Smart Parenting
Practical advice about raising children

4 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

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While many women approach the beginning of pregnancy with excitement, the joy may begin to wear off when troubling symptoms, such as morning sickness and extreme fatigue, take over the body. Some women may begin worrying about other potential problems, such as hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain. While every pregnancy has at least some discomfort, following these four tips can create the most problem-free pregnancy possible.

Prenatal Vitamins

Although some women believe that eating a healthy diet is sufficient for nutrition, this is not the case during pregnancy. The baby will be taking many of the vitamins and minerals from the mother’s diet as they grow and develop through the months. Mothers should choose prenatal vitamins over regular multivitamins due to their increased levels of both iron and folic acid.

Prenatal Medical Care

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, early prenatal care is vital for healthy pregnancies and for the reduction of preterm birth. Prenatal care should begin in the first trimester and should include routine lab work. Women should also receive at least one or two ultrasounds by a professional with a bachelor’s degree in medical sonography.

Proper Exercise

Pregnancy can seem like a great excuse for dropping an exercise routine. However, physicians recommend continuing to exercise during pregnancy in most cases. Of course, women should check with their doctors first, but exercise can keep off excessive weight gain, keep muscles toned in preparation for childbirth and even help with postpartum health.

Emotional Health

While many doctors focus mainly on physical health during pregnancy, a woman’s emotional health is not to be overlooked. Because of wildly fluctuating hormones, women’s moods may seem like a turbulent roller-coaster ride. However, stress hormones can travel to the baby, affecting development. Women are encouraged to take time for themselves, have a massage or a warm bath or talk with their doctors if they feel that their emotions are out of control.

Because pregnant women are caring for both themselves and their unborn child, they must take care to treat their bodies and minds with compassion and wisdom during this time. What they put into their bodies greatly affects the unborn child, and even their stressors can affect their own minds as well as the growth and welfare of the baby. The possibility of having a mainly problem-free pregnancy are heightened by following these healthy body and mind tips.

Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she's used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica on Google Plus.

Tips for Moving Your Baby to Their Crib

The time has come to transfer your little bundle of joy out of their bassinet or your bed (if you’re co-sleeping), and into the crib in their own room. Since the nursery is where your baby will spend a great deal of their time moving forward, it’s important to make it feel as cozy and welcoming as possible. Here are a few key factors to help guide you while adjusting your baby to their new environment.

happy, sleeping baby
Photo courtesy Davenport Public Library.


A room that’s too bright will hurt your baby’s sensitive eyes, so be sure to choose a lightbulb with a lower wattage, or just stick to lamps. Even better: Install a dimmer switch to simplify your life and provide the right amount of light with just a turn of the knob. Another great lighting option would be to use blinds or plantation shutters to keep the room dark during nap time.


Infants tend to be very sensitive, so it’s a good idea to make sure any bedding you have picked out won’t irritate their delicate skin. A good rule of thumb is if you find the material uncomfortable, so will your child. Stick with fabrics you’ve used before and make sure after they’ve been washed and reused a lot, you can switch them out for new ones.


No one wants to sleep in a room that’s either too hot or too cold, so ensure that the temperature is comfortable for your baby. Of course, blankets should be nearby if you need to swaddle your little one, but the thermostat should stay fairly consistent. If you have large windows, make sure the sun isn’t overheating the room, or cooling it down too fast if it’s on the shadier side.


The way a nursery is decorated can either aid in helping your baby drift off to sleep peacefully, or engage them. Using muted colors and patterns goes a long way towards a good night’s rest. Mobiles can be helpful in calming a fussy baby, and a crib that allows for easy grabbing can be good for perfecting their motor skills.

First time parents usually have questions about how and when to make the change. While information from friends, family, and even your doctor is helpful, the best advice is to trust your own instincts and listen to your child. Usually once your baby can roll over on their own, it’s a safe to assume they’re ready to move into their own room. But don’t be afraid to take it slow. The adjustment can be a little nerve-wracking for both the parent and child, so here are a few tips to help make it as painless as possible. Once you’re certain the nursery is prepared for your baby, try using these simple instructions.

Preparing your Baby

A good first step in making the transition would be to do a trial-run during the day. Participate in non-sleeping activities, such as reading a book or playing with a toy, to help gradually ease your child into their new space and will introduce them to their new surroundings, so it will be less of a shock later.

Try laying the baby down in his/her crib for short naps. The decision to move forward will depend on the success of the step above. If your baby is still struggling to transition, especially if you’ve been co-sleeping, a good suggestion is to bring along an item with your scent on it. Babies tend to feel more relaxed when the familiar scent of their mother or father is nearby.

Once baby is napping in their nursery, sleeping overnight in their crib is the final step. When transitioning, remember to go at whatever pace is best for your family. There’s no true right or wrong when it comes to parenting choices.

It can be mind boggling, as a new parent, to try to figure out the right time and way to transition your little one. But by utilizing these tips you just might find that it takes away some of the confusion and stress.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Inspire a New Generation of Healthy, Fit Kids

Children’s most formative years are from birth to the age of five. This is when they begin to develop their intellect, personality, and social skills. It’s also a time for children to be surrounded by positive role models and learn how to enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. All adults are socially responsible to inspire every new generation to be fit, healthy, and active. When we think about the future, we often wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in this case, the healthy adult or the healthy child?

Children are surrounded by adults from the moment they are born until they, themselves, become adults. These are the people who will influence your kids during their most important years of developing their preferences. As parents, we have the opportunity to be the foundation for our kids. Once they are in the hands of others, we begin to allow others to shape their way of thinking. This is the time to be great role models and to constantly remind our children of positive lifestyles. As a fitness professional and the co-founder of a preschool fitness program, I’ve put together a list of ways for YOU to be positive—it will rub off on the kids as they watch you enjoying life. Try this fun, comprehensive guide on how to become a positive role model for your kids.

mother bicycling with daughters
Photo by Fotolia.

Make fitness fun. I’m here to tell you that if you don’t love your fitness activities, you won’t enjoy the journey to health and your kids will interpret fitness and exercise as a negative word. So, go out there and find what makes you happy! You can try group fitness classes at a large gym, in a boutique fitness studio, or even at home with a DVD. Maybe you prefer outdoor activities like biking, hiking, surfing, etc. As the primary role model in your child’s life, it is your responsibility to learn to enjoy exercise, make it part of everyday life, and share your fitness with family and friends.

Stop counting calories. When we talk about kid’s fitness, we never mention words like, calories, weight loss, fat, thin, etc. As fitness professionals, enthusiasts, parents and teachers, we want to always practice what we preach. Can you imagine a four year old counting calories in their lunch box? No, and neither should you. Kids eat when they are hungry; they stop eating when they are no longer hungry. They move when they want to have fun; they sleep as long as their bodies require them to sleep. We should learn from our future generation and stop beating ourselves up about the number of calories we’re consuming and instead enjoy our meals and enjoy our fitness.

Avoid negative self-talk. Do your best not to degrade yourself with comments like, “I’m not skinny enough. I shouldn’t have eaten that. I hate exercising. I’m too upset to look in the mirror today.” Your kids are absorbing every negative and positive thing you say out loud. They can even interpret your body language. Crazy, right? It’s time for us to overpower the negativity that we see around us, especially in the media and to start talking in more positive ways. For instance, we can teach our children that going to the gym allows us to be strong and healthy, instead of skinny. We’re eating healthy to prevent disease and to enjoy what our bodies can do for us instead of dieting.

Kids are so intuitive and we’re often missing clues that they are modeling our behaviors. Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if your attitude was healthier and you got excited every time it was time for the gym? Or you cooked healthy meals at home with your kids, letting them participate?

Ethel Baumberg has an MPH in health education and behavioral sciences and is the business director and co-founder of FLYAROO Fitness, the first nationwide customizable preschool certification fitness program created for children ages 18 months to 6 years old.

3 Tips on How to Make Bedtime Easier

By the time you get all of your kids tucked into bed, it seems like half of the night is already gone. Your children never seem to get enough sleep and neither do you. Yet, bedtime doesn’t have to take all night. There are a couple of easy ways you can make bedtime easier. Make your children’s bedroom more inviting with organic bamboo sheets and establish a bedtime routine. While these tricks are simple, they will do wonders in making bedtime easier on you and your kids.

mother reading bedtime story to two children
Photo by Fotolia.

Make Their Bedroom Inviting

The first step to making bedtime easier is to make your children’s bedroom more inviting. If your children love jumping into their bed each night because their bedding is so soft and cozy, the bedtime battle is half won.

Organic bamboo sheets and silk comforters are the perfect way to turn your children’s bed from a night-time prison into a cozy haven that they want to spend all their time in. Organic bamboo sheets are even softer than cotton and as smooth as silk without the slipperiness.

Organic bamboo sheets and silk comforters are also extraordinarily breathable, which means your children will be comfortable all night long since they won’t ever wake up from overheating. Having your children stay asleep all night long is a parent’s dream because your children will actually get a good night’s sleep and you won’t be woken up in the middle of the night.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

Establishing a bedtime routine is the next step in making bedtime easier. Having your children get that last drink of water, brush their teeth, and go to the bathroom as part of your bedtime routine will help eliminate many of the causes of your kids getting up after they have been put to bed.

In addition, bedtime is also a great time to bond with your children and. Incorporate reading a book or singing a song into your bedtime routine so your children will get your undivided attention, reassuring them of how much you love them before they fall asleep each night.

While establishing a bedtime routine is difficult at first, stick to it until it becomes a habit. Both you and your children will be happier in the long run when everyone knows what to expect at bedtime.

Reward Yourself

After your children are tucked in for the night, you can finally get the rest that you deserve. Make your own bedroom an inviting place with king size bamboo sheets and a silk comforter. This soft, smooth bedding will help you to relax after a long day with the kids. Organic bamboo sheets and a silk comforter you will also pamper you into a deep sleep so you are well rested and able to take on tomorrow’s challenges head-on.

To find the perfect organic bamboo sheets and silk comforters for you and your children, visit Cozy Earth today! Cozy Earth has everything you need to turn any bed into a cozy haven that everyone will love to jump into for a great night’s sleep.

Meggie Haneckow is a niche writer and blogger who loves to write on trending topics and share her personal experiences and knowledge through her writing. She is also a health enthusiast, so she loves to share health-care related tips through her blogs.

Why Choose Organic Bamboo Bedding for Your Children?

When you hold your child in your arms for the first time, you feel an overwhelming sense of love. You want to give them every opportunity in the world and help them anyway you can. While you can’t give them everything, there are a few simple ways you can help your child. For example, if you could reduce your child’s allergies and give them a better night’s sleep, wouldn’t you? Well, you can with organic bamboo bedding.

little girl sleeping

Reduce Allergies

Many small children and infants suffer from allergies. It’s difficult to watch your child struggle with allergies because they’re so little and don’t understand why they’re miserable. However, you can reduce your infant or child’s allergies by switching to 100 percent bamboo sheets.

Bamboo sheets reduce allergies because they are hypoallergenic and reduce the number of dust mites living in your bed. While it’s unpleasant to think about, traditional bedding attracts dust mites, one of the primary causes of allergies, because it traps moisture and creates the ideal environment for dust mites. However, organic bamboo bedding reduces moisture and humidity in your child’s bed by 50 percent, which discourages dust mites from making your child’s bed their home.

When your children aren’t struggling with allergies and dust mites, they are healthier and happier.

Sleep Better

Your children will also sleep better with organic bamboo bedding. As mentioned above, 100 percent bamboo sheets reduce allergies. When your children aren’t sneezing and coughing all night long, they can fall into a more peaceful, deeper sleep and wake up fully recharged the next morning.

In addition, bamboo bedding keeps your children warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Since 100 percent bamboo sheets reduce moisture and are extraordinarily breathable, there isn’t any humidity in your child’s bed to make freezing winter nights colder or scorching summer evenings hotter. Better temperature regulation lets your child sleep soundly without shivering from the cold or tossing and turning due to the heat.


Of course you want to reduce your child’s allergies and help them sleep better. Yet, you might hesitate before buying organic bamboo sheets. Kids tend to be pretty rough on everything, so why would you buy pricey bamboo sheets for your children?

Bamboo bedding is much more durable than cotton, which means it’s better able to withstand harsh treatment from your kids. Traditional cotton sheets are probably only able to last for a couple of years before being replaced, while bamboo sheets could easily last a lifetime. You can reuse your bamboo sheets with each child and never have to buy sheets again.

Bamboo sheets are also extremely easy to wash; just throw them in with the rest of your laundry and you’re good to go.

Now that you’re assured that your child’s bamboo sheets will last, what are you waiting for? Relieve your child’s allergies and help them to sleep soundly tonight with organic bamboo bedding!

Meggie Haneckow is a niche writer and blogger who loves to write on trending topics and share her personal experiences and knowledge through her writing. She is also a health enthusiast, so she loves to share health-care related tips through her blogs.

10 Amazing Herbs for Kids

kid-friendly herbs

The enchanting aromas, interesting flavors and vivid colors of herbs delight children and inspire a love of the natural world. Sharing the tradition of herbalism with children connects that love of nature to daily activities such as eating, playing and self-care. Many of the most nourishing, gently healing herbs have a special affinity for children and can help to sweetly soothe childhood woes. The ten herbs discussed below are some of the most beloved children’s herbs and are wonderful for introducing any child to herbalism. Encourage your child to smell, taste and play with each new herb they meet. Enjoy meeting these plants together with your child!

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Happy lemon balm is deliciously fragrant and tasty. A member of the prolific and useful mint family, it is full of wonderful aromatic oils that delight children, eliciting happy sighs when inhaled. Simply take a stalk of the fresh plant and run your hands over it to release its beautiful lemony scent. Lemon balm is a well-known, gentle nervine. It is perfect for helping to soothe grouchy kids who are stimulated and high-strung from being overtired. Lemon balm is also a safe antiviral that can be wonderful for aiding children with a viral illness by helping to combat the virus while easing aches and pains.

Use lemon balm to make delicious teas, lemonades, syrups, and popsicles. You can add the fresh leaves to fruit salads, smoothies, cookies, and other tasty baked goods such as these scones.

chamomile flowers

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

We have all heard the story of Peter Rabbit and his terrifying adventure in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Poor little Peter was so distressed and tuckered out upon arriving home that his mother wisely put him straight to bed with a cup of chamomile tea. Indeed, this classic children’s herb is perfect for helping to relax the nerves and induce sleep. Chamomile can also be wonderful for easing digestive problems, especially those associated with emotional issues resulting in nervous tummy upset. Topically, chamomile’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities can be put to good use for helping to heal and soothe the skin.

Use chamomile in salves, baths, and compresses for irritated, injured skin. Most children adore the taste and smell of chamomile. The lovely little flowers make the perfect bedtime tea! Or add the tea to your child’s bath to help soothe skin and help send them right off to dreamland.

Rose (Rosa species)

The beautiful rose is not only wonderful to behold and smell, roses are also a beloved herbal remedy! Children simply delight in roses. They love to touch and smell the soft, silky flower petals, and they love tasting fragrant rose tea while learning all about this amazing plant. Roses are another nervine from the plant world. They help to open and comfort a sad heart while easing anxiety and depression. This may be helpful for children going through tough transitions in life or for sensitive souls who just need a little extra care and love to feel comfortable. Roses can also help to ease chest infections and cool a headache. The tangy hips are high in vitamin C and can thus be used to support a healthy immune system.

Delicious teas can be made from rose petals and hips. Use the fresh flower petals and rose water to make luscious desserts (like this Lemon-Rose Parfait). You can also add the fresh flower petals to salads, whipped cream, and baked goods. You can make a tasty jam with the hips by soaking them in apple juice overnight to soften. Dried baby rose buds are a wonderful craft item for children. Use them as playdoh decorations for very small kids or craft with them to make pretty jewelry with older children.

Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

Delicious spearmint is a favorite herb for children. The flavor is not as intense as peppermint as peppermint has less of that spicy coolness that can be overwhelming for kids. It is wonderful for easing tummy upset. Spearmint is also antimicrobial and makes a mild tea for helping children during illness such as colds and flus. Like all mints, spearmint is very easy to grow and is a delight in a child’s garden.

Spearmint leaves can be munched for a tasty snack. Pluck the stems to make impromptu wands for play. Add the leaves to salads, pancakes, muffins and more for a little minty boost in your food. Fresh spearmint leaves added to chocolate chip cookies is especially delicious. The leaves also make a refreshing tea for drinking and freezing into popsicles.

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Those fluffy marshmallows we all know today originally came from an old time herbal remedy made from the marshmallow plant! Marshmallow root used to be blended with sweet things—like honey—to make a tasty remedy for soothing scratchy throats and irritated tummies. The roots are mucilaginous and can help to create an extremely soothing and protective layer over irritated mucus membranes of the upper respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems.

Add the root to homemade teas and syrups when your child is dealing with dry, scratchy conditions. You can also make your own version of ‘real’ marshmallows by adding the powdered root to marshmallow recipes. Use the pretty edible flower petals to decorate foods!

Lavender (Lavandula species)

Beloved lavender is indeed a lovely herb for children. Just as with adults, children often find the aroma of lavender to be soothing and helpful for calming anxieties. Lavender is also helpful as a first aid plant. It’s antiseptic and skin-healing properties make it a great addition to any first aid kit and wound salve.

Help to soothe skin and nerves by adding the pretty purple flowers or a couple drops of essential oil to your child’s bedtime baths. My children and I love to add lavender to our playdoh, homemade paints, and aromatherapy sprays for plenty of relaxing fun!


Violets, Pansies & Heartsease (Viola species)

These sweet little flowering plants delight us each spring and are wonderful herbs for kids. Violets and pansies can be used interchangeably with slight differences, though most often the sweet fragrant violet (Viola odorata) is the sought-after species. Used to cool and soothe inflammation, fevers, and headaches, violet can be a wonderful, gentle herbal ally for children during illness such as a cold or flu. It is also high in nourishing vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin C.

Be sure to grow violet in your garden, because the fresh flowers are fun to munch on! Use the flowers as an edible garnish to make your food especially beautiful. Infuse violet leaves and petals to make delicious beverages like this refreshing lemonade.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum)

Tiny anise seeds have a delicious and mild licorice flavor that most children adore. Anise’s anti-spasmodic properties make it a useful addition to formulas when helping children with spasmodic coughing or griping pains in the stomach.

Use the seeds to make a tasty tea and add them to other herbal tea blends to improve their flavor and increase palatability. The seeds, along with organic orange zest, make a delicious addition to sugar cookies.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum species)

Sweetly spiced cinnamon is an herb most children will recognize from their very own kitchen. You might be surprised to find that cinnamon has beneficial herbal properties. Cinnamon is warming and may take the chill out of a cold day or provide comforting warmth for kids with chills during illness. It is also helpful for easing tummy upset with uncomfortable cramping, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Cinnamon makes an appealing addition to herbal teas, syrups, and formulas by improving the flavor of other less tasty herbs. Throw a couple of cinnamon sticks in a cup of hot water for any easy-to-make tea. Add the delicious, warming powder to all manner of foods -  cookies, cakes, whipped cream, or butter and even some savory sauces and stews. Children love playing with the smooth, fragrant sticks which make a great crafty building material or an interesting playdoh toy. Add powdered cinnamon to warm playdoh for a lovely aromatic experience.


Elder (Sambucus nigra)

A favorite of many children is the little elderberry. Well-reputed as an herbal remedy for influenza, elderberry is an effective antiviral and indeed a powerful herbal ally for families. The berries can be made into a delicious tea or syrup (try this Quick and Simple Elderberry Syrup Recipe) that can help to ease cold and flu symptoms while hasten healing. The flowers are also part of a classic flu remedy which combines elderflowers, peppermint, and yarrow to make a diaphoretic tea that can help to stimulate circulation and a healing sweat at the first sign of flu. The flowers may also be useful for hayfever and colds with copious runny mucus.

Children love elderberry tea and helping to squish the berries when making syrup. Use the tea to make tasty popsicles!

Inspire Your Kids to Learn About Herbs!

If you are interested in introducing your child to the magical world of herbs, please enjoy the free series from the Herbal Academy of New England. The kids’ series is written for children to read, learn and follow along with as they begin to play with plants. Each lesson is filled with fun craft ideas, recipes, printable activity sheets and notes for parents to aid in your child’s learning experience.

There are eight lessons to enjoy, which include:

• Meet My Friend Herb! Part One & Part Two
Keep It Simple
A Kid’s Herbal Pharmacy
Start Your Herb Garden
Adventures In The Herb Garden
Herbs Are Tasty

Angela Justis is the Family Educational Director at the Herbal Academy of New England, the home of the Online Introductory Herbal Course and Online Intermediate Herbal Course, and meeting place for Boston area herbalists. Follow the Academy on Facebook and Instagram! Photos provided and copyrighted by Herbal Academy of New England.

How Smartphones Can Benefit Children

Today children begin learning with smartphones as early as 2 years old. In fact, 36 percent of children ages 2 to 10 spend their time on smartphones using educational media. The parents of those children report that their child has better cognitive, vocabulary and math skills as a result of using a smartphone at least once a week for educational purposes. With so many ways to play and learn, it's no wonder children ages 12 to 15 say they would choose their cell phone over television two to one.

Most children get their first smartphone at about 11 years old. Prior to owning their own phone, most children share ownership with their parents. Using internet-capable devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6 through a reliable carrier, kids can use family-friendly apps yet not have access to content that isn't age-appropriate. 

Smartphones are also a great way to teach children social skills through social media, blogging and messaging. These apps can lead to important conversations on the dangers of cyberspace and how to handle certain situations to stay safe.  

When children have access to smartphones early in life, they learn to use them correctly. This opens the door for learning at a young age with the help of parental support and educational apps. Read on to learn more about how smartphones are affecting children's learning and social skills. 

Smartphones Children Infographic 

Miles YoungMiles Young is a freelance writer, designer and outdoorsman. He’s worked as a roof contractor and part-time engine mechanic. He spends his free time fishing and tinkering in his garage. You can follow him on Twitter @MrMilesYoung.