at a generous size (46x46), it will snuggle with your child through toddlerhood. 

Available at copperpearl.com, $59.95.

The Coolest Shades

Get ready for the sunny, summery days ahead with a pair of baby sunglasses, like these from Babiators. With UV400 lenses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection, they'll protect baby's eyes from the sun's rays. And the flexible rubber frames and shatter-resistant lenses resist breakage. Available in a variety of colors and styles (even heart shaped!), you can also purchase a silicone strap to keep your child from taking them off. 

Available at babiators.com, $22-$36.

Literature for Your Littlest

In Babylit's alphabet primer E Is for Easter, your child will learn the ABCs while enjoying fun, vintage-looking drawings that celebrate Easter and spring, from Easter egg hunts to the beauty of spring flowers.

Available at babylit.com, $9.99.

The Easter Story

This is an Easter gift you'll want to give a week in advance. It builds excitement for the holiday while celebrating the meaning of Easter. The Easter Story Egg comprises a hardcover book and seven nesting Easter eggs. Each hand-carved wooden egg corresponds to a rhyming story in the book about the significance of the days leading up to Easter, starting with Palm Sunday. 

Available at starkidscompany.com, $34.99.

Cuddly Soother

For babies under 6 months or without teeth, a Wubbanub pacifier is a treasured friend, so pop a duck, lamb or bunny into your basket. It's soft enough to cuddle, has a durable pacifier and (parents, listen up!) the weight of the toy helps the pacifier stay in your child's mouth while they sleep, so there are fewer cries for help reinserting the pacifier.

Available at amazon.com, $17.95.

Eggs-tra Special Toy

These Tomy Hide & Squeak Eggs will stay a favorite long after Easter is over. Younger babies will love to pull off the shells to reveal the colorful eggs underneath (and to give these toys a good chew). Older babies can match the colors of the shells and eggs, push on the egg to hear it squeak, and sort the eggs into the right spot in the egg carton. Each has a unique shape on the bottom and fits only in one spot of the carton.

Available at amazon.com, $13.42.

All-in-One Basket and Toys

Soft and sweet, this basket is filled with an age-appropriate plush set of four holiday-themed toys from GUND: a carrot crinkle toy, a squeaky egg, a chick rattle and a bunny that makes sounds.

Available at amazon.com, $28.95

Eat Your Veggies

This carrot rattle is cute, cuddly and supports creativity. Each rattle is handmade in 100% cotton by a female artisan, through a company that provides sustainable work for young women in Bangladesh.

Available at littlemarket.com, $14.

What will you be putting your little bunny’s Easter basket this year?

featured photo: Copper Pearl

—Jane Putnam and Eva Ingvarson Cerise

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Right when you get into a good groove with breastfeeding or bottles, it’s time to introduce solid foods. If you’re not sure which foods to try or how to introduce them, read on. Here are our top tips to ease your baby’s transition into solids.

photo: iStock/LightFieldStudios 

1. Know when baby’s ready. Around six months, look for signs that your baby is ready to start solid foods.

These may include:

  • Sitting up unassisted
  • No longer has the tongue-thrust reflex (which causes babies to push food out of their mouth)
  • Working on the pincer grip (pointer finger and thumb) and the ability to pick up items in their hands
  • Reaches for, or shows an interest in, the food you’re eating

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding or bottle-feeding exclusively for the first six months before introducing solids.

2. Learn which foods to avoid. Some foods are not safe to feed babies under a year old. Honey can cause a serious illness caused infant botulism, and cow’s milk is too difficult for baby’s system to digest. Very salty or sugary foods should also be avoided. Also, if you and your partner have food allergies, you may want to avoid certain foods or introduce them one at at time. Talk to your pediatrician about which foods you may want to avoid.

3. Breastfeed or bottle feed before the meal. When you first start solids, the goal isn’t for baby to get full. Most of their nutrition and calories should still come from breast milk or formula. Because your baby is learning to eat and may become easily frustrated, it’s best not to do it when they’re hungry. Breastfeed or give your child a bottle about an hour before offering solid food, and your baby may be more receptive to trying the new foods.

making-baby-food

photo: Frédérique Voisin-Demery via Flickr

4. Have the right tools on hand. Not sure what bowl or spoon to get? There are a lot of baby food tools out there, and many can help make the introduction of solids a little smoother. Read our story on the best baby feeding tools, and stock up on a few.

5. Choose the right foods to start with. Talk to your pediatrician about which first foods and feeding methods they recommend for your baby—baby-led weaning or purees, mashed veggies or baby cereal mixed with formula/breastmilk. Grandma may suggest mixing cereal into baby’s bottle to help with sleep before they hit six months, but experts no longer recommend this. If you’re starting with mashed fruits and veggies, popular choices include avocado, bananas, carrots and sweet potatoes.

6. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. The goal is to get your child to eat and explore food, so try different flavors and colors to keep things interested. If you’re starting with purees, offer your child a very soft, small chunk of the same food to see which texture they prefer. Or if you’re starting with baby-led weaning, add some purees to the rotation.

7. Take your time. This is a new experience for both of you. Choose a set time in the day when you can allow yourself enough time to take it slowly, letting your child hold and gnaw on the spoon, figure out how to swallow, stick fingers in the food. You’ll also want to leave some time to clean up a messy baby and eating area.

baby-solids-pincer-grip

photo: Kona Gallagher via Flickr

8. Be prepared for a mess. It’s okay (and kind of fun) to let your child get messy with solids. Have your camera ready to capture the super cute moments. Your baby is exploring this new experience and will want to touch, smear and even spit out a few bites. Pro tip: Strip baby down to the diaper and put on a baby bib (here are some of our favorite bibs) before you start the meal.

9. Rejection is normal, and it’s okay. Your baby might spit out, gag and otherwise reject new foods several times before they accept them. That’s completely normal. It can take multiple attempts to get a baby to accept, or even try, a new food. Don’t give up, but don’t push too hard either. And if baby vomits or develops a rash after eating, check with your pediatrician before trying that food again. This could be a sign of a food allergy.

10. Try different textures. At around eight to to months, introduce foods with different textures, beyond the purees your baby is probably now used to eating. Watch your baby’s cues for readiness. Foods like soft pasta, yogurts and other steamed veggies and fruits are great to start with. Remember, your baby’s molars don’t come in until after 12 months, so avoid foods that are tough to chew. Looking for food inspiration? Try these easy vegetable recipes.

11. Avoid choking hazards. As you’re expanding the types of foods you feed your baby, be aware that some need to be cut up into very small pieces so your child won’t choke on them. These include hot dogs, grapes, chunks of meat or cheese, or raw vegetables. Avoid harder foods like seeds, nuts, popcorn or hard candies until your child is older.

12. Remember, every baby is different. Babies develop and learn skills at their own pace, so let that be your guide to when to introduce new foods. Use your well-child visits to talk to your baby’s healthcare provider about your approach, and of course feel free to reach out in between appointments with concerns.

—Jane Putnam

featured image: Aline Ponce via Pixabay 

 

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The Best Baby Shower DIY Craft Projects

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If your baby shower guests are crafty types, these fun projects will help them to get creativeand give mom useful, one-of-a-kind keepsakes that remind her of family and friends. Here are 10 DIY craft ideas for a memorable shower and a happy new mama!

Decorate Baby Hangers

New moms need lots of hangers for all of those cute, tiny baby clothes. Set up an art station and let your guests paint wooden hangers or wrap them with fabric, yarn or washi tape, whatever you think they'll enjoy. Your guests get a fun, creative activity, and the mom-to-be goes home with a practical gift. Win-win!

Decorate Shirts & Onesies with Bleach Pens

This simple, four-step DIY gives guests creative freedom in how they decorate a onesie. All it takes to make them is colored onesies (Carter's, Target and Walmart always have these in stock), freezer paper and bleach pens. The creator of this too-cute DIY, blogger Liz Stanley from the Say Yes blog, suggests that you either give onesies to guests in advance with a request to decorate it prior to the party, or that you turn it into a party activity. Visit Say Yes for the full step-by-step.

DIY Bow-Making Station

A baby girl can never have too many hair bows, and this craft station will help the mama-to-be get a good start. With a mix of supplies, including elastic, ribbon, buttons, a glue gun and a few other easy-to-get items, you'll have your very own bow-making station. Find out if the expectant mom has any preferences of color or style, and then let the bow-makers go to work. If a baby boy is on the way, switch out the hair bow-making station for a bow tie creation booth. Get more inspiration on Positively Oakes.

An ABC Book for Baby

A is for apple, B is for ball. Task shower guests with decorating 26 pages for every letter in the alphabet to create a one-of-a-kind ABC book for baby. Lay out lettered pages on a table along with markers, colored pencils, stamps and stencils. Inviting more than 26 guests? Add numbers zero through nine to the book so every guest has their own page. See the ABC book inspiration at A Girl and Glue Gun.

 

Diaper Decorating

In the early months, babies can go through 10-12 diapers a day. Help the parents-to-be prepare for this task by decorating diapers for them. From much-needed encouragement ("You can do it! One diaper closer to potty training!") to funny phrases ("I've got a surprise for you in my diaper..."), these diapers will add some fun to a task that isn't always pleasant. Have lots of diapers on hand so guests can do more than one. Find out more about how to set up your own diaper decorating station on the Driven by Decor Blog.

Hand-Decorated Burp Cloths

Babies go through lots of burp cloths, so help Mom and Dad out by filling up their supply. This fun craft project allows each guest to create a totally unique burp cloth, whether it's adorned with a design, a quote, a message, etc. As the host, you can go all out by providing all kinds of decorating materials, like fabric markers, fringe to glue on and more. Get more ideas from A Plus Life Blog.

Framed Scrapbook Collage

The gals at Canary Street Crafts designed this sweet idea: Every guest decorates a page and include all of the pages within this collage-style frame. What makes it even more fun and special is that each guest writes a note to the baby on the back of the page, so he or she will know who made each one. You can find frames like these at Target, Hobby Lobby and most other craft stores. If you can get intel on the nursery color scheme in advance, you can pick out a frame that matches (or spray-paint the frame a complementary color). Get the scoop on this idea at Canary Street Crafts.

Onesie Painting Station

Get guests in a festive mood with a onesie painting station inspired by Victoria of A Subtle Revelry. Guests can create something fun for the baby to wear (and we all know babies go through so many onesies, you can never really have enough!). With a variety of supplies, materials and colors for the paint and bodysuits, it will be a blast for guests to put on their fashion designer caps. Helpful tip from Victoria: "Be sure to provide a hanging rack and hangers to allow the onesies to dry and the mom-to-be to thumb through them ohhing and ahhing over her favorites." Get the full tutorial at A Subtle Revelry.

A Book of Well Wishes

Record those dreams, well-wishes and hopes for Mom and baby by giving each guest a sheet of wishes, and then bind the pages together in a keepsake book. To help the book last through years of wear, tear, drool and potential ripping, laminate each page, then bind it or use a three-hole-punch to put it in a binder. You can offer your guests blank pages or, like Courtney from A Plus Life blog did, give guests a page with prompts, like "I hope you become __________," for guests to fill in the blank. See more on the book of well wishes from A Plus Life.

The Bib-Decorating Challenge

Another great decorating station to incorporate into a baby shower? Bib customizing! Ashley from Hither and Tither says this was the perfect activity for a co-ed baby shower. She describes the bib decorating station as a "great activity that was low-key, low-embarrassment and a lot of fun." Guests will love showing off their final product. 

 

—Jane Putnam

 

RELATED STORIES:

16 Genius Baby Shower Favors They’ll Love

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Your first Mother’s Day is a day you will never forget. While many milestones and firsts are all about baby, this is one that is all about you. Here are 9 special ways to commemorate Mother’s Day for first-time mamas.

photo: Big D2112 via Flickr

1. Document the day in photos.
There are never enough photos of moms with their babies. Go old school and use real film, like with an Instax Mini 8 Camera. Or take digital photos and have them printed so you’ll always remember this big day. Snap selfies throughout the day, and ask loved ones to take photos of you. From eating breakfast to cuddling and reading books, these are moments you’ll treasure forever.

photo: Field Trip on Etsy

2. Ease into the day.
Parents usually need lots (and lots) of coffee or tea to power through the day, so start your first Mother’s Day with a quiet moment savoring a cup in bed before you embark on a hectic day of fun with your bub. Before Mother’s Day, drop hints for a personalized mug, like this new-mom mug from Etsy shop Field trip ($10.80), or buy it for yourself to commemorate your new role. It’s simple yet sweet and something that is certain to make you smile for years to come.

The Desperate Craftwives

photo: The Desperate Craftwives

3. Get your craft on.
It’s never too early for a craft project with your baby. You might do most of the work, but baby can supply some scribbles, a footprint or handprint, or a beautiful face for a photo. Check out our article 16 Mother’s Day Crafts to Make with Your Baby for lots of great ideas, at various artistic-skill levels.

4. Treat yourself to flowers.
Add some color and fragrance to your home with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, picked by your sweet babe (with mom or dad’s help). They’ll stay fresh for the next week or so and will brighten each day!

Chatbooks

photo: Chatbooks

5. Create a book about those first moments.
First bath, first laugh and so many other important moments. Capture those magical memories into a book with Chatbooks. This app creates books from your Facebook and Instagram feeds, giving you an easy way to capture those moments and keep them accessible. Perfect for the coffee table, or even your desk at the office.

6. Choose your special meal.
Eat at home or dine out? Brunch or barbecue? Casual or fancy? So many options, but one main focus: Mom gets to pick! The rules are simple: Mom doesn’t cook or wash dishes. Her only job is to kick back, eat her favorite foods, including dessert, and have an enjoyable meal.

Made by Mary

photo: Made By Mary

7. Keep it close to your heart.
There’s a reason why jewelry is a popular and traditional gift — it’s sentimental and something you can both wear and treasure. This “Mama” necklace from Etsy shop Made by Mary ($48-$56, depending on options) dresses up your outfits and shows your pride in your new role.

8. Journal the day.
We’ve all heard the new-mom saying: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Use Mother’s Day as the kickoff to starting a journal about milestones, small moments and special memories you want to savor. Make it easy on yourself with the One Line a Day journal or something less formal, like a decorative notebook. You can share these memories with your child when they get older, and then pass on the book to them when they become a parent years from now.

Mom - twins

photo: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr

9. Make it a day all about Mom.
Hit your favorite place for brunch, enjoy a guilt-free afternoon nap, spend an hour at the park with the entire family, whatever makes you happiest. The day is all about you, Mom, so let others know how to help you feel celebrated.

How will you be celebrating your first Mother’s Day?

—Jane Putnam

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Having twins often mean two times everything with two babies — twice the number of diapers changed, double the bottles made and two times just about everything else. Luckily, there are resources, tools, gear and gadgets out there just for parents of twins to help make it a little bit easier and to accommodate the two-of-everything need. Check out this roundup of products perfect for twins and their parents.

Skin-to-Skin Time Made Easier

Skin-to-skin time has many benefits, for both parents and babies. It helps to boost babies' mental development, promotes healthy weight, helps mom produce breastmilk, can even make breastfeeding easier and helps babies' sleep, among <a target="_blank" href="https://www.fitpregnancy.com/baby/baby-care/kangaroo-care-9-benefits-skin-skin-contact">other benefits</a>. The <a target="_blank" href="https://nuroobaby.com/carrier/">NuRoo Pocket</a> can be used with twins when you're sitting down. It's easy to use, too, with no tying, wrapping or knotting. You can use it from day one, so be sure to pack it in your hospital bag. Available at <a target="_blank" href="http://nuroobaby.com/carrier/">nuroobaby.com</a&gt;, $59.99.fuck

Tell us what twin product you can’t live without in a comment below.

— Jane Putnam

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A car seat: You won’t be able to leave the hospital without it. In fact, it’s one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your little one in his first year of life. We spoke with Emily Levine, co-founder of The Car Seat Lady, a group with a mission to empower parents to keep their children as safe as possible while traveling by car, to get some important information to ensure you’re using the right seat, the right way, for your baby or toddler. Read on for nine do’s and don’ts of car seat safety.

Car seat - rear facing

Photo: 4moms

DO tighten the straps.

A big issue, Levine says, is keeping straps snug. Most kids are riding around with straps that are too loose. Not sure how tight to make the straps? Levine provides this as a rule of thumb: the straps should be tight enough so that only one finger can fit between the straps and the child’s body at the collarbone, and that you can’t pinch the strap over itself at the collarbone, Levine says. This short video provides a how-to on ensuring properly tightened straps. 

“Tight straps won’t hurt a child, but loose straps in a crash can have terrible consequence,” she adds.

DON’T skip the seat because of inconvenience.

Levine says one of the most troubling mistakes happens when parents decide to skip the car seat altogether.

“We see this all the time in taxis around the city or in friends’ cars to and from playdates,” she says. “This is an especially big problem in cities where families rely on taxis to get around.”

The risk of injury is significant for a child who is unrestrained in the event of a crash. The laws of physics don’t change just because you are in a taxi, on vacation or only going a few blocks.

“Is it really worth risking your child’s life to get to music class on time?” Levine asks, offering more advice. “The very best recommendation I can give is to use an appropriate car seat every time you are in a car, regardless of who is driving, whose car it is or where you are.”

Rear-facing car seat

Photo: 4moms

DO keep your toddler rear-facing until at least age 2.

Previously, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advised being one-year-old and a minimum of 20 pounds as the minimum for turning your little one forward-facing. However, since 2011, that has changed, with the minimum being 24 months old — but preferably longer. In California, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and New Jersey, new laws require that toddlers stay in rear facing car seats until their second birthdays.

“All kids should remain rear-facing until they are at least 24 months old, but preferably longer, until they have outgrown their convertible car seat’s rear-facing height or weight limits,” she advises. “Kids are much more flexible than adults and are comfortable sitting rear-facing despite what it may look like to us grown-ups. A child who is turned around too early is at risk for head, spine and neck injuries.”

DON’T use the infant car seat as a seat for the baby when you’re at home.

Simply put, the car seat is for the car; it’s not a bouncy seat or a crib or a bassinet. It’s a car seat for use in the car, Levine says.

She also offers this tip for urban parents who rely on taxis or ride-sharing transportation, like Uber, “If you have a stroller with a bassinet, use the bassinet for walks unless you are planning to take a taxi during that same trip.”

britax-car-seat-image

Photo: Britax

DO consider how often you’ll be installing the car seat and where in the vehicle you’ll need to place it.

This is especially helpful when you’re purchasing a car seat or adding one to your registry.

If you prefer to install the car seat in the center position (the safest place in the car), make sure it will install easily with the seat belt, since most vehicles do not permit installation with lower anchors in the center position,” Levine advises.

She continues, saying, “In this case, you’ll want to consider a car seat with built-in locking devices, which greatly ease a seat belt installation. If you’ll be using lower anchors to install the car seat, look for push on connectors instead of the hook style, since the push-on connectors are much easier to use. Extra safety features like anti-rebound bars and rigid latch are worth considering as well.”

DON’T put the car seat on top of the shopping cart.

Just because it looks like it can fit and you’ve likely seen dozens of other parents doing it at Target or the grocery store, DON’T. The shopping cart does not securely hold the car seat in the top basket and puts baby at risk for injury.

Along the same lines, a car seat should never be placed on the counter or table, the bed or any other surface where a fall could cause injury. 

Remember, when your baby is in his or her car seat outside of the car (like when you’re carrying the infant seat in the house, with the baby inside), the straps should be tightly secured. This is a huge problem that parents are mostly unaware of, Levine says.

Photo: Jim Champion on Flickr

DO seek help to make sure you’re using the car seat properly.

A car seat can save your child’s life — but only if it’s used properly. Make sure you are using yours the right way by having the installation inspected by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) or instructor, Levine says. Inspection stations in your town can be found on SeatCheck.org. Inspection spots are located all over the country, including at many hospitals and fire stations.

DON’T automatically take a hand-me-down car seat.

Always be wary of hand-me-down car seats, Levine warns.

“They might look like they’re in good shape, but they may be missing parts that you don’t know about, or may be expired, broken or recalled,” she says.

Even if you’re using a car seat for a sibling, you should double check recall lists and find the expiration date before you start using it for a new baby.

Photo: Quinn Dombroski on Flickr

DO read the instruction manual.

Read the instruction manual that comes with your car seat.

“Many types of misuse can be corrected by a quick (but careful) look at the instruction manual,” Levine explains. “If you have questions or are confused, call the car seat manufacturer for clarification instead of guessing.”

For more information on car seat safety, visit TheCarSeatLady.com or take advantage of other resources from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration here.

What is your biggest car seat pet peeve? Share it below.

—Jane Putnam

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Whether beating the heat this summer or relaxing poolside or beachside on your babymoon, you need a maternity swimsuit you feel confident in stat. You can rock your bump in style in one-pieces, tankinis, bikinis and even flowy and flattering swim dresses. Here are nine maternity swimwear looks to love for every budget.

Tankini for the Win

This top offers the best of both worlds: lots of extra material to accommodate your bump <em>and</em> halter ties to provide support, which is especially necessary for many mamas-to-be, as their busts grow considerably during pregnancy. Plus, with a price tag of under $25, you really can't go wrong. Available at <a target="_blank" href="http://www.target.com/p/maternity-braided-tankini-liz-lange-for-target/-/A-50538565#prodSlot=_1_10">target.com</span></a&gt;, $24.99.fuck

How do you rock your bump at the beach? Tell us about your maternity style in a Comment.
—Jane Putnam