Tag Archive for Tips

How to Breastfeed (Or Just Look Like You Know What You Are Doing)

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers!

As a mama who has had one breastfeeding champ who instantly stepped up to the bar for her first drink of milk and another who took his time learning to latch, here are my tips about “How to Breastfeed.”

1. Nothing Beats a Live Demonstration

Breastfeeding, like much of parenting, is one of those skills you mostly pick up on the job. It never hurts to prepare a little, though, and get comfortable with the idea.

Most hospitals offer classes where you can pepper the lactation consultant with whatever questions pop into your head.

And, of course, KellyMom is a treasure trove of information for first timers and old pros, alike.

I find that breastfeeding is something that is easiest to understand when you actually see it done. In fact, I’m convinced that one of the reasons we struggle with breastfeeding so much as a culture is because it has become rare and hidden. Fortunately, you can easily find breastfeeding tips on video on YouTube.

2. Relax
When my son was born, we were separated for a few hours after his birth as I needed some surgery following the delivery. When he came to me, he was sleepy and the doctors were concerned about his blood sugar because of his weight (over 10 lbs).

I could not understand why what had been so simple with my daughter was so hard with my son. And the nurses who were pressuring me and insisting a baby that large needed formula if he didn’t breastfeed RIGHT NOW were not helping matters much.

He would fuss, I’d try to feed, he’d cry, I’d get stressed, he’d pick up on that. The harder you try, sometimes, the harder it becomes.

As difficult as it can be, take a deep breath and relax.

With all the articles about the benefits of breastfeeding, it can be easy to become goal oriented about it. Remember, though, that the point is not to force feed your baby, but to establish a beautiful bond that will grow with your relationship.

3. Get Back to Basics

As part of relaxing, pare down. Send everyone away (unless they make you feel relaxed), turn off the lights, get close and cuddle skin to skin with your baby, do whatever makes you feel most relaxed.

Offer the opportunity to breastfeed but do not push it.

As soon as you can, learn to breastfeed lying down–you’ll get a lot more rest if you do.

4. Be Flexible

I’m guessing many lactation consultants will disagree with this, but if you are having trouble with getting started, my personal opinion is to just let your baby latch however works for the two of you. There is a lot of emphasis on correct technique, which I do believe is important for a successful breastfeeding relationship, but sometimes it is just good to start nursing so both you and your baby know you can do it. You can always fix the positioning and latch later.

5. Reach Out

One of the many remarkable things about becoming a mother is that you gain a new understanding of the importance of community. I encourage you to reach out to other mothers even while you are pregnant. If you find you are having difficulty breastfeeding, I strongly recommend asking for help from someone who has experience coaching new moms with breastfeeding.

With my first, I was desperate to learn to feed her in a sling so I could continue whatever I was doing if she got hungry while we were out. Our hospital offered the services of a free lactation consultant and she helped me figure out this neat and convenient technique. If you do not have access to a lactation consultant, La Leche League is a great resource–you’ll find experts and experienced mamas and other new mothers just like you.

To all the mamas out there, I wish you the best as you begin your beautiful relationship with your child. I hope that breastfeeding becomes a joyful experience that helps you build that bond.

I’m writing this post for the Carnival of Breastfeeding.

Don’t miss these posts from other bloggers (updated throughout the day):

Photo Credit: The Blessed Virgin Breastfeeding

13 Different Ways to Get a Toddler’s Pants On

Thirteen Different Ways to Get a Toddler’s Pants On:

  1. Allow her to pick out which pair she wants to wear. Get over the fact that they don’t go with the top.
  2. Tell him you are doing something cool as soon as he lets you get the pants on.
  3. Give her something distracting to play with while you slip them on.
  4. Make your hand into a “monster” that eats cute feet; thread your hand up the pant leg and proceed to pull the feet back into the pants leg.
  5. Have a “race” to see who can get the pants on the fastest or try to beat the clock (egg timer).
  6. Hold the pants and encourage him to put his own feet in while you make funny sound effects (Captain Dad likes the theme from jaws).
  7. Tell her that “big girls” wear pants.
  8. Tell him the pants endow the wearer with “special superpowers”; pretend child has said superpowers when he is wearing the pants.
  9. Have her “slide” into the pants.
  10. Let him try to do it on his “own”; ignore the fact the pants are on backwards and just celebrate that he’s wearing pants at all.
  11. Hold her down and wrestle her into them.
  12. Let him go pants-free, snap him into pj’s, or put on a long t-shirt (this probably works better with girls because you can always just put on a dress).
  13. Give-up and run errands another day.

Original Photo by Libero, used under Creative Commons License.

Attachment Parenting International (API) Announces Their New Website

I’m pretty excited about this announcement. I chose to follow the philosophy of attachment parenting before I even knew what it was or met my child. Promoting healthy attachment with your child seems to be the most normal way to parent. Once my child was born and her heart defect discovered, I honestly believe that this approach helped me keep my sanity (or what I had of it to begin with) and save her life. I’m hoping that the new API website, forums, and classes, will help all parents find their own best way of raising their children and clear up some of the misconceptions about Attachment Parenting**.

If you are interested in talking more about Attachment Parenting with me. I have started posting each of the eight principles of attachment parenting, beginning with preparation for pregnancy, birth, and parenting. So far no one has bitten (on the blog at least, we’re having a great discussion at Maya’s Mom)…but I do hope you’ll drop on my and share your thoughts.

Attachment Parenting International (API), a non-profit organization that promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents, has several exciting changes they would like to announce, including:
  • A newly redesigned web site and new logo at Attachment Parenting.org;
  • Attachment parenting worldwide support forums;
  • Parent Education Program – a comprehensive series of classes for every stage and age of child development from infancy through adulthood;
  • A new book based on API’s Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting by API co-founders Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson which is expected to be available this summer;
  • A series of podcasts, webinars, chats, and forums with API Advisory Board members and other supporters of AP. Future events are scheduled with Dr. Bob Sears, Dr. James McKenna, and Kathleen Kendall Tacket. Check out the events page for more information.

These are just a few of many exciting things going on at API. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out for yourself.

** I was getting wordy, so I’ll add this down here. Common Misconceptions I’ve Encountered About Attachment Parenting:

MYTH: If you don’t do everything an expert says, you aren’t following attachment parenting.

REALITY: AP is a philosophy of parenting, not a plan that must be followed step by step. There are many practices that are common among AP parents, and fit the AP philosophy better than other practices, but there is no litmus test. A lot of parents seem tired of so-called experts telling them what to do. And they think AP is just another example. The truth is that there is no “leader” of AP. It is a heterogeneous movement, not an orthodox one. While Dr. Sears’s books can seem a bit overwhelming, I’ll admit, if you are exhausted, even he is clear that each family must find its own balance.

MYTH: AP will make your child needy, entitled, and overdependent.

REALITY: Research suggests otherwise. By forming a strong bond of trust, your child will feel freer to explore. Your child is more likely to follow your lead, in terms of behavior. The idea is that a lot of “acting out” is done because a child’s basic needs aren’t being met–once the child trusts those needs will be met, he or she is less likely to “misbehave.” This one gets my goat, a bit, because I find it insulting when, during a theoretical debate, someone counters that “all the AP children they know are brats.” Anecdotes don’t really hold up as solid arguments, the parents and children aren’t there to defend themselves, and who knows what they are really doing as parents? Attachment Parenting isn’t giving your child everything he or she wants…it is taking the journey together.

MYTH: If you start a pattern of attachment now, you’ll have to continue (breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, etc.) forever.

REALITY: The pattern you are creating is one of trust. It is the expectation that you will help your child fulfill his or her needs. Obviously the form this takes will change over time…initially your child is all need and parental involvement is necessary to fulfill those needs. Gradually, with your help, your child will distinguish between needs and wants. Eventually, the child will be able to meet many of his or her own needs (with age-appropriate assistance) and learn to wait or do without certain wants. For most of human existence, people parented this way and still produced healthy, functioning adults. I promise, you will not have a breastfeeding, co-sleeping 20 year old, who needs to worn in a sling.

Unwanted Gifts: What Do YOU Do?

This may be a touchy subject, but I think it is especially relevant now with all these toy recalls.

How do you handle gifts that you don’t want?

There’s a story going around that Christina Aguilera (generally known for diva behavior) has thrown out some toys from her husband’s family.

According to the story, it is because they were from Babies R Us and not from the chic boutiques she believes better fit her celeb status.

We don’t know if the story is even true, or if that is in fact the reason she disposed of the gifts.

Aside from such snobbery, though, what if the gifts you receive just do not reflect your values or, worse, you are concerned about whether or not the toys are safe?

Obviously no one should ever feel obligated to give a gift…and it is truly the thought that counts. I always appreciate that someone thought of me and my family, regardless of what the actual gift is–a card is always lovely, too! But, whether you are pledging to toss everything from China after the lead paint scares, ban all Bratz paraphernalia, or donate items with licensed characters, is there any polite way to communicate this to friends and family who are likely to give gifts to your kiddos?

I have a friend who recently sent out an informational e-mail about stores and brands that are made in the USA. And on Mamanista I’ve been creating a list of stores that take special care in ensuring the safety of their toys and informing their customers about where the toys were made. Right now I have those stores starred on our shop page and soon I’ll be posting some of my favorite picks. You could also point people to some of the lists at Crunchy Domestic Goddess or the great independent and sometimes handmade finds at Cool Mom Picks.

But some people still either won’t get the hint or won’t care about your concerns. So, what do you do then?

Are you a terrible person if you write a nice thank you note and then return store bought gifts? Better to put them in a box and take them out when the gift giver visits and then donate when enough time has passed? Or just keep them around, even if you are not comfortable with the gift?

Is there a right way to go about this?

I would love to hear others’ thoughts on this topic!

15 Tips for Freelance Writing Success

I am a freelance writer, I make a fairly good living working about 10-15 hours a week, and I currently have more available assignments than I can take.

Working from home, I make about $40-50/hr for writing texts and curricula and $75-130 per magazine article.

If you are interested in becoming a professional writer, check out my list.

I am not trying to sell you anything. Of course, if you find these tips helpful and want to give me an ego boost, you can head over to Mamanista!, subscribe to our newsletter, and visit our affiliates and sponsors if you see anything you like.

So, why I am sharing this information with you? Because I am tired of seeing desperate housewives scammed. People are constantly asking me, Should I subscribe to this service? Is this a good offer? How do I get paid to write? Because I don’t think this is a zero sum game, I’m happy to share some of what I have learned. Maybe you’ll share some tips with me, too, about this subject, or something else down the line.

If you have a tip to share, need clarification, or like my list and want to see more, leave me a comment!

1. Don’t write for companies for free:
Value your own writing and others will do the same. If someone is making money off your writing, you should get something in return as well.

2. Two exceptions: Non-profits and Blogging. If you can provide a service to a non-profit, that is worthwhile for both the joy of contributing to a worthy cause and for networking benefits. Blogging is unique because it relies so much on community-building and because the immediacy of the Internet allows you to see the benefits of “guest blogging.” Check out ProBlogger if you are mainly interested in Blogging.

3. You’re an expert: Honestly evaluate your interests, skills, and experience. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has something to share. Sit down and write down everything you enjoy, everything you can do, and all of the valuable experience you have acquired.

4. Identify niches and markets: Use the list you brainstormed and locate magazines and companies in your market. Do your research and learn about the sections in each magazine, the style, and any upcoming themes and topics.

5. Submit queries to these magazines: Queries are usually a brief summary of the article you propose to write, your sources for the article, and your qualifications for this article. Some magazines may request longer outlines, others may even require complete manuscripts. If you really believe in an article, it may be worth writing the entire piece because you can always re-work it later for another publication. Regardless, remember that you are trying to catch your reader’s attention and show off your talents and style as a writer.

6. Think outside the box: A lot of people want to publish their short story in the New Yorker, review Indie bands for the Village Voice, or have their children’s story published as a board book. Definitely keep working towards those dreams, but also consider alternative venues. Find smaller publications, industry magazines , and other places where you can showcase your writing AND get paid. Magazines for children are interested in original fiction, an airplane in-flight magazine may want your tips on area wines, and your community newspaper may have an opportunity for you to review local theater productions.

7. Consider corporate opportunities: Corporations produce website articles, training seminars, internal newsletters, mailings to their customers, and billions upon billions of words. Some of this work is done in house but a lot is hired out to freelance contractors. This may or may not be your dream job, but no matter what your area of expertise, chances are there is a paid opportunity to write about it.

8. Work those connections:
If you have special access to an interesting interview subject, that may get your foot in the door. Do not be afraid to use those connections! At first I did not include my university in my queries. Then, I mentioned a class with a specific professor at that university and BAM!–instant acceptance. There are ways to ask people for assistance (a genuine compliment won’t hurt!) without bugging them. Just do your homework first so you have something to show and you do not waste your chance to get good advice and introductions. If you have a genuine connection to a person or an institution, do not be afraid to use it.

9. Promote yourself: Stop blushing. You are trying to succeed and fulfill your dreams, not win a humility contest. If you don’t broadcast your strengths and talents, no one else will. If you have sold a story, you are a writer, not “kind of a writer” or “dabbling in writing.” Get yourself some business cards, especially if you are interested in technical writing or copy writing. Ask that agent or publisher for her contact information. You never know who you might run into.

10. Stretch yourself: If a topic interests you, don’t turn down a story just because you are not already a full fledged expert. If you can think of a plan for how to become an expert in the topic, then go for it. Don’t ever “fake it” (besides being just plain wrong, it is easier than ever for people to catch you, call you out, and destroy your reputation), but don’t sell yourself short, either.

11. Focus: Seek out industry-specific directories and search engines. I found wading through the jobs at Monster.com to be somewhat counter-productive, but I have found several lucrative contracts at Agent K-12, which is specifically aimed at educators.

12. Consider re-print rights: When deciding whether or not accept a project, factor in whether or not you retain the rights to your material. As you progress as a writer, you may find preserving the rights to your material a valuable benefit.

13. Think ahead: This is what I am working on right now. I make good money and am able to stay at home with my baby and for that I am grateful. However, I do not want to lose sight of my larger goals. Sometimes it is worthwhile to turn down profitable projects to allow you time and energy to focus on where you want to be. To take this a step further, sometimes less lucrative projects are worthwhile if they move you towards your goals. Should I spend my precious work hours on a project that ads nothing to my skill set or portfolio but will allow me a few more luxuries, or one that pays less but will give me more credibility. Determine your writing goals (making money? becoming an expert? publishing a dream project?), develop a strategy, and consider your tactics.

14. Keep writing: No matter what, keep writing. Share your writing. Seek out critiques, but stay true to your voice. Writing is a skill that improves with exercise, so keep it up.

15. Don’t be a sucker: If someone asks you to pay a fee upfront (legitimate agents will take a percentage), or promises you that you will get rich quick–run! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

BONUS: 8 Valuable Freelance Writer Resources:


1. Writing For Dollars: This newsletter has genuine tips and three paying markets in every issue.

2. Writers Write: Tons of resources, including guidelines for thousands of paying markets.

3. Lifetips: Establish yourself as a guru and earn money–you can also collect your tips into an e-Book. One of my friends in marketing hires people from this site. They screen to ensure their writers know what they are talking about. If you have determined your area of expertise, honed your skills, and accumulated experience, Lifetips will help you find paid opportunities.

Resources for Writing a Book

4. 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just Might: My friend who works for a major publishing house said this is the book to read if you are trying to get published.

5. Literary Market Place: Locate publishers and others in the industry.

6. Everyone Who’s Anyone: Advice, tips, lists, directories…lots of stuff.

Professional Blogging

7. Problogger: If you are interested in making money as a blogger, Problogger is a daily must read.

8. Blog Mastermind: Even Problogger and eMom recommend Yaro Stark’s guide to blogging for profit.

Super Dad’s Up To His Tricks

Super Dad has some cool tricks…what I guess you could call parent hacks.

Baby Diva hates when we try to clean her face (hey, why mess with perfection…even if it is covered in sweet potatoes and pears?). So, Super Dad touches his own face on the spot he plans to clean and names it (“cheek, cheek, cheek”) and then wipes that part of her face. I don’t know if she gets distracted, is amused, or curious…but it works long enough for us to get her cleaning with a minimum of fuss.

When we first introduced finger foods, Baby Diva would grab the food, but would squish it in her hands and drop it before she ever got it to her mouth. So, Super Dad would pretend to feed the morsel to her…and then quickly pull it away a little. Baby Diva would usually try to lean in twice or three times and then would get fed up, grab the bite, and immediately stuff it in her mouth. After a week or two of this, we don’t even need the trick any more.

Anyone need these tricks or have tricks up their own sleeves?