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July, 2008 ~ Issue # 009

Happy Fourth of July!

The mid-point of the summer is on us (already!). I'm super excited about the upcoming long weekend to spend with my family swimming, grilling, and having fun together.

Of course, Independence Day would be meaningless if it wasn't for the brave men and women who serve (and have served) this country without complaint across the world - AND the brave wives and children who stay behind.

My husband Cameron and I work hard to point out military people to Lauren and Elena, thanking them for their service. We use national holidays to teach them about the flag and the many blessings we have as Americans.

SIDE NOTE: It's never too early to begin training your children in appreciating our volunteer soldiers. Don't know anyone currently in the military? Click here to adopt a soldier.

Are you serving in the Armed Forces?

Is your loved one serving in the Armed Forces?

I currently do not have any family members serving overseas. If you have a close relative or spouse serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, would you please let me know?

We'd love to add him/her to our prayer list with the kids. We point out the places on our little globe, and then pray for continued safety and well-being for the soldiers serving there.

Treasures in this Issue...

In Case You Missed It...

Here are some of the new articles published recently at The Essential Infant Resource for Moms that you may have missed. As always, sign up for the Infant Blog and be notified instantly of all new or altered pages!

Get the most out of this month's eZine.

Print it and read it at your leisure throughout the day.


Baby Browns

  • Baby Browns sells vintage baby decor and designer diaper bags (like Petunia Pickle Bottom). They are currently offering $10 off most orders by using code AFF07 in checkout. Click here to shop at Baby Browns.

The Children's Place

  • Always a favorite baby clothier, The Children's Place is having a Monster Sale of select summer merchandise. Find outfits for $7.99 or less. Click here to shop the Monster Sale. Extra bonus: Children's Place offers $5 flat-rate shipping. Save gas and order online!

  • Get 15% off your order of $75 or more at The Children's Place. This offer is expiring on July 5th, so hurry! Use coupon code: MSAT78. Click here to shop for your 15% off.

One Step Ahead


  • This online company does all the background checks and interviewing to help you find a capable and qualified sitter or nanny in your area. From now until July 11th, they are offering 10% off registration with promo code SCSAVE10.


Using Infant Sign Language
to Boost Development

infant sign language 1
{Elena signs
she's "all done"}
Teaching your infant sign language is an easy way to stimulate your baby's mind and broaden his ability to share about the world around him. That communication translates into fewer tantrums and more smiles.

At 11-months-old, my youngest, Elena, was successfully ruining every family meal. Her screams and tantrums were frustrating and disruptive to a normally enjoyable family tradition: dinner.

It was time for action. Time for teaching.

We had successfully used infant sign language with Lauren, but time had slipped away with us and we just hadn't gotten around to teaching Elena. She was nearly one and didn't know how to "talk" except through screaming and pointing.

Just as before, we kept it simple. We started with five basic signs (All Done!, More, Please, Thank-you, and Drink). Watch the videos to see these signs in action, and check out these resources on how to teach your infant to do them.

It worked like magic (as we knew it would!). Rather than screams, our empowered one-year-old was sharing her desires, and getting them met.

Using infant sign language starts an important parenting precedent. In this family, screaming and fits of rage don't get you things. Calmly, and politely asking (whether with lips or fingers) is how we share (and possibly receive) our desires.

August's Feature Article Will Be:

Infant Reflux Remedies that Work

baby food recipes

Independence Day Delights!

Happy 4th of July! It's time to amaze your infant with the bright sparkling fireworks of this wonderful holiday. (See Heather's Hints on how to avoid watching the fireworks from the car.)

What Independence Day would be complete without the 'ole grill? Here's the standard grill menu for the 4th at my house.

SIDE NOTE: Despite how much table food your baby shares with you, always offer pureed baby food (homemade or store-bought) before cleaning him up.

As always, make sure you make the food as choke-proof as possible. Look over these guidelines in the "Including Your Baby in Family Meals" article.

Ingredients for Your Family Meal on the Fourth

  • Split Chicken Breasts (Bone-in, Skin-In)
  • Your Favorite BBQ Sauce (ours is Sweet Baby Rays)
  • Uncle Ben's Brown and Wild Rice (90 second Microwave)
  • Zucchini, red pepper, mushrooms, and Walla Wall onion (or another sweet onion)
  • Watermelon (of course!)

Preparation Instructions

Before preparing the grill, use tongs and a towel to cover the grill with olive oil to reduce sticking. Prep your grill so it's nice and hot. Place the chicken breasts skin side down on the grill. Close the top. Cook for 20 minutes without touching.

Skewer the large chunks of zucchini, red peppers, onion and whole mushrooms on skewers. (If they're wooden, soak for 30 minutes first to avoid burning). After the chicken has cooked for 20 minutes, add the veggie kabobs.

Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 20 minutes with the hood down. The chicken is done with the juices are clear. Cook the rice in the microwave according to the directions and cut up the watermelon. Serve the chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce.

Preparation Instructions for Infants

{Photo by B&K Weaver}

Instructions for the Chicken

Meat can be introduced to your baby at as early as 7-8 months. This early, it needs to be pureed. As soon as the chicken is off the grill, remove the breast from the skin and bones, cut it into chunks and puree it with a little water in your food processor until it is smooth. If the chicken was not previously frozen, place the extra pureed chicken into an ice-cube tray and freeze it for later meals.

If your baby has a few teeth and is around 12 months or older, you can dice the meat into small pieces and let her self-feed. The chicken should be extremely tender and juicy (why the recipe calls for bone-in, skin-on). It should easily chewable in her mouth.

Instructions for the Rice

The rice, once cooled, is a perfect finger-food for your growing baby. Feel free to introduce rice when he is old enough to have mastered the pincer grasp and other fine-motor movements.

Instructions for the Veggie Kebabs

Here are the age requirements for the vegetables:
  • Zucchini ~ 7 months
  • Red Pepper ~ 10 months
  • Mushrooms ~ 9 months
  • Onions ~ 9 months
Before feeding, place the somewhat-crisp veggies in a bowl with a little water and nuke them in the microwave until they are semi-mushy. Melt a little ice cube in the bowl to quickly bring the temperature back down.

If your baby is too young for finger foods, puree the veggies he can eat quickly and spoon feed them to him. If your baby can eat finger foods, just check which vegetables are okay at his age (see the above list) and finely dice them. If the veggies seem a little too slippery, roll them in a little flour to coat. This will prevent an accidental choking.

Instructions for the Watermelon

Watermelon can be fed to babies 8 months or older. Puree the watermelon and mix it in with some instant cereal to spoon feed your baby. Older babies can be given watermelon diced (rolled in flour to prevent slipping and choking). Babies who are 15-18 months old may even be able to eat the watermelon off the rind. (Just watch he doesn't try to eat the rind!) Always remove any watermelon seeds! They are choking hazards.

    Here are the celebrity births announced in June.

    • Richard Blais (Top Chef), a daughter, Riley, on May 29th

    • Jeff Garcia (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), a daughter, Presley, on April 28th.

    • Janice Lierberman (The Today Show), a boy, on May 30th.

    • Vin Diesel (Fast and the Furious), a daughter on April 2nd.

    • Jessica Alba (The Love Guru), a daughter, Honor Marie, on June 7th.

    • Fred Savage (The Wonder Years), a daughter, Lily, on May 3rd.

    • Jamie Lynn Spears (sister to Britney Spears), a daughter, Maddie, on June 19th.

    • Tom Dumont (guitarist for No Doubt), a son, Rio Atticus on June 18th.

    • Tori Spelling (90210), a daughter, Stella, on June 9th.

    • Tamzin Outhwaite (The Fixer), a daughter, Florence, on June 19th.

    • Matt Birk (MN Vikings), a son, Grant, on June 12th.

    Are you a celebrity-addict? Get updated on the latest Celebrity Baby News.
    infant activities

    In honor of the beautiful weather, all of the activities below can be done on a blanket outside, in the green grass, under the warm sun. Of course, always provide good sun protection for your baby while you're out there!

    0-3 Months:
    Hankie Wave

    {Photo by NMoira}
    Place your infant on her back on a blanket. Hold a scarf, hankie, or lightweight dish towel above her head about 12 inches. Bring the fabric close to her nose, then lift it farther away, then lower it, etc.

    Babies closer to 3 months old may try to grab the cloth. If they success grab a corner, shake it a little. She's sure to giggle. The bright scarf creates a tickling breeze and intriguing visual object for her eyes to follow.

    This activity stimulates her sense of touch (the slight breeze), her eye coordination, and enhances her listening skills.

    3-6 Months:
    Drop and Fall

    Place your baby in a sitting position on the floor (or leaning, if she isn't quite sitting up). Show an infant spoon to your baby, letting her hold and feel it. Hold the spoon slightly higher than her eye-level and encourage her to watch as you drop it. Does she attempt to reach for the spoon?

    Show the spoon to her again, say "Spoon". Hold it up and let it fall. Say "down" as you drop it. Repeat this several times, emphasizing "down". Hand the spoon to your baby. Does she try to drop or throw it? Let her try to drop or throw it again and again, repeating "down" when she drops it. Try using other objects as well.

    This activity introduces her to the awareness of the concept of "down", helps with eye-hand coordination, encourages the desire to become independent, and helps her listen to the different sounds that objects make as they fall.

    6-9 Months: Watch the Ball

    Show your baby a small ball (roughly the size of his hand) and let him hold and feel it. Place the ball inside a zip-lock bag and close it securely. Use your finger to push the ball around inside the bag.

    Tell your baby the ball is inside the bag, stressing the word "inside". Allow him to feel and push the ball around. Replace the ball with other objects.

    This activity teaches eye-hand coordination, free exploration, and enhances his skill in keeping the eye on a moving target.

    9-12 Months:

    {Photo by Brassard}
    Take a blanket and have an older child (or adult) hold the other side so the blanket or towel is suspended between you.

    Put some lightweight balls (or a beach ball) in the middle and shake the blanket at first lightly, then more vigorously.

    This activity teaches cause and effect, as well as providing great giggling interactions with siblings!

    12-18 Months:
    Walk the Ladder

    Lay a wooden ladder across the grass (not metal) . Don't have one? Space out some smooth pieces of wood, or other obstacles that will force him to step over.

    Hold your baby's hand as she walks through the rungs, stepping carefully. After the trial walk, go to the other side of the ladder and call your baby's name, encouraging her to step over the rungs to reach you.

    Praise her as she reaches the other side. As she improves, place toys in various spots within the ladder, encouraging her to bring them to you.

    This activity builds up her coordination and balance, her gross motor skills development, her problem solving skills, and improves her visual scanning and depth perception.

    Eventually, he may begin to lose interest in playing these games. Don't force anything. If that seems to be the case, simply try out some of the infant activities in previous newsletters.

    Several of these activities were adapted from Slow and Steady Get Me Reading: Weekly Activities from Birth Until Age Five. This book is available for purchase at the Essential Book Emporium.

    heather's hints

    Enjoy the Fireworks with Screams of Delight
    Rather than Screams of Sadness

    My poor mother. She didn't sit through a fireworks display until I was almost 5. The loud noises undid me every year and we always ended up in the car, watching behind the steering wheel. (It's just not the same!)

    Prevent spending the night in a similar fashion by using a little forward-thinking. Dig through the winter clothes in the basement and bring along a pair of earmuffs. (Even old-fashioned headphones would work!)

    He may protest at the beginning, but once the lights start flashing, and he manages to hear the first boom without them, you'll be able to slip them on and enjoy the whole display as a family - sans the screaming interruptions.


    There have been 10 recalls since the last Merry Mother was published in June.

    Cribs Recalled

    • Jardine Cribs by Babies "R" Us
    • 2nd Nature Built to Grow Cribs by Stanley Furniture

    See Recall Report #1: Dangerous Cribs

    Crib Mattress Recalled

    • Mattress sold at Pottery Barn Kids

    See Recall Report #4: Crib Bedding.

    Clothing Items Recalled

    • Overalls by Sara Lynn Togs
    • Camouflage Pajama Sets by the Children's Place
    • Cadence-Lea and Trio-Lea GirlÂ’s Sandals by Nordstrom

    See Recall Report #16: Clothes, Shoes and Blankets

    Toy Items Recalled

    • Pirates of Caribbean Sleeping Bags
    • Tinker Bell Wands
    • Yellow Sure Grip Paint Brushes
    • Floppy Friends Horse Toys
    • Merry-Go-Rounds from Toys R Us
    • "Thunder Wolf" Remote-Controlled Helicopter Toys

    See the 2008 Toy Recall Report

    New Recall Reports Added!

    I have finished the Recall Section of the website. There will be only updates from now on, no new pages or reports. Here are the final reports I added this month: The rest of the Recall Reports (all 18 of them!) can be found in your subscriber-only access page, here.


    I hope you've enjoyed reading July's issue of The Merry Mother.

    The next issue will be published on August 5th. So watch your Inbox! smiley

    Add Your Comments!

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    Thank You Readers!

    Thank you so much for reading and subscribing to this newsletter. It is a labor of love. I'm happy to know others enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it.

    My growing subscriber list shows that you have been sharing it with your friends, and for that, I am deeply grateful. After all, this is newsletter is focused on one thing: helping us all become merrier mothers - because merry mothers = merry babies!


    P.S. Be sure to check back at The Essential Infant Resource for Moms, your friend-next-door for questions-answered, stories-told, and laughs-had.

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