Merry Mother Logo
December cover

Your Online Magazine for Moms
December 2009 - January 2010
Issue # 021

"Of all the joys that lighten suffering earth,
what joy is welcomed like a newborn child?"
~ Carl Sandburg

Happy Holidays, Merry Mothers!

As you're hustling and bustling around this holiday season, preparing cookies, wrapping gifts, and all the other zillions of holiday tasks on your list, take time daily to pour some coffee (or tea), put your feet up, and reflect on the many blessings of this year.

Sure, there have been tough times. But with all the tough times, there is grace! To help you wring out the most from your baby's first Christmas, I've included a brief list of hints on how to make this Christmas especially meaningful and stress-free.

Besides this "EZ Guide to Holiday Happiness", you'll also find how to boost your baby's brain development as early as 3 months old. There's three special holiday recipes your baby can enjoy, as well as easy-breezy games that will send him into giggle-fits.

Enjoy!

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


In Case You Missed It...


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

  • Gorgeous Infant Christmas Dresses: Where to Find Them Online
      Save some precious time this holiday season by shopping online (and even get free shipping!). You will be amazed at the stunning infant Christmas dresses available on the Internet. It is a whole new world of baby fashion! As for prices, you can find everything from "splurge-worthy" to "budget-beautiful". You won't be disappointed. There is something for everyone's wallet size.
  • The Best Baby Christmas Gifts: Announcing the 2009 Toy Award Winners
      Make each and every one of your baby Christmas gifts count this year by purchasing those toys that have been awarded prizes for innovation and child-development. These toys have been tested and re-tested for durability, educational encouragement, and (best of all) fun.
  • Simple Baby First Christmas Ideas for Extravagant Memories
      Don't let a busy schedule cause this baby first Christmas pass by unnoticed. Take the whole season (rather than just the day) and watch it blossom from lukewarm to legendary. Busy moms everywhere have used these simple tips to meaningfully capture the significance of this baby first Christmas. It will never come again! So use these little suggestions to shake every ounce of meaning out of the busiest season of the year.
  • A Baby Christmas Costume: For Unforgettable Photos of Baby's First Christmas
      Have you thought about your Christmas card this year? Make it extra-specially adorable by choosing a baby Christmas costume. Make it a card people can't throw away.
  • Want the Best Baby Toys? Choose Award-Winning Infant Educational Toys
      With the ba-zillions of toys out there, how do you know you're looking at the best baby toys? Actually, it's really simple. See which ones have won awards for their educational content and learning encouragement! I'm confident this is the only place on the web to find all the toys, and all the awards (most sites just list their awards).

Housekeeping!


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Read-to-Your-Baby Giveaway Contest

Do you like to read to your baby? Do you like getting free books? Combine these passions and enter our "Read to Your Baby Contest". It's free to enter! You'll win 3 months of free books to add to your growing infant library!

Congrats to Corrin from PA for winning 3 free months of Dr. Seuss books! Round two of this contest includes 3 months of books from the popular Disney Princess and the Pea movie coming out in December.

See all the details on this contest here.

baby reading contest

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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:

Delivered by FeedBurner


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.

  • Dunstan Baby Language: Learning How Newborns Communicate
  • 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
coupon

sale

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 where to find the best Baby online coupons.


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Milkmaid Tea

Heather's Purchase List

As I'm looking forward to breastfeeding baby Bella soon, I took the month of November to stock up on some of the latest and greatest in regards to nursing supplies. A lot of things have changed since I nursed Elena! Here's the short list of what I picked up this month.

I'm very excited about giving these nursing supplies a run for their money. Now if the baby would just arrive... smiley



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Mom Agenda Planners

It's amazing how far a little organization can go in calming down a chaotic life. I practically live in mind, and would be semi-suicidal without it. MomAgenda makes organizers for moms. (Surprise, surprise! I betcha didn't see that coming!)

  • They are offering free shipping on all orders over $75.00. Stock up on calendars, organizers, desk pads, and even order a gift set for your organizationally-challenged sister! (Trust me, she'll thank you for it. My sister Jenny did...)
  • 40% off Mini-Dalies that fit in your purse, and 25% off the desktop calendars
  • Get a free 17-month calendar when you purchase a Kitchen Folio to keep all your most important papers, menus, schedules, etc. in one spot.
  • Take a peek around momAgenda.

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Baby Brown's Boutique

These adorable monogrammed outfits are perfect for holiday parties and winter outings. They are 100% unique at Baby Brown's! You can find these styles in a wide variety of different colors at the Baby Brown's website.

  • Get $10 off your order over $75. Use coupon code Affiliate during checkout.
  • Free shipping on all orders over $99.
  • Excellent free-item-with-purchase promotions and clearance rack worth browsing through.

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infant christmas dress 7

Tiny Tot Dress Shop

Tiny Tot Dress Shop makes some of the most stunning infant special occasion dresses I've seen online. Always unique and simply stunning, I love to browse through their online store for adorable outfits for my girls.

They currently are offering a 15% off discount on your entire order with coupon code thanks15. They also offer free shipping on all orders over $100 (otherwise a flat $5.95).

If you have a daughter (or granddaughter) to dress this holiday season, I highly recommend peeking at Tiny Tot Dress Shop! It's a little-known pearl in the sea of ho-hum online clothing boutiques.


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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.

feature

How to Make Baby Reading Time
Baby Brain Time

baby reading ABC
Making baby reading time a priority in your home is one of the easiest ways you can boost up your infant's brain development and scoot her into the land of language at an earlier age.

No matter how busy you are, reading to your baby just a few minutes a day will not only draw you closer together but will set her on a path of learning.

This is "homeschooling" in its most basic form.

Simple connecting with your son or daughter, pointing out colors, animals, letters, laughing at silly pictures together... In other words, creating an atmosphere in your home that says "Books are important! Read them often!".

What a wonderful legacy to pass on to your children...and then your grandchildren...


Why Should You Bother
With Baby Reading Time?


I can hear you wondering, deep down inside, why bother reading to your infant at this early stage? He's completely clueless about the words you're saying, and although the pictures may be interesting, everything is interesting at this age!

Actually, there are several strong arguments for early reading with your infant. Setting aside 3-5 minutes several times a day can have a huge developmental impact on your baby's developing mind. Here's what the experts are saying:

  • Builds up listening skills
  • Increases word recognition and vocabulary
  • Helps develop a long attention span and memory (long-term television exposure encourages short attention spans)
  • Helps build an early understanding of printed words having meaning
  • Promotes bonding
  • Sparks the early flame of imagination and creativity
  • Introduces concepts like letters, numbers, colors, and shapes
  • Hearing words spoken imprints them on your baby's brain, encouraging faster language development
  • Using tone inflection, emotions, and expressive sounds while you read will build your babies social and emotional awareness (especially as he starts imitating those sounds!)
  • The more you read with your baby, the more she will realize that reading is important!

What To Choose:
How to Evaluate Good Baby Reading Books


Your first priority is to read. Your second priority is to read books that your baby will enjoy. So put down that Aristotle and re-shelve your well-worn copy of Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time.

As you are building up your children's library for the years to come, here are some tips on how to choose age-appropriate books your infant will stay on your lap long enough to read. (Not every book will have all these characteristics, but the more the merrier!)

  • Engaging images ~ look for books with faces, bright colors, and contrasting patterns to keep your infant's attention.
  • A good rhythm ~ babies love patterns and rhythms, soothing songs and clever rhymes. (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom does this wonderfully.)
  • Quality construction ~ as your baby falls in love with these books, he will explore every inch of them with his fingers, toes, and mouth. Choose sturdy books that can't be ripped and can withstand some tiny teeth marks over the years.
  • A size for exploration ~ As your baby gets more mobile, choose books that are small enough for her to hold on her lap or carry around in her hand. The more cumbersome the book, the less likely she will want to play with it.
  • Age-relevant ~ As your baby becomes more active, find books that describe taking a bath, eating finger foods etc. As talking starts, choose books that encourage him to repeat simple phrases and sounds. (Mr. Brown Can Moo...Can You? is great for this!)
  • Interactive ~ books with flaps to open or interesting textures to touch move baby reading time into baby fun time! Plastic photo-album books are an essential to help your baby learn who "Aunt Jenny" is, when she lives 8 hours away.
  • Repetitious wording ~ repeating the same phrases or words over and over again breeds familiarity with the words themselves. (A great repetitious and beloved book is Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman.)

Turning Baby Reading Time into Toddler Reading Time...
...Preschool Reading Time...
...Teen Reading Time...


The length of time you spend in baby reading is not as important as the amount of time. Do it in small spurts throughout the day. Before naptime and bedtime is an obvious place for baby reading. Making it a part of the "sleepytime" routine will help her settle down and get ready to slide into sleep.

    Here are a few other basic tips on how to get your baby to fall into love with reading, and stay there!

  • Finishing the book is not important. Skip around if you want. The important thing is that your baby is looking at pictures, hearing your voice, and (perhaps, if she's ready) even turning the pages.
    baby reading family
  • Pack a few of the smaller board books in the diaper bag or in a special stash in the car. They have an amazing ability to distract grumpy infants (and older children for that matter!) long enough to get past the waiting room, or get home to dinner. (Fuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy is a great distractable baby reading book for the diaper bag.)

    The more books you have around, the more likely your baby will grow up seeing books as an essential part of everyday life.

    As your baby begins to crawl, be sure to set out a basket with his favorite books to empty and explore!

  • Teach your baby critical thinking by asking questions as you read. This could be as simple as location and sounds ("Where's the kitty? What sound does a kitty make?") to more complex questions about the characters ("Sara is crying. Is she happy or sad?") to encourage emotional development.

    If you can, relate the story to her life ("Which animal is a monkey? Remember the monkey's we saw at the zoo?").

  • Be prepared to read the oldies over and over again! Repetition is a young reader's pathway into a lifetime of good reading habits! Stories that are easily predictable (the action repeats itself over and over again) are especially effective at this age. (Goodnight Moon is a great example of this repetition.)

  • Older babies (around their 1st birthday) can begin having "Quiet Times" with a few sturdy board books in their crib. Not only does this encourage independent reading, it helps baby get used to having some alone-time during the day (a Mommy-sanity-saver later on!).

      Side Note: I have a video monitor on my baby during this time, so I can see how she's doing and whether she is "eating" the books. If I see she's chewing on a board book corner, I promptly go in, take away the books ("No Chew!") and leave for a minute. I return after a minute and we do it again. Eventually she picks up on the pattern and starts reading (not eating) the books, having learned that if she does she'll be left in her crib for a minute with nothing to do!

      Start with 15 minute Quiet Times, building up until she can handle 30-45 minutes of alone time around her 2nd birthday. My 6 year-old still has a 1-hour quiet time every day. She looks forward to it (as do I!).

  • Build local library excitement! Many libraries offer reading programs for infants. By regular visits to the library (even monthly) your infant will start to recognize "the book place" and get excited!
  • Become an avid reader yourself. If you struggle with reading, find a genre that you're interested in and then stick to it. A friend of mine hated reading until she discovered biographies. Reading the stories of real people helped her switch from being a TV-aholic to budgeting for monthly trips to Borders!

    The more often your child sees you reading, the more likely he is to value reading as well. (The same can be said of television! The more your growing child sees you watching TV, the more important he'll assume TV is. Discipline yourself to living with limits on the TV. Your whole family will benefit!)


Getting Started:
The Best Baby Reading Time Books
(...and did I mention a baby reading contest?)


reading contest tall
To help you get started, I've included several reviews of the best baby reading books out there. I've listed them below. If you have a favorite book not listed, email me with your suggestion so I can add it to the list!

If you've read any of these books, click on the title and leave your comments! Each book you review will enter you into a contest to win 3 months of new books delivered to your door for baby reading time!

See the contest rules and view The Winner's Loot on this webpage.


"Teach Your Baby to Read"
Phoney-Baloney or Baby-Genius-Maker?


I'll confess, I've not been too charitable with those "teach your baby to read" programs. They all seemed like hype and hooey. However, the proof (they say) is in the pudding. And I've seen the pudding. So I'm correcting my baby reading prejudice. I've actually been impressed.

It really is remarkable. (There are two videos below that can show you what I mean.) I've been converted. The two largest "Teach Baby To Read" programs out there are Your Baby Can Read (YBCR) and BrillKids.

While researching this article, I've decided to grant the gold-medal award to BrillKids (However, feel free to peek at Your Baby Can Read to compare them for yourself.)

  • BrillKids offers a free 14 day trial (YBCR offers a 30 day trial, but you have to pay $12.95) and free downloads to help you really understand what you may be purchasing before you pony-up the money.
  • They offer a forum community and newsletter for support.
  • Rather than a package of DVD's you have to figure out yourself, they break everything down into a curriculum you can easily follow, taking the pressure off. (Not to mention all the free teaching downloads available online.)
  • Besides reading (called "Little Reader"), they also have baby math and baby music for budding Einsteins and Mozarts.
  • An online progress diary automatically tracks your progress through the curriculum.
  • Rather than an up-front cost, they offer monthly payment plans. Choose from unlimited, 1 year, and 6 months access to fit your budget perfectly. A 100% money-back guarantee lets you give it an 'ole college try, beyond the 14-day free trial period..

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The Nuts and Bolts: Is BrillKids A Good Investment for YOU?

As great as I feel BrillKids is, I don't think it is for everyone. If you're working two jobs, have 2 other kids, and generally get about 5 hours of sleep every evening...don't try to teach your baby to read.

This program is best suited for parents who are willing (or able) to make a daily/weekly investment of several minutes to sit and teach their baby to read. Yes, it will be fun. But you still have to have the time to use what you pay for. (Otherwise you've paid to teach your baby nothing.)

On the other hand, for parents who are willing and able to take a little extra time to do that educating, the benefits are outstanding. Since reading is the backbone of a good education, the investment you make now can pay your child dividends later.

Sit down and evaluate the program (the free trial is helpful here) to discover if the BrillKids Little Reader curriculum is a perfect fit for you, or if it's a bit overly-ambitious for your current season of life.


flower logo
Establishing a baby reading time every day should be one of your priorities. Not only will it promote healthy bonding, it will build the brain cells your infant will need in the years to come!

Besides reading to your baby, you could launch out and teach your baby reading skills she will thank you for later! If this interests you, I recommending giving the free 14-day trial at BrillKids a whirl.

If you can make that time investment into your infant, you'll be guaranteed to see your baby reading by her first birthday (or they will refund your money).



The Next Feature Article in the February 2nd issue will be:

The Newborn Vaccination Schedule:
To Vaccinate, or Not to Vaccinate?


infant activities

Holiday Baby Games
for Every Age

santa 1
{Photo by marythom}
With Christmas just weeks away, why not use the decorations and wrapping paper to bring your baby some early Christmas cheer? This month's issue is focusing on Holiday fun.

Is this your baby's first Christmas? Don't miss these great memory-lasting tips. And of course, if you haven't seen this year's award-winning baby toys, you're missing out on some excellent developmentally-boosting opportunties under the tree!

All holidayed-out? Either look through the newsletter archives or check out my reviews on popular baby activity books for other good ideas.

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


0-3 Months: Ribbon Tracker

From the moment they're born, babies are fascinated by the world around them. But it takes practice for those eyes to work together! Help your newborn along with this easy activity.

Hold a brightly-colored ribbon or ornament to one side of her head. As she focuses on the ribbon, slowly move it to the left and to the right. Don't go too fast or far afield! If she loses sight of the toy, she'll assume it doesn't exist and lose interest. (This activity will work with any Christmas bauble or stuffed animal! Anything that your baby seems interested in.)

Unless she's close to the three-month mark, she won't be able to reach out and grab it. If your baby seems to be struggling with this tracking activity at 17 weeks, set up an appointment with your pediatrician to check her eyesight.

What is she learning in this activity?

  • Listening Skills
  • Visual Development and Tracking

3-6 Months: Grab the Ornament

ornament
{Photo by nick see}
From four months and up, your baby's vision has clarified and he's starting to reach out and grab things. Encourage this motor skill!

Dangle a plastic ornament about 6 inches in front of his face. The bright color and reflection will entice him to reach out and touch the object.

Swing the ornament from side to side, and watch as he reaches across his body to swat the ornament himself!

What is he learning in this activity?

  • Eye-Hand Coordination
  • Problem Solving (I want that...how do I get it?)
  • Visual Development

6-9 Months: What's Inside?

Since you're going to be wrapping presents anyway, do your baby an extra favor by loosly wrapping a few of her favorite toys for exploration. It may be her favorite ball, but she'll be thrilled to rediscover it under a layer of wrapping paper!

It takes a pretty high level of fine motor skills to coordinate those fingers together enough to open a gift! Add that to the exciting sensation of ripping paper and the satisifying sound of tearing into something and you've got a new thrilling game.

Use the old paper to re-wrap other toys. You're not going for Martha Stewart precision! One or two pieces of tape is all you need. Your baby should be able to get inside the package all by herself.

What is she learning in this activity?

  • Enhancement of the sense of touch
  • Problem Solving (How do I get inside?)
  • Fine Motor Skill Development

9-12 Months: Holiday Obstacle Course

Encourage your baby to start walking by helping him through a holiday obstacle course! This fun game helps him to keep his balance and develop his eye-foot coordination as he practices lifting them up and putting them down in a "safe" spot.

On a flat surface, arrange various Christmas pillows, soft decorations, pine cones, or other easily accessible holiday things lying around the house. Choose one particularly-tempting toy and place it at the other end of the room.

Holding your infant's fingers, help him to walk around the objects, praising him as he manuevers around to the "prize" at the other end of the room.

What is he learning in this activity?

  • Eye-foot Coordination
  • Balance
  • Building up his lower body strength

12-18 Months: Tube Talk

tube
{Photo by anatomist}
Don't throw those empty wrapping paper rolls away! Cut them in half and use them to build up her little brain! Hold one tube to your mouth and talk to your infant.

Give the other tube to her and encourage her to imitate you. Try making animal noises, singing silly songs, and blowing raspberries into the tube. She'll laugh at all of it!

(Extra idea: Use some nontoxic felt-tip pens to decorate the outside. She will love scribbling all over them!)

Don't let her bite on the tube or let the ends become too soggy! Tubes are not good eats for babies!

What is she learning in this activity?

  • Articulation and speech improvement
  • Language Development
  • Listening Skills

heather's hints

A Baby Holiday Banquet

december food
{Photo by Sean Dreilinger}
The family is all gathered around for a nice banquet dinner to celebrate the holidays.

Why shouldn't your little man get the same 5-star treatment?

These 3 easy recipes will give him a well-rounded holiday dinner (with leftovers to boot!).

Since all these foods are freezable, make them ahead of time and freeze them in ice-cube trays. Each cube is about 2-3 Tbs of food.

Then, the night before take them out to thaw in the fridge. (Or, if you forget, you can thaw them in the microwave. Just let them cool down completely and stir well to eliminate any hot spots.)

Yes, making your baby's food at home is not as difficult as you may think. Add that to the amount of money you're saving, and you'll be hooked for life.

For more information on how to make your baby's food at home (and when he can eat certain foods), see these reviews on the most popular baby food books.

Bon Appetit!


Recipe #1: Turkey Dinner


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Ingredients

Not serving turkey? Pick up a thick slice at the deli during your grocery trip. Ham is too salty for your little baby!
  • 1 slice of leftover turkey
  • homemade stock, low-sodium chicken broth, or water
  • 1 potato, cooked
  • broccoli, peas, carrots, or other served vegetable

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Directions

In a food processor, combine the turkey and stock. Process until smooth. Add the potato (which will thicken the turkey mixture) and rest of the veggies, processing until smooth

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Age Notes...

Babies as young as 7 months can have pureed turkey. As for veggies, the potato (8 months), pureed peas (6 months), carrots (4 months), and broccoli (8 months). To see a complete list of when your baby can have specific foods, I recommend the book Super Baby Food.


Recipe #2: Fiber-Packed Cranberry Sauce


cranberry
{Photo by DonnaGrayson}
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Ingredients

A well-balanced baby meal should include something that has a good dose of fiber. Baby constipation is a chief worry for most moms. Keep your holidays worry-free by providing the fiber your baby's system needs.
  • 1 16 oz package of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbs sugar-free, vitamin- and iron-enriched baby cereal (see age note below)
  • 3 Tbs of breast milk or formula
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Directions

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add the cranberries and wait for the water to re-boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the cranberries pop open (about 15 minutes). Keep cooking until you see the skins start separating from the berry.

Drain the berries, and puree in a food processor until the desired consistency for your infant. This will be very tart, so feel free to cut the tartness with apple juice. Also, cranberries are acidic. If you see a rash around your baby's mouth or bottom after a bowel movement, plan on cutting out the cranberries from her diet for a month before re-introducing.

In a new bowl, mix the cereal and milk according to the directions. Add several Tbs of cranberry puree and milk until a smooth consistency. Freeze the leftover cranberry puree in ice cube trays for later.

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Age Notes...

Cranberries are not an official "berry" and so don't follow the 12-month-old rule. Babies as young as 9-10 months old can enjoy the tart flavors! (But pay attention to the acidic signs mentioned above!) Rice cereal is an ideal first baby food. However, babies as young as 6 months can enjoy ground up single grain cereals like brown rice, millet, or rolled oats. (Grind into a powder before cooking.) Older babies can enjoy a porridge made from a combination of any of these brain-helping, fiber boosting great grains.

Recipe #3: Non-Pie Pumpkin Pie


pumpkin
{Photo by Spamily}
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Ingredients

This is such an easy recipe! Just make sure you don't use any pumpkin or sweet potato that has had honey added to it. Honey is not good for infants under 1 year old.

  • Cooked sweet potato (no honey added)
  • plain yogurt
  • nutmeg
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Directions

Mash up the pumpkin or sweet potato until smooth enough for your baby to eat (older babies can have a chunkier version). Mix in the yogurt for a healthy dairy serving and sprinkle a little nutmeg on top!

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Age Notes...

Sweet potatos can be given to babies as young as 6 months old and are a vitamin-packed excellent first food to introduce to your baby.

If there is no history of allergies in your family (not just milk allergies), you can introduce yogurt at 8 months. If allergies run in your family, you should wait until after her 1st birthday to introduce dairy products like yogurt.


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.


recalls

There have been 12 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


Toys Recalled

  • Diaso Toys, Purses, and Pen Cases (lead paint violation)
  • Diaso Wooden Toys (choking hazard)
  • Halloween Flashlights at Target (burn hazard)
  • Wooden Play Sets by Adventure Playsets (fall hazard)
  • Young Artist Easels (lead paint violation)
  • See the details of these recalls.

Infant Formula and Baby Food


Pacifiers


Baby Furniture & Safety Equipment

  • ISDANS, TUPPLUR, and ENJE Roller Blinds from IKEA (Strangulation Hazard)
  • Faux Suede Roman Shades by Hanover Direct/Domestications (Strangulation Hazard)
  • Dublin Energy Solution Roman Shades at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (Strangulation Hazard)
  • See the details of these recalls.

Cribs

closing

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

mom moment december
{Photo by Kevin Saff}

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.


The EZ Guide to Holiday Happiness


The holidays can be an extremely stressful time of year for non-parenting people, not to mention the stress it can carry for those of us juggling diapers, feedings, and lack of sleep.

Fortunately, you can make an early resolution to cut out the crap and keep this year's festivities joyfully simple. Here are my 5 suggestions for keeping your holiday happy.

  • Make a list, and check it twice.

      If you know you're going to have hosting or baking responsibilities this year, take the time to plan ahead. As early as you can in December, sit down to write out all the baking you feel you need to do, listing names and what you want to give out.

      Work backwards with your recipes to figure out start times and make an ingredient list. The same can be done with any hosting responsibilities you may have. Figure out what you can make ahead, and then schedule out the time you need to do it.

    jesus
    God came near...
  • Keep those camera batteries charged and ready!

      Your baby will be spontaneously exploring everything this season. Don't miss a moment by keeping your charging station accessible and ready to go at a moment's notice. Your "Family Nights" in the years to come will thank you!
  • Start a journal for your baby.

      I have no idea who gave me this idea, but I've used it three times and it's priceless. Pick up a journal at Target (or wherever) and start writing down the memories as they happen. You think right now you'll remember. Trust me...you won't.

      I keep journals for all three girls (even the one yet unborn) and Cameron and I write in them regularly. Christmas is a great time to get started! Write about the funny things said, gifts received, things destroyed...anything.

  • Shop with a purpose.

      Don't turn your current holiday happiness into winter depression when the credit card bill comes. Spend with a purpose. Decide how many gifts you're buying and then list out what you're getting (and the amount) before you go.

      Even if you have to do a "scouting mission" first for ideas, you'll be better off with this strategy than spending "on the fly".

  • Take time to reflect and remember.

      As busy as this season is, don't let it become some hollow materialistic holiday that we "celebrate" because it's what we do. There is a deeper meaning behind this time of year. Remembering it will keep your shopping, cooking and cleaning in the right perspective.

Even if you don't think you're a "planner" or "anal-retentive" person, you can make tiny deposits in the world of sanity and avoid chaos this holiday season. You may not look like Martha Stewart's hand-made organizer with felt, sewn buttons and calligraphy (mine certainly doesn't), but who cares? It's your list. Make it useful to you.

In my opinion, nobody drifts into happiness. Many a person has suffered from unhappiness due to laziness in planning. Make an early resolution to do things deliberately (as much as you can) and you'll be astonished at what a huge difference it makes. By turning off the television early to plan out a few things one evening, you're guaranteeing a smoother, happier, holiday.

Side Note: For more suggestions on Christmas, check out my article "3 Simple Baby First Christmas Ideas for Extravagant Memories". Click here to see the entire article.


On a Personal Note...

bella
Our Little Isabella Rose
Baby Bella is currently still tucked safely inside, awaiting her birth-day. Sheesh! I've forgotten how eternal these last few weeks always seem! Doctor says she's "textbook healthy" and seems extremely happy inside (my aching ribs!).

I'm thankful she's healthy, but hope that she's not too happy in there. After all, an exit is necessary at some point!

My hospital bag is packed, and Cameron has out the stopwatch. I'm writing this right before Thanksgiving, in the hope that by the time you receive it in your Inbox, I'm either in the hospital, or inching around the house with a newborn in a sling! (Her due date is December 2nd.)

Anyway, I promise to include an actual photo of my beautiful Bella and her sisters in the next issue on February 2nd. (It's my goal to move back to a monthly or bi-monthly format for The Merry Mother in February.)

P.S. I've had 5 moms tell me this week that they were supposed to have a girl, but ended up with a boy. Perhaps that's God's way of surprising me with Tristan Jack instead? Yikes! What a major paradigm-shift that would be!

smiley


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Thank You Readers!

I hope you've enjoyed reading the December/January issue of The Merry Mother. The next official issue will be published on February 2nd.

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!

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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
Dec - Jan

Earth Mama Angel Baby

12 Days of Holiday Savings. Click to shop today's deal

table of contents

Part 1:
Shh...Site Secrets

Part 2:
The Best Baby Bargains

Part 3:
Make Baby Reading
Time, Baby BRAIN Time

Part 4:
Holiday Games

Part 5:
A Baby Banquet

Part 6:
12 New Recall Alerts

Page 7:
Your EZ Guide to
Holiday Happiness

closing photo

merry mother purpose

garden path

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