Building Baby’s Library: 12 Must Have Books for Their First Year

Building Baby's Library- The Essential Books for Baby's First Year

While baby might not fully understand all the words you are saying, there is no denying that taking the time to read to your child in their first year is very beneficial to their language development. It’s never too early to start reading to your baby! Here’s a fun list of the must-have books to start building baby’s first library!

Baby’s First 100 Words

Building baby's Library: The Best Books for Baby's First Year

The perfect visual book for teaching baby their essential first words. Order  ‘Baby’s First 100 Words’ here on Amazon.

Where’s Baby’s Belly Button?

The Best Books for Baby's first year

Lift the flap books will quickly become a fun activity for baby! This book is a great way to teach baby about their body parts while also working on motor skills. Find ‘Where’s Baby’s Belly Button’ here on Amazon.

Animals Touch and Feel Book

The Best Books for Baby's first year

Along with the motor skills of a flap book, the books that bring in a sensory aspect are great for baby’s growing library! Animals is one of out favorites and can be found here on Amazon. Another favorite is

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Best Books for Baby's first year 4A wonderful classic that teaches days of the weeks and some yummy foods! My little one loves the holes in each page! Order here on Amazon.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

The Best Books for Baby's first year 5

This book is filled with large, bright pictures that are sure to catch baby’s eye while also teaching them their primary colors. Order ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?’ here on Amazon.

Guess How Much I Love You

The Best Books for Baby's first year

A sweet classic tale of a father and baby bunny who try to one up each other on who loves the other more. Order ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ Here on Amazon.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

The Best Books for Baby's first year

This one is as fun to read as it sounds! The bright colors and fun rhymes make it a quick favorite for any baby! Mine included, we read it daily and do a little bounce dance while we read! Order It here on Amazon.

Dear Zoo

The Best Books for Baby's first year

Another great lift the flap books, but instead of teaching body parts like ‘Where’s baby’s belly button”, this book teaches about zoo animals! Order ‘Dear Zoo’  here on Amazon.

Peek-A-Who

The Best Books for Baby's first year

A fun twist on peek-a-boo, this book has bright colors and a fun little surprise that baby’s love on the last page! Order ‘Peek-A-Who’ here on Amazon.

The Going to Bed BookThe Best Books for Baby's first year

A classic good night tale of a bedtime routine including bath time, brushing teeth and putting on pajamas. Order it here on Amazon.

Dr. Seuss ABC’s

The Best Books for Baby's first year 11

Baby’s library wouldn’t be complete with our Dr. Seuss! I’m close to having this book memorized with how much we read it! The fun bright colors and sallow alliteration make it a favorite in our house! Find it here on Amazon.

Baby Signs

The Best Books for Baby's first year 12

While Emmy has only mastered “more” and “all done”, we have found the baby signs book to be very fun and useful! Find it here on Amazon.

 

What are some of the classic favorites in your household? Comment and share below!


More Newborn Reads:

How You Can Make Money As A Stay-At-Home mom

11 ways to make money as a stay at home momma

(psst…don’t forget to click the  pin it button on the image above so you can easily reference this list down the road!)

Whether you’re staying home with one kiddo or ten, it’s common for us stay-at-home mommas to want to being in a little extra cash. Here’s a list of 11 opportunities to help increase your income each month.

Blogger

There are bloggers out there who make over 150k per month! There are THOUSANDS who make over 10k per month. A beginner blogger can easily bring in 5k with proper training. I personally make full-time income from my blog

Let me give you a little more insight into my experience that helped me start this blog:

  • Website building experience: none. Unless you count adding the glittery effect to my MySpace back in 2005.
  • Online Marketing Experience: also, none.
  • Graphic design experience: none.
  • Blogging experience: Obviously, none.

But I was determined to start! So I researched. And I took courses. And I read eBooks. And I worked my little blogging butt off for a solid 3 months to get things up and running. Heck, I still work hard! But it’s paying off!

I’d love to help you get your blog started! You can visit my website dedicated to helping other achieve their blogging goals at The Basics of Blogging.

I have 2 eBooks I have written to share my strategies I used (and still use daily) to run a full-time income blog.  You can read more about them and download them here.

Virtual Assistant

Many business owners and bloggers will hire a VA to complete work that they are not able to do, yet they are not to the point where they need to hire a full-time employee. Some of the services may be minor, such as answering emails, updating their calendar or transcribing. Some VA’s offer more specialized services in social media management and up keeping customer management systems.

The great thing about being a VA is you can start small, aim to learn new skills with each client and really expand your knowledge base as you go.

VA’s usually charge by the hour. I have inquired to many and have found ones who charge anywhere from $15-$30 per hours, although I’m sure more experienced VA’s could charge more.

Tip- If you are serious about starting a VA role, I would highly consider building a website to showcase yourself! You will want to have a page that highlights your skills, a list of services you offer, some details about what sets you apart from the competition and a contact page. It’s super easy to build for free! You can view the free tutorial I wrote on how to start a blog here.

 

eBates

I’m sure you can’t wait to tell your husband this… but you can get PAID for shopping. Chances are, you have heard of Ebates. They pay out quarterly and some moms report payments of over 4k each quarter!

Let’s say you have a dog. At the time of this post, PetSmart is in the “double cash back” category. So you purchase your dogs food, maybe a few toys, some treats, you get 6% cash back on it! A few other notable names: Macy’s American Eagle, J Crew! I’d suggest signing up just to see which stores are there that you are already shopping at! You can sign up here!

Freelance Writer

If you’ve got a passion for words than this could be perfect for you! While it may take some time to build up your portfolio and make the right connections, there is a lot of money to be made in Freelance Writing! Elna Cain has an awesome tutorial and free course on her website here.

Transcribing

If you consider yourself a good listener, have a high command in the English language, and a decent typing speed, then transcribing could be great for you! Companies will either pay you based on the project or by the minute of audio. You will need to have a few minor pieces of equipment to do this from home (computer, headphones and foot pedal, which you can find on Amazon.)

TranscribeMe hires brand new transcribers with no previous experience.  They pay by the transcription and pay weekly!

 

Survey Taker

Taking Surveys won’t bring in full-time income, but it can bring in a bit of extra cash. SwagBucks and SurveyJunkie  are two of the more popular programs and you can complete the surveys from you phone most of the time! They range in length and you do have to qualify for them based on what type of information they are looking for.

Amazon Virtual Locations Employee

It’s no surprise that the LARGEST online retailer in the world has a ton of remote location jobs! While some of them are super specialized, a majority are customer service based position. At the time of writing this post there are exactly 199 jobs posted on their virtual locations page!

Publish eBooks

If you have an expertise in any area, you have the potential to write and sell eBook! The possibilities of topics are endless and there are a ton of ways to create, market and sell your eBooks!

I created all of my eBooks for free and use a third-party host to help me take care of the transactions and delivery of the products. Amazon has a super easy platform for selling eBooks if you do now own your own website.

Etsy

If you have any sort of crafty talent (I’m not ashamed to say I have ZERO!) than you should be sharing your skills with the world and selling your materials on Etsy! The possibilities are endless! A friend of mine just posted a picture of the gift she purchased her husband for their one year anniversary off of Etsy- A Hand Stitched Family Portrait. How cute is that? Some talented human is making those from home! There are some small fee’s to sell you products on Etsy, but they are minimal! More details here.

Photography

This is a skill I wish I had SO BADLY! It’s such a great way to make money while being very creative! Plus, you are helping others capture memories that will last forever!

Starting a photography business does take skill, work and equipment. To start your business, you may have to do some work for free in order to build up your portfolio. Be sure to pick a target audience that works for your schedule. Weddings will mean you work on the weekends, but doing newborn or children’s photos could mean squeezing in a shoot time during the day.

I know a lot of photographers that have their studio set up in their homes for added convenience.

Start a at-home day care

The more the merrier, right?

If you feel there is a need in your area for more day care options, take some time to see if this could be right for you. There will be some technicalities and documentation you will have to sort out (depending on your state), but it is a great way to bring in ALOT of extra money if you are already staying home with one baby!

Rosemarie of The Busy Budgeter has an awesome guide to starting your own. Check it out here.

Have any opportunities to add to the list? Comment below and share!

Be sure to read these money saving tips too:


25+ Baby Cribs Under $250

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250

I’m officially in my 6th month of pregnancy! Unlike my first pregnancy where I had the entire nursery complete by the end of the first trimester, I definitely feel like I need to get a move on things! I have bedding and décor picked out, but still searching for the perfect furniture set.

As usual, I want to find great quality, cute items at a great price. So I’ve pulled together 25+ cribs for under $250!

P.s. you also have to check out our glider guide!  


Camden 4 in 1 Convertible Crib by Child Craft. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Monarch Hill Ivy Standard Crib by Little Seeds. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Eddie Bauer Hayworth 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by baby Relax. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Quinn 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Fisher Price. Available here. 25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


New Haven 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Delta Children. 6 color options. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Del Mar 5-in-1 Convertible Crib by Fisher Price. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Westbourne Crib  by Viv + Rae. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Sierra Ridge Terra Standard Crib by Little Seeds. Available here. 25+ Baby Cribs Under $250

 


Chesapeake 5-in-1 Convertible Crib by Dream on Me. Available here. 25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Carter’s by DaVinci Kenzie 4-in-1 Convertible Crib. Also comes in white. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Jenny Lind 3-in-1 Convertible Crib with Conversion Kit by DaVinci. Available here25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Charlotte 5-In-1 Convertible Crib by Dream on Me. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


The Brooke Crib by Viv + Rae. Comes in NAVY BLUE TOO! Available here.25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Delaney 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Child Craft. Available here.  

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Stork Craft Tuscany 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Stork Craft (5 color options). Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Carter’s by DaVinci Morgan 4-in-1 Convertible Crib. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Carter’s by DaVinci Colby 4-in-1 Convertible Crib with Trundle Drawer. 3 color options. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


London Stationary 3-in-1 Convertible Crib. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Bailey 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Dream on Me. Available here. 25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Charlotte Traditional Crib by Fisher-Price. Available in gray & white. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Check out more baby gear posts below:

The 4 Nursing Bras Every Breastfeeding Mama Needs
25+ Baby Cribs Under $250
Baby’s First Halloween Costume Ideas

 

 

How Much Tummy Time Should Your Baby Do Each Day?

How Much Tummy Time Does Your Baby Need?

If you have read my blog post on how we came VERY close to putting Emmy in a baby helmet, you know tummy time is something we have had to master in our household. I have to admit though, the reason we got ourselves into a flat head situation was in part because I didn’t know how important (or how much) tummy time was needed each day.

Tummy time is important for a few reasons. As you know, baby’s head is still very soft immediately following birth and does not start to get significantly harder until around 6 months. This is the time frame when tummy time is the most important! While baby’s head is soft, it is malleable and can become flat if he or she does not spend time on their tummy. Tummy time also help strengthen babies shoulder, neck and back muscles. All of these muscles are essential to crawling, sitting and rolling over.

So how much tummy time should you be doing each day? The answer largely depends on the age of your baby and how comfortable they are with the tummy position.

When your baby is a newborn, tummy time can be as simple at them laying on their stomachs while on your chest. The closeness of your faces will give them something to interesting to lift their head and look at. You can also simply lay them across your legs. Start with just a few minutes at a time and increase from there.  Once baby is a little older (3-4 months) and comfortable with the stomach position, try moving them to the floor so that they can begin playing more actively during tummy time. By this age, research suggests a minimum of 30 minutes of tummy time a day. However, the doctor who we saw in regards to Emmy’s flat spot on her head told us that there was no such thing as too much tummy time. Remember that tummy time can be broken up into small sessions throughout the day.

For some babies, tummy time may not might not be the most enjoyable part of the day. The good news is, as those muscles get stronger, the fussing should start to fade away. In the mean time, keep it interesting for baby. Try doing tummy time  outside on a blanket where they are lots of new things to look at. A water mat is also a small, inexpensive toy made just for tummy time that was a huge hit in our house. I quickly found that tummy time after bath time is always the easiest for us. Emmy seems to have this burst of energy when she gets out and welcomes tummy time. Mornings are a COMPLETELY different story. Try to find a time that your baby is the happiest to switch over to tummy time.

 

Water Mats for Tummy Time

Emmy doing tummy time on her water mat.


Read more articles like this:

Building Baby’s Library: 12 Must Have Books for Their First Year
How You Can Make Money As A Stay-At-Home mom
25+ Baby Cribs Under $250

 

The 5 Best Toys for Baby’s First Year

This is a guest post written by Maria from ToyTrainCenter.com. Check out her website here!

Choosing the Best Toys for Baby’s First Year

            Even though babies do not communicate much prior to their first birthday, this is a crucial developmental stage. Choosing the best toys for baby’s first year will give your child a head start with learning and keep them engaged before they are totally mobile on their own.

One important thing to look for are colorful toys. These will keep your baby more engaged and interested for longer. Sound is also an important feature with toys for your baby’s first year. Often, toys with sounds help babies learn to act on their environments.

There are likely thousands of toys suitable for babies under a year old so it can be daunting to choose between them. Below are some of the best toys for baby’s first year to take some of the guessing out of the process. They will engage and teach your new baby well.

Fisher-Price Rattle and Rock Maracas Musical Toy

            The Fisher-Price Rattle and Rock Maracas Musical Toy are a great option for teaching your new baby to act on their environment. Some of their features include:

  • Plush handle grips and narrow body for little hands
  • Colorful plastic beads both for appearance and sound
  • Comes with two maracas – one green and one yellow

One of the best features of the Rattle and Rock Maracas is that they are very portable and no-fuss. They can be easily thrown in a diaper bag to entertain your baby on the road. Also, it is very easy to clean both the fabric and plastic portions (especially important for teething babies).

Though they have many good features and pros, there are a couple drawbacks. For one, the plastic parts of these maracas are very hard. For less coordinated babies, the plastic can be a bit of a hazard. Also, the design is simple and they are really only suited for very young ones.

VTech Musical Rhymes Book

            The VTech Musical Rhymes Book is another great option for baby’s first year and even a bit longer than that. Some of its features include:

  • Plays more than forty sounds and songs
  • Brightly colored pages with light up features
  • Five interactive buttons to choose from

Because it incorporates colors, sound, and active page turning, it requires more motor skills than the previous option. Also, the Musical Rhymes Book is suitable for new babies and slightly older ones. There is enough color for young babies as well as words for older ones.

The major hindrance to learning with this toy is that the nursery rhymes written in the book and the songs are not sequenced the same way. That means that you may be looking at a page for “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” but a totally different nursery song is playing with it.

The Best Toys for Baby's First Year

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks

            For developing motor skills, the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks are another wonderful choice. Some of its features include:

  • Five different shapes to sort
  • Ten colorful blocks
  • A storage bucket that doubles as a shape sorter

One nice pro of the Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks is that they are very durable. Babies do tend to throw things; these will stand up to the abuse. Also, the size of the blocks is conducive to small hands, but not small enough to be a choking hazard for curious babies.

One drawback of this toy is that the top is very easily removed. This means that children do not need to sort the shapes to put them in the bucket. Also, the insecure lid makes the whole thing easy to spill. The last thing you want is the blocks going everywhere after you clean up.

The Best Toys for Baby's First Year

LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table Activity Center

The LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table Activity Center is another great interactive toy that will teach your new baby about cause and effect. Some of its features include:

  • Plays over seventy sounds and tunes
  • Incorporates numbers, letters, shapes, and colors
  • Removable legs

This toy is great for new and older toddlers as it can be used with or without the legs for different heights. Also, one nice pro is that it has English and Spanish language options which expands your baby’s knowledge in a new way and makes it more appealing to more people.

The main issue with the Learn and Groove Musical Table is that it can be a bit unstable when on its legs. Because it is fairly lightweight, a more rambunctious child could easily pull it over on themselves. This could result in slight injury or just a few moments of upset.

The Best Toys for Baby's First Year

VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

Like the previous option, the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker will also appeal to your baby throughout their first year. Some of its features include:

  • Uses sounds, a shape sorter, and light-up aspects
  • Adjustable for different height and age levels
  • Removable panel for developing fine motor skills

Other than the fact that this toy can be adjusted to fit your baby as they grow, it has a couple other nice pros. First of all, the wheels have two different speed settings to keep things under control a bit more. Secondly, it has plenty of features to keep your baby happy.

The main con of the Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is the stability. On hard surface floors, the wheels can get out from underneath your baby, causing them to fall. While this may be helped by using it on carpet, more stability would always be a plus when it comes to babies.

The Best Toys for Baby's First Year

Conclusion and Verdict:

When it comes to choosing the best toys for baby’s first year, the key is to find ones that engage their senses and teach them about their environment. This means that toys with cause and effect type activities are always a good bet.

When it comes to the above toy choices, it greatly depends on when you are looking for. If you are looking for something that can transition through your baby’s first year into early toddlerhood, a more complex toy may be best. Otherwise, colorful simple toys will do just fine.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your baby is happy. If you can find a toy which keeps them entertained and also teaches them, it is even better. There are a number of great options, so finding the best toys for baby’s first year will not be the most difficult.

The Difference Between Postpartum Depression and The Baby Blues

Postpartum Depression vs. Baby Blues. Know the Difference.

This is a guest post by HealthyPregnancy.com. Read more about them at the end of this post.

For many new mothers, a striking change of mood in the weeks following a birth can be a bit unnerving, especially after months of hectic schedules and major life changes. Indeed, a sense of sadness, loss of energy and bouts of crying can be an unwelcome series of events when a mother is already trying to adjust to a new life with a baby. However, a sudden change in mood is a regular part of having a child, with up to 80 percent of new mothers experiencing a period of “baby blues.”

When Sadness Becomes a Concern

It is when this sense of sadness and lethargy does not go away in a reasonable amount of time that a case of “baby blues” may start to become what is known as postpartum depression. While everyone goes through periods of sadness every once in a while, particularly when a person has experienced a big change in life, prolonged periods in this state may be a cause of concern and a sign that a person should consult their physician. Here are just a few differences between a brief case of the baby blues and postpartum depression.

When Feelings of Tiredness and Sadness Don’t Go Away

The period following the birth of a child is a time of great happiness for a new mother. However, it is also a time when the body must naturally readjust itself to a new form of care for a baby. As the body naturally adapts to feeding and taking care of a newborn, the brain’s response can often be to go into a state of clinical depression.

Knowing the Signs of Postpartum Depression

When this state of depression persists for longer than two weeks, it may be a sign that additional help is needed for a new mother to get back to a normal emotional level. While the following is by no means a complete list, consulting a physician should be a priority for mothers who experience any of the following symptoms for over two straight weeks:

  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Feelings of hopelessness or anxiety
  • Loss of interest in passions
  • Inability to sleep or extensive oversleeping

What Can Be Done to Combat Postpartum Depression

Fortunately, physicians can do much to aid new mothers in overcoming a case of postpartum depression. Discussing options for treatments with a physician such as counseling or a program of anti-depressant medication can do much to make healing manageable. (It is especially important to discuss a plan for anti-depressant medication with a doctor, as anti-depressants can affect what chemicals a child receives through breastfeeding.) For these reasons, knowing how a case of the baby blues can tip over into a spell of postpartum depression can significantly help new mothers to be prepared after the birth of a child. After all, a new birth is a time for celebration and happiness and no one wants to spoil a bonding period with their child with the added difficulties of low mood and energy. Fortunately, there is much hope for mothers who want help for postpartum depression and a wealth of professionals and natural remedies to assist them.

Healthy Pregnancy Guest Posts On Swaddles n' Bottles

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Teething Relief Treats for Baby

Teething Relief Treats- Frozen Breast Milk Popsicles!

My daughter has turned into a teething monster! She is a drooling machine and it constantly trying to get a good chew out of anything around, including my fingers! I quickly learned that cold items are a huge relief for her! We are constantly rotating between our two new favorite teething treats: frozen breast milk popsicles and frozen fruits in the munchkin food net.

For the breast milk popsicles, I simply pump as much milk as a I can after Emmy goes to bed one night and fill these plastic Popsicle molds. Each mold takes about 1 ounce of milk. Freeze over night   We always eat our “milksicles” outside while not wearing any clothes because they get pretttty messy, but they last quiet come time. It usually takes Emmy about 15 minutes to get through one! She’s a happy girl for a few hours thanks to the pain relief it provides!

For the munchkin teething net, I cup up small prices of fruit and add 2-3 pieces at a time. We have tried mango, cantaloupe, watermelon and banana so far. They have all been a hit! I have since stopped doing bananas because they are SO hard to clean out of the net! The other three fruits have been easy to clean by hand and come out of the dishwasher spotless. The net has been a big help on long car rides as well! I’ll just put a bit of fruit in Tupperware and if Emmy starts to get fussy I just fill it up for her and it keeps her happy for at least half an hour! Even if your baby isn’t teething, I would highly suggest this product! We seriously take it everywhere with us, as you can see! This teething net is available here.

If you are searching for more teething relief tips, be sure to check out The Ultimate Baby Teething Guide!


Sleep Training- Teaching Your Baby The Skill Of Sleep

This is a guest post by Marisa Olsen from GirlLovesFood.net. Read more on Marissa and her AMAZING food blog at the end of this post.

I used to joke that sleep training saved my marriage. In all seriousness, it really did help. At 11 weeks our little baby girl would wake up roughly five times a night with her longest stretch of sleep maybe reaching three-and-a-half-hours, if we were lucky. The longest stretch would always occur at the start of the evening, usually around 7:30pm, meaning there were plenty of nights I went to “bed” at 8pm hoping for a few extra minutes of sleep before nursing throughout the night.

Throughout the night, I would awake to crying and would feed her, hoping that a long feed would tie her over. However,  she would promptly fall asleep after five minutes of nursing. This cycle continued all night, and often at 45 minute intervals.  I was a mess, especially for someone who thrives on sleep. My husband, who was working 14 hour work days, was in rough shape as well.

After consulting our pediatrician, we decided to sleep train at 11 weeks. Our pediatrician recommended cry it out, a method where you simply leave your baby in their crib or bassinet and let them cry through the night, not going in to comfort them for nearly 12 hours with a goal of the baby learning to self soothe and establishing their sleep clocks. Sounds cruel, right? I knew this method was considered very controversial. Well after researching and speaking with friends and family (turns out my brother and I were also trained on this method), we bit the bullet. Here’s how it went:

Before we did anything, I immediately sought out support from my husband, friends, and mom. They helped me prepare for a long week of mixed emotions and encouragement.  Armed and ready, the first night was pretty torturous. Not only was I to let my baby cry, but she was also graduated into her own room and crib. I felt like a horrible mom all night and even cried myself. My baby would cry for 45 minute stretches on and off. I lost track of time and eventually nodded off myself, trying to rid of the bur of guilt and anguish. The next morning, after on and off crying from the wee hours of morning, we entered the room and our baby promptly stopped crying and smiled at us. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a miracle and she didn’t hate us. I spent the next day doing lots of skin to skin and cuddling. She even took long naps and seemed weirdly well-rested.

The second night was a little bit better in terms of the crying, which had significantly lessened. However, night number two was still painful, especially because we knew what to expect. I texted my mom friends throughout the night, who sent over virtual love and courage. When the morning finally rolled around and we came to her rescue,  the smile returned. She immediately was her old, happy self.

By the third night, she slept for much longer intervals and by night number four and five, she slept 11 hours. She even woke up earlier than her 7am morning rescue and was cooing and giggling in her crib and appeared to be quite content. It worked! Our baby learned how to self soothe and was happy and chipper in the morning. Plus, I discovered part of my old self and realized how incredible a night sleep really is both emotionally and physically.

My baby is now seven months and is still a wonderful sleeper. There are certainly nights where she is teething or under the weather from her vaccinations. I’ve learned how to identify nighttime cries when she really needs me. But otherwise, she is a solid and stoic sleeper and it has helped our family immensely.

If you are interested in sleep training, here are some helpful tips:

  • Commit – this is tough stuff and not for everyone. If you’re going to do it, it was recommended that you do it entirely for at least three to five nights.
  • Clear your calendar  both day and nights – this is not the time to go on vacation and have a hotel full of guests hear your baby screaming.
  • Stay strong and enlist in moral support – I had ongoing text messages with friends and family giving me strength and support. They helped me get through those three nights and I am forever grateful for their encouragement.
  • You don’t have to sleep train, period.
  • Find a bedtime routine – whether you sleep train or not, I recommend working on getting your baby to fall asleep at a certain bedtime. We started to use the same cues for bed at two weeks old:  massage with almond oil, diaper change, nursing/bottle feed, burping, and a lullaby with a sound machine on. I would then put her down and rub her belly for a few seconds. She would sometimes wake up and I would repeat soothing her and putting her down until she finally slept. This was key in sleep training as she was able to fall asleep at “bedtime” pretty regularly.

It’s important to remember that rather than judge other families, it’s best to embrace different practices and acknowledge what works for one family may not work for yours. We were fortunate that this solution worked for us. No matter what method you may choose, I am sending happy sleeping vibes your way!


Money Saving Tips to Become a SAHM

I will never forget the conversation Jay and I had when we came to the conclusion that with the right savings plan, I would be able to stay home once baby was born. I was over the moon ecstatic, but a little nervous. I wanted this to work out so badly, but I didn’t want us to do it at the expense of our family being able to live comfortably. I was super motivated to find a way to be able to stay home. All I had to do was cut a few hundred dollars in expenses each month. Here are a few of the tips I followed to be able to do so! One tip before you begin doing this, write down all your expenses before you start! You may only cut $7, $10 or $15 in one area, but it feels so good to tally it all up at the end and see how much you saved!!

bills you can cut with a just phone call

Cell phone bill

If you have a plan where you have a set amount of data, you won’t be using as much now that you are home. You can connect to your home WI-fi and save a ton of data! Meaning you could cut your bill down! I went from spending $109 per month to just $79 per month with Verizon! There are alot of other changes you can make with your plan (minutes, texts, insurance) that you may not even realize are unnecessary!

Car Insurance

Now that you are not driving to and from work every day, you could save a bunch on your car insurance! Some companies offer a device that you can put into your car that will track how far you are driving each month and adjust your monthly bill to match accordingly.  You can also check with your insurance provider to see if there is any coverage you have that may be excessive. Your insurance agent wants to keep you as a customer, so they are going to take the time to help you and walk you through everything. Give them a call and let them know your situation. If you are a homeowner, you could also look into combining your home and auto insurance to save. Again, it may only save 10 bucks but it will add up!

Cable

The average cable bill is $123 per month! That’s outrageous. Call to see if there is a smaller package for you to switch to or just cut cable all together! There are alot of alternatives for far less. Jay and I have an Amazon Fire Stick and we are able to get a ton of movies through Netflix and we were able to download apps for the stations that have our favorite shows (HBO for him and ABC for me!) The one time cost of the Firestick is 1/3 of a monthly cable bill! Plus once baby is here, you may find you don’t watch TV as much as you used to!

Cut OUT the extras

More eating in, less Eating Out

The grocery bill can be a big way to save each month. On the other end, eating out can add up QUICKLY.  Now that I am staying at home, I am able to devote more time to shopping and  preparing meals for us. Plus, I am able to max extras for dinner each night that Jay takes for lunch the next day, cutting cost on him eating out for lunch as well! If you do want to eat out, do your research first. There is a restaurant not far from our house that has the most delicious fish tacos on the face of this earth. On Mondays they are only TWO BUCKS. We have a fun family night out for just $8! If you have a larger family, search for places that allow for kids to eat free for added savings.

Costly outings and activities

If you have kiddos who are walking or crawling, getting out of the house can be a necessity, but can also be costly. Get creative with ways to use up that baby energy without opening your wallet. Emmy and I love our local library and they have a few weekly activities we can attend to. Are there walking or nature trails near your house? What about parks? It isn’t possible to do free activities 100% of the time, so when you do need to spend some money, do it wisely! Check Groupon for great deals and call come of your favorite activities to see if they have days where there are specials. A local children’s museum near us  has “Two Dollar Tuesdays”!

Shopping

This one can be tough. Shopping for clothes, accessories, shoes, is all now a special occasion to me.  I still make a point to treat myself every once in a while, but I do it within the budget that is set. I personally think it has almost made it more fun… I’ve become a self-proclaimed PRO at bargain shopping. She same goes for clothes for baby and daddy. Don’t be afraid of shopping at second-hand shops for clothes too.  I can’t tell you how many times I have found clothes with the tag still on them at Plato’s Closet or Goodwill. You can also take advantage of stores that will allow you to sell clothes you no longer wear to earn money towards your new purchases.

Shop in Bulk when it makes sense

Bulk isn’t always best, but when it is, it pays off big time! Items that parish quickly such as milk, eggs, bread, may not be best to buy in bulk if you family does not eat alot of them. However, no perishable such as pasta, canned soups or veggies, or even meats you can freeze save you BIG time when buying in bulk. I always check out the price per unit section of the price tag to see how to get the most for your money. Also, when it comes to grocery shopping, start cutting out those disposable items. Paper plates, napkins, water bottles, etc. all need to become a thing of the past if you want to be serious about saving money!

Use A Finance Tracking System

This has been the BIGGEST help when it comes to staying within our budget. One of my favorite things to do each month is log into Mint.com and look at our budget and where we stand. WHO would have known I would get so much enjoyment out of such a task? The truth is, I enjoy it because it makes the whole process of watching a budget so simple and it really relieves any worry I may have. A few months ago, we went into the system and set a budget for every category of spending (groceries, utilities, clothing, eating out, etc.) As we use our debit cards, Mint adds the transaction to the specific category and tallies it up for us. When you log in, you are greeted by an easy to read graphic that tells you where you are within each budget for the month. The first time you create your account, you may be surprised to see how much you are spending each month within those categories. It’ may be the wake up call you’ve been needing to get a handle on finances. It has also come in handy when we have had some unexpected costs come up. Just a few weeks ago,  Jays car started having some trouble with the left front tire. We knew we would have to pay a big chunk of change to get it repaired, but we really didn’t want to tap into our savings if unnecessary.I logged into Mint and saw that we had hardly spent any of our eating out budget, and due to the colder month, we also used $57 less in our electricity budget. So just from using the service, we knew we had enough room in our monthly budget to purchase the new tire!

Make Savings a Priority

I know there are alot of “courses” and “programs” out there that claim to be able to help save you hundreds, but the best way to guarantee you will see savings is to make it an every day priority in your household. This doesn’t mean that mom is the only one on a mission to save, the whole family has to be on board. The savings has to be a household goal. One great way you and your spouse could get on board with the savings together would be to educate yourselves together. When I was just 23 a mentor of mine bought me a copy of  Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and I have never looked at money the same again.  I went from wondering where my money was going every month to telling my money where to go. It will light a financial fire in you like you have never expected. But it won’t do any good if you and your partner are not on the same page. Order two copies and make a plan to read together!

I hope at least a few of these tips get you closer to fulfilling your desire to stay at home with baby! Feel free to comment below with your tips to save some money!


The Ultimate Guide to Baby Teething

This is a guest post by Afra Said from ThroughMamasEyes.com. She has two children and has helped both of them through the teething process. We are so thankful she has shared her teething wisdom with us! Read more about Afra at the end of this post.

Teething…the word alone can make mamas cringe. It’s a long battle, but one we need to win for the sake of our babies. It’s a hot topic among all mothers of infants & toddlers up to 3 years (sometimes older). It’s also a testing phase in parenthood, one that causes lots of sleepless nights, head-banging moments, household stress and happiness (when it’s all over) at the same time. That’s a lot of feelings to go through as a mom, right? Yup, and it’s one long roller coaster.

My children were both late teethers. They started the teething process around 4 months of age. My son’s first tooth cut through one week shy of his first birthday.  I was so ecstatic because not only did he finally get his first 2 teeth, he would have teeth showing in his 1st  birthday photos!  My daughter’s first tooth cut through when she was almost 14 months and she’s now 18 months and has 8 teeth so far with her first set of molars cutting through. The whole teething process is tough… but molars are horrendous. She is also going through the famous 18-month growth spurt so my nights are now spent waking up every 1-2 hours to nurse her like a newborn and watch her throw random unexpected tantrums!

Based on my experience I wanted to share a few tips for the teething journey and how you can possibly make it easier on baby and mama!

The process of teething

The process of teething starts with the tooth emerging through the gums,  and ends with the tooth “cutting through” the gums which is referred to as eruption. The teeth don’t miraculously appear one day as I thought it would. It takes months and sometimes up to a year for the teeth to emerge. Many of you might be thinking “well that’s a given if you read up on it”, but not many moms do! I was one of them and I had no idea what to expect through the teething process!

The teething eruption happens in the following order. These images are a general timeline sourced from Baby Center that is no way fixed as every child is different and might get their teeth in a completely different order.

 

be prepared for Teething effects and symptoms

  • Biting & drooling – This is one of the first signs and usually starts around 3 months. You will start to see lots of drooling and fists in babies’ mouths, coupled with trying to bite on anything in sight.
  • Gum rubbing – You might notice your baby rubbing their gums with their hand or item they are holding. This is normal and eases their discomfort.
  • Increased Nursing – This is the hardest part for nursing mamas. Especially at night, we become baby’s pacifier! Take joy in knowing that nursing your baby provides pain relief and comfort for baby
  • Disrupted Sleep – You might notice baby waking up crying, screaming or just moving around in their sleep in as a result of discomfort/pain. Their normal sleep routines will be a thing of the past… thanks to teething!
  • Crankiness – Their pain and lack of sleep are to blame for their constant crankiness.
  • Facial Rashes – You might notice a rash around their mouth due to the excess drool irritating their sensitive skin.
  • Food Aversions – Depending on whether baby has started solids or not, you might notice they don’t have much of an appetite or don’t want to eat things they previously liked. Also, most nursing babies would prefer to nurse which is comforting, or prefer to eat food items that help soothe their gums.

Other symptoms that are common include fevers, diarrhea, ear pain and runny nose.

How to help baby soothe the pain

Don’t be afraid of using some of of these helpful products and tactics to help baby soothe the pain. It will help make the teething process easier on everyone!

  • Teething Oil – This was my go-to item to help with teething! There are a lot of opinions about the ingredients of some teething oils. I personally used Punkin Butt Teething Oil with my son and currently use Wellements Baby Tooth Oil for my daughter. Both have worked great for our family.
  • Pain Relief – I only used this if my kids caught a fever or the teething pain was keeping them awake. It helped them get some sleep for at least a few hours at a time. I used to use Tylenol or Calpol (a UK pain reliever).
  • Homeopathic Teething Relief Camilia Teething Liquid was also really helpful (as it was homeopathic and natural). It comes in individual, pre-measured packets to give to baby so there is comfort knowing they are getting just the right amount.
  • Teething Gel: Gels are great for short-term, temporarily relief. We personally used OraJel Night Time gel.
  • Teething Tablets: I would recommend Hylands Teething tablets. Like the gels, these only seemed to provide short-term comfort, but they certainly loved the idea of being given something that looked like a sweet!
  • Iced Towels/Toys or Iced Snacks: This has really helped with my daughter! When she was younger I used the Munchkin Fresh Food Mesh Feeders. It was a great way for her to safely chew on a cold fruit that provided relief. You could also use iced towels or iced chewy toys.
  • Pacifiers – This helped tremendously if your baby still accepts a pacifier. The sucking acts as a distraction to the pain and can be soothing to baby.
  • Teething Toys
    • Sophie the Giraffe – This is super popular! no one really knows what it is that babies love so much about this toy, but it’s always a hit.  There have been concerns recently about mold…simply plug the little hole on the bottom of the toy with your hot glue gun to prevent mold from forming.
    • Nuby Teething Keys which can be frozen worked really well to soothe aching gums
    • Baby Banana Brush – My 18 month old still likes to use this because of the bristles. Plus they look super cute eating a tiny little banana!
    • Teething Necklaces – There are several brands out there that help. mama would need to wear this necklace when holding baby.
  • Amber Teething Necklace/Bracelets – I have heard lots of moms raving about how amber teething necklaces help their teething babies. The science behind this is that the amber oils are absorbed into babies skin and helps relive teething pain. I tried this with my daughter and  it definitely helps stop drooling!
  • Comfort – One of the best ways to help baby is  their mama’s touch. So lots of carrying and baby wearing helps during teething. Don’t break your routine, but be prepared to adjust it a little to provide comfort and ease.

Don’t beat yourself up

I once typed up a post in a mommy group asking for help thinking it was nursing issue. It was suggested that it was most likely a growth spurt and teething. I thought to myself ‘Teething? NOPE.’ I double and triple checked her gums several times and there was nothing. Two days later, I felt 2 sharp molars cutting through. Oh the guilt……. Even though teething drives me up the wall and makes me so impatient, when I eventually see/ feel that tooth cutting through my poor kids gums, I can’t help but share their misery and feel sorry for them.

So mama, I end with this, I pray your baby is one of those who has his/her teeth cut through without the sobbing & sleepless nights!  If not, just know that you WILL get through this. This is one of the hardest phases of motherhood that has to be experienced, but hang in there! Sadly it might be at the expense of your sanity, but hey at the end of it all you get to see 20 beautiful teeth shining right at you!