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Archive for April, 2012

Ways to Save Money on Kid’s Clothing

April 16, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Mommy Rambles No Comments →

Kids grow fast, often faster than they can wear out their clothes. And their clothing can cost as much as an adult’s! What’s a frugal mom to do? Here are a few of my tried and true tips for saving money on kid’s clothing.

Buy Used

You knew I was going to suggest this first, didn’t you? Seriously, how many times have you bought something new for your kids at retail price only to find they’ve outgrown it by the time they get around to wearing it, or worse, it tears apart in the wash after a couple of wears? If you don’t want to take time to hunt at yard sales, try consignment shops. In my area, these are still a bit pricey, so I take advantage of discount days and frequent shopper cards to save a little. My favorite thrift store, in a nicer part of town, has half price days around major holidays. Several times a year I go and stock up. You can’t beat the prices, and if an item still looks good after being worn and washed, it’s likely to last.

Buy Ahead

If you’re organized, you may want to buy next year’s clothing at the end of this season, when everything is on clearance – and keep the off season clothing in marked containers in storage. Keep the buy ahead principle in mind when you’re out and about and see great deals.

eBay and Craigslist

I find that there are great deals to be had on clothing purchased used online. In fact, clothing purchased in “lots” on eBay are often cheaper than even thrift stores. A  major advantage of this approach is the time you save not driving around to stores. I have my daughters hunt for clothing they like on eBay, add it to my “watch” list, and later when I have time I buy it (or not). This is fun for them!

Cruising Craigslist for clothing is also a great idea, as sellers typically aren’t in business but are just clearing out clutter, and prices are low.

Simple Hacks

Try to think outside the box when it comes to kid’s clothing. Items that you think are outgrown may not be. For example, last winter’s jeans can become this summer’s cute cutoffs, and leggings or pants can turn into capris. A dress that fits an 18 month old will likely be a cute top when she’s 3. Once a toddler is potty trained, her old clothing may fit again once she’s not in a bulky diaper.

My 9 year old sometimes “shops” in her 6 year old’s discards – her old cardigans reappear as “shrugs”, and her big brother’s too short neckties give her a cute preppy look. A skirt too short? Put opaque leggings underneath and you’ve got a trendy look. Don’t be too quick to throw outgrown clothing out.

Host a Swap

Hosting a clothing swap is fun, easy and a great way to get rid of unneeded stuff as well as obtain great new-to-you clothing. Set a date, email your friends an invite, and “shop” each other’s stuff for free!

Carrie is a homeschooling mom of 7 who has learned a thing or two about raising kids frugally. Find more tips for natural family living at http://www.NaturalMomsTalkRadio.com

How To “Wear” Your Baby Safely

April 11, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

For many parents including myself, babywearing is practically synonymous with parenting. We can’t imagine life with babies without this convenient parenting tool. Is there reason to avoid babywearing? How can babywearing be done safely?

Last year the Consumer Product Safety Commission sent out an advisory about infant slings. This was in response to 14 deaths that occurred among babies worn in infant slings over the past 20 years. It’s important to note that the reason behind each of these deaths was due to improper use and positioning of the sling, rather than the practice of babywearing itself. In addition, we should keep this statistic in perspective. According to several sources, about 100 babies die in a crib or playpen each year because of: strangulation, collapsing equipment, entrapment and the like. These are tragic for sure, and caution as well as common sense is needed when using any baby gadget.

There has also been a recall on certain slings that are too soft for babies and can impede their breathing. These types of slings are not the norm when it comes to infant carriers and have been recalled for good reason. If you find a baby carrier at a yard sale or consignment shop or are given one secondhand, it’s a good idea to do a Google search of the name brand and style to see if there is a recall on it.

Instead of feeling fearful of infant carriers, you can learn the correct way to use them. When used correctly, infant slings, wraps and carriers are extremely beneficial. Carrying baby against your body for much of the day using a soft cloth carrier is a practice known as “baby wearing”. You baby will be able to mimic your breathing, hear your heartbeat and feel nurtured being next to your body. It is also a discreet way to breastfeed, a hands free way of holding your baby close and a safe and natural, not to mention convenient, alternative to strollers. Slings and wraps have been used in many cultures for generations and are still used today without any problems when used properly.

Start by using a sling or wrap that is made from durable fabric and wrapped according to the instructions it came with. (If you bought your sling used and there were no instructions, you can generally find them on the company website.) When positioning the baby, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. The baby should be positioned similarly to the way you might hold them in your arms, which is an upright position where their head is higher than their feet. They should also be close enough to your face that you are able to kiss them. (If baby is in a ring sling, be sure it isn’t positioned too low so that baby is near your waist.) Their bodies should be stretched out with their backs straight, rather than curled up in a fetal position. The latter position can actually create suffocation as it limits the amount of oxygen the baby receives.

Check to make sure they have enough breathing space by making sure the baby’s face is not smashed into your body. There should be a finger’s worth of space or more between yourself and the baby’s face. It may be a good idea to position them so the side of their body touches your torso, rather than their body facing yours. The exception to this is during breastfeeding. In this case, the baby’s face should be up with the sling material away from their face. You can return them to the previous position after a feeding. The use of wraps, rather than slings can also be useful for newborns, who can be “lost” inside a ring sling’s pouch.

In addition to the positioning, it is important to pay extra attention in the case of certain circumstances. There can be special risk factors for babies under four months of age, those born prematurely and those with colds, congestion and other breathing problems. Younger infants can have trouble holding their necks, which can pose a threat if their head is in a position that limits oxygen. Babies who were born prematurely or have a low birth weight might also have breathing problems and can also be too weak to move their necks. When they have a cold with congestion or other breathing problems, they will need extra breathing room in order to breathe properly.

Following these correct practices can make for a safe and enjoyable babywearing experience for both yourself and your baby. Be sure to follow the guidelines every time in order to give your child the safest carrying position possible.

Carrie is a homeschooling mom of 6 (going on 7) who writes about natural family life at: http://www.NaturalMomsTalkRadio.com. Be sure to check out the free podcasts for interviews with experts in natural family living.

Ways To Combat Childhood Obesity

April 02, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

Many parents, educators and people in the medical field constantly look for ways to combat childhood obesity.  Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects both children and adolescents. 17% of children ages 6-19 are overweight.
Here are some ways to combat childhood obesity:
(ARA) – Today, health professionals encourage parents of even very young children to actively confront the childhood obesity epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that obesity rates for children ages 2 to 5 have more than doubled over the past 30 years, and The White House Task Force on Obesity reports that more than half of obese children became obese by their second birthday.”With the obesity epidemic looming large, it’s absolutely crucial for parents to instill healthy habits right from the start,” says Dr. Laura Jana, pediatrician and award-winning parenting author. “While this may seem like a tremendous responsibility for those still adjusting to diapers, play dates and the many other demands of new parenthood, it’s not hard to help children grow up healthy by committing to some simple yet important lifestyle changes.”Jana recommends some tips:

Downsize your plate, upsize the veggies.

An easy way to cut down on unhealthy eating is to use a smaller plate. Portion sizes are now two to five times larger than in years past, and studies have shown that the bigger the serving dish, the bigger the serving is likely to be. “The more we heap on our children’s plates, the more likely we are to unintentionally encourage them to overeat. Avoiding large plates can help you avoid serving supersized meals,” Jana says.

What belongs on that healthier-sized plate? The USDA MyPlate program recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables and the other half protein and grains. Other important recommendations include serving fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk to children older than 2, choosing lower-sodium foods and skipping sugary drinks. This simple, fresh-plated picture-of-nutritional-health program even comes with online tools to create a customized food plan for your little one.

Swap screen time for playtime.

Young children thrive and learn best through interacting with others and playing with real objects in their environment. While watching TV may be fun and entertaining, or even appear to be educational, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports it does not support learning for children younger than 2. In fact, evidence suggests that screen time may interfere with young children’s healthy development and encourage sedentary behaviors and poor sleep – both are habits implicated in the obesity epidemic.

Dr. Mary Zurn, vice president of education for Primrose Schools, recommends independent play as an alternative to TV. “The early years are critical to a child’s development, so it’s important to ensure that children have opportunities to explore their surroundings and find out what they can make happen,” Zurn says.

Singing songs, drawing, playing with puzzles and stacking blocks are fun, “unplugged” activities children can do on their own that also support their creative, problem-solving and reasoning skills.

Get moving.

Pediatricians recommend children ages 1 to 3 get 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity every day, while preschoolers need 90 to 120 minutes. Regular exercise helps children grow to a healthy weight, build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, and strengthen their hearts.

There are many fun ways to add physical activity to your family’s daily routine: turn a casual stroll into a scavenger hunt, play tag, race through the sprinklers or simply get up and dance. “I love getting children to dance because it not only gives them a healthy dose of exercise, it also supports their creative development and self-expression and, as a bonus, enhances positive family time,” says Jana.

As you can see, there are many ways to combat childhood obesity.  Childhood obesity is associated with various health-related consequences.  Obese children and adolescents may experience immediate health  consequences and may be at risk for weight-related health problems in adulthood.