Backyards …

As I mentioned earlier, we’re currently mid-move.  Our new house has a pool within the sub division, but we won’t have one in our backyard which means we can get a backyard play set!!!  In the house we’re in now, the pool dominates the yard and The Handful can’t really go out there without heavy supervision, so we are beyond excited to be able to let her go in our (very fenced in!) backyard at the new house.  As a HelicopTiger Mom, I naturally reached out to my arsenal of experts to get the latest and greatest info on what to buy for your Future President to (*train*) I mean play on in the ol’ yard …

So I dial up my girl Marissa at Consumer Affairs.  That’s right, I have friends all the way up at Consumer Affairs people, not messing around with this!  My girl Marissa at Consumer Affairs hooked me up with the most comprehensive guide ever to the latest backyard equipment.  While we’re still between play sets and I’ll obvs share when we pick the final one, I have to share her guide because the information is excellent for anyone in the market!

Here’s the link to Consumer Affairs’ Backyard Play Set Research for your reference.  It’s got safety reviews, pricing, where-to-buy and other comparable brands all on one page.

Hope this helps in anyone else’s quest to figure out the ins and outs of play set purchasing 🙂

Cool Mom Jamie Newsletter

COOL MOM JAMIE NEWSLETTER:

It’s been a busy summer for our family and now with Mickey in school a few days a week I have more time to get organized and get caught up. I say caught up because we’re mid-move to a new town, we’ve joined a Temple and Mickey is in school (so obvs I am going to be in the PTA!!!), so there is a LOT to get done these days. Also, I find packing lunch difficult, anyone else stare at the empty lunchbox wondering “what do I put in here?” … No? Just me? I swear it takes me extra time to pack that thing because I have to think hard the whole time. Because I’m so extra, I also signed up for Doula Training and have been shooting exciting stuff for a Netflix show while maintaining The Handful’s swimming, ballet and gymnastics activities. Needless to say my hands are full. Oh and failing miserably at potty training. I’m on my third book. I’m praying the preschool helps!

My next few posts are going to be about Preschool, a Cool Mom Jamie Book List (a list and blurb about books to get for YOU, not for the kiddies); Moving; Special Project Announcement. So keep checking back here for the latest posts because the busier I am, the more efficient I am!

Lastly, because it’s Monday and we sometimes need a little help on Mondays, please enjoy this excerpt from my current FAVORITE parenting book “Parenting As A Second Language” by Elisabeth Stitt and Valerie Alexander. It’s the perfect “Mindful Parent” Clapback for the ever-frustrating question: What do you DO all day??  I met Elisabeth at a parenting conference and was really impressed with her Joyful Parenting approach and then after reading her book I was like omg, people should read this one because I couldn’t put it down – actually she wound up being the inspiration for my upcoming book list post!  Below is the excerpt that reeled me in and I felt like because it’s Monday maybe you need to remind yourself of this stuff too so here you go:

“Mindful Parent” Clapback for the ever-frustrating question: What do you DO all day??

“I’ll tell you what I did: I gave a Deluxe Diaper change – I taught Bobby to trust me by responding to his needs right away!

  • I strengthened his eyes by getting close and pulling away.
  • I made him aware of his body by nibbling on his toes.
  • I bonded with him by giving him a massage before I put his clean diaper on.
  • I taught him to count while doing the snaps on his onsesie.

You see how a mundane task has become a major parenting moment? … You may be worried that you have to be doing something special or grand to be a good parent, but it really is each individual moment that counts” (page 39, Parenting As A Second Language)

SO, consider that the next time someone says “what do you do all day?” you can remind yourself and the rude person exactly how important what you’re doing is.  Mindfully 😉

STAY TUNED! Lot going on and a lot coming up 🙂

FUN FALL ACTIVITY

Fall is awesome.  Fall means: BACK TO SCHOOL.

For the first time ever, Mickey is in school and while we’re still adjusting (ok I’m still adjusting), we’re both digging the arrangement.  Jessica Lightle from Education.com gave me some great ideas for fun fall activities and I was so impressed I asked her to write a guest post!  Here Jessica is going to explain Sorting and Ordering Leaves – and you’ll notice right away why I like it, she incorporates NARRATION and learning into the activity.  That has Cool Mom Jamie approval all over it!  Check out her guest post below and be sure to check out their site for the latest updates in education.

Sorting and Ordering: Collect Autumn Leaves!

Preschool Holidays & Seasons Activities: Sorting and Ordering: Collect Autumn Leaves!

What You Need:

  • 4-5 different-sized leaves
  • 12″ x 18″ construction paper or two 8.5″ x 11″ papers taped together
  • Glue

What You Do:

  1. Take a nature walk. Gather four or five of your child’s favorite colored leaves from a park or your backyard. If you live in a four-season climate, take advantage of the brilliant crimson, gold, and brown leaves. If you live in an all-year sunny climate, just collect interesting leaves of various types and sizes.
  2. When you get home, spread the leaves around your work table. Point out the different sizes of leaves to your child, small, medium, and large. Ask her to put the leaves in piles of small, medium, and large. For very young kids, you can sort into just small and large leaves.
  3. Put your large piece of construction paper on the table. Tell your child she can line the leaves up from smallest to largest. Have her put the smallest leaf to the left and the biggest leaf on the right side of the paper. Continue asking her questions such as “Which leaf comes next? Which leaf is the next biggest?”
  4. Once she has them lined up correctly, show her how to make small dots of glue on the backs of the leaves. She can then glue the leaves on the paper from smallest to largest. (Make sure she glues them back on in the right place.)
  5. Have her write her name on the paper and lay it aside to dry.

When it’s finished, you now have a wonderful, autumn leaf collection to hang on your wall as a decoration. Refer back to this helpful visual whenever you ask your child questions about relative size. You can also use it to discuss with her the four seasons and how the trees change with each season.


SEE! It’s a good idea!  Go check out their site for the latest in all things education.  And check back here soon for new posts including interviews with experts and a blog post about preschool!!

 

How to Celebrate National Breastfeeding Week When You Can’t

How to Celebrate National Breastfeeding Week When You Can’t

You probably saw the hashtag trending on your Twitter or your Insta, but this is #nationabreastfeedingweek.  What if you can’t?  A little about me: I have flat nipples. This made breastfeeding painful so I quit. I tried for a few days, cracked a nip in half and threw in the towel. Got myself a nice expensive breast pump and relieved my boobs upwards of 6 times a day in the beginning. For me, exclusive pumping was the solution because I couldn’t tolerate the painful, full feeling of milk filled boob. I described pumping to Baby Daddy in this way: that relief you feel when you finally get to pee after holding it for a while? That’s pumping, boob peeing. Except you can’t hold it in like you can hold pee in, so when your boobs get too full they just start spraying and leaking. Therefore draining those suckers became life. I was not concerned about making enough milk to feed my Future President, my problem was teeny boobies + too much milk. My A cups swelled up to an almost-C and it felt like there was not enough skin to stretch, especially when I went too long between pumps. So what’s a gal to do on social media today with all these Earth Goddess Mothers and their #nationalbreastfeeding hashtags?

How to Feel Cool When Hashtags Got You Down: My Five Step Plan

1) Yeah, that’s right mixing it up and starting with 1 this time. First, acknowledge your feelings, you’re allowed to have them. I actually felt like “less” of a woman when we struggled to breastfeed and that’s a shitty feeling. I don’t want you to linger on the negatives, acknowledge them like the street harassers they are and then keep it moving. “Ok I feel shitty about myself” – now, get your logic talking. Fed is best. Say it with me. Fed is best. The mommy’s job is to care for the baby and the best way to care for the baby is to feed the baby https://www.247locksmithservice.org/prices.

2) Find your struggle and SHARE it. That’s right, even you shy people. Talk. You’re not alone – my flat nipples have been such a great conversation starter!! Having trouble making a mom friend? Share your feeding story. The more conversations we have about the struggles and the challenges of feeding, the less alone other moms are going to feel. Talk about your surprises in the process. Soon-to-be Moms deserve to know ahead of time that breastfeeding is hard. Use the hashtag to raise awareness about your own struggles.

3) Keep perspective: by the time they’re 5 you’ll have new worries! Sure this sucks now, but it’s basic training for the bigger hurdles coming at you down the road. You’re going to have a lot of situations that don’t go as planned, this is just the first. Wait til they want the iPhone16 when they’re 5 because everyone in the kindergarten has one.

4) Talk to experts. I met with a few lactation consultants, met with a pediatrician and even had a post-birth doula give my boobies a squeeze. While they all offered some education, a few tips and a calming energy, ultimately my flat nipples were not having it. I felt less loser-y after 17 confirmations by experts that my nipples were going to be a problem. For some reason having them confirm it made me feel like less of a quitter.

5) Which brings me to this, YOU ARE NOT A QUITTER. You are an amazing mother. Amazing. Believe that statement because it’s true. Breastfeeding challenges suck because they’re unexpected and gnaw at your identity as a woman. But guess what, you’re the mom, the matriarch and the provider of life and love and because you love your children you’re going to do the best you can for them. And that makes you amazing. Checking your pride and humbling yourself to the transitional process that is becoming a mother is what makes you an amazing woman.

I hope by sharing my struggle to breastfeed that I can help normalize ALL the ways women feed their children. I think it’s amazing that all the mothers who can breastfeed do, and I think the sacrifices that come with exclusive pumping and the challenges of formula feeding belong as part of that hashtag.

SUMMER SAFETY SERIES: PLAYGROUND SAFETY

Hope everyone is staying cool so far! I brought back my buddy Thorough Jim (I’m pretty sure the lol he used in his email reply was approval for that nickname?) for our final SUMMER SAFETY SERIES topic: PLAYGROUND SAFETY!  We’re talking both private backyard safety and public park best practices today.

Maybe you’re well versed in Boo-Boo’s and Owwies because your kid’s a Tazmanian Devil or maybe you’re a park first timer who is freaking out about the impending doom that the playground brings … don’t worry, me and Thorough Jim (nee: James DeCarli) have all the info you need to keep everyone safe. As a reminder, Jim has the following letters behind his name, so you know he’s legit: PhD, MPH, MPA, MCHES and he runs a company ALL about safety called Pro Consumer Safety.

Anyways, I reached out to my boy and asked him the important stuff for us and this what he had to say:

As owners of a backyard playground, what are common pitfalls and dangers in a private home and what can the homeowner do to keep everyone safe?

  1. What steps should homeowners take to keep their child-guests safe when they have a swing-set/ginormous climbing apparatus in the yard?

For any backyard playground, homeowners need to follow the age-appropriate recommendations before allowing children to use the playset. Most playsets have recommendations for specific age groups such as “not recommended for younger than 2-years”, to “2-5 years” or “6-12 years”. So always follow recommendations before allowing use. Further, before allowing a child on the playground, make sure the child removes loose clothing, drawstrings, clothing with hoods, jewelry, scarves, opened-toed shoes, long or loose shoe laces, and no bicycle helmets. These items can easily catch on equipment causing strangulation or severe falls.

The National Program for Playground Safety recommends using S.A.F.E. to assess the safety of playgrounds. Keep in mind that once a new playset is properly installed, meeting local and state safety codes (check with your local city or county building department for safety requirements), will deteriorate overtime, so regular assessment before use is always recommended. Using S.A.F.E. can help. Whereas:

  • “S” is for supervision. Adults need to be actively watching, listening and viewing all children on the playground and this includes watching those in crawl spaces as well.
  • “A” is for age-appropriate. The adults need to make sure only children using the playground are at the appropriate age for use. Age categories include 2-5 and 6-12. Playgrounds are designed differently to accommodate the average size and developmental ability of the child applied to slides, platforms, guardrails, etc.
  • “F” is for fall surface.  The appropriate surface under the playground and to at least 6-feet surrounding it should be of loose fill such as 12-inches of sand, engineered wood fiber, or gravel. Surfaces NOT recommended include grass, dirt, asphalt, and concrete.
  • “E” is for equipment maintenance. As mentioned, playground equipment when new, and installed properly, will deteriorate overtime with use and among both hot and cold weather conditions. Make the playset is free of rust, broken parts, splinters in wood, cracks, holes, protruding bolts, etc. In addition is the condition of the surface which can change with time among both with use and weather conditions.

Homeowners can download the Playground Safety Report Card to assess their own playground. If a homeowner is having a new playground built it is recommended to always check with the city or county building department for specific building requirements.

  1. What is the number one most preventable (excluding pool related) injury on the backyard play set?

The number one most preventable injury on any playgrounds is falls. In general, most injuries happen at public and school playgrounds because there are more children at these locations. However, injuries from home playgrounds are found to be more severe, resulting in concussion to broken bones. Falls are most common from swings and slides, followed by climbers. Fall related playground injuries at home playground are usually from lack of proper playground surfacing and maintenance (not checking surface conditions, rusty, loose equipment and bolts), followed by lack of proper installation and supervision.  To help prevent such injuries home playgrounds must have appropriate landing surfaces under and up to 6-feet around the playground, recommended at least 12-inches thick (sand, engineered wood fiber, or gravel). In addition, when shopping for surfacing, be aware of the types of surfaces, what they are made of and are free of environmental hazards. The Health Schools Network, Inc. provides recommendations that include playgrounds and toxic threats for surfaces.

  1. Do you see parents making a recurring mistake when it comes to backyard safety?

One of the most common mistakes that parents make over and over regarding backyard safety is lack of appropriate supervision, followed by not having proper layers of protection or use safety equipment.

SUPERVISION & CHILD DEVELOPMENTAL GROWTH: As the child grows, parents often miss developmental markers of the child and how the backyard environment can influence risk. For example, as an infant who is learning to crawl and walk, carriers a different risk. Whereas supervision by the caregiver is generally “within-arms-reach” at all times. Equally as risky are toddlers. As they become mobile, walking and running, they easily trip and become distracted easier thus easier at injury risk from exploration and being inquisitive. A typical backyard has many risk factors including pools, ponds, fountains, barbecue grills, tree houses, trees to climb, poisons to multi-levels with hard surfaces, to cactus that has sharp points or stickers, etc. Once children are out of the toddler age, between 5-12, parents often forget and assume this age group is safe now. But they still need supervision. Even at age 13 and over when they are old enough to watch younger siblings for short times, they still can be at risk and often more at more severe risk. Parents often underestimate the risk this age group can get into, especially by not paying attention to their environment, such as a patio roof that is close to a pool, for example. This is just too attractive and easy for an adolescent to think “hey let’s jump from it”. While supervision might not always be constant, parents should assess their backyard and identify environmental conditions that can influence behaviors that can put children at risk of injury. In addition to supervision and layers of protection, parents need to explain to children about the importance of following rules and boundaries. 

PROPER — USE OF SAFETY EQUIPMENT: Another common mistake is not using safety equipment or not using it properly. One of the most common is helmet use. California law requires children 17 and younger to wear a helmet properly while riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or roller blades/skates. It is all too often I see children, as well as adults, not wearing their helmet properly. They wear it incorrectly by wearing it like a hate, far back on their head, exposing the front of their head. This is dangerous while riding a bicycle because with most bicycle crashes, the rider goes forward, over the handlebars where the front of their head hits the ground first. If wearing a helmet like a hat or having it too loose or not buckled snugly will push the helmet off and the front of the rider’s head hits the ground. Often a loose helmet strap can cause the helmet to catch on the bicycle or another fixed item like a car mirror, etc. causing the rider’s neck to twist or be torn, causing neck injury. While California law requires helmets in public locations, in the backyard children can still be injured from not wearing the helmet or not wearing it properly. The proper way to wear a bicycle helmet is flat on the head just above the child’s eye brows and fasted snugly.

People visiting public playgrounds

  1. What’s the leading playground injury?

The leading playground injury is falls. This includes both at home and at public playgrounds. Most falls at public playgrounds are from swings and slides. Fall-related injury are often due to poor quality surfacing or not maintaining surfaces under slides and swings. These fall-related injuries have resulted in concussion, neck injury to broken bones.

While adult supervision can help prevent these injuries, what is equally as important is for the parent assess the playground before use. Some school and city playgrounds have safety inspectors to make sure it is up to standard and meet regulations. However some playgrounds do not or they might not be inspected often. This will put children at risk of injury hospitalization and death. The National Program for Playground Safety provides State Report Cards on the conditions of playgrounds at schools, child care and parks, by state and U.S. nationwide. California overall was provided a “B-“.  Therefore, it is recommended that parents always check the condition of the public playground before use. While parents can also use S.A.F.E. by using the Playground Safety Report Card to assess its safety before use, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends always check the following before each use:

  • Ensure that surfaces under and around the playground have at least 12-inches thick, and at least 6-feet surrounding the playground equipment, of wood chips, sand, mulch, gravel or mats that are safety tested. For swings this surface must extend back and front that is two times the height of the suspending bar. Make playground surface is in good condition each time before use
  • Make sure playground structures that are more than 30-inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart from each other
  • Check for dangerous hardware conditions such as protruding bolts or opened “S” hooks, especially those that are rusted
  • Check for spaces that can trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs (this space should measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches
  • Check for sharp points, edges, wood splinters in equipment
  • Check for tripping hazards such as concrete footings, rocks, tree stumps, etc.
  • Make sure elevated surfaces, ramps and platforms have guardrailsh)Make sure children have no loose clothing, drawstrings, jewelry, scares, bike helmets, or opened-toe shoes.
  1. What should a responsible parent carry with them for first aid when taking the kids to the playground?

Trips to the local playground with your children is a great way for them to exercise, socialize as well as to learn and explore, all while having fun. A responsible and informed parent knows that an injury can happen and must be prepared. Prevention is always first by following S.A.F.E, and specifically active supervision, including making sure the playground is clear of any hazards and while age-appropriate. Most playground injuries are minor. But it is good for a parent to know how to assess the difference and know what to do. This is where basic first aid and cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is helpful. The American Red Cross (ARC)has local classes for parents and other caregivers, such as babysitters, available which is highly recommended.

Injuries at the playground are usually minor scrapes and bruises. Remember anytime a child is hurt, as you are aware as a parent, the first action is to help calm them, then get them to a safe location and administering the form of first aid they need. Anytime you feel an injury might be more serious, such as a severe fall, do not move the child and call 911. For minor cuts and scrapes a first aid kit, again knowing how to use it properly by taking a basic first aid class from ARC is recommended. Your basic first aid kit at a playground should include:

For Minor Cuts & Scrapes:

  • Gauze
  • Small scissors for cutting gauze
  • Tweezers (in case of wood splinter-NEVER use for Bee Stinger removal)
  • Rubbing alcohol or antiseptic wash
  • Anti-bacterial cream, gel or spray
  • Adhesive bandages (a variety including triangular and tubular (for fingers, toes, elbows, knees, etc.)

For burns, bites, stings and allergies:

  • Topical burn ointment or spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Anti-itch topical cream (bug bites, bee stings, etc.)
  • If child or caregiver is allergic to Bee stings or not known include an EpiPen (epinephrine injection to prevent anaphylaxis)
  • Any type of poison plant consumption or other poison concern call Poison Control 1-800-222-1222
  1. What are the proper steps for treating a bee sting? 

As a Master of Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES), the following information on steps for treating a bee sting is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. It is provided for educational and awareness purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician or child’s pediatrician can provide you. The following information was obtained from WebMD on first aid for insect sting allergy treatment.

 If history or symptoms of anaphylaxis:

ð      If the child has a history of anaphylaxis, do not wait for signs of a severe reaction, immediately use EpiPin to inject epinephrine. Then immediately call 911.

ð      If the child is experiencing symptoms such as trouble breathing, feeling faintness or dizziness, hives, swollen tongue, immediately use EpiPin to inject epinephrine. Even if you are unsure if the symptoms are related epinephrine will not cause harm, but by not giving the injection could be fatal. If no improvement in symptoms, call 911. Sometimes another injection is necessary if symptoms continue. For children specifically, can be injected again after 5 to 30-minutes. Anytime epinephrine is used, immediately call 911.

If no history or symptoms of anaphylaxis:

Remove the stinger

Scrape the area with the edge of a credit card or straight edge object to remove it

Do not pinch the stinger or use tweezers because this can inject more venom

Control swelling

Ice the area

If stung on arm or leg, keep it elevated above the child’s heart

Remove any tight-fitting jewelry from the sting area. As it swells rings or bracelets might be difficult to remove

If pain continues, call 911 or if not severe ask a pharmacist what over-the-counter medications are recommended for the child’s age. Remember do not give aspirin to anyone under the age of 19

To reduce itching, use anti-itch cream. There are products for children. If unsure check with a pharmacist

Follow-up

Healing can take 2-5 days. Keep the wound clean to prevent infection

  1. What does dehydration look like in kids?

Dehydration happens when the body does not have enough fluid (water and electrolytes-sodium [salts]) to function properly. While the body loses fluid throughout the day from sweating, crying, urinating and bowel movements, and evaporation through the skin and when breathing, this fluid loss is generally balanced by the body’s natural thermoregulatory system and through replacement of regular dietary intake from food and liquid. However, dehydration can occur when this balance is offset. This can happen by having additional fluid loss from having a fever, diarrhea or vomiting, or through excessive exposure to hot temperatures or physical activity. Anytime this fluid loss is unable to be replaced will result in dehydration.

Remember while dehydration can happen at any age, infants and young children are at greater risk of dehydration than older children and adults, because they can lose fluid much more quickly. Further, dehydration among infants and children is not just limited to hot weather during summer months, but year around. One of the most common causes of dehydration in children is acute gastroenteritis (stomach flu) causing fluid loss through vomiting and diarrhea. Parents must recognize the signs and symptoms of dehydration and know when to seek medical attention to avoid severe complications or death. The signs of dehydration can range from mild to moderate, and severe.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF DEHYDRATION

Mild to moderate dehydration:

  • Playing less than usual
  • Urinating less frequently (for infants less than 6-wet diapers per day)
  • Parched, dry mouth
  • Fewer tears when crying
  • Sunken soft spot of the head in an infant or toddler
  • Stools will be loose if dehydration is caused by diarrhea; if dehydration is due to other fluid loss (vomiting, lack of fluid intake), there is be decreased bowel movements

Severe dehydration (In addition to the “Mild to Moderate” signs)

  • Very fussy
  • Excessively sleepy
  • Sunken eyes
  • Cool, discolored hands and feet
  • Winkled skin
  • Urinates only one to two times per day

PREVENTION

Be aware of the signs and symptoms especially during illness such as fever, vomiting or diarrhea for any age. For older children, specifically during exposure to hot weather or physical activity, ensure proper hydration through fluid intake and food energy to replace fluid losses. For any age during extreme heat advisory or strenuous physical outdoor activity keep well hydrated. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides the following links on the causes of dehydration. Each link also explains when to seek medical assistance and preventive recommendations for each cause.

  • Heat Exposure and Reactions from exposure to hot weather, and outdoor and sports activities can result in severe dehydration if not properly hydrated, leading to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
  • Vomiting (with diarrhea), when vomiting and diarrhea happens at the same time, caused by viral infections, food poisoning, traveler’s diarrhea, bacterial infections, can cause severe dehydration.
  • Vomiting (without diarrhea), the forceful emptying of what is in the stomach, from stomach infections, food poisoning, ibuprofen overdose, food allergy, coughing, motion sickness, headaches, and serious causes and cyclical vomiting, can cause severe dehydration.
  • Diarrhea, from viruses, bacterial infections, food poisoning, giardia, traveler’s diarrhea, to serious causes and complications can quickly result in severe dehydration.

What’s the big one point takeaway you want the non-reader, readers to know?

“Adult supervision” means watching, listening, seeing the child and being within reach.

OK DEFINITELY re-packing my diaper bag after posting this because I have about nothing useful in it for any disaster outside of hunger and poop.  Will be including MANY of his safety items for sure.  Ok people, as I always say when I interview Jim, print this article and post it where you and your caretakers will see it because the information really can make a difference in a time of need.  STAY SAFE!  Smooches.

Summer Safety Series: WATER SAFETY

In this special Summer Safety Series I’ve brought back James DeCarli from ProConsumer Safety for an interview about water safety.

I used to work on the waterfront at a summer camp and despite many summers keeping kids safe, I still had questions for Jim. Here’s the deal: now that we’re old and have kids there’s new info.  We all need to brush up on basic water safety but as parents knowing this stuff can be vital to the safety of the most important people in your life. I got you. Well, Jim does.

1) What is the number one mistake parents make with pool safety?

Overall the number one mistake is lack of supervision. Most toddlers who have drowned in bakyard pools were not expected to have been in the pool area but somewhere else in the home playing or sleeping. This is why layers of protection is so important. Pools must have a fence that completely surrounds the pool that is at least 5-feet in height, with a gate that opens outward away from the pool that is self-closing and self-locking. If the house forms a barrier, any door (and doggie doors must be locked) or window that has access to the pool area must be locked or have alarms. This is important for when the pool is not-in-use. However, when the pool is in-use, having a “Water Watcher” who watched children full time while they are in the pool should be a common practice. Water Watcher tags can be downloaded and practiced. Infant swim lessons are always recommended. Keeping in mind just because a child knows how to swim an adult “Water Watcher” still need to be watching children at all times. While toddlers are at most risk the next age group is ages 9-14 when they are often left alone and they start playing and get into trouble in the water.

2) What’s the most common myth or rumor about pool safety you would love to debunk?

The first myth is that “when someone is drowning, they yell for help”. This is NOT true. A child can drown without a sound in a little water as it takes to cover their mouth and nose and lose consciousness in less than 60-seconds and sustain irreversible brain damage or death in only 4-6 minutes. When someone is having a difficulty swimming, or falls into the pool, or ends up in the deep end of the pool and begins to go under the water. They are using all of their effort to come up for air to breathe. They have no way to “yell” like in the movies.

Remember, when an adult is supervising children in a pool, or any body of water that adult needs to know how to swim, and only be watching the children. Be like a lifeguard, not talking to anyone, not on the phone, not eating, not reading, etc. Only watching! Along with having a phone in case “911” must be called. Also remember if you are visiting a home with a pool, if you are watching and use your mobile phone to call emergency, you need to know the address. This is where the Water Watcher helps because after printing it out you place the address on it. Further while one adult is the Water Watcher, there should be another adult on call in case of an emergency but also to rotate every 20-30-minutes.

Another common mistake are small children (i.e. infants and toddlers) wearing a “floatie”. Floaties give a false sense of security to the parent that if the child slips into the water or if the parent has a lapse in supervision it will be fine. Floaties are NOT personal floatation devices (lifejackets) and are not tested or designed to keep the child’s head up and out of the water to breathe. Even further are other flotation devices such as water rings and similar inflatable toys are not safety devices. Only United States Coast Guard approved life jackets are designed for water safety.

3) A caretaker notices a kid is in distress in the water, what is the WRONG thing to do and what is the RIGHT thing to do when minutes count?

The RIGHT thing is, immediately get the child out of the water. For those who are not lifeguard trained, it is best to use a reaching device. A lifesaving ring to toss to the child and pull them to the side to pull out and a Shepheard’s Hook, used to pull someone from the bottom or as a reaching device, should always be in the pool area and the adult supervisor must always know how to use these. While the adult is helping the child victim, yell “help call 911 we have child drowning” https://www.247locksmithfinder.com/auto-locksmith.

The WRONG thing is to immediately jump in. Unless that person has lifeguard training. It is all too often that a person with good intent tried to save someone and ends up drowning too because being stressed, out of breath, trying to pull a body out can all be physically overwhelming.

4) Are there different safety guidelines for a public pool vs a backyard private pool?

In a public pool, there will either be a lifeguard or a sign that says “no lifeguard on duty”. These pools always have lifesaving rings and a Shepheard’s Hook in the pool area as well.

For private backyard pools, which are the most common for drowning cases … the pool should always have layers of protection (i.e. pool fencing, etc.) but most importantly the adult supervisor (Water Watcher) who knows how to swim, must make sure everyone is out of the pool and pool area. Remove all inflatables, toys, anything that can attract a child to come back into the pool area, and lock the gate.

5) What’s a good ratio of children to adults at a backyard pool party?  What’s a dangerous ratio?

Overall having a ratio of 1 adult water watcher per every 5-swimmers is a good ration. Having more swimmers for this ratio is more dangerous. The one to five ratio is an average, based upon adults. With children, depending on their age the following recommendations should be practiced:

  • Children 5-years and younger: 1 adult per every 2-children
  • Children 6-10 years: 1 adult per every 3-children
  • Children ages 11 and older: 1 adult for every 4-children

Some additional recommendations for pool parties, pool owners can also hire a private lifeguard. To hire a lifeguard call American Red Cross at 800-627-7000 or search online with keywords “hire a lifeguard for pool party”, as companies do hire out lifeguards.

6) As a former waterfront instructor at a summer camp I had to keep children safe at a lake and a pool – back then stopping them from running and recognizing a swimmer distress were key to preventing serious injury … because of this I’ve always had more of a professional respect for the water; what advice do you have for a parent or caretaker who is not a strong swimmer but going to be around pools or at the beach for the summer?

As a former lifeguard, as well as 4-years at private traditional residential summer camps, lifeguarding and teaching at the lake as well, we carry some of the similar practices as a lifeguard to the poolside. Anytime an adult is watching children in a pool always make sure children walk not run while on the pool deck. It is all too easy to slip and hit their head, etc. So, walk not run. Keep in mind that older children and teens who know how to swim, must also be watched. Just like a lifeguard does. Often teens and children will play, become too excited and can become tired, take water in their mouth, to hitting their head on the side of the pool, so always have an adult Water Watcher.

At a lake or pool, always try to swim near a lifeguard.

Beaches and lakes can have other hazards such a rip-currents, or branches or rocks in the water that children might not see. So never dive in. Also know beach warning flags. When in doubt, ask the lifeguard.

7) What is basic diving board safety? 

 In general diving in private backyard pools is never a safe idea for children and adults (who have not had formal diving lessons). Many cities have even banned the use of diving board in the construction of new private backyard pools because of the risk of injury. According to the U.S. consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 40% of spinal cord injuries are caused by diving into backyard pools. This includes diving boards among older backyard pools, as well as diving from the edgeof any pool (above-ground pool or in-ground pool). Some basic rules for diving:

  • Take formal lessons
  • Never dive from the side of an in-ground or above-ground pool. Enter the water feet first by jumping not diving
  • For pools with a diving board, dive from the end of the board with your feet at the edge of the board
  • Dive with hands in front of you and immediately steer up towards the surface to avoid hitting the bottom of the pool
  • For pools with slides, also slide feet first. Never head first because of the risk of head and neck injury
  • For pools that are close to a patio cover or roof of the home, never allow anyone to jump from these into the pool
  • When jumping or practicing diving (for those who have taken lessons) be aware of the depth and as swimmers grow and are taller from children to teens for example. According to the Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention, younger swimmers should be taught to dive into a depth of a minimum of 5-feet at a younger age, but as they grow will need deeper water.

8) Can pool algae make a baby sick? 

The algae itself is not dangerous when it is at the bottom of the pool and the water is clear. However, what makes it dangerous is when chlorine levels drop and within hours of sunlight the clear water becomes cloudy. Whereas the algae convert sunlight into food, releasing waste that attract other harmful bacteria and micro-organisms that make that can make you sick. A pool can include bacteria and viruses that can cause ear, nose and throat infections.

For pool owners of any size pool, water quality should be checked daily. And before entering a pool, always check water quality. It must be clear so you can see the bottom of the pool. If not do not enter, as it needs treated. Another good rule of thumb on water quality is to notice if the water quality looks different from the day before. This is an early indicator that is needs to be treated

In addition to algae one of the more common sources of water contamination area people and in general young children and babies in diapers. If a child has an accident then gets into the water, or has an accident while in the pool, this will contaminate the entire pool and can make people sick from feces (poop) that an include cryptosporidium, giardia or E.coli. In this case everyone needs to exit the water immediately and have the pool properly treated. Parents should give children bathroom breaks and check diapers regularly. Swim-safe diapers are also available to help prevention germs from spreading into the water.   

9) What are the proper rescue steps for a caretaker who has two children to watch and ONE is in the water … I’m a firm believer that if a person reads a plan in advance they’re more likely to react correctly under stress, so if you have a step by step plan for an adult who needs to rescue a kid but has another kid on the premises to secure.

If a caregiver has who children to care for and one is in the water, this depends on the age and the swimming ability of the child in the water. However, keep in mind that an adult Water Watcher should only be watching the children in the water, not another on the pool deck. If this is the case, then child on the pool deck should be in a play pen, outdoor bassinet or swing (so in case the adult needs to assist the child in the pool). The problem is with attention. Attention might be on the smaller child in need then results in a lapse in watching the child in the water. Keeping in mind “children drown without a sound”. This can be dangerous. So, have a safe barrier for the small child but keep in mind the attention risk.

10) Injuries happen and while we know prevention is the best preparation, what are some DO’s in the immediate minutes of a rescue and what are some DON’Ts in the immediate minutes of a rescue?

DO’s:

  • Immediately get the victim out of the water and yell for help
  • Call 911 (keep a phone with you for an emergency)
  • Apply water rescue such as CPR as necessary
  • Use a reaching devise such as a lifesaving ring, Shepheard’s hook, inflatable toy, hose, etc. to reach for the child. Enter only if necessary to the child or pull the child out of the water

DON’T’s:

  • Enter the water if you do not know how to swim. This happens all too often when the instinct of a caregiver kicks in to save the child and they lose their own life.
  • Not yell or scream for help
  • Be in the pool area without a phone
  • Not knowing the address of the home pool in the case of using a mobile phone (Landline has address)
  • Count on mobile coverage in all areas, especially when visiting a pool or vacation rental

Lastly what is your one point take away that the non-reader readers of this blog can walk away with … it can be anything but it’s for the person who’s not reading thoroughly so I can highlight your most important point! 

Swimmers drown without a sound!

OK.  That’s a lot of info which is why I had him sum it up at the end for us.  Hopefully a lot of what he said was common sense, but no matter what you know more now.  Happy swimming and stay safe everyone!!

Social Media vs Mom’s Recovery

Moms have such complicated relationships with social media.  While it can be amazing to connect with friends regardless of geography, social media can also bring on feelings of self doubt and even anxiety.  Social media at it’s best can promote the sharing of scholarly articles and good advice, while at it’s worst perpetuate mommy shaming and fake news.

My Future Leader of the World turns two tomorrow. About six months ago my body felt back to my old self. You heard me, six months ago. That means for 18 months I was recovering from building a human and then birthing her. Because many women are cleared for sex at the 6 week check up a lot of us mistakenly think that means we’re healed. Just because the stitches are gone does not mean recovery is complete. And because you’re stuck at home, chained to a starving being who needs you to feed it every hour, you probably are living on social media scrolling and refreshing your feed every 20 mins out of boredom. You see happy well dressed moms posing with smiling babies and brag-worthy hashtags. You might look down at your milk stains and sniff your hair and feel inadequate.

There are a plethora of articles about the perfect time to have a second child. Experts advise starting the process at the 18 month mark to give the mother time to recover and build her best baby again. They have found it takes 18 full months to recover from that journey!! That is a long ass time. A long ass time. That’s nearly two years of feeling better, but not quite healed. All the while everyone seems to be the perfect parents on Facebook and Snapchat. Oh man Babe Mom has a six pack again and I’m over here creaming my stretch marks.

But what does recovery look like? What happens after you get home from the hospital. No one explained that to me. And it’s easy to feel bad about yourself or at the very least confused when you’re flooded with images of happy successful people. Misinformation about skinny moms who lost their baby weight before the 2 month mark populated my Instagram and social media feeds and artfully posed newborn shots were all I could see. Everyone looked happy, fashionable and well adjusted.

OH HELL NO.

Recovery is slow. See above, it’s 18 months. And while at the 15, 16 month mark you’re feeling great, it takes that full first year to really get that pep back. One week your milk arrives, next week your lady flower stops aching, week after that your stomach hair line disappears … week by week people.

Here are my pictures. These were taken May 20th 2015. Almost two full years ago. My girl was born on the 17th.   So you’re looking at what my stomach looked like after giving birth. As you can see, one might think I look pregnant in those pictures. I’m sharing these because you deserve the truth. You deserve to know what the hell is going to happen to your body (or your partner’s body) and not be blindsided by the recovery process when it slams into you with no warning. The weight comes off, your body does heal … but it will take time. You can’t rush things, and the best advice I got was to treat it like sports: if you go too hard on an injury you’re only going to re-injure it.

Here’s a video I have on my Youtube page, it was taken in September of 2015. As you can see the weight started to come off. This was a relief to me because I’m sure you can see in my expressions from the May pictures, I was anything but confident that the weight comes off when we snapped those pictures that day.

Not all is happy and roses at that point though because you see, Post Partum Depression often doesn’t even BEGIN until about the 4th month. The weight came off as the PPD took hold. On top of  that, some breastfeeding bullshit called flat nipples – hello 8 months of exclusevly breast pumping (HI MEDELA, miss you … NOT!).   And then just to keep my sanity hostage for a little while longer we have a beautiful cocktail of hormones rising and dropping at inconvenient times.  Like the time Baby Daddy and I were driving to Home Depot and I burst into tears because I saw a homeless person on the side of the road and couldn’t believe that person’s mother let them become homeless.  Being sane is fun.

What does this all mean, why am I sharing this? Because you don’t have to be perfect, Instagram is misleading and 20% (that is 1 in 5 women) will suffer from PPD while countless more will have trouble breastfeeding. There are no medals for taking the best pics or never using formula. You don’t win at life because your baby weight dropped off immediately – just like you don’t lose at life if your Thyroid explodes and you can’t lose weight no matter how hard you try.   Mommy groups on Facebook are full of opinionated loudmouths barking about how dangerous vaccines are and how only women who breastfeed are caring for their babies properly. Give me a break. Disconnect from the mommy groups and go to a real life class. The mommy boards can be toxic and make you feel bad about yourself.  But the antidote really is real-life connection, so do your best to take an out of the house class.

Recovery is hard, mental health is paramount to being your best matriarch and it’s ok to ask for help. And, consider posting about a less than glamorous moment in your day – you never know what mom on your feed might connect with that moment and remember we’re all in this together. Lastly while you can always disconnect from social media if it becomes overwhelming – I found the connection to new moms to be helpful and it allowed me to build new relationships. Being a mom can complicate your relationship to social media and that’s ok all I am trying to warn you about is that life changes when you become a mom, but I’m here navigating it right along side you making mistakes everyday and posting pics regardless.  In my experience transparency, honesty and asking for help are the key factors to a healthy recovery.

 

How to Look Cool for Baby School

COOL MOM JAMIE’S 5 Step Guide to Looking Cool For Baby School:

I love classes! Love them – you learn stuff and make friends, the babies have fun and see their friends, classes are great. A lot of my mom friends also complain about how isolated and lonely being a mom can be and to me classes are the perfect cure for that too. I also know that not just moms take babies to class, that dads, nannies and grandparents also take the babies to class and it can be daunting for someone who “doesn’t do this” to know what to do! Well, we go to one class a day and I’ve made mistakes in the field too so here’s what you need to know.

How to Look Cool for Baby School:

5) Arm Yourself

– Grab that fancy new diaper bag (or wear a lot of pockets) and get your weapons in order. It’s a war out there but you’re not unarmed. Get two spare bottles (and all their parts), diapers and wipes. Ok that’s your bare minimum you can’t leave the house without that. If your kid is older then swap out the bottle for a few of those squeezable veggie or fruit pouches. Throw some water bottles in there. Grab a blanket and a spare outfit (for both of you) for when some sort of fluid gets everywhere.

– If the purpose of the class is educational, (ie a Mommy & Me ballet, or gymnastics class) then I don’t suggest bringing additional toys because they distract from the activity you’re paying for. I’m bringing this up because I’ve seen it a few times out there – a kid walking into class with a toy and then refusing to do the activity because they prefer to play with the toy. Leave it in the car if you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t.

– If the purpose of the class is more Mommy-focused, like a parent education class or breastfeeding support group etc, then definitely load up on the toys and books because you want to keep the entertainment flowing.

– Throw in a spare shirt at least for yourself if not a full spare get up, fluids be flyin’ yo.  And your main outfit should be comfortable enough to chase, sit, crawl and grab – and not be so fancy that you cry when someone else’s kid sprays you with something terrible.  (Oh yeah, it’s not always your own kid that drools or pees on you …!)

4) Socks!

Feet are a thing. In every single class I’ve been in there’s been a no shoes policy for parents and babies. Have socks ready to go because most places want the adults in socks because they feel that’s more sanitary. On a personal note if I know I’m going to be barefoot I do try to get a pedicure so I’m not all Struggle-Toe on people, but that’s more of a me relieving my own foot anxiety thing than an ew you’re gross if you don’t thing.

3) Transpo

Leave with enough time for a surprise poop or a necessary outfit change in your budget – but try to avoid going too early or risk having to entertain the baby while waiting. At the same time, everyone is dealing with some issue with their own kid and getting to class – so don’t panic if you’re late! Everyone’s got stuff going on so lateness is expected. Take your time and get there safely with your gear. Most moms use the car seat as a carrier and lug the babies into class that way at first. It’s a good way to get a sleeping baby to a class too, you can just put the blanket over the car seat and let the nap continue.

2) Have Realistic Expectations

A LOT of first-timers are shocked to find out that these babies just blob and drool and eat and lick and bop and run around and that class does not appear organized at all. That’s because until age 3 they really can’t take much instruction so the classes are more about free play and exploring. What that means is, let the kid go and follow the teacher’s lead. If you hear the teacher stopping the kids from opening a door or if you notice the teacher wants all the kids to sit on one wall, help the teacher and follow the teacher’s commands. Stop your kid (or the kid you’re watching) from going to the door or whatever, but don’t get upset if your baby isn’t executing the teacher’s move flawlessly. Help where you can, stand back let the kid explore when you can and read the room: if all the moms are chillin on the back wall and letting the babies have space go ahead and let your little genius explore!

1) Just GO!

99.9% of the classes we’ve taken offer a free trial class. One class made us pay $5 for the trial. Fight the intimidation of going or the ease of walking to the park and try something new. You might surprise yourself by liking it. Non-primary caretakers, grandparents and some working parents might be more intimidated by a class because they feel like it’s a SAHmom-zone. That’s so not true. Grandparents and Dads and Aunts etc ALL populate these classes and they all love the extra bonding time. Moms in these classes have all been welcoming and will commiserate with you when you forget the diaper or the bottle and help you out. I wanted to bail on classes all the time at first because I wanted to stay comfortable at home, and every time we get there I’m glad we came.

Lastly, some classes we’ve loved in the LA area have been great but didn’t work with our nap schedule. I have learned the hard way that a tired baby is not a happy participant. There are times when she has random nap that goes through a class and I’ve learned it’s better to let her take the nap than wake her up to be on time. It’s not worth her hollering and carrying on the entire class because she’s tired. If you’ve come to rely on a class for your own social stimulation and your baby sleeps through it whip out your phone and line up a last minute play date. Don’t let a random nap take you down, but don’t wake a sleeping baby either!

 

 

Not So Cool: TANTRUMS

Not So Cool: TANTRUMS

Taking this parenting / Mommy & Me class that I take every week has been nothing short of a life saver.  All I can say is thank God I take that class every week to learn some battle field skills for this war that is toddler parenting. I literally need a script sometimes when the tantrum is extended or ya know, in public! Those are the worst.  Lucky for you guys I take good notes in subjects I’m worried about and so here’s what I’ve learned for us.

You’re either nodding your head because you’ve seen one or you’ve experienced one but it goes down as follows epic toddler tantrums look a little like this:

Your kid is screaming, (which also, does anyone else get a physical sensation themselves when their kid is hollering? I get all tense and my shoulders hike up) – she’s screaming and causing a scene, you’re all tense and all eyes are on you. The cashier is groaning and rolling his eyes. The people in line are giving you the “shut your kid up” look. And then there’s your hairbowed demon on the floor thrashing and demanding chocolate and this close to smacking her head on the display. Screw you grocery store, this is your fault. You put the chocolate at toddler height in the check out line where she’s trapped and can pretty much only see one thing: a thing she can’t have. Woof, I just tensed typing that.

That’s bad enough. But you also have to have a reaction. And you kinda want to have the “right” one. In the class I take every week, our teacher practices Mindful Parenting, and teaches us her personal blend of the Reggio method, RIE (pronounced wry) and her own theories as she is a family therapist and actually ten million other things. The goal of mindful parenting, and my personal reason for liking this philosophy is to raise kids who are aware of other people and who are emotionally in tune with themselves and hopefully us the parents. What that means is and what that looks like is a lot of consideration before reacting to a situation instinctually doing something just because that’s how your parents handled it.

For starters this method believes that there are two types of tantrum: limit testing and distress. Limit testing looks like the tantrum that follows when you say no to something and they bug out because they can’t have it. Distress is the tantrum that can be a result of over-tired, hangry or extreme frustration at trying to do something.

Back in the day a popular method of calming a tantrum was to walk away from the kid. Kid screams about chocolate and mom ignores kid and even increases her distance from the kid. Now that they have been able to study the effects of that, what they have learned is that teaches the child that their emotional needs are not important and that we care only for how their behavior looks. The reality is the child might stop the tantrum out of fear of losing the parent’s affection, but the frustration and the unfairness of being trapped inches from a treat is still there and situations like that will keep coming up and the child has no skills to soothe. Also avoiding treats that are off limits is hard for an adult! Let alone a non-verbal toddler.

In the class I take, we’re taught to bend down and get equal level with the child (not lording over them in an intimidating way) and look at what is so frustrating. Chances are there is a frustrating situation afoot. Identify it yourself and then narrate it out to the child. “Oh man I see that they put the chocolate there right where I’m asking you to stand so still! That’s so frustrating, I would be so frustrated too. It’s hard to look at something we can’t have.” And then you pivot. You redirect the child who now has learned a few words and now learned what that feeling is, that’s called frustrated. And you say or pick up the child to bring them towards your groceries and ask them to point or name the items in the cart. Now what you basically did there is you empathetically coached them through their feelings while connecting with them emotionally to communicate support and love instead of distance. This is still DISCIPLINE. This is just not your parent’s discipline. And again, just because you said no chocolate and you didn’t give your kid chocolate, it doesn’t make them a bad kid for being upset about it. They’re allowed to be upset.

Mid post disclaimer: I have excellent attendance in this class, I read the books and go to all the extra stuff you can do, I DO NOT ALWAYS HANDLE THIS RIGHT ALL THE TIME. It’s super hard. SUPER hard. You have to be so aware in the moment and you have to (or at least I have to) count out the steps, pause and then react. Sometimes in the field you can react wrong. You can turn and snap “LOCK IT UP MICKEY”. Catch yourself. You can course correct. That was a powerful thing I learned in class.

You can always course correct. If you snap, when you catch yourself get composed and say “Mommy just reacted the wrong way because she felt overwhelmed and frustrated because she wants to help and doesn’t know how to help. I love you and I’m so sorry I reacted that way, can you show me what you need, I am sorry for yelling”. This obviously sucks because their tantrum caused you to have one, but we’re imperfect and tantrums are overwhelming for the parent too. But you have to model for them what an apology looks like and what remorse and redemption look like. Deep breathe, proudly apologize and take a family pivot to Lesson Town. Use it as a teachable moment and come out of the stress more connected and stronger together.

Distress tantrums are different. Some might describe these as more spontaneous – appearing out of thin air. Tina Payne Bryson, PhD is one of the authors of The Whole Brain Child, which teaches mindful parenting. She describes the other type of tantrum in this way:

“When they are in these states of mind, having these downstairs tantrums, they really are not in control. They can’t make a choice anymore, even if you give them what they want, they will continue to lose it. In these moments, what they need most from us is comfort. Now, of course, we are not going to let them knock things off shelves or hurt other people. We may have to hold them and say, “You are not in control right now and I need to help you until you have more control.” In these moments, they need us to calm them down by giving lots of comfort. If we were to ignore them in these states, it would be like ignoring them when they are physically hurt. When they are in emotional distress, what they need is comfort and care.”

 What did you just read?! This chick says to love them through their freak out?? I mean I do take a class and have read a few books on the theory so I can say I believe in it – but like yeah that’s the advice. Love ‘em hard. To me it makes sense to try to approach situations by attempting to see things through the toddler’s point of view. That totally makes sense. What’s hard is keeping yourself regulated enough to model the right behavior when you kinda want to just scream out yourself. The last but very important part of this theory of discipline is this: it’s very hard to tell a child not to do something if you’re doing it yourself – so if you’re asking the child to stop yelling, don’t model yelling for them by yelling over them to be quiet. Or smack them to tell them not to hit. Show the preferred response in your response and connect with their emotions. Are’t you guys so glad I’m taking this class for us? How were we supposed to know this stuff!

Now everybody PLAY NICE!!!!!!

 

How to Feel Cool Around Babies

Do you feel awkward around babies and small children? Unsure how to interact? I got some Cool Mom Jamie, field tested tricks to help you out!

If you can believe it, I too had a fear of babies and children. Even while I was pregnant! I vividly remember meeting Baby Daddy’s friends for the first time and they had just had a baby. Everyone was taking turns holding the baby and my stomach filled with dread. He’s going to see how unnatural I am holding a baby and break up with me now. I’m going to drop this lady’s kid and everyone is going to shun me and send me to jail. Everyone is looking at me, they can tell I don’t fit in!!! I was engaged in a full on assault against myself, passing time way too fast because then it was my turn to hold the baby. I was in such a state of panic that I asked the mom if I could sit down to hold the baby (feeling more secure seated) and she pulled up a chair to let me sit down with her new baby. I couldn’t enjoy the cuteness of the moment, I couldn’t savor his newbornness, I was crippled with fear. I felt exposed, like everyone could see how unnatural I was holding a newborn. Baby Daddy immediately knew I was uncomfortable and came to took the baby from me moments later. I was humiliated, I failed the first test of femininity in front of him and he knew it. Later in the car he joked about how awkward I looked and while I could laugh at the absurdity from the distance of the car, the nagging baby-fear bugged my pride. The irony was, I was pregnant that day and didn’t know it yet.

A week or two later we got the good news that we were expecting and then all those baby fears really bubbled up to the surface. None of my LA or NY friends had children yet. None of them were even married or engaged. Baby Daddy and I have no nieces or nephews for reference or experience. I had seen no one up close with a baby. No blueprint, no experience, just Google, my doctors and my out-of-state sorority sisters to guide me through the most significant experience of our lives.

And now you guys have me! Let me help you navigate those awkward moments with a baby or toddler so you don’t feel like a failed human.

I have 10 tips right here for anyone who is about to be exposed to a baby and wants to look cool.

COOL MOM’s FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT GUIDE FOR HANDLING YOUR FIRST BABY

10) Wash Your Hands.

You have to do this for a few reasons, the primary being you are disgusting (no offense, but you are). The other reason you want to do this is it signals to the mom that you’ve got this and you’re no rookie. If you are really nervous – and don’t laugh, people get serious baby anxiety – take a few deep breaths. I’m lucky enough to have a yoga teacher for a sister and she always calms me by reminding me to “inflate my basketball” when I inhale. Try that while you sing 3 happy birthdays under hot water with unscented soap.

9) Take Your Time.

Don’t feel the pressure to over compensate for your nerves by gunning straight for the person holding the baby and demand to hold it. Also don’t do this if you’re actually excited it’s thirsty and needy and no one likes that. So you see people are holding the baby, use that time to pay attention. Watch the baby. Is it a chill baby, or is it a fussy baby? There are ways to handle both but you have to identify what you’re working with. How old is this thing is it sturdy yet or is it fragile? A quick way to assess fragility: if the adults are tenderly scooping the head and neck you have yourself a Fragile; if the adults are slinging the kid with one arm like Dancing With the Stars you have yourself a Sturdy who is most likely an older baby. Is the mom nervous, is the mom relaxed? By stalling and taking your time you can increase the amount of information you have about this kid before you need to touch it.

8) Sit.

I know I mentioned sitting above in such a way that it sounds like quitting but it’s actually a great move. You’re more stable and can put the baby in your lap as a secure space if you are sitting down. Older kids will climb on you if you’re seated because you’re less intimidating than someone standing up over them.

7) Eye Contact

I might be burying this gem at number 7, but it’s actually an MVP move. Eye contact. Babies and toddlers have limited if any vocabulary, the only way they feel seen and can connect is eye contact and touch. So disconnect from the adult chatter and really give that lump in your arms some good eye contact. This always results in a bond. Steal looks with the baby if you can through out the time you’re around the baby. In this way you’re communicating to the baby and telling the baby you see him or her when I guarantee you everyone else is talking about the baby as if the baby is just a prop.

6) Mirror and Mimic

Remember what I just said about them not having real words? Well they still are trying to talk to you! Those gurgles and clucks and different noises are attempts at communication. Do them back. That’s right, gurgle and coo right back to the baby. This baby now thinks you two are in on a joke – and in a way you guys are! You’re having your own private conversation together and sharing a moment and while you the adult might not understand the details of the conversation, the result is the baby is now connecting to you. Bonus points for mirroring or mimicking the emotion – if the baby coos with a smile you smile too when you coo – if the baby points to their favorite toy and says BORGLEBOP well you should know you just met Borglebop and he’s cool he’s one of us. Yes you will probably feel self conscious but I guarantee by the time you leave the baby wants to make sure you say goodbye to him or her.

5) Follow their lead.

Too often I see adults redirect a baby who is expressing interest in something, to something the adult wants the baby to see. Try this instead when you see the baby clopping and banging this block on another block: grab a block in the same color and bang it on the other block too! Get down with their game. Don’t grab the crayons and the glitter and try to show them coloring, play block drums!! Remember you’re trying to join their world and see what they see, not demand their attention for things you want them to see.

4) Respect STOP and it’s nonverbal cues:

Do not be the Pincher or the Tickler, these are creepy and not-loved people we seem to run into all the time. My personal theory is adults revert to the cheek pinch or the hard tickles because they’re nervous about their own struggle to connect with a kid and the result is a gross over correct. I mean fine whatever the excuse like just don’t. A kid is going to smile and say MORE or do the sign for more which is two closed fists clapping basically. If you see hands up, red face or hear the word “Stop” you need to stop. Listen to the kid. I hate to point out the obvious but I do, anyone who keeps tickling or doing something to a baby that is asking you to stop is being a bully. More and Stop look very different so we should be able to tell who wants to play more and who has had enough even if the baby can’t talk yet.

3) Phone Down, Head UP

For starters don’t be on your phone as a social duh, but also you’re here to see the baby so see it! You can’t asses the situation if you’re nervously scrolling through Snap stories to avoid people seeing you’re weird with a baby. You need to be present to connect. And, don’t take pictures of other people’s kids that’s a huge no no around parents. You think it’s so great to grab the baby and snap a pic of yourself but the parent is cringing and resenting you for using their baby as a prop and putting their kid’s image out there without consent. Other peoples babies = not props for Tinder and Bumble profile pics.

2) Expect Body Fluid

Here’s why I say expect it, if you luck out and don’t get pee, poop or vomit on you then you come out of the situation feeling GOOD. Like go buy a lottery ticket that day. Otherwise, like you guys this thing is probably going to leak on you. Don’t freak out, be cool, I just warned you this was going to happen. Smile and if you can’t say something funny for the love of God do not make a dirty joke. Don’t. Hold it in. Just smile and say “I was warned this could happen!”

1) Be Confident

Babies are animals they can tell when a human is nervous to hold them. Don’t be cocky, but demonstrate to the baby (and the mommy) when you’re holding it that it’s safe. Use two hands, support the head and move slowly. No one is in any rush and the baby just wants to enjoy your nice safe arms as he or she gets to know you. You’re close enough with her parents to be holding her, so she wants to get to know you too!

I hope this helps anyone who is about to be around any babies for the first time. My final bonus point is also a plug for the podcast I’m on. Our first episode discusses the importance of narrating to babies and I want to include in this post that that goes for YOU the non parent. You’re holding a baby and don’t know what to say (and I’m talking about non baby too, like you’re with a 3 or 4 year old) – just describe the activity to them. Say something like “I can see you are reading that book with a bear on the cover” and the kid will light up and engage. Tell the newborn in your arms that you can see the blanket they’re wrapped in is blue and that it feels soft. You are actually TEACHING in that moment and that to me is probably the coolest thing ever – you the person who was so nervous a few minutes ago is now a teacher of things and a person who quite possibly just made a baby smarter.