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.

Close Up Of Baby Girl Sleeping In Nursery Cot

Is My Baby OK?

Every mom-to-be expects her natural maternal instincts to kick in, but there are some things babies do that are just plain confusing. Should she be sucking her thumb this early? Wait, what was that position he just put himself in?

Take a deep breath; most confusing baby behavior is perfectly normal. Here are a few strange things you may notice with our baby that you don’t need to worry about.

Posture

Babies spend a long time in the fetal position – legs curled to their bellies, arms in front of their chest, fists clenched, head down – before they’re born. It’s only natural that they’ll return to this position during their first few weeks of life. As your little one develops more control over his or her movements, you can expect more activity.

Reflexes

Babies have lots of natural reflexes, some of which may startle you if you’re not prepared:

  • Sucking reflex: Your little one will suck on any object put into his or her mouth. This makes sense when you think about how newborns consume food! Also, the nerves in a baby’s mouth are more developed than the ones in the fingers, so he or she can learn more about the environment by sucking on something rather than by touching it.
  • Grasp reflex: Try putting something in your baby’s hand and watch as his or her little fingers start curling around it. Newborns automatically try to grasp anything that touches their palms.
  • Startle response: If your little one hears a loud noise, sees a bright light, catches a strong smell or encounters another unexpected stimulus, he or she will throw the arms out and then draw them back in to the middle of the body.
  • Asymmetrical tonic neck reflex: Sometimes, a stimulus will cause your baby to turn it’s head and extend the arm out to the same side. Because of the way babies look in this position, it’s also known as the fencing reflex. This is a primitive reflex, and as your child’s central nervous system develops, it will disappear in about three months.
  • Stepping reflex: If you hold your baby upright and rest his or her feet on a flat surface, he or she will pick the feet up and down as if walking.
A baby's hand holding a mother's finger.Babies automatically hold anything placed in their hand.

Thumb sucking

Remember the sucking reflex? This is an extension of that. Babies will put their thumbs in their mouths to explore or just as a comfort mechanism. Because the thumb is always there, your little one has an easy way of calming down at any moment. Also, just like the fetal position, developing children also sucked their thumb in the womb, so it makes sense that they’d continue this behavior outside of it.

Backwards sleep patterns

Your new baby may appear nocturnal at some point, sleeping during the day and being active at night. This is yet another side effect of spending time in the womb. Night and day don’t mean anything while inside mom, and in fact, being inside the womb is probably more like nighttime anyway. Don’t worry; a healthy baby will eventually realize that day means activity and night means sleeping.

Sneezing

“Sneezing doesn’t necessarily mean your baby is sick.”

You may be alarmed to see or hear your newborn baby sneezing all of the time. Don’t worry; she probably isn’t sick. Sneezing helps newborns clear the nose of airborne particles and congestion. It also helps your baby open up a nostril, which can become smooshed during feeding. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself covered in baby sneezes after nursing!

Crossed eyes

Human babies aren’t like puppies or kittens; they can see as soon as they’re born. That said, newborns do have trouble focusing for the first two or three months. It’s also easier for them to look at objects from an angle, according to Cleveland Clinic. As the ocular muscles get stronger, your baby’s eyes will focus better.

So if you have a cross eyed, sneezy infant who poses like an archer, don’t be worried! These are all signs of a healthy baby. Take a deep breath (and lots of pictures to commemorate these first few moments).

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.

10 Things No One Told You About Having A Baby

Ah, pregnancy – that glowing marker of womanhood that turns every average lady into a glowing female goddess. But wait, what’s that smell? Is it you … or the neighbor’s dinner next door? Hold on – now your nose is stuffed up and you can’t smell anything. Those donuts sure look good though, and you can have as many as you want because you’re eating for two … right?

As it turns out, pregnancy isn’t the cakewalk most people portray it to be. In fact, it can be downright weird and disgusting at times. That’s OK, though; we’re here to tell you the truth about pregnancy so you know what to expect over the next nine months:

1. You shouldn’t eat for two

If you’re concerned about your post-pregnancy body, it’s not a good idea to eat without limits. Most women struggle to shed the baby weight, no matter how strict their diet and exercise regimes. Plus, pregnancy cravings may lead you to overload on unhealthy foods full of salt, cholesterol and empty carbs, which is never a good idea.

A dinner of mushrooms and spinach.No, pregnancy doesn’t mean you’re eating for two.

2. You may be constipated

Your progesterone levels increase during pregnancy, relaxing your muscles. This is both a good and bad thing; relaxed uterus muscles mean you won’t have early contractions, but it also means your intestines don’t work as efficiently. Boost you fiber intake, drink lots of water and eat small meals to get things moving again.

3. You may get congested, or worse: nosebleeds

Estrogen is also coursing through your body during pregnancy, which causes the mucous membranes in your nose to swell. This, of course, leads to excess mucus and possible congestion. You might even experience a few nosebleeds here and there.

4. Your gums might bleed

This is also a side effect of progesterone, but it’s a relatively harmless one. Brush your teeth, avoid sweets and rinse your mouth after throwing up to keep your gums healthy. If you decide to go to the dentist, tell them you’re pregnant so they don’t perform an X-ray.

5. You’ll probably get gas

Progesterone is the culprit yet again! By slowing down your gastrointestinal muscles and thereby your digestive system, the hormone allows gas to build up in your belly. Our advice: lots of air fresheners and scented candles, plus a private room for when you really need to let one out.

6. You might get superhuman smell

Pregnancy might be the closest idea you get of what dogs go through on a daily basis. Estrogen can enhance your sense of smell or make some things smell differently. Sounds nifty, until you realize it also worsens your morning sickness. Your favorite foods may suddenly seem absolutely disgusting, and your co-worker’s deodorant may drive you crazy.

7. You might hate being pregnant, and that’s OK

Many people describe pregnancy as the best time in a woman’s life, but this isn’t always true. A lot of women hate the experience. Remember Kim Kardashian’s breakdown during her first pregnancy? Preeclampsia, followed by placenta accreta, a condition where the placenta stays attached to the uterus, made her prenatal journey not so magical.

Of course, you don’t have to have a high-risk pregnancy like Kim’s to be upset. Even simple swelling and discomfort make some women hate the experience. Be a grouch if you want to, and warn anybody who tries to touch your belly without asking first.

Asian pregnant woman has headache sitting on her bedDon’t feel like you have to love every moment of being pregnant.

8. You may make a mess on the delivery table

And no, we’re not just talking about regular birth material. Many women defecate during delivery, which can mortify them during the experience. The muscles you use during labor are the same ones you use when on the toilet. Similarly the hormones that initiate your labor also trigger bowl functions. Couple this with your baby adding extra pressure on your colon, and it’s only natural you might have an accident. Don’t worry, though; your doctor is completely used to this type of thing.

9. You will still look pregnant after giving birth

You might expect your belly to return relatively back to normal after giving birth, albeit with some loose skin. In reality, it can take two months for your stomach to shrink. During pregnancy, your uterus expands to make room for the baby, and it takes time to return to normal. Some women continue to look pregnant even after delivery.

10. You want to prepare for the baby ASAP

Given the swelling, cravings, flatulence, bleeding and other symptoms of pregnancy, chances are you won’t feel like doing much as the months pass. As such, you’ll want to grab your baby gear as early as possible. That way, you can focus on relaxing during the final months.

These pregnancy confessions reveal something many women don’t want to acknowledge or admit: Carrying a child can be uncomfortable, messy and downright embarrassing. Yet it’s also a chance to bring unparalleled love into your life. Try to relish in that idea, and your little one will be here before you know it.

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.

Grandparents playing with a heart frame shape

6 Ways You Can Help New Parents Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Remember being a new parent? Having a child brought a lot of love into your life, but it also brought a lot of work. You probably remember times where it seemed you and your partner were more like co-workers, both trying your best to take care of your baby but loosing track of your love life.

Now that your children have a little one of their own, they’re going through the same strain. Luckily, you can help them find their romance – and maybe bond with your grandchildren at the same time! Here are six Valentine’s Day ideas to help new parents have a lovely evening:

1. Offer to babysit

It’s a time-honored tradition, and one parents will always appreciate. Offer to take the little one off their hands for a night, giving the new parents an evening for just the two of them. Start babysitting early – think 4 or 5 p.m. as opposed to 9 p.m. This way, the parents can have several hours to themselves to relax, have a nice dinner, catch a movie or do whatever it is they want.

2. Cook a favorite meal

Nothing hits the spot quite like comfort food, and luckily, you know exactly what meals your child likes. Whip up a quick dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches, meat loaf, spaghetti, pancakes or whatever their favorite is. They’ll appreciate the love put into the cooking, and just the taste of their favorite flavors will help them relax.

A cook cutting chicken.Comfort food is appreciated by stressful parents.

3. Clean their home

Chances are the sleepless nights and constant diaper changes have prevented your new parents from keeping their home in order. Even if things are – miraculously – relatively neat, the bookshelves could probably use a good dusting, and the carpet a nice shampoo. Come over one Saturday morning and help the new family clean up. If you aren’t as able-bodied as you used to be, hire a cleaning service instead.

4. Surprise them with flowers and takeout

“Have dinner delivered from their favorite restaurant.”

Thanks to the concept of takeout, you don’t have to be at your child’s house to get them a great meal. Just call up their favorite restaurant and see if they deliver or have partnerships with a delivery service like GrubHub, Uber Eats, Door Dash or Amazon Restaurants. Don’t tell them about the surprise beforehand; just wait for the thank you call a day or two after. And if you want to go the extra mile, have another service deliver some fresh-cut flowers or beautiful chocolates, too!

5. Make a baby care kit

Parenthood is expensive. Many people underestimate the cost of diapers, bottles, burp cloths, pacifiers and other little essentials. Help alleviate some of this burden by putting together a personalized baby care kit. Throw in some essentials along with a few extras that are more fun than functional. A cute idea is to get a set of towels monogrammed with the family’s initials, which reminds the two new parents that they’re in this together.

6. Set up a wine tasting

This is a more traditionally romantic option, and it will remind new parents of what their love was like before the baby. Buy them two tickets to a local wine tasting, either at a vineyard or an upscale restaurant. Alternatively, for a more intimate evening, you can host a wine tasting at home. Grab a few interesting-looking bottles, arrange a nice cheese plate, hire a sitter for the night and head to the parents’ home.

A few quick tips for pulling off a great Valentine’s Day

As new parents, the recipients of your well-intentioned gifts may be too focused on their baby to really enjoy the romantic holiday. Here’s some advice for helping them relax for the evening:

  • Shut down any baby talk. This night is for them, not for their infant. Remind them that the baby is fine, and then redirect the conversation.
  • Prepare early. Give yourself time to get everything in order so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute. Restaurants and babysitters book pretty quickly for Valentine’s Day, so you’ll be left out of luck if you don’t get a head start.
  • Do what the parents want. If they say they aren’t into all the romantic stuff, listen to them!

Regardless of which one you choose, any of these six ideas will help you create an amazing Valentine’s Day for the new parents in your life.

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.

Photo of two women looking at each other and talking. One is holding a digital tablet.

Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions While Pregnant

We’re beyond the first month of 2018, and if you’re like most people, you’re close to giving up on your New Year’s resolutions. According to U.S. News and World Report, about 80 percent of people have abandoned their resolutions by the second month of the year. If the average person struggles to eat healthier, save money or accomplish some other positive change, what hope do you have as an expecting mother?

Take a deep breath; committing to your resolution is easier than you think, even when you’ve got a baby on the way. All it takes is a little discipline and a willingness to accept a setback or two (or twelve!) Here are some tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolutions while simultaneously preparing for a baby:

1. Make one change at a time

Your to-do list is endless now that your due date is getting closer and closer. You’ve got to get a crib, stock up on diapers, make a number of doctor’s appointments and have a baby shower! In the rush of things, you’ll quickly set aside giant goals like “get in shape” or “save for a house.”

Instead, you’ll have more success breaking your resolutions down to their smallest components and tackling them one at a time. If your overall plan is to get in shape, attend two yoga classes for expecting moms each week. If you want to improve your overall health, commit to lowering your blood pressure by eating at least one meal each day with foods low in cholesterol.

Admittedly, this method means your progress will be slow, and you might not feel like you’ve accomplished anything for a while. Yet, it’s much easier to stick to than the alternative, especially when you’ve got an incoming infant occupying your mind.

A pregnant woman doing yoga outside. Take small steps to achieve your larger goals.

2. Use apps to track your goals

Smartphone apps and push notifications are fantastic for keeping you on track. When your mind is focused on something else, these tools remind you of your goals in progress.

For example, let’s look back at the “get in shape” resolution, but instead of taking a yoga class, you want to walk more. In this case, a Fitbit or similar fitness tracker might be a great investment. Fitbits in particular are worn like watches and monitor the number of steps you take each hour. If you haven’t taken enough steps to meet your preset goal, the device alerts you with a little vibration.

Fitbits aren’t the only tools that help you stay on track. There are tons of apps and devices that help you stick to your resolutions, from comprehensive money management apps like Mint to a program that simply reminds you to water your plants!

The key to this tip is to use a tool that sends you reminders automatically, not one that you have to check yourself. You’ll never remember to track your steps while you’re out shopping for baby gear, so let your Fitbit do the work for you.

3. Accept failure, but get back on your feet

If you’re a habitual resolution breaker, your behavior may have a simple explanation. Many people fall off the wagon every once in a while – missing a fitness class, eating fries instead of fish, or some other minor offense. Yet we tend to take failure to heart which, as The Guardian pointed out, demotivates us.

“The biggest obstacle to new habits is self-criticism,” Dr. Jessamy Hibberd, a clinical psychologist, told The Guardian in a conversation about New Year’s resolutions. “Study after study shows that self-criticism is correlated with less motivation and worse self-control, in contrast with being kind or supportive to yourself, as you would to a friend – especially when confronted with failure.”

When making your resolutions, understand that some days your feet will be too sore or your body too uncomfortable to do what ever it is you set out to do. Give yourself a break when you fail, then return to your goal with renewed vigor. The more you keep on, the easier it will be to turn these goals into lifelong habits.

Your new baby will bring lots of love into your life, but it’s still important to focus on yourself. Use these three tips to stick to your resolutions and be an amazing new mom.

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.

Close Up Of Father Holding Newborn Baby Son In Nursery

Understanding Your Newborn’s Immune System

Flu season is in full swing, and everyone’s antibodies are working overtime to protect them from nasty bugs. Everyone’s except for the infants of the world, that is.

As a new parent, you might feel too overwhelmed with diaper changes and breastfeeding to think about your baby’s immune system, but now’s the perfect time to understand how it works. Take a moment to read through these facts to learn how you can protect your little one from a whole host of viruses and bacteria:

How your baby’s immune system develops

Immune system development is a lifelong process. Even now, your white blood cells may be producing antibodies to stave off new viruses and bacteria. But babies don’t have years of such exposure; their immune systems are brand new and therefore not as strong as their parents’. The Australian Department of Health provided a brief overview of the process:

Before birth

Developing immunity is a process that begins before babies are even born. During the last three months of pregnancy, mom passes some of her antibodies through the placenta, giving her child a bit of protection. This immunity is completely dependent on mom’s own antibodies, however, and it tends to wear off during the first few weeks after the baby is born.

At birth

During the birthing process, the baby is exposed to a drastically different environment. Her new surroundings are full of love but full of pathogens, too. Therefore, her immune system needs to develop quickly to keep her from getting sick. Luckily, mom naturally passes some of the bacteria from her vagina to her infant and, in doing so, helps her child build a colony of organisms in the gut that support immunity.

As baby grows

Mom passes more antibodies to her child via her breast milk. As the child grows, she begins to develop her own immunity each time she is exposed to a pathogen – a virus, bacterium, parasite or other foreign object that could make her sick.

A mother kissing her baby as the child sleeps.Your baby’s immune system slowly grows each time she’s exposed to new bacteria.

Building your baby’s immune system

According to What to Expect, most healthy infants suffer eight to 10 viral infections by age two. These are perfectly normal; in fact, the process of getting sick strengthens a child’s immune system even more. As the pathogen enters the body, baby’s white blood cells start producing antibodies that not only beat the current infection but stave off any more in the future.

That said, your little one may need a bit of assistance getting her immune system up to snuff. Here are some things you can do to help:

Breastfeed if you can

Your milk contains proteins, antibodies, probiotics, fats and sugars necessary for your little one’s health. These compounds support immune system development and overall growth. Plus, as you encounter pathogens and develop your own antibodies to them, your baby gets some additional immunity when she feeds.

If you are unwilling or unable to breastfeed, don’t worry. Your baby can still get vital nutrients from formula, though you may need to check with her pediatrician to make sure her immune system develops properly.

Vaccinate

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect your baby against serious diseases like mumps and measles. Vaccines cause the immune system to respond as it would to a virus or bacteria – by producing the necessary antibodies – but without your baby getting sick.

These days, many moms are afraid to vaccinate their children out of fear that vaccines cause autism. While there are some risks to vaccinations, including swelling and possible allergic reactions, learning disabilities aren’t one of them. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained, there are numerous studies that prove there is no link between vaccinations and autism.

A baby visiting a doctor.The idea that vaccines cause autism is a complete myth.

Focus on a healthy diet

Finally, good eating habits provide the foundation for strong immune system development. As an infant, your little one usually gets all the nutrients needed from milk or formula, so supplements aren’t necessary. That said, you should still use antibiotics and probiotics if your doctor prescribes them.

As your child starts to eat solid foods, include a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, starches and proteins to keep the immune system running properly.

When your baby has a cold

Unless you live in a bubble, your little one is bound to come down with a cold sooner or later. Also known as upper respiratory infections, colds are caused by viruses that are transmitted through any sort of contact.

Colds aren’t inherently bad; they’re certainly uncomfortable and annoying, but they help build your child’s immune system, after all. Plus, most babies’ colds are mild and last just over a week. You shouldn’t need to call a physician unless:

  • Baby is under three months when she gets her first cold.
  • She’s acting exceptionally uncharacteristic or lethargic.
  • She refuses to eat or drink.
  • Her breathing increases rapidly.
  • She has swollen glands in her neck.
  • She keeps pulling on her ear.
  • Her symptoms last longer than 10 days.
  • She has a low fever lasting longer than 4 days or a fever reaching over 102 degrees.

Otherwise, just boost her fluids, use a humidifier to reduce congestion, moisturize her skin and suck mucus from her nostrils with a suction bulb if necessary.

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 grandma spending time with her grandchildren

5 Meaningful Gifts for Your Grandkids

Grandparents have one of the best jobs in the world: showering their descendants with presents during every visit. After all, they want to make an impact in their grandchildren’s lives, too. In such cases, meaningful presents have much more impact than ones from a chain store. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some gifts for toddlers to bring on your next family trip:

1. A favorite childhood book

What better way to make memories with your grandchild than to share a favorite childhood story? You no doubt have a beloved book you couldn’t put down as a small kid, so see if you can find a copy. An older edition of book will have a lovely vintage appeal that your grandchild will come to appreciate as he or she grows older. Unfortunately, you may have difficulty tracking one down, as older books don’t usually show up in store catalogs. If you simply can’t locate one, you may have better luck with the favorite book of your son or daughter.

If the book in mind was a classic, you should be able to find a recent printing – possibly with updated illustrations to boot! In fact, you may even be able to find an interactive version in print or digital form.

2. A first experience

What’s more exciting than a first time at a zoo or theme park? Make these moments even more special by taking on chaperone duties, leaving the parents with some much-needed time off. Commemorate the event with a specialty photo or pressed coin.

A grandfather with two grandchildren in the park.A first trip to the park makes a great gift.

3. A quilt that represents 18 years

Quilts are classic handmade gifts. Make this even more special by personalizing it to represent your grandchild’s life. Each year, add a row of squares that represents something significant or heartwarming from the prior 12 months. For example, you could incorporate baby’s first year by making a square from the hospital blanket he or she was brought home in.

“A quilt makes a comforting security blanket.”

The quilt will be too small for use at first, of course, but it can still be a comforting security blanket as your grandchild grows up. At age 18, it’ll be a good reminder of family support as he or she takes the first steps into adulthood.

4. A handcrafted mobile

Most of today’s mobiles are – to put it lightly – plastic junk that’s hard to put together but easy to break. Why not take matters into your own hands and craft one yourself? Using sturdy, natural materials like wood and hemp means the mobile will last longer, while your personal touch makes it a unique keepsake that your grandchild will surely love to pass on to the next generation.

Crafting a mobile isn’t difficult at all. All you need are two rods and strong glue (alternatively, you can use a single hoop), some string and something to dangle and entertain the baby:

  • Cross the rods so they make the form of an X. Securely fasten with glue. If you’re using a hoop, skip this step.
  • Cut the string into various pieces, each at least six inches long but no so lengthy that baby can grab them from the crib.
  • Attach the hanging pieces: wooden cutouts, pompom animals, fake flower buds or anything you want. Get creative!
  • Tie or glue the hanging strings to the cross or hoop. Attach a loop of string to the other side so the mobile can hang from the ceiling.

If you want some more DIY ideas, The Spruce collected 18 great mobile tutorials for you to browse through. Select your favorite or pick bits of each to make your own!

5. A personal pendant or charm

If you want to give a gift that’s age appropriate but doesn’t scream “baby,” try a charm that little one can wear throughout the years. These will be more personal if you add a bit of yourself to them, rather than purchasing a product from a big box store.

How can you make a charm personal? One idea is to use your handwriting. Write a short note and have a jeweler inscribe it on a pendant. Alternatively, you can go with the spoken word. There are many services that can print your voice as a sound wave and etch it on a charm. Both of these ideas can be purchased relatively cheap on Etsy.

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.

Mixed race happy family sitting with a snowman outdoors.

How To Make The Most Of Baby’s First Snow

Despite the brutal cold, the sloppy weather and the ever-present possibility of a snowstorm, winter can be a joyous time of year. It’s an excuse to enjoy your favorite hot beverage once again, take out your cute scarves and coats, have a snowball fight and go ice skating.

When you’re a new mom, it might not be immediately clear what you can still enjoy with your little one in tow. Here’s how to make the most of your baby’s first winter:

Bundle up

Staying warm is the most important part of having a wonderful winter, no matter what age you are. Babies have a harder time regulating their own temperatures than adults, however, making it more important that they’re dressed properly for the weather. Pediatricians generally recommend that parents dress their infants in one more layer than they dress themselves, Parents explained.

Happy little girl on winter walkBundle up your baby and take him for a walk.

Be sure to have all the right gear for your little one. Baby winter coats come in a wide range of styles, as do boots, hats, mittens and snowsuits. Find one that’ll keep your baby warm and protected from the cold against their skin. If your baby is one to suck on his or her fingers or thumb, keep an extra pair of mittens handy. Once the mittens are wet, they’ll only serve to keep hands cold, not warm, Baby Center pointed out.

Explore winter activities together

There are some winter sports your infant will need to wait to experience, like skiing or ice skating. However, you can start to introduce your baby to snow and winter activities early on. Get a small baby toboggan to go on a short snowshoe hike through the woods, or push your baby in a stroller for a walk around your neighborhood. On a nice day, go outside to show your baby the snow. Let her watch it fall and make a snowball for her to touch.

Keep skin hydrated

Most people notice their skin tends to dry out during the winter months. The same is true for babies, but remember: Your infant’s skin is more sensitive than yours. Because of this, you’ll need to pay extra attention to keeping your baby’s skin hydrated.

Remember that you don’t need to bathe your baby every day. This may do more harm than good, as the hot water and soap will dry out his skin faster. When you do give your little guy a bath, be sure to quickly follow up with a moisturizer.

Have fun indoors

When the weather outside is frightful, you can still enjoy winter inside. There are plenty of winter-themed activities you can bring indoors for your baby to enjoy:

Read a wintry book

Cozy up with your baby and a winter-centric book. A few excellent ones include:

  • “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jacks Keats.
  • “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen.
  • “Stella: Queen of the Snow” by Marie-Louise Gay.

Reading these books is a calming way to introduce your baby to concepts of snow, winter and the holidays you celebrate.

Go to a mommy and me class

Chances are, you’re not the only new mom looking for something to do with her baby during this time of year. Check out your local community center, library, university or other institutions to find mommy and me classes, where you and your baby can both socialize.

Explore winter festivals

If you have a winter carnival, a wintertime parade or a winter-themed festival in your town, make some time to explore it. There may be activities for you and your little one to enjoy there, plus you might find some yummy treats or fun purchases to make.

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 mom breastfeeding her baby

5 Common Breastfeeding Problems & Their Solutions

Breastfeeding is easy, right? Every mother has the natural instincts to do it, and every baby knows how to latch on from the moment they’re born. Oh and here’s a good one: Moms who have breastfeeding problems obviously aren’t fit to be mothers, and in fact, they should probably give their babies up for adoption.

This line of thinking not only fills moms with shame, but it’s completely incorrect. Most moms who want to breastfeed have trouble, whether because of their own bodies or because the baby refuses. According to a survey from the American Academy of Pediatrics, two-thirds of women are unable to breastfeed for the entirety of the doctor-recommended six months. Here, we’ll look at some common issues moms encounter and their solutions, giving you the information you need to properly feed your little one:

1. Sore or painful nipples

Your nipples will be sensitive the first few times you breastfeed, so some soreness is normal. If, however, the pain lasts longer than a few minutes, try moving your infant so the nipple is closer to the roof of the mouth. If this doesn’t work, wear loose clothing, avoid washing your breasts with soap and use lanolin-based creams to make sure your nipples are properly moisturized.

A mother breastfeeding her infant.If your nipples are constantly sore, try repositioning your baby.

2. Engorgement

A bit of engorgement is normal during the first few days after birth as your breasts adjust to produce the amount of milk your baby needs. After a while, however, excess production can cause milk to build up in the ducts. You may also accidentally engorge your breast by wearing an ill-fitting bra, missing a feeding, forgetting to pump, or suffering trauma to the breast.

To alleviate the problem, try feeding your infant more often. Place a warm towel on your breast beforehand to make yourself comfortable and encourage milk flow, and release milk if your breasts still feel full afterward.

3. Low milk supply

Many moms assume – based on how much they pump, how frequently their baby feeds, whether or not their baby cries or takes a bottle after breastfeeding and similar unreliable factors – that their bodies aren’t producing enough milk. However, if your little one gains weight at a healthy rate, you have no reason to worry. Talk to your doctor to be certain you suffer from low milk supply before taking action, and then follow his or her suggestions.

4. Thrush

Dry nipples can crack or bleed, providing opportunity for a thrush infection. Thrush can also occur in your baby’s mouth and transfer to the breast during a feeding. Signs include severe pain in both breasts that lasts for up to an hour after every feed. The best way to cure thrush is to have you and your baby treated at the same time to prevent the infection from spreading back and forth. The U.K.’s National Health Service recommended spreading a thrush-treating cream around the nipples or taking anti-fungal tablets and giving your baby an anti-fungal gel.

5. Mastitis

This is another infection occurring when bacteria enters the nipple. Unlike thrush, however, it can’t be transmitted to your baby. In fact, according to the University of Michigan, breastfeeding can help alleviate the condition. To completely cure the infection, however, you’ll need to take antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

If you experience one of the five conditions above, don’t worry. They’re perfectly normal side effects of breastfeeding, and with proper attention, they’ll clear up in no time.

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 woman applying makeup in a mirror

How To Revamp Your Makeup Routine with Kids

Now that you’ve got a tiny child taking over your life, demanding your constant attention, you may begin to feel like you’re losing your sense of self. That feeling is perfectly normal, and incorporating some of your old routines into your new schedule can help. For many women, this means returning to their beauty regimen as a form of quiet time and self care.

That said, you probably won’t have the time to return to your full routine, especially if you’re fond of time-consuming methods like the Korean beauty technique and Kardashian-like contouring. That’s OK; here are some quick tips to revamp your routine that will leave you feeling just as beautiful as before:

1. Speed up your cleansing routine

Chances are you won’t have time to cleanse, tone, exfoliate and moisturize every day anymore, let alone add any serums and beauty creams. That’s why facial wipes are a godsend. They remove dirt, oil and even makeup with just a few quick wipes.

For a bit of a deeper clean, try micellar water. This French favorite isn’t water from the tap; it actually contains a surfactant that allows it to break down and pull away oil. Just soak a cotton pad and wipe over your face a few times; you’ll be amazed at the results!

Keep in mind that micellar water isn’t strong enough to remove a full face of makeup, so you may still need to use makeup remover beforehand. That said, it’s a much easier way to clean your face than the typical method.

A close up of a woman's closed eye with water droplets running down her face.Micellar water is a great way to quickly clean your face.

2. Always moisturize and use sunscreen

The healthier your natural skin is, the less concealer and foundation you need to cover up blemishes. A good skincare routine always includes moisturizer and sunscreen to keep your skin hydrated and reduce sun damage. When combined, years of using these products helps prevent wrinkles and discoloration.

Always choose non-comedogenic products (meaning they don’t block your pores) and go for a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection. Also, be liberal with your application; most people don’t use enough of either product to get the most benefits.

3. Stick to the basics

Now that your skin is all good to go, it’s time to take a long, hard look at your makeup routine. Moms usually don’t have a lot of time in the mornings, so you may have to cut back on a lot of products.

Lucky for you, the natural makeup look is still in! In fact, makeup trends are more diverse than ever these days, ranging from glittery show makeup to nude looks. As such, no one should look twice when they see you rocking your natural or almost-natural face.

To get the perfect natural look, you only need a few simple makeup basics:

  • Eyeliner to sweep across your lash line and enhance your eyes.
  • Mascara to make your eyelashes pop.
  • Eyebrow pencils, powders or gels to enhance your expressive face.
  • Lip tints for a beautiful pout.

If you want, you can also add concealer or BB cream to even your skin tone and cheek stain for a bit of color.

As a new mom, you may not have time for your full-fledged makeup routine anymore. Set aside your primers, powders, contour kits and finishing sprays, and adopt this simple routine instead.

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.

Shot of an exhausted young businesswoman sleeping at her desk during a late night at work

The Top Common Pregnancy Sleep Issues

What do you do when you can’t sleep and you’ve got a baby developing inside your belly? Certainly countless women have asked this question throughout the ages, as sleep issues are common during pregnancy. Here are some of the most universal:

1. Insomnia

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 78 percent of pregnant women struggle with insomnia. Luckily, as the American Pregnancy Association noted, this condition isn’t harmful for your baby. That doesn’t mean it’s OK for you, of course; not getting enough high-quality sleep is detrimental to your health in numerous ways, slowing reaction time, hurting performance at work and possibly contributing to mental health problems.

Insomnia during pregnancy can arise from a number of causes, including:

  • Back pain.
  • Heartburn.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Discomfort from your abdomen.
  • Frequent nighttime urination.
  • Anxiety or anticipation of delivery.

Some of these causes are related to the other sleep issues listed below.

To help fix your insomnia, try some of the suggestions below:

  • Sleep on your left side with a pillow between your legs and, if necessary, under your abdomen. Not only does this alleviate pain, but sleeping on the left increases the amount of blood and nutrients delivered to your baby.
  • Prop up your upper body with pillows if you have heartburn or are frequently short of breath.
  • Avoid sleeping on your back or stomach, which causes pain and interferes with your circulation, digestion, blood pressure and breathing.
  • Prepare yourself for bed by taking a warm bath, getting a massage or engaging in relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.
  • Exercise during the day. This helps tire your mind and body in the evening.
  • Avoid daytime naps unless absolutely necessary, as they make it harder to fall asleep at night.
A pregnant woman taking a nap.Sleeping on your left helps deliver nutrients to the baby.

2. Frequent urination

Pregnant women are no stranger to frequent trips to the bathroom. Unfortunately, because of your hormones and the pressure on your bladder from your baby, there isn’t a lot you can do about this one. If you’re really struggling, however, the following suggestions may provide some relief:

  • Drink lots of fluids during the day, but start cutting back in the hours before bedtime. This way, you’re properly hydrated but your bladder is relatively empty at night.
  • Use a night light when going to the bathroom after bedtime. Harsh lights from overhead wake you up more than a soft glow, thereby making it harder to fall back asleep.

3. Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing is repeatedly interrupted while you sleep. It’s associated with complications like low birth weight, preeclampsia and gestational hypertension. Also, sleep apnea can increase daytime sleepiness, increasing your urge to nap.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep apnea symptoms include the following:

  • Loud snoring.
  • Waking up abruptly, especially if you’re short of breath.
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat.
  • Insomnia.
  • Morning headaches, attention issues or irritability.
  • Pauses in breathing noticed by another person.

The only true way to diagnose sleep apnea is through a sleep study. Luckily, there are a number of home tests available for purchase. That said, they’ll set you back a few hundred dollars.

If you just want a way to breathe more easily and reduce snoring, try some of the following:

  • Use a humidifier at night.
  • Sleep on your side.
  • Sleep slightly elevated by propping your upper body with pillows.
  • Exercise for weight loss (studies show a link between obesity and sleep apnea.)
  • Wear a nasal strip to bed.
  • Avoid sleeping pills, alcohol and tobacco.

That said, if you suspect your sleep apnea is a major problem, contact your doctor for specialized treatment.

4. Heartburn

Pregnant women often experience nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as nighttime heartburn. Unfortunately, pregnancy hormones relax the muscle that keeps stomach acid down where it belongs, according to What to Expect. In addition, the baby bump pushes on the stomach during the last trimester, further shifting the acid.

If heartburn keeps you up at night, experiment with the strategies below:

  • Take an over-the-counter antacid. These are deemed safe for pregnant women and fetuses.
  • Eat frequent small meals throughout the day.
  • Avoid fried, spicy and acidic foods.
  • Using gravity to your advantage by propping yourself up with pillows at night.
A woman picking up medication at a pharmacy.OTC antacids are safe for pregnant women.

5. Restless Leg Syndrome

RLS is a crawling or tingling sensation in the legs. It tends to worse at night and is usually relieved by movement. Of course, you can’t move when you’re trying to sleep, so try the following instead:

  • Avoid taking medications for RLS; the pose a risk to your developing fetus.
  • Instead, make sure your prenatal vitamins include folate and iron supplements, which both reduce the risk of RLS. Note that folate is best absorbed when it’s in food form, so eat more whole grains, cereals and bread.
  • Increase your vitamin C and cut back on the coffee to improve folate absorption.

6. Leg cramps

Leg cramps are often thought to be a side effect of weight gain or vitamin deficiencies. If these problems plague you at night, here are some tips:

  • Take calcium and magnesium supplements.
  • Exercise and stretch your legs during the day.
  • Wear support hose when you can.
  • If you experience a cramp at night, straighten your leg and gently flex your foot. Avoid pointing your toes.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have severe pain, as this may indicate a blood clot.

While most sleep issues aren’t a problem for baby, you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re as rested as possible during your pregnancy.

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.