Whats in the Baby Bag?   People in the Western countries use Diapers mostly, so this Baby bag is famously called Diaper Bag. But Diapers are not so well-known in India even now, there is lot of opposition to using Diapers in this era too. Thats actually a good habit but Moms have to worry alot if the baby is not wearing a diaper. She is already tired with not much sleep and too much multitasking. Using good quality diapers for the baby once in a while, when going out, during sleep is not a problem maker.  New Moms are tensed when it comes to going out with the baby. There could be an urgent situation any moment, the baby might be hungry, he or she might cry alot, wet the dress badly, drool too much or spit on Mommy's dress. Here are some tips to help Mom pack her baby bag well.    Buy a bag thats water proof, with ample space and sufficient inner pockets to store lots of stuff.  Let there be pockets in the front and rear to store the urgent things like a pacifier if you use one for the baby, currency coins, cell phone, a handkerchief, a lipbalm etc.   Let the bag always carry 3-4 diapers, diaper rash cream pouch, 3-4 undergarments of the baby, and small pouch full of wet wipes, a small water bottle, an empty sterile milk bottle, an insulation bag for the bottle, a jar of formulae or packets of it, dry nibbles like rusks or biscuits for the baby if he or  she started to eat food, 2 pairs of dresses, 2 bibs, a few ear buds, one baby fever medication bottle, one medicine dispenser/syringe, one thermometer, one vaccuum nostril clearing pump, 2 cotton napkins, 2 pairs of  baby socks, a small hair comb and if its a girl, hair clips if your baby has good hair. One small cotton blanket will be so much useful, you will thank yourself for carrying it in the bag.    Now, instead of carrying 2 separate bags, Mom can buy a good looking bag as 2-in-1 purpose, Stash all your stuff too  in the bag but in separate compartments to remember easily. When the baby cries, your brain will not function smartly..so organize all the items well to sort easily. If you are nursing, always keep 2 breast pads handy, you never know if there are any leakages suddenly. Carry along a feeding cover it will be useful sometimes.    With this kind of preparation, you will survive the initial 6-7 months of babies birth and later you will be a pro and will need no help or suggestions.               

Children and Exercise Obesity or Malnutrition have become two common types of problems even with Children these days. Healthy eating is not enough to conquer obesity. Kids can get exercise from playing outdoors and being physically active (riding cycles and playing about). They get added exercise when they take Physical Education classes at school or join a basketball or football team or a dance class. Parents should not cultivate this thought in children that attending extra curricular activities spoils grades in studies.   TV, Videogames, Computers, Laptops and Tablets are encouraging the couch-potato syndrome in children. They stick to these gadgets and get entertained but infact, they are loosing their health at a very early stage in life. Even the little ones, aged 9 months-1 year+ are watching video games and cartoons on these gadgets. This clearly shows that parents are simply giving in, and are encouraging these activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that infants or young children should not be inactive for prolonged periods of time (no more than 1 hour during their awake-time), and school-age children should not be inactive for more than 2 hours at a time.  Again, parents lead the way with own examples. The children see their parents stick to these gadgets and tend to follow the same. If the same parent follows some good health activities, the child learns the same. Problem is, peer pressure has increased alot, every family is comparing their child's ability to use these gadgets as smartness and techno-pro IQ with another child. Even if not  necessary at a young age, parents are introducing tablets to infants too just to cope with this competition, which is healthy according to them. However, there are some new video games like Wii that are family friendly and bring in the physical activity games indoors for the whole family. some activities develop self-defense mechanisms in a child like Karate, Kung-fu...enrolling a child there is also a better option which serves as 2-in-1.  Below is the age-appropriate minimum daily requirement of physical activity to stay fit.  Infant: No specific minimum requirement as their body is not fully ready even for any movement, and at later months, they are busy enough and at a maximum limit.  Toddler: One and half hours daily-- 30 minutes planned physical activity and 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play). Preschooler: 2 hours daily--60 minutes planned activity and 60 minutes free play. Prefer to enroll child in schools that offer planned physical activity (PE) training or free play sessions.  School age: 1 hour or more daily-- break up into bouts of 15 minutes or more of any physical activity. Prefer to enroll child in schools that offer planned physical activity (PE) training or free play sessions.   

Children and Vegetables   Getting young Children to eat vegetables is a challenge to parents. Its easy to grow a vegetable than to convince a child to eat one.  Try growing vegetables in your backyard, or atleast a herb garden in your apartment. Make this part of the time you spend with your kids. Ask your child to help watering the plants, change the soil, watching the growth of the fruits and vegetables.  Make it a habit to take your children to Grocery stores, markets, take their help in selecting the best products. Take your children on outings to farms, farmers markets that bring in Cows, Goats, Chickens, the petting zoo, Poultry farms if any still close by. Show them where their food comes from. Children who see food as a link with nature are more likely to eat natural foods without a fuss.  Turn off the Television, Ipads, and computers when sitting to have your lunches/ dinners. Let it be a family time, when kids will have a delightful time with the whole family. Mom and Dad can tell the kids their favourite vegetables stories and make meal time a cherishing time rather than a disturbance while  watching TV. If they don't like vegetables that you feed the first time, don't quit, try again and again, but don't force. Parents should eat those veggies, inorder to show the child that they taste good and its nothing wrong in trying new foods.       

HOMEMADE FOODS AT 12 MONTHS+   At 12 Months age: Grains like wheat, nuts, seeds, egg whites and fish should not be introduced until the infant is older than twelve months of age, especially if either parent has food sensitivities or allergies. This food category has the most potential for causing digestive disturbances or allergies. There has been a rise in peanut (groundnut) and nut allergies due to the trend of giving them to very young babies.  Babies donot produce the needed enzymes to handle cereal grains, especially gluten-containing grains like wheat, before the age of one year. Even then, it is common traditional practice to soak grains in water and a little yoghurt or buttermilk for twenty-four hours. This process jump-starts the enzymatic activity in the food and begins breaking down some of the harder-to-digest components. The easiest grains to digest are those without gluten, like brown rice that has been soaked for atleast twenty-four hours and cooked with plenty of water for a long time.  Foods to introduce at 18 Months age: Beans, Beetroots, buckwheat, chard, chicken, brinjal, egg whites, fish, garbanzo beans ( chole beans) goat milk yoghurt, kelp, other greens like lettuce, mustard etc, rye and tahini.  At 21 Months age: Almond butter, cashew butter, oranges, pineapple, wild salmon fish, turkey, wheat. At 24 to 36 Months age: Corn if no reaction, cottage cheese, hard cheese, lentils, peanut butter, sunflower seeds. Grandmom might say 'its OK to feed everything after you see 10 teeth in the babies mouth'....It is not, think twice on why the Pediatricians had to design this food introduction schedule with reasons, if it was only for fun!

Homemade Baby Food-2nd Stage   Now, by 6 months age, breastfed babies can start eating too. At 6-8 months of age, the food texture changes in your preparation.The complexity and texture can be improved. New Vegetables can be introduced one at a time so that any adverse reactions may be observed and further avoided. Carrots, sweet potatoes and beetroots are excellent choices. All veggies can be cooked (steamed preferably), mashed, and mixed with a liberal amount of fat, such as butter or coconut oil, to provide nutrients to aid in digestion.  Early introduction to different tastes ones household prefers and follows in order to avoid finickiness. Feed a touch of buttermilk, yoghurt, kefir from time to time to introduce the sour taste.  At 8 months age, a baby can consume a variety of foods and can handle little thick and chunky textures. They can be vegetable soups, homemade stews, dairy foods such as cottage cheese and tofu. Except for thoroughly cooked brown rice, other grains like wheat can wait until one year age, as wheat-nuts-seeds-egg whites have the  potential for causing digestive disturbances or allergies.   Babies from birth up to 2 years of  age need high levels of fat, to support growth and development. After birth, mother's milk or formulae provide the necessary nutrition. But once the baby starts eating food, parents should make sure to add milk and animal fats to help the child build muscle and bone. In addition, the animal fats provide vitamins A and D necessary for protein and mineral assimilation, normal growth and hormone production. Choose a variety of foods so the child gets a range of fats, but emphasize stable saturated fats, found in butter, meat, and coconut oils, and mono-unsaturated fats, found in avocados and olive oil.   

Homemade 1st Foods   Food introduction differs from Breastfed babies to Formulae fed babies...while Mom can start introducing veggies and fruits after 4 months of age for a Formula fed baby, the Breast fed babies can taste food after 6 months, however, most Pediatricians still recommend continuing to only breastfeed until 12 months. This has its own side-efffects, the baby rejects other foods as he or she is too much used to liking only the taste of milk and its texture.  Homemade First-year foods for Formula Fed Babies (beginning from four-months age):  some raw fruits that contain digestive enzymes, such as Bananas, or other ripe fruits, thoroughly mashed. As a supplement to formula, a four-month-old baby can have freshly squeezed juice from organic fruits and veggies to augment his/her consumption of living enzymes, which are naturally abundant in breast milk. Avoid citrus fruits until 9 months of age. Try pureeing fresh, raw apple and a lightly cooked carrot. Mashed avocados, melon, mangoes, papaya, applesause (boiled apple mash), cooked peas, and cooked winter squash are all good first foods. High-pectin fruits such as peaches, apricots, apples, pears, cherries and berries should be cooked to break down the pectin, which can be very irritating to the digestive tract.  Organic or Pasture-fed or DHA Egg yolks, rich in choline, cholesterol, and other brain-nourishing substances, can be added to your baby's diet as early as four-months, as long as the baby takes it easily. If baby reacts to egg yolk badly, discontinue and try again after a month. Cholesterol is vital for the insulation of nerves in the brain and the entire central nervous system. It helps with fat digestion by increasing the formation of bile acids and is necessary for the production of many hormones. Since the brain is so dependent on cholesterol, it is especially vital during this time when brain growth is extremely rapid. Only yolk at this age, as the white is the portion that most often causes allergies, so wait to give egg whites until after the child turns one. Don't neglect to put a pinch of salt in the yolk, it helps critically in digestion as well as for brain development. Use unrefined salt to supply a variety of trace minerals. 

Avoid Sugar for Babies   As your child approaches the first birthday, he or she is speeding up, reaching out to anything and everything on the way. By twelve months, toddlers will be able and be interested to eat everything the parents eat. The weight gain process will slow down drastically. Since, they don't want bulky food, give them nibbles, let them graze, its their psychology, they prefer to eat less but eat often. Hence, giving them nutritious food is very important. Don't introduce junk yet, it doesn't fetch them any health.  Hopefully, at the time of his or her first birthday, your toddler will not feed on junk. The association of junk food at this event is obvious, but you make sure, even though every guest is having cakes and sweets, you Child only cuts the cake but doesn't ask for it.  Delay the introduction of refined sugars and other sweets as long as you can. Although it's tempting to put a gigantic cake in front of the baby on her first birthday or feed her ice cream when she won't eat anything else, the longer you can put off introducing these foods, the less hooked on them she's likely to become. Prepare the baby food at home and feed it to the child in a separate room at the party, you can give the child a favourite fruit, or a home made, no-sugar fruit juice.

MILESTONES TO COUNT ON   Every stage of the baby's growth--before and after birth is so crucial for the parents and the child's development.  Birth to 6 Months : The child will be tested for Hearing ability within 2 days of birth at the Hospital. Even then, observe his/her response to sounds often.  From 4 Months Upto 2 years: Infants who cross 4 months of age should be able to hold their head straight up without any support. And observe the eye contact your child maintains everytime you speak to him/her, whether they interact socially or not, like smiling, laughing, trying to talk to you by babbling and cooing.  Around 9 months: By this age, you won't hear them talking so well, but they will babble  as long as awake and respond to all your questions or instructions.  By 1 year: Still not much clear words, but the child will tell you what he/she wants by pointing out to things and choosing few easy words.  By 1.5 - 2 years: You will hear them talk normally as you do, but still not clear with pronouncing words well. They will follow instructions, help you with house chores, ask for food, entertainment etc. The child will be getting ready to identify the need of going to potty on their own. If you notice a child with absolutely no expression of words or numb response to your instructions, not liking the company of other kids and playing alone always, doing the samething repeatedly, around this age, consult a Pediatrician and followup immediately.

Treat Kid Injuries   Got kids, one day you will be running between the medicine cabinet and your child..sprains, strains, bruises and blisters are pretty common and absolutely normal. Specially for kids involved in sports, the stakes are even higher. As long as they are not serious and can be treated at home, parents need not worry. But maintaining a good and non-expired supply of first-aid medicines at home  is extremely important. With summer approaching and after the exams are done, you should be ready to treat one or two of these issues! Heat Rash: Also known as prickly heat, is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during the hot, humid weather. Provide a cooler, less humid environment. Keep  the affected area dry. Dusting powder may be used to increase comfort. Cold compression can be used to combat itching. Baking soda or fine-ground Oat-meal powder baths can be used to minimize itching. Add a few tablespoons of either to tepid bath water and stir until dissolved. Soak in this water and find comfort. Sprains and Strains: For immediate care of a sprain, use one of the most reliable home remedies known to man --RICE approach---rest, ice, compression and elevation. Until you reach the Doctor's office, use an ice cool compress for 15-20 mins and repeat every two/three hours for the first 48-72 hours, if going to the Doctor takes time. The cold pack helps to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in injured muscles, joints and connective tissues and may decrease bleeding if a tear has occured. If the area turns white, too soaked, remove the ice pack immediately as it may indicate a cold injury. To reduce swelling, have your child elevate the affected area to a level above the heart. Bruises: In general, bruises respond best to treatment that is given immediately, before the affected area begins to darken. Apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen veggies for  20-30 mins, to minimize discoloration (blood clot sometimes) and swelling. Be careful not to apply ice directly to the skin, use a towel to  wrap ice in it or use a duck-bag with cold water. If the bruise covers a large area of the leg or foot, the leg should be kept elevated as much as possible during the first 24 hours after the injury. After 48 hours, apply a warm pack with a washcloth for 10 mins two or three times a day, this works to increase blood flow to the damaged area allowing the skin to reabsorb the blood more quickly. Consult the Doctor immediately if there is extreme pressure or bleeding in the bruised part of  the body, or especially if the hurt area is large. Let the Doctor know if you have observed fever, streaks of redness around the area. Blisters: These usually heal on their own and there's not much we can do at home to treat it. Wash the area with soap and water. Apply a cold or ice pack to reduce swelling and discomfort. Keep the area clean and dry. Donot try to  burst the blister.  If the blister bursts on it own, place an adhesive bandage or dressing on the area to keep it clean. Observe the are for signs of infection such as increased warmth, swelling, redness, bleeding or pain. If you notice any of the above, consult the Doctor immediately.

BITE PROOF     Summer approaching!! The kids might want to get out and play. The insects are ready too!! Here are some tips to remind you on prevention and treatment of insect bites. Mosquito Prevention: Mosquitos breed in stagnant water, so don't let water settle anywhere, even in flower pots or trash cans. For infants, 2 months and older, its is safe to use a mosquito repellent cream that contains DEET or Picaridin in upto 20 percent concentration. Reapply the cream or lotion every two hours when they are playing out or if there are mosquitos at home, and wash it off ASAP. Treatment: Clean the bite area with soap and water atleast twice a day. An anti-biotic ointment can help prevent infection mixed with 1 percent hydrocortizone cream will relieve itching. Don't use any anti-itch tonics or capsules. Bee Prevention: If your child is heading out to play or on a trip to a garden, don't use scented lotions or soaps, bright or  flowery design clothes. Bees and other bugs get attracted to sweet smells and bright flowers, even if they are just designs on dresses. Treatment: If the child has a bee sting, scrape the area with a credit card to remove the stinger. Wash the area, don't use any bee-sting treatments, they tend to irritate the skin more. Cool compress relieves itching and swelling. Tick Prevention: Mostly found in the Western countries. --Let not your child play in the woods. Cover the child's skin well using socks over pants and give him/her a hat to wear..just to avoid any sting. Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET , on the exposed skin. After returning to home, inspect the child's body for tiny, dark spots. Look closely: you might even find the tick's legs moving stuck in the child's skin. Treatment: If you see the tick's legs in the child's skin, use sterilized tweezers to grab the tick close to the skin, pull upward, without twisting to detach the entire tick from the child's body. A tick bite is usually not dangerous, but if rash and fever develop even 4-10 days later, immediately see a Doctor.

Mother's voice   In a Newborn: A Mother's voice plays a critical role in a newborn's language development, according to a research. While a stranger's voice sparked brain activity only in the voice recognition are of the newborn's brains, the mother's voice activated parts of the brain responsible for language learning.  To be Born baby: The bones and nerves in an unborn baby's ears are finally developed around Month 5 of the pregnancy. They are ready enough to function, and the baby can hear all sorts of sounds, including the blood coursing through the umbilical cord, mother's heart beat, mom's growling whenever she is hungry. In-fact sudden or loud noises may startle the baby. By all means, Mom should continue to speak to the baby even if still in the tummy, read her stories, talk to her/him with love, express all your thoughts, play healthy music, watch healthy TV programs, teach him/her good manners (after birth they may or maynot be interested in listening :) , the baby loves Mom's voice. It happened with me, i spoke and spoke and spoke to my child while she was still in my tummy, and now her Dad complains that she is a Momma's pet!!!

Toddler Fears     As a parent, i was taken aback when my li'l toddler girl who was very easygoing, adventurous baby turned into a  insecure toddler. I had no other option but to realise that Separation anxiety is a normal — and expected — part of a toddler's cognitive and emotional development. Until close to 2 years, they don't know much about the feeling of Fear. Its time they explore things on their own and in this journey, they learn that accidents may happen, things might be too hot, they can fall and be hit, parents can disappear and these guys be left alone in a large room. Separation anxiety, which begins to manifest at about 10 months but is fairly common in toddlerhood, may also show up. At this age, Toddlers also learn from their bedtime stories that there can be "make-believe" villains and parents or friends also tend to scare the li'l ones, sometimes for fun, sometimes to put them to bed, by creating strange and fiery characters. To solve the problem: don't hesitate to cuddle your child. Reassure your child that you would never do anything which can be dangerous to him/her. Also explain to them that you will be back to them if you have to leave the place to go to work or elsewhere to run an errand. Lets discuss some more in our upcoming artciles......  

Deciding Baby Names   Expecting a child definitely brings along this big job of choosing the perfect name. If its the first child, then you will be very excited to name him/her the best. Believe me, its definitely not easy. The expectant mom is already very anxious with all the mood-swings and the load, sametime, she is too curious and worried if they will ever be able to select the right name before the baby arrives. In America, we seldom get enough time after the baby comes, to give the child's name and register it. People who have time to run around the government offices inspite of being busy and with sleepless nights, can take their time to name the child, but if you don't think you can spend your energy doing the juggling acts of handling s new baby, then you are given only 2days to name the child after birth. Agreeing on one name is another game. Either the Mom or the Dad doesnot like the spelling, the letters, or the number of letters in the name either of them choose. Its not mandatory these days to include a family name, or a common middle name all the elders had. Its has become easier to convince grandma and grandpa to name the child short. Everyone is now thinking of an easy to pronounce -at school- names, easy to - fill in the passport and visa-names. Ultrasound tests are generally correct but we never know, even the nurses who conduct them suggest that there could be a slight chance of the gender being predicted wrong, so be prepared with both names. You may be surprised after delivery. Do your homework well and take your 2 final names with you to the hospital. I suggest your avoid strangely spelt or difficult to pronounce names as the child should not be frustrated in the future correcting everyone who spelt his/her name wrong. And also think of new meaningful, easy to call names rather than the same old, too much heard names-just because people have practiced calling them or your Grandma suggested it.   

Baby Teeth Baby teeth have more significance than just burying the lost tooth to expect a gold tooth after years, or the tooth fairy's visits. Some of us think baby teeth are not so important, some of us very well know that baby teeth are there to hold places in the mouth for adult teeth. According to American Dental Association, if a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can fill the empty space early, which can lead to teeth coming in crooked or crowded. Hence, its important you watch your children avoiding any accidents injuring their teeth or gums, and also get them used to drinking from a cup around 9-12 months of age. However, using pacifiers doesnot result in crooked teeth if used until 4-6 months of age, most pacifiers are being designed under extra Orthodontal supervision. But using feeding bottles for long may be one reason to develop high teeth as the bottle nipple is not so much orthodontically designed unlike pacifiers.      

TODDLER BATTLES Your li'l toddler will be on strike every now and then as she/he is learning the trait of individuality. They say NO to almost everything, No to wear the dress you pick, No to eat food, No to sleep on time, No to taking bath or going to potty. If the little one refuses to take a nap or go to bed, don't get upset. Keep your cool, wear your Poker face and continue to maintain the same time every day. After a day or two, he/she will surrender. If the child refuses to wear the clothes you picked, don't get annoyed. Let them select but you choose the options, keep all pants to select on cold days, or keep good looking dresses on a party day. You will be happy that the child chooses something from the category you prefer for the day and will calm down as they get to decide finally. You don't have to worry too much about his/her nutrition now, as the growth rate slows down, they will consume less comparatively. Just make sure all nutrients are included in the food you offer. If they go on strike, you show off your healthy eating habits, on a timely basis and he/she will oblige and join you soon.

Are you Feeding right ? When you serve your baby only real foods during the first couple of years, you program your baby for life long, healthy eating habits. Conversely, if you tend to feed your baby highly processed and fast foods, they begin to crave the same and also get habitually used to asking for the same kind of foods. Teaching your child to appreciate the flavor of fresh foods will program him/her to continue to accept and ask for these freshly prepared, unsalted, unsweetened foods. Infact, babies who learn to eat healthier foods don't fall sick as often as babies who are fed processed foods early in life. They don't have as many illnesses in infancy because the real foods matured their immune system. When they are fed junk foods at birthday parties and preschools, they complain of upset tummy. Its something to feel good about that the child's body is not accepting processed food, still..parents these days are thinking the other way, they want to bring up children rough and tough, and hence, tend to feed anything and everything, they say children should be able to cope with the polluted environment and are spoiling their present times by preparing them for the worst days to come...is that correct?...which way should we go? Gone are the days when parents taught their children to eat without the TV on. These days, mothers are turning on the TVs and feeding their children to make it quick and easy. Few mothers who are strictly following rules like ----No TV, No Laptop or other gaming devices---are facing criticism from parents who are doing it wrong. They say, Children eat better when they are allowed to watch cartoons they like and that parents who don't allow all these, are feeding their kids less food, making things boring for the kids.The right choice is yours!

  SNOOZE BENEFITS   That mid day nap is so valuable!!! If you are a Mom who handles kids at home, you will feel relaxed at the very thought of your kids taking a nap in the afternoons too. Wow, how nice!!! I still yearn that time, we can relax too. Well, these afternoon naps are not just valuable to the parents but also to the young ones. A University of Massachussets, USA research proves that children at age 3-5, who took atleast an hour to 1.5 hours of nap every noon had a better memory than children who didnt nap at all. This good memory extended to the next morning too. So, afternoon naps are extremely useful for a kid's future too. And naps help parents in many ways - the home is silent, Mom gets a calm time, kids are fresh through the evening and fall asleep early if the naps start early and end early before 5pm. So, push your children into the afternoon nap habit and put the ones who stopped this habit, back again.

OMEGA -3 SUPER FATS   Most of the health conscious people are talking about Omega-3 essential fatty acids. The little picky eaters somehow don't like foods with Omega-3, its surprisingly strange . Coincidence. We are printing this article in Children's section but Omega-3 is excellently good for Adults too.  Children at age 5 should be eating two 3-ounce servings of fish every week. Here are some tricks to let your child gulp the Omega-3 foods without knowing.      The first year is crucial to introduce new tastes, make sure you introduce fish and other Omega-3 foods around 9 months of age when the baby is already an eating-pro and interested in trying new tastes.  If you are a vegetarian, buy Omega-3 DHA fortified Milk, or Orange juice, soy milk from the store and introduce soon as the baby turns 1 year old. Cook omega-3 Eggs and feed them.  Use Flax seed oil, Hemp or Canola oil on availability in your country/ stores. If not, buy Flax seed, Chia seed (expensive comparitively) or Hemp and ground them into fine powder and sprinkle on cereals or regular curries that are cooked not fried. The whole family can consume.  If Flax, Chia, Hemp, Avocados and other products seem difficult to be found in stores, buy Walnuts or Soybean oil, they are good source of Omega-3.     - Prathyusha