Home & Family
Parents’ Survival Guide
8/6/2018 12:04:40 PM
Parents' Survival Guide

Four million babies are born in the U.S. every year. That’s one every eight seconds. If you are pregnant or already have young children, obviously you are not alone, but that doesn’t make parenting any easier. It is likely the hardest job you’ll ever take on. This month’s cover story hopes to make your role a bit easier. You’ll find tips for raising children from birth to toddlerhood, what equipment to buy, finding a great daycare and dealing with separation anxiety, kids’ fashion, fun businesses to entertain your little ones, and more. Above all, no matter how busy or stressful life with kids can be, remember to enjoy the journey. They grow up so fast!

Oh, Baby! The Progress of Pregnancies, Then and Now
by Christine Fisher

There’s never been a better time to have a baby. Thanks to a better understanding of developments happening in utero, advancements in medical technology, and more knowledge of healthy living overall, pregnant women are the strongest and most confident they’ve ever been and their healthy babies are living testaments to this progress.

"It’s amazing to see the advancements made in the field of obstetrics,” says Ben Darby, MD, OB/GYN, with OBG-1 of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. "In my 41 years of practice, we have much more information compared to what we had even a generation ago. We can visualize the health of the baby in detail now and we have a better understanding of conditions that might affect the health of the mother, allowing us to treat them more effectively.”

A comparison of how things used to be with the way they are today paints a vivid picture of progress and advancement, underscoring that women today have many options available to them. All of this is to have a safe pregnancy and welcome a healthy baby at the end of it all. 

Pre-Pregnancy Planning
The best time to plan for prenatal care is before getting pregnant because babies are most vulnerable before the mother knows she is pregnant. "The first few weeks after conception are crucial for the baby’s organ formation. If the mother has poor health habits, it can have a negative impact on her baby’s development,” explains Dr. Darby. 
Because pregnancy testing has come a long way over the years, pregnancies were often two months along before the mother knew for sure. In some cases, if the mother routinely smoked cigarettes and consumed alcohol, (adverse health effects from these weren’t widely known back then), it continued into the pregnancy. This caused babies with low birth weights and some developmental challenges. 

Today, many women work toward eliminating bad habits before getting pregnant so their baby has the best possible head start. By getting in good physical shape before the pregnancy, the odds increase for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. 

One of the things to focus on during pre-pregnancy planning is folic acid. "We know that folic acid is crucial for babies in the early weeks of development,” Dr. Darby says. "It helps minimize birth defects such as improper development of the brain or spinal cord. By taking a quality daily vitamin before pregnancy, as well as eating a well-rounded diet including dark, leafy green vegetables, beans, and citrus fruits, women can rev up their nutrition intake so they are in the best possible health before a baby is conceived.”

Getting the Good News
Finding out about a pregnancy has changed dramatically in the last 50 years or so. Back then, women suspected they might be pregnant when they missed a period or two. At a visit with their doctor, urine would be taken and sent off to a lab to test for hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone found only in pregnant women. At the lab, a sample of the woman’s urine was injected into an immature female mouse, frog, or rabbit. If hCG was present in the urine sample, the animal would go into heat, indicating the woman was pregnant. Astoundingly, the "rabbit test” was about 98 percent accurate, although it took days for the results to be given to the mother. 
"Modern pregnancy tests continue to rely on the presence of hCG in urine. Enzyme indicators are used on home pregnancy tests,” explains Dr. Darby. "These tests are up to 99 percent accurate and results are ready in minutes.” These tests are available at any drugstore and can give results as quickly as a few days after one missed period. 

At the first obstetrician appointment, the official confirmation is given through blood tests and the initial ultrasound, where parents can get a first look at the tiny baby. 

Seeing the First Glimpse
Ultrasound technology has made great strides over the years. While it was available for clinical use in the 1950s, it began to be used in hospitals in the 1970s and 80s, and became used in doctor’s offices in the 90s. Those early pictures were grainy but now clarity has improved greatly, giving parents treasured photos showing the baby’s development throughout the pregnancy. 

Today, parents can see the baby waving, kicking, and sucking its thumb, and doctors can get a detailed look at the baby’s growth, anatomy, and overall health, as well as the health of the placenta and the mother’s uterus. 

Eating for Two
In the past, a restricted diet was recommended during pregnancy. As counterintuitive as it sounds, the logic was that it would ease labor and delivery if the baby was smaller. Women were often advised to gain no more than 15 pounds total during the pregnancy. Experience has taught that smaller babies don’t always equal a no-hassle delivery.

Today, a weight gain of between 25 – 35 pounds, on average, is recommended.  
"Healthy babies start with healthy mothers,” Dr. Darby says. "When a mother begins the pregnancy at a good weight, with healthy habits of eating a wide variety of foods and getting regular exercise, the baby benefits.”

Nutritional quality is emphasized more today than in the past. Choosing fresh foods is encouraged and forgoing rich, sugary desserts is best.  

In addition to eating quality foods, vitamins have come to the forefront. "We know that folic acid, calcium, iron, and fiber are critical for a healthy baby and mother. In many cases, the baby’s needs come first, so he or she will take the needed nutrition from the mother. This means mom needs to consistently eat well so she has enough nutrition in reserve to supply both the baby and herself,” explains Dr. Darby.  

The Delivery
Back in the day, strong anesthesia was used to virtually knock out the mother, while dad paced around a separate room to await the baby’s arrival. As a result of the amount and type of medication, babies were often born heavily sedated themselves, and some had difficulty breathing. 
Today, women take a leading role in planning their labor and delivery, discussing medication options ahead of time with their doctor. Dads are both coach, comforter, and often umbilical cord-cutter. 

Epidurals are the most common pain relief used during delivery, while some woman choose to go through labor and delivery with no pain relief. Whatever is decided, today’s women are choosing to be mentally present so they can fully experience the wide-range of emotions. 

Bonding Time
Many years ago, once a baby was delivered, it was whisked away by a nurse to be weighed, bathed, measured, and prints were obtained of tiny fingers and toes.  All of this happened while under a bright light and in a cold room – the opposite of the warm, dark, and quiet atmosphere the baby was snuggled in only moments before.  

Today, skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby is encouraged. Science and human instinct has shown the first few hours after birth are precious and filled with opportunities for bonding between mother and baby. "Skin-to-skin contact happens soon after delivery,” Dr. Darby explains. "The baby is placed directly on the mother’s chest, skin touching. Research shows this has many health and psychological benefits, including helping to stabilize the newborn’s respiration and oxygen levels, beneficially increasing the baby’s glucose level, as well as warming the infant. For both mother and baby, stress hormones are reduced, blood pressure is regulated, and bonding occurs.”  

"The time after birth is unique,” says Christa O’Neal, RN, Maternal Child Educator with West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. "We have implemented techniques in our women’s center to enhance and encourage bonding between mom, dad, and baby. These techniques are used for both natural and cesarean births. We’re seeing a strong bond between mothers and babies, breastfeeding is more successful, and both the mothers’ and baby’s health and vital signs improve overall.”

Thanks to increased knowledge along with advanced technology, pregnancies and deliveries today are the safest they’ve ever been. Despite the changes and progress, what continues to be consistent, no matter the decade, is the overwhelming emotion felt by mom and dad once the baby is delivered. Whether the pregnancy and delivery were smooth or difficult, all of that is forgotten, for a few moments anyway, as the parents finally meet their long-awaited baby face-to-face. 

Prepping Your Nest - Essentials For Expectant Parents
by Angie Kay Dilmore

If you are like most new parents, you want to be ready to bring your newborn home well before your due date. Shopping for the arrival of a new baby can be a fun but overwhelming process for many first-time parents. Selecting large items like a crib, car seat, and stroller can be daunting, with so many brands and styles on the market; and those are just the big-ticket items! There are even more small necessities you’ll want to have waiting for your new arrival. 

One way to make prepping for a new addition a breeze is to ask family members and friends who’ve recently had babies. They can provide first-hand insight into what they like and don’t like about the products they have and can even narrow your list down as they tell you which items are must-haves and which aren’t.

Regina Ledet and Therese Deroche, co-owners at Pink and Blue Avenue, meet a lot of expectant parents in their store and glady advise prospective parents on their what-to-buy list. "We consider your baby needs from before delivery through the baby’s first birthday and beyond,” says Ledet, who recommends the following:
  • If you plan on nursing, you’ll need a breast pump (check with your insurance company for coverage), nursing pads, specially-fitted nursing bras, burp cloths, and other nursing accessories like a nursing pillow. If not, then plenty of bottles, nipples, and formula. Ledet and Deroche are both lactation consultants and welcome questions on feeding your baby.
  • A few hospital gowns for delivery and recovery.
  • A take-me-home outfit, layette clothing, socks and hand mitts, hats, swaddle blankets, bibs. Ledet suggests one-piece outfits with footies. No lost socks!
  • Diapers, wipes, wipe warmer.
  • Skin care products, such as lotions, diaper rash cream, and bathing products, including tub and hooded towels.
  • Diaper bags. Pink and Blue Avenue has a nice selection of designer bags.
  • Pacifiers, if you’ll be using them. Ledet recommends the ever-popular Wubbanub pacifiers.
  • Teething toys and teething necklaces. 
  • Healthcare needs such as nasal aspirators, a baby thermometer, infant probiotics, tummy remedies for gas, etc.
  • A baby book; to store photos and document baby’s growth and progress.
  • Stroller and car seat. Ledet recommends the Doona 2 in 1 stroller/carseat combination for simplicity.
  • Another item popular with new parents is the Dockatot Baby Lounger for easy napping. 
In addition to clothing and nursing needs, Pink and Blue Avenue offers a wide variety of baby gift items – books, stuffed animals, pacifiers, bibs, blankets, and other baby accessories. Store manager Lyndi Marti is happy to help customers with merchandise selection, baby shower registry, and free gift wrap.

Pink and Blue Avenue is located at 4070 Nelson Rd. #900. For more information, call 337-477-6587, visit www.pinkandblueavenue.com, or find them on social media @pinkandblueavenue.

Bringing Baby Home
by Kristy Como Armand

How exciting! Your baby has arrived. Now, how will you get your new bundle of joy home safely? 
Unless you plan to walk home from the hospital, you’ll need a car seat from day one, so this is definitely something you should purchase well before your due date.  "Not only should you purchase it, you need to practice installing it correctly,” says Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso. "This is one piece of equipment that you’ll need to be very familiar with for a long time.”

The law in all 50 states requires that children must be properly restrained in a car seat from birth to at least seven years of age. Also, most states now require children to ride in booster seats until they weigh 60 pounds or more, or are a certain age or height. 

If you need more convincing, car crash injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. The reason? According to Safe Kids USA, many children aren’t properly restrained, which means that car seats could have prevented many of those deaths.

Sheriff Mancuso says all car seats currently on the market meet the U.S. government’s stringent crash- and fire-safety standards, so any car seat you buy new is technically safe. "However, this may not be true for second-hand car seats or car seats purchased more than a few years ago. And keep in mind, even if a car seat itself meets the federal government’s standards, it may not protect your baby properly if it’s installed and used incorrectly.”

For your baby’s first car seat, Sheriff Mancuso recommends following these guidelines: 

Baby or Infant-Only Car Seats  
All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two years of age or, preferably, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. These should always face the rear of the car. They have a weight limit of between 22 and 35 pounds. When your baby reaches the weight or height limits for his rear-facing infant seat, move him or her to a rear-facing convertible car seat. 

Convertible or Infant-Toddler Car Seats
These function as rear-facing seats for babies and toddlers and forward-facing seats for older children. Many newer models are designed to hold a child of up to 40 pounds rear-facing and up to 70 pounds forward-facing. It’s safest to leave your child rear-facing as long as possible. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics say to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until the age of two, or until he reaches the seat’s maximum rear-facing height and weight limits.

"Once you purchase your infant car seat, read the instructions and practice installing it in your various family vehicles,” says Sheriff Mancuso. "Make sure anyone responsible for transporting your baby knows how to use your car seat correctly, as well.”

Locations for Free Child Safety Seat Fitting Stations 

Louisiana State Police Troop D
805 Main Street 
Lake Charles, LA 70615
Contact: James Anderson, 337-491-2932
by appointment

Lake Charles Police Department
830 Enterprise Blvd.
Lake Charles, LA 70601
Contact: Beth Stevens, 
by appointment 

Lake Charles Fire Department
Training Center
4649 Common Street
Lake Charles, LA 70605
Contact: Delton Carter, 
dcarter@cityofLC.us or 337-491-1207
by appointment

4310 Ryan Street, Suite 330
Lake Charles, LA 70605
Contact: Katelynn McCartney, katelynn@imcal.org or 337-433-1771
by appointment

Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office
412 Bolivar Bishop Drive
Deridder, LA 70634
Contact: Mike Halter, 
mhalter533@aol.com or 337-460-5443
Tuesdays and Thursdays
by appointment

Sulphur Police Department
500B N. Huntington Street
Sulphur, LA 70663
Contact: Matthew Cheaney,
8am-8pm by appointment

Sulphur Fire Department
602 N. Huntington Street
Sulphur, LA 70663
Contact: Tammy Bellard, 
Tbellard07@aol.com or 337-263-0226
M-F, 8am-4pm
by appointment

There is no fee for this safety service provided by certified child passenger safety technicians to lower childhood deaths and injuries. To stay informed of events and education, please follow Buckle Up Louisiana on Facebook. 

Foster Parenting & Adoption - Sharing the Gift of Love
by Britney Glaser Felder

There are currently 100,000 children in the United States living in foster care. Four thousand of those children are here in Louisiana and 140 of them are cleared for adoption.

These numbers are hard to grasp, and for some, misconceptions about children and teens in foster care keep them from ever considering growing their family through adoption. 

Children enter foster care through no fault of their own. As victims of child abuse, neglect and/or abandonment, they are removed from their homes because their birth family is unable or unwilling to provide a safe environment for them. Ages range from infant to teen and virtually every race, ethnic group, and socio-economic category is represented. 

More than 60 children in Southwest Louisiana are currently living in temporary foster homes, waiting for an adoptive family. The demand for certified foster homes in Southwest Louisiana is so high right now that some children have had to be moved to other regions of the state. 

The adoption process requires foster care/adoption preparation classes, a home study, and background check. This process does not cost anything and a social worker will be assigned to your case to help walk you through the process. The certification process typically takes about three months until a child can be moved to your home.

Adoption through foster care is essentially free. Most legal fees are between $500-1,000 and reimbursable by the state. Many of the children also qualify for continued Medicaid coverage, adoption subsidies, and college tuition assistance to help financially support them as they grow older.
Yet, with all the support that exists, children continue to wait for someone to answer the call. They wait for stability. They wait for a consistent school. They wait for their future. They wait for a mom and dad. Some children wait alone; others wait with siblings. Their needs vary, but the basic need of each is the same as any other child: love.

While they wait, work is being done to help shorten that time. 

Louisiana Heart Gallery, a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers, travels around the state with a beautiful photo display of dozens of children – many from our community – awaiting adoption. This display offers a chance for people to stop and look into the eyes of a child who has no family support. It is difficult to step away from that without doing something.

Is adoption a challenge? Oh, yes it is. Is it worth it? Oh, yes it is. 

Adoptive parents often hear the comment, "Your child is so lucky to have you.” Those who walk this road can certainly say the reverse is true: they are the lucky ones.

The Lake Charles Department of Children and Family Services offers orientation classes every month. To sign up or get more information on becoming an adoptive/foster parent, call 337-491-2470.

To learn more about adoption through foster care or becoming a foster parent, contact Louisiana Heart Gallery-Lake Charles Region at lhg.lakecharles@hpserve.org. You can also read profiles of some of the 500 waiting children in Louisiana at louisianaheartgallery.com. 

Britney Glaser Felder and her husband Matt are the parents of Lila Rose, age three, James, whom they adopted in 2017 and is also three, and Adeline, age one. She served as a morning news anchor at KPLC TV for 10 years and now teaches television production in Calcasieu Parish, in addition to her volunteer work with Louisiana Heart Gallery.

Baby Milestones

Between the ages of one and three, your child undergoes a whole range of physical, social, and cognitive developments and acquires new motor skills and language abilities. Find out what to expect with your child in each of these age groups, courtesy of ECBT.com.

Newborn to 1 Year
  • Begins to develop a social smile (3 months)
  • Raises head and chest when lying on stomach (3 months)
  • Watches faces intently (3 months)
  • Smiles at the sound of your voice (3 months)
  • Enjoys social play (7 months)
  • Transfers object from hand to hand (7 months)
  • Ability to track moving objects improves (7 months)
  • Responds to own name (7 months)
  • Finds partially hidden objects (7 months)

Around Age 1
  • Enjoys imitating people in play
  • Reaches sitting position without assistance
  • Bangs two objects together
  • Responds to simple verbal requests
  • Learns to walk

2 to 3 Years
  • Points to object or picture when it’s named (2 years)
  • Begins make-believe play (2 years)
  • Demonstrates increasing independence (2 years)
  • Climbs well (3 years)
  • Turns book pages one at a time (3 years)
  • Uses 4- to 5-word sentences (3 years)
  • Sorts objects by shape and color (3 years)

Choosing the Right Daycare

Every new parent knows instinctively that no one will take care of their little one exactly like they do themselves. Unfortunately, staying home all day with baby isn’t an option for a lot of people, so their care must be entrusted to someone else. Choosing the right childcare option for your baby is a major decision, one that leaves many new parents feeling apprehensive and overwhelmed. 

This monumental task can be a little easier if you have a plan prior to beginning your search and know what you are looking for in a good daycare. The tips below offer valuable insight on how to select the right center.

Start with a list. With your partner in parenting, sit down and write a list of things that are important to you when it comes to childcare. Do you want a center that is close to your home or work? Do you want your baby to be with several babies or in a smaller grouping?

Do your homework. Once you have your list, begin asking for recommendations for good daycares from friends, family, your doctor, and anyone else who may be knowledgeable. 

Check it out. With your list of potential centers, call and speak to each director. Ask questions about their policies, fees, hours, care philosophy, etc. Take notes and include your initial reaction to the conversation. Did it give you a good feeling or negative vibes?

Make time for a visit. After you’ve narrowed down your list, make time to pop in for a visit. Pay attention to the activities the children are engaged in. Note the child to caregiver ratio and the cleanliness of the center. Trust your gut – if you get a bad feeling from the tour, this is not the place for your baby.

Check references. Narrow your list down once again and begin checking references. You can ask the center for these or you can strike out on your own and speak to others who’ve had children there in the past. Ask if they would recommend the center to you and would they put their own child there a second time.

Finally, it is important to start your search early. Many of the top-rated centers have a waiting list. It’s important to get on this list early to ensure your baby has a place to stay when the time comes.

Separation Anxiety - Surviving the Long Goodbye

It’s hard to tell which is harder for parents: Having a kid who’s nonchalant about being left with someone else, or dealing with the cries and clutching arms of a baby that’s desperate for you to stay. 

There is no doubt, however, that one is far messier than the other. Separation anxiety often leaves behind a pool of tears for both baby and parent, making it difficult for one to leave without the other. But how do you say goodbye to weepy eyes and cries? Thrive magazine offers these tips:

Introduce your child to other caregivers at an early age. It’s healthy and important for your baby to interact with people other than yourself. If you’re not comfortable leaving your four-month-old alone with a babysitter for a long period of time, try it in short doses. If your child interacts with no one else but you, it will be difficult for them to adjust to the concept of preschool when that time comes.

Instead of distracting the baby with a toy and then sneaking away, tell the sitter to have a toy on the ready just after you leave. Make your goodbye quick – stretching it out only increases the drama – and then have your sitter supply the distraction. 

It’s tough to walk away with a smile when your child’s in hysterics, but it’s important that you keep a happy, confident, and relaxed demeanor. If your child sees panic, they’ll assume there’s a reason for worry. Keep a happy face.

Develop a ‘goodbye routine.’ This is especially helpful for toddlers. Make up a silly goodbye song, goodbye cuddle, or goodbye hand-clap. The goodbye routine could include a reminder that the ‘goodbye’ is only for a short time.

Avoid the temptation to "bribe” children as you leave. Stay away from promises such as, ‘If you don’t cry at daycare, we will go to McDonald’s when I pick you up.’ Bribing will not help children learn to trust a caregiver. Children may remain calm in order to get a reward, but not because they are comfortable and feel safe, which is the ultimate goal. 

Tips for Successful Toilet Training (for both you and your toddler)

Toilet training is a rite of passage for every child, but that doesn’t make it easy. The secret to successfully transitioning from diapers to underpants comes down to simple patience.

While there may be the rare child who potty trains around age one, Dr. Lyle Stephenson, a pediatrician with The Pediatric Center, Lake Charles, says this process usually takes place between the ages of 18 months to three years, depending on several factors. "Each child needs to be neuro-physiologically ready. The child must be able to follow some directions, be aware of the need to go to the bathroom, have dry periods for approximately two hours, have the desire to remain dry, and must have the necessary skills to sit still on the toilet and pull clothes and underwear up and down. The biggest key for parents to look for, though, is that the child must be able to recognize that they ‘NEED to go.’”

Toilet training is all about the toddler gaining control over his or her body. Here are a few tips to help this transition flow easily.

Be prepared 
Place a potty chair in the bathroom. You may want to try a removable top that can be placed directly on the toilet. Encourage your child to sit on the potty chair.

Have regular potty breaks 
If your child is interested, have him or her sit on the potty chair or toilet without a diaper for a few minutes several times a day. 

Keep a watchful eye 
When you notice signs that your child might need to use the toilet, such as squirming, squatting, or holding areas below the belt, respond quickly. 

Know what your child loves most and reward them for their successes. 

Ditch the diapers 
After several weeks of successful potty breaks your child might be ready to trade diapers for training pants. Just be careful not to move to regular underwear prematurely.

Be patient 
While there are methods that can be successful quickly, most children will have accidents as they progress. Dr. Stephenson encourages you to love and shower praise on your child when she succeeds. He recommends you have your child change his own clothes after accidents to increase ownership of success in the process.

Know when to call it quits 
If your child resists using the potty chair or toilet or is not getting the hang of it within a few weeks, take a break and try again in a few months. Dr. Stephenson says a child who is not ready won’t be ready regardless of a parent’s eagerness. "The consequences are frustration, anger, and tears, both on the part of the parent and the child.”

Dr.  Stephenson urges parents to remain calm and understanding with the child during the process. "They are still learning and growing, and this is stressful on everyone. Physical punishment such as spankings should never be a process of parenting, especially with potty training. Again, be patient. If a child gets to the age of five or six without daytime toilet training, they should be evaluated by their physician for medical problems that could prevent normal toilet training.”

Ultimately, remember that time is on your side. It’s a misconception that toilet training needs to be accomplished at a very young age. The process varies among toddlers. Follow your child’s lead.

For more information contact The Pediatric Center at 337-477-0935.

Dressing our Babies
by Isabel Jones

In an age where kids grow up seemingly overnight, it’s important to cherish the days when they’re little and care free. Taking advantage of the days you can dress them up and hold them close is crucial in such a fast-paced world. This idea is what motivates the owners of children’s boutiques in Southwest Louisiana. They are inspired by moments that make up the precious memories you create with your children . . . from the first day you bring them home to their first day of school. These retailers are here to make each occassion special from head to toe.

2508 Ryan St., Lake Charles, LA

At Très Jolie, they believe that clothing builds confidence and it’s never too early to learn what you love. This contemporary boutique offers bright colors and fun patterns so kids of all ages can feel their best in whatever they wear. Sizes range from baby to tween for boys and girls with brands like Livie & Luca, Mustard Pie, Aden + Anais, Sun San Sandals, Jessica Simpson, Michael Kors, and more. They also have accessories from swaddles to handbags. 

Shop Très Jolie in their store, online, and through social media.

Find Sercy Lane on Facebook and Instagram
1301 E. McNeese St., Suite 105, 
Lake Charles, LA

This newer children’s boutique features classic and traditional southern apparel for toddlers. Sizes typically range from 12m to 6 and they offer brands like James & Lottie, The Proper Peony, The Beaufort Bonnet Co, Little English, and Bella Bliss. In addition to clothing, they sell shoes, bows, and hats to accessorize their outfits. Sercy Lane believes in "dressing your babies like babies” and offers staples like collared dresses for girls and Jon Jons for boys. 

Shop Sercy Lane at their store or through social media.


3830 Nelson Rd., Suite 100, 
Lake Charles, LA

Oma’s is a classic-style children’s clothing store that offers a wide range of sizes and accessories. Girls’ sizes range from infant to 14 and boys’ from infant to eight. They also offer sets for siblings; perfect for family photos! Oma’s carries brands like Feltman Brothers, The Bailey Boys, Serendipity, and Sun-Sans along with many others. Their clothing is described as classic with some fashion-forward lines, "but all are classic in that they allow children to continue to dress as children in a world where they are pressured to grow up so quickly.”

Shop Oma’s at their store or online.


4070 Nelson Rd., Suite 900, 
Lake Charles, LA

Pink & Blue specializes in newborn, infant, and pregnancy goods. Owned by two board-certified lactation consultants, their minds are with mom and baby essentials. For the kids, they offer items from newborn needs to baby books with a few toddler sizes from their top brands. A few favorites have been mermaid and unicorn patterns for the girls and forest animals for the boys. For moms, they offer the first milk bank depot in Lake Charles, where approved donors can donate their breast milk. They also carry nursing equipment and accessories in their shop so you can find what you need with the guidance of professionals. 

Shop Pink & Blue at their store and they’ll ship on request.


4031 Nelson Rd., Lake Charles, LA

Queen of Threads takes their classic children’s clothing and makes it personal. They offer brands like Mint Sweet Little Things, Monday’s Child, Vive la Fete, Paty, and Sweet Dreams. Sizes range from newborn to 2T for boys and girls with accessories for both kids and adults. A few favorites are their basic shorts, tops, gowns, and coming-home outfits for infants along with their full stock of seersucker accessories like backpacks and duffle bags. Queen of Threads also offers monogramming so each piece can become a unique gift to cherish! 

Shop Queen of Threads in their store, online, and through Instagram. 


Find Etie’s on Facebook
206 S. Huntington St., Sulphur, LA

With Etie’s comes a long history of family. It originally opened in 1917 as a millinery store selling women’s hats, and later as a women’s and children’s store. Earlier this year, it was reopened in the original building by the granddaughter of the women who started it all. Now, Etie’s carries boys and girls clothes from preemie to 12 in classic styles from Feltman Brothers, Bella Bliss, and Lullaby Set, and more contemporary designs from Tea Collection, Joules, and Fore Axel and Hudson. They also have gifts, accessories, and toys. There is a book room where children can sit and read and a playroom with toys where they can play while parents shop. Etie’s will also host the occasional story time! 

Shop Etie’s in their store or through Facebook and Instagram.

Balancing a Busy Life with Kids
by Bailey Castille

The earth spins on its axis at a speed of over 1,000 miles per hour. While we may not be consciously aware of this rotation, some of us may feel like our own worlds move at light speed, propelled by loaded schedules. With all the movement of life, how does one balance family with a busy lifestyle?
Relieving stress starts in the evening, not the morning. Pack any bags or backpacks needed for the next day. Make a to-do list, with the most important items listed first, and review this list with your family. Decide what to make for breakfast, and maybe prepare lunches at this time, too.
To help eliminate some of the chaos of busy schedules, hang a calendar in a central area of your home so all may have access to it. This allows you, your partner, and your children to be on the same page when it comes to the activities you each have coming up. Assign a color for each family member or for certain events like practices, games, concerts, or other obligations. 

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the activities; so can your children. Sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities are great for development physically, socially, mentally, and even spiritually. However, overloading your child and yourself with events can diminish the pleasure experienced through these activities. Also, studies have shown that children involved in too many activities are prone to anxiety and depression. Only you and your family can decide how much is too much. 

One-on-one time is essential to your family’s health and wellbeing. You should schedule one-on-one time with your partner, your family, and yourself. This should be a top priority. Your family’s happiness, or lack thereof, will spill over into every other aspect of each of your lives: work, school, friendships, and so on. Even if it is just eating together, playing a board game, or going for a walk in the evening, take this time to relax and relish the moment. What’s the point of a busy life if you can’t enjoy it?

Local Businesses that Focus on Fun for Kids
by Andrea Mongler

This time of year, most families are gearing up for that first day back to school. But summer isn’t over just yet! There may still be a week or two to enjoy the break from school, and of course, even after school is in session, there are still the weekends. It’s easy to find something fun to do in Southwest Louisiana!

Altitude Trampoline Park
3009 Gerstner Memorial Hwy., Lake Charles

It’s not much of an exaggeration to describe Altitude Trampoline Park as wall-to-wall trampolines. In fact, children can keep themselves busy jumping around the 14,000-square-foot space for quite a while! The indoor park also features a foam pit, dodgeball courts, and basketball hoops. Buy a one-, two- or three-hour pass before you go or when you get there. Family packs are available for purchase on site too, and you can also book a party. All ages are welcome, but toddler time — from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on weekdays — is a good time to bring the littlest jumpers. Teen night takes place from 8:00 – 11:00 p.m. on Saturdays. 

Club Tabby
1427 W. Prien Lake Rd., Lake Charles

It’s hard to describe Club Tabby in a paragraph. It simply doesn’t fit into just one category. It’s a boutique offering styles — for girls and boys — not seen elsewhere in Lake Charles. It’s a party venue, with themes including "Glitz & Gals,” "Enchanted Princess” and "Spa-Tacular.” It’s a hair salon for kids (and their caregivers!) It offers makeover kits including "Movie Star” and "Rainbow Rocker.” And young visitors can stuff and adopt their very own "pets.”

Creole Nature Trail/Adventure Point
2740 Ruth St., Sulphur

Regardless of whether you plan to take a drive down the 180-mile scenic byway known as the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, you should check out Adventure Point — one  of the trail’s starting points. Well worth a visit with the kids, Adventure Point has hands-on displays that give visitors a chance to try their hand at Cajun/Zydeco music, smell the aromas of Cajun/Creole cooking, learn about the local landscape and wildlife, and practice crabbing —all for free!

Local Parks
The Lake Charles area is full of fun parks. Millennium Park downtown features a huge pirate ship structure for kids to climb and play in, a splash pad, and an area designed for the toddler crowd. Nearby are Lock Park — also known as "fire truck park” because of the old fire truck on site that kids can play in — and Drew Park, which parents enjoy because there’s plenty of shade. Moss Bluff’s new River Bluff Park features playground equipment and a splash pad, as do Prien Lake Park and Pinederosa Park in Westlake. Check out Tuten Park to see a variety of local plant and animal life, and for hiking, biking, camping and picnicking, head to Sam Houston Jones State Park, which offers more than 1,000 acres for visitors to enjoy and explore.

Sensory Slime Time
1405 W. Prien Lake Rd., Suite A, Lake Charles

What kid doesn’t want to play with slime? At Sensory Slime Time, they can do more than just play with it; they can make their own! And it’s not just any slime either. Kids can choose a color and a scent and then add in items like glitter, sequins, and beads. The best part for parents? The mess they make isn’t at your house! Start by purchasing a "classic slime kit,” and then buy whichever add-ins you’d like. According to Sensory Slime Time, the ideal age for slime-making is eight and up, but younger kids are welcome to make their own slime with a parent’s or guardian’s help. Pre-made slime is available for purchase too, and Sensory Slime Time offers on- and off-site birthday parties.

Sulphur Parks & Recreation Waterpark
933 W. Parish Rd., Sulphur

A day at the water park doesn’t have to mean a long drive. At SPAR Waterpark in Sulphur, you’ll find something for the whole family. Kids who are 48 inches or taller can try out a variety of tube slides and body slides, and small children can play on the splash pad. The park also features a lazy river, a "raging river” and a lagoon pool. Children age two and younger are free. Private parties can be booked on certain days. The park’s season roughly coincides with summer break; Aug. 12 is the last day of this year’s season.

The Little Gym
1301 E. McNeese St., Suite 201, Lake Charles

At The Little Gym of Lake Charles, kids not only engage in active play that helps develop strength, balance, and coordination but also gain confidence and other valuable skills, like decision-making, teamwork, and leadership. The Little Gym offers a variety of classes and camps for infants, toddlers, and children up to age 12. You can also book a birthday party for your little one at The Little Gym. 

The Children’s Museum
327 Broad St., Lake Charles

If your kids think museums are boring, then they’ve never been to the Children’s Museum! It’s filled with fun, interactive exhibits on a wide range of topics. Kids can play with water at the water table, race balls down fast tracks, pretend to grocery-shop in a child-sized market, and work on their crabbing skills in the wetlands exhibit. And those are just a few of the many offerings! There is also an ArtSpace, with a different project available each week on weekdays. Family memberships and nonmember daily admission are available for purchase. Members and nonmembers can book birthday parties at the museum, too.

We Rock the Spectrum
3714 Common St., Suite E, Lake Charles

At We Rock the Spectrum, you’ll find specialized equipment that benefits children with autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing issues. But it also bills itself as a "gym for all kids” and is committed to providing a safe and fun environment for children of all abilities to learn, explore, interact, move, and play. For infants through 13-year-olds, We Rock the Spectrum offers daily open play, including full use of the gym plus an arts and crafts area. Birthday parties, memberships, and specialized classes are also offered.
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