Is My Baby Right-handed or Left-handed? Is Laterality Strictly Hand-related?

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I remember the joy when my son clutched a toy for the very first time. My baby can hold a toy! “Oh wait”, said the voice of anxiety in the mommy head. “Is he right-handed or left handed?” “Come on, it’s too early to tell”, said another voice (I’d like to believe it was the voice of wisdom. Yep, it’s still somewhere there in the mommy brain.)
Of course it was waaaay too early to tell, but as a parent, isn’t it one of the things you’re asking too? My son is now 14 months old. He can hold things in both hands, he can pass things from one hand to another. Yet it’s still too early to tell. And is it that important? Are you going to love your child less if he’s left-handed? Or if you’re left-handed, are you going to like a righty less? Or are you secretly hoping, he or she will be left-handed – a hidden genius and rugged artist with the wildest imagination? Sometimes we just wave the hand and say ‘We parents worry too much.’
Not until the age of 3-4 (some sources say 2-3, as always, babies are individualities) can we talk about absolute laterality. Once babies start grabbing things, they may prefer one hand over the other. But before the age of 1 they actually should be using both hands and experimenting with both parts of their body equally. If they have very strict preference at this age, it could be because the parents hand them objects into one hand only; then it’s good to switch the hands here and there. If this is not the case, it’s good to check (preferably with assistance of a pediatrician) for a possible muscle weakness or underdevelopment.
When talking about laterality, most people think about hands first. But laterality refers to a preference for a whole body side. Humans’ ear and eye laterality should be ideally identical with hand laterality. If it’s not, it could lead to learning problems in the future – it may be crucial in the way a child processes information. So as we, parents, anxiously watch for the “handedness”, we should watch for possible signs where a child is using one eye or ear more when forced to choose.
Breastfed babies are in a slight advantage when it comes to eye and ear stimulation – they get usually fed from both breasts, so primary sound and vision stimulation changes with each breast. Bottle-fed babies tend to be held in the same position when being fed. If you have a bottle-fed baby, you might try to stimulate him in different positions.
The same applies if your diaper changing station is by the wall with a parent changing always from one side. You might consider either changing the side with each diaper change or, which is even better for you and the baby, move the table so the baby’s feet are towards your body and you look at your baby from above. This is by the way the most preferred diaper changing position in Motessori-style upbringing.

How to support muscle development in both hands? Children as young as 10 months can be handed crayons and showed, how to use them on paper. Don’t expect any miracles, your baby will need a few sessions to figure out things (and you’ll need a bit of patience trying to stop her eating the crayons:) ), but you can start with drawing some simple shapes, letting them scribble over them and filling them with different colours. Describe what you’re doing and you have just developed an educational game! Example:
Look, I’m drawing a blue square! Will you help me colour it? Now we’re making a red circle.
You can even make it a pre-diner game when one partner is preparing the meal and the rest of the family is waiting at the table (and you have a brand new family ritual!). While ambidexterity (equal skills with both hands) is very rare, children are natural learners and using both hands for easier tasks is a game for them, so even older children can take part and try drawing the same easy shape with each hand taking turns.

I like these triangular crayons ¬†for the first experiments – they don’t roll away, are non-toxic AND washable. Washable is important. Mark my words…

Just remember – we all are unique and possess individual nervous systems – you cannot change your baby’s laterality and you SHOULDN’T try.

 

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for your support by reading and commenting ūüôā

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How To Save Money With a Baby ‚Äď Part 2

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In my last post I was sharing some tips that would save you money if you are trying to keep your costs down after having a baby (or just trying to be a good citizen of the Earth).

Many of us can’t resist a good deal, especially for things that we somehow determined our baby “will need”. If we must, let’s build a strategy! In the light of upcoming Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and winter Holiday sales, here is my way to keep things real:

  • Make a list of things you need. It will keep you in line:)
  • Once you have your list – rework it! Put the ‘needs’ on top and put the ‘wants’ at the bottom. Re-reading your draft will surely reveal some doubles and some non-essential items.
  • Visit shops that carry your items and see them in person (well before the sale and the stampede starts!). Some things look “bigger and better” in a catalogue or on-line. Some items will make you wonder, why they’re on your list at all once you see and touch them.
  • Write down prices and compare them in different stores and on-line.
  • Shop on-line if possible – this is about those big stores where people behave like herds of headless beasts on sale days. Battle for the Middle Earth belongs on your TV screen!
  • If you choose to hit the stores, have a bottle of water and a snack in your bag. I’m serious. It would be worse than a trip to IKEA ūüôā
  • Spend your time wisely – don’t waste 3 hours running to 5 different stores to find a $5 toy for $4.50. Your time is also money! Big ticket items are worth more time invested (think a stroller or a car seat).
  • Once you buy, keep the receipts. You will be able to return your purchase if for any reason you decide it’s not wanted anymore – if you find the same item somewhere else for a considerably better price, the size of the clothes you bought is not correct, you decide you have enough stuff already (well done!).
    Some shops have stricter return policies for items on sale or in clearance, so make sure that you are aware of it.
  • Know your budget. Do you really want to run up your credit card debt because of a “great deal”?

Happy hunting!

 

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How To Save Money With a Baby – Part 1

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Having a baby in your¬†world is life-changing. For some of us, it’s the most important event of¬†our¬†lives, it’s the very existence¬†we have and are… and logically there should be nothing we would spare to make our baby/ babies thrive and make happy. We would bring the sun and moon for them!

But is it always good to give everything? If money is the question – shouldn’t we save some for later as well? If money is not an issue – is it correct to have and give everything the eye sees and the mind desires?

Everyone should have ways to economize, it’s good for our wallets and it’s good for the Earth we hope to give to our children (please no Whitney Houston song here, if it gets stuck in your head, I cannot be held responsible… enough that after typing this, it’s already whizzing through¬†MY head). There are many ways to save money when you have a baby, some are surprisingly easy and simple! The following list is by no means complete and I will return to some points later again,¬† otherwise this post would go forever, saving you no time;)

1) Buy less

This seems like DUH!, but tell me honestly, aren’t you sometimes really, really tempted to buy that cute dress or that toy on sale even though we have a similar one already?
There are many things we are led to believe we will seriously¬†need by toy makers and big baby stores. Sometimes you just need one of each (hey, that’s not the same as one of everything ;).
Here you have to think about your own setting and situations you will likely find yourself with a baby in. For example if you travel a lot, you might consider buying a travel basinet, but don’t buy a travel bed. They are bulky even when folded and who wants to pay extra luggage fees? You could use a folding bed in your parents’ house, if you plan to visit a lot – it will be out of the way when you’re not there.
Another example are books. I fully support little readers and personally think that teaching your child to love books is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, BUT… does your kid need 15 different lift-the-flap books? Or 5 bathtub books? Or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” in 3 sizes board book, 2 paper AND a bathtub version? See where I’m going?¬†Some books will be useful only for a short¬†time (i.e. black & white infant books), why don’t you spend your money on children’s classics you will read before bedtime? And make a good use of that library card!
An easy way to save on baby clothes: don’t create a little fashionista! Don’t pretend like your 8 months old won’t wear anything yellow or grey, your child will wear what you put them in… (hello, celebrity moms!). Your child doesn’t need a new dress every Sunday either.

2) Be old-fashioned

Every generation of children has more and more toys, books and¬†hi-tech gadgets. Sometimes it’s worth asking your parents or grandparents what they owned and how they played. Or you can just walk down the memory lane and remind yourself that you were happy with much less as well!
Buy things that are lasting and will become a heirloom, get multitasking toys and learn activities that encourage open-ended play. Teach your children how not to be bored. And get out often!

3) Buy on sale

There are days on American calendar that are supposed to celebrate important events, but lately became an epitome of shopping sprees. While I don’t support shopping till you drop in lieu of giving an appropriate respect (i.e. recent Veterans Day), but at the same time I believe that if you can buy something 50% off after New Year, why would you buy it full price.
There are lots of websites that offer discounted baby and children stuff all year round: zulily.com, babysteals.com, kidsteals.com, babyhalfoff.com just to name a few.

4) Use memberships and monthly delivery services

Many websites with baby products have member-only services to (lure you in) and to save money. It’s worth discovering sites like Amazon.com (their Amazon Mom program offers 20% diaper subscription and free 2-day shipping, plus other perks like 15% off baby registry items), Diapers.com (subscribe &¬†save programs and frequent sales), Honest.com (the Bundles, like Diapers & Wipes Bundle, save you a lot every month plus the products are absolutely safe and Earth-friendly).

5) Breastfeed

Our whole species survived because mothers did what was natural – breastfeeding. I will never blame a mother who didn’t breastfeed because of a medical issue, but that’s for a different post. Here I am writing about saving money and boy, breastfeeding is actually the most natural way to save while doing the most natural thing for your baby! Have you ever looked at baby food prices? Yes, your baby will become a toddler in a few months and before you know it he or she will be eaten by an omnivorous beast pretending to be that same baby and set on to break your bank in the grocery department. But before all that, you can save a few hundred by not using formula.

6) Reuse and recycle

Some ways to reuse are: using cloth diapers or going completely diaper-free (aka Elimination Communication), using washable breast pads and cloth wipes.
Scour garage sales, bookmark Craiglist on your computer, ask friends with bigger kids if they’re downsizing. Thrift stores have sometimes amazing things and once you’re done with them, you can donate or resell them again. Keep the cycle going. Halloween was a great example in the days just passed by – parents spend high sums for readymade costumes while one trip to a thrift shop could have yielded similar results (no offense, but some ready-made costumes looked like they came out of trash bin already…).
Make your own toys and activities. Make them with kids! Pinterest is an amazing resource; you had no idea what all you can make out of cardboard boxes, fabric scraps¬†or empty water bottles (well, buying bottled water won’t exactly save you money either, get a water filter;). Have you heard of the saying that if you want your child to play, give them the box their toy came in?

7) Support local and handmade

Handmade doesn’t always come cheap, but with a few key items you are getting furniture/ toys/ decor that will last longer then flimsy cheaply made pieces. You’re exchanging quantity for quality and you might be able to resell your pieces well. Or keep reusing with more children. Some one-of-a-kind items can be also of collectors’ interest.
Create a relationship with a local farmer – we keep going to the same stand at a farmers market and the lad selling there already knows us. After exchanging family stories from the past week, we hand him $15 and a bag and he fills it with whatever is in season. We used to pay at least twice that much at the beginning… Making the “I know a guy” work for you!

8) Get one – give one

Babies grow and develop so fast, it’s inevitable that your closet will be soon full, storage boxes overflowing and cleaning after playtime will take longer. You need to clear some space! Get one – give one is just what it says, for every new thing get rid of an old one. Donate or sell old clothes and toys (or keep them nicely organized and stored for your next child). Get rid of broken toys, destroyed clothing and items your child is not using. Donate to a family in need.

9) Take a clue from other countries

In many countries people live with much less. Yet their children are happy, they still become scientists and lawyers and teachers and they find love and have families. Material stuff doesn’t make them happier or more content. Some of the local traditions and habits actually do. Bed sharing, room sharing and eating from one plate are to name just a few.

10) Give what’s always for free

Your baby needs you, your time, your love and affection, your loving touch, your voice, your guidance. All these are already free!

 

Some of the categories definitely blend together and have some points in common. They all could be a version of “Buy Less”! And while trying to live with less, make sure that your family and good friends are on the same boat with you – who wants to fight over presents on a baby’s birthday?

What are your tips for saving some dough with baby?

 

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Found In Translation: UK English Baby Glossary

When I moved to the USA many years ago from Ireland (which is not my home country, if you ask), I had the occasional run-in with the different words used on either side of the Atlantic (or, more often, SAME words with different meaning). Now as a new mum, I had to learn a completely new word book of baby vocabulary.

Here¬†for those of you who might travel to Europe – or just want to¬†have a good laugh –¬†today I present you with some basics of British baby-talk.

Let’s start by changing the baby, shall we? For that, of course, you will need some nappies. Dirty ones go into a nappy bin or, if you’re a bit more posh, into a nappy disposal system. Since we just¬†established the absence of “diapers”, there are no diaper bags. Your baby items will fit comfortably into a changing bag.

But before you put a new nappy on, you will want to clean your baby using a top and tail bowl and drying her afterwards with some cotton wool.

Are you going out? If you don’t want to use a carrier, you will need a pram. The term pram can be confusing.¬† Many people use the word to mean a pushchair or travel system, but it is also the name for a traditional, coach-style pram. Make sure your tyres are in good shape!

Are you staying in? Baby can be put to sleep in a cot (or if you’re visiting, you’ll probably have a carrycot or Moses basket). You might notice that more European parents are rather concerned that their baby might kick a blanket off and get cold than suffocate underneath it. That’s because the use¬†of cellular blankets is more popular than fleece blankets. Also, European parents don’t give their babies pacifiers, but pacify them with dummies.

If you’re bottle feeding, make sure you have some extra teats (however if you pronounce it ‘tits’, you may as well just stay with nipples:) and a bottle and teat brush.

Lastly, stock up on bibs and cloths to wipe the posset. Now this word is tricky. What is posset you want to know? Wikipedia will tell you that “A posset (also spelled poshote, poshotte) was a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular from medieval times to the 19th century”. That’s not really helpful. And although somebody once said that it sounds like something the British would wear on their heads to horse races, it is rarely worn on heads (although as a new parent you possibly had it on yesterday:))). Americans call it un-euphemistically spit-up!

What other British words do you find confusing?

The Day I Disagreed With Our Pediatrician

I am a self proclaimed Amazon addict:) This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon.com and Brillkids.com.

During our first visit to pediatrician, when our son was 4 days old, I asked the doctor: “What shall we do with the baby – how should we stimulate him? What can we teach him?”
And the doc said: “Nothing really. All you can do the first three months is to watch him eat and sleep. Babies this small don’t do anything.”
When we came home, me and my husband were feeling a bit let down. “Nothing? Really? So during pregnancy we were trying to play games and connect with the unborn baby and now for thee months NOTHING?”
When I was expecting this little boy, I found a beautiful book by Deepak Chopra – Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives.

Chopra gives such a sweet ‘recipe’ to bonding with your baby before you even meet him or her, it’s impossible that all ends (or gets interrupted) at birth. I could feel him kicking, I could feel him respond to my touch – in my belly. So now when he is finally here, we do nothing?
I turned to Google (yes, I am a self-proclaimed Google and Amazon addict) and found wonderful Infant Stimulation cards – black and white pictures you can use from birth to stimulate your baby’s vision and brain development. I printed them and started showing then to Aditya at about 2 weeks old. I could see him trying to focus his eyes, I could see him trying to follow the pictures when they moved. It was all slow and very subtle, but then at about 1-1.5 months old he started wiggling when he saw the pictures. He would first stare and soak a picture in, when wiggle as if saying ‘next please’ and then focus on the next one I showed him. Now at 4 months we have a few different booklets including black & white & red cards and they have proven not only to be an educational toy, but also a great distraction tool then he’s fussy or bored.
Since then I have discovered a TON of great tools and toys and I will share them, so in case you’re still waiting to meet your miraculous baby or you’re at home “stuck” with a bundle only a few days/ weeks old, you can start playing games to boost your baby’s development.

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Other things they suggest you can do with your teeny tiny little baby:

  • play music
  • talk and sing
  • massage baby every day
  • show and read him/ her books
  • and, of course, play with your baby

Our days were not filled with watching the baby, but with doing lots of new activities every time he was awake and attentive (probably at that very little age it was all more stimulating for mummy and daddy, but we learned lots of things and created some little rituals that are now a natural part of our life with not-so-little-anymore baby).

And yes – you will spend LOTS OF TIME watching your little one feeding and sleeping, but it totally doesn’t end there!

 

This post contains affiliate links from Amazon.com and Brillkids.com. I never link to products I would not recommend based on personal use or products I believe are not healthy/ eco friendly/ ethical.

 

Getting Ready To Go Out With A Baby

I don’t know how mums of two and more kids do it, there is probably more crying in the house. I admire the women, if there is no crying… because with this little fella, you know when I’m holding him and when I’m not. He just doesn’t like being alone (or as my husband likes to call it, he has ‘abandonment issues’ already). So if I leave him in the bedroom to get dressed and apply make-up (yes, this mama needs make-up to make up for the lack of sleep on some nights;), he will usually start crying or at least sobbing. I can take it for a moment, but when I see he won’t soothe himself this time, I’d just¬†rather pick him up. It’s easier doing things with one hand (or whilst having him in a sling) than having to calm him down.

So here is my humble recipe how I make it work:

Dressing up: I put the little one on our bed (yes, the big bed he gets to share with the two big people who keep kissing him), bring my clothes and lay them next to him. Then I proceed to put the clothes on. I keep talking to him describing what I’m wearing and I show him each piece – he gets a dose of vocabulary and likes when something is flying above his head. Sometimes I touch his face with the fabric, he squeaks with delight!

Make-up application is interesting. We have a rather large wash basin area – without it this trick would not be possible. I sit him down on a towel (so it’s not cold for his tush) and support his back with my stomach. I hold him with one hand and the other use for make-up application! He loves watching himself and mummy in the mirror and when he gets wiggly, he gets to hold bottle tops or brushes. And I again keep taking to him or sing songs to keep him entertained and make it our mummy-and-me time! ¬† image

Blogging about parenthood – WHY?

Parenthood changes your life. Every mama knows it. Every papa knows it. Why would I want to blog about it? Especially if I’m not the only one!
Well… because I’m a mama. And the world has changed. And I’m at home with this little mini-me and I want to tell somebody and everybody how it feels.
But mainly because I have a million questions. Every single day. And I’m looking for answers, reading books and magazines and “googling” all day long (oh, let’s make this clear right away – “all day long” means about an hour a day in total, between feedings, diaper changes, playtime, walks outside and ‘etcetera’). So many people have done it (being a parent), the answers are clearly there. But with every person comes a theory and an opinion and like most mamas I’m looking for the best. Or at least the good enough;)
And maybe you are a mama and are looking for the same answers. Let’s search together. Maybe I will help you with some of the questions we all have. Maybe you’ll slap me and help ME.