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Moms Support Groups – Where are they?

Before my son was born, I didn’t really consider how much help I may need in adjusting to motherhood. How could I, really? That’s like knowing the ins and outs of driving an 18-wheeler without ever being behind the wheel.

Soon after we brought him home, though, I began to realize how nice it would be to have my family close by. We live in a different state than any of our relatives, so the stories of Mom living in with you for two weeks to help with the transition or siblings gladly sitting for you to allow for an occasional sanity-saving date night were just subjects of my deep jealousy. Well, jealousy may be a little strong. Envy might be better suited here. Or Still, you get the picture.

Seriously, though, when you are a new Mom, everything is not innate. You need other people to talk to, comiserate with over lack of sleep, share tips with, help you find great baby gifts and gear, and compare experiences to be sure that you’re “doing it right.” And if your family is not nearby, it’s time to become resourceful and find yourself an outlet!

I finally wised up and started taking my son to a local branch of The Little Gym, of which there are many off -shoots now. I got to socialize with other Moms of same-age kids while the program leader taught us songs, age-appropriate gymnastics or dance moves, and induced screams of joy whenever she brought out the giant parachute for the kids to run under and jump on.

In addition to that, I discovered that my neighborhod had a preschool play group. They met every other week for a couple of hours at the pool or playground. This was a great resource for both of us. Max met friends from our neighborhood, and I had the advantage of the experience of six or seven other Moms to draw from. My son is almost six, and that Moms group still gathers several times per year!

If you are starting to look for an outlet like these, I have put together a short list of some national organizations, which may have branches in your area. Some have annual dues to join, and some don’t. Thank goodness for the Internet! I encourage you that, if you don’t like the first group you go to, you should try a second or even a third. You’ll find the right place eventually, and you will be so glad you did.

International Moms Club http://www.momsclub.org/

Moms Meetup Groups http://moms.meetup.com/

Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) http://www.mops.org/

Moms Groups posted on BabyCenter.com http://community.babycenter.com/groups/topic/21/local?sortby=pop

Pregnancy Brain – Is It Real?

We have all heard of Pregnancy Brain, right? It’s the phenomenon where, when you are pregnant, you seem to be more forgetful or flighty than your usual self. Once the baby is born, we start calling it Baby Brain, and it usually lasts until Mommy can get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis.

I read an article today on Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine’s website (www.pnmag.com) which cites an Australian study in which 1,200 women were followed over three four-year intervals for eight years. During that time, 264 of them got pregnant, yet those women showed no cognitive differences from their non-pregnant peers. Does that seem right to you?

I can personally attest to being more forgetful during pregnancy, from losing things to doing things twice to walking into a room and them wondering what I had gone there for. But, according to the researcher doing this study, I was no more or less out of it while pregnant than I was before. Her theory is that we are conditioned to blame it on being pregnant, so we do! I will agree that she has the right to draw that conclusion, but I suspect that the pregnant women who were  tested probably left their keys in the bathroom on the way out of the building and then forgot to stop at the grocery before going home. :) Plus, don’t you focus better when you KNOW you’re being tested than when you’re just living life?

And I dare say that in month two or three, when those Mommies were exhausted from lack of sleep, they were claiming Baby Brain, even if Pregancy Brain was just a figment of their imagination. What do you think?

Are We Teaching Our Kids Empathy?

Empathy is a big thing with me.  I think lack of empathy causes problems in many ways, the most obvious being intolerance.  And if you’ve read this blog for long, you know how I feel about that!

What may surprise you is that I believe a major source of lack of empathy (or at least the free-for-all communication of it) is electronic communication. Just like what you and I are doing right now! I have seen a decline in decorum and respect over the last few years as social media, email, texting and Skype have replaced face-to-face meetings, phone calls and in-person contact in general. It is as though if you don’t have to say the words out loud and claim them, some people lose sight of being understanding and respectful of another viewpoint.

My concern here, other than the obvious, is that our kids will grow up seeing this as the norm. I deal with this issue in two main areas: my son’s food allergy and my product. I join many thousands of Moms of food-allergy sufferers who have heard, directly or via whispers, the complaints of why their child has to “suffer” with skipping a peanut butter sandwich for lunch just because another child (namely mine) has a life-threatening allergy to it. Likewise, I have received my share of beratement, much of it anonymous, for my product (one that helps Moms during feeding time, while others would judge needing help as weak parenting.)

A little empathy on the part of school Moms might help them to see things from my perspective: that by not sending peanut butter to school, they are allowing my son one small moment of fitting in or being “normal” at lunch, rather than segregated to another table by himself. Perhaps they have an issue with smoking and they have had to ask someone to smoke elsewhere so they can be comfortable. It’s the same thing!

The same empathy from a would-be critic of Bottle Snugglers might have a stay-at-home Mom of one cutting some slack to a Mom of several who needs a helping hand once in a while. Don’t we all need help in some area? Housekeepers, babysitters, lawn maintenance, restaurants that deliver – these all help us in other areas. 

As I ask for empathy from others, I am also challenged with showing empathy for those who offend me in some way. I do try to see things from their perspective and decode why they may be making a certain decision. I try to remember what it’s like when I am not offered the benefit of the doubt and treat them accordingly. It’s tricky, but it’s worth it.  And I teach my son, as much as you can teach a 4-year-old, that differences are ok and that you have to be proud of yourself in any situation.

I hope that we can set an example of the importance of respect and understanding of our friends and neighbors, no matter how we differ and espcially if the issue is not one that directly harms us or our families. We may not be perfect, but we will certainly make a difference in trying.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts. XOXOXO

Pregnancy Corner – Great Info for Moms-to-be

When you’re pregnant or thinking about taking the leap, you start voraciously researching anything baby- or pregnancy-related. Magazines, newspaper articles, anything online…everyone has something to add to the discussion.

I have a few go-to sites when looking for information on baby care, and a new site was launched this year that looks pretty exciting. It is www.pregnancycorner.com, and there you’ll find info on all stages of pregnancy, as well as products that you may find helpful. And, they’ve got an advisory board of impressive professionals to draw from.

I love to pass on these kinds of finds! Hope you find all the information that you are looking for. If you need more info, check out our Resources link for several other great sites.  Happy Early Mother’s Day to all!

Dad’s Parenting Is Vital to Child’s Future

Overall, I am a very lucky wife. My husband is a great dad to our toddler. He plays, rides bikes, makes tents, and does preschool pick-up most days of the week.

I know how important it is in my home to have Dad involved as much as possible, and I found some very interesting statistics that show  just how vital a strong male role model is to successful kids.  It seems that children who have a close relationship with their fathers are less likely to be in trouble with the police or do drugs and more likely to do well in school and have high self esteem. Father involvement in parenting has increased in recent years, and hopefully this trend will continue! 

A great website that I have found is www.childtrends.org. They have posted studies about EVERYTHING related to parenting, and some of it is really eye opening. Wherever you get your parenting tips, I know that if you are taking the time to read this blog, you are a very caring parent. :)  And for all of us multi-tasking Moms, it’s vital to our sanity to have a little help from Dad.

Keep those Dads in the mix! It just may keep our little ones out of trouble down the road.

Give Yourself Credit for All You Do

Being in the baby product business, I hear my share of mommy stories. It seems a common theme for most moms I know, including myself, that we have a constant list of “to-do” tasks, not enough time to complete it and zero time for ourselves at the end of the day.

Of course, there are always those moms who THINK they do everything right and can teach you a few things about life, work, organization and the proper care and feeding of a family. It’s with feeding that I tend to pay the most attention, for obvious reasons.

A day in the life of a mom with one infant goes something like this: baby wakes up and wants to eat (sometimes for up to an hour), mom feeds and changes baby, sings with baby, puts cute outfit on baby, puts baby down for a nap, does dishes/laundry/pumps breast milk/dusts/sweeps/pays bills, baby wakes up and wants to eat (repeat those steps above), mom talks to baby,  shows baby a book with lots of black and white images for stimulation, changes baby’s outfit, puts baby down for a nap, mom worries about baby’s immunizations tomorrow/jumps into the shower/answers the phone with wet hair/calls friend with birthday wishes, baby wakes up, etc…

Now, at what point during this day of a mom with JUST ONE baby and NO OUTSIDE JOB does she seem to not be bonding with or thinking of baby’s best interests? For goodness’ sake, babies eat every three hours – that’s 8 times per day! And notice that no time in the probably 9 hours that passed in the above paragraph (one hour for each nap, one hour for each play time and one hour of mom’s chores per cycle) has mom eaten, slept or even sat still. And so it goes.

Imagine this hectic schedule if you add in another child, a job or home-based business or the many other responsibilities that women tackle every day. It’s mind boggling how we get it all done. Even more so is how we give ouselves no credit for it. We say, “I got nothing accomplished today.” or “I’m exhausted, and I didn’t even change out of my PJs all day.”

Here’s where I take issue: when one mom passes judgment on another for her parenting choices, management style or level of organization. We are all busy, and everyone responds differently to stress, chaos and lack of sleep. It never fails to surprise me when I hear a mom say something like, “Of course, you’re going to have another baby. It’s selfish to have just one.” or “Only a lazy or neglectful parent would use (fill in the blank here with your favorite baby care helper).”

To those moms, I say, “Mind your own beeswax!” Why do you have to control everyone? Perhaps you’re not as in-control of your own circumstances as you’d like us to believe. And if we choose to accept help from time to time, be it with a baby sitter, a Baby Einstein DVD or a Bottle Snuggler, we promise to do it responsibly and with the utmost attention to the safety and care of our families.

Moms are vital to the success of a family, and we count too! If you have a heart for children, you should focus on taking care of their mothers. And our kids are nurtured by us in ALL the things that we do throughout the day, not just at feeding time. Give yourself credit for all that you do, and give yourself permission to take a break, accept a helping hand and reject the nasty judgments of people with too much time on their hands.

Moms rock!

We CAN all be right, right?

To my fellow moms, friends, sisters, daughters:  Please be nice to each other!

Why should we need someone to remind us to do that? Especially in our world of work, family, social, civic, and religious commitments which can seem endless, it is more important than ever to be supportive and tolerant of others’ decisions. We don’t have to always agree with the way that others choose to live, work and play, but as long as they are not harming others, we should be considerate of their right to do so – and think that maybe there’s a logical reason behind their actions.

I am always shocked when I see mothers criticizing other mothers because mom #2 made a choice that seemed wrong to mom #1. Whether we do or don’t get an epidural, whether or for how long we breast feed, whether we go right back to work or take off for a few years, or whether we need help at home or choose to do it all ourselves – these are personal decisions that we all get to make for ourselves. Being in this wonderful club of being a Mom should be a place of welcome and support, not judgment and criticism.

What if I went around making decisions for you? I decide that you will not work outside the home, that you will never use a baby sitter, and that you must eat broccoli with every meal. Those are all perfectly acceptable decisions. But why should I be the one to make them for you? Maybe you love your job, relish date nights, and hate broccoli.  Does that make you a terrible person or negligent parent? NO!!

Bottle Snugglers has so many satisfied (and relieved) customers, but every once in a while we get a comment about how using a feeding time helper is “negligent parenting” or “dangerous behavior” or that it “discourages bonding”. To those writers I ask, have you ever used a pacifier, Bumbo, bouncy seat, swing, baby sling, or baby sitter? And did you consider it lazy parenting, or did you just need a helping hand at some point during your multi-tasking day?

More importantly, did you ever think of how your negative commentary on moms who need a helping hand might make those moms feel? How can you judge someone whom you’ve never met? And what might that person judge you harshly for in another venue?

For the mom who has three kids under four years old – one who just skinned her knee, one who is dangerously close to the cat’s tail, and one in her lap taking a bottle, the ability to get one hand back to help her other children is greatly appreciated. And I dare say she is not neglecting anyone.  Neither is the mom of twins or triplets who, after the novelty wears off, is now home alone with more hungry babies than hands to feed them with. Please think about these situations before you throw out blanket judgments on another mom.

A Bottle Snuggler is a more secure version of propping a bottle under your chin, which we have all had to do at some point - it’s not a baby sitter and should never be used or viewed as such.

Rock on, Mommies!

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