Merry Mother Logo
october cover

Your Online Magazine for Moms
October - November 2009
Issue # 020

"A baby is God's opinion
that the world should go on."
~ Carl Sandburg

It's my favorite time of year. It's autumn here in Wisconsin, and the trees have started to show off.

The giant oak in our backyard seems particularly excited about putting on it's golden finery and out-shining the rest of the neighborhood (although I am a little biased!)

This issue of The Merry Mother is overflowing with contest announcements, new articles, recipes, activities, and even some get-ready-for-fall safety tips. (Besides some very cute photos...)



Side Note: If you prefer to see The Merry Mother on one page, read the scroll-down edition here.


baby picture contest

2009 Cutest Halloween Baby Contest Launch

The annual "Cutest Halloween Baby Contest" has been launched! With prize packages worth nearly $300, it's worth your entry. If you haven't visited yet, take a minute to vote on through those that have already entered, and then upload your baby's photo for a chance to win! (And what do you win? See the prize packages.)


Read-to-Your-Baby Giveaway Contest

A new giveaway contest will be announced in October to promote early reading. Reading to your baby is scientifically proven to boost brain development and stimulate early speech.

Look for more information on this new giveaway contest in October!


Finally! Get EiR Blog Alerts in Your Inbox!

As per the requests of many, I have updated the Essential Infant Blog format by merging it with Feedburner. This makes signing up for the blog a lot easier. It also gives me the ability to ping your email when a new page has been added. If this interests you, add your email to the box below.

Enter your email address:

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In Case You Missed It...

Here are some of the newest articles at The Essential Infant Resource for Moms (EiR) you may have missed.

  • Breastfeeding Tips for Working Moms
      Why isn't this article hyperlinked? Because it's this issue's Feature Article! You can find it on page three.
  • Breast Feeding Help: The Essentials for Successful Nursing
      There are two categories of nursing moms: those who had no problems whatsoever, and those who need a little breast feeding help. Both categories can have successful nursing experiences. What blessings we have in the 21st century! We have a wealth of knowledge at the tip of our typing fingers. We have products that make even the "hassle" situations hassle-free....
  • The Best Breastfeeding Bras: Which is Your Perfect Fit? Other Moms Size Them Up
      The world of breastfeeding bras can be overwhelming. There are just so many choices and options out there. It's just too easy to spend a tushie-load of money on bras that look better on the model than they feel on you. And since you're going to be living, 24-7, in these bras, it's important to find the best nursing bra for you...
  • The Search for the Ultimate Nursing Cover
      Choosing a high-quality nursing cover is an important breastfeeding purchase. Personally, I prefer not to be oogled at the mall while my baby is sucking happily away. There's only one person I'd like looking at my breasts, and that person is the reason I have my infant in the first place!
  • Which Baby Safety Gate is Best for You?
      A good, solid baby safety gate is an absolute must in every home, regardless of whether or not you have stairs. Every home has an area that's "off-limits". Use these guidelines to find the perfect baby gate for your home...
  • The Ultimate Infant Halloween Baby Costume Directory
      Born out of my own frustration, of finding an adorable baby costume one place, only to find it again (cheaper!) somewhere else...(or even worse, finding a cuter costume altogether) I have researched the 9 largest online costume stores for their baby costumes. In this series of articles, you'll see all their baby costumes, organized neatly in categories, and priced so you can tell at a glance which store has the best price.

    Mentor Mom Questions

    Here are some of the questions posted in the "Ask a Mentor Mom" section of the website since the last issue.

    The Merry Mother Survey

    Here come the Holidays!
    What Are Your Baby Travel Tricks?

    First Name
    In Your Family, Do You Celebrate...
    How Do You Make Traveling with Your Baby Easier?
    Is There a Product(s) You Consider a Traveling Essential?

    Do You Have Your Baby on a Schedule? ~ Results From the Last Merry Mother

    The votes are in. Here's what you said:

    • 40% of you said you don't schedule, and take each moment as it comes.
    • 40% of you said you'd go nuts without your schedule!
    • ...and 20% of you reported that you do schedule, but keep it as flexible and fluid as possible.
    In addition to these answers, I found Rachelle's answer particular helpful. Here's what she said:

      Yes, it has been so helpful! It gives me an idea of what might be bothering Peter (close to nap time, eating time), or if there is something strange wrong. I can plan my day so much better because I know what to expect. However, now that he's a bit older (9mon) I do keep it a bit more flexible, eating around 7am with us, morning nap btn 9-10am, lunch around noon, afternoon nap around 1:30, supper around 4:30, and bed at 7:30. It has worked great for Peter - we'll see how the next one goes!

    Thanks so much to all who answered the survey, and especially to Rachelle for providing such an in-depth picture of what a schedule can look like.


    Pages Coming Up at the EiR:

    If you haven't already, sign up for the Essential Infant Blog and be notified the moment these pages are online.

    • The Best Baby Christmas Gifts: Announcing the 2009 Toy Award Winners
    • The Great Teething Fever and Diarrhea Debate
    • Free Teething Chart for Your Baby Book
    • The How-To Manual to Find Great Daycare
    • Everything You Need to Know About Newborn Vaccinations



    Lugging the kids from store to store has lost its luster, and ordering in my pajamas at 6 am in the morning has become somewhat of a shopping tradition.

    Due to this site, my Inbox is regularly flooded with new baby coupons and promotional offers. Unfortunately, I don't have the time (nor the cash) to use them all. Fortunately, I have this site (and newsletter) to pass them on to you.

    And I do. I upload them weekly (well...whenever they come in, which is most often weekly) into this Baby Coupon Code Alert article so you can use them to your bargain-shopping heart's content.

    Since the page is updated frequently, I recommend subscribing to the Essential Infant Blog. This will notify you (via email if you so desire) when new coupons have been added.

    Since there are too many for me to list here, I've gone through and listed those with the biggest savings and best deals. Consider this the "Cliff's Notes" version of the Baby Coupons article.


    Heather's Shopping List

    Before I launch into the best bargains I've found for this month, I thought I'd share some things I purchased this month for my girls and in preparation for my darling Bella's birth in December.

    • Peppermint Cozy Toesies by Isabooties
        I found these warm booties on sale at Isabooties this month for 50% off. Isabooties is a personal shopping favorite, since they last forever and actually stay on. You can see what I purchased on the right. I can't wait to see them on Bella's little feet!
    • Brilliant Bows by Stephanie
        I ordered two classic ribbon bows (ivory and pink) and a Lauren flower bow (in honor of my own Lauren). I'm happy to report that after 2 weeks of use, they are still with me! In fact, I'm equally impressed that they have stayed in the girls hair magnificently (I purchased the velvet-lined clip designs). Highly recommended.

        Stephanie is offering Merry Mothers a coupon for 10% off thru October 8th. Use OCTessential during checkout to get your discount.


    The Children's Place

    childrens place
    An old favorite, The Children's Place has an amazing online store that is (most often) less expensive than their walk-in mall sisters. (Surprising, but true.)

    Right now they are practically giving away select summer sales with $.99 deals and their fall markdown gives you 30% cool-weather clothing. But their best two coupon codes right now are:

    • Get $20 off purchases of $80 or more with code PDA99 Expires October 31st.
    • Save 15% on all orders with code HA99. Expires October 31st.

    Don't forget their flat rate shipping ($5)! Stock up and order happy.

    Visit The Children's Place.

    Already in November? See new coupon codes for The Children's Place here.


    Buy Costumes

    If you haven't ordered your baby's Halloween costume yet, now's the time to do so. BuyCostumes is giving you 10% off your order of $65 or more with code haunt65. Expires October 31st.

    I'm placing my costume order this week. (Lauren has requested Belle, and Elena wants to be a fairy.) There are two banners to the right that will list their $5 costumes and their costume of the week.

    Also, right now all Animal Planet Baby costumes are 20% off. I've pictured the Animal Planet Monkey here as an example.

    Visit BuyCostumes.


    The Top Secret - Invitation Only Designer Sale Shopping is an exclusive, invitation-only shopping service for individuals wanting designer clothing at non-designer prices. Occasionally, designers will offer "sample sales" of new lines or have excess inventory they want to purge. TheTopSecret sells these items at up to 80% off to their members.

    It's a free site, but you have to have an invitation code to enter. Click here to use my invitation code to look around. Get an additional $15 off with coupon code SHHH! at checkout.

    Here's the sales they have coming up in the next few weeks. (If you're viewing this past these dates, the banner on the right lists the upcoming designer sales.)

    • Larry Levine Women's Suit Sale (October 5th - 6th)
    • Shoots and Ladders Children's Accessories (October 6th - 7th)
    • Grane Junior's Outerware Sale (October 7th - 8th)
    • Hype Girls Sale (October 8th - 11th)
    • Officiana Bernadi Jewelry Sale (October 8th - 11th)


    Cook'n Recipe Software

    weekly meal planning 3
    Over the past 10 or so years, I've discovered the wonders of meal planning. Easy meal planning is an invaluable tool that can lower your stress level by double digits.

    The easiest way to meal plan is to use a recipe organizer. My software of choice is Cook'n. Read my comprehensive review of Cook'n here.

    Cook'n has generously provided me with an exclusive 30% off discount coupon for Merry Mothers only.

    Use coupon code infants30 to get your 30% off discount on the CD or download version of the software.

    Visit Cook'n for a free demonstration.


    GapKids and babyGap Coupon

    Purchase any GapKids or babyGap item and receive 15% off your Gap Men's, Women's or Maternity purchase. Use coupon code GAP4YOU at checkout. Expires October 8th.


    Simple Breastfeeding Tips
    for Working Moms

    breastfeeding tips
    These breastfeeding tips are essential to any mom returning to the work force.

    If you attempt to "wing it" and see what happens, chances are you'll be empty and baby weaned by 3 months.

    If you're committed to nursing your infant and you're a working mom, planning ahead is vital to your long-term nursing success.

    You've got several weeks of baby bliss between you and your return to the office.

    These weeks will go a long way towards helping you establish your milk supply and establishing a rhythm of nursing.

    Don't squander them! Use these precious weeks to lay a foundation for your breastfeeding plans in the future.


    Breastfeeding Tips: First Things First

    Obviously, the first thing you'll need to do is secure who is going to be watching the baby while you're at work. If you're fortunate to have willing and able family around, this decision may be easy.

    If you're not so lucky (like myself) than you'll need to either find a day care service in your area that you can afford, or search online for a nanny. SitterCity is a great website to help moms find affordable in-home nannies (and babysitters) in your area that are certified and recommended by other moms like you.

        Side Note: A nanny is not something just for Desperate Housewives in New York. Personally, I've found using a nanny to be just as affordable as paying for childcare. Nannies are individuals who are willing to go beyond "baby watching" and pour themselves into the development and care of your children. They can help around the house and act as an extension of your care when you aren't there. They could also bring the baby to you at work, allowing you to get have one direct nursing session during the day.

        Most importantly, nannies come to you, letting your children stay in your home, and minimizing the chaos that can result with getting to and from day care every day. I personally use a nanny once a week to work on this site. It's affordable, and I love that my kids are at home and going through their normal routine while I'm not there.

    In order to best organize this information, I've split these breastfeeding tips into three basic categories.

    • How to prepare yourself, your baby, and your employer ahead of time.
    • How to set up a pumping routine at work.
    • How it works in the real world (suggestions from real working moms).

    Planning Ahead:
    Your Ticket to Nursing Happiness


    Breastfeeding Tips: Preparing Yourself

    As you emotionally prepare yourself for going back to work, try not to over-emphasize the pros and cons. You've made your decision to go back, and now it's time to move on. You'll probably shed a few tears, and there may be periods of feeling torn or guilty.

    I had to go back to work for the first two years of my Lauren's life. There were good days and there were bad days. My husband Cameron and I decided that we would re-evaluate every 3 months. If it wasn't time to re-evaluate, I refused to worry or think much about it. This was the decision we had made at this time. At the end of 3 months, if we decided I should continue, we made the decision and I went back to my "no guilt, no thought" policy until the next quarter.

    By having these designated "decision times", I was released from worrying or fretting about where I was. I could give it up until the next "discussion". When it was time for another back-to-work discussion, we would look at how the previous months had gone, how I was feeling about it, what our budget said, and make a logical decision for the next quarter I could settle and rest on.

    Besides emotionally preparing yourself for post-maternity-leave, you should also stock up on the items you'll need to practically nurse at work. Here's a short list of must-have's for working nursing moms.

    • Several good nursing bras. (It may be a good idea to leave an extra bra and blouse at work in case of massive leaking.) See how to choose a good breastfeeding bra for more breastfeeding tips and reviews of the top brands.
    • A well-stocked supply of nursing pads. You can choose either disposable or washable. See the difference in these nursing pads and determine which may be best for you.
    • A heavy-duty breast pump. Since you'll be using it daily, don't scrimp on a cheapo-deapo manual pump. Save your pennies to buy or rent an electric breast pump.
    • A milk storage system. You'll need to be able to store the milk you pump at work, labeled with the date. Purchase a small cooler that can keep the milk cold under your desk. You could ask special permission to use the office fridge, but be considerate of others in how you label your milk, and how much you store.


    Breastfeeding Tips: Preparing Your Baby

    Your main task in preparing your baby will be introducing him to the concept of feeding out of a bottle. Once your milk is established and you have both settled into a rhythm (around 4-5 weeks) start introducing him to one bottle of breastmilk a day.

    In this area, the bottle will make all the difference. See my article on finding a good bottle. Every baby is different, so don't be discouraged if you have to try several different bottles brands over several days to find one your baby seems to like best. Lauren loved Avent bottles, Elena preferred Dr. Browns.

    Also, be sure that you are purchasing the right size nipples for your bottles. Smaller babies require nipples with smaller holes, because they cannot handle as much volume as a 9-month old. On the flip side, older babies will get frustrated if they can only get a thimble-drop of milk with each suck.

    breastfeeding tips 2

    Breastfeeding Tips: Preparing Your Employer

    Most companies today realize that happy nursing mothers make happy working environments. However, unless your boss was a breastfeeding mother, you may need to do some educating on what you'll need in order to breastfeed at work.

    Call your boss before you return to work to share your desire to continue to breastfeed at the workplace.

    Emphasize that you will not be taking time from your regular job to do this (i.e. breaks and lunch) and will be doing it in private, secluded location that will not be a distraction to the other worker bees around the office.

    • Discuss with your employer where the best places would be for you to pump. If you have an office, it may be as simple as shutting and locking the door. If you have a cubicle, ask if there is an empty office, meeting room, or even a female locker room that you can use at specific times.

      (Just be sure to lock the door! You don't want to be pumping away and then have Joe's office birthday party crash in!)

    • Enquire about a locking cabinet or closet where you could store supplies: your pump, extra blouses, empty containers etc.
    • Ask if there are other breastfeeding mothers in the office. Their support can be greatly encouraging, and their advice on how to breastfeed in your office invaluable.
    • Re-emphasize that you realize that your office has a purpose: work. By pumping in private you are be respectful of your fellow employees. By pumping on your breaks and at lunch you are being respectful of your employer.
    • Finally, if your work situation enables it, don't be afraid to discuss changing your work schedule all together. Could you use flex hours and go home (or to daycare) and nurse? Could your position be downsized to part time? Could you work part of the week at home? Be prepared to write a proposal on your idea, including how you would be making these transitions while still maintaining the work ethics and productivity you had before.

      Breastfeeding Tips:
      Establish a Routine that Works

      There are several different nursing routines you can establish when pumping at work. The longer your maternity leave, the easier it will be for you to get your baby and your breasts onto a schedule that works. (However, trying to set up a schedule before your baby is at least 4 weeks old is not recommended.)

      Option One: Twice at Work

      • Pump two times during an eight-hour work day and give your baby that milk the following day.
      • To do that, put the total amount pump into a container, and then split that into 2-3 feedings, depending on how often and how much your baby is eating at that age.
      • You'll need an insulated bag and storage system to transport the milk from work to home.

      Option Two: Once at Work

      • Pump once during an eight-hour work day. Then pump again after feeding your baby when you come home and perhaps after nursing in the morning.
      • Divide that total amount into a container, splitting it into the amount and number of feedings your infant will need the following day.

      Option Three: None at Work

      • Pump before you go to work and immediately when you get home.
      • Also pump once or twice a day on the weekends for extra milk.
      • Pumping after every feeding (to drain any excess) will also help keep your milk supply up.

      Option Four: The No-Pump Option

      • If you're close to your home or your daycare, you could go to your baby and nurse directly. Or, sometimes a caregiver will be willing to bring the baby to your office so you can nurse there.
      Option Four: Supplementing with Formula
      • You could also use formula when you are at work, and nurse when you are at home.
      • If you don't feel you are able to pump enough extra milk to fulfill her needs, adding some formula may be helpful.
      • Make sure you don't use formula when you are around, and try to pump as much as possible after feedings to keep your milk supply up and healthy.

      From One to Another:
      Breastfeeding Tips from Working Moms Like You

      In order to get breastfeeding tips that go beyond theory and into the nitty-gritty of office life, I interviewed 25 working moms for the breastfeeding tips that had made all the difference in their ability to successfully breastfeed. Here's a sampling of what they said:

      Michelle from Oklahoma:

        Bring a cooler with an ice pack with you everyday at work and wear clothes that open in the front. They wrinkle less, are more comfortable, and faster to adjust for pumping.

      Tara from California:

        I used an electric pump during nap time (I'm a preschool teacher). I used an apron to cover up and stored the milk in the refrigerator. I also pumped milk in the evening while my baby was sleeping. I stored the milk in the freezer in plastic one-serving bags, or in individual bottles.

      Jenny from Iowa:

        Get your sleep - remember that your stress level and exhaustion will effect milk supply. When you are working, you can't have an afternoon nap, so it's that much more important to get a good nights sleep. You can't control if you baby wakes up in the night, but you can choose to go to bed early - and you should.

        Buy a good pump - it you are pumping at work, do yourself a favour and invest in a good pump. The cheap pumps are really frustrating to work with - and since stress level effects milk supply, you want to do all you can to reduce your stress.

        Try a lunchtime nursing break - if you can get a daycare near work, that's ideal. You can whip out on your lunch break and nurse baby, then go back to work without having to pump. You and your baby will also benefit from that mid-day interaction.

      breastfeeding tips

      Cindy from Florida:

        Invest in a high quality breast pump. It makes a huge difference. I only nursed my daughter for 6 months, with supplementing, before she weaned herself. I had a cheap hand pump. With my son, I bought a Medela Swing pump. I decided to go with that one because I was not going to work so it wasn't something I was going to depend on. My son will be a year next month and we are still going strong.

        Find a great lactation consultant. That will also make a big difference. With my daughter I had no one. With my son, I have two incredible women who have been a great support. One even let me keep a hospital grade pump for three months.

        If you feel like you are losing your supply, try taking Fenugreek. It increases milk supply. I have taken it since I had my baby. The only drawback is it will make you smell like maple syrup when you sweat.

      Michelle from Arizona:

        The toughest thing I experienced was long days and feeling emotional about my baby. During these times my milk would release and flow, so I found it necessary to have extra bra liners and to control my emotions. I used techniques learned in Lamaze to focus and slow down. Relaxing really helped me and usually reduced the milk flow in this crisis times until I could feed the baby.

      Annette from Wisconsin:

        Tip #1: Though they can be expensive depending on the model you purchase, an electric or battery operated double breast pump is a must! Manual pumps are loud and inefficient, not to mention extremely slow and tiring. Invest in a good motorized pump and you'll save both time and sore hands.

        Tip #2: Take along a discreet tote bag or carrying case for your necessities. Usually a pump will come with its own case, but be sure to include sterile wipes, breast pads and lotion for sore breasts, along with anything else you might need in a pinch.

        Tip # 3: Enlist the help and support of your co-workers, especially your boss. Whether your boss is a man or a woman, be honest and upfront about your desire to breastfeed your child. Let him/her know how important it is to you while still conveying that your work responsibilities won't suffer.

        Tip # 4: Location, location, location! It's not just the catch-phrase in real estate. It's very hard to relax when you're trying to use a breast pump in a semi-public bathroom. If you're lucky enough to work close to your home, head there for your lunch break. If you discuss your needs with your boss ahead of time, it's the perfect segue to ask about setting aside an unused room (especially if there are other breastfeeding moms) specifically for that purpose. All you need is a room with a lock.

        Tip # 5: Be sure to bring along a lunch cooler and ice packs to store your expressed milk. If you have access to a refrigerator, great, but you'll still want to keep the bottles separate in something inconspicuous for hygienic/sterile purposes.

      Brittney from Colorado:

        Make sure you discuss your breastfeeding plan with your boss. You should have a specific plan; when, how often and where you'll pump are all things you should consider and make sure to mention.

        Try to plan your pumping sessions on the same schedule as your baby's regular daily feeding schedule. That way on days when you're not working your milk supply will be adequate enough and you won't have the need to supplement with a bottle.

      flower logo
      Nursing at work isn't easy, but it is rewarding. I'm confident that these breastfeeding tips will help you balance your two lives - the one at the office and the one at home, as easily as possible.

      If you have breastfeeding tips for working moms and want to share them, let me know and I'll be happy to post them!

      The Next Feature Article in the December 1st issue will be:

      How to Make Baby Reading Time, Baby BRAIN Time

      infant activities

      Outstanding Outdoor Games

      october outside
      {Photo by candrews}
      No matter which end of the planet you're on, now's a great time to take baby outside. Whether you're exploring the tulips in Australia, or comparing leaves in England, the milder temperatures and changing seasons provide a great opportunity for your baby's development.

      This month's activities center around interacting with the world around us and introducing your infant to the wonders of creation.

      As always, if the weather is just not cooperating, there are many other great activities you can do. Either look through the newsletter archives or check out my reviews on popular baby activity books for good ideas.

      Also, check out these articles on your baby's development. It's fascinating to see all that's going on behind those baby blues!

      0-3 Months: Bird Watcher

      The fast fluttering motion of birds will fascinate your baby. She may not be able to clearly see the bird, but the color and motion will be stimulating to her. Not to mention the songs!

      Naturally, the largest challenge will be getting her close enough to notice the movement. If you're lucky enough to have a local zoo, a trip to see the birds close up will be exciting and different. Otherwise, try hanging a bird feeder close to a large window. Our birdfeeder is busy almost all year long, and nothing excites the girls than to spot a goldfinch or a woodpecker just inches away.

      What is she learning in this activity?

      • Listening Skills
      • Visual Development and Tracking

      3-6 Months: The Mysterious Wind

      From four months and up, your baby's vision has clarified and he's starting to reach out and grab things. This is the perfect time to introduce your infant to the wonders of a pinwheel. The spinning colors will excite him and thrill his developing brain.

      Let the wind (if there is any) gently spin the pinwheel, then blow on the pinwheel and show him how you can make it spin. Babies around 6 months old may even try to blow and spin the wheel themselves!

      What is he learning in this activity?

      • Motor Control (learning to pucker and blow)
      • Cause and Effect
      • Visual Development

      6-9 Months: The Sand Man

      Six months is the right time to introduce your infant to the many pleasures of sand play. If you don't have a sandbox, you can fill a large container with cornmela, or other edible coarse grains to experiment.

      Show your baby how to fill and empty small containers, let her explore the feeling of letting the sand run through her fingers. Not only will this new sensation be exciting, she'll begin learning the concepts of full, empty, heavy and light.

      If you're doing this indoors, be sure to spread down a large blanket or newspaper to contain the spillover! Yes, your infant will be tempted to put some sand in her mouth, so keep a sharp eye out!

      What is she learning in this activity?

      • Enhancement of the sense of touch
      • Eye-hand coordination
      • Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development

      9-12 Months: The Great Explorer

      october leaf
      {Photo by Oldglass}
      Your baby's curiousity is exploding. He's pushing his body to move in order to check out that toy or look at that book. Since he very likely isn't walking yet, give him a boost by delving into the world from the safety of your hip.

      Head outside and let him feel the coarse bark of a tree, or look at the different shapes and colors of the leaves (even let him crumble one up). Let him smell the blossom of an apple tree or feel the petals of a mum.

      Let him feel the grass, grabbing it with his chubby fingers and seeing what happens when it breaks off. Show him ants building a hill, (no touch!) or listen to the cicadas chirp in the trees.

      What is he learning in this activity?

      • Eye-hand Coordination (pick up objects)
      • Sensory and Visual Development
      • Listening Skills

      12-18 Months: Art in Nature

      Allow your growing infant to start a "nature collection" of her very own. While on a walk, bring a small purse or bag and encourage her to find various items for her collection (stay away from smaller swallowables like acorns or small pebbles). Things like helicopter seeds, a leaf, part of an evergreen, anything that's the size of her palm or larger.

      When you get home, cut out a large square of contact paper and tape it to the fridge, sticky side out. Encourage her to place her collection on the paper, pointing out that it is "sticky". Share that she's "making art" and showing her collection. When she's finished displaying her treasures, Place a piece of clear contact paper on top, so you can see her creation.

      What is she learning in this activity?

      • Eye-Hand Coordination
      • Visual Development

      heather's hints

      Cheesy Pasta Stars

      Take cheesy pasta to a new, healthier level by adding pureed carrots and tomatoes. You can even "kick it up a notch" by substituting whole wheat pasta for regular refined pasta.

      To make sure the pasta is choke-proof, overcook it until it's slightly mushy. You'll want the pasta to dissolve almost instantly in your infant's mouth. See "When Can My Baby Have..." below for information on age restrictions.

      If you liked this recipe and would like more information on how to easiy make your baby's food at home (and save a fortune), see these reviews on the most popular baby food books.

      Bon Appetit!

      october food
      {Photo by Sean Dreilinger}



      • 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
      • 1 cup boiling water
      • 2 tbs butter
      • 1 cup tomatoes, skinned, deseeded, and chopped
      • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
      • 2 Tbs pasta stars (called Stelline) or other small pasta



      Place the carrots in a small pan and cover with boiling water. Cook until tender, around 15-20 minutes. In a separate ban, melt the butter and add the tomatoes, sauteing until mushy. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.

      Overcook the pasta, omitting salt and fat. You're not looking for al dente. You want mushy. Mix the cooked carrots, the carrots cooking liquid, and the cheesy tomato sauce. Blend to a puree and then combine with the pasta stars.

      This recipe will take about 30 minutes to make, and produces around 4 servings. It can be prepared ahead of time and frozen (see directions below).


      When Can My Baby Have...

      Since this is a finger food, it is necessary for your baby to be able to chew solids. It is a great self-feeding recipe, since the stars tend to stay on infant silverware well as your baby practices how to feed himself.

      This is a great recipe for babies 9 months and up. If your baby has struggled with tummy troubles in the past, you may want to wait until 10-11 months to use the tomatoes in this recipe. Tomatoes have a higher level of acidity that some younger tummies may have trouble digesting.

      If your baby develops a rash on his bottom, it may be a sign that that acidity of the tomatoes is too much. Cut out the tomatoes, making the recipe without them, until your baby is a little older.

      october stars
      {Photo by mastermaq}

      Nutrition Notes

      Carrots are a great source of about a billion wonder-vitamins and minerals. (Okay, a slight exaggeration there...) Specifically, it is a rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, and Fiber. These things keep your baby's system healthy, moving, and strong.

      Tomatoes are most well-known for their cancer fighting antioxidants. Start that protection while they're young! They also carry a large amount Vitamin C (the healing vitamin) and Vitamin A (good eyesight, fight infections).


      To Freeze or Not to Freeze

      This recipe is freezer-friendly. Just divide it into small portions and place in small freezer containers. Label accordingly. Thaw completely and warm in the microwave. Stir well to dissolve any hot spots and place a clean finger inside to test before giving it to your baby to eat.

      How To Get Your Baby to Try Something New

      Most babies are not "adventurers" in regards to their foods. They tend to like a few things a lot and prefer to stick with those. Don't be swayed! A diet that varies will give your infant the best balanced nutrition. Here are some tips to introduce new foods.
      • Start with a favorite food, like applesauce. Then offer every-other-bite with the new food.
      • Take the new food, and place a little inside his favorite food. Over a period of days, increase the "mix in" amount as he gets used to the new taste.
      • Spread some of the new food on his tray, letting him touch and taste it at his own speed.
      Remember that, statistically, you'll have to introduce this food to him at least 7 times before he is used to it. Stick with it, and he'll come around.
      If you are interested in making your own baby food at home (and saving hundreds every year), I've reviewed several of the best "how to" books on the market. Read these baby-food book reviews here.


      There have been 16 recalls since the last Merry Mother was published in August. Just as a reminder, these are all pdf documents. You will need a PDF Reader installed on your computer to read them. If you don't have one, you can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free at this site.

      Although these reports are always free, they take a lot of work to update every month. Please consider giving a small donation in return for the reports. $1, $2, $5...the amount is really irrelevant. I just appreciate the gesture!

      Strollers Recalled

      High Chairs and Booster Seats

      Toys Recalled

      • Children's Animal Mask and Pendants (lead paint violation)
      • Force Soldier and Pirate Expedition Playsets (lead paint violation)
      • Hungry Figures and Magnets by Weight Watchers (puncture hazard)
      • Little Tikes Workshop Sets and Trucks (choking hazard)
      • See the details of these recalls.

      Clothes and Shoes

      Infant Formula and Baby Food

      Bouncer Seats and Jumpers

      Baby Furniture & Safety Equipment

      • Expansion of the Smartlight Stair Gates from Safety 1st (Fall Hazard)
      • Oval Roll-up Blinds and Woolrich Roman Shades ~ two fatalities
      • Melina Roman Blinds at IKEA (Strangulation Hazard)
      • Roman Blinds at Pottery Barn Kids(Strangulation Hazard)
      • Thermal Sailcloth and Matchstick Bamboo Roman Shades at Target (Strangulation Hazard)
      • Horizontal and Vertical Blinds and Cellular Shades by Vertical Land ~ one fatality
      • See the details of these recalls.

      Your "Mom Moment"
      ...You've Earned It...

      mom moment october
      Deep breath...don't you just smell the leaves?
      {Photo by Amymillerphotos}

      I'm a sucker for beautiful photography. Take a deep breath and lose yourself in this photo. Of course, if you're looking for more of these "moments", visit the Mom Moment Page.

      3 Simple Fire Safety Must-Haves

      Keep her this warm, happy, and safe this winter.
      {Photo by atomicshark}
      Winter is the most common season for house fires. Gear up for the changing of the seasons by taking a look around your home and making these small improvements to your fire safety footprint.

      I'll be honest with you. I'm a freak about fire. (In fact, a great-aunt of mine tragically burned to death.) Because of this, I'm somewhat of a Fire Safety Nazi around our house.

      Here's the short list of what I did this year to gear up for the colder (and more fire-prone) months.


      Detectors - a Sleeping Mom's Best Friend

      Daylight Savings is on November 1st this year, which means it's time to change the batteries in your fire alarms. For the past several years, Cameron and I have been slowly adding to our collection of smoke alarms. We now have a fire alarm in every room of the house (except the bathrooms).

      For the hallways and larger rooms, we purchased more expensive detectors, like this one by Kiddie. For the smaller bedrooms, we purchased less-expensive smoke alarms. It gives me such peace of mind knowing that there are working alarms around the house to catch the first sign of any trouble brewing.


      A Fireplace Safe Enough for the Whole Family

      If you have a fireplace at home and are planning on using it this year to cut heating costs, help your family out by doing some safety due diligence before you light the first match.

      First, get it professionally cleaned. There are approximately 25,000 house fires every year due to poorly vented and dirty chimneys. Plugged chimneys can also cause dangerous carbon monoxide levels in your home. Carbon monoxide is a colorless odorless and deadly gas. Get that chimney cleaned (and purchase a carbon monoxide detector, if you haven't already!)

      Second, invest in a sturdy fireplace gate. The best hearth gate available is by KidCo. (MyStrollers has it on sale.) It is not cheap, but then again, you only have to purchase it once! Besides using it to surround the fireplace in the winter, you can also use it to keep little fingers away from the grill in the summer. A wise purchase!


      Our 2nd Story Escape Route

      We have a two story house. This year I vowed that in the interest of proper fire safety, I would purchase a window ladder to store upstairs in case of an emergency. This is the one I purchased from One Step Ahead. I've heard too many horror stories about those 2nd floors and small children to risk not having one.

      On a Personal Note...

      Our Little Isabella Rose
      I'm happy to report that Baby Bella is growing well and looking healthy! They have moved up my due date to December 2nd (woo hoo!) which means I'll have to work extra hard to make sure the next newsletter gets out before she does!

      She's leaving me black and blue, and I feel like a beached whale in the morning trying to get out of bed, but other than that it's a normal and healthy pregnancy.

      We picked out her baby bedding this month ("Daisy Garden" from Pottery Barn Kids) and finally succeeded to moving Elena to a bottom bunk in the new-and-improved Lauren and Elena Bedroom. She was so excited to be "sleeping with Lauren" that the first few nights she didn't fall asleep until 11:30 at night!

      Luckily, those days are behind us. Giving me just enough time to recover before the next round of sleeplessness kicks in.


      Know Someone with a Baby?

      Help someone you care about be a Merry Mother! No one will ever have to pay for a subscription, so send a friend a copy of this online magazine.

      Step-By-Step Email Instructions

        1. Highlight the web-link below by left clicking and dragging the mouse:

        2. Right click, and chose "copy".

        3. Open your email message, right click and chose "paste" to insert the link into your email.

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      Thank You Readers!

      I hope you've enjoyed reading the October/November issue of The Merry Mother. The next official issue will be published on December 1st.

      Thank you so much for reading and subscribing to this online magazine. 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 online magazine 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.

      Newsletter Archives

      All the previous editions have been archived and are available for you to examine at your leisure.

      You can find the link to this page at the Merry Mothers Only Page.

Best Deals for
Oct - Nov


Heather recommends...

nursing mother, working mother

Nursing Mother,
Working Mother

This book provides well-needed advice to help working moms balance life at home and life at the office.

She provides breastfeeding tips and suggestions that range from the radical to the why-didn't-I-think-of-that!

Click here to see it at Amazon.

table of contents

Page 1:
Shh...Site Secrets

Page 2:
The Best Baby Bargains

Page 3:
Breastfeeding at Work

Page 4:
Outstanding Outdoor Games

Page 5:
Cheesy Pasta Stars

Page 6:
16 New Recall Alerts

Page 7:
3 Steps to a Fire-Free Winter

closing photo

merry mother purpose

garden path

Click on the path above to enter the Subscriber's Only Section.