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This mom creates amazing and educational DIY activities for her kids

By Chelsea Frisbie for WYFF4.

Andrea Yi studied engineering in college, then spent a decade working with fashion designer Donna Karan. After having her fourth son, she realized there was a gap in the marketplace for fun, educational activities that incorporated both the left and right brain.

About a year ago, she was having so much fun creating activities involving both sides of the brain with her boys Nate, Dylan, Oliver and Alexander that she decided to share them online. She created “Raising Dragons,” a website dedicated to helping other parents and educators come up with fun science, technology, engineering, art and math activities.

Most of her science experiments are modern updates on the classics, like the baking soda volcano. The materials she uses are usually items she finds around the house.

Her kids still use technology, like tablets and other gaming devices, but she says they’re only allowed a little bit of screen time each day. “Yet another reason why I like doing these STEAM activities — to give them other options than screen time.”

Out of all of the projects, Andrea’s kids like the science experiments the most. “One of my sons asks me to make potions every day. He loves to mix different liquids and powders and see what happens,” she said. 

Andrea enjoys sharing her family’s ideas with others, but they’re not all winners. 

“I try to feature simple activities I think most people would be able to pull together in a few minutes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a cool craft or activity, and by the second step, I’m like, ‘Nope, too difficult.’ I try to keep mine super simple so busy parents will say, ‘I can do this,’” she said.

Doing these homemade STEAM activities has even helped kids in the classroom. “It’s gotten them much more interested in science, and for my five-year-old, it has definitely helped him learn his letters and numbers,” Andrea said.

Since the creation of the blog, Raising Dragons has amassed nearly 500,000 followers. Their videos have been viewed more than 50 million times by over 100 million people. Andrea recently published a book called “STEAM for Babies,” which became the No. 1 new release in the STEM category in its first week on Amazon. 

We can’t wait to see what Andrea and the kids come up with next!


10 Must-Watch Documentaries That Will Inspire Your Kids to Change the World

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By Sara Ahmed

If your kids have any kind of device — phones, gaming systems, tablets, what have you — it can feel like you're constantly fighting for their attention. It becomes harder and harder to share experiences with them, but one thing they usually can't deny? Movies. Sure, watching a big blockbuster is always fun, but documentaries can be an incredible way for a family to connect.

Watching these films with your children is a compelling way to help nurture their sense of curiosity and compassion without feeling tedious (or, God forbid, educational). From inspiring stories of Muslim high school football players in Michigan to the haunting tale of Tilikum, the killer whale in captivity, a good documentary can alter your child's perception through the power of empathy. Keep reading for a list of the most powerful documentaries to watch with your kiddos during your next movie night.

  1. He Named Me Malala: 

    He Named Me Malala tells the poignant story of a young Pakistani girl and her fight for education. Your kids won't fuss about going to school after watching this documentary.

    Appropriate For Ages: 12+

  2. March of the Penguins: 

    This harrowing and stunning documentary shows penguins during their annual march from Antarctica. The beautiful narration from Morgan Freeman just adds to the majestic quality of the film. 

    Appropriate For Ages: 6+

  3. Fed Up: 

    This is a must-watch for all parents struggling with their children's sugar habits (so, pretty much everyone)! Your kiddos won't beg for any dessert after watching the perils of what sugar does to our bodies.

    Appropriate For Ages: 10+

  4. Wings of Life: 

    Disney's documentary about pollinators such as bees, bats, butterflies, and birds is a riveting surprise.

    Appropriate For Ages: 6+

  5. Bully: 

    An intense but important documentary for teens to watch about the effects of bullying.

    Appropriate For Ages: 12+

  6. Planet Earth II: 

    This sequel to BBC's incredible series about our planet continues to show breathtaking wonders from around our world.

    Appropriate For Ages: All ages

  7. Blackfish: 

    This heartbreaking tale of a killer whale is not an easy watch but is definitely life-altering.

    Appropriate For Ages: 13+

  8. I Am Eleven: 

    A lovely documentary that offers incredible insight through the eyes of 11-year-olds from around the world.

    Appropriate For Ages: 10+

  9. Dancing in Jaffa: 

    This tells a beautiful story of interfaith compassion when Palestinian and Israeli children come together for a dance in the world's most religiously torn city: Jerusalem.

    Appropriate For Ages: 12+

  10. Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football: 

    Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football is a captivating documentary that shows the love a Muslim-American community has toward football, country, and God.

    Appropriate For Ages: 12+

     

     


Which 30 Retailers Are Protecting Your Family From Toxic Chemicals?

Courtesy of Mamavation

The Top Grades For Safer Chemicals Go To…

 

This time, some retailers were rushing to make sure that safer chemicals were used in both products and packaging. Winners with a grade of B+ or better included:

  • Apple–A
  • Wal-Mart Stores/Sam’s Club–A- (up from a B+ last year and is in position #2. Way to go, Wal-Mart!)
  • CVS Health–B+
  • IKEA–B+
  • Whole Foods Market–B+
  • Target–B+ (Graded up from a B, now ranks #6. Come on Target…You know you want to beat out Walmart…let’s do this!)

This is great news and shows that retailers of nearly every stripe can get on board to ensure shoppers can bring home moms safer products for our families.

But that’s not all the good news. Amazon, who received that “F” grade last year, Walgreens and Staples are all developing chemicals policies, and Kroger is reviewing options for future chemical policies as well. Now on to the not-so-good news…

Middle of the Road Retailers:

Some retailers scored in the middle range, with Best Buy getting a B and Home Depot getting a C+. We’re happy to learn that both Costco Wholesale and Albertsons/Safeway/Vons have now received solid C- scores, improving a lot over last year’s “F” grade. Let’s hope they move up to B range next year!

  • Best Buy–B
  • Costco Wholesale–C+
  • Albertsons–C-
  • Safeway–C-
  • Vons–C-

Unfortunately, a large group of solid D grades came from the following brands:

  • Rite Aid–D
  • Buy Buy Baby–D
  • Bed Bath & Beyond–D
  • Cost Plus World Market–D
  • Staples–D [the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) offgassing in this store gives me a headache everytime btw]
  • Amazon–D: an improvement from F, but they could do better as Costco and Albertsons have proven. (Note this grade is separate from the grading of Whole Foods Market, which they recently acquired. Let’s hope that is step in the right direction for Amazon.)
  • Sephora–D
  • Dollar Tree–D
  • Family Dollar–D
  • Kroger–D
  • Harris Teeter–D
  • Ralphs–D
  • Walgreens–D
  • Lowe’s–D
  • Ulta Beauty–D
  • Macy’s–D
  • Bloomingdales–D
  • Bluemercury–D

Retailers That Are Failing:

The bad news? Across all the retailers graded, the average grade was a D+. In fact, two-thirds failed to implement safer chemical policies for our families. Overall, 40% of the retailers earned “D” grades, and 30% earned “F” grades.

Who were scored the worst? The following companies got a 0 out of a possible 135 points! In other words, these companies are to date taking no steps to protect you from unsafe chemicals and I’d recommend you tell them this is important to you:

  • Ace Hardware–F
  • Food Lion–F
  • Stop & Shop–F
  • GIANT–F
  • Dollar General–F
  • Kohl’s–F
  • Office Depot–F
  • Office Max–F
  • Sally Beauty–F
  • TJX Companies–F
  • TJ Maxx–F
  • Marshalls–F
  • HomeGoods–F
  • Toys”R”Us / Babies”R”Us–F
  • Trader Joe’s–F

Grading Criteria for Retailers:

You might be upset upon seeing your favorite stores on that failing list, but what does this report card really mean? Let’s take a look at some of the criteria that Mind the Store grades retailers on, to get a better idea of what stores are doing or not doing to protect consumers and keep our families safe. Retailers were scored on whether or not they are taking action on the following basic items:

1. Creating and writing policies to avoid chemicals of high concern (CHCs). These are chemicals that are technically legal to use but are not individually tested for safety can pose health problems. Retailers should also be aiming to reduce or eliminate these chemicals from their shelves within 3 years.
2. Engaging key staff to implement those policies.
3. Making sure their supply chain and any third party providers also adhere to safer chemical standards as well as requiring suppliers to report the chemicals that they use.
4. Evaluating safer alternatives to CHCs without inserting a substitute that is just as dangerous.
5. Demonstrating transparency and public disclosure so that consumers know they are moving in a positive direction and can keep them accountable.
6. Evaluating their own chemical footprint for improvement.

These criteria are broken out into 9 categories for scoring. Mind the Store also grants “extra credit” points for the following:

  • Joint public announcement of a commitment to safer chemicals.
  • Continuous improvement towards their goals, like Costco and Albertsons.
  • Programs in place to promote safer products in stores and/or website.
  • Actively collaborates with others to promote safer chemicals.
  • Invests financial resources into research supporting safer alternatives or green chemistry solutions.

 

Regrettable Substitions and Cheating the System:

Another issue that this year’s report uncovered is called regrettable substitutes. This is when a company or industry removes a toxic substance and replaces with something just as bad or even worse, like when BPA is replaced with BPS or BPF. Mind the Store found that very few retailers at all did well on this, with only Apple scoring the full set of points.

However, Target did write Mind the Store that it “aspires to make breakthrough progress on safer alternatives.” They said they will work on contributing resources and expertise to this and committed to support innovation through green chemistry, by investing up to $5 million to that end by 2022. Yeah Target! Thank you!

 

Different Sectors, Different Grades:

You might have gathered by looking at the grades that not all types of stores graded the same. The retail sectors that did the best were drugstores, electronics, furniture/home goods and groceries.

Unfortunately, baby and children’s product, apparel and beauty/personal care products averaged a D+. The worst industries were home improvement, office supplies, dollar stores (not surprising) and department stores. It should be concerning to all moms that baby stores and personal care products have shown no initiative in pursuing safer chemicals in their products. Babies are the most are the most vulnerable of our population so protecting them from hormone disrupting chemicals is of the utmost importance.

 

Are Our Retailers Protecting Us?

With so many American children suffering chronic diseases, the rise in allergies, and all the behavioral issues that may be caused or triggered by environmental toxins, parents need to be vigilant about what products they buy. In fact, it’s estimated that medical costs and loss of productivity due to endocrine disrupting chemicals is costing the United States over $340 BILLION per year. Shouldn’t we also be diligent in supporting those companies that care about our health and safety too?

The bottom line is that while a few retailers are working hard on ensuring that safer chemicals are on their shelves, most still have a long way to go. Some of our largest retailers, like last year’s top scorers Wal-Mart and Target as well as last year’s failing scorers, Albertsons and Costco, are leading the way and racing ahead to ensure safer chemicals can be found on their shelves. While this is great news, with so many retailers doing very little or nothing at all, we to keep pressure on these companies in order to protect our families.


Bilingual Baby: Second Language Boosts Cognitive Skills

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By Chaunie Brusie for Very Well Family

Many families are choosing to raise their children to know how to speak two languages, whether that be for cultural reasons, educational purposes, or to enrich their life experience. And while having two languages under your belt might be a wonderful skill to have in general, one study has shown that it also has a major benefit for babies' brains especially.

Benefits of Being Bilingual

Previous studies have confirmed that there are benefits to being bilingual, such as that it boosts cognitive ability, especially problem solving.

Knowing two languages also has economic, social, and communicative benefits. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association lists several important advantages of being bilingual that are especially helpful for babies such as:

  • The ability to pick up new words quickly
  • Skill with rhyming words
  • Teaching how to break down words by their sounds as they learn to speak and read
  • Boosting the ability to learn new information
  • Category-grouping
  • Problem solving
  • Improved listening skills
  • Empathy and connectedness to others who speak the same language

Currently, about 12 percent of people over the age of 5 are bilingual, but experts predict that the number of individuals who speak two languages will only to continue to grow. So it only makes sense that parents may want to consider teaching their baby a second language very early on, because studies have shown that learning a second language is much easier at an earlier age.

It's easier for a baby to learn two languages at once than it is for an adult to try to learn a second language later on in life.

Can You Teach Your Baby to Be Bilingual?

While many parents and experts recognize the benefits of having their children learn two languages (or more!), actually teaching children to learn two languages can be a little challenging.

Babies that grow up in households where two languages are spoken by their parents or caregivers tend to learn a second language very easily and naturally. But babies who don't have the advantage of bilingual parents or caregivers can still get the benefits from learning two languages.

To try to determine exactly how much exposure to a second language a baby actually needs to learn the language, experts in Madrid, Spain conducted a study on children who ranged in age from 7 months to 33.5 months old to see how teaching them English affected their language development. The experts studied children at four public infant education centers in Madrid, where the babies were given daily hour-long group English sessions from tutors who spoke English as a first language. The sessions ran over a period of 18 weeks total.

The study found that children in the group sessions did better than other methods of teaching English and the infants retained the new words and comprehension of the English language longer than their peers as well, even as long as 18 weeks after the study was completed.

How Babies Learn To Be Bilingual

Studies show that the earlier you can introduce your baby to a second language, the greater their chance of being bilingual is.

One study found that even by 12 months, babies' perception of how to hear words narrows down to their first language. Babies are born with the ability to hear sounds from all types of languages, but as they near their first birthday their focus narrows down so they start to only "hear" the sounds of their primary language.

The key to learning a second language during your child's baby years is that their brain's networks and pathways haven't fully formed yet, so their brain is able to set up the "network" for both languages at once while they are babies, something that adult brains just can't do.

Thus, it's important to expose your baby as early as possible to both languages that you want him or her to learn, especially before his or her first birthday. If you've missed that deadline, however, don't worry. Children who are exposed to two languages before the age of 5 also reap some major benefits in their brain development.

Teaching Children to Be Bilingual

So we know that being bilingual is great and that it's best if babies can pick up on a second language from birth, but how exactly do you teach a child to be bilingual?

Researchers have found that a baby learns to be bilingual through both the quantity and quality of the second language being spoke around them. Babies learn best in person-to-person setting as opposed to a video or streaming service that teaches a second language. And as the study demonstrated, babies 9 months and under do especially well in play-based language sessions with a live tutor just as well as they would by learning the language in a natural environment at home.

How much exposure in a group session would your child need? Previous studies have found that 12 sessions over 5 weeks—a total of only 6 hours of foreign language exposure—was all babies needed to start setting those brain development pathways down to learn a second language. (Yes, babies' brains are amazing.) There seems to be a major link between a social setting and the language, so babies love to learn in a social or playful environment.

The tutors in this study also used infant-directed speech, that infamous "parentese" that parents and caregivers naturally use when talked to babies that has simple grammar, a higher voice, and long-drawn out vowels. This natural way of speaking to babies actually helps their brains learn language better. Babies' brains tend to focus on sounds at first, so the higher pitch and exaggerated, slower sounds makes it easier for them to learn those sounds first, which are then translated into words.

For older infants, aged 7 months and up to 33.5, the Madrid study found that 1 hour daily play sessions in a social environment with English tutors for 18 weeks led to "highly significant gains in foreign language comprehension and production." Perhaps most importantly, the researchers re-tested the babies 18 weeks after they completed the tutoring sessions and after they had had no other exposure to English and found that their brains were still able to retain the knowledge, new words, and sounds that they had learned. This showed that early exposure in a play-based setting with a tutor helped boost the brain's ability to retain language too.

In short, all it took was one hour a day of a baby playing with someone else who spoke a different language to learn.

A Word From Verywell

Teaching your baby a second language can benefit him or her in many ways. Not only will you set your baby up for success later in life with the skill of having a second language, something that is very desirable in a global economy and can set a job candidate apart, but being bilingual changes the way your baby's brain develops too.

If you can, it is best to expose your baby to two languages as early as possible in infancy, as babies' brains start focusing on one type of language by the age of one. However, children's brains are still able to learn and retain language better by the age of five. All children will benefit from increased brain development if they are exposed to two languages, so don't be afraid to encourage your child to learn a second language no matter what age they are. Babies learn best through play, and a group session or tutor session with a real person is the most effective way to teach your baby to learn a second language if you don't speak a second language yourself.

Sources:

Ferjan Ramirez, N. and Kuhl, P. (2017), Bilingual Baby: Foreign Language Intervention in Madrid's Infant Education Centers. Mind, Brain, and Education, 11: 133–143. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mbe.12144/full

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2017). The advantages of being bilingual. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/The-Advantages-of-Being-Bilingual/


What The Screen Time Experts Do With Their Own Kids

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By Anya Kamenetz for nprEd

Parents today struggle to set screen time guidelines.

One big reason is a lack of role models. Grandma doesn't have any tried-and-true sayings about iPad time. This stuff is just too new.

But many experts on kids and media are also parents themselves. So when I was interviewing dozens of them for my book The Art of Screen Time, I asked them how they made screen time rules at home.

None of them held themselves up as paragons, but it was interesting to see how the priorities they focused on in their own research corresponded with the priorities they set at home.

House Rules for the research pediatrician:

Dr. Jenny Radesky is the lead author of the most recent revision of the guidelines on media and children from the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is also the mother of two young boys, and as she says, "We're not a tech-averse household."

She and her husband both grew up watching "tons of TV" and playing video games. "We have a big flatscreen TV," Radesky says. "I have a smartphone."

In fact, she says, as a doctor she may be more prone to distraction than he is: "My husband's really good. His stuff is always just on the kitchen counter and he hardly checks it unless it rings. But if I'm on call I have my pager on. If something is an emergency that's how I can be found."

For the kids, since they started school, the rule is "no media on weekdays." They unplug at family dinner and before bed. They have a family movie night on Fridays, which is an example of the principle Radesky touts in her research, of "joint media engagement," or simply sharing screen time.

On weekends, they allow the kids cartoons, apps and games like Minecraft. But more than just limiting time, says Radesky, "I try to help my older son be aware of the way he reacts to video games or how to interpret information we find online." For example, she tries to explain how he is being manipulated by games that ask him to make purchases while playing.

House Rules for the sleep researcher:

Lauren Hale is a sleep researcher at Stony Brook University in New York. She sums up her findings from over a decade of research: "As kids and adults watch or use screens, with light shining in their eyes and close to their face, bedtime gets delayed. It takes longer to fall asleep, sleep quality is reduced and total sleep time is decreased."

Hale is also the mother of two young children. She strictly enforces these rules: No screens in the hour before bed, no screens in the bedroom and no screens as part of the bedtime routine. It seems to be sinking in. When he was 4 years old, her son told his grandmother: "You don't want to look at a screen before bed because it tells your brain to stay awake."

House Rules for the anti-obesity doctor:

Tom Warshawski, a pediatrician in Canada and founder of the Childhood Obesity Foundation there, has been involved in education efforts to get parents to cut back on media time.

His materials promote the formula 5- 2- 1- 0. That means five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, no more than two hours of screens, one hour of physical activity, and no sugary beverages.

He and his wife, also a doctor, split their pediatrics practice when their son and daughter were young so that one of them could always be home.

"We limited TV to an hour on weekdays after all other homework was done," he says. "We said categorically no video games — my daughter didn't care, but my son thought it was extremely oppressive and unfair. Then he resigned himself. Ultimately, both of them have thanked us."

House Rules for the media and violence researcher:

Douglas Gentile, a professor at Iowa State University, has two nearly grown daughters. He says when they were younger, he "pretty much followed AAP guidelines: one hour a day in elementary school, two hours as they got older. But I'm much more strict on content than I am on time."

Not surprisingly, he doesn't rely on ratings. Instead, he would watch something himself before allowing his girls to see it. They were big fans of the Harry Potter books; they would wait for each movie to come out on video and then watch it in short bits, fast-forwarding through the scary parts.

But, he says, being the strict dad did once backfire in a funny way. He's a huge Star Wars fan. "I was 13 when the original movie came out. I waited 10 years, ever since she was born, to share this pivotal, important movie with my older daughter."

Based on his description, though, she wasn't having it.

"She says, 'No. All they do is fight all the way through it.'

" 'Oh, please?'

" 'No, Dad.' "

Reluctantly, Gentile saw her point: "She had learned the lesson — if the movie is just about people fighting, it's not going to make her feel happy. She's not going to enjoy it."


On Having an Only Child

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By Joanna Goddard for A Cup of Jo

How many children do you hope to have? For some families, one is the magic number. So! We asked nine parents about having only children — the pros, cons and how they decided — and here are their thoughtful, funny answers…

Prioritizing Space

Shirim (Eli, 15):

Am I allowed to say we like our two-bedroom apartment and did not want to be cramped? In truth I always grew up wanting two things: to live in an apartment, not a free-standing house, and to have only one child. I have never, ever regretted either.

I have been lucky not to have had pressure from friends or family to have more kids. Economically, it also did not make sense to me. My husband would have liked another, but was a good egg about it. Having cousins live so close has been really helpful for Eli in terms of having sibling-like relationships.

Trusting Your Gut

Erin (Reed, 3):

I guess the main thing is: We feel like our family is whole with our son. People often say the second or third or fourth child was the final piece of the puzzle. I’ve always felt as if we have all of our pieces. 

Chris (2-year-old son):

My husband and I became fathers to our amazing son through domestic open adoption. Is it weird that the phrase only child now bothers me? When people say it, they lean into the only. I am a gay man in my early 40s. Even one child is so much more than I ever expected to have a few years ago, and more than my teenage self would have said I had the right to ask the universe for. Then our son’s birth mom chose us to be dads, and everything changed for our family.

Stacey (Dash, 7):

I was never one of those women who always knew I wanted a baby. My son wasn’t really planned, but we weren’t working hard to *not* get pregnant, either. After having Dash, we’d have brief conversations about more children, but they were mostly around my not wanting to push my luck after having such an awesome kid.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in Brooklyn people love to comment on everything. It’s like constantly being booked on a talk show. My least favorite is when someone says something to Dash like, “Don’t you want a little brother or sister?” Not up to you, person, and not up to my seven-year-old, either! I guess the headline here is there is no right answer, so trusting your instinct is enough.

Raising a Child With Special Needs

Kate (Ocean, 7):

When Ocean was born, we were so in love with him, but it was hard. He was the kind of baby who needed to be held upright and bounced all the time. He didn’t sleep much. Nursing was hard. He dropped off his weight curve around six months. I had concerns about his development. He was so adorable and joyful, but there were red flags. 

When Ocean was one, I remember sitting John down one night, shaking. I was terrified of having sex because I couldn’t go through it all again: pregnancy, but especially that first year. I was worried that John would be disappointed, but he got it.

Our pediatrician suggested physical and occupational therapy, and I began to scramble down the rabbit hole of special education. As Ocean evolved into the extraordinary and challenging person he is, I couldn’t see room in our lives for more. I felt completely fulfilled and completely overwhelmed at the same time. I’ve become his advocate. Our family feels just right. 

People did ask a lot at first. I’ve always been ready with one-liners. First it was: “Well, this one was a miracle, so…” Then: “Having Ocean is kind of like having two kids.” Now it’s just: “Yup, one and done!” with a big smile showing off my wrinkles.

Reagan (Piper, 10):

I grew up in a big Mormon family, so I was surprised myself when stopping after one felt so right. It made more sense the more I thought about it, and letting go of that expectation gave me a lot of sweet relief.

My child also has serious physical disabilities that prevent her from being able to live at home with me, so I do sometimes mourn the loss of having a more typical family setup. For a long time, I thought having more kids would help heal some of the heartbreak of what she and I have gone through and what we’ve missed out on, but it feels too scary and uncertain to do.

The pro is that I get to have a very special relationship with Piper, and devote as much time as possible to her. Anything left over can go to my relationship with my fiancé, my career and any projects I feel passionate about.

The decision was also tricky at first because of my Mormon family. When I was little, having children was my main goal in life. There are tons of Mormon kids’ songs about motherhood, and I remember singing this one at four years old: “Of all the jobs, for me I’ll choose no other. I’ll raise a family. Four little, five little, six little babies of my own.” Many of the lessons I was learning at my church heavily emphasized developing motherhood skills — sewing, cooking, organizing, cleaning, crafting, even decorating. It was a challenge to break out of those expectations, versus what I really wanted.

Striving for Balance

Janna (Harley, 3):

My husband and I both come from two-child households, and before becoming parents we talked about having two. And then there was that huge recalibration of life that occurs after you have a child. It took us years to get into the groove where we each got the family time, alone time and social time that we needed to thrive. For us, this balance is what makes us good parents.

With one child, we can be spontaneous. When we take turns being on duty, the other gets to be totally off duty. We’re able to be present for Harley when we’re together — he has all of us. We live in a family-filled neighborhood, so he has playdates constantly. He is very independent, and he’s comfortable with a group of all adults or kids. We also can travel more easily with one child. We went to Barcelona for a week and ate and drank our way through the city, just the three of us. We had a blast.

I do often wonder if I’ll regret not having another child, and there’s no way to know. I’ve sought counsel from older friends who have only one child, and their continued happiness with it makes me feel confident in our decision.

Confronting Infertility

Melissa (Sammy, 7):

It took seven years — and five miscarriages — to have our child. When our healthy baby boy was born, we felt like we’d hit the jackpot. Going through the stress of trying to have another seemed absurd to us. My husband and I felt like our dreams had finally come true. I will say that our son LOVES being an only child and getting all the attention, and actually begs us not to have any more. (I’m 47, so I tell him not to worry!)

Sandy (Margot, 4):

Raising an only child was never my plan. My daughter was born in early 2013, and I conceived her sibling a year and a half later. But as I neared the end of my first trimester, I learned something: my baby’s heart had stopped beating at nine weeks gestation. That little love of mine had let go. I was pregnant one day, and then, without any prior warning, suddenly the next I was lying in an operating room while my uterus was hollowed out by a team of masked professionals. Six months later, I was diagnosed with secondary infertility. 

I’ll never forget the moment my next-door neighbor commented on the size of our house, telling me we needed to have more kids to fill up the bedrooms — nor the time when a woman next to me on a plane assured me that even though I’d lost a baby, another one would come soon enough. “No, unfortunately, I’ve been told that won’t happen,” I replied.

As for pros, my daughter gets every ounce of my attention, and I get to bury her in a thousand kisses every single day. My daughter is my heart on two feet, and there’s not a con in the world about getting to raise that sweet person!

I’ve learned over these past three years that grief is anything but linear. I can go weeks with my head held high, and then, out of nowhere, a pregnant woman’s swollen belly or the sight of two car seats in the back of a car knock me right over. 

But never until now have I typed this or said it aloud: I’m just now finally feeling the light of acceptance warming my face. It’s new, it’s unfamiliar, and it’s a beautiful thing.


A Guide to the Moral Development of Preschoolers

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By Amy Morin, LCSW for Very Well Family

As your little one grows, he’ll develop a sense of morality—those principles that affect how he treats other people and how he views justice. His core beliefs, temperament, and life experiences are just a few things that will influence his sense of morality.

Every day, your preschooler is surrounded by people and situations that will guide his moral development. Whether it’s another child on the school playground or a plot line on a favorite TV show, his experiences shape his views.

As a parent, you probably want to have some influence on how he develops his sense of right versus wrong and instill the values that you deem to be important. However, it’s not always easy to know what’s age-appropriate when it comes to guiding your child morally—or even how to start.

What Parents Should Know About Early Moral Development

Around age 2, children start to feel moral emotions and understand—at least somewhat—the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong. Your child might also start to feel empathy if he sees another child who is upset, though that development is more likely to appear closer to age 4 or 5.

Toddlers and preschoolers are motivated by the threat of consequences. Therefore, early on in their moral development, you might see that they’re more concerned about being punished rather than the feelings of another person.

Don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t seem to care if he hurt someone.

With some guidance from you, empathy will come in due time.

How to Recognize the Moral Choices Preschoolers Make

 

Although preschoolers aren’t making life-altering life decisions, they do make small moral choices every day. Here are a few moral decisions your preschooler may be faced with:

  • Do I share my toy with a friend even though I don’t want to?
  • Do I hit the person who won’t play with me?
  • Should I take my sister's toy from her because I want to play with it?
  • Do I cut in line because I don’t want to wait my turn?
  • Do I sneak a cookie when Dad’s not looking?

While your child will violate your moral codes quite often, each time he steps out of line is an opportunity to help him learn. The discipline strategies you employ, combined with the proactive strategies you use to teach him right from wrong, will guide your preschooler’s moral development.

Be Clear About Morals

Research shows kids begin to understand the 'moral of the story' around age 5 or 6. But, preschoolers are less able to grasp a life lesson from a story about someone else. The concept is too abstract.

So it's important to be very concrete about morals. Say specific things like, "We don't take other people's belongings because it's wrong to take things that don't belong to us. It hurts other people's feelings when we do that and our job is to be kind to people, not hurt them."

As your child's understanding of morals increases, begin to ask him to identify the life lessons in a story. Read books and watch stories with various moral lessons and check for your child's understanding of how he can generalize that lesson to his own life.

Additionally, monitor closely what your child is exposed to. TV shows, books, or video games that violate moral codes without teaching a lesson may have a negative influence on your child.

Instill Guilt, Not Shame

When your preschooler violates a moral code by hurting other people, he should have an emotional reaction to it. And while guilt is a sign of a healthy conscience, shame can be a sign of low self-worth. Here's the difference:

Shame stems from thinking, "I am bad."
Guilt stems from thinking, "I did a bad thing."

As a parent, you want to guide the child into feeling guilt rather than shame.

A child who feels guilty may recognize she's still a good person who is capable of making better choices in the future.

Guilt is a normal, healthy reaction. It means your child regrets what he’s done—and that can motivate him to make amends. Guilty feelings may also prevent him from making the same mistake in the future.

Shame, on the other hand, may cause your child to believe she’s incapable of doing the right thing. And it may take a toll on the decisions she makes in life. A child who feels shame, for example, may not resist peer pressure or may not stand up for herself when her rights are violated.

Reprimand Your Child for Bad Choices, Not for Being a Bad Person

As a parent, you can influence whether your child experiences shame or guilt after he makes a mistake. If you express anger at your child or become standoffish, he’ll be more likely to feel shame.

So avoid reprimanding your child's character by saying things like, “Bad girl!” or “I’m so disappointed in you.” Instead, focus on your child's actions by saying things like, “You made a bad choice,” or “I’m disappointed you made a bad choice.”

Additionally, correct your child’s behavior, not the emotion. So instead of saying, “Stop getting so mad,” or “There’s nothing to be upset about,” say things like, “Use an inside voice. It bothers people when you yell inside.”

Make it clear that feeling sad, mad, excited, or any other emotion is OK. But hitting people, calling them names, or treating them poorly isn’t acceptable.

Offer Praise for Prosocial Behavior

Praise your child for what she does, rather than who she is. So instead of saying, “You’re a good girl,” say, “Great job helping Grandma carry groceries. That was a kind thing to do.”

Be on the lookout for times when your child decides to share, console someone else, tell the truth, or help others. When you point out positive choices, your child will become more motivated to keep up the good work.

Teach Your Child About Feelings

Your child won't be able to understand other people's feelings and how his actions affect others until he has a clear understanding of his own feelings.

Use feeling words in your everyday conversations. Label your child's emotions by saying things like, "It looks like you feel angry right now," or "I understand you are sad that we can't play outside right now."

When your child understands his emotions, he'll be able to start understanding that other people have feelings too. And you can begin talking about how his behavior influences how other people feel.

Teach Empathy

Teach your child how to consider someone else's emotions and how one person's behavior can impact another person's feelings. Take situations from books, TV or movies and ask your child how a person in that scenario might feel.

To really reinforce the point, ask your child to show you how the person might feel. When your child makes a sad face to reflect how a character might feel after getting hurt, he’ll actually feel sad for a second. That can reinforce to him that other people have emotions too.

Model Good Morals

As the saying goes, practice what you preach. If you don’t want your children to tell lies, don’t let them see you lie. Even if you think it’s a little ‘white lie,’ your child will think dishonesty is OK.

If you want your children to help others, make sure they see you helping others. And point out what you’re doing by saying things like, “We’re going to help Grandpa clean the garage today because we love him and it’s a nice thing to do.”

Your child will learn a lot more from what you do, rather than what you say. So make sure your actions match your words.

Schedule Activities That Teach Your Child Your Morals

As long as you accompany them, your preschooler can volunteer and help others in a variety of ways. Whether you feed cats at the local SPCA together, or you collect canned food to donate to the food pantry, emphasize the importance of making the world better.

Even simple acts of kindness go a long way in developing a good moral sense. For example, make a “get well soon” card together for a neighbor who’s feeling under the weather. Then, deliver it together with a Tupperware of chicken noodle soup.

Hold Your Child Accountable for Breaking Moral Codes

Everyone makes mistakes, so it’s important to make sure your child knows that it’s OK. However, you can’t just let it go—hold your little one accountable.

Verbalize why his behavior was wrong when he makes a mistake. Say, “We don’t hit people because it hurts their feelings and their bodies.” Then, give him a consequence, such as placing him in time-out or taking away his favorite toy for the afternoon.

Forcing him to apologize isn’t likely to be helpful. He may not actually feel sorry so telling him to apologize to his brother may just be lip service.

But, you can role model how to apologize. When you make a mistake, tell your child that you’re sorry. Say something like, “I am sorry I didn’t get home in time to take you to the park. I tried to get home as soon as I could but it’s too dark to go now.”

Remember, guiding your child’s moral development isn’t something that happens in just a couple weeks. This will be a process that will last long into your child’s elementary school years and beyond.

There will be times your child will make mistakes that make you wonder if anything you’re doing actually resonates with him. Don’t worry—he hears you. With consistent guidance from you, he’ll develop a clear moral compass.


Decoding the Mysteries of a Child’s Developing Brain

By Jenna Gallegos of The Washington Post

It’s back-to-school season. Parents mark their youngsters' height on the wall and marvel at how much they’ve grown, but what’s going on just below the pencil line in that child’s brain?

We know brain development continues from infancy to adulthood, but many parents underestimate how much a child’s brain changes from year to year and how those changes can influence behavior.

Decades of scientific studies have shown even an immature brain is capable of extraordinary feats. Yet a fully developed brain is necessary for actions that adults take for granted, such as risk assessment and self-control. According to developmental psychologists, parents who better understand the stages along the way can help guide their child over the hurdles.

Babies are surprisingly good at communicating

Babies are looking, listening and imitating from the time they are born. Stick your tongue out at a baby, even one just hours old, and he or she may do the same back at you, said Sarah Lytle of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington.

Yet many parents don’t realize how quickly infants begin to develop social and emotional awareness, said Ross Thompson, who is president of the child development organization Zero to Three and a cognitive psychologist at the University of California at Davis. “Parents underestimate how sensitive a child is to their own emotions,” he said. As early as 6 months of age, a child can be affected by a parent’s depression or anxiety and by marital squabbles.

Babies also look to their parents for guidance in uncertain situations. If you’re on a subway and start interacting with the little one next to you, the baby may turn to the parent to see how to respond to you. This process is called “social cognition” or “social referencing,” and it’s not very different from when adults at a party wait to respond to a joke when they’re unsure whether others will find it funny or offensive.

To help infants learn, parents should frequently look at what they’re talking about and change their gaze slowly, Lytle suggested. This important social cue helps with language development, she said — with babies who follow gazes closely having a more diverse vocabulary by the time they’re 2.

All languages sound the same initially to a newborn, and then a tuning process begins. By about 10 months, babies start to specialize in the language they’re used to hearing. It’s important to talk to your child during the first year, especially using “parentese,” Lytle said. This infant-directed speech is not “baby-talking,” despite its typical singsong tone and repetition, but uses real words in grammatically complete sentences.

While we typically underestimate babies' ability to understand and communicate before they begin speaking, we tend to overestimate the brain power of walking, talking toddlers.

Toddlers are mentally incapable of sharing and self-control

In a survey conducted by Zero to Three in 2015, nearly half of parents believed their children could learn to share by the time they are 2. But according to the cognitive psychologists at Zero to Three, this skill does not typically develop until a child is 3 or 4. That may be because they haven’t yet developed what’s known as “theory of mind.”

Theory of mind is the ability to differentiate one’s own perspective and preferences from someone else’s. A classic experiment in theory of mind is known as the Sally-Anne test, in which a child is told Sally has a basket and Anne has a box. Sally puts an object in her basket, then leaves. While Sally is gone, Anne moves the object to the box.

The child is then asked where Sally will look for the object when she returns. Correctly answering that Sally will look in her basket signals the child understands they have a perspective that is different from Sally's.

Theory of mind is important for developing empathy, making friends and even doing well academically, Lytle said. Parents can help their children develop perspective by talking them through scenarios like the Sally-Anne test or reading books that help them to build cognitive parallels, she said. For example, in a book where a character goes to a doctor, they can compare the situation to when the child went to the doctor and discuss how the experiences were similar or different.

According to that 2015 survey, the majority of parents also believed 2-year-olds can control their emotions and impulses. Yet children have very limited self-control abilities until they are about 4. When toddlers won’t stop throwing a fit, do something forbidden or refuse to share, “they’re not being willfully obstinate,” Thompson said. “Many parents overestimate a child’s capacity for self-control.”

Thompson recommends helping young children with self-control — for example, by distracting them with a favorite toy while passing candy in the grocery store checkout aisle. And when dealing with a tantrum, acknowledge a child's feelings by putting them into words. “A lot of their frustration is the feeling of being misunderstood,” he noted.

He also suggests giving the child the impression that they have some control. In his own case, when his young son didn't want to go to bed, Thompson would ask the boy whether he wanted to play for a few more minutes. Yes, a distinguished professor in psychology was on his knees, negotiating with a 3-year-old, but Thompson says parents who understand how their toddlers' brains work (or don’t work) will find it fairly easy to outsmart them. It’s good to tell a child “no” because they’re learning language, he added, but you can’t expect them to change their behaviors.

Teenagers don’t think with the same parts of their brain as adults

For some parents, a seemingly erratic teenager can make those long-ago toddler days seem like a walk in the park. Frances Jensen, neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of “The Teenage Brain,” suggests understanding how teens think can improve the experience for both sides.

Connections in our brain develop from the back to the front, and those important for higher-order thinking continue to form and strengthen into a person's 20s. “Teenagers have good connectivity up to about their ears,” Jensen explained. And at this age, the midbrain, important for emotion, sexual function, learning and memory, is hyperactive.

As teens transition into adulthood, connections in the front of their brain are strengthened while those in the other regions are pruned. A fully developed frontal lobe is essential for planning, decision-making, impulse control and risk avoidance.

These stages of development showed up in a 2006 imaging experiment. Researchers discovered adults trying to identify fearful facial expressions used more of the front of their brain, while teens used the emotional centers in the midbrain — meaning teens literally think using different parts of their brain.

The finding might explain why some teen behaviors surprise adults. “Teenagers are actually more susceptible to stress,” Jensen said. If your teen comes home distraught because someone made fun of their hair, you might be tempted to say it’s no big deal. But the activity in their brain likely resembles an adult brain's response to news of a major international incident.

The plasticity of teen brains — their ability to lose, form and strengthen connections — also makes adolescents especially susceptible to addiction to everything from video games to cocaine, Jensen said. Activities such as binge drinking and chronic marijuana use can be especially damaging at this age.

Jensen recommends giving teens a “frontal-lobe assist” by helping them to plan, prepare and even rehearse for situations that require higher judgment. Help them develop and learn phrases to use as excuses to avoid making a bad decision amid social pressure, for example. And if they do make a bad decision, she suggests using the situation as a teachable moment instead of lecturing or alienating them.

Throughout a child's life, parents who understand some basics of brain development can adjust their expectations and better come up with strategies to prevent frustration for everyone. In other words, a little understanding goes a long way.


Supplements for Pregnancy & Nursing: What I Take

By Katie at Wellness Mama

Important Note: These are the supplements I chose to take after consulting with my doctor, thyroid specialist and midwife. I share these for informational purposes only and not in any way as a suggestion of medical advice. This post is strictly informational and should only serve as a starting point for a conversation between you and your medical provider about the best supplements for pregnancy in your specific case.

Why Supplements for Pregnancy?

Pregnancy and nursing are times of a woman’s life when it is important to be vigilant about getting enough nutrients to nourish her little one and supplements can be helpful. There are also some supplements that are important to avoid during pregnancy and nursing and any pregnant woman should work directly with her care provider to make sure she is taking the correct supplements for her body and pregnancy.

As someone who has quite a bit of experience being pregnant and nursing over the last decade, I’ve seen first hand how supplements can make a pregnancy (and delivery) easier!

Each woman’s dietary and nutrient needs will vary, but as a general rule, a nutrient-dense diet is the most important factor in her ability to get enough vitamins and minerals during pregnancy and supplements can’t take the place of a healthy diet and good lifestyle habits.

When I am pregnant, I focus on consuming the following:

  • Lots of high quality protein from high quality sources like grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and eggs, and wild, caught, sustainable seafood (smaller fish preferable). Organ meats from grass fed sources are also wonderful for pregnancy and nursing and can help reduce the chance of anemia.
  • Large amounts of vegetables, especially green ones! Green veggies have folate, which is important for fetal growth, and are also high in many other nutrients. They help prevent the constipation that can sometimes occur during pregnancy, and are great for making sure nursing moms are getting enough vitamins. During pregnancy, I live by the motto of “When in doubt, eat more veggies.”
  • Healthy Fats galore! Pregnancy and nursing are not times to skimp on healthy fats. Quality fats are absolutely vital for baby’s brain development, organ and tissue growth, and good milk production for mom. Sources like healthy meats, coconut oil and coconut products, olive oil, avocados, and nuts are especially good during pregnancy.
  • Other high nutrient foods like homemade bone broth, soups, fermented vegetables like homemade sauerkraut, fruit (especially berries) and green smoothies are also great for pregnancy and nursing.

 

Supplements for Pregnancy: 

Even with the most solid diet, it can be difficult to consume enough of the necessary nutrients for pregnancy, especially with our modern food supply. For this reason, I take certain specially selected supplements while I am pregnant or nursing:

  • Folate: The supplement folic acid is commonly recommended, but there is substantial difference between folic acid (the synthetic form) and folate (the natural form). This article explains the difference in detail. The dosage is also slightly different, and some sources recommend as much as 1200 mcg of folate per day for maximum benefit. This amount should include the amount in multivitamins and any additional folate supplement (be sure to check multivitamins, as many contain the synthetic form!). Folate is one supplement that has been extensively studied for use in pregnancy and is extremely effective at preventing neural tube defects. It is also very inexpensive and easy for every pregnant woman to take. NOTE: People who have a MTHFR defect will need to consult with a specialized practitioner and will probably need to take L-5-MTHF which is the methylated form of folate. I explain more in this post.

  • Prenatal Multivitamin: There is some debate on if a full multivitamin prenatal is necessary during pregnancy or not. While I don’t routinely take a multivitamin, pregnancy and nursing is one time that I do. A deficiency in a vitamin or mineral won’t make a tremendous, immediate impact on an adult in most cases, but during the intensive developmental phases of pregnancy, a nutrient deficiency can have lasting consequences for baby. A high quality prenatal is an “insurance policy” or sorts to guard against deficiencies but should accompany a high nutrient diet! Many prenatals contain iron, though this isn’t necessary if you are consuming red meat from healthy sources and organ meats. Just make sure it doesn’t contain folic acid (but folate or methyl folate). This is the brand I use.​

  • Probiotics: Probiotics are critical, especially during pregnancy. During the birth process, babies culture their beneficial gut bacteria from what the receive from mom when passing through the birth canal and from nursing in the months afterward. Unfortunately, this process doesn’t happen in the same way with cesarean deliveries, but research is finding ways to help facilitate this process. Quality probiotics (I take these) help ensure that baby will get a good dose of beneficial bacteria during a normal vaginal delivery, which can reduce risk of ear infection and illness in the first few years. Good gut health also has a tremendous impact on lifelong health, and this is one of the most important things you can do for your baby’s health. Probiotics also help mom avoid illness and constipation during pregnancy, and might reduce the risk of Group B strep. Since baby’s gut bacteria continues to culture during the nursing time, it is good for mom to continue to take probiotics during this time as well.
  • Vitamin D3: There is a lot of emerging research that Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of many pregnancy related complications including gestational diabetes. It is important for baby’s bone and hormone development and helps support mom’s immune system during pregnancy. Some research suggests that nursing babies may be able to obtain Vitamin D from the mother’s milk if mom is getting more than 5,000IU/day. I take 5,000 IU/day while pregnant or nursing, unless I’m able to get 30 minutes or more of midday sun.

    When supplementing, I only take Vitamin D3 with K2 and I occasionally test blood levels of vitamin D to make sure my levels don’t get too high.

 

 

Things I Avoid:

  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • MSG or Chemical Additives
  • Diet Sodas or foods
  • Vegetable oils and trans fats
  • Any herbs, drugs, or medicines without approval from your midwife or doctor
  • BPA and plastic containers
  • Aluminum in antiperspirants
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial dyes or colors in food
  • Chemicals in laundry detergent, personal care products, and household cleaners

Rethinking Toddler Nutrition

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By Katelyn Philipp for Parenting

Fruits and veggies are a good start, but most toddler diets are missing a key nutritional element.

Family meals should feel more like bonding opportunities than chores or ordeals. But to make mealtime more positive, you have to serve foods that both meet your kids' nutritional needs and are tasty enough for children to actually eat and enjoy.

Proper nutrition involves more than fruits and vegetables, says Dr. Scott Cohen, a pediatrician, father and author of "Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby's First Year." He says DHA is another critical component. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid beneficial to brain development and cognition.

"Eighty-five percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life," Cohen says. Infants receive vital nutrients through breastfeeding and fortified formula, but their supply dwindles when children begin eating solid food.

In fact, toddlers only average 25 percent of the recommended daily DHA intake, which is 70 to 100 milligrams. It can be easy to reach the allowance, but DHA-rich foods aren't popular items on toddler's plates. Major sources include fish, such as tuna, salmon and trout. 

To improve your child's nutrition, Cohen recommends a five-item nutrition checklist:

1. Find a DHA source that works for your family

Increasing DHA in your child's diet doesn't have to be difficult. Cohen recommends trying DHA-friendly options, such as fish, or DHA-fortified foods such as pasta and milk. "One size doesn't fit all," Cohen says. "Any way toddlers can get it is good."

2. Say cheese

Cohen says toddlers should consume two to three dairy sources each day for strong bones, muscles and teeth. Common child favorites include milk, yogurt and cheese, but fortified orange juice can also do the trick.

3. Concentrate on protein

"A lot of kids don't like typical protein sources," Cohen says. Look at protein alternatives instead of battling over eggs, fish or meat your picky eater won't try. Soy products and beans are subtle substitutes.

4. Teach healthy habits

While each meal can be a step in the right nutritional direction, Cohen recommends looking at the big picture. "It's more important to teach healthy eating habits than to concentrate on volume," he says. Proper routines set children up for a lifetime of nutrition success.

5. Mix it up

Introduce a variety of food to children beyond standard favorites. "Offer three or four different options in the hope that they will eat one of them," Cohen says. Don't give up if children resist at first. It can take 10 to 12 tries before they develop preferences. "They might like it next week," he says. "The bottom line is not to stress too much. Every healthy child grows, no matter what."

This mom creates amazing and educational DIY activities for her kids

By Chelsea Frisbie for WYFF4.

Andrea Yi studied engineering in college, then spent a decade working with fashion designer Donna Karan. After having her fourth son, she realized there was a gap in the marketplace for fun, educational activities that incorporated both the left and right brain.

About a year ago, she was having so much fun creating activities involving both sides of the brain with her boys Nate, Dylan, Oliver and Alexander that she decided to share them online. She created “Raising Dragons,” a website dedicated to helping other parents and educators come up with fun science, technology, engineering, art and math activities.

Most of her science experiments are modern updates on the classics, like the baking soda volcano. The materials she uses are usually items she finds around the house.

Her kids still use technology, like tablets and other gaming devices, but she says they’re only allowed a little bit of screen time each day. “Yet another reason why I like doing these STEAM activities — to give them other options than screen time.”

Out of all of the projects, Andrea’s kids like the science experiments the most. “One of my sons asks me to make potions every day. He loves to mix different liquids and powders and see what happens,” she said. 

Andrea enjoys sharing her family’s ideas with others, but they’re not all winners. 

“I try to feature simple activities I think most people would be able to pull together in a few minutes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a cool craft or activity, and by the second step, I’m like, ‘Nope, too difficult.’ I try to keep mine super simple so busy parents will say, ‘I can do this,’” she said.

Doing these homemade STEAM activities has even helped kids in the classroom. “It’s gotten them much more interested in science, and for my five-year-old, it has definitely helped him learn his letters and numbers,” Andrea said.

Since the creation of the blog, Raising Dragons has amassed nearly 500,000 followers. Their videos have been viewed more than 50 million times by over 100 million people. Andrea recently published a book called “STEAM for Babies,” which became the No. 1 new release in the STEM category in its first week on Amazon. 

We can’t wait to see what Andrea and the kids come up with next!


10 Must-Watch Documentaries That Will Inspire Your Kids to Change the World

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By Sara Ahmed

If your kids have any kind of device — phones, gaming systems, tablets, what have you — it can feel like you're constantly fighting for their attention. It becomes harder and harder to share experiences with them, but one thing they usually can't deny? Movies. Sure, watching a big blockbuster is always fun, but documentaries can be an incredible way for a family to connect.

Watching these films with your children is a compelling way to help nurture their sense of curiosity and compassion without feeling tedious (or, God forbid, educational). From inspiring stories of Muslim high school football players in Michigan to the haunting tale of Tilikum, the killer whale in captivity, a good documentary can alter your child's perception through the power of empathy. Keep reading for a list of the most powerful documentaries to watch with your kiddos during your next movie night.

  1. He Named Me Malala: 

    He Named Me Malala tells the poignant story of a young Pakistani girl and her fight for education. Your kids won't fuss about going to school after watching this documentary.

    Appropriate For Ages: 12+

  2. March of the Penguins: 

    This harrowing and stunning documentary shows penguins during their annual march from Antarctica. The beautiful narration from Morgan Freeman just adds to the majestic quality of the film. 

    Appropriate For Ages: 6+

  3. Fed Up: 

    This is a must-watch for all parents struggling with their children's sugar habits (so, pretty much everyone)! Your kiddos won't beg for any dessert after watching the perils of what sugar does to our bodies.

    Appropriate For Ages: 10+

  4. Wings of Life: 

    Disney's documentary about pollinators such as bees, bats, butterflies, and birds is a riveting surprise.

    Appropriate For Ages: 6+

  5. Bully: 

    An intense but important documentary for teens to watch about the effects of bullying.

    Appropriate For Ages: 12+

  6. Planet Earth II: 

    This sequel to BBC's incredible series about our planet continues to show breathtaking wonders from around our world.

    Appropriate For Ages: All ages

  7. Blackfish: 

    This heartbreaking tale of a killer whale is not an easy watch but is definitely life-altering.

    Appropriate For Ages: 13+

  8. I Am Eleven: 

    A lovely documentary that offers incredible insight through the eyes of 11-year-olds from around the world.

    Appropriate For Ages: 10+

  9. Dancing in Jaffa: 

    This tells a beautiful story of interfaith compassion when Palestinian and Israeli children come together for a dance in the world's most religiously torn city: Jerusalem.

    Appropriate For Ages: 12+

  10. Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football: 

    Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football is a captivating documentary that shows the love a Muslim-American community has toward football, country, and God.

    Appropriate For Ages: 12+

     

     


10 Mistakes Parents Make With Newborns—And How To Avoid Them

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By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Bringing a new baby home can be nerve-wracking for any parent. If it's your first, the fear of making a mistake can be overwhelming. It's inevitable you won't do everything just right, but read on and you can cross these common mistakes off your list.

1. Car seat safety

Some parents make the mistake of not practicing various baby care chores before the baby comes. While how to change a diaper many be intuitive for most, not everything is. Take car seats, for example. "Since hospitals require you to take baby home in an appropriate car seat, be sure you have it installed before delivering," said pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu, co-author of "Heading Home with Your Newborn." "Enlist the help of a child passenger safety technician, if needed."

Figuring out how to correctly -- and safely -- install car seats can be a real challenge for many parents, so much so that many fire stations used to help parents with it. Today, fewer do so, but you can find a trained technician through the National Child Passenger Safety Certification site.

But even while parents may have purchased the seat, and even learned how to install it properly, birth educator Polly Gannon finds that some haven't gone to the trouble of using it before the baby comes.

"Some parents haven't even put a stuffed animal in there before the baby comes so they know how to get a newborn in there comfortably," said Gannon, who works at Calabasas Pediatrics in Calabasas, California. "Most hospitals, for legal reasons, cannot put the baby in the car seat for you, or even show you how to use it."

A 2016 study of nearly 300 families, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found 91% of those parents made serious mistakes while installing their car seats or putting their newborns into those seats. Eighty-six percent of those errors were in positioning the newborn in the seat, and most of those mistakes were "critical" and increased the child's risk for injury in any accident. Over half of the families had older children, which should have given them practice for the task.

For newborns, parents should make sure their infant's head doesn't flop forward, which could restrict breathing. That involves installing the seat at the correct angle to keep the baby's feet up, with the body reclined so baby can turn her head to the side and breathe normally.

If the baby slouches down or to the side in the seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests placing a tightly rolled receiving blanket on both sides of the baby, or using the newborn insert made for that car seat brand -- do not mix or match with other manufacturers. Don't place a blanket or roll across the top of the baby's head or put padding under your infant.

 

2. Back to sleep

The national "Back to Sleep" campaign of the 1990s brought a great deal of attention to SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, and other sleep-related deaths among infants. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics insist that every baby should sleep on their back, in their own crib, without any toys or soft bedding. During and after the campaign, sleep-related deaths sharply declined, but recent data shows the risk continues. Each year, some 3,500 babies continue to die from sleep-related causes.

A 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one in five mothers report putting their baby to sleep on their side or stomach, and 39% of mothers said they use soft bedding in the crib with the baby. 


"Wow, that's alarming because you'd think everyone would know the recommended way to put their baby to sleep," said pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, author of the new book "Baby and Toddler Basics." "But what a lot of parents still don't know is that you should not use bumpers anymore, and you don't want pillows, toys or extra stuff in the crib."

 

3. Not feeding on demand

Some new parents make the mistake of letting baby sleep too long between feedings, likely due to exhaustion and their own need to get a bit of rest. But that's a mistake, say experts.

"The first few weeks, the baby does need to be fed ... every two to three hours, even if they don't demand it," said Altmann. "But once they have regained their birth weight and you get your pediatrician's OK, it's fine to cross your fingers and hope that you get a stretch of three to five hours without the baby waking to be fed. But in the first few weeks, babies do need to be woken up."

If you're doing everything right and your baby is growing and developing well, said Altmann, it's perfectly possible to get a baby to sleep through the night by 2 or 3 months of age. But be aware that some babies regress between three and four months and begin to wake up more frequently and feed more often.


"If you jump in and turn on all the lights, start playing with them, and basically have a party in the middle of the night, they will continue to wake up," Altmann said.
"I usually tell parents if every time you wake up there was chocolate cake on your nightstand, you would start eating it every night and you would wake up expecting it," she said. "Same with babies, right?"
 

4. Not burping baby properly


One of the key mistakes many new parents can make is failing to take the time to properly burp their newborn. 
"I think many new parents are nervous about handling their newborn," said Gannon. "They will often put the baby down quickly after feeding because they are scared they aren't holding it properly."

The result of failing to burp is that the baby may spit up and gag, losing some of that precious milk, or wake up in an hour or so screaming in pain. 
"I'm getting calls all the time where parents say that the baby is really peaceful after feeding, but then baby wakes up screaming and is up for the next 2 1/2 hours," added Gannon. "My favorite line is 'cheat the baby, cheat yourself.' If you cheat the baby out of a good burp and fail to get all of that air out, you and the baby are both going to suffer."


There are several burping techniques you can try until you find the one that works best for your baby. In the most well-known, the-over-the-shoulder burp, you place your baby high on your chest with her chin resting on your shoulder and face turned to one side, tummy firmly against the chest. Pat or rub the baby's back gently until she burps. 
"It might take you an additional 10 minutes at the end of the feed," said Gannon, "but the baby will be happy."


Another common technique is to place baby face down across your lap, and pat and rub. Other techniques include baby exercises. Lay them on a blanket on the floor and begin bicycling their legs, or moving their legs up and around in a circular motion in each direction.

Gannon finds that a sitting posture works best for her clients. She places the baby sitting upright on her lap, facing the side. Using one hand to support the baby's head in the front (making sure to avoid holding the neck) she puts her other hand on the baby's back.

"Keeping the baby's bottom firmly planted on my lap I move their whole body in a small, slow circular motion to the left for a while, then to the right for a bit," explained Gannon. "I sit the baby upright a few times, and usually get a good, hearty burp, even without a gentle pat on the back."

 

5. Failing to pre-burp


Most of us think about burping after the baby eats. But experts say that you should also take the time to pre-burp your baby.


"I try to pre-burp baby for at least two minutes before starting any feeding," Gannon recommended. "This helps eliminate the common spitting up and gassy problem that newborns often have for the first 30 days."
"If you start out without gas in the stomach, and then do a really good feed and get the gas out at the end, they are going to be much more comfortable and more likely to be happy and content on their own," added Altmann.

6. Mistakes in mixing formula or breastfeeding​
 

Making a mistake measuring formula and water happens often enough in her practice, said Altmann, that she makes it a practice to quiz parents on how they prepare baby's meals. She asks the same of breastfeeding moms, too.

"When I have new babies come into my practice," said Altmann, "whether they are breastfeeding or formula feeding, I take a step back and ask these questions: 'Exactly how are you feeding your baby -- what do they look like when they are latched on? How are you mixing the formula? How are you putting it in the bottle?'"

On occasion she finds that one of the parents might be mixing formula wrong, by making it too concentrated or dilute.


"Usually, it's too dilute," said Altmann. "Then the baby isn't getting enough nutrition and that's when they fail to thrive. You always want to be sure you're reading and following the directions on the formula properly."
And some moms may not have the baby fully latched onto the breast, so while the baby looks like it's nursing, he or she isn't actually swallowing and feeding, said Altmann.
 

"It's a good idea for breastfeeding moms to check in with a lactation consultant if they have any concerns or pain during feedings," said Altmann. "Then check in with your pediatrician regularly to make sure your baby is gaining weight appropriately."

7. Not enough tummy time

Altmann says an unfortunate mistake many new parents make -- and continue to make as baby grows -- is keeping baby constrained in a car seat, bouncy seat or other sleepers.


"I'll see parents out with their baby, at a restaurant, at the park, talking to friends, and they are carrying the baby in the car seat," said Altmann, who is also a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "I'm always telling parents, 'Car seats are for cars, but don't carry them to and fro in the car seat.'"
Not only can spending too much time reclining create a soft spot on the back of their head, says Altmann, but not interacting with the baby can cause language delays and other issues due to a lack of stimulation. 
"When your baby is not sleeping or not in the car traveling, they really should be on their tummy or held by a parent," Altmann said. "They shouldn't be strapped down, they need to move, stretch, roll and push their head up."
 

8. Under- or overreacting to a fever

Fevers in newborns can be serious. If your baby is younger than three months and develops a fever of 100.4 or higher, call your pediatrician or medical professional immediately. But when it comes to a fever in babies and children older than that, the advice is more complex.

"For the older babies, I'm usually telling parents not to freak out by what the number says on the thermometer," explained Altmann. "Instead, take a close look at your child to figure out what is happening with them, because not every fever needs to be treated."

Look at your baby and observe. Are they drinking fluids? Are they happy and playing? Are they sleeping OK? Are they having any trouble breathing? Those are the questions to ask yourself, Altmann said. Experts say most fevers are harmless, and likely the result of a mild infection.

"Don't just treat the number on the thermometer," Altmann added. "It doesn't matter if it's 101 or 103.5, it's more important how they are acting."

9. Proper temperature for baby in the home


Another concern for parents: how warm or cool their baby should be. Shu said she is often asked by parents for the proper temperature setting for the home. The answer, she says, depends on the time of year and the insulation of the home, but in general "a thermostat setting around 68 to 72 is probably comfortable for baby."

While Shu says she thinks many parents keep baby too warm, Gannon has found the opposite. At homes in her practice, she said, new parents may have their baby in a T-shirt and diaper, unswaddled. She said a baby's skin should always be warm, not hot or cold, to the touch.


"If the baby is chilled, then his body will need to burn extra calories to raise his body temperature, instead of those calories going toward a healthy weight gain," said Gannon. "So even if the baby is feeding well, he or she may not be developing properly because they have to burn a lot of calories trying to get warm."

Shu warns that newborns don't have good circulation at first, so "having cool hands and feet is normal."

10. Taking newborns into crowded places​

Some parents want to take their newborn to a large family gathering so everyone can ooh-and-awww over their tiny miracle. That could be a mistake, experts said.

"It does scare me a bit when I see newborns out and about, especially during cold and flu season," said Altmann. "The first two months of your baby's life, you really need to protect them from exposure to germs and people that are potentially sick. Your baby's immune system is weak, and still growing and developing."


That doesn't mean you can't leave the house, however. Experts encourage daily walks and say it's fine to sit in your backyard or on the front porch.
"But don't take them to crowded spaces," Altmann said. "That's when you can expose them to people who potentially have the flu or another contagious illness that could spread, even if they are a few feet away."
 


Hiring a Personal Assistant

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Life is busy.  The more hours we work, the more hours we lose for doing personal administration and other important life tasks. Regardless of the lifestyle you lead, more and more people are looking to hire a part time personal assistant to help ease their admin and workload.  But what are the benefits of hiring a part time personal assistant?  Do you need to be a multi-millionaire to afford one?  What gains will you see?

Here is our guide and industry secrets in hiring an incredible part time personal assistant and how it will change your life!

Time is Precious

There are only 24 hours in the day, and unless you’ve created a magic remedy to stop us sleeping, half of these hours are lost to sleep.  The remaining hours consist of family life, work and play.

In modern households, families and individuals look to maximise their time, and most importantly their free time to focus on the things that they enjoy most.  Looking for help and support in the household is a valued and respected request.

Looking for help and support in the household is a valued and respected request. 

For example, families will hire Housekeepers (part time and full time) to look after their homes, Nannies to help care for their children, Chefs to help with daily cooking and Chauffeurs to help with driving.  So what benefit does a part time personal assistant bring?

Flexibility

Hiring a part time personal assistant gives you flexibility.  With a modest budget of £50 a week, you could hire a remote PA to manage 5 hours of your diary/emails and other ‘life admin’ duties.  They don’t have to come into your property, with the digital world we operate in, most things can be done remotely.

The part time personal assistant can dedicate this time to freeing up yours, giving you those precious hours back to spend time with your family, relax or focus on your business and work.  Some clients with a higher budget look to hire a PA for 10, 15, 20 or even 25 hours a week.

Typically in the UK, expect to pay between £10-20 per hour depending on the role and where the position is based.

How to Hire a Part Time Personal Assistant?

Decide what you need.  Is it 5 hours support or 25?  Does the PA need to be based in your property or office, or can they work remotely?  Write down everything you need in the part time personal assistant.
Identify your biggest time drains.  Once these are identified then a part time personal assistant will be able to focus on these tasks in order to best free up your time.
Write a job spec.  It’s important it’s clear and the more detail you include, the easier the candidate will be able to apply. If you are self-recruiting, make sure you check references and fully vet the candidate.  Alternatively, you can work through a professional agency to give you peace of mind.
Interview.  Create a shortlist of candidates and then interview each one.  The part time personal assistant will often represent you – they will be your voice and send emails on your behalf, so it is important you feel that they reflect you and your brand.
Trial.  Give them a short trial.  This is key to identifying if they are the right person for the job.
Offer them a contract.  Give them job security, and in return, they will give you job commitment.  Ideally, you want them to commit to a long term position as it will take your time and energy getting them to speed. And hiring a replacement is also very time consuming.

Some Extra Tips

Always look to develop your communication.  Your part time personal assistant can only be as good as the communication they receive, especially if they are working remotely. It’s vital you clearly communicate what you need and ensure that clear follow-ups are made, otherwise, they could lose precious time doing tasks which aren’t relevant.
Incentivise in positive ways.  This could be small gifts or bonuses or just regular reviews and positive feedback. All personal assistants like to feel they are doing a good job, and if you reward them with your gratefulness they will reward you with hard work!
Do things by the book.  Depending on the country you reside in, guidelines will vary when hiring a part time personal assistant. Make sure you check with your local government guidelines and do things by the book!

So what are you waiting for?  Now is the time to find a wonderful part time personal assistant and see the major difference it can have on your personal and business life.  We’d love to hear from you, so why not drop us a line and we can chat through how best we can help you.

Polo and Tweed


The Phenomenon Of Baby Nurses

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By SARA BERMAN | March 11, 2008
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Tomorrow will be my baby nurse's last day with my family. I'm not sure whom I feel worse for: myself or the baby. Six weeks into this gig, I hope the baby hasn't become completely accustomed to twice-daily baths, around-the-clock attention, careful burping, and long massages. But Nate, like his brothers and sisters before him, will survive on fewer baths, fewer massages, and — there's no delicate way to say this — far, far less attention.

According to an agency that places baby nurses in the tristate area (British American Newborn Care) a baby nurse is a non-medical newborn specialist who is highly experienced in infant care. Baby nurses work in private homes and care for newborns typically from the day the baby arrives home through a period of several weeks or months. Normally, they provide 24-hour care and "assist new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care and may also help establish eating and sleeping patterns."

In other words, they're glorified, uniform-clad nannies who diaper, burp, bathe, swaddle, rock, and if you want, feed the baby 24 hours a day. They are not — in case you were confused — nurses.

If there is one peculiar element to having a baby in a certain slice of New York, it is the assumption that you will have a baby nurse. If you type the words "baby nurse" into any search engine, you will see that the majority of the links are in the tristate area. They may have baby nurses in California and Georgia, but those baby nurses are, in fact, likely to be registered nurses — and their employers are more likely to be having triplets than single births.

At roughly $200 a day, though, having a baby nurse can really add up.

"Worth every penny," an acquaintance told me about her baby nurse. "We could barely afford our rent when we had our first child. But neither of us had any family in New York. And neither of us had ever changed a diaper. The grandparents pooled together and gave the baby nurse as a gift. It was the best gift ever."

Cramped city living, not exactly conducive to having the in-laws move in for a week or two, is compatible with a baby nurse, who shares the room with the newborn. Giving the gift of a baby nurse is one way to make nice with your daughter-in-law.

One couple with far greater means never let the baby nurse go. "The baby was going to be a year old," the father of three said about his first child, "and we still had the nurse. The nurse would go on and on about what a hard night she had had with the baby, and I'm thinking, suuure you did. Finally, I convinced my wife that enough was enough. But sure enough, when we had our second child, the same baby nurse just moved back in. This time, she stayed for eight or nine months. I'm pretty embarrassed to admit that," he said, while calculating how much he paid the baby nurse over the course of his three children: at least $200,000.

My question is this: Who assists new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care across the rest of the country?

"When I was pregnant with my first, I had heard of people using baby nurses," a friend who had her first two children in Chicago said. "But I didn't really know any myself. My mom came and stayed with us for the first week or two. She showed me how to diaper and bathe the baby. And then my mother-in-law came for a few days. I've never been so sad to see my mother-in-law leave. All of a sudden, I was on my own, and it was pretty brutal."

A mother of three who lived in different parts of the South when she had her children said that no one she knew used a baby nurse. "Having a lot of help is normal in New York, but it isn't in most parts of the country," she said. "That's partially economic and partially cultural. I had help when I had my third baby, but that meant I had someone come to clean my house, or baby-sit my other children."

There are plenty of New Yorkers who'd rather spend the money on anything but a baby nurse. "I don't really understand why people have baby nurses," an Upper West Side mother of three said. "The baby and baby nurse sleep all day, while you cook and clean and look after the other kids. For a lot less, you could find someone who does a lot more."

I happen to think that if you can afford it, a good baby nurse does wonders to smooth the transition for the first few weeks of a baby's life — for the baby and for the entire family.

A few weeks ago, my 5-year-old daughter, Kira, heard the baby nurse coo to Nate, "You are so cute, I could eat you up."

"Go ahead," Kira said, deadpan. When the baby nurse later teased that she was going to take Nate home, you can imagine Kira's response.

"Good," she snarled.

Perhaps it is Kira's mental state that I should be worried about on Thursday — not the baby's.

bababynurses.com 


Your Newborn: 30 Tips for the First 30 Days

From parents magazine

Breastfeeding

It's been six weeks since our daughter, Clementine, was born. She's finally sleeping better and going longer between feedings. She's also becoming more alert when she's awake. My husband and I, on the other hand, feel like we've been hit by a truck. I'm amazed that we've muddled through. Here are tips from seasoned parents and baby experts to make your first month easier.

Hints for Nursing

Babies eat and eat and eat. Although nature has done a pretty good job of providing you and your baby with the right equipment, in the beginning it's almost guaranteed to be harder than you expected. From sore nipples to tough latch-ons, nursing can seem overwhelming.

1. Women who seek help have a higher success rate. "Think of ways to ensure success before you even give birth," suggests Stacey Brosnan, a lactation consultant in New York City. Talk with friends who had a good nursing experience, ask baby's pediatrician for a lactation consultant's number, or attend a La Leche League (nursing support group) meeting (see laleche.org to find one).

2. Use hospital resources. Kira Sexton, a Brooklyn, New York, mom, says, "I learned everything I could about breastfeeding before I left the hospital." Ask if there's a nursing class or a lactation consultant on staff. Push the nurse-call button each time you're ready to feed the baby, and ask a nurse to spot you and offer advice.

3. Prepare. At home, you'll want to drop everything to feed the baby the moment she cries for you. But Heather O'Donnell, a mom in New York City, suggests taking care of yourself first. "Get a glass of water and a book or magazine to read." And, because breastfeeding can take a while, she says, "pee first!"

4. Try a warm compress if your breasts are engorged or you have blocked ducts. A heating pad or a warm, wet washcloth works, but a flax pillow (often sold with natural beauty products) is even better. "Heat it in the microwave, and conform it to your breast," says Laura Kriska, a mom in Brooklyn, New York.

5. Heat helps the milk flow, but if your breasts are sore after nursing, try a cold pack. Amy Hooker, a San Diego mom, says, "A bag of frozen peas worked really well for me."

6. If you want baby to eventually take a bottle, introduce it after breastfeeding is established but before the 3-month mark. Many experts say 6 to 8 weeks is good, but "we started each of our kids on one bottle a day at 3 weeks," says Jill Sizemore, a mom in Pendleton, Indiana.

Sleeping

If your infant isn't eating, he's probably sleeping. Newborns log as many as 16 hours of sleep a day but only in short bursts. The result: You'll feel on constant alert and more exhausted than you ever thought possible. Even the best of us can come to resent the severe sleep deprivation.

7. Stop obsessing about being tired. There's only one goal right now: Care for your baby. "You're not going to get a full night's sleep, so you can either be tired and angry or just tired," says Vicki Lansky, author of Getting Your Child to Sleep...and Back to Sleep (Book Peddlers). "Just tired is easier."

8. Take shifts. One night it's Mom's turn to rock the cranky baby, the next it's Dad's turn. Amy Reichardt and her husband, Richard, parents in Denver, worked out a system for the weekends, when Richard was off from work. "I'd be up with the baby at night but got to sleep in. Richard did all the morning care, then got to nap later."

9. The old adage "Sleep when your baby sleeps" really is the best advice. "Take naps together and go to bed early," says Sarah Clark, a mom in Washington, D.C.

10. What if your infant has trouble sleeping? Do whatever it takes: Nurse or rock baby to sleep; let your newborn fall asleep on your chest or in the car seat. "Don't worry about bad habits yet. It's about survival -- yours!" says Jean Farnham, a Los Angeles mom.

Soothing

It's often hard to decipher exactly what baby wants in the first murky weeks. You'll learn, of course, by trial and error.

11. "The key to soothing fussy infants is to mimic the womb. Swaddling, shushing, and swinging, as well as allowing babies to suck and holding them on their sides, may trigger a calming reflex," says Harvey Karp, MD, creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block books, videos, and DVDs.

12. Play tunes. Forget the dubious theory that music makes a baby smarter, and concentrate on the fact that it's likely to calm him. "The Baby Einstein tapes saved us," says Kim Rich, a mom in Anchorage, Alaska.

13. Warm things up. Alexandra Komisaruk, a mom in Los Angeles, found that diaper changes triggered a meltdown. "I made warm wipes using paper towels and a pumpable thermos of warm water," she says. You can also buy an electric wipe warmer for a sensitive baby.

14. You'll need other tricks, too. "Doing deep knee bends and lunges while holding my daughter calmed her down," says Emily Earle, a mom in Brooklyn, New York. "And the upside was, I got my legs back in shape!"

15. Soak to soothe. If all else fails -- and baby's umbilical cord stub has fallen off -- try a warm bath together. "You'll relax, too, and a relaxed mommy can calm a baby," says Emily Franklin, a Boston mom.

Getting Dad Involved

Your husband, who helped you through your pregnancy, may seem at a loss now that baby's here. It's up to you, Mom, to hand the baby over and let Dad figure things out, just like you're doing.

16. Let him be. Many first-time dads hesitate to get involved for fear of doing something wrong and incurring the wrath of Mom. "Moms need to allow their husbands to make mistakes without criticizing them," says Armin Brott, author of The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year (Abbeville Press).

17. Ask Dad to take time off from work -- after all the relatives leave. That's what Thad Calabrese, of Brooklyn, New York, did. "There was more for me to do, and I got some alone time with my son."

18. Divvy up duties. Mark DiStefano, a dad in Los Angeles, took over the cleaning and grocery shopping. "I also took Ben for a bit each afternoon so my wife could have a little time to herself."

19. Remember that Dad wants to do some fun stuff, too. "I used to take my shirt off and put the baby on my chest while we napped," say Bob Vonnegut, a dad in Islamorada, Florida. "I loved the rhythm of our hearts beating together."

Staying Sane

No matter how excited you are to be a mommy, the constant care an infant demands can drain you. Find ways to take care of yourself by lowering your expectations and stealing short breaks.

20. First, ignore unwanted or confusing advice. "In the end, you're the parents, so you decide what's best," says Julie Balis, a mom in Frankfort, Illinois.

21. "Forget about housework for the first couple of months," says Alison Mackonochie, author of 100 Tips for a Happy Baby (Barron's). "Concentrate on getting to know your baby. If anyone has anything to say about the dust piling up or the unwashed dishes, smile and hand them a duster or the dish detergent!"

22. Accept help from anyone who is nice -- or naive -- enough to offer. "If a neighbor wants to hold the baby while you shower, say yes!" says Jeanne Anzalone, a mom in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

23. Got lots of people who want to help but don't know how? "Don't be afraid to tell people exactly what you need," says Abby Moskowitz, a Brooklyn mom. It's one of the few times in your life when you'll be able to order everyone around!

24. But don't give other people the small jobs. "Changing a diaper takes two minutes. You'll need others to do time-consuming work like cooking, sweeping floors, and buying diapers," says Catherine Park, a Cleveland mom.

25. Reconnect. To keep yourself from feeling detached from the world, Jacqueline Kelly, a mom in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, suggests: "Get outside on your own, even for five minutes."

Out and About with Baby

26. Enlist backup. Make your first journey to a big, public place with a veteran mom. "Having my sister with me for support kept me from becoming flustered the first time I went shopping with my newborn," says Suzanne Zook, a mom in Denver.

27. If you're on your own, "stick to places likely to welcome a baby, such as story hour at a library or bookstore," suggests Christin Gauss, a mom in Fishers, Indiana.

28. "Keep your diaper bag packed," says Fran Bowen, a mom in Brooklyn. There's nothing worse than finally getting the baby ready, only to find that you're not.

29. Stash a spare. Holland Brown, a mom in Long Beach, California, always keeps a change of adult clothes in her diaper bag. "You don't want to get stuck walkingaround with an adorable baby but mustard-colored poop all over you."

30. Finally, embrace the chaos. "Keep your plans simple and be prepared to abandon them at any time," says Margi Weeks, a mom in Tarrytown, New York.

If nothing else, remember that everyone makes it through, and so will you. Soon enough you'll be rewarded with your baby's first smile, and that will help make up for all the initial craziness.

Heather Swain is a mother and writer in Brooklyn, New York. Her novel is Luscious Lemon (Downtown Press).

more in baby care basics


Q&A with Brianne Manz of Stroller in the City

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Chandler Scyocurka, part of British American's Marketing and PR team, sat down with Brianne Manz of Stroller in the City for a Q&A focused on being a mommy blogger and raising children in the bustle of New York City. 

Brianne, who was once a fashion showroom owner, now dedicates her time to motherhood and blogging. Here, she shares some tips on how to perfectly balance being a great mother all while making the most of living in the city. 

Q: Raising children in the city is inevitably difficult. What are some of your tips to new mothers in New York City, in particular?

A: I always say this but the ability to be flexible and go with the flow is key. And make time for yourself! I learned a weekly yoga class so I can just calm my mind, works wonders. And allows you to handle the chaos.


• Q: What do you think is most important when raising a family in New York?

A: Take advantage of what this city has to offer. We have museums and galleries and amazing parks right outside our door. We are surrounded by different cultures and backgrounds—we hear dozens of different languages a day. We wouldn’t have this if we lived anywhere else. It is important to appreciate it and not let the grind overshadow how culturally diverse and wonderful this city is.


• Q: What are your favorite places in or around New York City when looking to spend quality time with your little ones and family?

A: We live in an amazing neighborhood. Battery Park City has so many parks and playgrounds…waterfront views, the promenade, great restaurants. This is the perfect neighborhood to spend time with the family. Plus, I also love the West Village—it still feels like old New York on some of those blocks.


• Q: How do you balance being a mom and a blogger? What do you feel like it means to be a mommy blogger in the social media age?

A: I recently wrote a post about balancing, and for me there’s no such thing. It’s about the juggle. I’m lucky enough that my job involves my family, but I do need to set work hours for myself where I am just working on writing, and other times when I cannot answer emails or phones while I am toting my littles to their after school activities.  

Social media is a huge part of what I do, and I have a very supportive and loving community of followers so I always feel safe sharing our lives. I have always been pretty honest in my posts so I hope I don’t contribute to the staged and unattainable idea of perfection that stresses moms out. I am pretty real, our photos are real—our life is real. I want to continue to promote the honest side of motherhood.


• Q: Have you ever used or considered using a baby nurse or nanny?

A: My husband travels for work constantly so I definitely need some help—especially when I have three kids in different schools in different neighborhoods!! We have a babysitter four days a week to help with school drop offs and pick-ups…and she watches the kids when I have important events and meetings. My family lives nearby so they are always available to help with the kids. I am not opposed to hiring help! Raising children while working full-time is challenging—you always need help, and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it! 


TEACH YOUR BABY TO READ

TEACH YOUR BABY TO READ

Can Babies Really Learn To Read?

Yes, They Can!     

All babies are Einstein’s when it comes to learning to read. Your baby can actually learn to read beginning at 3 months of age.  Research shows that from this early age, babies have the ability to learn languages, whether, written, foreign or sign language with ease.  It requires no effort for the developing baby to learn languages.  They actually just absorb the language that surrounds them.

Window of Opportunity     

Babies have an advantage over the rest of us.  They have a rapidly developing brain.  This allows them to effortlessly learn and absorb mass amounts of information, all before their 5th birthday.  The experts refer to this period of intense brain development as a “Critical Period” or a “Window of Opportunity”. That simply means that during this period of time, it is considered the ideal time to introduce certain things.  Skills, such as learning to read, are acquired with the least amount of effort during these periods.
 
The brain grows through use.  By stimulating your baby you are growing and strengthening the brain and its connections, called synapses. These are all very important in the development of your child’s intellect.  We can do this by providing rich, stimulating environments for our babies.  We can expose them to foreign languages and sign language.  We can also teach them to read.
It’s Easy!     

Teaching your baby to read may be the easiest of the above choices.  You may not know any other languages.  You may not know how to sign and you may not have the time or resources to learn.  That is why teaching babies to read is so easy and so rewarding.  Since you already know how to read, it is a natural step to teach your baby to read as well.
 
The System     

Babies learn to read using the whole-word method, also called sight reading.   Thousands upon thousands of babies have learned to read using this simple and amazing system.  Babies that learn to read using the whole-word method, naturally learn the rules of phonics on their own or with very little exposure to phonics lessons.  However, we recommend that parents of children ages 4 years and up use a phonetic system to teach reading.
 
How It Works     

Teaching your baby to read must be fun for your baby.  The idea is to keep their interest in what you are presenting.
 
​   -The first rule in teaching babies to read is to make the words big.  Their developing visual pathway does not allow them to read words at the font size we are accustomed to reading.
 
   -Secondly, you have to show them the words very quickly.  They are learning at incredible rates.  When we teach babies to read, we must keep in mind that they can be learning to speak Chinese, French, Spanish and English with no effort, all in the same day.  You must also show the baby the words very quickly.  If we try to teach a baby to read by having them stare at words they will lose  interest.  It takes a split second for your child to process the word you are presenting to them.
 
   -Thirdly, you must speak the word in a clear voice.  It is best to use a slightly higher-pitched tone, which comes naturally to most people when they speak to babies anyway.
 
   -The last step for success in teaching your baby to read is frequency.  You must present the words often in order for your child to master them.  As your child progresses in their program, they will master new words at an incredible rate.  In the beginning of your baby’s program, you will need to present a word between 15 and 20 times in order to assure mastery.  As your program progresses, your child will master new words after viewing them only 2 or 3 times.
 
How They Progress      When teaching babies to read, we begin with single words.  After we have taught between 30 to 50 words, we begin to combine the words to form couplets or word pairs.  From there we progress to phrases, sentences, and then book.
 
We recommend that after your child has learned to read many words that you do introduce them to phonics.  
It is very exciting to hear your baby read their first word.  Of course, you will not hear your baby reading until your baby can speak.  This does not mean that you have to wait until your baby can speak in order to teach reading.  As you read this article you are most likely not reading aloud, yet you are still reading. 
 
Proof     

If you are doubtful that babies can read, go to You Tube and type in babies reading.  You will see lots of videos of babies reading as soon as they can speak.
 
In order to start teaching your baby to read, all you need is a marker and some cardstock.  You can begin by teaching your baby to read their name, your name and other words they hear regularly.  
Now, We Have Made It Easy For You.  The MonkiSee product line has been specifically designed to assist you in teaching your baby to read.  We have a fantastic DVD Collection and five sets of flash cards that are all you need to start on this exciting journey to give your baby a head start in life. The MonkiSee product line is very different from other products on the market.  The MonkiSee DVDs are educational, yet very entertaining.  We are sure your child will have a fantastic time learning to read with these products.  Your baby will be enthusiastic and in love with learning to read.  There is no other program on the market that makes learning to read this much fun.
Visit our store to discover a great selection of products that can aid you in teaching your baby to read.  We have carefully selected some of the best products we believe will enhance your teaching experience.

by intellbaby.com

Contact us to hire a nanny at info@bahs.com


Get the Royal Treatment at Provence’s Historic Château Fonscolombe

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article by Jessica Benavides Canepa for Robb Report

Queen Elizabeth stayed in this opulent 18th-century estate—and now you can too.

Ensconced in the heart of Provence’s mystical wine country sits a stately residence, home to the Marquis de Saporta and his family for more than 300 centuries. The collection of fountains, stone sculptures, and ancient arboretum pepper the grounds, serving as a reminder of the grandeur of this estate and the lavish parties once held there. As a private château, only royals, VIPs, and dignitaries—most notably Queen Elizabeth—were privy to an overnight stay.

Then, in June 2017, after 18 months of construction and painstaking renovation, Château Fonscolombe was reborn as a 50-room hotel, opening its storied doors to a new generation of discerning guests. Built in the Italian Quattrocento style popular during the 18th century, the main estate features 13 chateau-style bedrooms, each are adorned with a wide spectrum of period touches, from ornate ceiling detailing and hand-painted Chinese wallpaper to chiseled frescos, manicured lawns, Genoa leather tapestries and original terracotta-hued floor tiles. There’s also a small spa (located in the castle’s former boudoir), a winery (dating back to Roman times), and sprawling gardens set over more than 20 acres.

Careful additions have been made as well: The L’Orangerie Restaurant—a rustic-chic dream of high wood-beam ceilings and velvet seating topped with Provençal print cushions—serves a singular combination of traditional “ancestral bourgeois” cuisine with a contemporary flair. There’s also a new swimming pool and deck, as well as an annex housing 37 rooms, each of which presents a modern take on castle décor with stark walls adorned with fashionable photo prints and ceramic cricket wall art.


A Scottish Castle Fit for Interior-Design Royalty

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article by Jennifer Fernandez for Architectural Digest

photo by Luis Ridao

Farrow & Ball co-owner Tom Helme transforms an Edwardian estate into a modern yet historically resonant family home

Scotland is a place shaped by myth and legend, where every crag and castle tells a story. On the remote Kintyre peninsula, nestled among rural farms and the west coast’s pounding waves, one rambling property has the sort of dreamlike atmosphere that feels straight out of a fairytale.

“While its remoteness is a refuge, its great beauty is a neverending source of happiness,” says Tom Helme, the former decoration advisor to the National Trust and onetime co-owner responsible for reviving cult-favorite paint company Farrow & Ball, who purchased the 7,500-acre Carskiey estate with partner and design collaborator Lisa Ephson on more than just a whim. Helme had grown up holidaying in Scotland, and he almost closed on a similar home in the area years earlier. “Tom was looking for somewhere where proper farming communities still survive, within view of the ocean—not to mention the incredible light that the west coast of Scotland is famous for,” says Ephson of the cliffside property, whose nine miles encompass a 1908 Edwardian mansion, a shore cottage, and an Aberdeen Angus cattle farm that abut the sea.

Thankfully, the house’s bones remained structurally intact, its slate roof kept in place over the last century thanks to solid copper nails and its sturdy oak and stone flooring blissfully free of rot—even on these damp shores. The only concessions to modern life: fully updated plumbing, electrical, and heating systems—even so, using thoughtfully restored radiators—as well as an aesthetic overhaul that manages to maintain the Edwardian spirit of the property.

For a historical preservationist, there is perhaps no greater joy than bringing an old house to life, and Helme relished articulating his signature style to the 19,000-square-foot mansion, which was fittingly built by textiles heiress Kate Boyd and her industrialist husband James. Relying on his Farrow & Ball background, Helme mixed a series of custom paints that give each room warmth and historical resonance. “The look is based on a wish to be welcoming and hospitable, not stuffy or formal,” says Helme. “The most important thing for me in decorating is that it not feel intimidating.” To that end, he and Ephson, a former fashion insider, incorporated much of the existing furniture—four-poster beds and upholstered armchairs—adding modern pieces like the B&B Italia sofa in the living room, a Fortuny stage lamp on a stair landing, and a collection of Fornasetti printing plates, and supplemented what tapestries and materials they could salvage with more approachable hand-drawn fabrics from Fermoie, the textile company Helme founded with school friend and former Farrow & Ball co-owner Martin Ephson.

Indeed, that lack of formality shines in how Ephson and Helme spend their time at Carskiey: “going out in our lobster-potting boat, shooting the creels, and cooking the catch; sitting in the upstairs library at sundown, looking over green fields and sea to Sanda Island and Ailsa Craig; hosting a full house and enjoying beach barbecues and bonfires,” says Ephson, also noting that the property has been used as the backdrop for magazine photography shoots and advertising campaigns, as well as by holiday renters: “We’ve never felt anything other than utter madness upon leaving.” The spirit of former proprietress Mrs. Boyd has also been known to drop in from time to time. This is Scotland, after all. Even the ghosts have their own stories.

The Phenomenon Of Baby Nurses

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By SARA BERMAN | March 11, 2008
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Tomorrow will be my baby nurse's last day with my family. I'm not sure whom I feel worse for: myself or the baby. Six weeks into this gig, I hope the baby hasn't become completely accustomed to twice-daily baths, around-the-clock attention, careful burping, and long massages. But Nate, like his brothers and sisters before him, will survive on fewer baths, fewer massages, and — there's no delicate way to say this — far, far less attention.

According to an agency that places baby nurses in the tristate area (British American Newborn Care) a baby nurse is a non-medical newborn specialist who is highly experienced in infant care. Baby nurses work in private homes and care for newborns typically from the day the baby arrives home through a period of several weeks or months. Normally, they provide 24-hour care and "assist new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care and may also help establish eating and sleeping patterns."

In other words, they're glorified, uniform-clad nannies who diaper, burp, bathe, swaddle, rock, and if you want, feed the baby 24 hours a day. They are not — in case you were confused — nurses.

If there is one peculiar element to having a baby in a certain slice of New York, it is the assumption that you will have a baby nurse. If you type the words "baby nurse" into any search engine, you will see that the majority of the links are in the tristate area. They may have baby nurses in California and Georgia, but those baby nurses are, in fact, likely to be registered nurses — and their employers are more likely to be having triplets than single births.

At roughly $200 a day, though, having a baby nurse can really add up.

"Worth every penny," an acquaintance told me about her baby nurse. "We could barely afford our rent when we had our first child. But neither of us had any family in New York. And neither of us had ever changed a diaper. The grandparents pooled together and gave the baby nurse as a gift. It was the best gift ever."

Cramped city living, not exactly conducive to having the in-laws move in for a week or two, is compatible with a baby nurse, who shares the room with the newborn. Giving the gift of a baby nurse is one way to make nice with your daughter-in-law.

One couple with far greater means never let the baby nurse go. "The baby was going to be a year old," the father of three said about his first child, "and we still had the nurse. The nurse would go on and on about what a hard night she had had with the baby, and I'm thinking, suuure you did. Finally, I convinced my wife that enough was enough. But sure enough, when we had our second child, the same baby nurse just moved back in. This time, she stayed for eight or nine months. I'm pretty embarrassed to admit that," he said, while calculating how much he paid the baby nurse over the course of his three children: at least $200,000.

My question is this: Who assists new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care across the rest of the country?

"When I was pregnant with my first, I had heard of people using baby nurses," a friend who had her first two children in Chicago said. "But I didn't really know any myself. My mom came and stayed with us for the first week or two. She showed me how to diaper and bathe the baby. And then my mother-in-law came for a few days. I've never been so sad to see my mother-in-law leave. All of a sudden, I was on my own, and it was pretty brutal."

A mother of three who lived in different parts of the South when she had her children said that no one she knew used a baby nurse. "Having a lot of help is normal in New York, but it isn't in most parts of the country," she said. "That's partially economic and partially cultural. I had help when I had my third baby, but that meant I had someone come to clean my house, or baby-sit my other children."

There are plenty of New Yorkers who'd rather spend the money on anything but a baby nurse. "I don't really understand why people have baby nurses," an Upper West Side mother of three said. "The baby and baby nurse sleep all day, while you cook and clean and look after the other kids. For a lot less, you could find someone who does a lot more."

I happen to think that if you can afford it, a good baby nurse does wonders to smooth the transition for the first few weeks of a baby's life — for the baby and for the entire family.

A few weeks ago, my 5-year-old daughter, Kira, heard the baby nurse coo to Nate, "You are so cute, I could eat you up."

"Go ahead," Kira said, deadpan. When the baby nurse later teased that she was going to take Nate home, you can imagine Kira's response.

"Good," she snarled.

Perhaps it is Kira's mental state that I should be worried about on Thursday — not the baby's.

bababynurses.com 


Your Newborn: 30 Tips for the First 30 Days

From parents magazine

Breastfeeding

It's been six weeks since our daughter, Clementine, was born. She's finally sleeping better and going longer between feedings. She's also becoming more alert when she's awake. My husband and I, on the other hand, feel like we've been hit by a truck. I'm amazed that we've muddled through. Here are tips from seasoned parents and baby experts to make your first month easier.

Hints for Nursing

Babies eat and eat and eat. Although nature has done a pretty good job of providing you and your baby with the right equipment, in the beginning it's almost guaranteed to be harder than you expected. From sore nipples to tough latch-ons, nursing can seem overwhelming.

1. Women who seek help have a higher success rate. "Think of ways to ensure success before you even give birth," suggests Stacey Brosnan, a lactation consultant in New York City. Talk with friends who had a good nursing experience, ask baby's pediatrician for a lactation consultant's number, or attend a La Leche League (nursing support group) meeting (see laleche.org to find one).

2. Use hospital resources. Kira Sexton, a Brooklyn, New York, mom, says, "I learned everything I could about breastfeeding before I left the hospital." Ask if there's a nursing class or a lactation consultant on staff. Push the nurse-call button each time you're ready to feed the baby, and ask a nurse to spot you and offer advice.

3. Prepare. At home, you'll want to drop everything to feed the baby the moment she cries for you. But Heather O'Donnell, a mom in New York City, suggests taking care of yourself first. "Get a glass of water and a book or magazine to read." And, because breastfeeding can take a while, she says, "pee first!"

4. Try a warm compress if your breasts are engorged or you have blocked ducts. A heating pad or a warm, wet washcloth works, but a flax pillow (often sold with natural beauty products) is even better. "Heat it in the microwave, and conform it to your breast," says Laura Kriska, a mom in Brooklyn, New York.

5. Heat helps the milk flow, but if your breasts are sore after nursing, try a cold pack. Amy Hooker, a San Diego mom, says, "A bag of frozen peas worked really well for me."

6. If you want baby to eventually take a bottle, introduce it after breastfeeding is established but before the 3-month mark. Many experts say 6 to 8 weeks is good, but "we started each of our kids on one bottle a day at 3 weeks," says Jill Sizemore, a mom in Pendleton, Indiana.

Sleeping

If your infant isn't eating, he's probably sleeping. Newborns log as many as 16 hours of sleep a day but only in short bursts. The result: You'll feel on constant alert and more exhausted than you ever thought possible. Even the best of us can come to resent the severe sleep deprivation.

7. Stop obsessing about being tired. There's only one goal right now: Care for your baby. "You're not going to get a full night's sleep, so you can either be tired and angry or just tired," says Vicki Lansky, author of Getting Your Child to Sleep...and Back to Sleep (Book Peddlers). "Just tired is easier."

8. Take shifts. One night it's Mom's turn to rock the cranky baby, the next it's Dad's turn. Amy Reichardt and her husband, Richard, parents in Denver, worked out a system for the weekends, when Richard was off from work. "I'd be up with the baby at night but got to sleep in. Richard did all the morning care, then got to nap later."

9. The old adage "Sleep when your baby sleeps" really is the best advice. "Take naps together and go to bed early," says Sarah Clark, a mom in Washington, D.C.

10. What if your infant has trouble sleeping? Do whatever it takes: Nurse or rock baby to sleep; let your newborn fall asleep on your chest or in the car seat. "Don't worry about bad habits yet. It's about survival -- yours!" says Jean Farnham, a Los Angeles mom.

Soothing

It's often hard to decipher exactly what baby wants in the first murky weeks. You'll learn, of course, by trial and error.

11. "The key to soothing fussy infants is to mimic the womb. Swaddling, shushing, and swinging, as well as allowing babies to suck and holding them on their sides, may trigger a calming reflex," says Harvey Karp, MD, creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block books, videos, and DVDs.

12. Play tunes. Forget the dubious theory that music makes a baby smarter, and concentrate on the fact that it's likely to calm him. "The Baby Einstein tapes saved us," says Kim Rich, a mom in Anchorage, Alaska.

13. Warm things up. Alexandra Komisaruk, a mom in Los Angeles, found that diaper changes triggered a meltdown. "I made warm wipes using paper towels and a pumpable thermos of warm water," she says. You can also buy an electric wipe warmer for a sensitive baby.

14. You'll need other tricks, too. "Doing deep knee bends and lunges while holding my daughter calmed her down," says Emily Earle, a mom in Brooklyn, New York. "And the upside was, I got my legs back in shape!"

15. Soak to soothe. If all else fails -- and baby's umbilical cord stub has fallen off -- try a warm bath together. "You'll relax, too, and a relaxed mommy can calm a baby," says Emily Franklin, a Boston mom.

Getting Dad Involved

Your husband, who helped you through your pregnancy, may seem at a loss now that baby's here. It's up to you, Mom, to hand the baby over and let Dad figure things out, just like you're doing.

16. Let him be. Many first-time dads hesitate to get involved for fear of doing something wrong and incurring the wrath of Mom. "Moms need to allow their husbands to make mistakes without criticizing them," says Armin Brott, author of The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year (Abbeville Press).

17. Ask Dad to take time off from work -- after all the relatives leave. That's what Thad Calabrese, of Brooklyn, New York, did. "There was more for me to do, and I got some alone time with my son."

18. Divvy up duties. Mark DiStefano, a dad in Los Angeles, took over the cleaning and grocery shopping. "I also took Ben for a bit each afternoon so my wife could have a little time to herself."

19. Remember that Dad wants to do some fun stuff, too. "I used to take my shirt off and put the baby on my chest while we napped," say Bob Vonnegut, a dad in Islamorada, Florida. "I loved the rhythm of our hearts beating together."

Staying Sane

No matter how excited you are to be a mommy, the constant care an infant demands can drain you. Find ways to take care of yourself by lowering your expectations and stealing short breaks.

20. First, ignore unwanted or confusing advice. "In the end, you're the parents, so you decide what's best," says Julie Balis, a mom in Frankfort, Illinois.

21. "Forget about housework for the first couple of months," says Alison Mackonochie, author of 100 Tips for a Happy Baby (Barron's). "Concentrate on getting to know your baby. If anyone has anything to say about the dust piling up or the unwashed dishes, smile and hand them a duster or the dish detergent!"

22. Accept help from anyone who is nice -- or naive -- enough to offer. "If a neighbor wants to hold the baby while you shower, say yes!" says Jeanne Anzalone, a mom in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

23. Got lots of people who want to help but don't know how? "Don't be afraid to tell people exactly what you need," says Abby Moskowitz, a Brooklyn mom. It's one of the few times in your life when you'll be able to order everyone around!

24. But don't give other people the small jobs. "Changing a diaper takes two minutes. You'll need others to do time-consuming work like cooking, sweeping floors, and buying diapers," says Catherine Park, a Cleveland mom.

25. Reconnect. To keep yourself from feeling detached from the world, Jacqueline Kelly, a mom in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, suggests: "Get outside on your own, even for five minutes."

Out and About with Baby

26. Enlist backup. Make your first journey to a big, public place with a veteran mom. "Having my sister with me for support kept me from becoming flustered the first time I went shopping with my newborn," says Suzanne Zook, a mom in Denver.

27. If you're on your own, "stick to places likely to welcome a baby, such as story hour at a library or bookstore," suggests Christin Gauss, a mom in Fishers, Indiana.

28. "Keep your diaper bag packed," says Fran Bowen, a mom in Brooklyn. There's nothing worse than finally getting the baby ready, only to find that you're not.

29. Stash a spare. Holland Brown, a mom in Long Beach, California, always keeps a change of adult clothes in her diaper bag. "You don't want to get stuck walkingaround with an adorable baby but mustard-colored poop all over you."

30. Finally, embrace the chaos. "Keep your plans simple and be prepared to abandon them at any time," says Margi Weeks, a mom in Tarrytown, New York.

If nothing else, remember that everyone makes it through, and so will you. Soon enough you'll be rewarded with your baby's first smile, and that will help make up for all the initial craziness.

Heather Swain is a mother and writer in Brooklyn, New York. Her novel is Luscious Lemon (Downtown Press).

more in baby care basics


Interview with Anita Rogers on Goop.com

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article from Goop 

photo from Goop

Anita Rogers, founder of household staffing agency British American, has more than a decade’s experience in pairing families with household staff, from nannies and butlers to personal assistants and estate managers. She’s earned a reputation for finding successful matches–and also for helping to handle any situation that may arise in the working household. Here, she shares her insights on why hiring for your childcare or home needs is profoundly personal, and how a staffing agency can help with the process.

A Q&A with Anita Rogers

Q: What are the upsides to using an agency?

A: An agency helps you determine what kind of help you really need, and devises the way in which you want your staff to fit your lifestyle. It also saves you time and keeps you safe during the interview process. Some families have limited experience interviewing and hiring childcare and household staff, which makes it easy to miss signs of danger, red flags, or dishonesty. We enforce strict standards as we interview thousands of candidates each year. This has allowed us—and other reputable agencies—to become experts at spotting dishonest references and to be able single out specific personality traits and potential challenges. A staffing agency has seen how similar traits have played out with other candidates, which lends to its ability to find the best fit for you, your family, and your household.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about household staffing?

A: Both parties must be willing to give and take in order to find the best match. Often people think they can hire a candidate if they offer a competitive or high salary. Or if a nanny or butler has excellent experience, they might assume they can get a higher salary and an ideal schedule. But staffing is a matchmaking process, and both parties must be satisfied with the relationship and the circumstances in order for it to work.

Q: How do you recognize good talent?

A: It’s a long process—and it’s so much more than just a great résumé and reference letters. We look for candidates that have a balance of experience, training, and education in their field and glowing references from past employers. Other indicators we look for include personality, attitude, flexibility, grammar, responsiveness, and confidence.

The résumé is always the first indicator of talent, where we look at formal level of experience, age appropriate childcare experience, the types of homes an individual has worked in, longevity in previous jobs, and demonstrated professionalism and willingness. We screen all résumés and references and do extensive state, federal, and international background checks, as well as a thorough screening of their social media.

Q: What’s the secret to finding a good match between a family and nanny?

A: Everyone must be on the same page from the very beginning of the process. One family’s dream nanny could be another’s nightmare. It’s imperative that the candidate and the family have a similar approach to raising children, as well as complementary personalities. Someone who is really laid back isn’t going to work well in a formal home that thrives on structure. (The reverse is true as well.) The perfect nanny and family pairing has similar philosophies about discipline, education, and responsibilities. There has to be a mutual respect between the parents and the nanny regarding the decisions made concerning the child. As a parent, if you feel like you have to micromanage and instruct your nanny on how you’d like every situation handled, you will become frustrated and resentful of the situation.

One of the most important factors to consider during the process of finding a good match is assessing the needs and expectations of the family. There’s a huge difference between a parent looking for an extra set of hands to help with driving, activities, and meals and a working parent who needs someone to be the child’s primary caregiver. A take-charge, independent, problem-solving nanny with sole-charge experience isn’t going to thrive as a helper. In the same way, a nanny without the confidence to make decisions on his or her own and proactively foresee situations isn’t the best choice for a family where the parents are gone most of the day. 

Q: Once the hiring process is done, what other support do clients typically need?

A: It depends upon the family. Clients will often come to us for help with communicating with their new employee, especially during the transition process while the employee settles in. We always encourage regular, open and honest communication between both parties. On occasion, we will go into the home as a “manager” and help iron out any small issues that may exist. A relationship between a family and their household employees needs to be nurtured and carefully built, as this is a private home, where discretion is of utmost importance. We encourage clear communication and a weekly sit-down between a family and staff.

Q: If a match doesn’t work out, what is your advice for handling a potential change (or parting ways)?

A: We suggest that each party be gentle but honest about their feelings. The parting should be done with kindness and care so that everyone involved understands that it isn’t a personal attack, just a relationship that has outlived its potential. When hiring staff, you are creating a business in your home. I have seen people distraught if something isn’t working out because they don’t want to offend someone, they don’t want to hurt their feelings.

In certain situations, we’ll go into the residence and let the candidate go so that we can assure it’s done with delicacy. Every situation is very different. We’ve learned it’s best to never point fingers and to make everyone feel good. We directly address and try to resolve any problems, serious or minor, that are brought to our attention, and to support the client or candidate. The ending of a professional relationship can be emotional, particularly if it involves an intimate household setting, so we work to minimize any potential animosity a much as possible.

Q: Is there a difference between a nanny and a career nanny?

A: Most definitely. A typical nanny is different from a career nanny in that they often have a lot of experience with families, but no background or education in child development. Other nanny candidates are great with children and may have teaching degrees or other formal education, but limited in-home experience (typically part-time babysitting work).

A career nanny is someone who has chosen childcare as his or her profession. Most often, these candidates have formal education in child development and/or psychology. This can include a college degree in education or or training from previous jobs. Career nannies also have an employment history of long-term placements in private homes, understand the dynmics of working in a home environment and are great with children. A career nanny knows how to anticipate needs, respect a family’s privacy and space, and handle the logistics of high-end homes. Being in a home is very different than working in a school or daycare; there is no way to prepare or train someone for it, it’s something you learn and understand only after having experienced it.

Q: How have staffing agencies changed over the years?

A: Historically, many agencies have been run by only one or two people. Today, the amount of work it takes to verify backgrounds, interview candidates, and create and nurture relationships is impossible with such a small team. This is a time-intensive business, which is why a larger team with modernized and strict processes is essential.

 

http://goop.com/work/parenthood/how-a-staffing-agency-can-help/


Buy Time Not Stuff!

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image by Kristen Solecki for NPR

article by Allison Aubrey for NPR

Money can't buy happiness, right? Well, some researchers beg to differ. They say it depends on how you spend it.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencessuggests that when people spend money on time-saving services such as a house cleaner, lawn care or grocery delivery, it can make them feel a little happier. By comparison, money spent on material purchases — aka things — does not boost positive emotions the way we might expect.

Think of it as a way to buy back what has become for many Americans a scarce resource: free time.

Yet, in a culture where many people are quick to buy the latest model phone, a big-screen TV or a fancy pair of shoes, those same people are often resistant to spending money on time-saving services.

"Contemplating paying somebody else to do something you're perfectly capable of doing yourself may provoke feelings of guilt," says Elizabeth Dunn, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and an author of the study.

Dunn and her colleagues had a hunch that if people spent money to hire out some of the unwanted tasks on their to-do list, they might feel more satisfied with their quality of life.

"We hypothesized that people would be happier if they spent money to buy themselves out of the things they don't like doing," she says.

As a test, she and her colleagues designed an experiment: First, they recruited 60 adults under the age of 70 from Vancouver, British Columbia. The researchers gave the volunteers a little cash and asked them to spend it in two different ways, on two consecutive weekends. 

"On one weekend we gave them $40 and asked them to spend it in any way that would give them more free time," Dunn explains. Participants in the study chose a variety of services — everything from meal delivery to a cleaning service to help with errands.

Then, on the other weekend, the participants got another $40 to spend on a material purchase. They could choose anything they wanted within that budget. "One person bought polo shirts," Dunn says. "Another participant bought wine that she described as fancy." 

After each weekend purchase, the researchers called the participants and asked how they were feeling. The participants reported how much "positive emotion" they'd been experiencing and how much "negative emotion," Dunn explains. 

When the study participants spent money on time-saving services, they reported more positive emotion.

"Buying yourself out of [tasks] like mowing the lawn or cleaning the bathroom — these were pretty small, mundane expenditures, and yet we see them making a difference in people's happiness," Dunn says.

But how much happier? A separate part of the study helped to answer this question.

The same researchers surveyed a group of 6,000 people across a wide range of incomebrackets in the U.S., Canada and Europe. (The median household income for U.S. residents in the survey was $75,000, but the study also included working adults who made about $30,000 per year and some European millionaires.)

Respondents completed survey questions about whether they spent money each month to increase their free time by paying someone else to complete unenjoyable tasks, and if so, how much they spent.

In addition, the respondents were asked to rank their own level of happiness on a 10-point scale of life satisfaction. Think of the scale as a happiness ladder with 10 rungs.

"What we found is that people who spent money to buy time reported being almost one full point higher on our 10-point ladder, compared to people who did not use money to buy time," Dunn explains. People from across the income spectrum benefited from "buying time," she adds.

Moving up one rung on the happiness ladder may not sound like much, but the researchers say they're very excited by their results.

"Moving people up on the ladder of life satisfaction is not an easy thing to do," Dunn says. "So, if altering slightly how people are spending their money could move them up a full rung, it's something we really want to understand and perhaps encourage people to do."

Emanuel Maidenberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA who was not involved in the study, tells NPR he was a little surprised by the results.

He says it's an intriguing possibility to think about time-saving services as a "stress-management tool." But there are still some unanswered questions, he says. For instance, is the boost in positive emotions sustainable, "or is it just an immediate response?" Maidenberg wonders.

The authors are "presenting enough data to justify a more careful look into this," Maidenberg says. "It's exciting."


Hiring Seasonal Domestic Staff

Hiring the right temporary domestic staff for your summer home is a large project for any principle or family. This article discusses why this can be so challenging and offers potential solutions to common problems I have seen every season. I am someone with extensive experience in the luxury hospitality and staffing industry and I have run British American Household Staffing and British American Yachts, the leading domestic staffing and yacht crew agency in the USA and UK as well as British American Newborn Care, which works with the best childcare professionals in the USA and UK. Most agencies have a roster of recurring staff in all the domestic staff categories. The earlier you start the hiring process the more likely you will secure the most qualified candidates. If you have very specific requirements and early start will help you find the ideal person for a potentially harder match to find.

A family looking for a live-in housekeeper-cook for their Hamptons home should look at contacting agencies in New York as well as the Hamptons, but nowhere too far for the housekeeper-cook to travel back and forth to on their days off (for instance New Jersey is too far from Easthampton, one full day off will be used for traveling). A live-in housekeeper-cook for the Hamptons will have to drive so this is a challenging order as many domestic candidates don’t want to live in and many housekeepers do not like to cook, especially cook the volume needed for the summer season, which is typically filled with parties and extra guests.

The best solution is to do the following: - Start the hiring process early - Contact high end agencies only, both local and non-local (as it is live in) - Set a salary range that is generous to allow you to find the best fit more easily - Make sure you have set an appealing schedule so you open-up the pool of qualified candidates. The schedule should always have 2 consecutive days off and usually a Sunday is given as a day off, in conjunction with Monday or Saturday - Phone screen the candidates first - Check their level of experience - Check they have been a flexible worker in the past.

One of the most common recurring issues for larger estates lies in the team of domestic staff. Staffing a larger home or estates is like running a small business in your home. The pyramid model works well for estate staffing. Start by hiring a house manager or a butler house manager. This person can then help you screen the rest of the staff, which helps them establish their authority with the staff you decide to hire for the summer that this house manager will be overseeing. This is the most important hire you will make over the summer, so screen this person for the following qualities:

- Ask their management style and ask for two or more references from staff they managed previously - Find out why they are looking for the summer only - Hire someone who has experience in the area they will be working - Ensure they have estate staff management experience - Once you hire them, hire the domestic staff with them and keep an open line of communication with the staff in case there are revolving door problems and it is the fault of the house manager - Make sure they have relationships with the top agencies in the area and ask who they liaise with at those agencies - Ensure they understand scheduling for staff - Pay them very well with the promise of a bonus at the end of the season In case you are doing the hiring alone or with a remote house manager, you will need to know how to attract the best staff (housekeepers, chefs and nannies) for your summer home Housekeepers: - Other than nannies, most high quality domestic are looking for a secure full-time job position, preferably with benefits. This is something every principle hiring only for the summer with deal with and lose staff too.

The best solution for this is to hire the best local candidates on a lower full time salary, offer benefits and give them a bonus at the end of the summer. This is the best solution for retaining top talent in a seasonal area such as the Hamptons - Housekeepers, more than any other domestic staff category, like a regular schedule with overtime, which is the law. A constant live in or Wednesday to Sunday schedule is always unpopular, but more-often-than-not needed for summer hires, especially in the Hamptons. Hire one more extra housekeeper than you need so each housekeeper gets one weekend of a month. This will attract the best talent - A standard and suggested formal housekeeper salary is $70,000 plus benefits and overtime.  A seasonal housekeeper is $35 to $40 an hour.

 

Chefs: -

Chefs often like a temporary position that helps them earn a solid income and allows them more freedom to freelance during the year, or travel etc. - Yacht chefs are some of the best chefs you can find and they are accustomed to short-term gigs, long schedules, catering to large formal parties in a small space and working 7 day or more stretches. I would recommend this direction if you can accommodate a live- in chef. - Use an agency that works with both yacht and domestic staff - Top chefs are often happy to do the Hamptons in between jobs. Again, starting this search early and constantly checking in is an excellent way of increasing your chances of securing the best private chef for the summer - Suggested salary for a summer chef is $8-12,000 a month.

Nannies: -

Nannies fall into many different categories: 1. Career nannies 2. Mother’s helpers 3. Nanny/housekeepers 4. Second language nannies 5. Newborn Care Specialist nannies 6. Travel nannies Childcare is the most delicate of all domestic hires to make, as they need to be fully-qualified for your particular childcare situation. I recommend using an agency with a specialized childcare department. Screen the head of the department and make sure they are qualified in childhood education and development and hold the appropriate degrees (and newborn care specialist should be an expert in their field and should have experience training, screening and offering certificates to newborn care specialists). If your children are older (3 and up) a travel nanny or student nanny could be a great option. These nannies are often students, actresses, singers, writers or have another unrelated career during the year. They must be experienced nannies with your children’s age group and this should be screened by the agency childcare branch. This can be a good option if they are able to tutor and educate your children over the summer, or teach them a musical instrument etc. This is the more economical option, with a salary usually starting at $25 an hour plus overtime. Travel pay is not a legal prerequisite but overtime pay is. If you have an infant, or infant twins, a certified and educated newborn care specialist or baby nurse is the best option. A regular nanny (career nanny, nanny/housekeepers, second language nanny, mother’s helper or suchlike) will be looking for a permanent position, so they are harder to pin down for the summer. If you do, the career nannies will likely be expensive at $35-45 an hour. Some will accept a summer position in between jobs but this is rare. For all childcare positions we highly recommend going through the childcare division at a reputed agency. Again, screen the person who heads this branch.

 

Examples are British American Household Staffing (bahs.com) and British American Newborn Care (bababynurses.com). Ashley Mundt and Katie Morin are both childhood and infant development specialists and highly certified, their bios below. For more information on domestic staffing, temporary or permanent, feel free to reach out to me at: info@bahs.com

By Anita Rogers www.bahs.com www.babynurses.com

 

Childhood development specialist and nanny hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing

Ashley Mundt, M.Ed., CCLS Nanny Consultant Ashley is our child development expert and nanny specialist. She has a strong academic background and years of hands on experience working with children and families in private and group settings. She received both a B.A. in Sociology and Youth and Human Services from Pepperdine University and an M.Ed. in Applied Child Studies from Vanderbilt. Her training as a Certified Child Life Specialist enables her to support and guide children and families during medical interventions, chronic illness, and family/home crisis situations. Although she has worked in many different settings throughout her career (including homes, schools, camps, and hospitals), her passion, and bulk of experience, is working directly with families in private homes. Over the past 15 years, she has worked as a highly sought after nanny, childcare consultant, parent educator, and caregiver trainer. Ashley's background of extensive developmental education and hands on experience in luxury homes puts her in a unique position to understand the needs of families, caregivers, and (most importantly) children.

 

Infant development specialist and baby nurse and newborn care specialist hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing and Newborn Care Katie Morin, ACNCS, NCSE Newborn Care Consultant and Placement 

Katie began her career in childcare over 20 years ago. She has been extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing families along the way. One of her first and most memorable experiences with multiples (a set of newborn triplets) was 28 years ago. It was then that she realized her passion for working with children. It was then that she also realized her passion for caring for multiples. Katie has a degree in Child Development and Psychology and has countless certificates including being Advance Certified through the Newborn Care Specialist Association. Through the years, Katie has been a career nanny, a daycare owner, a preschool teacher and a Certified Newborn Care Specialist. She also has had great success in matching NCS candidates with amazing families worldwide. She does not consider these positions just a job, they are a passion and what she loves to do. It allows her to meet incredible people, all with different personalities and aspects of life. This experience gives her the ability to educate and assist new parents during the most amazing part of their life. To date she has worked with over 40 sets of twins, 9 sets of triplets and quadruplets. She has also worked with dozens of preemies (some born as early as 26 weeks) as well as newborns with special needs.   

 

www.bahs.com

www.bababynurses.com

www.bahsyachts.com


Taverna Rebetika Greek Music Evening on January 28th, 6pm

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A private event for Anita Rogers Gallery and British American will take place on Saturday, January 28th at 77 Mercer Street, 2N, Soho NY 10012.  There will be live Greek music and dancing from 1930s Greece. Anita is singing with her Rebetiko group "I Meraklides" for the evening.  There is unlimited Greek food, wine and kefi for all guests.

Anita Rogers Gallery is showcasing three Greek-related artists that evening: George Negroponte, Brice Marden and Jack Martin Rogers, who all lived and painted in Greece.

Please RSVP to info@anitarogersgallery.com  Come and celebrate Greece and life and join the Greek and British American communities in Soho, NY.  We will confirm if your RSVP is confirmed. 

Μια μοναδικη βραδυα με Ρεμπέτικα και Σμυρνεικα τραγούδια σας περιμένει στις 28th January  2016 στην "Ρεμπέτικη Ταβερνα", πλαισιωμένη με άφθονη ρετσίνα και μεζεδακια.

Με ζωντανή μουσική και τραγούδια του Τσιτσάνη, Βαμβακαρη και Παπαϊωάννου, που έχουν τραγουδηθεί από τις αξέχαστες φωνές της Μαρίκας Νίνου, της Ρόζας Εσκεναζυ και της Σωτηρίας Μπελλου, θα εντυπωσιαστειτε με την αμεσότητα και την απλότητα που περιέγραψαν την εποχή τους οι πατέρες του Ρεμπετικου.

Οι Μερακλήδες σας περιμένουν
Anita Rogers: τραγουδι
Dimitris Mann: τρίχρονο μπουζουκι-τραγούδι
Vasilis Kostas: κιθάρα -τραγούδι
Beth Bahia Cohen: βιολί και κιθαρα

Warm regards,
Anita Rogers
Director and Founder
Anita Rogers Gallery

www.anitarogersgallery.com


What type of childcare is the best fit for your family?

What type of childcare is the best fit for your family? 

By Ashley Mundt of BAHS (www.bahs.com)

 

As all parents know, there is “one size fits all” approach to pretty much anything related to children. Each child is born with their own temperament, into your family’s unique circumstance, and with varying abilities.

 

Your idea of ideal childcare, like so many other things, will depend on your child, your family, your beliefs, and your needs. What is the perfect fit for one family may be a nightmare for another. There are many things to consider when hiring someone to help look after your kids and offer support to you as a parent.

 

The type of care provider is one of the most important factors to look at. Below are the different types of care providers and what you can expect from each:

 

Babysitter: This type of caregiver is often associated with date nights or occasionally standing in with the primary caregiver isn’t available. Babysitters are typically students or have other full-time jobs. They are great at entertaining your children and keeping them safe in your absence. This is not a caregiver who necessarily understands the full picture of your child or family dynamics or contributes to your child’s development in a meaningful way. Typically babysitters are hired as needed and found through referrals from friends and neighbors. 

 

Mother’s Helper: Sometimes you just need an extra set of hands. Whether it is because you have multiple children going in different directions or you have obligations outside the home, even the most dedicated stay at home moms can need some help. A mother’s helper usually works alongside you and follows your lead. You are still making the decisions about the schedule, meals, and rules and should expect to provide direction and oversight. A mother’s helper typically has a set schedule and can be full-time or part-time. They may expect guaranteed hours each week or might be ok with working a flexible schedule. This type of support is often found through other parents, school referrals, or an agency (more common for full-time positions).

 

Nanny: The most common form of childcare of in-home childcare is a nanny. This is typically a caregiver who works full-time for your family. The education, experience, and abilities vary greatly in this group. A nanny will be more autonomous than a mother’s helper and be trusted to make decisions, take initiative, and be responsible for many child related duties (often including laundry, scheduling classes, and meals). Often, nannies won’t have formal education in childcare, but years of experience with other families or may be a parent themselves. Most nannies work 40-55 hours/week and depend on their salary as their main source of income.

 

Career Nanny: A career nanny has chosen to provide full-time, in home care as their career of choice. They are typically a primary caregiver who spends significant time with their charges. Often they have an educational background in education, development, or psychology. Their experience and knowledge makes them a valuable resource for advice and ideas. They should be able to not only promote and nurture your child’s development, but also articulate the reasoning behind what they do. They will also have previous experience working in private homes and are accustom to taking initiative, anticipating needs, and managing all things kids related. As a professional, They should be capable of contributing to your child’s development in a meaningful way while providing organization, consistency, and fresh ideas to your home. This is their full-time job and they will depend on a set salary (paid on the books) and benefits. These nannies are in high demand and almost always found through quality employment agencies.

 

No matter what type of caregiver is the best fit for your family, its always important to make sure they are CPR certified and passed a standard criminal background and DMV check (if they’ll be driving your child).

 

If you have questions about what type of caregiver will provide the best support to your family, we would love to help. At British American Household Staffing, we specialize in matching experienced, educated full-time nannies with families like yours. For families seeking the highest quality career nannies or more personalized guidance through the process, we offer consulting services as well.


Ashley Mundt, M.Ed, CCLS
British American Household Staffing (www.bahs.com)
Nanny Consulting and Specialized Placements
Caregiver Education
917-975-0364


British American Newborn Care: Important advice for finding a qualified and safe baby nurse

www.bababynurses.com

Advice for finding your Baby Nurse/ Newborn Care Specialist

British American Newborn Care provides heavily screened and highly qualified Baby Nurses and Newborn Care Specialists in The United States and United Kingdom, all of whom are known for their incisive knowledge and expertise in the newborn and childcare industries. They recommend the following advice when hiring a Baby Nurse/Newborn Care Specialist (NCS):

 

First and foremost, have a list of questions ready to screen the Baby Nurse or NCS.  Your questions and their answers should be crosschecked with the American School of Pediatrics. Examples are:

 

At what stage do I start ‘sleep scheduling?

Correct answer: Not before 3.5 months- 5 months is recommended
Incorrect answer: From day 1, from 2-weeks, 8-weeks etc.

 

What can I do to help my infant sleep through the night without actually sleep scheduling?

Correct answer: Mum can stand beside the crib but don’t pick the infant up each time he/she cries.
Incorrect answer: Let the infant cry it out. Use feeding as a method to sleep schedule.

 

What are the reasons for colic and what can be administered for it?

Correct answer: There are many reasons for colic - the Mother’s diet (should be low in acid), the infant eating too quickly, food sensitivities on the infant’s side, etc.  Check with the pediatrician before giving anything to the infant
Incorrect answer: Gripe water from my country, advising any kind of medication administration whatsoever

 

We recommend you, the Mother, start searching for a Baby Nurse as early as possible.  Baby Nurses get booked up quickly throughout the year, so the sooner you start searching, the more choice you will have. Baby Nurses on the East Coast are often much more flexible with their schedule and are typically less expensive than those on the West Coast. West Coast based baby nurses (commonly termed Newborn Care Specialists in California) tend to be more professional, hold more certifications, and are often highly qualified. There are many Baby Nurses on the East Coast who match this level of expertise, but we recommend a mother use a trusted agency to ensure the unqualified and potentially dangerous caregivers are extracted from the mix.

 

British American Newborn Care recommends hiring two Baby Nurses to cover the 24-hour shift. This way, neither Baby Nurse is at risk of exhaustion and subsequently becoming unfit to care for your infant. The recommended length of time to keep a baby nurse is from 3-6 months.

This ensures proper transition to a Nanny (nannies rarely have hands-on experience with infants less than 3 months).

 

Interview carefully.  Evaluate certifications (which can include Infant Care Specialist, infant CPR, LPN, LVN RN), years of experience and skill level, and find out if this is somebody you are comfortable with.  The Baby Nurse should support your beliefs, providing they are safe.  Topics to cover include your ideas relating to breastfeeding and formula, sleeping, feeding, development etc.  NO Baby Nurse should try to alter your values or bully you into thinking their way.  If you feel the Baby Nurse is this type of caregiver during the interview process, RUN! Always check certifications and references, and run an all-State and Federal background check.  Finally, Google searching and social media searching is an imperative step all mothers should take.

 

The cost of a Baby Nurse can range from $25-60 an hour, or $350-$1,000 a day.  If you do hire a Baby Nurse for a 24-hour period, a minimum of 4-hours off each day to rest and recoup are required.

 

Lastly and most importantly, listen to your instinct - a mother’s intuition is rarely wrong.

 

Any questions in relation to hiring a caregiver, Baby Nurse or NCS, or any other household help (housekeepers, chefs, managers, personal assistants), email info@bahs.com or call (212) 966-2247 (BAHS)

 

Check out www.bababynurses.com for more details on Baby Nurses and Newborn Care Specialists through British American Newborn Care. 

 

Anita Rogers is the founder of British American Household Staffing (bahs.com), British American Newborn Care (www.bababynurses.com) and British American Yachts (bahsyachts.com).  


Common Sense C.P.R.

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British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 
You will learn:

Infant CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive Baby Safety Tips

Each student will have a mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies who have not yet started crawling are welcome. To sign up: https://birthdaypresence.com/shop/infant-cpr-and-safety-ages-0-1-soho-2/

British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK.


Infant CPR

cpr_baby_2.jpg

British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 

You will learn:
Infant newborn CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby -infant is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive baby infant Safety Tips

Each student will have a baby infant mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies and infants who have not yet started crawling are welcome.

Baby nurses and newborn care specialists are trained and certified infant and newborn caretakers.  British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK. 

Click here to sign up.

*Use code bahscprmaysingle for $25 off to individuals* 

*Use code bahscprmaycouple for $50 off to couples*

Which 30 Retailers Are Protecting Your Family From Toxic Chemicals?

Courtesy of Mamavation

The Top Grades For Safer Chemicals Go To…

 

This time, some retailers were rushing to make sure that safer chemicals were used in both products and packaging. Winners with a grade of B+ or better included:

  • Apple–A
  • Wal-Mart Stores/Sam’s Club–A- (up from a B+ last year and is in position #2. Way to go, Wal-Mart!)
  • CVS Health–B+
  • IKEA–B+
  • Whole Foods Market–B+
  • Target–B+ (Graded up from a B, now ranks #6. Come on Target…You know you want to beat out Walmart…let’s do this!)

This is great news and shows that retailers of nearly every stripe can get on board to ensure shoppers can bring home moms safer products for our families.

But that’s not all the good news. Amazon, who received that “F” grade last year, Walgreens and Staples are all developing chemicals policies, and Kroger is reviewing options for future chemical policies as well. Now on to the not-so-good news…

Middle of the Road Retailers:

Some retailers scored in the middle range, with Best Buy getting a B and Home Depot getting a C+. We’re happy to learn that both Costco Wholesale and Albertsons/Safeway/Vons have now received solid C- scores, improving a lot over last year’s “F” grade. Let’s hope they move up to B range next year!

  • Best Buy–B
  • Costco Wholesale–C+
  • Albertsons–C-
  • Safeway–C-
  • Vons–C-

Unfortunately, a large group of solid D grades came from the following brands:

  • Rite Aid–D
  • Buy Buy Baby–D
  • Bed Bath & Beyond–D
  • Cost Plus World Market–D
  • Staples–D [the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) offgassing in this store gives me a headache everytime btw]
  • Amazon–D: an improvement from F, but they could do better as Costco and Albertsons have proven. (Note this grade is separate from the grading of Whole Foods Market, which they recently acquired. Let’s hope that is step in the right direction for Amazon.)
  • Sephora–D
  • Dollar Tree–D
  • Family Dollar–D
  • Kroger–D
  • Harris Teeter–D
  • Ralphs–D
  • Walgreens–D
  • Lowe’s–D
  • Ulta Beauty–D
  • Macy’s–D
  • Bloomingdales–D
  • Bluemercury–D

Retailers That Are Failing:

The bad news? Across all the retailers graded, the average grade was a D+. In fact, two-thirds failed to implement safer chemical policies for our families. Overall, 40% of the retailers earned “D” grades, and 30% earned “F” grades.

Who were scored the worst? The following companies got a 0 out of a possible 135 points! In other words, these companies are to date taking no steps to protect you from unsafe chemicals and I’d recommend you tell them this is important to you:

  • Ace Hardware–F
  • Food Lion–F
  • Stop & Shop–F
  • GIANT–F
  • Dollar General–F
  • Kohl’s–F
  • Office Depot–F
  • Office Max–F
  • Sally Beauty–F
  • TJX Companies–F
  • TJ Maxx–F
  • Marshalls–F
  • HomeGoods–F
  • Toys”R”Us / Babies”R”Us–F
  • Trader Joe’s–F

Grading Criteria for Retailers:

You might be upset upon seeing your favorite stores on that failing list, but what does this report card really mean? Let’s take a look at some of the criteria that Mind the Store grades retailers on, to get a better idea of what stores are doing or not doing to protect consumers and keep our families safe. Retailers were scored on whether or not they are taking action on the following basic items:

1. Creating and writing policies to avoid chemicals of high concern (CHCs). These are chemicals that are technically legal to use but are not individually tested for safety can pose health problems. Retailers should also be aiming to reduce or eliminate these chemicals from their shelves within 3 years.
2. Engaging key staff to implement those policies.
3. Making sure their supply chain and any third party providers also adhere to safer chemical standards as well as requiring suppliers to report the chemicals that they use.
4. Evaluating safer alternatives to CHCs without inserting a substitute that is just as dangerous.
5. Demonstrating transparency and public disclosure so that consumers know they are moving in a positive direction and can keep them accountable.
6. Evaluating their own chemical footprint for improvement.

These criteria are broken out into 9 categories for scoring. Mind the Store also grants “extra credit” points for the following:

  • Joint public announcement of a commitment to safer chemicals.
  • Continuous improvement towards their goals, like Costco and Albertsons.
  • Programs in place to promote safer products in stores and/or website.
  • Actively collaborates with others to promote safer chemicals.
  • Invests financial resources into research supporting safer alternatives or green chemistry solutions.

 

Regrettable Substitions and Cheating the System:

Another issue that this year’s report uncovered is called regrettable substitutes. This is when a company or industry removes a toxic substance and replaces with something just as bad or even worse, like when BPA is replaced with BPS or BPF. Mind the Store found that very few retailers at all did well on this, with only Apple scoring the full set of points.

However, Target did write Mind the Store that it “aspires to make breakthrough progress on safer alternatives.” They said they will work on contributing resources and expertise to this and committed to support innovation through green chemistry, by investing up to $5 million to that end by 2022. Yeah Target! Thank you!

 

Different Sectors, Different Grades:

You might have gathered by looking at the grades that not all types of stores graded the same. The retail sectors that did the best were drugstores, electronics, furniture/home goods and groceries.

Unfortunately, baby and children’s product, apparel and beauty/personal care products averaged a D+. The worst industries were home improvement, office supplies, dollar stores (not surprising) and department stores. It should be concerning to all moms that baby stores and personal care products have shown no initiative in pursuing safer chemicals in their products. Babies are the most are the most vulnerable of our population so protecting them from hormone disrupting chemicals is of the utmost importance.

 

Are Our Retailers Protecting Us?

With so many American children suffering chronic diseases, the rise in allergies, and all the behavioral issues that may be caused or triggered by environmental toxins, parents need to be vigilant about what products they buy. In fact, it’s estimated that medical costs and loss of productivity due to endocrine disrupting chemicals is costing the United States over $340 BILLION per year. Shouldn’t we also be diligent in supporting those companies that care about our health and safety too?

The bottom line is that while a few retailers are working hard on ensuring that safer chemicals are on their shelves, most still have a long way to go. Some of our largest retailers, like last year’s top scorers Wal-Mart and Target as well as last year’s failing scorers, Albertsons and Costco, are leading the way and racing ahead to ensure safer chemicals can be found on their shelves. While this is great news, with so many retailers doing very little or nothing at all, we to keep pressure on these companies in order to protect our families.


Bilingual Baby: Second Language Boosts Cognitive Skills

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By Chaunie Brusie for Very Well Family

Many families are choosing to raise their children to know how to speak two languages, whether that be for cultural reasons, educational purposes, or to enrich their life experience. And while having two languages under your belt might be a wonderful skill to have in general, one study has shown that it also has a major benefit for babies' brains especially.

Benefits of Being Bilingual

Previous studies have confirmed that there are benefits to being bilingual, such as that it boosts cognitive ability, especially problem solving.

Knowing two languages also has economic, social, and communicative benefits. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association lists several important advantages of being bilingual that are especially helpful for babies such as:

  • The ability to pick up new words quickly
  • Skill with rhyming words
  • Teaching how to break down words by their sounds as they learn to speak and read
  • Boosting the ability to learn new information
  • Category-grouping
  • Problem solving
  • Improved listening skills
  • Empathy and connectedness to others who speak the same language

Currently, about 12 percent of people over the age of 5 are bilingual, but experts predict that the number of individuals who speak two languages will only to continue to grow. So it only makes sense that parents may want to consider teaching their baby a second language very early on, because studies have shown that learning a second language is much easier at an earlier age.

It's easier for a baby to learn two languages at once than it is for an adult to try to learn a second language later on in life.

Can You Teach Your Baby to Be Bilingual?

While many parents and experts recognize the benefits of having their children learn two languages (or more!), actually teaching children to learn two languages can be a little challenging.

Babies that grow up in households where two languages are spoken by their parents or caregivers tend to learn a second language very easily and naturally. But babies who don't have the advantage of bilingual parents or caregivers can still get the benefits from learning two languages.

To try to determine exactly how much exposure to a second language a baby actually needs to learn the language, experts in Madrid, Spain conducted a study on children who ranged in age from 7 months to 33.5 months old to see how teaching them English affected their language development. The experts studied children at four public infant education centers in Madrid, where the babies were given daily hour-long group English sessions from tutors who spoke English as a first language. The sessions ran over a period of 18 weeks total.

The study found that children in the group sessions did better than other methods of teaching English and the infants retained the new words and comprehension of the English language longer than their peers as well, even as long as 18 weeks after the study was completed.

How Babies Learn To Be Bilingual

Studies show that the earlier you can introduce your baby to a second language, the greater their chance of being bilingual is.

One study found that even by 12 months, babies' perception of how to hear words narrows down to their first language. Babies are born with the ability to hear sounds from all types of languages, but as they near their first birthday their focus narrows down so they start to only "hear" the sounds of their primary language.

The key to learning a second language during your child's baby years is that their brain's networks and pathways haven't fully formed yet, so their brain is able to set up the "network" for both languages at once while they are babies, something that adult brains just can't do.

Thus, it's important to expose your baby as early as possible to both languages that you want him or her to learn, especially before his or her first birthday. If you've missed that deadline, however, don't worry. Children who are exposed to two languages before the age of 5 also reap some major benefits in their brain development.

Teaching Children to Be Bilingual

So we know that being bilingual is great and that it's best if babies can pick up on a second language from birth, but how exactly do you teach a child to be bilingual?

Researchers have found that a baby learns to be bilingual through both the quantity and quality of the second language being spoke around them. Babies learn best in person-to-person setting as opposed to a video or streaming service that teaches a second language. And as the study demonstrated, babies 9 months and under do especially well in play-based language sessions with a live tutor just as well as they would by learning the language in a natural environment at home.

How much exposure in a group session would your child need? Previous studies have found that 12 sessions over 5 weeks—a total of only 6 hours of foreign language exposure—was all babies needed to start setting those brain development pathways down to learn a second language. (Yes, babies' brains are amazing.) There seems to be a major link between a social setting and the language, so babies love to learn in a social or playful environment.

The tutors in this study also used infant-directed speech, that infamous "parentese" that parents and caregivers naturally use when talked to babies that has simple grammar, a higher voice, and long-drawn out vowels. This natural way of speaking to babies actually helps their brains learn language better. Babies' brains tend to focus on sounds at first, so the higher pitch and exaggerated, slower sounds makes it easier for them to learn those sounds first, which are then translated into words.

For older infants, aged 7 months and up to 33.5, the Madrid study found that 1 hour daily play sessions in a social environment with English tutors for 18 weeks led to "highly significant gains in foreign language comprehension and production." Perhaps most importantly, the researchers re-tested the babies 18 weeks after they completed the tutoring sessions and after they had had no other exposure to English and found that their brains were still able to retain the knowledge, new words, and sounds that they had learned. This showed that early exposure in a play-based setting with a tutor helped boost the brain's ability to retain language too.

In short, all it took was one hour a day of a baby playing with someone else who spoke a different language to learn.

A Word From Verywell

Teaching your baby a second language can benefit him or her in many ways. Not only will you set your baby up for success later in life with the skill of having a second language, something that is very desirable in a global economy and can set a job candidate apart, but being bilingual changes the way your baby's brain develops too.

If you can, it is best to expose your baby to two languages as early as possible in infancy, as babies' brains start focusing on one type of language by the age of one. However, children's brains are still able to learn and retain language better by the age of five. All children will benefit from increased brain development if they are exposed to two languages, so don't be afraid to encourage your child to learn a second language no matter what age they are. Babies learn best through play, and a group session or tutor session with a real person is the most effective way to teach your baby to learn a second language if you don't speak a second language yourself.

Sources:

Ferjan Ramirez, N. and Kuhl, P. (2017), Bilingual Baby: Foreign Language Intervention in Madrid's Infant Education Centers. Mind, Brain, and Education, 11: 133–143. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mbe.12144/full

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2017). The advantages of being bilingual. Retrieved from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/The-Advantages-of-Being-Bilingual/


What The Screen Time Experts Do With Their Own Kids

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By Anya Kamenetz for nprEd

Parents today struggle to set screen time guidelines.

One big reason is a lack of role models. Grandma doesn't have any tried-and-true sayings about iPad time. This stuff is just too new.

But many experts on kids and media are also parents themselves. So when I was interviewing dozens of them for my book The Art of Screen Time, I asked them how they made screen time rules at home.

None of them held themselves up as paragons, but it was interesting to see how the priorities they focused on in their own research corresponded with the priorities they set at home.

House Rules for the research pediatrician:

Dr. Jenny Radesky is the lead author of the most recent revision of the guidelines on media and children from the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is also the mother of two young boys, and as she says, "We're not a tech-averse household."

She and her husband both grew up watching "tons of TV" and playing video games. "We have a big flatscreen TV," Radesky says. "I have a smartphone."

In fact, she says, as a doctor she may be more prone to distraction than he is: "My husband's really good. His stuff is always just on the kitchen counter and he hardly checks it unless it rings. But if I'm on call I have my pager on. If something is an emergency that's how I can be found."

For the kids, since they started school, the rule is "no media on weekdays." They unplug at family dinner and before bed. They have a family movie night on Fridays, which is an example of the principle Radesky touts in her research, of "joint media engagement," or simply sharing screen time.

On weekends, they allow the kids cartoons, apps and games like Minecraft. But more than just limiting time, says Radesky, "I try to help my older son be aware of the way he reacts to video games or how to interpret information we find online." For example, she tries to explain how he is being manipulated by games that ask him to make purchases while playing.

House Rules for the sleep researcher:

Lauren Hale is a sleep researcher at Stony Brook University in New York. She sums up her findings from over a decade of research: "As kids and adults watch or use screens, with light shining in their eyes and close to their face, bedtime gets delayed. It takes longer to fall asleep, sleep quality is reduced and total sleep time is decreased."

Hale is also the mother of two young children. She strictly enforces these rules: No screens in the hour before bed, no screens in the bedroom and no screens as part of the bedtime routine. It seems to be sinking in. When he was 4 years old, her son told his grandmother: "You don't want to look at a screen before bed because it tells your brain to stay awake."

House Rules for the anti-obesity doctor:

Tom Warshawski, a pediatrician in Canada and founder of the Childhood Obesity Foundation there, has been involved in education efforts to get parents to cut back on media time.

His materials promote the formula 5- 2- 1- 0. That means five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, no more than two hours of screens, one hour of physical activity, and no sugary beverages.

He and his wife, also a doctor, split their pediatrics practice when their son and daughter were young so that one of them could always be home.

"We limited TV to an hour on weekdays after all other homework was done," he says. "We said categorically no video games — my daughter didn't care, but my son thought it was extremely oppressive and unfair. Then he resigned himself. Ultimately, both of them have thanked us."

House Rules for the media and violence researcher:

Douglas Gentile, a professor at Iowa State University, has two nearly grown daughters. He says when they were younger, he "pretty much followed AAP guidelines: one hour a day in elementary school, two hours as they got older. But I'm much more strict on content than I am on time."

Not surprisingly, he doesn't rely on ratings. Instead, he would watch something himself before allowing his girls to see it. They were big fans of the Harry Potter books; they would wait for each movie to come out on video and then watch it in short bits, fast-forwarding through the scary parts.

But, he says, being the strict dad did once backfire in a funny way. He's a huge Star Wars fan. "I was 13 when the original movie came out. I waited 10 years, ever since she was born, to share this pivotal, important movie with my older daughter."

Based on his description, though, she wasn't having it.

"She says, 'No. All they do is fight all the way through it.'

" 'Oh, please?'

" 'No, Dad.' "

Reluctantly, Gentile saw her point: "She had learned the lesson — if the movie is just about people fighting, it's not going to make her feel happy. She's not going to enjoy it."


On Having an Only Child

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By Joanna Goddard for A Cup of Jo

How many children do you hope to have? For some families, one is the magic number. So! We asked nine parents about having only children — the pros, cons and how they decided — and here are their thoughtful, funny answers…

Prioritizing Space

Shirim (Eli, 15):

Am I allowed to say we like our two-bedroom apartment and did not want to be cramped? In truth I always grew up wanting two things: to live in an apartment, not a free-standing house, and to have only one child. I have never, ever regretted either.

I have been lucky not to have had pressure from friends or family to have more kids. Economically, it also did not make sense to me. My husband would have liked another, but was a good egg about it. Having cousins live so close has been really helpful for Eli in terms of having sibling-like relationships.

Trusting Your Gut

Erin (Reed, 3):

I guess the main thing is: We feel like our family is whole with our son. People often say the second or third or fourth child was the final piece of the puzzle. I’ve always felt as if we have all of our pieces. 

Chris (2-year-old son):

My husband and I became fathers to our amazing son through domestic open adoption. Is it weird that the phrase only child now bothers me? When people say it, they lean into the only. I am a gay man in my early 40s. Even one child is so much more than I ever expected to have a few years ago, and more than my teenage self would have said I had the right to ask the universe for. Then our son’s birth mom chose us to be dads, and everything changed for our family.

Stacey (Dash, 7):

I was never one of those women who always knew I wanted a baby. My son wasn’t really planned, but we weren’t working hard to *not* get pregnant, either. After having Dash, we’d have brief conversations about more children, but they were mostly around my not wanting to push my luck after having such an awesome kid.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in Brooklyn people love to comment on everything. It’s like constantly being booked on a talk show. My least favorite is when someone says something to Dash like, “Don’t you want a little brother or sister?” Not up to you, person, and not up to my seven-year-old, either! I guess the headline here is there is no right answer, so trusting your instinct is enough.

Raising a Child With Special Needs

Kate (Ocean, 7):

When Ocean was born, we were so in love with him, but it was hard. He was the kind of baby who needed to be held upright and bounced all the time. He didn’t sleep much. Nursing was hard. He dropped off his weight curve around six months. I had concerns about his development. He was so adorable and joyful, but there were red flags. 

When Ocean was one, I remember sitting John down one night, shaking. I was terrified of having sex because I couldn’t go through it all again: pregnancy, but especially that first year. I was worried that John would be disappointed, but he got it.

Our pediatrician suggested physical and occupational therapy, and I began to scramble down the rabbit hole of special education. As Ocean evolved into the extraordinary and challenging person he is, I couldn’t see room in our lives for more. I felt completely fulfilled and completely overwhelmed at the same time. I’ve become his advocate. Our family feels just right. 

People did ask a lot at first. I’ve always been ready with one-liners. First it was: “Well, this one was a miracle, so…” Then: “Having Ocean is kind of like having two kids.” Now it’s just: “Yup, one and done!” with a big smile showing off my wrinkles.

Reagan (Piper, 10):

I grew up in a big Mormon family, so I was surprised myself when stopping after one felt so right. It made more sense the more I thought about it, and letting go of that expectation gave me a lot of sweet relief.

My child also has serious physical disabilities that prevent her from being able to live at home with me, so I do sometimes mourn the loss of having a more typical family setup. For a long time, I thought having more kids would help heal some of the heartbreak of what she and I have gone through and what we’ve missed out on, but it feels too scary and uncertain to do.

The pro is that I get to have a very special relationship with Piper, and devote as much time as possible to her. Anything left over can go to my relationship with my fiancé, my career and any projects I feel passionate about.

The decision was also tricky at first because of my Mormon family. When I was little, having children was my main goal in life. There are tons of Mormon kids’ songs about motherhood, and I remember singing this one at four years old: “Of all the jobs, for me I’ll choose no other. I’ll raise a family. Four little, five little, six little babies of my own.” Many of the lessons I was learning at my church heavily emphasized developing motherhood skills — sewing, cooking, organizing, cleaning, crafting, even decorating. It was a challenge to break out of those expectations, versus what I really wanted.

Striving for Balance

Janna (Harley, 3):

My husband and I both come from two-child households, and before becoming parents we talked about having two. And then there was that huge recalibration of life that occurs after you have a child. It took us years to get into the groove where we each got the family time, alone time and social time that we needed to thrive. For us, this balance is what makes us good parents.

With one child, we can be spontaneous. When we take turns being on duty, the other gets to be totally off duty. We’re able to be present for Harley when we’re together — he has all of us. We live in a family-filled neighborhood, so he has playdates constantly. He is very independent, and he’s comfortable with a group of all adults or kids. We also can travel more easily with one child. We went to Barcelona for a week and ate and drank our way through the city, just the three of us. We had a blast.

I do often wonder if I’ll regret not having another child, and there’s no way to know. I’ve sought counsel from older friends who have only one child, and their continued happiness with it makes me feel confident in our decision.

Confronting Infertility

Melissa (Sammy, 7):

It took seven years — and five miscarriages — to have our child. When our healthy baby boy was born, we felt like we’d hit the jackpot. Going through the stress of trying to have another seemed absurd to us. My husband and I felt like our dreams had finally come true. I will say that our son LOVES being an only child and getting all the attention, and actually begs us not to have any more. (I’m 47, so I tell him not to worry!)

Sandy (Margot, 4):

Raising an only child was never my plan. My daughter was born in early 2013, and I conceived her sibling a year and a half later. But as I neared the end of my first trimester, I learned something: my baby’s heart had stopped beating at nine weeks gestation. That little love of mine had let go. I was pregnant one day, and then, without any prior warning, suddenly the next I was lying in an operating room while my uterus was hollowed out by a team of masked professionals. Six months later, I was diagnosed with secondary infertility. 

I’ll never forget the moment my next-door neighbor commented on the size of our house, telling me we needed to have more kids to fill up the bedrooms — nor the time when a woman next to me on a plane assured me that even though I’d lost a baby, another one would come soon enough. “No, unfortunately, I’ve been told that won’t happen,” I replied.

As for pros, my daughter gets every ounce of my attention, and I get to bury her in a thousand kisses every single day. My daughter is my heart on two feet, and there’s not a con in the world about getting to raise that sweet person!

I’ve learned over these past three years that grief is anything but linear. I can go weeks with my head held high, and then, out of nowhere, a pregnant woman’s swollen belly or the sight of two car seats in the back of a car knock me right over. 

But never until now have I typed this or said it aloud: I’m just now finally feeling the light of acceptance warming my face. It’s new, it’s unfamiliar, and it’s a beautiful thing.


A Guide to the Moral Development of Preschoolers

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By Amy Morin, LCSW for Very Well Family

As your little one grows, he’ll develop a sense of morality—those principles that affect how he treats other people and how he views justice. His core beliefs, temperament, and life experiences are just a few things that will influence his sense of morality.

Every day, your preschooler is surrounded by people and situations that will guide his moral development. Whether it’s another child on the school playground or a plot line on a favorite TV show, his experiences shape his views.

As a parent, you probably want to have some influence on how he develops his sense of right versus wrong and instill the values that you deem to be important. However, it’s not always easy to know what’s age-appropriate when it comes to guiding your child morally—or even how to start.

What Parents Should Know About Early Moral Development

Around age 2, children start to feel moral emotions and understand—at least somewhat—the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong. Your child might also start to feel empathy if he sees another child who is upset, though that development is more likely to appear closer to age 4 or 5.

Toddlers and preschoolers are motivated by the threat of consequences. Therefore, early on in their moral development, you might see that they’re more concerned about being punished rather than the feelings of another person.

Don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t seem to care if he hurt someone.

With some guidance from you, empathy will come in due time.

How to Recognize the Moral Choices Preschoolers Make

 

Although preschoolers aren’t making life-altering life decisions, they do make small moral choices every day. Here are a few moral decisions your preschooler may be faced with:

  • Do I share my toy with a friend even though I don’t want to?
  • Do I hit the person who won’t play with me?
  • Should I take my sister's toy from her because I want to play with it?
  • Do I cut in line because I don’t want to wait my turn?
  • Do I sneak a cookie when Dad’s not looking?

While your child will violate your moral codes quite often, each time he steps out of line is an opportunity to help him learn. The discipline strategies you employ, combined with the proactive strategies you use to teach him right from wrong, will guide your preschooler’s moral development.

Be Clear About Morals

Research shows kids begin to understand the 'moral of the story' around age 5 or 6. But, preschoolers are less able to grasp a life lesson from a story about someone else. The concept is too abstract.

So it's important to be very concrete about morals. Say specific things like, "We don't take other people's belongings because it's wrong to take things that don't belong to us. It hurts other people's feelings when we do that and our job is to be kind to people, not hurt them."

As your child's understanding of morals increases, begin to ask him to identify the life lessons in a story. Read books and watch stories with various moral lessons and check for your child's understanding of how he can generalize that lesson to his own life.

Additionally, monitor closely what your child is exposed to. TV shows, books, or video games that violate moral codes without teaching a lesson may have a negative influence on your child.

Instill Guilt, Not Shame

When your preschooler violates a moral code by hurting other people, he should have an emotional reaction to it. And while guilt is a sign of a healthy conscience, shame can be a sign of low self-worth. Here's the difference:

Shame stems from thinking, "I am bad."
Guilt stems from thinking, "I did a bad thing."

As a parent, you want to guide the child into feeling guilt rather than shame.

A child who feels guilty may recognize she's still a good person who is capable of making better choices in the future.

Guilt is a normal, healthy reaction. It means your child regrets what he’s done—and that can motivate him to make amends. Guilty feelings may also prevent him from making the same mistake in the future.

Shame, on the other hand, may cause your child to believe she’s incapable of doing the right thing. And it may take a toll on the decisions she makes in life. A child who feels shame, for example, may not resist peer pressure or may not stand up for herself when her rights are violated.

Reprimand Your Child for Bad Choices, Not for Being a Bad Person

As a parent, you can influence whether your child experiences shame or guilt after he makes a mistake. If you express anger at your child or become standoffish, he’ll be more likely to feel shame.

So avoid reprimanding your child's character by saying things like, “Bad girl!” or “I’m so disappointed in you.” Instead, focus on your child's actions by saying things like, “You made a bad choice,” or “I’m disappointed you made a bad choice.”

Additionally, correct your child’s behavior, not the emotion. So instead of saying, “Stop getting so mad,” or “There’s nothing to be upset about,” say things like, “Use an inside voice. It bothers people when you yell inside.”

Make it clear that feeling sad, mad, excited, or any other emotion is OK. But hitting people, calling them names, or treating them poorly isn’t acceptable.

Offer Praise for Prosocial Behavior

Praise your child for what she does, rather than who she is. So instead of saying, “You’re a good girl,” say, “Great job helping Grandma carry groceries. That was a kind thing to do.”

Be on the lookout for times when your child decides to share, console someone else, tell the truth, or help others. When you point out positive choices, your child will become more motivated to keep up the good work.

Teach Your Child About Feelings

Your child won't be able to understand other people's feelings and how his actions affect others until he has a clear understanding of his own feelings.

Use feeling words in your everyday conversations. Label your child's emotions by saying things like, "It looks like you feel angry right now," or "I understand you are sad that we can't play outside right now."

When your child understands his emotions, he'll be able to start understanding that other people have feelings too. And you can begin talking about how his behavior influences how other people feel.

Teach Empathy

Teach your child how to consider someone else's emotions and how one person's behavior can impact another person's feelings. Take situations from books, TV or movies and ask your child how a person in that scenario might feel.

To really reinforce the point, ask your child to show you how the person might feel. When your child makes a sad face to reflect how a character might feel after getting hurt, he’ll actually feel sad for a second. That can reinforce to him that other people have emotions too.

Model Good Morals

As the saying goes, practice what you preach. If you don’t want your children to tell lies, don’t let them see you lie. Even if you think it’s a little ‘white lie,’ your child will think dishonesty is OK.

If you want your children to help others, make sure they see you helping others. And point out what you’re doing by saying things like, “We’re going to help Grandpa clean the garage today because we love him and it’s a nice thing to do.”

Your child will learn a lot more from what you do, rather than what you say. So make sure your actions match your words.

Schedule Activities That Teach Your Child Your Morals

As long as you accompany them, your preschooler can volunteer and help others in a variety of ways. Whether you feed cats at the local SPCA together, or you collect canned food to donate to the food pantry, emphasize the importance of making the world better.

Even simple acts of kindness go a long way in developing a good moral sense. For example, make a “get well soon” card together for a neighbor who’s feeling under the weather. Then, deliver it together with a Tupperware of chicken noodle soup.

Hold Your Child Accountable for Breaking Moral Codes

Everyone makes mistakes, so it’s important to make sure your child knows that it’s OK. However, you can’t just let it go—hold your little one accountable.

Verbalize why his behavior was wrong when he makes a mistake. Say, “We don’t hit people because it hurts their feelings and their bodies.” Then, give him a consequence, such as placing him in time-out or taking away his favorite toy for the afternoon.

Forcing him to apologize isn’t likely to be helpful. He may not actually feel sorry so telling him to apologize to his brother may just be lip service.

But, you can role model how to apologize. When you make a mistake, tell your child that you’re sorry. Say something like, “I am sorry I didn’t get home in time to take you to the park. I tried to get home as soon as I could but it’s too dark to go now.”

Remember, guiding your child’s moral development isn’t something that happens in just a couple weeks. This will be a process that will last long into your child’s elementary school years and beyond.

There will be times your child will make mistakes that make you wonder if anything you’re doing actually resonates with him. Don’t worry—he hears you. With consistent guidance from you, he’ll develop a clear moral compass.


Decoding the Mysteries of a Child’s Developing Brain

By Jenna Gallegos of The Washington Post

It’s back-to-school season. Parents mark their youngsters' height on the wall and marvel at how much they’ve grown, but what’s going on just below the pencil line in that child’s brain?

We know brain development continues from infancy to adulthood, but many parents underestimate how much a child’s brain changes from year to year and how those changes can influence behavior.

Decades of scientific studies have shown even an immature brain is capable of extraordinary feats. Yet a fully developed brain is necessary for actions that adults take for granted, such as risk assessment and self-control. According to developmental psychologists, parents who better understand the stages along the way can help guide their child over the hurdles.

Babies are surprisingly good at communicating

Babies are looking, listening and imitating from the time they are born. Stick your tongue out at a baby, even one just hours old, and he or she may do the same back at you, said Sarah Lytle of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington.

Yet many parents don’t realize how quickly infants begin to develop social and emotional awareness, said Ross Thompson, who is president of the child development organization Zero to Three and a cognitive psychologist at the University of California at Davis. “Parents underestimate how sensitive a child is to their own emotions,” he said. As early as 6 months of age, a child can be affected by a parent’s depression or anxiety and by marital squabbles.

Babies also look to their parents for guidance in uncertain situations. If you’re on a subway and start interacting with the little one next to you, the baby may turn to the parent to see how to respond to you. This process is called “social cognition” or “social referencing,” and it’s not very different from when adults at a party wait to respond to a joke when they’re unsure whether others will find it funny or offensive.

To help infants learn, parents should frequently look at what they’re talking about and change their gaze slowly, Lytle suggested. This important social cue helps with language development, she said — with babies who follow gazes closely having a more diverse vocabulary by the time they’re 2.

All languages sound the same initially to a newborn, and then a tuning process begins. By about 10 months, babies start to specialize in the language they’re used to hearing. It’s important to talk to your child during the first year, especially using “parentese,” Lytle said. This infant-directed speech is not “baby-talking,” despite its typical singsong tone and repetition, but uses real words in grammatically complete sentences.

While we typically underestimate babies' ability to understand and communicate before they begin speaking, we tend to overestimate the brain power of walking, talking toddlers.

Toddlers are mentally incapable of sharing and self-control

In a survey conducted by Zero to Three in 2015, nearly half of parents believed their children could learn to share by the time they are 2. But according to the cognitive psychologists at Zero to Three, this skill does not typically develop until a child is 3 or 4. That may be because they haven’t yet developed what’s known as “theory of mind.”

Theory of mind is the ability to differentiate one’s own perspective and preferences from someone else’s. A classic experiment in theory of mind is known as the Sally-Anne test, in which a child is told Sally has a basket and Anne has a box. Sally puts an object in her basket, then leaves. While Sally is gone, Anne moves the object to the box.

The child is then asked where Sally will look for the object when she returns. Correctly answering that Sally will look in her basket signals the child understands they have a perspective that is different from Sally's.

Theory of mind is important for developing empathy, making friends and even doing well academically, Lytle said. Parents can help their children develop perspective by talking them through scenarios like the Sally-Anne test or reading books that help them to build cognitive parallels, she said. For example, in a book where a character goes to a doctor, they can compare the situation to when the child went to the doctor and discuss how the experiences were similar or different.

According to that 2015 survey, the majority of parents also believed 2-year-olds can control their emotions and impulses. Yet children have very limited self-control abilities until they are about 4. When toddlers won’t stop throwing a fit, do something forbidden or refuse to share, “they’re not being willfully obstinate,” Thompson said. “Many parents overestimate a child’s capacity for self-control.”

Thompson recommends helping young children with self-control — for example, by distracting them with a favorite toy while passing candy in the grocery store checkout aisle. And when dealing with a tantrum, acknowledge a child's feelings by putting them into words. “A lot of their frustration is the feeling of being misunderstood,” he noted.

He also suggests giving the child the impression that they have some control. In his own case, when his young son didn't want to go to bed, Thompson would ask the boy whether he wanted to play for a few more minutes. Yes, a distinguished professor in psychology was on his knees, negotiating with a 3-year-old, but Thompson says parents who understand how their toddlers' brains work (or don’t work) will find it fairly easy to outsmart them. It’s good to tell a child “no” because they’re learning language, he added, but you can’t expect them to change their behaviors.

Teenagers don’t think with the same parts of their brain as adults

For some parents, a seemingly erratic teenager can make those long-ago toddler days seem like a walk in the park. Frances Jensen, neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of “The Teenage Brain,” suggests understanding how teens think can improve the experience for both sides.

Connections in our brain develop from the back to the front, and those important for higher-order thinking continue to form and strengthen into a person's 20s. “Teenagers have good connectivity up to about their ears,” Jensen explained. And at this age, the midbrain, important for emotion, sexual function, learning and memory, is hyperactive.

As teens transition into adulthood, connections in the front of their brain are strengthened while those in the other regions are pruned. A fully developed frontal lobe is essential for planning, decision-making, impulse control and risk avoidance.

These stages of development showed up in a 2006 imaging experiment. Researchers discovered adults trying to identify fearful facial expressions used more of the front of their brain, while teens used the emotional centers in the midbrain — meaning teens literally think using different parts of their brain.

The finding might explain why some teen behaviors surprise adults. “Teenagers are actually more susceptible to stress,” Jensen said. If your teen comes home distraught because someone made fun of their hair, you might be tempted to say it’s no big deal. But the activity in their brain likely resembles an adult brain's response to news of a major international incident.

The plasticity of teen brains — their ability to lose, form and strengthen connections — also makes adolescents especially susceptible to addiction to everything from video games to cocaine, Jensen said. Activities such as binge drinking and chronic marijuana use can be especially damaging at this age.

Jensen recommends giving teens a “frontal-lobe assist” by helping them to plan, prepare and even rehearse for situations that require higher judgment. Help them develop and learn phrases to use as excuses to avoid making a bad decision amid social pressure, for example. And if they do make a bad decision, she suggests using the situation as a teachable moment instead of lecturing or alienating them.

Throughout a child's life, parents who understand some basics of brain development can adjust their expectations and better come up with strategies to prevent frustration for everyone. In other words, a little understanding goes a long way.


Supplements for Pregnancy & Nursing: What I Take

By Katie at Wellness Mama

Important Note: These are the supplements I chose to take after consulting with my doctor, thyroid specialist and midwife. I share these for informational purposes only and not in any way as a suggestion of medical advice. This post is strictly informational and should only serve as a starting point for a conversation between you and your medical provider about the best supplements for pregnancy in your specific case.

Why Supplements for Pregnancy?

Pregnancy and nursing are times of a woman’s life when it is important to be vigilant about getting enough nutrients to nourish her little one and supplements can be helpful. There are also some supplements that are important to avoid during pregnancy and nursing and any pregnant woman should work directly with her care provider to make sure she is taking the correct supplements for her body and pregnancy.

As someone who has quite a bit of experience being pregnant and nursing over the last decade, I’ve seen first hand how supplements can make a pregnancy (and delivery) easier!

Each woman’s dietary and nutrient needs will vary, but as a general rule, a nutrient-dense diet is the most important factor in her ability to get enough vitamins and minerals during pregnancy and supplements can’t take the place of a healthy diet and good lifestyle habits.

When I am pregnant, I focus on consuming the following:

  • Lots of high quality protein from high quality sources like grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and eggs, and wild, caught, sustainable seafood (smaller fish preferable). Organ meats from grass fed sources are also wonderful for pregnancy and nursing and can help reduce the chance of anemia.
  • Large amounts of vegetables, especially green ones! Green veggies have folate, which is important for fetal growth, and are also high in many other nutrients. They help prevent the constipation that can sometimes occur during pregnancy, and are great for making sure nursing moms are getting enough vitamins. During pregnancy, I live by the motto of “When in doubt, eat more veggies.”
  • Healthy Fats galore! Pregnancy and nursing are not times to skimp on healthy fats. Quality fats are absolutely vital for baby’s brain development, organ and tissue growth, and good milk production for mom. Sources like healthy meats, coconut oil and coconut products, olive oil, avocados, and nuts are especially good during pregnancy.
  • Other high nutrient foods like homemade bone broth, soups, fermented vegetables like homemade sauerkraut, fruit (especially berries) and green smoothies are also great for pregnancy and nursing.

 

Supplements for Pregnancy: 

Even with the most solid diet, it can be difficult to consume enough of the necessary nutrients for pregnancy, especially with our modern food supply. For this reason, I take certain specially selected supplements while I am pregnant or nursing:

  • Folate: The supplement folic acid is commonly recommended, but there is substantial difference between folic acid (the synthetic form) and folate (the natural form). This article explains the difference in detail. The dosage is also slightly different, and some sources recommend as much as 1200 mcg of folate per day for maximum benefit. This amount should include the amount in multivitamins and any additional folate supplement (be sure to check multivitamins, as many contain the synthetic form!). Folate is one supplement that has been extensively studied for use in pregnancy and is extremely effective at preventing neural tube defects. It is also very inexpensive and easy for every pregnant woman to take. NOTE: People who have a MTHFR defect will need to consult with a specialized practitioner and will probably need to take L-5-MTHF which is the methylated form of folate. I explain more in this post.

  • Prenatal Multivitamin: There is some debate on if a full multivitamin prenatal is necessary during pregnancy or not. While I don’t routinely take a multivitamin, pregnancy and nursing is one time that I do. A deficiency in a vitamin or mineral won’t make a tremendous, immediate impact on an adult in most cases, but during the intensive developmental phases of pregnancy, a nutrient deficiency can have lasting consequences for baby. A high quality prenatal is an “insurance policy” or sorts to guard against deficiencies but should accompany a high nutrient diet! Many prenatals contain iron, though this isn’t necessary if you are consuming red meat from healthy sources and organ meats. Just make sure it doesn’t contain folic acid (but folate or methyl folate). This is the brand I use.​

  • Probiotics: Probiotics are critical, especially during pregnancy. During the birth process, babies culture their beneficial gut bacteria from what the receive from mom when passing through the birth canal and from nursing in the months afterward. Unfortunately, this process doesn’t happen in the same way with cesarean deliveries, but research is finding ways to help facilitate this process. Quality probiotics (I take these) help ensure that baby will get a good dose of beneficial bacteria during a normal vaginal delivery, which can reduce risk of ear infection and illness in the first few years. Good gut health also has a tremendous impact on lifelong health, and this is one of the most important things you can do for your baby’s health. Probiotics also help mom avoid illness and constipation during pregnancy, and might reduce the risk of Group B strep. Since baby’s gut bacteria continues to culture during the nursing time, it is good for mom to continue to take probiotics during this time as well.
  • Vitamin D3: There is a lot of emerging research that Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of many pregnancy related complications including gestational diabetes. It is important for baby’s bone and hormone development and helps support mom’s immune system during pregnancy. Some research suggests that nursing babies may be able to obtain Vitamin D from the mother’s milk if mom is getting more than 5,000IU/day. I take 5,000 IU/day while pregnant or nursing, unless I’m able to get 30 minutes or more of midday sun.

    When supplementing, I only take Vitamin D3 with K2 and I occasionally test blood levels of vitamin D to make sure my levels don’t get too high.

 

 

Things I Avoid:

  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • MSG or Chemical Additives
  • Diet Sodas or foods
  • Vegetable oils and trans fats
  • Any herbs, drugs, or medicines without approval from your midwife or doctor
  • BPA and plastic containers
  • Aluminum in antiperspirants
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial dyes or colors in food
  • Chemicals in laundry detergent, personal care products, and household cleaners

Rethinking Toddler Nutrition

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By Katelyn Philipp for Parenting

Fruits and veggies are a good start, but most toddler diets are missing a key nutritional element.

Family meals should feel more like bonding opportunities than chores or ordeals. But to make mealtime more positive, you have to serve foods that both meet your kids' nutritional needs and are tasty enough for children to actually eat and enjoy.

Proper nutrition involves more than fruits and vegetables, says Dr. Scott Cohen, a pediatrician, father and author of "Eat, Sleep, Poop: A Common Sense Guide to Your Baby's First Year." He says DHA is another critical component. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid beneficial to brain development and cognition.

"Eighty-five percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life," Cohen says. Infants receive vital nutrients through breastfeeding and fortified formula, but their supply dwindles when children begin eating solid food.

In fact, toddlers only average 25 percent of the recommended daily DHA intake, which is 70 to 100 milligrams. It can be easy to reach the allowance, but DHA-rich foods aren't popular items on toddler's plates. Major sources include fish, such as tuna, salmon and trout. 

To improve your child's nutrition, Cohen recommends a five-item nutrition checklist:

1. Find a DHA source that works for your family

Increasing DHA in your child's diet doesn't have to be difficult. Cohen recommends trying DHA-friendly options, such as fish, or DHA-fortified foods such as pasta and milk. "One size doesn't fit all," Cohen says. "Any way toddlers can get it is good."

2. Say cheese

Cohen says toddlers should consume two to three dairy sources each day for strong bones, muscles and teeth. Common child favorites include milk, yogurt and cheese, but fortified orange juice can also do the trick.

3. Concentrate on protein

"A lot of kids don't like typical protein sources," Cohen says. Look at protein alternatives instead of battling over eggs, fish or meat your picky eater won't try. Soy products and beans are subtle substitutes.

4. Teach healthy habits

While each meal can be a step in the right nutritional direction, Cohen recommends looking at the big picture. "It's more important to teach healthy eating habits than to concentrate on volume," he says. Proper routines set children up for a lifetime of nutrition success.

5. Mix it up

Introduce a variety of food to children beyond standard favorites. "Offer three or four different options in the hope that they will eat one of them," Cohen says. Don't give up if children resist at first. It can take 10 to 12 tries before they develop preferences. "They might like it next week," he says. "The bottom line is not to stress too much. Every healthy child grows, no matter what."


Is It Safe to Lift Weights While Pregnant?

By Amy Rosoff Davis, Charlotte's Book

Q—CHARLOTTE’S BOOK READER

I’m pregnant and definitely want to keep working out, but I’m curious: is it safe for me to use weights?

A—AMY ROSOFF DAVIS, CELEBRITY TRAINER

Yes! I used 2-3 pound weights almost five days a week my whole pregnancy. Whether you do exercises or just take those things on a brisk walk with you, it’s good to keep strong arms (you will need them to hold your baby) and a strong core (which you need during delivery). While you don’t want to attempt to build muscle, it’s important to build stamina (which is also needed for delivery)!

Lifting weights also helps keep your body toned, and helps your body maintain a healthy weight. All good things! I also did a bunch of arm dancing both on my own and with clients during my pregnancy. Arm dancing is also great for stamina (remember to keep breathing through the pain) and also keeps long lean and toned arms. Arm dancing is also a great postpartum exercise—you can do it sitting in bed!


The Phenomenon Of Baby Nurses

sleeping_newborn.jpg

By SARA BERMAN | March 11, 2008
5816

Tomorrow will be my baby nurse's last day with my family. I'm not sure whom I feel worse for: myself or the baby. Six weeks into this gig, I hope the baby hasn't become completely accustomed to twice-daily baths, around-the-clock attention, careful burping, and long massages. But Nate, like his brothers and sisters before him, will survive on fewer baths, fewer massages, and — there's no delicate way to say this — far, far less attention.

According to an agency that places baby nurses in the tristate area (British American Newborn Care) a baby nurse is a non-medical newborn specialist who is highly experienced in infant care. Baby nurses work in private homes and care for newborns typically from the day the baby arrives home through a period of several weeks or months. Normally, they provide 24-hour care and "assist new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care and may also help establish eating and sleeping patterns."

In other words, they're glorified, uniform-clad nannies who diaper, burp, bathe, swaddle, rock, and if you want, feed the baby 24 hours a day. They are not — in case you were confused — nurses.

If there is one peculiar element to having a baby in a certain slice of New York, it is the assumption that you will have a baby nurse. If you type the words "baby nurse" into any search engine, you will see that the majority of the links are in the tristate area. They may have baby nurses in California and Georgia, but those baby nurses are, in fact, likely to be registered nurses — and their employers are more likely to be having triplets than single births.

At roughly $200 a day, though, having a baby nurse can really add up.

"Worth every penny," an acquaintance told me about her baby nurse. "We could barely afford our rent when we had our first child. But neither of us had any family in New York. And neither of us had ever changed a diaper. The grandparents pooled together and gave the baby nurse as a gift. It was the best gift ever."

Cramped city living, not exactly conducive to having the in-laws move in for a week or two, is compatible with a baby nurse, who shares the room with the newborn. Giving the gift of a baby nurse is one way to make nice with your daughter-in-law.

One couple with far greater means never let the baby nurse go. "The baby was going to be a year old," the father of three said about his first child, "and we still had the nurse. The nurse would go on and on about what a hard night she had had with the baby, and I'm thinking, suuure you did. Finally, I convinced my wife that enough was enough. But sure enough, when we had our second child, the same baby nurse just moved back in. This time, she stayed for eight or nine months. I'm pretty embarrassed to admit that," he said, while calculating how much he paid the baby nurse over the course of his three children: at least $200,000.

My question is this: Who assists new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care across the rest of the country?

"When I was pregnant with my first, I had heard of people using baby nurses," a friend who had her first two children in Chicago said. "But I didn't really know any myself. My mom came and stayed with us for the first week or two. She showed me how to diaper and bathe the baby. And then my mother-in-law came for a few days. I've never been so sad to see my mother-in-law leave. All of a sudden, I was on my own, and it was pretty brutal."

A mother of three who lived in different parts of the South when she had her children said that no one she knew used a baby nurse. "Having a lot of help is normal in New York, but it isn't in most parts of the country," she said. "That's partially economic and partially cultural. I had help when I had my third baby, but that meant I had someone come to clean my house, or baby-sit my other children."

There are plenty of New Yorkers who'd rather spend the money on anything but a baby nurse. "I don't really understand why people have baby nurses," an Upper West Side mother of three said. "The baby and baby nurse sleep all day, while you cook and clean and look after the other kids. For a lot less, you could find someone who does a lot more."

I happen to think that if you can afford it, a good baby nurse does wonders to smooth the transition for the first few weeks of a baby's life — for the baby and for the entire family.

A few weeks ago, my 5-year-old daughter, Kira, heard the baby nurse coo to Nate, "You are so cute, I could eat you up."

"Go ahead," Kira said, deadpan. When the baby nurse later teased that she was going to take Nate home, you can imagine Kira's response.

"Good," she snarled.

Perhaps it is Kira's mental state that I should be worried about on Thursday — not the baby's.

bababynurses.com 

The Phenomenon Of Baby Nurses

sleeping_newborn.jpg

By SARA BERMAN | March 11, 2008
5816

Tomorrow will be my baby nurse's last day with my family. I'm not sure whom I feel worse for: myself or the baby. Six weeks into this gig, I hope the baby hasn't become completely accustomed to twice-daily baths, around-the-clock attention, careful burping, and long massages. But Nate, like his brothers and sisters before him, will survive on fewer baths, fewer massages, and — there's no delicate way to say this — far, far less attention.

According to an agency that places baby nurses in the tristate area (British American Newborn Care) a baby nurse is a non-medical newborn specialist who is highly experienced in infant care. Baby nurses work in private homes and care for newborns typically from the day the baby arrives home through a period of several weeks or months. Normally, they provide 24-hour care and "assist new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care and may also help establish eating and sleeping patterns."

In other words, they're glorified, uniform-clad nannies who diaper, burp, bathe, swaddle, rock, and if you want, feed the baby 24 hours a day. They are not — in case you were confused — nurses.

If there is one peculiar element to having a baby in a certain slice of New York, it is the assumption that you will have a baby nurse. If you type the words "baby nurse" into any search engine, you will see that the majority of the links are in the tristate area. They may have baby nurses in California and Georgia, but those baby nurses are, in fact, likely to be registered nurses — and their employers are more likely to be having triplets than single births.

At roughly $200 a day, though, having a baby nurse can really add up.

"Worth every penny," an acquaintance told me about her baby nurse. "We could barely afford our rent when we had our first child. But neither of us had any family in New York. And neither of us had ever changed a diaper. The grandparents pooled together and gave the baby nurse as a gift. It was the best gift ever."

Cramped city living, not exactly conducive to having the in-laws move in for a week or two, is compatible with a baby nurse, who shares the room with the newborn. Giving the gift of a baby nurse is one way to make nice with your daughter-in-law.

One couple with far greater means never let the baby nurse go. "The baby was going to be a year old," the father of three said about his first child, "and we still had the nurse. The nurse would go on and on about what a hard night she had had with the baby, and I'm thinking, suuure you did. Finally, I convinced my wife that enough was enough. But sure enough, when we had our second child, the same baby nurse just moved back in. This time, she stayed for eight or nine months. I'm pretty embarrassed to admit that," he said, while calculating how much he paid the baby nurse over the course of his three children: at least $200,000.

My question is this: Who assists new and experienced parents in every aspect of newborn care across the rest of the country?

"When I was pregnant with my first, I had heard of people using baby nurses," a friend who had her first two children in Chicago said. "But I didn't really know any myself. My mom came and stayed with us for the first week or two. She showed me how to diaper and bathe the baby. And then my mother-in-law came for a few days. I've never been so sad to see my mother-in-law leave. All of a sudden, I was on my own, and it was pretty brutal."

A mother of three who lived in different parts of the South when she had her children said that no one she knew used a baby nurse. "Having a lot of help is normal in New York, but it isn't in most parts of the country," she said. "That's partially economic and partially cultural. I had help when I had my third baby, but that meant I had someone come to clean my house, or baby-sit my other children."

There are plenty of New Yorkers who'd rather spend the money on anything but a baby nurse. "I don't really understand why people have baby nurses," an Upper West Side mother of three said. "The baby and baby nurse sleep all day, while you cook and clean and look after the other kids. For a lot less, you could find someone who does a lot more."

I happen to think that if you can afford it, a good baby nurse does wonders to smooth the transition for the first few weeks of a baby's life — for the baby and for the entire family.

A few weeks ago, my 5-year-old daughter, Kira, heard the baby nurse coo to Nate, "You are so cute, I could eat you up."

"Go ahead," Kira said, deadpan. When the baby nurse later teased that she was going to take Nate home, you can imagine Kira's response.

"Good," she snarled.

Perhaps it is Kira's mental state that I should be worried about on Thursday — not the baby's.

bababynurses.com 


Your Newborn: 30 Tips for the First 30 Days

From parents magazine

Breastfeeding

It's been six weeks since our daughter, Clementine, was born. She's finally sleeping better and going longer between feedings. She's also becoming more alert when she's awake. My husband and I, on the other hand, feel like we've been hit by a truck. I'm amazed that we've muddled through. Here are tips from seasoned parents and baby experts to make your first month easier.

Hints for Nursing

Babies eat and eat and eat. Although nature has done a pretty good job of providing you and your baby with the right equipment, in the beginning it's almost guaranteed to be harder than you expected. From sore nipples to tough latch-ons, nursing can seem overwhelming.

1. Women who seek help have a higher success rate. "Think of ways to ensure success before you even give birth," suggests Stacey Brosnan, a lactation consultant in New York City. Talk with friends who had a good nursing experience, ask baby's pediatrician for a lactation consultant's number, or attend a La Leche League (nursing support group) meeting (see laleche.org to find one).

2. Use hospital resources. Kira Sexton, a Brooklyn, New York, mom, says, "I learned everything I could about breastfeeding before I left the hospital." Ask if there's a nursing class or a lactation consultant on staff. Push the nurse-call button each time you're ready to feed the baby, and ask a nurse to spot you and offer advice.

3. Prepare. At home, you'll want to drop everything to feed the baby the moment she cries for you. But Heather O'Donnell, a mom in New York City, suggests taking care of yourself first. "Get a glass of water and a book or magazine to read." And, because breastfeeding can take a while, she says, "pee first!"

4. Try a warm compress if your breasts are engorged or you have blocked ducts. A heating pad or a warm, wet washcloth works, but a flax pillow (often sold with natural beauty products) is even better. "Heat it in the microwave, and conform it to your breast," says Laura Kriska, a mom in Brooklyn, New York.

5. Heat helps the milk flow, but if your breasts are sore after nursing, try a cold pack. Amy Hooker, a San Diego mom, says, "A bag of frozen peas worked really well for me."

6. If you want baby to eventually take a bottle, introduce it after breastfeeding is established but before the 3-month mark. Many experts say 6 to 8 weeks is good, but "we started each of our kids on one bottle a day at 3 weeks," says Jill Sizemore, a mom in Pendleton, Indiana.

Sleeping

If your infant isn't eating, he's probably sleeping. Newborns log as many as 16 hours of sleep a day but only in short bursts. The result: You'll feel on constant alert and more exhausted than you ever thought possible. Even the best of us can come to resent the severe sleep deprivation.

7. Stop obsessing about being tired. There's only one goal right now: Care for your baby. "You're not going to get a full night's sleep, so you can either be tired and angry or just tired," says Vicki Lansky, author of Getting Your Child to Sleep...and Back to Sleep (Book Peddlers). "Just tired is easier."

8. Take shifts. One night it's Mom's turn to rock the cranky baby, the next it's Dad's turn. Amy Reichardt and her husband, Richard, parents in Denver, worked out a system for the weekends, when Richard was off from work. "I'd be up with the baby at night but got to sleep in. Richard did all the morning care, then got to nap later."

9. The old adage "Sleep when your baby sleeps" really is the best advice. "Take naps together and go to bed early," says Sarah Clark, a mom in Washington, D.C.

10. What if your infant has trouble sleeping? Do whatever it takes: Nurse or rock baby to sleep; let your newborn fall asleep on your chest or in the car seat. "Don't worry about bad habits yet. It's about survival -- yours!" says Jean Farnham, a Los Angeles mom.

Soothing

It's often hard to decipher exactly what baby wants in the first murky weeks. You'll learn, of course, by trial and error.

11. "The key to soothing fussy infants is to mimic the womb. Swaddling, shushing, and swinging, as well as allowing babies to suck and holding them on their sides, may trigger a calming reflex," says Harvey Karp, MD, creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block books, videos, and DVDs.

12. Play tunes. Forget the dubious theory that music makes a baby smarter, and concentrate on the fact that it's likely to calm him. "The Baby Einstein tapes saved us," says Kim Rich, a mom in Anchorage, Alaska.

13. Warm things up. Alexandra Komisaruk, a mom in Los Angeles, found that diaper changes triggered a meltdown. "I made warm wipes using paper towels and a pumpable thermos of warm water," she says. You can also buy an electric wipe warmer for a sensitive baby.

14. You'll need other tricks, too. "Doing deep knee bends and lunges while holding my daughter calmed her down," says Emily Earle, a mom in Brooklyn, New York. "And the upside was, I got my legs back in shape!"

15. Soak to soothe. If all else fails -- and baby's umbilical cord stub has fallen off -- try a warm bath together. "You'll relax, too, and a relaxed mommy can calm a baby," says Emily Franklin, a Boston mom.

Getting Dad Involved

Your husband, who helped you through your pregnancy, may seem at a loss now that baby's here. It's up to you, Mom, to hand the baby over and let Dad figure things out, just like you're doing.

16. Let him be. Many first-time dads hesitate to get involved for fear of doing something wrong and incurring the wrath of Mom. "Moms need to allow their husbands to make mistakes without criticizing them," says Armin Brott, author of The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year (Abbeville Press).

17. Ask Dad to take time off from work -- after all the relatives leave. That's what Thad Calabrese, of Brooklyn, New York, did. "There was more for me to do, and I got some alone time with my son."

18. Divvy up duties. Mark DiStefano, a dad in Los Angeles, took over the cleaning and grocery shopping. "I also took Ben for a bit each afternoon so my wife could have a little time to herself."

19. Remember that Dad wants to do some fun stuff, too. "I used to take my shirt off and put the baby on my chest while we napped," say Bob Vonnegut, a dad in Islamorada, Florida. "I loved the rhythm of our hearts beating together."

Staying Sane

No matter how excited you are to be a mommy, the constant care an infant demands can drain you. Find ways to take care of yourself by lowering your expectations and stealing short breaks.

20. First, ignore unwanted or confusing advice. "In the end, you're the parents, so you decide what's best," says Julie Balis, a mom in Frankfort, Illinois.

21. "Forget about housework for the first couple of months," says Alison Mackonochie, author of 100 Tips for a Happy Baby (Barron's). "Concentrate on getting to know your baby. If anyone has anything to say about the dust piling up or the unwashed dishes, smile and hand them a duster or the dish detergent!"

22. Accept help from anyone who is nice -- or naive -- enough to offer. "If a neighbor wants to hold the baby while you shower, say yes!" says Jeanne Anzalone, a mom in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

23. Got lots of people who want to help but don't know how? "Don't be afraid to tell people exactly what you need," says Abby Moskowitz, a Brooklyn mom. It's one of the few times in your life when you'll be able to order everyone around!

24. But don't give other people the small jobs. "Changing a diaper takes two minutes. You'll need others to do time-consuming work like cooking, sweeping floors, and buying diapers," says Catherine Park, a Cleveland mom.

25. Reconnect. To keep yourself from feeling detached from the world, Jacqueline Kelly, a mom in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, suggests: "Get outside on your own, even for five minutes."

Out and About with Baby

26. Enlist backup. Make your first journey to a big, public place with a veteran mom. "Having my sister with me for support kept me from becoming flustered the first time I went shopping with my newborn," says Suzanne Zook, a mom in Denver.

27. If you're on your own, "stick to places likely to welcome a baby, such as story hour at a library or bookstore," suggests Christin Gauss, a mom in Fishers, Indiana.

28. "Keep your diaper bag packed," says Fran Bowen, a mom in Brooklyn. There's nothing worse than finally getting the baby ready, only to find that you're not.

29. Stash a spare. Holland Brown, a mom in Long Beach, California, always keeps a change of adult clothes in her diaper bag. "You don't want to get stuck walkingaround with an adorable baby but mustard-colored poop all over you."

30. Finally, embrace the chaos. "Keep your plans simple and be prepared to abandon them at any time," says Margi Weeks, a mom in Tarrytown, New York.

If nothing else, remember that everyone makes it through, and so will you. Soon enough you'll be rewarded with your baby's first smile, and that will help make up for all the initial craziness.

Heather Swain is a mother and writer in Brooklyn, New York. Her novel is Luscious Lemon (Downtown Press).

more in baby care basics


Interview with Anita Rogers on Goop.com

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article from Goop 

photo from Goop

Anita Rogers, founder of household staffing agency British American, has more than a decade’s experience in pairing families with household staff, from nannies and butlers to personal assistants and estate managers. She’s earned a reputation for finding successful matches–and also for helping to handle any situation that may arise in the working household. Here, she shares her insights on why hiring for your childcare or home needs is profoundly personal, and how a staffing agency can help with the process.

A Q&A with Anita Rogers

Q: What are the upsides to using an agency?

A: An agency helps you determine what kind of help you really need, and devises the way in which you want your staff to fit your lifestyle. It also saves you time and keeps you safe during the interview process. Some families have limited experience interviewing and hiring childcare and household staff, which makes it easy to miss signs of danger, red flags, or dishonesty. We enforce strict standards as we interview thousands of candidates each year. This has allowed us—and other reputable agencies—to become experts at spotting dishonest references and to be able single out specific personality traits and potential challenges. A staffing agency has seen how similar traits have played out with other candidates, which lends to its ability to find the best fit for you, your family, and your household.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about household staffing?

A: Both parties must be willing to give and take in order to find the best match. Often people think they can hire a candidate if they offer a competitive or high salary. Or if a nanny or butler has excellent experience, they might assume they can get a higher salary and an ideal schedule. But staffing is a matchmaking process, and both parties must be satisfied with the relationship and the circumstances in order for it to work.

Q: How do you recognize good talent?

A: It’s a long process—and it’s so much more than just a great résumé and reference letters. We look for candidates that have a balance of experience, training, and education in their field and glowing references from past employers. Other indicators we look for include personality, attitude, flexibility, grammar, responsiveness, and confidence.

The résumé is always the first indicator of talent, where we look at formal level of experience, age appropriate childcare experience, the types of homes an individual has worked in, longevity in previous jobs, and demonstrated professionalism and willingness. We screen all résumés and references and do extensive state, federal, and international background checks, as well as a thorough screening of their social media.

Q: What’s the secret to finding a good match between a family and nanny?

A: Everyone must be on the same page from the very beginning of the process. One family’s dream nanny could be another’s nightmare. It’s imperative that the candidate and the family have a similar approach to raising children, as well as complementary personalities. Someone who is really laid back isn’t going to work well in a formal home that thrives on structure. (The reverse is true as well.) The perfect nanny and family pairing has similar philosophies about discipline, education, and responsibilities. There has to be a mutual respect between the parents and the nanny regarding the decisions made concerning the child. As a parent, if you feel like you have to micromanage and instruct your nanny on how you’d like every situation handled, you will become frustrated and resentful of the situation.

One of the most important factors to consider during the process of finding a good match is assessing the needs and expectations of the family. There’s a huge difference between a parent looking for an extra set of hands to help with driving, activities, and meals and a working parent who needs someone to be the child’s primary caregiver. A take-charge, independent, problem-solving nanny with sole-charge experience isn’t going to thrive as a helper. In the same way, a nanny without the confidence to make decisions on his or her own and proactively foresee situations isn’t the best choice for a family where the parents are gone most of the day. 

Q: Once the hiring process is done, what other support do clients typically need?

A: It depends upon the family. Clients will often come to us for help with communicating with their new employee, especially during the transition process while the employee settles in. We always encourage regular, open and honest communication between both parties. On occasion, we will go into the home as a “manager” and help iron out any small issues that may exist. A relationship between a family and their household employees needs to be nurtured and carefully built, as this is a private home, where discretion is of utmost importance. We encourage clear communication and a weekly sit-down between a family and staff.

Q: If a match doesn’t work out, what is your advice for handling a potential change (or parting ways)?

A: We suggest that each party be gentle but honest about their feelings. The parting should be done with kindness and care so that everyone involved understands that it isn’t a personal attack, just a relationship that has outlived its potential. When hiring staff, you are creating a business in your home. I have seen people distraught if something isn’t working out because they don’t want to offend someone, they don’t want to hurt their feelings.

In certain situations, we’ll go into the residence and let the candidate go so that we can assure it’s done with delicacy. Every situation is very different. We’ve learned it’s best to never point fingers and to make everyone feel good. We directly address and try to resolve any problems, serious or minor, that are brought to our attention, and to support the client or candidate. The ending of a professional relationship can be emotional, particularly if it involves an intimate household setting, so we work to minimize any potential animosity a much as possible.

Q: Is there a difference between a nanny and a career nanny?

A: Most definitely. A typical nanny is different from a career nanny in that they often have a lot of experience with families, but no background or education in child development. Other nanny candidates are great with children and may have teaching degrees or other formal education, but limited in-home experience (typically part-time babysitting work).

A career nanny is someone who has chosen childcare as his or her profession. Most often, these candidates have formal education in child development and/or psychology. This can include a college degree in education or or training from previous jobs. Career nannies also have an employment history of long-term placements in private homes, understand the dynmics of working in a home environment and are great with children. A career nanny knows how to anticipate needs, respect a family’s privacy and space, and handle the logistics of high-end homes. Being in a home is very different than working in a school or daycare; there is no way to prepare or train someone for it, it’s something you learn and understand only after having experienced it.

Q: How have staffing agencies changed over the years?

A: Historically, many agencies have been run by only one or two people. Today, the amount of work it takes to verify backgrounds, interview candidates, and create and nurture relationships is impossible with such a small team. This is a time-intensive business, which is why a larger team with modernized and strict processes is essential.

 

http://goop.com/work/parenthood/how-a-staffing-agency-can-help/


Hiring Seasonal Domestic Staff

Hiring the right temporary domestic staff for your summer home is a large project for any principle or family. This article discusses why this can be so challenging and offers potential solutions to common problems I have seen every season. I am someone with extensive experience in the luxury hospitality and staffing industry and I have run British American Household Staffing and British American Yachts, the leading domestic staffing and yacht crew agency in the USA and UK as well as British American Newborn Care, which works with the best childcare professionals in the USA and UK. Most agencies have a roster of recurring staff in all the domestic staff categories. The earlier you start the hiring process the more likely you will secure the most qualified candidates. If you have very specific requirements and early start will help you find the ideal person for a potentially harder match to find.

A family looking for a live-in housekeeper-cook for their Hamptons home should look at contacting agencies in New York as well as the Hamptons, but nowhere too far for the housekeeper-cook to travel back and forth to on their days off (for instance New Jersey is too far from Easthampton, one full day off will be used for traveling). A live-in housekeeper-cook for the Hamptons will have to drive so this is a challenging order as many domestic candidates don’t want to live in and many housekeepers do not like to cook, especially cook the volume needed for the summer season, which is typically filled with parties and extra guests.

The best solution is to do the following: - Start the hiring process early - Contact high end agencies only, both local and non-local (as it is live in) - Set a salary range that is generous to allow you to find the best fit more easily - Make sure you have set an appealing schedule so you open-up the pool of qualified candidates. The schedule should always have 2 consecutive days off and usually a Sunday is given as a day off, in conjunction with Monday or Saturday - Phone screen the candidates first - Check their level of experience - Check they have been a flexible worker in the past.

One of the most common recurring issues for larger estates lies in the team of domestic staff. Staffing a larger home or estates is like running a small business in your home. The pyramid model works well for estate staffing. Start by hiring a house manager or a butler house manager. This person can then help you screen the rest of the staff, which helps them establish their authority with the staff you decide to hire for the summer that this house manager will be overseeing. This is the most important hire you will make over the summer, so screen this person for the following qualities:

- Ask their management style and ask for two or more references from staff they managed previously - Find out why they are looking for the summer only - Hire someone who has experience in the area they will be working - Ensure they have estate staff management experience - Once you hire them, hire the domestic staff with them and keep an open line of communication with the staff in case there are revolving door problems and it is the fault of the house manager - Make sure they have relationships with the top agencies in the area and ask who they liaise with at those agencies - Ensure they understand scheduling for staff - Pay them very well with the promise of a bonus at the end of the season In case you are doing the hiring alone or with a remote house manager, you will need to know how to attract the best staff (housekeepers, chefs and nannies) for your summer home Housekeepers: - Other than nannies, most high quality domestic are looking for a secure full-time job position, preferably with benefits. This is something every principle hiring only for the summer with deal with and lose staff too.

The best solution for this is to hire the best local candidates on a lower full time salary, offer benefits and give them a bonus at the end of the summer. This is the best solution for retaining top talent in a seasonal area such as the Hamptons - Housekeepers, more than any other domestic staff category, like a regular schedule with overtime, which is the law. A constant live in or Wednesday to Sunday schedule is always unpopular, but more-often-than-not needed for summer hires, especially in the Hamptons. Hire one more extra housekeeper than you need so each housekeeper gets one weekend of a month. This will attract the best talent - A standard and suggested formal housekeeper salary is $70,000 plus benefits and overtime.  A seasonal housekeeper is $35 to $40 an hour.

 

Chefs: -

Chefs often like a temporary position that helps them earn a solid income and allows them more freedom to freelance during the year, or travel etc. - Yacht chefs are some of the best chefs you can find and they are accustomed to short-term gigs, long schedules, catering to large formal parties in a small space and working 7 day or more stretches. I would recommend this direction if you can accommodate a live- in chef. - Use an agency that works with both yacht and domestic staff - Top chefs are often happy to do the Hamptons in between jobs. Again, starting this search early and constantly checking in is an excellent way of increasing your chances of securing the best private chef for the summer - Suggested salary for a summer chef is $8-12,000 a month.

Nannies: -

Nannies fall into many different categories: 1. Career nannies 2. Mother’s helpers 3. Nanny/housekeepers 4. Second language nannies 5. Newborn Care Specialist nannies 6. Travel nannies Childcare is the most delicate of all domestic hires to make, as they need to be fully-qualified for your particular childcare situation. I recommend using an agency with a specialized childcare department. Screen the head of the department and make sure they are qualified in childhood education and development and hold the appropriate degrees (and newborn care specialist should be an expert in their field and should have experience training, screening and offering certificates to newborn care specialists). If your children are older (3 and up) a travel nanny or student nanny could be a great option. These nannies are often students, actresses, singers, writers or have another unrelated career during the year. They must be experienced nannies with your children’s age group and this should be screened by the agency childcare branch. This can be a good option if they are able to tutor and educate your children over the summer, or teach them a musical instrument etc. This is the more economical option, with a salary usually starting at $25 an hour plus overtime. Travel pay is not a legal prerequisite but overtime pay is. If you have an infant, or infant twins, a certified and educated newborn care specialist or baby nurse is the best option. A regular nanny (career nanny, nanny/housekeepers, second language nanny, mother’s helper or suchlike) will be looking for a permanent position, so they are harder to pin down for the summer. If you do, the career nannies will likely be expensive at $35-45 an hour. Some will accept a summer position in between jobs but this is rare. For all childcare positions we highly recommend going through the childcare division at a reputed agency. Again, screen the person who heads this branch.

 

Examples are British American Household Staffing (bahs.com) and British American Newborn Care (bababynurses.com). Ashley Mundt and Katie Morin are both childhood and infant development specialists and highly certified, their bios below. For more information on domestic staffing, temporary or permanent, feel free to reach out to me at: info@bahs.com

By Anita Rogers www.bahs.com www.babynurses.com

 

Childhood development specialist and nanny hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing

Ashley Mundt, M.Ed., CCLS Nanny Consultant Ashley is our child development expert and nanny specialist. She has a strong academic background and years of hands on experience working with children and families in private and group settings. She received both a B.A. in Sociology and Youth and Human Services from Pepperdine University and an M.Ed. in Applied Child Studies from Vanderbilt. Her training as a Certified Child Life Specialist enables her to support and guide children and families during medical interventions, chronic illness, and family/home crisis situations. Although she has worked in many different settings throughout her career (including homes, schools, camps, and hospitals), her passion, and bulk of experience, is working directly with families in private homes. Over the past 15 years, she has worked as a highly sought after nanny, childcare consultant, parent educator, and caregiver trainer. Ashley's background of extensive developmental education and hands on experience in luxury homes puts her in a unique position to understand the needs of families, caregivers, and (most importantly) children.

 

Infant development specialist and baby nurse and newborn care specialist hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing and Newborn Care Katie Morin, ACNCS, NCSE Newborn Care Consultant and Placement 

Katie began her career in childcare over 20 years ago. She has been extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing families along the way. One of her first and most memorable experiences with multiples (a set of newborn triplets) was 28 years ago. It was then that she realized her passion for working with children. It was then that she also realized her passion for caring for multiples. Katie has a degree in Child Development and Psychology and has countless certificates including being Advance Certified through the Newborn Care Specialist Association. Through the years, Katie has been a career nanny, a daycare owner, a preschool teacher and a Certified Newborn Care Specialist. She also has had great success in matching NCS candidates with amazing families worldwide. She does not consider these positions just a job, they are a passion and what she loves to do. It allows her to meet incredible people, all with different personalities and aspects of life. This experience gives her the ability to educate and assist new parents during the most amazing part of their life. To date she has worked with over 40 sets of twins, 9 sets of triplets and quadruplets. She has also worked with dozens of preemies (some born as early as 26 weeks) as well as newborns with special needs.   

 

www.bahs.com

www.bababynurses.com

www.bahsyachts.com


Taverna Rebetika Greek Music Evening on January 28th, 6pm

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A private event for Anita Rogers Gallery and British American will take place on Saturday, January 28th at 77 Mercer Street, 2N, Soho NY 10012.  There will be live Greek music and dancing from 1930s Greece. Anita is singing with her Rebetiko group "I Meraklides" for the evening.  There is unlimited Greek food, wine and kefi for all guests.

Anita Rogers Gallery is showcasing three Greek-related artists that evening: George Negroponte, Brice Marden and Jack Martin Rogers, who all lived and painted in Greece.

Please RSVP to info@anitarogersgallery.com  Come and celebrate Greece and life and join the Greek and British American communities in Soho, NY.  We will confirm if your RSVP is confirmed. 

Μια μοναδικη βραδυα με Ρεμπέτικα και Σμυρνεικα τραγούδια σας περιμένει στις 28th January  2016 στην "Ρεμπέτικη Ταβερνα", πλαισιωμένη με άφθονη ρετσίνα και μεζεδακια.

Με ζωντανή μουσική και τραγούδια του Τσιτσάνη, Βαμβακαρη και Παπαϊωάννου, που έχουν τραγουδηθεί από τις αξέχαστες φωνές της Μαρίκας Νίνου, της Ρόζας Εσκεναζυ και της Σωτηρίας Μπελλου, θα εντυπωσιαστειτε με την αμεσότητα και την απλότητα που περιέγραψαν την εποχή τους οι πατέρες του Ρεμπετικου.

Οι Μερακλήδες σας περιμένουν
Anita Rogers: τραγουδι
Dimitris Mann: τρίχρονο μπουζουκι-τραγούδι
Vasilis Kostas: κιθάρα -τραγούδι
Beth Bahia Cohen: βιολί και κιθαρα

Warm regards,
Anita Rogers
Director and Founder
Anita Rogers Gallery

www.anitarogersgallery.com


What type of childcare is the best fit for your family?

What type of childcare is the best fit for your family? 

By Ashley Mundt of BAHS (www.bahs.com)

 

As all parents know, there is “one size fits all” approach to pretty much anything related to children. Each child is born with their own temperament, into your family’s unique circumstance, and with varying abilities.

 

Your idea of ideal childcare, like so many other things, will depend on your child, your family, your beliefs, and your needs. What is the perfect fit for one family may be a nightmare for another. There are many things to consider when hiring someone to help look after your kids and offer support to you as a parent.

 

The type of care provider is one of the most important factors to look at. Below are the different types of care providers and what you can expect from each:

 

Babysitter: This type of caregiver is often associated with date nights or occasionally standing in with the primary caregiver isn’t available. Babysitters are typically students or have other full-time jobs. They are great at entertaining your children and keeping them safe in your absence. This is not a caregiver who necessarily understands the full picture of your child or family dynamics or contributes to your child’s development in a meaningful way. Typically babysitters are hired as needed and found through referrals from friends and neighbors. 

 

Mother’s Helper: Sometimes you just need an extra set of hands. Whether it is because you have multiple children going in different directions or you have obligations outside the home, even the most dedicated stay at home moms can need some help. A mother’s helper usually works alongside you and follows your lead. You are still making the decisions about the schedule, meals, and rules and should expect to provide direction and oversight. A mother’s helper typically has a set schedule and can be full-time or part-time. They may expect guaranteed hours each week or might be ok with working a flexible schedule. This type of support is often found through other parents, school referrals, or an agency (more common for full-time positions).

 

Nanny: The most common form of childcare of in-home childcare is a nanny. This is typically a caregiver who works full-time for your family. The education, experience, and abilities vary greatly in this group. A nanny will be more autonomous than a mother’s helper and be trusted to make decisions, take initiative, and be responsible for many child related duties (often including laundry, scheduling classes, and meals). Often, nannies won’t have formal education in childcare, but years of experience with other families or may be a parent themselves. Most nannies work 40-55 hours/week and depend on their salary as their main source of income.

 

Career Nanny: A career nanny has chosen to provide full-time, in home care as their career of choice. They are typically a primary caregiver who spends significant time with their charges. Often they have an educational background in education, development, or psychology. Their experience and knowledge makes them a valuable resource for advice and ideas. They should be able to not only promote and nurture your child’s development, but also articulate the reasoning behind what they do. They will also have previous experience working in private homes and are accustom to taking initiative, anticipating needs, and managing all things kids related. As a professional, They should be capable of contributing to your child’s development in a meaningful way while providing organization, consistency, and fresh ideas to your home. This is their full-time job and they will depend on a set salary (paid on the books) and benefits. These nannies are in high demand and almost always found through quality employment agencies.

 

No matter what type of caregiver is the best fit for your family, its always important to make sure they are CPR certified and passed a standard criminal background and DMV check (if they’ll be driving your child).

 

If you have questions about what type of caregiver will provide the best support to your family, we would love to help. At British American Household Staffing, we specialize in matching experienced, educated full-time nannies with families like yours. For families seeking the highest quality career nannies or more personalized guidance through the process, we offer consulting services as well.


Ashley Mundt, M.Ed, CCLS
British American Household Staffing (www.bahs.com)
Nanny Consulting and Specialized Placements
Caregiver Education
917-975-0364


Common Sense C.P.R.

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British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 
You will learn:

Infant CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive Baby Safety Tips

Each student will have a mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies who have not yet started crawling are welcome. To sign up: https://birthdaypresence.com/shop/infant-cpr-and-safety-ages-0-1-soho-2/

British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK.


Infant CPR

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British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 

You will learn:
Infant newborn CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby -infant is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive baby infant Safety Tips

Each student will have a baby infant mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies and infants who have not yet started crawling are welcome.

Baby nurses and newborn care specialists are trained and certified infant and newborn caretakers.  British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK. 

Click here to sign up.

*Use code bahscprmaysingle for $25 off to individuals* 

*Use code bahscprmaycouple for $50 off to couples*


Common Sense C.P.R.

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British American Household Staffing is now offering a C.P.R. class in collaboration with Birth Day Presence

Common Sense C.P.R. will teach Infant CPR plus Relief of Choking to expectant and new parents, grandparents and caregivers. 

You will learn:
Infant newborn CPR (age 0-11 months). You are encouraged to come while pregnant, but may come after the baby -infant is born.
Relief of Foreign Body Airway Obstruction (Choking)
Taxicab and Car-Seat Guidelines
Extensive baby infant Safety Tips

Each student will have a baby infant mannequin for ample hands-on practice. Students will leave with helpful handouts to keep at home. Babies and infants who have not yet started crawling are welcome.

British American Household Staffing will present and discuss baby nurses and newborn care specialists in NYC available for night nurse care.  Baby nurses and newborn care specialists are trained and certified infant and newborn caretakers.  British American represents baby nurses in New York who are fully trained, vetted with excellent references and certifications.  They help both the parents and the newborn (infant) with development, care, sleep training and feeding.  Some baby nurses have doula certifications.  A high quality baby nurse will work with the infant and parents on sleep training when the doctor deems appropriate timing and the infant is the correct weight. Professional and high quality baby nurses support the mother in areas such as lactation, breastfeeding, lactation, latching and more.  Please contact info@bahs.com for more information regarding hiring a baby nurse in NYC and in the USA and UK.

Click here to sign up.

*Use code bahs to save $15 on registration*


British American Child Development Education Workshop

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Please join British American Household Staffing for a free child and infant development education event on Tuesday, December 1st. We will be introducing the newest addition to our team, Ashley Mundt, M.Ed., CCLS, previewing curriculum for our brand new child development education and caregiver (nannies, newborn care specialists, baby nurses) training services, as well as presenting a short lecture on the significance of incorporating sound developmental knowledge into daily care. In addition, we will be offering priority registration and a discounted fee for all caregiver training workshops, developmental education series, and private in-home sessions to those in attendance.
 
The goal of these new services is to provide educational opportunities for those who care for, and work with, children. Classes and workshops have been designed to provide a general understanding of child and infant development (taught in age specific lessons) along with practical ideas and strategies for incorporating this knowledge in order to elevate the quality of care children receive. Our classes and workshops are not meant to teach strict protocols or a provided a step-by-step guide to caring for children. We respect that each child and infant is unique and there is no “one size fits all” approach that is applicable to all children and infants, families, or caregivers (nannies, newborn care specialists and baby nurses). Instead of an instruction manual for childcare, we want to provide caregivers (nannies, newborn care specialists and baby nurses) with a tool box full of information, proven strategies, and activity ideas that they can draw on to best support and nurture children and infants’s development and handle challenges that will inevitably arise.
 
In creating the materials for this program, we have drawn information and resources from professional experience, current research, and leading experts in the fields of child development and developmental psychology. Our lessons are comprised of carefully curated current evidence-based information and expert advice on a wide variety of topics relevant to caring for children of all ages. Each lesson provides clear, simple developmental information and concrete examples of how this can inform the way caregivers interact with and respond to children and infants on a day-to-day basis.
 
Heading up our child and infant development education and caregiver training services will be Ashley Mundt, M.Ed., CCLS. Ashley has a strong academic background and years of hands on experience working with children, infants and families in private and group settings. She received both a B.A. in Sociology and Youth and Human Services from Pepperdine University and an M.Ed. in Applied Child Studies from Vanderbilt. Her training as a Certified Child Life Specialist enables her to support and guide children, infants and families during medical interventions, chronic illness, and family/home crisis situations. Although she has worked in many different settings throughout her career (including homes, schools, camps, and hospitals), her passion, and bulk of experience, is working directly with families in private homes. She has worked as a highly sought after nanny, childcare and infant consultant, parent educator, and caregiver trainer. Ashley's background of extensive developmental education and hands on experience in luxury homes puts her in a unique position to understand the needs of families, caregivers (nannies, newborn care specialists and baby nurses) and (most importantly) children and infants.
 
We invite you to come and learn about these exciting new educational opportunities we are offering for our BAHS caregivers and families. In order to accommodate as many clients and caregivers as possible, we will host both a daytime (11:30-1:00) and evening (5:30-7:00) event on Tuesday, December 1st. Please RSVP to anita.rogers@bahs.com to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to preview sample materials, meet Ashley, learn about the importance of developmental education, and take advantage of priority registration for upcoming caregiver class series and workshops. We will also be offering special discounts and giving away a limited number of free sessions to those in attendance.

Interview with Anita Rogers on Goop.com

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article from Goop 

photo from Goop

Anita Rogers, founder of household staffing agency British American, has more than a decade’s experience in pairing families with household staff, from nannies and butlers to personal assistants and estate managers. She’s earned a reputation for finding successful matches–and also for helping to handle any situation that may arise in the working household. Here, she shares her insights on why hiring for your childcare or home needs is profoundly personal, and how a staffing agency can help with the process.

A Q&A with Anita Rogers

Q: What are the upsides to using an agency?

A: An agency helps you determine what kind of help you really need, and devises the way in which you want your staff to fit your lifestyle. It also saves you time and keeps you safe during the interview process. Some families have limited experience interviewing and hiring childcare and household staff, which makes it easy to miss signs of danger, red flags, or dishonesty. We enforce strict standards as we interview thousands of candidates each year. This has allowed us—and other reputable agencies—to become experts at spotting dishonest references and to be able single out specific personality traits and potential challenges. A staffing agency has seen how similar traits have played out with other candidates, which lends to its ability to find the best fit for you, your family, and your household.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about household staffing?

A: Both parties must be willing to give and take in order to find the best match. Often people think they can hire a candidate if they offer a competitive or high salary. Or if a nanny or butler has excellent experience, they might assume they can get a higher salary and an ideal schedule. But staffing is a matchmaking process, and both parties must be satisfied with the relationship and the circumstances in order for it to work.

Q: How do you recognize good talent?

A: It’s a long process—and it’s so much more than just a great résumé and reference letters. We look for candidates that have a balance of experience, training, and education in their field and glowing references from past employers. Other indicators we look for include personality, attitude, flexibility, grammar, responsiveness, and confidence.

The résumé is always the first indicator of talent, where we look at formal level of experience, age appropriate childcare experience, the types of homes an individual has worked in, longevity in previous jobs, and demonstrated professionalism and willingness. We screen all résumés and references and do extensive state, federal, and international background checks, as well as a thorough screening of their social media.

Q: What’s the secret to finding a good match between a family and nanny?

A: Everyone must be on the same page from the very beginning of the process. One family’s dream nanny could be another’s nightmare. It’s imperative that the candidate and the family have a similar approach to raising children, as well as complementary personalities. Someone who is really laid back isn’t going to work well in a formal home that thrives on structure. (The reverse is true as well.) The perfect nanny and family pairing has similar philosophies about discipline, education, and responsibilities. There has to be a mutual respect between the parents and the nanny regarding the decisions made concerning the child. As a parent, if you feel like you have to micromanage and instruct your nanny on how you’d like every situation handled, you will become frustrated and resentful of the situation.

One of the most important factors to consider during the process of finding a good match is assessing the needs and expectations of the family. There’s a huge difference between a parent looking for an extra set of hands to help with driving, activities, and meals and a working parent who needs someone to be the child’s primary caregiver. A take-charge, independent, problem-solving nanny with sole-charge experience isn’t going to thrive as a helper. In the same way, a nanny without the confidence to make decisions on his or her own and proactively foresee situations isn’t the best choice for a family where the parents are gone most of the day. 

Q: Once the hiring process is done, what other support do clients typically need?

A: It depends upon the family. Clients will often come to us for help with communicating with their new employee, especially during the transition process while the employee settles in. We always encourage regular, open and honest communication between both parties. On occasion, we will go into the home as a “manager” and help iron out any small issues that may exist. A relationship between a family and their household employees needs to be nurtured and carefully built, as this is a private home, where discretion is of utmost importance. We encourage clear communication and a weekly sit-down between a family and staff.

Q: If a match doesn’t work out, what is your advice for handling a potential change (or parting ways)?

A: We suggest that each party be gentle but honest about their feelings. The parting should be done with kindness and care so that everyone involved understands that it isn’t a personal attack, just a relationship that has outlived its potential. When hiring staff, you are creating a business in your home. I have seen people distraught if something isn’t working out because they don’t want to offend someone, they don’t want to hurt their feelings.

In certain situations, we’ll go into the residence and let the candidate go so that we can assure it’s done with delicacy. Every situation is very different. We’ve learned it’s best to never point fingers and to make everyone feel good. We directly address and try to resolve any problems, serious or minor, that are brought to our attention, and to support the client or candidate. The ending of a professional relationship can be emotional, particularly if it involves an intimate household setting, so we work to minimize any potential animosity a much as possible.

Q: Is there a difference between a nanny and a career nanny?

A: Most definitely. A typical nanny is different from a career nanny in that they often have a lot of experience with families, but no background or education in child development. Other nanny candidates are great with children and may have teaching degrees or other formal education, but limited in-home experience (typically part-time babysitting work).

A career nanny is someone who has chosen childcare as his or her profession. Most often, these candidates have formal education in child development and/or psychology. This can include a college degree in education or or training from previous jobs. Career nannies also have an employment history of long-term placements in private homes, understand the dynmics of working in a home environment and are great with children. A career nanny knows how to anticipate needs, respect a family’s privacy and space, and handle the logistics of high-end homes. Being in a home is very different than working in a school or daycare; there is no way to prepare or train someone for it, it’s something you learn and understand only after having experienced it.

Q: How have staffing agencies changed over the years?

A: Historically, many agencies have been run by only one or two people. Today, the amount of work it takes to verify backgrounds, interview candidates, and create and nurture relationships is impossible with such a small team. This is a time-intensive business, which is why a larger team with modernized and strict processes is essential.

 

http://goop.com/work/parenthood/how-a-staffing-agency-can-help/


Hiring Seasonal Domestic Staff

Hiring the right temporary domestic staff for your summer home is a large project for any principle or family. This article discusses why this can be so challenging and offers potential solutions to common problems I have seen every season. I am someone with extensive experience in the luxury hospitality and staffing industry and I have run British American Household Staffing and British American Yachts, the leading domestic staffing and yacht crew agency in the USA and UK as well as British American Newborn Care, which works with the best childcare professionals in the USA and UK. Most agencies have a roster of recurring staff in all the domestic staff categories. The earlier you start the hiring process the more likely you will secure the most qualified candidates. If you have very specific requirements and early start will help you find the ideal person for a potentially harder match to find.

A family looking for a live-in housekeeper-cook for their Hamptons home should look at contacting agencies in New York as well as the Hamptons, but nowhere too far for the housekeeper-cook to travel back and forth to on their days off (for instance New Jersey is too far from Easthampton, one full day off will be used for traveling). A live-in housekeeper-cook for the Hamptons will have to drive so this is a challenging order as many domestic candidates don’t want to live in and many housekeepers do not like to cook, especially cook the volume needed for the summer season, which is typically filled with parties and extra guests.

The best solution is to do the following: - Start the hiring process early - Contact high end agencies only, both local and non-local (as it is live in) - Set a salary range that is generous to allow you to find the best fit more easily - Make sure you have set an appealing schedule so you open-up the pool of qualified candidates. The schedule should always have 2 consecutive days off and usually a Sunday is given as a day off, in conjunction with Monday or Saturday - Phone screen the candidates first - Check their level of experience - Check they have been a flexible worker in the past.

One of the most common recurring issues for larger estates lies in the team of domestic staff. Staffing a larger home or estates is like running a small business in your home. The pyramid model works well for estate staffing. Start by hiring a house manager or a butler house manager. This person can then help you screen the rest of the staff, which helps them establish their authority with the staff you decide to hire for the summer that this house manager will be overseeing. This is the most important hire you will make over the summer, so screen this person for the following qualities:

- Ask their management style and ask for two or more references from staff they managed previously - Find out why they are looking for the summer only - Hire someone who has experience in the area they will be working - Ensure they have estate staff management experience - Once you hire them, hire the domestic staff with them and keep an open line of communication with the staff in case there are revolving door problems and it is the fault of the house manager - Make sure they have relationships with the top agencies in the area and ask who they liaise with at those agencies - Ensure they understand scheduling for staff - Pay them very well with the promise of a bonus at the end of the season In case you are doing the hiring alone or with a remote house manager, you will need to know how to attract the best staff (housekeepers, chefs and nannies) for your summer home Housekeepers: - Other than nannies, most high quality domestic are looking for a secure full-time job position, preferably with benefits. This is something every principle hiring only for the summer with deal with and lose staff too.

The best solution for this is to hire the best local candidates on a lower full time salary, offer benefits and give them a bonus at the end of the summer. This is the best solution for retaining top talent in a seasonal area such as the Hamptons - Housekeepers, more than any other domestic staff category, like a regular schedule with overtime, which is the law. A constant live in or Wednesday to Sunday schedule is always unpopular, but more-often-than-not needed for summer hires, especially in the Hamptons. Hire one more extra housekeeper than you need so each housekeeper gets one weekend of a month. This will attract the best talent - A standard and suggested formal housekeeper salary is $70,000 plus benefits and overtime.  A seasonal housekeeper is $35 to $40 an hour.

 

Chefs: -

Chefs often like a temporary position that helps them earn a solid income and allows them more freedom to freelance during the year, or travel etc. - Yacht chefs are some of the best chefs you can find and they are accustomed to short-term gigs, long schedules, catering to large formal parties in a small space and working 7 day or more stretches. I would recommend this direction if you can accommodate a live- in chef. - Use an agency that works with both yacht and domestic staff - Top chefs are often happy to do the Hamptons in between jobs. Again, starting this search early and constantly checking in is an excellent way of increasing your chances of securing the best private chef for the summer - Suggested salary for a summer chef is $8-12,000 a month.

Nannies: -

Nannies fall into many different categories: 1. Career nannies 2. Mother’s helpers 3. Nanny/housekeepers 4. Second language nannies 5. Newborn Care Specialist nannies 6. Travel nannies Childcare is the most delicate of all domestic hires to make, as they need to be fully-qualified for your particular childcare situation. I recommend using an agency with a specialized childcare department. Screen the head of the department and make sure they are qualified in childhood education and development and hold the appropriate degrees (and newborn care specialist should be an expert in their field and should have experience training, screening and offering certificates to newborn care specialists). If your children are older (3 and up) a travel nanny or student nanny could be a great option. These nannies are often students, actresses, singers, writers or have another unrelated career during the year. They must be experienced nannies with your children’s age group and this should be screened by the agency childcare branch. This can be a good option if they are able to tutor and educate your children over the summer, or teach them a musical instrument etc. This is the more economical option, with a salary usually starting at $25 an hour plus overtime. Travel pay is not a legal prerequisite but overtime pay is. If you have an infant, or infant twins, a certified and educated newborn care specialist or baby nurse is the best option. A regular nanny (career nanny, nanny/housekeepers, second language nanny, mother’s helper or suchlike) will be looking for a permanent position, so they are harder to pin down for the summer. If you do, the career nannies will likely be expensive at $35-45 an hour. Some will accept a summer position in between jobs but this is rare. For all childcare positions we highly recommend going through the childcare division at a reputed agency. Again, screen the person who heads this branch.

 

Examples are British American Household Staffing (bahs.com) and British American Newborn Care (bababynurses.com). Ashley Mundt and Katie Morin are both childhood and infant development specialists and highly certified, their bios below. For more information on domestic staffing, temporary or permanent, feel free to reach out to me at: info@bahs.com

By Anita Rogers www.bahs.com www.babynurses.com

 

Childhood development specialist and nanny hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing

Ashley Mundt, M.Ed., CCLS Nanny Consultant Ashley is our child development expert and nanny specialist. She has a strong academic background and years of hands on experience working with children and families in private and group settings. She received both a B.A. in Sociology and Youth and Human Services from Pepperdine University and an M.Ed. in Applied Child Studies from Vanderbilt. Her training as a Certified Child Life Specialist enables her to support and guide children and families during medical interventions, chronic illness, and family/home crisis situations. Although she has worked in many different settings throughout her career (including homes, schools, camps, and hospitals), her passion, and bulk of experience, is working directly with families in private homes. Over the past 15 years, she has worked as a highly sought after nanny, childcare consultant, parent educator, and caregiver trainer. Ashley's background of extensive developmental education and hands on experience in luxury homes puts her in a unique position to understand the needs of families, caregivers, and (most importantly) children.

 

Infant development specialist and baby nurse and newborn care specialist hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing and Newborn Care Katie Morin, ACNCS, NCSE Newborn Care Consultant and Placement 

Katie began her career in childcare over 20 years ago. She has been extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing families along the way. One of her first and most memorable experiences with multiples (a set of newborn triplets) was 28 years ago. It was then that she realized her passion for working with children. It was then that she also realized her passion for caring for multiples. Katie has a degree in Child Development and Psychology and has countless certificates including being Advance Certified through the Newborn Care Specialist Association. Through the years, Katie has been a career nanny, a daycare owner, a preschool teacher and a Certified Newborn Care Specialist. She also has had great success in matching NCS candidates with amazing families worldwide. She does not consider these positions just a job, they are a passion and what she loves to do. It allows her to meet incredible people, all with different personalities and aspects of life. This experience gives her the ability to educate and assist new parents during the most amazing part of their life. To date she has worked with over 40 sets of twins, 9 sets of triplets and quadruplets. She has also worked with dozens of preemies (some born as early as 26 weeks) as well as newborns with special needs.   

 

www.bahs.com

www.bababynurses.com

www.bahsyachts.com


Art Exhibition: Cannon Hersey’s Silk Route

Anita_Artist_Reception.png

British American Household Staffing's first major art exhibition event was a great success, with over 50 potential buyers viewing Cannon Hersey's 22 moving pieces.

Starting at 6 PM, guests started arriving to view the art and mingle with fellow fans of the artist’s work.  Friends, family and British American Household Staffing clients alike gathered to see his new work and hear about the creation process and deeper meaning of all of his culturally provocative work.  7 PM marked the private tour that revealed a cohesive and provoking thought process behind all of his diverse body of work.  Wang Rouying was kind enough to play the piano for the event; at only 13 years old, she performed a complex Rachmaninoff piece. The remainder of the event consisted of some wonderful socialization and discussion about the pieces.

Interview with Anita Rogers on Goop.com

staffing.jpg

article from Goop 

photo from Goop

Anita Rogers, founder of household staffing agency British American, has more than a decade’s experience in pairing families with household staff, from nannies and butlers to personal assistants and estate managers. She’s earned a reputation for finding successful matches–and also for helping to handle any situation that may arise in the working household. Here, she shares her insights on why hiring for your childcare or home needs is profoundly personal, and how a staffing agency can help with the process.

A Q&A with Anita Rogers

Q: What are the upsides to using an agency?

A: An agency helps you determine what kind of help you really need, and devises the way in which you want your staff to fit your lifestyle. It also saves you time and keeps you safe during the interview process. Some families have limited experience interviewing and hiring childcare and household staff, which makes it easy to miss signs of danger, red flags, or dishonesty. We enforce strict standards as we interview thousands of candidates each year. This has allowed us—and other reputable agencies—to become experts at spotting dishonest references and to be able single out specific personality traits and potential challenges. A staffing agency has seen how similar traits have played out with other candidates, which lends to its ability to find the best fit for you, your family, and your household.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about household staffing?

A: Both parties must be willing to give and take in order to find the best match. Often people think they can hire a candidate if they offer a competitive or high salary. Or if a nanny or butler has excellent experience, they might assume they can get a higher salary and an ideal schedule. But staffing is a matchmaking process, and both parties must be satisfied with the relationship and the circumstances in order for it to work.

Q: How do you recognize good talent?

A: It’s a long process—and it’s so much more than just a great résumé and reference letters. We look for candidates that have a balance of experience, training, and education in their field and glowing references from past employers. Other indicators we look for include personality, attitude, flexibility, grammar, responsiveness, and confidence.

The résumé is always the first indicator of talent, where we look at formal level of experience, age appropriate childcare experience, the types of homes an individual has worked in, longevity in previous jobs, and demonstrated professionalism and willingness. We screen all résumés and references and do extensive state, federal, and international background checks, as well as a thorough screening of their social media.

Q: What’s the secret to finding a good match between a family and nanny?

A: Everyone must be on the same page from the very beginning of the process. One family’s dream nanny could be another’s nightmare. It’s imperative that the candidate and the family have a similar approach to raising children, as well as complementary personalities. Someone who is really laid back isn’t going to work well in a formal home that thrives on structure. (The reverse is true as well.) The perfect nanny and family pairing has similar philosophies about discipline, education, and responsibilities. There has to be a mutual respect between the parents and the nanny regarding the decisions made concerning the child. As a parent, if you feel like you have to micromanage and instruct your nanny on how you’d like every situation handled, you will become frustrated and resentful of the situation.

One of the most important factors to consider during the process of finding a good match is assessing the needs and expectations of the family. There’s a huge difference between a parent looking for an extra set of hands to help with driving, activities, and meals and a working parent who needs someone to be the child’s primary caregiver. A take-charge, independent, problem-solving nanny with sole-charge experience isn’t going to thrive as a helper. In the same way, a nanny without the confidence to make decisions on his or her own and proactively foresee situations isn’t the best choice for a family where the parents are gone most of the day. 

Q: Once the hiring process is done, what other support do clients typically need?

A: It depends upon the family. Clients will often come to us for help with communicating with their new employee, especially during the transition process while the employee settles in. We always encourage regular, open and honest communication between both parties. On occasion, we will go into the home as a “manager” and help iron out any small issues that may exist. A relationship between a family and their household employees needs to be nurtured and carefully built, as this is a private home, where discretion is of utmost importance. We encourage clear communication and a weekly sit-down between a family and staff.

Q: If a match doesn’t work out, what is your advice for handling a potential change (or parting ways)?

A: We suggest that each party be gentle but honest about their feelings. The parting should be done with kindness and care so that everyone involved understands that it isn’t a personal attack, just a relationship that has outlived its potential. When hiring staff, you are creating a business in your home. I have seen people distraught if something isn’t working out because they don’t want to offend someone, they don’t want to hurt their feelings.

In certain situations, we’ll go into the residence and let the candidate go so that we can assure it’s done with delicacy. Every situation is very different. We’ve learned it’s best to never point fingers and to make everyone feel good. We directly address and try to resolve any problems, serious or minor, that are brought to our attention, and to support the client or candidate. The ending of a professional relationship can be emotional, particularly if it involves an intimate household setting, so we work to minimize any potential animosity a much as possible.

Q: Is there a difference between a nanny and a career nanny?

A: Most definitely. A typical nanny is different from a career nanny in that they often have a lot of experience with families, but no background or education in child development. Other nanny candidates are great with children and may have teaching degrees or other formal education, but limited in-home experience (typically part-time babysitting work).

A career nanny is someone who has chosen childcare as his or her profession. Most often, these candidates have formal education in child development and/or psychology. This can include a college degree in education or or training from previous jobs. Career nannies also have an employment history of long-term placements in private homes, understand the dynmics of working in a home environment and are great with children. A career nanny knows how to anticipate needs, respect a family’s privacy and space, and handle the logistics of high-end homes. Being in a home is very different than working in a school or daycare; there is no way to prepare or train someone for it, it’s something you learn and understand only after having experienced it.

Q: How have staffing agencies changed over the years?

A: Historically, many agencies have been run by only one or two people. Today, the amount of work it takes to verify backgrounds, interview candidates, and create and nurture relationships is impossible with such a small team. This is a time-intensive business, which is why a larger team with modernized and strict processes is essential.

 

http://goop.com/work/parenthood/how-a-staffing-agency-can-help/


Hiring Seasonal Domestic Staff

Hiring the right temporary domestic staff for your summer home is a large project for any principle or family. This article discusses why this can be so challenging and offers potential solutions to common problems I have seen every season. I am someone with extensive experience in the luxury hospitality and staffing industry and I have run British American Household Staffing and British American Yachts, the leading domestic staffing and yacht crew agency in the USA and UK as well as British American Newborn Care, which works with the best childcare professionals in the USA and UK. Most agencies have a roster of recurring staff in all the domestic staff categories. The earlier you start the hiring process the more likely you will secure the most qualified candidates. If you have very specific requirements and early start will help you find the ideal person for a potentially harder match to find.

A family looking for a live-in housekeeper-cook for their Hamptons home should look at contacting agencies in New York as well as the Hamptons, but nowhere too far for the housekeeper-cook to travel back and forth to on their days off (for instance New Jersey is too far from Easthampton, one full day off will be used for traveling). A live-in housekeeper-cook for the Hamptons will have to drive so this is a challenging order as many domestic candidates don’t want to live in and many housekeepers do not like to cook, especially cook the volume needed for the summer season, which is typically filled with parties and extra guests.

The best solution is to do the following: - Start the hiring process early - Contact high end agencies only, both local and non-local (as it is live in) - Set a salary range that is generous to allow you to find the best fit more easily - Make sure you have set an appealing schedule so you open-up the pool of qualified candidates. The schedule should always have 2 consecutive days off and usually a Sunday is given as a day off, in conjunction with Monday or Saturday - Phone screen the candidates first - Check their level of experience - Check they have been a flexible worker in the past.

One of the most common recurring issues for larger estates lies in the team of domestic staff. Staffing a larger home or estates is like running a small business in your home. The pyramid model works well for estate staffing. Start by hiring a house manager or a butler house manager. This person can then help you screen the rest of the staff, which helps them establish their authority with the staff you decide to hire for the summer that this house manager will be overseeing. This is the most important hire you will make over the summer, so screen this person for the following qualities:

- Ask their management style and ask for two or more references from staff they managed previously - Find out why they are looking for the summer only - Hire someone who has experience in the area they will be working - Ensure they have estate staff management experience - Once you hire them, hire the domestic staff with them and keep an open line of communication with the staff in case there are revolving door problems and it is the fault of the house manager - Make sure they have relationships with the top agencies in the area and ask who they liaise with at those agencies - Ensure they understand scheduling for staff - Pay them very well with the promise of a bonus at the end of the season In case you are doing the hiring alone or with a remote house manager, you will need to know how to attract the best staff (housekeepers, chefs and nannies) for your summer home Housekeepers: - Other than nannies, most high quality domestic are looking for a secure full-time job position, preferably with benefits. This is something every principle hiring only for the summer with deal with and lose staff too.

The best solution for this is to hire the best local candidates on a lower full time salary, offer benefits and give them a bonus at the end of the summer. This is the best solution for retaining top talent in a seasonal area such as the Hamptons - Housekeepers, more than any other domestic staff category, like a regular schedule with overtime, which is the law. A constant live in or Wednesday to Sunday schedule is always unpopular, but more-often-than-not needed for summer hires, especially in the Hamptons. Hire one more extra housekeeper than you need so each housekeeper gets one weekend of a month. This will attract the best talent - A standard and suggested formal housekeeper salary is $70,000 plus benefits and overtime.  A seasonal housekeeper is $35 to $40 an hour.

 

Chefs: -

Chefs often like a temporary position that helps them earn a solid income and allows them more freedom to freelance during the year, or travel etc. - Yacht chefs are some of the best chefs you can find and they are accustomed to short-term gigs, long schedules, catering to large formal parties in a small space and working 7 day or more stretches. I would recommend this direction if you can accommodate a live- in chef. - Use an agency that works with both yacht and domestic staff - Top chefs are often happy to do the Hamptons in between jobs. Again, starting this search early and constantly checking in is an excellent way of increasing your chances of securing the best private chef for the summer - Suggested salary for a summer chef is $8-12,000 a month.

Nannies: -

Nannies fall into many different categories: 1. Career nannies 2. Mother’s helpers 3. Nanny/housekeepers 4. Second language nannies 5. Newborn Care Specialist nannies 6. Travel nannies Childcare is the most delicate of all domestic hires to make, as they need to be fully-qualified for your particular childcare situation. I recommend using an agency with a specialized childcare department. Screen the head of the department and make sure they are qualified in childhood education and development and hold the appropriate degrees (and newborn care specialist should be an expert in their field and should have experience training, screening and offering certificates to newborn care specialists). If your children are older (3 and up) a travel nanny or student nanny could be a great option. These nannies are often students, actresses, singers, writers or have another unrelated career during the year. They must be experienced nannies with your children’s age group and this should be screened by the agency childcare branch. This can be a good option if they are able to tutor and educate your children over the summer, or teach them a musical instrument etc. This is the more economical option, with a salary usually starting at $25 an hour plus overtime. Travel pay is not a legal prerequisite but overtime pay is. If you have an infant, or infant twins, a certified and educated newborn care specialist or baby nurse is the best option. A regular nanny (career nanny, nanny/housekeepers, second language nanny, mother’s helper or suchlike) will be looking for a permanent position, so they are harder to pin down for the summer. If you do, the career nannies will likely be expensive at $35-45 an hour. Some will accept a summer position in between jobs but this is rare. For all childcare positions we highly recommend going through the childcare division at a reputed agency. Again, screen the person who heads this branch.

 

Examples are British American Household Staffing (bahs.com) and British American Newborn Care (bababynurses.com). Ashley Mundt and Katie Morin are both childhood and infant development specialists and highly certified, their bios below. For more information on domestic staffing, temporary or permanent, feel free to reach out to me at: info@bahs.com

By Anita Rogers www.bahs.com www.babynurses.com

 

Childhood development specialist and nanny hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing

Ashley Mundt, M.Ed., CCLS Nanny Consultant Ashley is our child development expert and nanny specialist. She has a strong academic background and years of hands on experience working with children and families in private and group settings. She received both a B.A. in Sociology and Youth and Human Services from Pepperdine University and an M.Ed. in Applied Child Studies from Vanderbilt. Her training as a Certified Child Life Specialist enables her to support and guide children and families during medical interventions, chronic illness, and family/home crisis situations. Although she has worked in many different settings throughout her career (including homes, schools, camps, and hospitals), her passion, and bulk of experience, is working directly with families in private homes. Over the past 15 years, she has worked as a highly sought after nanny, childcare consultant, parent educator, and caregiver trainer. Ashley's background of extensive developmental education and hands on experience in luxury homes puts her in a unique position to understand the needs of families, caregivers, and (most importantly) children.

 

Infant development specialist and baby nurse and newborn care specialist hiring specialist for British American Household Staffing and Newborn Care Katie Morin, ACNCS, NCSE Newborn Care Consultant and Placement 

Katie began her career in childcare over 20 years ago. She has been extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazing families along the way. One of her first and most memorable experiences with multiples (a set of newborn triplets) was 28 years ago. It was then that she realized her passion for working with children. It was then that she also realized her passion for caring for multiples. Katie has a degree in Child Development and Psychology and has countless certificates including being Advance Certified through the Newborn Care Specialist Association. Through the years, Katie has been a career nanny, a daycare owner, a preschool teacher and a Certified Newborn Care Specialist. She also has had great success in matching NCS candidates with amazing families worldwide. She does not consider these positions just a job, they are a passion and what she loves to do. It allows her to meet incredible people, all with different personalities and aspects of life. This experience gives her the ability to educate and assist new parents during the most amazing part of their life. To date she has worked with over 40 sets of twins, 9 sets of triplets and quadruplets. She has also worked with dozens of preemies (some born as early as 26 weeks) as well as newborns with special needs.   

 

www.bahs.com

www.bababynurses.com

www.bahsyachts.com


Taverna Rebetika

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Live traditional Greek music from 1940's Greece on Thursday, December 10th at 77 Mercer Street, 2N, SoHo: From 6PM to 2AM where there will be plenty of Retsina, Greek food, and space to dance.

Traditional Rebetiko:  Anita Rogers is singing, Dimitris Mann plays the bouzouki, Beth Bahin Cohen plays the violin and Vasilis Kostas plays the guitar.

Μια μοναδικη βραδυα με Ρεμπέτικα και Σμυρνεικα τραγούδια σας περιμένει στις 10 Δεκεμβρίου 2015 στην "Ρεμπέτικη Ταβερνα", πλαισιωμένη με άφθονη ρετσίνα και μεζεδακια.

Με ζωντανή μουσική και τραγούδια του Τσιτσάνη, Βαμβακαρη και Παπαϊωάννου, που έχουν τραγουδηθεί από τις αξέχαστες φωνές της Μαρίκας Νίνου, της Ρόζας Εσκεναζυ και της Σωτηρίας Μπελλου, θα εντυπωσιαστειτε με την αμεσότητα και την απλότητα που περιέγραψαν την εποχή τους οι πατέρες του Ρεμπετικου.

Οι Μερακλήδες σας περιμένουν
Anita Rogers: τραγουδι
Dimitris Mann: τρίχρονο μπουζουκι-τραγούδι
Vasilis Kostas: κιθάρα -τραγούδι
Beth Bahia Cohen: βιολί και κιθαρα


Italian Opera and Business

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British American Household Staffing's president, Anita Rogers performed Italian classical arias with Craig Ketter for the Italian Chamber of Commerce and the BAB (British American Business) on April 7th, 2015.  The event was a huge success with an audience of over 150 attendees.  Craig Ketter is a well-known pianist as well as one of the top vocal operatic coaches in the United States, specifically well-known in New York.  He often collaborates with the Metropolitan Opera and works with some of the best-known principal voices of today.  Anita sang Vaga Luna, Che Inargenti by Vincenzo Bellini and Io T’Abbraccio by G.F. Handel from the opera Rodelinda with Heidi Skok.  

Anita Rogers, a mezzo-soprano, had performed and trained classically in England, Italy and Ireland prior to coming to the United States twelve years ago where she has performed opera and lieder extensively, as well as more esoteric repertoire.  Heidi Skok has been singing at the Metropolitan Opera for twelve years and is now pursuing a solo career in opera as a mezzo-soprano.  Heidi has performed throughout the United States and is currently recording an album.  Craig Ketter is a well-known pianist as well as one of the top vocal coaches in the United States.  He often collaborates with the Metropolitan Opera and works with some of the best-known principal voices of today.  

The evening was a celebration of the arts through business, and British American Household Staffing, known for placing the best quality domestic staff in New York and California, is proud to continue the tradition of supporting the New York’s arts world.  The audience and artists enjoyed cocktails, networking, and a live opera recital as they met new contacts in the stylish setting of one of the largest luxury apparel showrooms in New York.


1/10 Greek Music Event

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British American Household Staffing hosted an informal late afternoon and evening of Greek music and dancing on January 10th, 2015.  

Beth Bahia Cohen and Adam Good played live music, and Anita Rogers sang and played the guitar. The group played a large selection of Rebetika and Smyrnaika while the party of over 100 attendees danced late into the evening hours. Traditional Greek food and drink was provided by Pi, a Soho, New York based Greek restaurant. 

This evening was a great success for British American Household Staffing and represented one of many artistic ventures British American Household Staffing aims to support and promote. 

British American Household Staffing is a proud patron and supporter of the arts and supports an eclectic selection of artistic forms, ranging from fine art and opera to folk and historic music traditions. 


11/9 Event for Alexander Beridze

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On the evening of November 9th, British American Household Staffing hosted an evening dedicated to concert pianist, Alexander Beridze, prior to his debut performance at Carnegie Hall. The evening was attended by a variety of business executives, artists of all kinds, and BAHS employees alike.

An up-and-coming private chef, Eric Post, provided a few select gourmet dishes for the evening, including a squash soup shooter and salmon tartare. The beautiful presentation of each dish was only matched by their masterful preparation.

The true crux of the evening came from the opera performances by mezzo-sopranos Heidi Skok and Anita Rogers and soprano Lydia Dahling. Heidi and Anita  performed “Io T’abbraccio” from G.F. Handel’s Opera Rodelinda. Lydia and Anita performed “Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour” from J. Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman.  The audience was captivated by the stunning performances and all  eagerly anticipated Alexander Beridze’s sold out performance at Carnegie Hall on November 12th.

The evening was a wonderful celebration of artistic talent.  British American Household Staffing is thrilled to continue the tradition of supporting the brightest and boldest of New York’s arts world in the European traditional “salon” style setting that BAHS is intent on reviving in New York City .

If you are interested in learning more about our events, please email us at events@bahs.com.

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