All posts by Autumn Green

About Autumn Green

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Cropped shot of a pregnant woman preparing a meal on the stove at home

What Am I Supposed To Eat When I’m Pregnant?

Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is one of the top pieces of advice expecting moms hear from their doctors. Everyone knows that eating healthy is a good thing, but what are the specific benefits for mom and baby? And is mom really eating for two?

We’ve got the answers. Here’s everything you need to know about the foods you should eat while pregnant:

The benefits of a healthy pregnancy diet

Knowing how diet affects you and your baby encourages you to make healthy food decisions. Good food makes you feel great, but here are some specific reasons to maintain a healthy pregnancy diet.

Healthy diet benefits for you include:

  • Supporting a comfortable pregnancy: Proper nutrition minimizes uncomfortable side effects like constipation, fatigue and morning sickness.
  • Decreasing odds of complications: A good diet can prevent preeclampsia, anemia, gestational diabetes and other issues.
  • Improving delivery and recovery: Eating well increases your odds of a timely labor and delivery, as well as supporting faster postpartum recovery.

Healthy diet benefits for your baby include:

  • Encouraging proper health: Getting the right nutrients from mom increases the chance that your baby will be born at a healthy weight and supports brain development.
  • Decreasing risks of certain birth defects: Lacking specific nutrients while in the womb can affect your baby for life. For example, according to Everyday Health, a lack of vitamin B9 (also known as folate or folic acid) can lead to neural tube defects, which are developmental problems in the brain and spinal cord. Similarly, a lack of vitamins B2 and B3 increases the risk of your baby being born with congenital heart disease.
A pregnant woman posing with fresh fruits and vegetables.Fresh vegetables are full of the vitamins you need during pregnancy.

Foods to eat while pregnant

While you are technically eating for two (or more!), the baby growing inside your body isn’t a reason to eat anything and everything. It’s OK to eat more, but your diet should focus on getting the right amounts of nutrients rather than simply increasing calories.

On that note, you really don’t need to focus on gaining weight and increasing calories until later in your pregnancy. Per the Mayo Clinic, women at a normal weight should gain one to four pounds during their first few months, then about one pound per week (or an extra 300 calories per day) during the second and third trimesters. These recommendations will shift if you’re over- or underweight. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor before following these (or any) pregnancy dieting guidelines.

“The food you eat and the prenatal vitamins you take work together.”

On that note, be sure to take your prenatal vitamins as prescribed. While these nutrients are to support your baby’s development, they aren’t a substitute for healthy eating habits. The food you eat and the vitamins you take work together for optimum health.

As noted before, any food increases should be focused on adding more nutrients, not just calories. The ones you definitely want to focus on are:

  • Fiber: Necessary for baby’s development and helpful for relieving constipation.
  • Iron: Used to make hemoglobin, the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen. Both you and your baby will need lots of hemoglobin during pregnancy.
  • Calcium: Builds baby’s bones and teeth.
  • Iodine: Supports baby’s brain and nervous system development.
  • Vitamin C: Helps you absorb iron and builds collagen, a protein in your child’s muscles, bones, blood vessels and cartilage.
  • Vitamin B9: Produces blood, supports enzyme function and prevents neural-tube and developmental defects.
  • Vitamin A: Creates the cells that make up baby’s internal organs and supports healthy eyes, skin and bones.
  • Complex carbohydrates: Provides both energy and fiber.
  • Fat: Provides energy and helps metabolize vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Zinc: Aids fetal growth.

What foods support these nutritional goals? We’re glad you asked:

  • Whole grains: These complex carbohydrates provide both fiber and energy. Choose brown rice, whole grain or sprouted bread, barley, oatmeal, millet and popcorn. Avoid simple carbs like white sugar and white bread, which are far less nutrient-rich.
  • Leafy greens: Spinach, kale, lettuce and other dark green vegetables are some of the best foods for you. They’re jam-packed with vitamins like iron, folate, vitamin C and vitamin A.
  • Eggs: Provides healthy fats and vitamin D.
  • Lean meat and poultry: These are great sources of protein and iron.
  • Legumes: Beans and lentils are high in both fiber and protein.

On that note, here are the foods you should avoid:

  • Unpasteurized juice and dairy.
  • Raw fish.
  • Undercooked meat.
  • Undercooked or partially cooked eggs.

Any of these could contain harmful bacteria such as Listeria, which is known to cause miscarriages.

In addition, limit your intake of the following:

  • Coffee.
  • Alcohol (Some doctors say an occasional glass of wine is fine, while others say to cut alcohol completely).

Finally, don’t let all this advice stress you out. In all likelihood, you won’t need a complete upheaval of your diet to have a healthy pregnancy. Just keep these tips in mind, consult with your doctor and maybe learn a few new recipes, and you’ll be right on track.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

a kid rolling out some dough in the kitchen

Healthy Baked Snacks To Give Your Kids

Baking with your toddler is a great activity. It teaches them valuable kitchen skills, the joy of making one’s own food, the importance of waiting patiently for good things and the necessity of cleaning up. If you’re handy with measurement conversions, it’s also a good introduction to math. That said, baked goods are notoriously full of calories, fat and sugar. You definitely don’t want to feed too many to your child, as it’s important to introduce good eating habits at a young age.

So what can you do?

Bake healthy snacks, of course! Here are three recipes that have all the great flavor of a baked treat but less of the bad stuff:

Unbaked muffins in a baking tray.Your toddler will love making these healthy baked goods.

Trail mix muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour.
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour.
  • 2 tsp baking powder.
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1/4 tsp salt.
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed.
  • 1/4 cup quinoa.
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter.
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries.
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 2/3 cup low-fat milk.
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips.
  • 2 large, room-temperature egg whites.
  • 1 large, room-temperature egg yolk.
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter cut into chunks.
  • Extra butter for greasing.

This healthy mix is a perfect on-the-go snack. It’s sweet without being sugary, and the quinoa, whole wheat flour and peanut butter are good alternatives to unhealthier additives. Keep these goodies on you when out and about, throw some into a weekend picnic basket or add one to your child’s school lunch.

  1. Cook the quinoa by boiling water in a sauce pan, adding the grains, reducing the heat to low and simmering for about 12 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, making sure the rack is in the middle. Grease muffing pans lightly with the extra butter.
  3. Whisk the flours, cinnamon, salt and baking powder in a bowl.
  4. Beat the butter, brown sugar and peanut butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, beating until smooth once more, then beat in the quinoa. Reduce speed to low, then slowly add the milk.
  5. Fold the flour mixture with the wet ingredients. Then, fold in the chocolate chips and cranberries.
  6. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the batter.
  7. Spoon batter into the muffin tins, then bake for about 20 minutes or until brown and firm.

Gluten-free chocolate pumpkin mini muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree.
  • 1/2 cup almond butter.
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips.
  • 1 tbsp honey.
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed.
  • 2 tsp baking soda.
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon.
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 1 egg.
  • Cooking spray.

Who knew flourless muffins could be so tasty? This is a great, gluten-free, low-calorie dessert.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a 24-count mini muffin pan.
  2. Ad pumpkin puree, almond butter, egg, honey, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, flaxseed, cinnamon and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl or non-immersion blender. Mix until smooth, then manually stir in half the chocolate chips.
  3. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, then top with remaining chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for eight to 10 minutes or until done.
Chocolate chip blondies.Delicious blondies made with chickpeas? Who knew?!

Flourless chocolate chickpea blondies with sea salt

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces of chickpeas).
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter.
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup, honey or agave nectar.
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips, plus an extra 2 tbsp.
  • 2 tsp vanilla.
  • 1/2 tsp salt.
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda.
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder.
  • Cooking spray.

OK, the chickpeas might sound a bit out there, but they add an amazing texture and a bunch of nutrients to a traditionally unhealthy snack. These blondies are a good way to introduce a new food to your little one.

  1. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix all ingredients minus the chocolate chips in a food processor, blending until smooth. Fold in the measured chips.
  3. Spread the batter evenly on the pan, then sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp of chocolate chips on top.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, being careful not to let the blondies dry out.

Baking with your toddler is a great weekend activity, and you’ll make enough goodies to last you till the next Saturday! These healthy baked goods are the perfect alternatives to your traditional cakes and cookies with all of the flavor and some extra goodness to boot.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Portrait of newborn triplets are lying in the bed

The Most Popular Baby Names Of 2018 (so far!)

Like choker necklaces, high-waisted jeans and elaborate hairstyles, baby names go in and out of fashion. Thanks to our network of hospitals, Mom365 is able to track the most popular names of each season and compile them into an easily accessible list.

Why check the baby names list?

Simply put: Naming your little one is hard. Most moms want something beautiful, meaningful and that will last a lifetime, but distilling the magic of your child into one word is a daunting task. Sometimes, knowing what’s in vogue gives you a bit of inspiration.

A mother holding her newborn baby in a hospital.Naming your child is a difficult but beautiful process.

With that in mind, the top five baby names of 2018 so far are as follows:

  1. Emma.
  2. Liam.
  3. Noah.
  4. Olivia.
  5. Ava.

The top names for girls are:

  1. Emma.
  2. Olivia.
  3. Ava.
  4. Isabella.
  5. Sophia.

Finally, the top boys’ names are:

  1. Liam.
  2. Noah.
  3. Elijah.
  4. Logan.
  5. Mason.

If none of these strike your fancy, don’t worry! We’ve got a great resource that shows you tons of names along with their origins and meaning.

Ways to find the perfect baby name

We’ve got a lot of baby names in our database, so you might find yourself unable to decide between many great options. Here are a few tips to help you narrow your selection:

Start with a nickname. Starting with a full name is intimidating, so think of something short and fun instead. Once you fall in love with a nickname, you can create a unique formal name to match.

Use a family name. These always have personal meaning, and they’re a great way to honor an important relative in your life.

Think of someone important to you. Maybe, instead of a relative, you’d like to honor an influential teacher or best friend.

Think of what will age well. Sure, naming your child The Rock after your favorite wrestler-turned-actor sounds great now, but what about in the years after Dwayne Johnson steps away from the spotlight? Plus, how will “The Rock” look on college and job applications? Try for a name that mixes coolness and longevity.

Don’t strive for perfection. There’s no such thing as the perfect name, and trying to come up with one will only stress you out. As Meaghan O’Connell wisely said in a post for The Cut, the game is rigged, but whatever name you choose will feel perfect in the end.

If you need a little more help finding the perfect moniker, take our Baby Name Quiz!

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

a plane flying into a sky

Top Tips on Traveling With a Toddler

The unofficial start of summer is here, and parents everywhere are packing up and taking their kids on vacation. But, if you’re one of the many moms and dads with a toddler on your hands, then the thought of traveling with your little one might leave you shuddering. Toddlerhood is both a blessing and a curse, what with your child growing both more curious and fussier than ever.

Don’t let these fears keep you from enjoying the most summer has to offer. Whether you’re driving for an hour or taking a plane across the ocean, use these tips to make vacationing a breeze.

General tips for traveling with toddlers

A little girl in a car seat.Keep your toddler happy with these general travel tips.

There are some ideas you’ll want to keep in mind regardless of your style of travel or your destination. Remembering these travel tips for every trip will keep your toddler happy and save you some stress.

  • Pack a spare change of clothes for your toddler and yourself. Accidents are bound to happen, meaning you’ll need a change of clothes or two. Don’t forget to pack some for yourself – the last thing you want is to spend several hours in a shirt covered in sticky snack crumbs.
  • Bring hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes. Same as above: Accidents happen. Plus, if you’re taking public transportation like a bus or plane, you’re exposing your toddler to tons of germs. You don’t want your child to miss out on all the vacation fun because he or she is sick, so wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Travel in the morning. Everyone loves to sleep in, including toddlers. Kids are more likely to snooze through early morning travel, whereas they tend to stay awake during the afternoon.
  • Pack as much entertainment as possible. You may avoid iPads and video games on a normal day, but these will be lifesavers when traveling. Bring as many things as you can pack, such as:
    • Video games.
    • Coloring books.
    • Crayons.
    • Tablets with games or movies.
    • Story books.
  • Don’t bring what you can rent or buy at your destination. Airlines, theme parks, hotels and similar places often have strollers and child-friendly seats available. You can buy diapers, formula and other necessities at a convenience store, so only bring what you need for the actual travel time.

Tips for traveling by car

Road trips are an American past time, and they can be an enjoyable experience for you and your toddler if you prepare well.

  • Drive overnight on long trips. Your toddler will sleep soundly throughout the whole trip, and you won’t have to take nearly as many bathroom breaks. Of course, this is only feasible if you’re a night person and won’t get too sleepy yourself.
  • Use pull ups.  Even if your child is potty trained, a pull up gives you additional peace of mind.
  • Time your stops most effectively. Every pit stop should include a bathroom break and a chance to stretch your legs. If you’re stopping at a rest area, let your kids run around a bit to tire themselves out. Also, check your gas level before departing, and make sure no one is hungry before getting back on the road. It’s best to knock as many things out at once so you don’t stop every half hour.

Tips for traveling by plane

“Some kids are excellent fliers, but not all of them.”

Let’s face it – air travel is annoying. Yet, for as frustrated as you get going through security, finding your gate and sitting down for an hours-long flight, your toddler will likely be even more upset. Some kids are excellent fliers, but not all of them. Here are some tips for flying with children to keep them placated (and prevent you from tearing your hair out):

  • Take advantage of early boarding. Most airlines will call for parents with small children to board the plane first. Take advantage of the opportunity to find your seat easily without other passengers around. This also gives you more time to store your carryon luggage in the overhead bin, which tends to run out of space quickly.
  • Bring lots of gum, lollipops, pacifiers and/or sippy cups. Children have smaller Eustachian tubes, so the pressure changes during takeoff and landing can really hurt their ears. Chewing or sucking opens the tube to alleviate the discomfort.
  • Try to get a seat toward the front of the plane. You’ll be one of the first ones to deplane upon landing, which is great when you’ve got a fussy little one.
  • Be mindful of potty breaks. The pilots can’t delay the flight just because your child needs a potty break right before taking off. Make sure your little one goes as close to departure as possible. Also, keep in mind that the captain may not turn off the seatbelt sign for short-distance flights, meaning your toddler won’t be able to get up to use the bathroom.

Traveling with toddlers isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With proper planning, you and your family can enjoy a fantastic summer vacation.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

a mommy blogger writing a new post on her laptop

Blogging Tips For New Moms

Mommy bloggers seem to have it all. They’re able to maintain a stable income while working from home, spending all their time with their children while also providing for them. It’s a luxury few of us get, but there is something more that mommy blogging provides: stress relief.

Whether you plan to monetize your motherhood insights or simply find a community of like-minded parents, the act of writing about being a mom is great for your mental health. Blogging is akin to journaling, allowing you to sort through your thoughts of the day and find creative solutions to your problems.

Starting a mom blog has other benefits as well. A blog lets you build an audience of people who understand your situation. Even if you can’t find a local group of moms to hang with, blogging will lead you to an online network of parents who match your style. You may get the occasional naysayer, but most moms find a lot of support.

Interested? Here are some mom-approved tips for starting a blog:

Find your niche

The term “mom blogging” could mean a whole host of things, from parenting styles to product recommendations and beyond. Many blogs try to tackle every aspect of motherhood, which has admittedly saturated the market. To differentiate yourself from the crowd, find a specific subject to focus on. You could talk about family nutrition, kid-friendly crafts or raising a child who is the product of two cultures.

A woman on a laptop computer.Find a subject that sets you apart from other mom blogs.

Create a schedule

It’s easy to abandon a blog due to a lack of time, but it’s important to remember that writing is time to focus on yourself. Creating a set time to write helps you prioritizes self care and keeps your blog updated regularly, satisfying your audience. Whether it’s 30 minutes a day or one hour a week, make sure you dedicate a block of time to get those words out. If necessary, find someone else to look after your little one while you write.

Practice writing and editing your work

Journaling is a private activity, so grammar and sentence structure don’t really matter. Blogging, on the other hand, is completely public, and you want to be proud of what you put online. Practice will take your writing talents to the next level. Some ways to do so are:

  • Journal! Remember, this is a private activity, so no one can judge you for your mistakes.
  • Write about your day. Leave no detail unmentioned. This will help you tell a compelling story, even if the subject is mundane.

If you plan to post pictures, learning a few photo-editing skills can also help! But if that’s too intimidating, even a nice Instagram filter will elevate your snapshots to the next level.

Once you’ve got a post written, sit on it a while before publishing. Even waiting just an hour allows you to return to the entry with fresh eyes and edit any mistakes you may have overlooked.

Remember what you’re blogging for

If you want blogging to be your career, that’s completely fine! If you want to write just for yourself, that’s great as well. Just remember why you started this project. It will keep you going whenever you get discouraged.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

A smiling, elderly man talking on the phone

How Long-Distance Grandparents Can Stay Involved

It’s tough when your children leave the nest for a faraway land, whether that’s the next state over or across the world. It’s even worse when they take your beautiful, beloved grandchild with them.

Few things hurt the heart as much as being separated from your child’s little one, but don’t despair! You can still have a significant, loving relationship with your grandchild, even from miles away.

Here are eight top tips for grandparents to keep the connection strong despite the distance.

1. Skype (or FaceTime)!

If you have a smartphone, tablet or a modern laptop computer, you probably have the ability to video chat. This is about as close as you can get to a face-to-face interaction with your grandchild. Schedule a time with their parents that works for all parties, then simply make the call.

The great thing about video chatting is that it’s appropriate for kids of all ages. Your grandchild may only be at the babbling stage of communication, but what matters most is that you get to see him or her in real time.

2. Start a text chain

Text messages are better for carrying on lengthy conversations. Because neither party has to respond immediately, you can chat with your grandchild at length about whatever you want, serious or silly. Of course, this method of contact only works if the little one knows how to speak and spell. If your grandchild is too young to type, stick to video chat for now.

3. Be pen pals

This is a great way to engage your grandchild when he or she starts learning to write. Kids love getting mail from anyone, but a letter from a grandparent holds special meaning. Being a pen pal helps you maintain a relationship with your grandchild while helping him or her develop their writing skills. You can write about nearly anything, just as long as you always respond.

A young boy writing on a piece of paper.Be your grandchild’s pen pal and help him or her learn to write.

4. Participate in an activity, then talk about it together

Just because you and your grandchild live far away doesn’t mean you can’t talk about shared experiences. Organize activities where the two of you do the same thing but in different locations. See the same movie, read the same book, go to a local zoo or something similar. Then, call your grandchild on the phone and talk about the experience.

5. Personalize birthday cards

Show your grandchild you care by remembering their birthday each and every time. Go beyond a standard Hallmark card and add a personal element by making your own. Get your crafting on with cardstock, stickers and glitter!

6. Visit when you can

“Nothing soothes the heart quite like a visit in person, so try to see your grandchild at least once a year.”

While the above five suggestions are all great options, nothing soothes the heart quite like a visit in person. If you’re still able to travel, try to get out to see your grandchild at least once a year. If not, ask your family to come visit you. Stock your home with fun toys and treats so your little one is eager to come see you. Kids love seeing grandma and grandpa when snacks and sweets are involved!

7. Focus on your relationship with your grandchildren

It happens – sometimes you think the other set of grandparents gets more attention than you do. This may actually be true, particularly if they live in the same city as your grandchild. Don’t get jealous, and don’t let this detail discourage you. Stay positive and focus on maintaining a healthy, loving relationship with your family. Otherwise, your emotions may seep out on the rare occasions you do get to see your grandchild, which isn’t fun for anybody.

8. Learn to live outside of your grandchildren

Remember, your time raising kids is over, especially if you and your partner are long-distance grandparents. This means it’s OK to have a life outside of your grandchildren. In fact, it’s healthy to do so!

Even if your grandkids lived nearby, they’ll eventually grow up and spend less time with you. As such, it’s important to have local friends and hobbies outside of them. If you don’t know where to start, head to a local recreation center or search online for meet-ups about activities that you enjoy.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it also puts a strain on your relationship with your grandchild.

Use these eight tips for grandparents to keep the bond going strong and stay connected with your little one. You may not be able to see your family every day, but they’ll certainly love you just as much.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Let your child enjoy the summer with these cool tips.

Keeping Your Baby Cool and Cute in the Summer

The summer is past its peak, but it’s not over yet. In fact, as The Weather Channel explained, some areas of the U.S. have to wait until September to reach their highest temperatures. This means there’s plenty of time for fun left, but it’s also important to keep summer safety in mind. Here’s how to keep your child cool and cute:

Grab a light wardrobe

Kids’ fashion has come a long way, so you have the chance to get really creative. You can dress your toddler like a super-chic Anna Wintour in the making, or grab a sleeveless flannel shirt and some baby Doc Martens for a mini-punk look. Just make sure the clothes you choose are summer-appropriate. The right cuts and fabric keep your child cool and help prevent heat-related illnesses.

When shopping for a summer wardrobe, choose loose, breezy fabrics made from 100 percent cotton. Avoid dark colors like black and navy; such hues absorb heat, increasing your little one’s body temperature. Opt for sturdy footwear with thick soles, especially if your toddler likes to climb and explore.

Also, if you plan to stay home all day and aren’t expecting any visitors, feel free to let your child run around naked! Just make sure to lather your baby up with sunscreen before going into the backyard – clothes or no clothes. The Environmental Working Group has a list of 19 baby sunscreen products with top ratings, so your summer safety regimen won’t include any harsh chemicals.

A pile of baby clothes in light shades of green, blue and pink.Choose cotton fabrics in a light colors to keep your toddler cool.

Guard against bugs and poisonous plants

Bug bites and the itchy, inflamed skin they leave behind are probably the least-liked aspect of summer. What’s worse, the number of insects infected with diseases is on the rise. This past June, a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an increased number of disease-carrying mosquitoes were seen across the southern U.S. this year. These insects are known for spreading Zika virus, West Nile virus, Dengue fever and many other illnesses.

If you live in a grassy or wooded area, you must also look out for ticks. These pesky bloodsuckers are notorious for spreading Lyme disease, which affects the joints, heart and nervous system if left untreated. Additionally, toddlers that are allergic to bee stings need to be exceptionally careful in spring and summer.

To keep your toddler safe from insects, coat your child with an insect repellant. The brand you choose doesn’t matter, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends repellant with at least 10 percent DEET, the active ingredient. A higher concentration doesn’t increase your child’s protection; the repellant just lasts longer. A product with 10 percent DEET lasts for about two hours, while one with 30 percent lasts around five hours.

Below are a few other bug safety tips:

  • Ditch scented soaps and sprays, which might attract insects, for fragrance-free versions.
  • Avoid areas where bugs tend to nest, including pools of water (mosquitos), summer-blooming flowers (bees) and wooded areas (ticks).
  • Stay inside during mornings and evenings when gnats and mosquitos are most active.
Toddlers chasing bubbles outside.Use an insect repellent with a DEET concentration of 10 to 30 percent.

Prevent heat-related illnesses

According to the CDC, children under 4 are most at risk for developing a heat-related illness. These ailments include heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and symptoms range from small red blisters to nausea, headaches and possible loss of consciousness. Below are the specific symptoms of each, as well as treatment options, from the CDC:

IllnessSymptomsTreatment
Heat rash
  • Small, red blisters
  • Baby power
Sunburn
  • Painful, red skin
  • Blisters
  • Leave blisters to heal naturally
  • Keep the skin moisturized
  • Stay out of the sun until the burn heals
Heat cramps
  • Heavy sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stop physical activity
  • Drink water or a sports drink
  • If cramps last more than one hour, seek medical attention
Heat exhaustion
  • Heavy sweating
  • Pale, cold, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Exhaustion
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Move to a cool place
  • Remove clothes and drape body with cool, wet cloth
  • Take a cool bath
  • Sip water
  • Seek medical attention if your toddler throws up, if symptoms get worse or if symptoms last more than one hour
Heat stroke
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Headache
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Hot, red, dry or damp skin
  • Body temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Call 911 immediately
  • Move to a cool place
  • Lower temperature with cool cloths or a bath
  • Don’t provide anything to drink

Of course, as with any medical condition, prevention is always best. Use the following tips to improve your toddler’s summer safety and avoid heat-related illnesses:

  • Dress your toddler in breathable, lightweight clothing that’s light in color.
  • Use cool, but not cold, water when bathing your child.
  • Stay indoors when it’s overly sunny and warm. Sunlight is strongest at noon, but the temperature doesn’t reach its peak until about 3 p.m.
  • Give your toddler plenty of access to cool (not cold) water.
  • Never leave your child in a parked car, even if the window is open.

Enjoying the last bit of summer

Summer is officially over on Sept. 22, so you’ve still got about a month to enjoy the season. Choose the right clothes, grab a bottle of baby sunscreen, protect yourselves from bugs and heat, and you’re ready to make the most of the last few weeks of the season.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Casual woman typing on the smartphone in the city.

13 Mommy Instagrammers You Need To Follow

Instagram has something for everyone: outdoor adventurers, celebrity followers and, of course, moms. This visual platform is a great source inspiration for moms everywhere, whether you’re looking for cute outfit ideas or new nursery decorations. Here are 13 mommy Instagrammers you absolutely must follow:

1. Laura Izumikawa (@lauraiz)

It’s not hard to see how Laura Izumikawa and her adorable daughter, Joey, became Instagram’s most popular mother-daughter pair. Laura, a Southern California-based lifestyle and wedding photographer, began posting pictures of little napping Joey on her Instagram.

These weren’t your standard cute snapshots, however. Laura would wait until Joey was sound asleep, then dress her up in costumes of pop culture icons.

Joey’s a bit too big and Laura’s a bit too busy for consistent naptime, but don’t worry. Laura’s Instagram feed is cute moments, and the pair have a book chronicling Joey’s best costumes.

2. Ilana Wiles (@mommyshorts)

If you’re looking for a little humor, Ilana Wiles has you covered. She’s candid about parenting, willingly admitting that it’s not as glamorous as other moms on Instagram. Still, her feed is chock full of typical mom things like beautiful locations, a spotless home and lots of color.

Want more? Check out Ilana’s book, “Remarkably Average Parenting,” and her second Instagram feed @averageparentproblems.

3. Hannah Carpenter (@hannahcarpenter)

Hannah Carpenter isn’t just a freelance illustrator and stay-at-home mom, she’s also a teacher for her homeschooled children. Three jobs for one woman sounds like a lot, but Hannah makes it look easy. Her children range in age from childhood to teenager, so even moms with older children can find a lot of inspiration. Don’t forget to check out her blog full of interesting products to make parenting easier.

4. Ileana Sosa (@thespeciallifeofus)

Ileana Sosa’s daughter, Giselle, received multiple diagnoses throughout her first few years of life: microcephaly, congenital ventriculomegaly and cerebral palsy. Ileana’s Instagram and blog of the same name chronicle the setbacks and triumphs of parenting when your child is in and out of the hospital. Illeana and Giselle bring hope to all parents of disabled children, showing them a bright side of parenthood filled with love.

5. Dana Ferrer (@livebeautifulmama)

Dana Ferrer and her daughter Ava don’t have some of the major brand backing of other moms on this list, but that doesn’t mean she’s less deserving of a follow. Dana’s beautiful self portraits, travel photos and snapshots of Ava celebrate the complex and sometimes contradictory elements of motherhood: love for child and love for self.

6. James Kicinski-McCoy (@bleubird)

Former vintage clothing store owner James Kicinski-McCoy turned her shop’s companion blog into the popular lifestyle website Bleubird. She’s also the co-creator and editor-in-chief of the mom-focused website Mother. Her Instagram is full of minimalist decor inspiration, comfy outfits for moms on the go and snapshots of her family.

7. Hannah Jeng (@happilyeverlyafter)

Hannah Jeng knows why you’re on Instagram: for endless photos of adorable children. Her feed is devoid of all the carefully curated shots of home and mom. Instead, it’s just picture after picture of her hilarious, outgoing little ones.

8. Joni Lay (@laybabylay)

Need some bedroom and nursery inspiration? Check out Joni Lay, whose Instagram and blog feature all sorts of design tips and tricks. The pictures she posts are bright, youthful and full of household items you’ll want to add to your wishlist.

 

9. Latonya Yvette (@latonyayvette)

Stylist, writer and lifestyle blogger Latonya Yvette began documenting life as a young mother, both in terms of child care and self care. Latonya’s Instagram is full of fashionable selfies, snapshots of her native Brooklyn and adorable images of her children.

10.  Joy Cho (@ohjoy)

If you’ve been inside a Target recently, you’ve probably seen some of Joy Cho’s work. The graphic designer first rose to fame through blogging and Pinterest, and a series of successes led her to create her own home decor line Oh Joy! Her Instagram is filled with bright colors – pink appears to be a favorite – and matches her patterned design aesthetic.

11. Camillia Courts (@disneyinspiredphoto)

Are you or your little one obsessed with Anna, Ariel and Belle? Do you live life like a Disney princess … or would you like to, if given the option? Check out Camillia Courts’ Instagram, where you’ll see her daughter Layla dressed as a new princess each month. The craftsmanship on display is stunning, and Camilla herself will sometimes make a cameo.

12. Kersey Campbell (@andweplay)

Crafter extraordinaire Kersey Campbell created And We Play as a DIY resource for moms looking for creative activities to do with their children. Her bright, happy Instagram makes every day feel like summer and leave you dreaming of sweet treats that are easy to make.

13. Tiff (@tiff_thebarbie)

Barbie’s had every job in the world, so it shouldn’t be surprising that she’s also an Instagram mom. Tiff, as she’s known on this account, is a momma of two with another on the way. She and her family do everything together, from group trips to attending ultrasound appointments to dog shelter adoption extravaganzas. Although Tiff’s life isn’t real, she perfectly encapsulates life as a modern mom on Instagram.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Young pregnant women with a sweet golden retriever.

A Sixth Sense?! How Cats and Dogs React To Pregnancy

You may have heard this story from other moms or experienced it yourself during your first pregnancy:  On what was otherwise a normal day, the family pet suddenly starts acting weird. For some reason, the dog won’t let anyone else around its human mom – not even her husband. Meanwhile, the cat is being uncharacteristically affectionate, curling up on the female owner’s belly – yet she still hisses when the man tries to pick her up. What’s going on?

The man and woman in this story realize they’re expecting a few weeks later, and that’s when the theories start flying. Do Rover and Mittens know mom is pregnant? Do they have some sort of sixth sense?

It’s not uncommon for pet owners-turned-parents to suspect their furry child has a psychic link to mom’s womb, clueing them into the presence of a baby before anyone even thinks of a pregnancy test. Here, we’ll delve into the science behind this phenomenon and share some cute stories of pets and newborns.

A pregnant woman holding a pet dog next to her belly.Pets can have a variety of reactions to your pregnancy.

Can dogs sense pregnancy?

Man’s best friend is surprisingly aware of changes in the human body. Some studies show dogs can be trained to detect cancer based on the smell of a human’s breath or urine. They also may be able to detect an oncoming seizure, although the research is inconclusive.

But can your pup double as a pregnancy test?

Turns out, your dog may be able to sense one pregnancy-related change before you can: your scent. Changes in your body chemistry alters you natural odor – a smell your dog knows very well. A slight shift tells your canine that something is up, although it may not know what exactly has changed.

In fact, most behavior changes occur after mom starts experiencing the visual and physical effects of pregnancy. This may cause the pup to change in kind. It may get more impatient with shorter walks or become overprotective – possibly to the point of being overbearing – of you and your developing child. Most dogs simply become more supportive, making sure you don’t exert yourself and eagerly anticipating the new baby.

Can cats sense pregnancy?

We expect unconditional love from dogs, but what about finicky felines? Cats can have an attitude about a different brand of food, so surely a new human in the home will shock their system.

While cats are more likely to vary in their reactions to pregnancy than dogs, they don’t necessarily become more aggressive.

“It’s harder to pinpoint the cause of behavior changes in cats.”

Is your cat more affectionate because you’re pregnant, or did it just take her seven years to realize that she loves you? Is she upset over the new baby or because you were late feeding her this morning?

As it turns out, cats learn that you’re pregnant the same way that dogs do: changes in your hormones. Some cats, like many dogs, become more protective and affectionate. Others act less rambunctious, as though they know that the last thing you want to deal with is claw marks on the couch. Your cat might even curl up on your belly while pregnant, though this may just be because you’re warm and comfy.

That said, cats may also get jealous of your incoming baby and start acting out.

Keeping pets calm during pregnancy

A pet can make pregnancy even more difficult, but there are steps you can take to make the situation as smooth as possible.

Your best course of action is to stick to a familiar routine as much as you can. Keep up the daily dog walks, and make sure your cat still gets lots of love. Pets are creatures of habit, and routines keep them comfortable even when other things change.

If this doesn’t work, you may need the help of a pet behaviorist. Check out some local mom forums or veterinarians for trainers with experience introducing pets to new babies.

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.

Family looking at train at subway station in Prague

What To Consider When Traveling With A Stroller

There’s no denying that strollers are some of the most helpful baby-related accessories you’ll buy, but they also become an absolute nuisance sometimes. If you’ve ever seen a woman try to bring one on a plane, you certainly know the struggle. When shopping for the best stroller to travel with, you’ll need to consider your daily lifestyle and any sort of vacations you plan to take while your baby is young. Then, think about how a stroller will affect your travel plans.

Here’s what city moms, suburban moms and vacationing moms should consider when traveling with a stroller:

If you live in the city

City living is all about maneuverability. Whether you’re awkwardly getting around tourists, shoving yourself onto a packed train or trying to avoid a speeding car, you need to be able to stay quick on your feet.

That’s why the best strollers for living in the city are lightweight and foldable. They’re easy to push around and, once your little one is able to stand on her own, can be folded up to fit in a smaller space. This is incredibly convenient for when you’re traveling on the bus or the train – especially during rush hour as you get your toddler home from daycare. Look for strollers made of aluminum, which is much lighter than steel.

If you live in the suburbs or country

Public transportation and crowded sidewalks probably aren’t a problem where you live. In fact, you’ll probably be doing most of your transportation by car – and you’ll need a stroller to fit.

Many driving parents swear by travel systems: strollers that convert to car seats and, in some cases, carrycots. The car seat detaches from your vehicle and snaps on to a lightweight frame, turning it into a stroller. This way, you don’t have to continuously buckle and unbuckle your toddler every time you get in and out of the car.

Happy young family taking a walk in a park, back view. Family holding hands walking together along forrest path with their daughter, father pushing the pram

Keep in mind, however, that you don’t want to leave your little one in the car seat for too long. The constant pressure from sitting with her head flat against the back can lead to plagiocephaly, otherwise known as flat head syndrome. Make sure she gets some tummy time every few hours, both for her head and her upper body strength and motor skills. Studies show babies who don’t spend enough time on their bellies tend to have delayed motor functions.

If you’re going on vacation

Planes, trains and busses have certain methods regarding traveling with a stroller, and it’s best to be aware of them.

Each airline determines its own stroller rules, and they all differ slightly. To get the full scoop, check the website of your carrier. But, while you’re at it, here are some general recommendations compiled from consumer advisory website TSA Travel Tips:

  • Try to bring only one stroller. Some airlines only allow one per customer on the plane, while others let you bring more for an additional fee.
  • If you want to bring a stroller on board with you, make sure it can fold up to the size of a standard carry-on bag.
  • Larger strollers must be checked either curbside, at the check-in counter or at the gate.
  • Note that a lot of airlines – but not all of them – include a disclaimer saying that any damage to checked strollers won’t be covered.

Similarly, different train stations have their own stroller rules. Amtrak, the biggest, lets you bring a stroller for free if you’re traveling with a child under 2 years old. The stroller doesn’t count against your carry-on limit.

Meanwhile, Greyhound busses let you bring strollers and car seats onboard. Some busses have lap and shoulder harnesses which allow you to attach your car seat with them.

Easy traveling with a stroller

Bringing baby along for the ride doesn’t have to be a nightmare. As long as you have the right stroller for the occasion and understand child-related travel rules, you should have no trouble at all.

Just remember to bring plenty of snacks and toys for when your little one puts up a fuss!

Autumn Green is an artist-turned-writer who traded the sweet tea of the south for the deep dish pizza of Chicago. Her favorite subjects include art, culture, design, small business/entrepreneurship and healthful living.