Archives for January 2013

How to Choose Paint Colors for Your Baby’s Room

Preparing a nursery for your upcoming bundle of joy is one of the major milestones you reach along the way to welcoming a new baby into the family, and is one of the most exciting tasks for many parents-to-be. Choosing the perfect furniture and bedding that reflects your style while still ensuring that you’re adhering to the stringent safety guidelines put in place to protect babies means there are lots of things you’ll have to take into consideration during the planning process. One of the first things on many parents’ to-do list, however, is to paint the nursery walls the perfect shade that creates a sanctuary for their little one.

Gender and Color Theory

Traditionally, pinks and purples are used to denote a feminine space, while bright primary hues are favored for more masculine ones. If you’re not planning to find out your new baby’s gender before birth or simply want to create a more gender-neutral palette to avoid those traditional gender roles, then grays and muted yellows are a great choice. Part of the color-choosing process will depend upon your attitudes about such things and the way that you want to parent your child.


Unless you don’t mind periodic repainting, you’ll want to consider the longevity of a color scheme before you start decorating. Powder pink walls with fluffy bunny borders might be adorable and charming for a newborn’s room, but may not be so well received when she’s starting kindergarten. While you won’t be able to predict your child’s unique and personal preferences before she arrives, you can think about how well certain decorating schemes will carry over as your child gets older. Completely repainting a room isn’t cheap and can be quite disruptive, so you may want to make an attempt to choose something that will age along with your child, at least for a while.

Choosing the Best Shade for the Space

The same paint sample that looks perfect under the fluorescent lights of a home improvement store may be awful when it’s applied to the walls in your child’s room. The best way to determine how both natural and interior lighting will affect your chosen colors is to apply them directly to the wall in a rather sizable swatch. Small sample jars are inexpensive and contain enough paint for you to apply a swatch to each wall so that you can look at the way the light affects the color under varying conditions. The last thing you want to do is invest the time and money in painting the nursery with an untested color, only to be forced to repaint or to live with a shade that you absolutely hate when it’s actually applied.

Coordinating and Pulling a Scheme Together

If you already have a color you’re in love with, you’ll probably choose bedding and window treatments with it in mind. Parents that spring for the bedding first, however, will need to look at the different shades it contains in order to choose one that compliments it well. Decide which route is more suited to your personal decorating style and build around it. You may find that the perfect wall color only reveals itself after you’ve chosen the perfect bedding, and that it contains a color you weren’t even considering before.

Health and Safety

The shade of paint that you choose may depend upon the availability in low- and no-VOC paint lines. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are part of what gives paint its distinctive smell. Benzene, toluene, naphthalene, methyl chloroform and formaldehyde are among the chemicals that traditional paints can contain, all of which have been shown to have adverse affects on human lungs. When you set out to choose the perfect shade for the room that will serve as a safe, soothing retreat for your child, you’ll want to make sure that the paint you use won’t make him sick.

In the end, choosing a paint color for your new baby’s nursery is a personal decision that will depend upon your parenting philosophies and personal beliefs as much as your style and individual tastes. Taking your time and making sure that you’re perfectly happy with the decisions you make is the best way to ensure that you’re not forced to completely redo the nursery down the road or live with something that you don’t like until your child is old enough to begin expressing her own tastes and preferences.

Using Baby Sign Language to Connect with Your Infant

As your infant gets older, she will start to understand her own feelings and needs better, but she still won’t be able to effectively share them with you yet. It can be frustrating for both of you when she’s trying to communicate with you, but hasn’t developed the verbal skills needed to successfully let you know what she needs and wants. Baby sign language can bridge the communication gap and give your baby a way to let you know what’s on her mind. It helps you more quickly understand what your child is trying to say and avoids many of the tantrums and meltdowns that frustration over not being able to communicate brings on. It also is a wonderful way to connect and bond with your baby.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of signing with your infant.

Make it fun. Above all, signing is a way of connecting and bonding with your baby. When you make signing a natural part of your day with him and turn learning time into fun time, you’ll see the best results. Children learn best through play, so introduce and practice the signs during play and relaxation time. You can incorporate signs into songs, word plays and other fun activities you already do with your child.

Don’t expect a response too early. You can start signing to your baby as early as you want to, however, infants aren’t able to understand or respond to your efforts until at least 8 months old. For many, it could be months later. Like any other way of communicating, there isn’t anything wrong with introducing it early and practicing it often. Just don’t pressure your child to embrace signing until he’s ready.

Be realistic about your expectations. Some babies will have more of a natural interest in learning sign language. Others may enjoy the bonding time and interactions with you, but may not latch on to baby sign language as their way of communicating. Let your baby lead the way. Baby sign language is only one way to communicate with your child. If your child doesn’t jump on the signing bandwagon, don’t worry. With time and attention you and your child will develop a system that works for you.

Don’t overwhelm your baby with too many new signs at once. It’s easy to get excited about signing and want to show your baby more and more signs each day. This is especially true if your child has been frustrated at not being able to verbalize his feelings, wants and needs to you and now he suddenly can. However it’s helpful to focus on a few key signs and allow your child time to master those before moving onto additional ones. Soon he’ll have a full signing vocabulary.

Share the signs with other caregivers. Teach anyone else who is caring for your child which signs are his favorites. This can avoid some tearful moments when Grandma or Aunt Maude is babysitting. If your child has gotten used to requesting milk or more cereal through signing, it’s frustrating when the adult he’s trying to communicate with doesn’t understand him. This also gives friends and family members a wonderful way of connecting and bonding with your child.

Start with signs related to things your baby is already interested in. Of course babies will naturally be drawn to learning signs that represent the things in their lives they’re already interested in. Mom, Dad, milk, more, dog and cat often top the list. When choosing which signs to introduce, take your cues from your baby. If he regularly has two cups of milk at lunch time, the sign for more is probably a great one for him to know. If he loves cuddling and playing with Huck, the family dog, the sign for dog will help him communicate his love for his playmate.

Talk, talk, talk with your child too. Signing is a great way to expand your child’s ability to communicate with you, but signing should always be accompanied by talking. By speaking your thought as you sign, you help your child develop important whole language skills. Knowing both the word and the sign for things will help him easily transition from non-verbal to verbal communication.

Baby sign language is an effective and fun way to communicate with your infant. It helps you better understand what your child feels, wants and needs long before he’s able to tell you in words. This helps both of you avoid a lot of frustration and promotes a foundation of great communication between you and your baby.

25 Blogs Featuring Winter Maternity Fashions

Being pregnant is an exciting time.  Visions of nurseries dance in your head and it’s likely that you find yourself consumed with shopping for onesies, stuffed animals and the perfect blanket to wrap around your bundle of joy. You also have probably noticed that, in addition to all of the things your baby needs, you need a new wardrobe to fit your expanding belly as well. These days, designers have the most stylish looks in maternity wear.  You can buy things for work that allow you to look professional and still be comfortable or for the weekend when you are kicking back and enjoying life.  And for that fabulous party you have coming up, there are plenty of party dresses too.  Combine those with comfy sleepwear and workout wear and you have yourself a whole new wardrobe, and what’s more fun than buying brand new clothes?  You want to look fantastic while you are pregnant right?  Check out these 25 fabulous fashion blogs that will send you in the right direction.

Work Wear

Sometimes it can be tough to get yourself out of bed, especially as your body grows and changes with the baby, but keep in mind that when you look good you feel good.  Look for clothing items that will grow with you.  These five blog entries will show you what’s in style for maternity work wear.

Weekend Wear

Step out in style as you enjoy life before baby.  You’ll need a great pair of jeans and some comfy sweaters.  Tights and leggings are also a way to stretch your existing wardrobe. Throw on some maternity leggings, a long sweater and some boots and you are ready to go anywhere and still be in style. Take a look at these five blog posts regarding fun and functional weekend wear.

Party Wear

You may be pregnant, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still have places to go and people to see.  What if you have a wedding to attend or a business dinner on the calendar?  These blog posts will give fashion ideas for dresses you can wear to all different types of events, from a party to the opera.  Think haute couture is out of your reach when you’re pregnant?  Think again!


Sleeping can be difficult while you are pregnant.  You can’t seem to get comfortable and your favorite position to sleep in doesn’t really work right now.  With all of those sleeping hurdles you don’t want to have sleepwear that is uncomfortable too.  Check out these five blog posts with comfy sleepwear options.

Workout Wear

Doctors recommend that pregnant women continue to work out if they previously followed a workout regimen. Fortunately, many athletic pants and tops are stretchy and will allow you a little time before you need to change anything.  But once you get past the middle of your second trimester you may not want tight clothes on your tummy.  These five blog posts have included some maternity workout clothes so that you can stay healthy for the baby and for you.

Once you have seen all of the new fashions that are available for pregnant women doesn’t it make you want to go shopping?  You can find maternity clothes for almost any budget so get out there and take a look at what’s available or order online.  If you don’t want to spend a ton, look for places that may rent maternity outfits.  The important thing is that you look as good as you feel during this special time in your life.

Interview with Mary Oscategui Founder of the International Maternity Institute™

By Michelle LaRowe

Several years ago I had the opportunity to connect with Mary Oscategui as she was developing the International Academy of Baby Planner Professionals. Since then, Mary has expanded her vision of helping expectant and new mothers, childcare professionals and those who care for families into a global network of parents, providers and educators. Through the International Maternity Institute™, Mary offers educational programming for maternity professionals. I recently had a chance to connect with Mary to learn more about the institute and its offerings.

NewbornCare:  What is the International Maternity Institute™?

Mary: The International Maternity Institute™ is a leader in birth and maternity professional education, providing online, cutting edge, evidenced-based educational programs, products and services for the maternity professional. We are represented in 24 countries and specialize in baby planning, eco-maternity consulting, green birth education, sleep consulting, stress management, nutrition, mompreneur business success, and disabilities resource consulting. Our educational continuum is designed to enhance the careers of maternity professionals by supplying them with an integrative approach so that they can empower families to make informed decisions. Our Online Distance Courses are available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

NewbornCare:  How long has the institute been offering educational programming?

Mary: The International Maternity Institute™ (IMI) evolved naturally in December 2010 from the International Academy of Baby Planner Professionals, which was founded in September 2009.

NewbornCare: Do you offer programs for nannies?

Mary: Yes, all of our programs are beneficial in expanding and growing the career of a professional nanny. A few popular courses nannies have taken from the institute are Maternity & Child Sleep Consulting, Baby Planning, and Eco-Maternity Consulting.

NewbornCare:  You have a lot of eco-friendly educational programming. Can you share a bit about that?

Mary: Yes, the IMI is committed to raising awareness and education about health and safety issues that affect preconception, pregnancy, and the postpartum period. Our maternity professionals are trained and equipped with this information so that the families they work with may make informed decisions in order to protect themselves and their children. Two of our seven courses offered specialize directly in eco-friendly educational programming and all of our other courses interweave eco-friendly elements.

NewbornCare: Tell me about baby planners? Why continuing education?

Mary: Baby Planners trained with the International Maternity Institute™ develop skills and training that extends beyond the typical main stream baby planner role, which mainly assists clients with baby gear selection. IMI Baby Planners are primarily focused with providing support and education to their client in order to meet their specific needs. By introducing their clients to a variety of options on preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and parenting topics, baby planners empower their clients to make informed and educated decisions. Baby planners may introduce their clients to various options regarding birthing, feeding, sleeping, health, fitness, nutrition, eco-friendly living, safety, post-partum support, budgeting, baby gear and more.

IMI Certified Baby Planners are trained:

  • To offer an objective approach with families in order to empower them to make the best educated decisions suitable for their family.
  • To educate and raise awareness about all aspects of pregnancy (including pre-conception, postpartum, and newborn care).
  • To support parents with time and stress management.
  • To understand the baby planning training methods, roles and practices.
  • With an in-depth look at healthy and safety.
  • With a comprehension of their scope of practice, boundaries to practice, and when to refer out.
  • To be aware of issues that involve medical attention, abuse, trauma, post-partum depression in order to provide their client’s the proper guidance and referral.
  • In all aspects of starting and managing a successful business.

Continuing Education is so important as new information and updates are always coming forward. As a result, it is important and professionally responsible to stay on top of current industry standards and news.

Mary Oscategui is the founder of the International Maternity Institute ™, the International Academy of Baby Planner Professionals, the Baby Planner, and Physical Awakening. She is also the co-founder of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants and Baby Gear Industry Alliance. Mary is an educational content developer for the International Maternity Institute™ and author of “The Baby Planner Profession: What You Need To Know” and “Green Body Green Birth.” She is also mom to a four and a half year old girl, Bella Luna, and a four month old boy, Taj.

Where to Shop for Plus-Sized Maternity Clothes

Pregnancy is an exciting and joyous time in a woman’s life, but it can also be one of the more difficult and confusing periods. As your body expands to accommodate your growing child, finding clothing can be a challenge. This especially holds true if you’re a full-figured woman, as plus-sized maternity fashion isn’t always easy to find.

Know What You’re Looking For

Before you hit big box retailers or small, local boutiques, it’s best to know which styles and cuts will most flatter your body as pregnancy progresses. Tops and dresses with empire waists might be things that you would ordinarily avoid, but there’s a reason why they’re embraced by pregnant women of all shapes and sizes: they can be flattering and comfortable as your baby bump gets larger. As an added bonus, they’re stylish enough that you can probably find them in your favorite clothing store without scouring the maternity section. Another trendy and viable solution is elastic-waist prairie skirts a size or two up from your normal one. The stretchiness of the waist and roomy cut of the skirt will allow you to grow without becoming restrictive or forcing you to sacrifice your stylish sensibilities during pregnancy. Even if your style doesn’t lean in a bohemian direction ordinarily, embracing your inner earth mother can help you survive pregnancy without resorting to sweatpants. Invest in a few fashion staples, like black dress pants, solid-colored shirts, cardigans and one well-made, flattering jacket.

Where to Shop

Some pregnant women can get by with modifying non-maternity pieces, but some occasions are likely to call for dedicated clothing designed to flatter your full figure and make room for a pregnant belly. Your local Gap, JCPenney and Old Navy stores will almost certainly carry some plus-sized maternity wear and are great places to stock up on core items. If you live in a smaller town or rural community, however, these stores may not be immediately available to you. That’s where online retailers like Due Maternity, Babies ‘N’ Bellies and Motherhood Maternity come in handy. Due Maternity items are designed specifically with the plus-sized mom-to-be in mind, while Babies ‘N’ Bellies stock everything from comfortable clothing to formal maternity wear in sizes up to 5X. Retail chain Motherhood Maternity does stock a full selection in their online store for sizes up to 3X, but doesn’t always have those items available in store. If there’s a Motherhood Maternity in your area, a quick phone call or visit will allow you to determine whether or not that particular location is among those that stock plus-sized clothing.

Clearance and discount stores like Avenue,,, Maternity4Less and Woman Within stock plenty of fun, stylish items for plus-sized pregnant women that would rather save as much money as possible for the birth of their child, rather than investing in a full maternity wardrobe. Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod Maternity both offer lines that are beloved by plus-sized pregnant women, with fashionable and functional choices to set off your burgeoning bump without breaking the bank. It’s wise to be fully apprised of any return policies that online retailers have in place, however, since you won’t be able to physically try on new maternity wear you’re thinking of purchasing over the Internet.

Maternity fashion for plus-sized women has come a long way. These days, you’re not resigned to cheaply-made or poorly designed clothing for the duration of your pregnancy and you don’t have to be a size two with a big belly to fit into celebrity-inspired pieces. Remember that you probably won’t even start showing until well into your second trimester, which gives you plenty of time to look around for the perfect pre-labor wardrobe. By mixing traditional maternity wear with carefully-selected non-maternity pieces, you can save money without sacrificing your personal sense of style during the later months of your pregnancy.

How to Choose a Godparent That Isn’t a Family Member

While the tradition of choosing godparents for a new baby is typically affiliated with the Roman Catholic faith, there are some parents who are of different religions or no religion at all that are eager to confer the honor upon someone close to them. Choosing godparents for your child can be a difficult task, especially if you are worried about offending members of your family by passing them over. There are a few ways that you can manage the situation with as much grace as possible, however, hopefully staving off any hurt feelings or family feuds.

Look Outside of the Family

Sometimes choosing godparents outside of your family is the best option. Make it known to your relatives that you’re doing so because there are too many of them that you’d like to honor and no way of deciding fairly without offending someone. Under Catholic tradition, a sibling of the mother and a sibling of the father are generally chosen as godparents. This is an especially good tactic if you and your partner have several siblings. Because part of the godparenting tradition for some families also includes caring for your children in the event of your untimely demise, many new parents feel more comfortable opting for a couple to act as godparents, over tangentially-related adults. Explaining to your respective siblings or other relatives that you feel more comfortable leaving the future of your children in the hands of an established couple may also take some of the sting out of a perceived rejection.

Honorary Title Versus Legal Guardianship

For some parents, choosing godparents is a strictly ceremonial gesture with other plans made for the legal guardianship of their child in the event of a tragedy. For others, the primary reason for choosing godparents is to designate a legal guardian to prevent confusion. If you’re determined to choose a godparent outside of your family, you should consider what capacity you’ll be expecting them to act. For the purely ceremonial purposes of being a special person in your child’s life, you can feel a bit more secure asking a friend who is very close to you. If you will be moving for legal guardianship as part of your godparents’ duties, the decision justifiably becomes a bit more difficult.

The Question of Faith

If you’re choosing godparents as a tradition connected with your spirituality and have strong convictions about your children being raised in that faith, should you be taken from them, it’s wise to consider the implications of choosing godparents from outside of your faith. If you expect your child’s godparents to be responsible for his upbringing in the event of a tragedy, you should also expect that they would naturally be likely to instill more of their own religious beliefs than your own. If your family members don’t share your religious affiliation, this can be another talking point you bring up in order to gently explain your choice to opt for godparents outside of the family.

Stand Firm

While it’s obviously important to be considerate of your relatives’ feelings, it’s also important that you not allow yourself to be manipulated or dissuaded from a decision that has significant meaning to you. If you’re closer to your childhood best friend than the sister you rarely see, there is no shame in naming your best friend the godmother. Keeping a grasp on your composure in the face of blatant disappointment or disapproval is never easy, but refusing to argue or be drawn into a debate can prevent dramatic scenes that are difficult to overcome. Stating that you have made your decision and that you hope your family members can respect it as one of your first major choices as a new parent can help to diffuse some anger, especially if you remain calm and respectful throughout the conversation.

Short-Term Care Options for New Moms

Today, new moms often don’t have extended family living close enough to come and stay with them after giving birth, and even when family is close, busy schedules can get in the way of friends and family providing consistent help for more than just a few days. Thankfully there are many short-term care options for new moms and dads. Here’s a list of the ways new parents can get the help and support they need.

Newborn Care Specialist For years, Baby Nurses were the caregiving professionals that helped affluent mothers care for their infants from the day they returned home from the hospital. Baby Nurses often stayed until the baby was one to three months old and a full charge nanny was hired. These caregivers were trained and registered nurses, often retired from jobs in hospital neonatal units. Over the last decade, Newborn Care Specialists have stepped up and filled many of these positions and made in-home newborn care more accessible and affordable to new moms.

Newborn Care Specialists have gone through an in-depth training program and have extensive experience working with newborns and infants. They often have experience with premature babies and multiples as well. Their job is to provide hands-on care to the baby, including things like feeding, diapering, bathing, dressing and cuddling the baby. They also help parents establish routines and handle any special needs the baby may have.

Many Newborn Care Specialists have their own businesses and book directly with family clients. They are often booked months in advance and rely on word of mouth to find moms to be who are in need. Other Newborn Care Specialists work through traditional nanny placement agencies. The agency is responsible for fully screening the caregiver, which includes confirming their education and experience and making sure they have exceptional references.

Postpartum Doula This caregiver provides support and care for the new mother and the family for the first three to six weeks after the birth. Unlike a Newborn Care Specialist, a postpartum doula isn’t focused on the hands-on care of the baby. She helps with baby care, but her focus is helping the mother. This includes things like offering tips and techniques for successful breast feeding, sterilizing and preparing bottles, doing light housekeeping, simple meal preparation, helping the siblings adjust to the new baby, setting up routines, and being a listening ear to the new mom. The Postpartum Doula is often described as a stand in beloved auntie.

Night Nanny Sometimes the biggest need of a new mom (and dad!) is a good night’s sleep. A night nanny is a caregiver with some training and extensive experience with infants. She works the overnight shift and provides hands-on care to the baby from evening to morning. Her duties might include the night time bath, infant massage, rocking the baby to sleep, and night time feedings and diaper changes. A night nanny often comes on board once the mom goes back to work and needs to get uninterrupted sleep. She can stay for just a week or two or until the baby gets on a regular sleep schedule and begins to sleep through the night.

Night nannies can be hired through a traditional nanny placement agency or an online nanny job site. If a parent hires on her own, it’s essential to make sure the nanny has relevant and current infant experience and training in infant safety, infant CPR and first aid.

Temporary Nanny Often a new mom has plenty of help when she first comes home with the baby and doesn’t need help caring for the baby during maternity leave. However, when she’s ready to go back to work there it’s not unusual to find that there isn’t an opening in the family or day care facility she’s interested in or it will be another few months until her baby is old enough to attend. In those cases, a traditional nanny doesn’t work. However, a short-term nanny is the perfect bridge between in home care and group care.

Most nanny agencies offer temporary and back-up care placements. Also, online job sites offer a wide variety of potential candidates. Since it’s a temporary position, nannies that wouldn’t be a great long term match might be the perfect short-term match. Although the nanny is only going to be caring for the baby for a short time, parents should screen the nanny the same way they’d screen for a long term position.

In today’s childcare market, a new mom has lots of options for short-term care. Whatever her situation, there’s an in-home caregiver that can provide the type of care she needs.