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Oh Baby!
8/7/2017 3:37:04 PM

Oh, Baby . . . you’re having a baby! Or you have a baby. In either case, parenthood and all it entails is a primary focus in your life. Certainly, being a mom or dad is likely by far the hardest job and the greatest responsibility you’ll ever experience. And we want to help. This issue’s cover story aims to make your job a little easier and give you peace of mind that, yes, you’re doing a great job. Here, you’ll find stories on decorating the nursery, buying baby clothes, helping your baby develop healthy and happy, and a fun update on those adorable Busby quintuplets.

Cool Kids, Dressing Kids for Summer
by Emily Alford
Summertime is all about ice cream cones and afternoon playdates. But for parents of babies and toddlers, summer also means dressing kids to beat the heat, while keeping them covered for outdoor activities. Here’s how some of Lake Charles’ leading authorities on children’s fashion suggest dressing babies to keep them cool.

Keep it Natural
The wrong fabric choice for kids’ clothing can make for an uncomfortable, cranky baby. That’s why Kati Statum Cremeans, co-owner Oma’s Classic Children’s Clothing, suggests clothing made from all-natural fabric.

"Cotton is the number one fabric of choice in clothing for our dreadfully hot summers,” Statum Cremeans says. "The natural fibers allow air to move freely through the fabric, which will keep your little ones cool and comfortable.”

Another interesting and hygienic option is bamboo. "Bamboo fabric is also an excellent choice because it’s antibacterial,” Statum Cremeans says. "It is also highly sweat absorbent, which keeps kids cooler in summer.”

Suit Up
One great summer option for both boys and girls is the classic sun suit, a lightweight linen or cotton jumper which snaps easily for quick diaper changes, according to Katie Sanford, co-owner of Sercy Lane. "In our opinion, there are few things sweeter than a baby in sandals and a sun suit. This look works for both boys and girls and is equally precious on each! It’s the perfect way to dress for a day of playing in the heat, keeping them cool and comfortable, yet still looking adorable.”

Layer It
Stocking up on summer clothing can get expensive, but according to Jennilee Stowell, owner of Trés Jolie boutique, shopping with layers in mind means you can get year-round use out of a carefully chosen summer wardrobe. "Stock your little one’s closet with light pieces that can be layered and transitioned into cooler days. For toddler boys, the best thing to do is keep their closets stocked with shorts and light and comfy tees. For toddler girls, sundresses are a lifesaver. These pieces are super easy to put on and get out the door.” When the heat finally breaks, thrifty parents can pair a light sweater and leggings with a solid color sundress or a long sleeve tee under a favorite summer shirt for a whole new outfit.

In summertime, comfort and ease are key. Keeping baby cool and stylish doesn’t have to be a headache with the right wardrobe staples.

Feather Your Nest: Baby Nursery Design, Decorating, and Essentials
by Victoria Hartley Ellender

Preparing a baby nursery is one of many memorable milestones of pregnancy. From vintage nursery rhymes to soft pastel florals, the quest to find the perfect color scheme and fabrics can be a bit overwhelming. At the start, parents can easily get lost in the seemingly endless supply of dazzling design choices and boards on Pinterest. And all those checklists! Is it necessary to have a crib, bassinet, swing, and Rock-n-Play? Which items are really essential? Here, we’ve organized a simple guide to design the nursery that works for YOU.

Nursery Design
When choosing a design, write down the top five words that describe what you want to feel and see when you walk into your baby’s nursery. Do you want it to be peaceful and simple? Do you want lots of vibrant color? How about whimsically vintage? Do you imagine a classic, gender-neutral look? Narrow down your options by envisioning what is most important to you and then eliminate any ideas that don’t fit that look. There may be lots of things that catch your eye, but keeping your end goal in mind will help you to achieve the look you really want. Choose key pieces of furniture, including your crib and wall color palette, with your vision firmly in mind.

Decorating and Theme
Once you have a design and color palette, you can add accents to cozy up your nursery. Soft rugs, framed prints, and lamps can complete the space and accent your overall design. For décor, choose items that feel comfortable and complement your vision and values.

Planning Ahead
Baby design experts recommend planning ahead around the bigger purchases in your baby’s room. Keep in mind your baby will grow quickly. Many parents opt for cribs that can convert into a toddler bed and then a twin bed as the child grows.

There are many baby items on the market, but each parent will value some items more than others. For example, some moms consider a baby swing to be essential while others find that a swing doesn’t work for them. The key is to consider your space and lifestyle. Lyndi Marti, store manager of Pink and Blue Avenue in Lake Charles, recommends including plenty of muslin swaddles, a good nursing pillow, a sound machine, and baby bath products. "Muslin swaddles are great to swaddle baby or to use as a regular blanket if you’re on the go. Our store carries several brands of muslin swaddles and we have some really cute colors and designs including stripes, solids, florals, even alligators,” Marti said.
In a world full of options, the key is to find what works for you and your family’s individual needs. Everything else will fall into place.

The Swiss Army Diaper Bag: A New Trend
by Keaghan P. Wier

The diaper bag -- one of the most-used pieces of baby equipment new parents will purchase. There are so many options available, with a wide variety of colors, styles and features! Here are a few of the top trends in diaper bags this year.

Convertible Bags
These bags can switch from a backpack to messenger bag or shoulder bag.
Built-in Changing Pads
More and more diaper bags come with a foldout changing pad that unzips from the side of the bag itself. It’s one less thing to have to rummage around for when you’re dealing with an explosive diaper situation!

Like convertible bags, backpacks are popular for their ease of use -- and often, they’re far more ergonomic than a shoulder bag. This is great if you plan to haul more gear or want something easier on your shoulders for a long walk.

Bags in Disguise
Often, these bags are designed for Mom. Usually made from leather, they are crafted to look like an oversized purse -- fantastic if you want to consolidate your purse and diaper bag, without losing your fashion edge.

Gender-Neutral Bags
Dads can be a bit put-off by the styles of diaper bags. Many bags these days are made of gender-neutral colors, fabrics, and in structured styles that both parents will love.

If you’re in the market for a diaper bag, check out the selection at Pink & Blue Avenue on Nelson Road. in Lake Charles. Regina Ledet, co-owner of the boutique, said convertible and easy-to-clean styles sell best with new moms. She recommends the Boxy by Petunia Pickle Bottom. "It’s a great size, not too small or too large, comes in a large variety of prints, and includes a wipe case and a zip-down changing pad. Everyone who gets a Boxy always has nothing but good things to say about it!”
Stop in to see what they have in stock and find the perfect bag for you and your little one. Mention this article, and Pink and Blue Avenue will give you a 10% discount on a diaper bag!

Peas & Thank You:DIY Baby Food
by Keaghan P. Wier

As a new or expectant parent, you naturally want to give your child the very best. One trend in recent years, aimed at providing the best nutrition possible for growing babies and toddlers, is homemade baby food.

Making your own baby food allows you to customize flavors you know your child enjoys, as well as avoid foods that may upset his stomach. In addition, it ensures you are feeding him the freshest and least-processed food possible, which can make it more nutritious and tastier. A simple taste test between commercially-jarred baby food versus freshly made and you will notice the difference. Another huge perk of DIY baby food . . . it is far less expensive than prepackaged food.

Of course, there is something to be said for the convenience of those little jars of easy-to-pack baby food, especially if you work outside the home or simply don’t have the energy to devote to such an endeavor. But if you are interested in tackling this project, here are a few tips.

If possible, use organic produce for your homemade baby food. This reduces the number of pesticides your child may be exposed to.

Make larger batches and freeze the purees in ice cube trays. Once solid, pop out and store in containers or plastic freezer bags. Defrost portions as needed. If you defrost using a microwave, be very careful of any "hot spots” from the food heating unevenly, and allow it to cool before serving to baby.

While there are baby food makers on the market, you really don’t need any special equipment. Some things, like an avocado or banana, will smash easily with a fork or spoon. Others like cooked green peas, carrots, and squash can be pureed using either a standard or immersion blender.

Start with fruits and vegetables, but you can also follow these methods for fish and meat as baby is ready.

Be careful in food preparation for baby. Wash and sanitize dishes and kitchen surfaces. Any fresh produce you use should be cleaned. Store food in glass or BPA-free plastic.
With some precautions for safety and a bit of planning ahead, making your own baby food can be an easy way to not only save money, but also ensure your child eats the very best food you can offer. For flavor ideas or more tips, check online -- there are many to be found!

The Best Toys for Baby’s Development
by Bailey Castille

Countless books and websites for parents stress the importance of a child’s first year on his or her brain development. Although everyone may not agree on the best way to raise a child, many concur that a vital part of a baby’s development is playtime. But which toys best foster brain development in babies?

While babies grow, their brains receive information from all five senses to form cognitive connections in their brains. The best toys appeal to all five senses. "One of our favorite baby toys from when our children were infants was a play mat designed with arches and multiple textured and colored hanging items, as well as items attached to the mat, that infants can use both while on their backs and during tummy time,” says Dr. Bryan Karriker, father of two and pediatrician at the Children’s Clinic of SWLA. This toy engages all of baby’s senses.

The best toys to stimulate a baby’s vision have black and white or light and dark contrasting colors. Black and white contrasts send the strongest visual signals to a baby’s brain, while pastels appear as one indistinct color to the baby. Textured toys appeal to the baby’s sense of touch, while musical or noise toys stimulate the baby’s hearing and creative reasoning.
Classic toys, such as rattles and puzzles, are classics for a reason: they get the job done. Blocks follow babies from one developmental step to the next. They first discover weight when they pick up the blocks, and gravity when they throw them down. As they start to stack the blocks, they understand stability. Once they begin building more elaborate structures, they learn symmetry.

In the age of smartphones, technology may be a tempting substitute for the more traditional toys of prior generations. This should not be the case. "The current American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines are for children younger than 18-24 months age to avoid screen media except for video chatting platforms such as Facetime or Skype,” explains Dr. Karriker. However, he adds that when parents must utilize screen media, "a good DVD series is the Baby Einstein series. It has DVDs tailored for different age infants and toddlers, and short segment durations.”

Fortunately, one of the best ways to improve brain development is through human interaction. "Children under 24 months need hands-on exploration and social interactions to develop their cognitive, language, motor, and social-emotional skills,” says Dr. Karriker. You, essentially, are your baby’s greatest tool for development. By talking, playing, and laughing with your baby, you will foster your baby’s sensory development as he or she grows.

Bond with Baby while Building your Career
by Lauren Atterbery Cesar

Being a mom is a full-time job that demands most all your time and energy. Many modern mothers balance that loving responsibility with a full-time career, thus making them the equivalent of superheroes. Whether you’re whipping an accounting department into shape, changing diapers, or getting dinner on the table for your growing family, there are a few mom-hacks to make it easier to bond with your baby while juggling both family and career.

Spend quality time with your baby. It isn’t the quantity of the time you spend with your baby; it is the quality. In the mornings before going to the office, take time to talk, sing, and laugh with your baby as you bathe, change, and dress your child. He or she will respond to your voice and you’ll both look forward to those special moments. When you come home, spend time reading a story together or carve out some play time before you begin chores or dinner.

The power of touch. Your baby wants to be close to you, and you can make that happen when you get home by having a bit of cuddle time. You can even cuddle while multi-tasking with the use of a baby sling as you move around the house. Loving touch strengthens the bond between you and baby.

Remember the benefits of swaddling and massage. Swaddling a newborn will reduce their anxiety and soothe bouts of colic, making your baby happier. These will help your time together be less stressful and more enjoyable, especially in those early months. Baby massage can also reduce anxiety and general fussiness as well as alleviate colic.

Brush off the well-intentioned but sometimes unhelpful advice of others. When you have a baby, it may seem that suddenly, everyone is an expert on what you must do to ensure you don’t scar your baby for life by accidentally feeding them non-organic bananas ten minutes too early in your daily schedule. Thank them for that advice, but remember that your baby will tell you what he/she needs. Don’t feel guilty if your baby isn’t on the same schedule as your best friend’s baby. Babies are little humans, all amazing and unique, and will let you know their different needs if you pay close attention.

When you wake up in the mornings and put your superhero cape on before work, remember that you are the world to your little one. Taking the time to make the moments you have together count to the fullest will ensure the bond between you and baby will grow stronger every day, whether you go into the office or stay home.

Finding the Support You Need to Cope with Infant Loss
by Sylvia Ney

Infertility, miscarriages, and SIDS can all have a negative impact on the mental state of a woman, and those around her. While these can be a private matter that requires alone time to cope, no one should ever be left to feel isolated in their grief.

If you struggle with one of these sorrows, know that you are not alone. Support can come in many forms and places. Here are several resources where we hope you can find the support that’s right for you:

Friends and Family
Someone near you has likely experienced similar issues. Statistics show that one in four women have dealt with at least one of these circumstances.

If you find no one in your immediate circle to relate to, try contacting a local church for support. While not all institutions offer a formal group, you will find many of the women are more than willing to share their own experiences with loss and coping.

Hospitals, Neo-natal clinics, and ObGyn
If the medical staff can’t point you to a support group, they will at least be able to provide you with reading material to explain these situations, your options, and contact information for more questions.

Maddie’s Footprints
This is a Lafayette group formed to provide "companions along the journey”. This bereavement support group assists anyone dealing with infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, adoption placements, or needing financial support for similar reasons in the state of Louisiana. www.maddiesfootprints.org

Roman’s Wings of Hope
This nonprofit support group was started in 2014 by a Youngsville, Louisiana, couple after suffering the loss of their son to stillbirth. Read their story and connect with others at www.romanswingsofhope.com

Fertility Plus
A Christian support group for mothers who have lost babies to miscarriage and stillbirth. www.fertilityplus.com

"Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death” is an infant loss organization formed with the express purpose of connecting sufferers with any form of support they need. If you can’t find what you need with them, chances are they will have a connection that can help as they have partnered and linked to many other support groups.

This "Pregnancy After Loss Support” online group offers immediate support and education, and attempts to find you local support. www.pregnancyafterlosssupport.com

If you find yourself struggling and unable to cope on your own, even with a support group, you might consider seeing a therapist. Many therapists specialize in issues such as infertility, miscarriages, grief, loss, anxiety, etc. To find one near you, or who specializes in your particular struggle, visit www.therapists.psychologytoday.com

Mimosa Boutique Presents: Fashion Gives Back

Based on personal experience, Lauren Monroe, owner of Mimosa Boutique, is passionate about the plight of women who want to become mothers. "Everyone has a difficult road to motherhood in some way,” says Lauren. "It’s not as easy as it sounds.” When she decided to give back and support this cause through her business, sponsoring a fashion show was a natural fit. "It’s what I know, what I’m good at.”

Lauren’s annual event, Fashion Gives Back, is now in its third year. It will be held September 28 at a new location, Burton Coliseum. "We needed a larger venue because the event is so popular. Last year, we sold out -- 500 tickets in four hours,” she says.

Fashion Gives Back benefits a national organization called Hand to Hold. They focus on NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) babies and pre-term labor. They provide support groups for parents who grieve the loss of a child, suffer from infertility, or deal with miscarriage. Lauren says, "I want to bring awareness to everyone’s journey to motherhood.”

Tickets for Fashion Gives Back go on sale August 18 at 10:00 a.m. on their event page. Ticket prices are $75 for general admission and $150 for front row VIP.

Zika Virus and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
by Lauren Atterbery Cesar

When you live in a place where the unofficial state bird is the mosquito, gaining information on the Zika virus is important. This virus is spread mostly through the bite of an infected mosquito, and can be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn child.

Common symptoms of the Zika virus include headaches, joint pain, muscle aches, fever, rash, and red eyes. The most terrifying fact about this virus is that it can be passed to a child in utero, causing birth defects such as microcephaly, a defect that impacts the brain. So far, there have been cases reported in Florida and Texas, both locations Louisiana residents frequent. So the question becomes: how can you be prepared?

Although there is currently no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus, the CDC suggests avoiding mosquito bites, which in South Louisiana is akin to avoiding raindrops while outside during a tropical storm. However, there are steps you can take to prevent infection, such as planning your travel carefully. If you are pregnant, or expect to become pregnant, avoid areas where infections have been reported.

You can help prevent mosquito bites by wearing appropriate clothing, like long sleeves and pants. Loose clothing is better than tight clothing because mosquitos are less likely to get to your skin through the loose fabric. Also, lighter colors are better as mosquitos are attracted to dark colors.

Douse yourself in bug spray and avoid standing water. Investing in a good mosquito spray is a good way to prevent pesky and possibly dangerous mosquito bites. Avoid mosquito breeding grounds like standing water. Standing water in Southwest Louisiana is difficult to avoid as it is classified as anything from the edges of ponds, lakes, marshes, and swamps to the water in your bird bath, so be sure to dress appropriately and keep everything as dry as possible at home.

Be prepared by assembling your own Zika Prevention Kit. Find suggestions on the CDC’s website, and include a quality insect repellent, standing water treatment tabs which kill larvae in standing water around your home, and permethrin spray for your clothing and gear. Follow these guidelines to help you avoid contracting the Zika virus.

Infant Eye Care

Not surprisingly, vision problems are linked directly to an infant’s early development and how they learn about their world. Poor vision in an infant can lead to difficulty in new social situations in daycare or with playmates. The American Optometric Association estimates as many as one in four young learners struggle in early education and social interactions because of early undiagnosed vision problems.

Just like walking and talking, babies are not born with great vision and need time to develop vision. Before they use their hands to grasp their world, babies use their eyes to map their environment and the people in it. Even the abilities to focus and to move their eyes with accuracy are skills to be learned.

At birth, babies are overwhelmed with visual stimuli, and even though they appear to look directly at you or an object, babies are usually unable to differentiate between two images. Their focus is on what’s eight to ten inches from their face, and if vision problems are present, they can be difficult to identify in infants.

Dr. Keith Menard, OD, an optometrist at Menard Eye Center, explains, "Adults put up with more vision problems than they have to, and many times small children are the same way.”
Unfortunately, your baby isn’t exactly equipped with the ability to tell you if his or her vision isn’t what it should be. As your child grows, you still may not know if there are problems. Especially if the child’s vision has always been poor, they may not be aware their sight could be better.

There are many red flags parents should keep an eye out for concerning their infant’s vision, ranging from subtle behaviors to overt habits.

"While vision problems in infants can be rare, parents still need to stay on top of their infant’s eye health,” said Dr. Menard. "It will help avoid more serious problems later.”
"Parents can be proactive in helping their infants with visual development,” said Dr. Menard. "It’s so important to stay engaged and involved with every aspect of a child’s growth and development.”

For infants, try using a nightlight or other dim lamp in their room so they have some visual stimuli at all times. It may help to change the crib’s location frequently, as well as the baby’s position in it. Because babies only focus on what’s right in front of them, always keep toys close to their visual field, about eight to ten inches from the face.

"Perhaps one of the most important things a parent can do at this stage is schedule an infant eye exam,” said Dr. Menard. "Even if it seems like there are no eye or vision problems with your infant, an early eye exam can cross off problems that may pop up later.”
For more information, visit www.MenardEyeCenter.com or call 337-478-4733.

Infant behaviors that may indicate poor vision include:
  • Frequently blinking or rubbing their eyes
  • Avoiding up-close activities
  • Tilting head to the side or thrusting it forward
  • Squinting or frowning when focusing
  • Experiencing frequent headaches
  • Covering one eye

Parents should also look for symptoms of bigger eye health problems, such as:
  • Constant eye turning
  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Red or crusted eye lids
  • Excessive tearing
  • Any unusual appearance of the eyes or surrounding tissue
  • Any unusual behavior regarding the eyes or visual habits

Discovering Hearing Loss in Babies
by Christine Fisher

Cooing and babbling from infants are part of normal development. They mimic the sounds they hear. Imagine for a moment if their world was silent. Without hearing sounds, they would have nothing to pattern after and their language skills wouldn’t progress.

That’s the reality for nearly 12,000 babies born each year in the United States, according to the National Institute on Deafness. It is one of the most common birth defects.
Because hearing is a fundamental part of learning, universal newborn hearing screening programs are available in every state. In Louisiana, the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program oversees screenings on all infants who are born in a hospital or a medical facility.

"A baby’s hearing ability is checked before they leave the hospital,” said Jake Cavanaugh, Au.D., audiologist with Hearing Solutions of Louisiana and medical staff member of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. "The test is painless and easy but it can identify if there is a problem and give the parents a recommended follow-up date. The screening usually takes about ten minutes and can be done when the baby is sleeping.”

Without newborn screening, children with hearing impairments often are not diagnosed until two or three years of age, causing many to lose ground in their development.
"The goal of early screening, combined with follow up testing, if needed, and treatment, is to help children with hearing impairment to develop language and academic skills on their level and equal to their peers,” said Cavanaugh.

Hearing impairment can be inherited or it could be the result of illness or injury before, during, or after birth. About 90% of babies with hearing impairments are born to parents with normal hearing, according to the March of Dimes.

"It is very important for parents to receive the report from the hearing screening. If for some reason they don’t receive it at the hospital, they should follow up with their child’s pediatrician within one month,” Cavanaugh said. "Babies with hearing difficulties should be seen by a specialist as soon as possible to avoid developmental delays.”

Research shows that if a child’s hearing loss is remedied by six months of age, it will prevent subsequent language delays. Ensuring your baby hears adequately will help him in every aspect of learning and development.

For more information, or to schedule a hearing evaluation, call Hearing Solutions of Louisiana at 337-528-7842.

Signs of a possible hearing problem
  • Not turning toward the sound of a voice by six months of age
  • Lack of babbling by 12 months of age
  • Failure to startle at loud sounds
  • Not using single words by 18 months
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