Planning for Your Baby’s First Birthday Party

Congratulations! You have officially made it through your very first year as a parent. It’s time to celebrate the achievements that your little one (and you as a parent) have made in the past year. Keep in mind that your baby’s first birthday party does not need to be perfect or elaborate to be fun! Keeping these tips in mind when your are planning your child’s first birthday party will help ease your stress and create a great day full of wonderful memories.

Keep Your Guest List Small 

Although you may want all your friends and family to join you in the celebration of your baby’s first year, consider keeping your party small and simple. Limiting the birthday to just close family helps create a more intimate setting and helps your baby from feeling overwhelmed. Inviting more than 10 people requires more planning and added stress.

Work Around Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule 

You may find that the only time free time you get is when your child is sleeping. Although your sleeping baby allows you to socialize with other adults, the same can’t be said for other infants and toddlers that are invited. Instead of working around other’s nap schedulesaim for a party that is in the morning or early afternoon instead of the evening. Planning your party early enough will ensure that your baby is wide awake for the fun.

Don’t Stress Yourself Out 

As a new parent, don’t give yourself more work than what you need to. Whether you are returning back to work or trying to get your baby used to a new routine, make sure you give yourself enough time to get used to any change. Party planning and decorating can wait for a few weeks as you and your child transition into new routines.

Be Mindful of Other Little Ones 

If you have a few infants and toddlers on your invite list, set out some baby-approved snacks along with your adult-friendly options. You may also want to consider creating a makeshift diaper changing station, so multiple parents can change their children if need be. If you haven’t had to baby-proof every nook and cranny of your house, you may want to take the time to do so. Other children may be more prone to getting in sticky situations, so you will want to do your best to be prepared.

Take Pictures Before the Party Starts 

While you are hosting the party, you may get too wrapped up in the swing of things and forget to take pictures. Before chaos erupts, take moment to take a snapshot of your baby, you’ll be thankful you did!

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Diet Sodas are Linked to Strokes and Heart Attacks

According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, drinking more than two diet sodas, or other artificially sweetened drinks, is linked to an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, and early death in women over the age of 50.


In previous research, diet drinks have also been linked with stroke, dementia, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Other research has indicated that there is a relationship between diet beverages and vascular risks.

With so many negative consequences many are asking what is it about these diet beverages that leads to such harsh health problems?

Over 80,000 postmenopausal women participated this long-term national study. Over the course of about 11 years, participants’ health outcomes were tracked and the number of diet beverages they consumed a day was recorded. By the end of the study, researchers found that women who consumed two or more 12-fluid-ounce diet beverages a day, were 31% more likely to have a clot-based stroke. Additionally researchers found that 29% were more likely to have heart disease. Most interestingly of all, women who drank more than two diet beverages are 16% more likely to die before women who drink one or no diet beverages a week.

Risk for stroke and heart attacks dramatically rose for women if they had no history of heart disease or diabetes and women who were obese or African-American.

Women who were of a normal weight or who were considered overweight were no at risk for stroke. As long as the participants body mass index was under 30, there was no association of risk.

While this study and previous research helps to establish a connection between diet beverages and vascular disease, there is no causation. As of right now, these findings are purely observational and there is no evident cause and effect. Researchers are still unable to determine if the link to vascular disease is due to a specific sweetener or beverage.

Due to the lack of cold-hard evidence, many organizations deem non-sugar sweeteners to be a better alternative to actual sugary drinks. Vice president of media and public affairs for the American Beverage Association, William Dermody Jr., argues that artificial sweeteners are tool for those who want reduce their sugar consumption.

Dermody isn’t wrong by stating that diet artificial sweeteners are a great tool for those looking to loose weight. The American Heart Association issued a statement last year saying that diet drinks may be an effective strategy to promote weight loss, but only in the short term and for adults, not children.

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How You Can Nurture Your Baby’s Language Skills

After hearing your baby speak gibberish for the past couple of months, it can be exciting to hear your child say their first word. Although talking is a natural part of development, you can help to nurture your child’s language skills by talking in front of them on a regular basis. Not only will you help your child learn to talk, but you will help grow their vocabulary. Like any skill, it will take time to master. The more exposure your child gets to a language the quicker he or she will be in making connections to meanings.

Talking to your child is one of the best ways you can get your baby talking early. Research indicates that babies from a talkative family have a higher IQ by age three than those in less-talkative families. To help nurture your baby’s talk, use the following tips.

Start talking early 

While you may feel silly talking to a tiny human who can’t understand you, it can create quite an impact on your baby’s speech development. By birth, your baby’s ears and the part of the brain that responds to sound is well-developed. Although they haven’t quite figured out what the meaning of each word, they are listening. Your baby is actually absorbing more information than what you may realize.

Pay attention to what captures their interest 

As a new parent, you will find yourself in a constant cycle of soothing, feeding, and changing. Because of this, it can be easy to rely on these actions as your source of conversation. While it can be helpful, introduce talk that captures your child’s interest. Dr. Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, director of Temple University Infant and Child Laboratory, suggests following your child’s gaze to see what they find exciting or interesting. If your baby has their eyes locked on the necklace around your neck or the orange in your hand, provide more information. Using simple terms, describe the color, the size, or what the object does.

Create a dialogue 

While talking, allow time for your baby to respond. If you just have a one-sided conversation with yourself, your baby is more likely to tune out. If your baby begins randomly babbling, respond back! Creating a dialogue, whether it makes sense or not, help teach your child how conversation works and shows that you care.

Avoid Turning on the Television 

You may think that turning on the TV will be beneficial to your baby’s language development, but, In reality, infants between 8 to 16 months, learned to talk slower than babies who weren’t exposed to TV. Research shows that TV is linked with a slower language acquisition because the people on the show don’t react to your babies replies. Social interaction is a huge part of speech development. That being said, turn off the TV and create a dialogue.

Eating a Rainbow of Foods Can Promote Strong Immune Health

To fight off flu season this year, you may be wondering what type of foods you can eat to promote a strong immune system. Although there is no miracle food, having a diet that contains a wide variety of nutrients can be advantageous for your health.

To function to its fullest capability, the body needs vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, minerals, fats, and phytonutrients. More often than not, most diets in the United States consists of junk food, processed meat, and excess sugar. With a diet like this, our immune systems are not getting the nutrients they need, making us vulnerable to chronic disease.

The best way to give your body the nutrients that it needs, you need to think of your diet as a rainbow.

Foods that are red, orange, and yellow have a higher probability to carry vitamin C. Vitamin C is a key component in helping promote a strong immune system. Good sources of vitamin C include red bell peppers, strawberries, citrus, fruits, and tomatoes. Keep in mind that these foods are often best eaten raw. Cooking or storing these vitamin-enriched foods can reduce the vitamin C content.

Leafy green vegetables are loaded with many powerful nutrients. Green vegetables often have a high percentage of vitamin D. Your Vitamin D intake and the status of your immune system goes hand in hand. Vitamin D helps activate an anti-microbial response that helps you fight off and foreign germs before it leads to an infection.

Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and arugula are all high in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and magnesium. Not only can these vegetables help you strengthen your immune system, but research has shown that they may play a role in lowering your risk of prostate, colorectal, lung and breast cancer.

Foods that are blue and violet hued, like dried prunes or figs, are rich in fiber. Research indicated that soluble fiber helps to boost the production of the protein interleukin-4. This protein helps to stimulate the body’s infection-fighting T-cells, meaning you can recover from your sickness faster.

While eating a collection of colorful vegetables will help your immune system get in tip-top shape, don’t forget your blander colored foods. Garlic and Brazil nuts may not be colorful but are great sources of selenium, a mineral that helps your body make proteins that help prevent cell damage. Additionally, the bacteria found in yogurt can be quite beneficial in keeping your gut microbiome healthy.

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Increasing Your Fiber Can Protect Your Gut From Stress

Stress can impact our health on multiple levels. However, a recent study suggests that eating foods that are high in fiber can help protect our digestive system from the side effects of stress. Previous research has exhibited that long-term stress can negatively affect our overall health, but especially the brain and the gut. Changes to our gut bacteria due to stress has been linked to a variety of disorders such as anxiety, depression, and gut disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.

Researchers found that foods that are high in fiber like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetable create short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are very important to gut bacteria. When the bacteria in our digestive system digest fiber the cells of the colon use the SCFAs as a source of energy, which helps to promote good gut health.

SCFAs help to build a stronger gut wall and prevent and even reverse leaky gut syndrome, which is when tiny holes are evident in the intestinal wall that allows undigested food particles and bacteria to escape into the bloodstream.

The key to keeping our the digestive system health is to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans, and whole greens. All of these foods have also proved to aid in the prevention of other disorders like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer.

High fiber foods not only help prevent complications and illnesses but help protect the body from stress-induced diseases and reduce anxiety and depression. Although stress is a mental state, it can physically affect our gastrointestinal system. One study revealed that high levels of stress can affect the bacteria in our intestines the same way a high-fat diet would.

Up until now, the importance of SCFAs in digestive health was poorly understood. With this recent discovery, we are given a key insight on how stress, gut bacteria, and brain health all interact with one another. By increasing your intake of high fiber foods, you will not only boost your digestive and mental health but protect yourself from the long-term effects of stress.

What Questions You Should Be Asking at your Child’s Annual Checkup

As we enter August, we enter the back-to-school season. Many parents over the next few weeks will start shopping for school supplies, researching health lunch recipes, and scheduling their child’s annual checkup. This annual checkup is a great opportunity for you to ask your pediatric doctors a few very important questions regarding your child’s health.

Mental Health 

You need to start thinking about your child’s mental health at a young age. Making sure your child’s mental health is in check is just as important as their physical health. While visiting your pediatrician make sure to ask questions such as, “How can I help my child deal with mental health?” and “How can I create a safe mental environment at home?”. Your pediatrician is a great resource to help you understand your child’s current mental state and what distress signs you need to look out.

Learning and Cognitive Development

All parents need to take an active role in their child’s learning of cognitive development. Ask your child’s pediatrician in regards to your child’s development with language, reading, and literacy prior to your child’s fifth birthday.

One of the most effective ways to minimize the impact of learning disorders is to have early intervention. All children develop at a different pace, but parents should be questioning whether or not their child follows the average timeline for learning milestones.

Age-Appropriate Development  

As your child grows and develops, there a few questions that you will want to ask every year. Doctors follow age-specific guidelines for your child’s annual checkups, therefore every year these answers will vary. Ask questions such as:

  • Is my child’s height and weight appropriate for their age?
  • Is my child’s mental development maturing at the proper rate?
  • How much physical activity should my child have?
  • How much sleep does my child need?
  • Is my child’s behavior normal?

These annual visits to your pediatrician are important for both you and your child. They help to build a meaningful relationship with your pediatrician and help your child become more active in their own healthcare journey. Not only do these visits help you discover what is happening now with your child but what you can expect next.

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Martha Gipprich_How to Make Potty Training Less Stressful

How to Make Potty Training Less Stressful

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Parents often groan when they hear the words “potty training”. Many parents will tell you that potty training is the hardest part about being a parent. While potty training will definitely have its hardships, it does not have to cause you to pull out your hair. The following are 5 potty training tips that will have your toddler out of diapers in no time.

Stock Up On Supplies

When your toddler is ready to start potty training, you will want to stockpile your supplies. Other than having a training potty, you will want to gather the essentials:

  • Pull-Ups

Pull-Ups are training pants that have the absorbency of a diaper but act like underwear. They help your toddler understand the concept of underwear, but provide a safety net, just in case of an accident.

  • New Underwear

Picking out new underwear can help get your child excited about this milestone. Although your toddler may be far off from wearing the underwear, your child can have something to look forward to.

  • Disinfecting Cleaning Wipes

Let’s face it, your toddler will make mistakes. Having accessible disinfecting wipes will come in handy when your toddler misses the toilet.

Implement An Incentive System.

Along with the supplies mentioned above, you may want to invest in a few new toys to create a reward system. In the beginning, every time your child avoids an accident and uses the potty, reward your toddler. Having an incentive in place will help to encourage future use of the potty. You can also create an incentive with the new underwear, by allowing your child to wear “big kid” underwear after keeping their Pull-Ups dry for more than 3 days.

Be Open With Your Toddler

Toddlers often learn through imitation. Going to the bathroom on a training potty and graduating to a toilet can be scary at first. With that in mind, let your child watch you go to the bathroom. By doing so it helps to normalize the process. Seeing mom or dad use the toilet helps make it feel less intimidating.

Make The Process Fun

Children are more engaged in tasks if they are having fun. With that thought in mind, make the potty training process more fun. Get creative by singing a song, having a potty party, or reading books on the toilet. Introducing more fun to the process will help create a less stressful environment for both you and your child.

At the end of the day, keep in mind that every child goes through potty training at a different pace. Whether you have a child who is potty trained in a week, or a child who take their time, they will one day meet this milestone.

Alternative Treatments For Food Allergies

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Food allergies are common throughout our society and seem to impact children the most. One could more than likely recall having to come to class during elementary school with a baked good for the glass but had to ensure that you took into account allergies of your classmates. A common food allergy for children is peanuts. Generally, those with food allergies carry an EpiPen with them to counteract the reaction to an allergen. There have been recent developments for alternative food allergy treatments that don’t require someone to carry an EpiPen with them at all times.

Dr. Stephen Tilles in Seattle has brought forth two new treatments that are currently being tested to allow children to eat food that would normally spark an allergic reaction.

The first treatment is a skin patch that actually contains a small amount of the food allergen’s protein. That protein is then absorbed by the top layers of the skin and begins the immunotherapy process. Currently, the most popular allergy to peanuts is being tested for this patch.

The second treatment is oral immunotherapy. The patients that are included in this test are given a low dose of an allergen while in the hospital. This dose is enough to produce mild symptoms of an allergic reaction. These children are then given that dose for several weeks until they are ready to go up in dose to build a tolerance to the allergen. Over time, as with normal immunotherapy, the patient then becomes less reactive to the allergen.

This process is done by taking a small dose of the allergen and mixing it with something like Kool-Aid before introducing it into pill form or food items. It takes approximately five to ten months to reach a maintenance dose level. This level is then tested for three years until the patient truly reaches a less reactive level to the allergen. Some of the side effects of this type of treatment could include a scratchy throat and itchy ears but this type of treatment has found an 87 percent success rate in testing.

The goal of this testing is to introduce other methods of immunotherapy to help those who suffer from food allergies. Eventually, those who suffer from food allergies and go through this immunotherapy testing will be able to introduce those allergens into their daily diet with no ramifications.