For Argument’s Sake

I walked through the cold rain, clicking my heels a little faster and harder than necessary as we walked across the parking lot towards the movie theater.

“What, are you trying to run away from me?” my husband asked with anger still in his voice.

“I’m just trying to get out of the rain.” True. But also, I was trying to run away from him.

We paid for two tickets to see Reacher and headed toward the snack bar.

“Do you want anything?” I asked.

“Whatever you want.”

We waited in line in silence. As I combed the knots from my long, wet hair with my fingers, my eyes caught a young couple standing in the line next to ours. They were holding hands. They were smiling at each other in a way only new lovers do. I took in a long breath, and as I exhaled, I let my shoulders relax, releasing them from the tension I hadn’t realized they carried. I grabbed my husband’s hand and smiled at him.

“Can we please just enjoy the rest of the night?” I asked.

“Yeah.” He squeezed my hand. Maybe a little harder than required. Sure, we were late for the movie to start, but his sister-in-law needed my blogging advice. I just had to help her right then. But he was definitely wrong that I do that kind of thing all the time. Or at least I was pretty sure.

We watched the movie, holding hands and cuddling in the seats. I clenched his thigh during the suspenseful parts. He tried to pull my hands away from my face when someone was about to get shot.

After the movie, we drove to the restaurant that he had suggested. It was a small, Italian spot in the basement floor of a shopping center. Nothing I would have chosen on my own, but I liked the atmosphere. Behind my husband was a large poster featuring Michelangelo’s David (from the waist up) in an ad for Italian imported wines. I wanted a picture for my Instagram account. I could picture the caption now: “My anniversary #date… No, the guy with the #beard, not the one that’s #chiseled.” I thought it was clever. My husband had other thoughts.

“Why do you always have to share every single moment with the world? Can’t some things be just between us?”

“I do keep a lot of things just between us. I like to write and share things with people. I sit at home with our baby all day. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But it’s nice to have adult interaction too.”

“Maybe if you weren’t always checking your Facebook or Instagram, you and I could have a lot more interactions.”

A valid point.

“It’s our anniversary, and we can’t even go on one date without arguing!” he said.

I felt a little hurt. And a lot to blame. But I couldn’t let it go yet.

“Well, maybe we could if you were willing to do something together other than watching sports or the history channel. I can only stay interested in that for so long, and then I get bored. Your idea of spending time together is watching TV. What’s the difference between you being glued to the TV and me being glued to the Internet?”

“There’s a difference. Watching TV together, at least we are involved in the same activity, and we can laugh and talk about it.”

Another decent point.

“I’m just trying to enjoy our night together. Rarely can we afford the time or money to go out, and we can’t even enjoy it, because we’ve been arguing all night!” he said.

“You’re not enjoying it? What about the movie?” I asked. He read the disappointment on my face.

“It’s not that I’m not enjoying it. The movie was fine.”

“When we weren’t talking,” I noted.

“Well, yeah. At least we weren’t arguing.”

“Babe, I’ve got news for you,” I said, “We argue all the time.”

“Not ALL the time,” he said.

“Yes, we do. Name a time when we’re not arguing about something.”

He thought for a minute. “When we’re driving home after visiting our parents, and the kids are asleep.”

“Okay, yes, that’s one. When you’re trying to make me laugh or keep me awake,” I said.

“Right. And then there’s…” Silence.

“My point is, we argue all the time. Why should our anniversary be any different? Most of the time, it’s not even a big deal and we end up laughing it off as soon as it starts. Just because we argue doesn’t mean we can’t have fun doing it.” I smiled at him. Winked.

As he thought, I reached across the table and held his hand. We argued about whether or not we were going to order an appetizer, and if we did, which one, and then we ate and talked and laughed and discovered about a dozen other little arguments between then and picking up our boys.

We drove home in the rain, with the boys asleep in the backseat, listening to the radio.
“I had a great time with you tonight,” I said.

“I had a good time with you too.”

I reached for his hand, and squeezed it tight, happy that we agreed.

**Linking up with the talented folks at Yeah Write! Click the button to read about it!**


Spiritual Sunday: An Interview with “Be An Acorn”

I am so excited for today’s edition of Spiritual Sunday. I did an interview Friday evening via Facebook chat with a friend of mine, the blogger behind Be An Acorn. The thoughts and stories that he shared with me are jaw-dropping, humbling, and inspirational. And he gives all the credit to God, whom he is truly walking closely with through his journey. You’ll see what I mean… Enjoy!

Interview with Courtney from “Be An Acorn:”

Laura @ Close Families: So what first inspired you to write your blog, “Be An Acorn?”

Courtney @ Be An Acorn: I suppose I’ve always been a writer and after my encounter with God, where the blog name came from, I almost couldn’t NOT do it. I’d been blogging for awhile at the time and it was really just a natural marriage of two desires: writing and teaching via life experiences.

Laura: Yes, that seems like a good fit! When you say, “my encounter with God,” when would you say that happened in your life?

Courtney: 

Wow. It feels so long ago. I think it was about 2007. I’d been a believer, sincerely, since about ’01, but while in the woods, alone, I’d been praying, really yelling in frustration, to God, when he verbally answered me. I heard as clear as if you had spoken to me “be an acorn.”

So by ‘encounter’ I really mean encounter, not simply ‘getting saved.’

Laura: Wow! That is amazing. Amazing doesn’t even scratch the surface of what that must have felt like to experience that. And how did you know what he meant by that phrase, “be an acorn?”

Courtney: I didn’t. Not initially. I was in a complete state of shock and disbelief. I spent days, maybe weeks, arguing with myself whether I’d really heard the voice of God or just made it up in my head. Eventually, after prayer and pondering, I realized it meant that great things start out small and to be the beginning of something great. Jesus uses seeds in so many of his parables.

Laura: And an acorn is a small seed compared to the great oak it will one day become. So since that moment, since you took those first steps toward something great, what have you learned through Be An Acorn… through the writing and teaching?

Courtney: That’s a great question.

Laura: Thanks. 🙂

Courtney: 

It seems like I’ve learned on every topic. I’ve learned about soil, that what I’m planted in, what I’m surrounded with is incredibly important. Translated that means what environments and people I surround myself with.

I’ve learned that on my own I can accomplish nothing, but only by working with God in the way he designed me will I grow and prosper. When a seed is planted, it must actually be broken, it must die, before life can spring forth. I had to learn to die.

Laura: That’s a powerful statement. And humbling?

Courtney: 

Very much so. Being broken hurts. Dying…I wouldn’t say it hurts, but I would say it can be quite terrifying at times.

It is the ultimate test of our faith, if what we have hoped for will be seen.

Laura: And if someone wants to hear God’s calling for their own life… how do you suggest they start?

Courtney: Well, God communicates in a number of ways, but we know that Jesus sent the Counselor to guide us. The Holy Spirit is a communicator for God. As it says in Acts, to be baptised in Holy Spirit, is that first step. Just like communicating with anyone, gotta open up the line first. So, just ask that he speak to you, welcome him. Ask for it. Ask God that he reveal the purpose he has for you and then be ready for change and challenges. 🙂

Laura: I’m sure being ready for it is key too! “Be careful what you wish for,” so to speak? No doubt, God has great things in store for us all, but I’m sure you’ve had challenges in this journey you’re on… Care to share a challenge you’ve had to face recently?

Courtney: lol. Which one?

Laura: Any old one you choose!!

Courtney: 

How about learning to totally rely on God for provision. For over 16 months I have not had a “safe and predictable” income, yet somehow EVERY, SINGLE, month I’ve paid my bills.

He will take away everything you lean on, that isn’t of Him, until He is the only possible solution left. And He does this to get us to realize that He’s the only thing we need in the first place.

Laura: When you’re in that kind of situation, I’m sure prayer is the main thing that gets you through… What are some of your favorite inspirational Bible verses to help as well?

Courtney: It’s more than prayer, it’s more than us talking TO God, it’s hearing Him back. What got me through, and continues to, is hearing from Him and fellowship, more than it’s simply me speaking to Him. I don’t always know the numbers, but in 2Tim, it says “For I do not have plans to harm you, but plans to grow you and prosper you.”

“And if God is for us, who could stand against us?”

Lastly, of course Luke 8:15 “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Laura: And I love your insight on prayer as more of a two-way conversation. I think that’s what they mean when they talk about having a “relationship” with God.

Courtney: Absolutely! If any believer has not heard or sensed to a great degree, the voice of God, I beg you, I urge you to seek until you find. The encounters the prophets and apostles of scripture had weren’t only for them, they’re for us too!

Laura: Awesome. Before we wrap this up, I know that Hope Soap is another project that you are involved in and excited about. Tell me about Hope Soap, and how you got involved in it.

Courtney: I got into a conversation with a young woman by the name of Jennifer Preston at my local coffee shop. She told me about a non-profit she had started; Send Some Love. She builds baskets filled with toothbrushes, teddy bears, stuff like that and sends them to rescued victims of human trafficking.

She shared with me the financial challenges non-profits have. I wanted to help so I did some praying and brainstorming and came up/was given the idea of soap. I would sell soap and use part of the profits to put spa quality soap in her baskets and raise funds for her mission.

Now, we’ve grown beyond just the needs of her organization. We’re in several retail stores across our city and just received our first investment from an online retailer who’ll soon be selling our product to the entire world!

Laura: That’s awesome news!! Tell me a little bit about human trafficking and why it’s so important to support those victims. Does it happen here in the USA?

Courtney: 

Human trafficking is one of the largest global crimes right now. It has surpassed arms trading and if not curbed soon, it will surpass the global drug trade, becoming the number 1 crime in the entire world.

It’s an over 2 billion dollar industry. The average age of someone being abducted into human labor and/or sex trafficking is only 12 years old. It’s more prevalent in Europe, but it most definitely is happening here in US too. You can safely presume that every major city has human trafficking happening.

Laura: So how can we help?

Courtney: 

When you dig deeper you find it’s not just evil people doing evil things, but rather desperate people doing desperate things. Quite often it’s an effect from poverty.

Buy do-gooding soaps! And in addition, get involved with organizations like Endit! the A21 Campaign and/or local groups fighting it. Easily found by Googling.

But let me say one more. This comes down to the basic laws of economics; supply and demand. If we can decrease demand for this, it won’t matter if we can catch the criminals or not because they won’t want to do it if there’s no money in it. That translates to not going to strip clubs and no viewing pornography. I don’t know real numbers, but if church going people could stop those two things it would kill human trafficking. So, the solution is always the same: Love. Love God and love each other.

Laura: I think those are great thoughts to end on, Courtney. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with me. Any last words for the readers?

Courtney: Hmm. Everything changes when you realize that you are indeed here for a reason, that you have a destiny. With that in mind, I say Be An Acorn.

THANK YOU again, Courtney, for joining us at Close Families to share this awesome, inspiring, and humbling interview. To learn how you can help the victims of human trafficking, just click the button below to check out Hope Soap. I’m also going to leave the button on my sidebar so that you can have easy access to the project’s website anytime! I’ve used the soaps and they are AMAZING. Seriously, my home smelled good for days just from opening the box!! 🙂 If you have any questions for Courtney, contact him at Be An Acorn. Don’t forget to follow Be An Acorn to keep up with Courtney’s  journey, or like the Be An Acorn page on Facebook by clicking here!

Hope Soap Button

Thanks for reading today, friends!


A New Start

I’m so excited to tell you all that I have started a new opportunity. While I love blogging and will continue to do so, it doesn’t help pay the bills!

So today, I’m sharing with you the new adventure I have begun as a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant! Before you click away from this page!!… Haha! Close Families is NOT going to become a blog about makeup or skin care or fashion. It’s purpose will stay the same. However, when I feel that there is an opportunity to share with you all some family-friendly information, and tell you about some great products that go along with that info, it would be a waste on my part not to do so!

For now, you can help me get off on a great start by checking out my brand new website and letting me know what you think!

www.marykay.com/LRogers0109

In the future, I plan on a post here and there like offering a quick morning skin care/beauty routine for busy moms, an informative post about the importance of sunscreen this summer, and maybe even an occasional giveaway or great deals for my Close Families readers. I’m so excited about this opportunity, and I think it’s going to be a great fit for me, and a great next step for my family.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

**If you would like to place an order (Valentine’s Day is coming up after all… Why not treat yourself or your spouse!), I also want you to know that all of our products have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and you can order and pay online through my secure website via ProPay!**


Baby Tips For First Time Parents (Part 3): Language Development

Chugging along with our Baby Tips for First Time Parents series, today’s topic is a personal favorite. Being a writer with an English degree, a baby’s language development is close to my heart. There are many tools that we as parents can use to help our babies get off to a good start in their language skills. Here are some of my best tips!

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Language Development

-Read. From birth. Every day. There is no better way to encourage a good vocabulary and an early desire to read than by reading to your baby on a daily basis. Take some time each day, whether it’s in the morning or before bedtime, to snuggle up with a few books.

-Have books accessible on your baby’s level. Whether it’s a low (sturdy) bookshelf or a basket or bin on the floor, having cloth books and board books available for your baby to grab, turn the pages, and look at the pictures on his or her own is also a great way to let them have early exposure to language in print form.

-Give them a constant play-by-play of daily activities. Babies are so curious about this world that is brand new to them. And as parents, we are their first tour guide. When we take the time to talk them through daily activities, a play-by-play of the day, (i.e. “Let’s change your diaper! Here are the wipes. Here is the diaper.”) it gives them an opportunity to hear a variety of words and to let them begin to make connections between the words you say and how those words relate to their daily life.

-Ask open-ended questions. This makes you feel a bit like you’re talking to yourself all day long (as an infant teacher, I was often in a room for 8 hours a day with only four babies to talk to… talk about one-sided conversations!), but it is key to encouraging your baby to respond and to develop the back and forth rhythm of conversational language. Listen for cues that your baby might be trying to attempt words or conversation. For example, here is a conversation I had this morning with my 8-month-old while he was playing with a soft ball:

“What is that?” I asked.

“Bah.”

“Oh, is that a ball?”

Silence as he concentrated on picking up the ball.

“What does the ball feel like?”

“A ga da ba da.” (or some sort of baby babble!)

“Does that feel soft?”

Silence.

“What can you do with that ball?”

Silence.

“Can you throw the ball?”

(more baby babble as he chews on the ball)

“I see that you can taste the ball too! What does the ball taste like?”

Etc!!

-Repetition. Notice in the previous example that I repeated the word “ball” several times, since that was the toy he was playing with. Repeating the same simple words over and over again helps a baby learn to recognize words before they can even speak them. This is called their receptive language. Also, the words you repeat most often usually become some of the first words that your baby can speak, such as Mama, Dada, dog, ball, eat, etc. Generally speaking, the more often they hear a word, the faster they will attempt to repeat them back to you.

-Minimize the use of baby talk. Babies learn their behaviors through both their own curious exploration and through modeling that they see from their parents. It makes sense that if a baby is hearing proper language as opposed to baby talk, that they will learn to pronounce words correctly faster than if they are hearing them pronounced incorrectly. (Consequently, I need to work on this one! I have a bad habit of using the word “tweepy” instead of “sleepy.” Don’t ask where it came from, it just comes out! I’m working on this one right along with you!!) Babies do love a high-pitched voice, so it’s okay to use baby-friendly tones and inflections, as long as you are pronouncing words correctly and clearly for them!

-Finally, consider using baby sign-language. Some parents feel like using sign-language with their baby might delay their baby’s speech development, but it actually enhances it! Think of language development just like motor skills development. You need to learn to stand before you can walk, right? So I like to think of sign language as giving your baby “legs to stand on” before their speech can take off. If they can communicate with you clearly with signs (typically age 7-9 months) before they might be able to communicate using words (10-12 months), it may help them feel confident in themselves and their own ability to get their needs met. Also, imagine being in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. How would you get the things you need? If you’re looking for a place to buy a drink, you might ask a local using sign the universal sign for “drink” by cupping  your hand and putting it to your mouth. The local will understand what you need, and they can point you in the right direction. They might even repeat the sign and say the word “drink” in their own language for you, so that you can hear it and hopefully remember it the next time you need a drink! Using sign language would help you feel more at ease in the unfamiliar environment and it would help you in making early connections with other people while you are learning their spoken language. These are some of the same benefits that sign language can give your baby. Click here for a short list of starter words for baby sign language!

I hope this list will help to strengthen your communication with your baby as she is developing her language skills!

Be sure to check back next Tuesday for Part 4 of this series where we will have some tips for your baby’s motor skill development!


Spiritual Sunday: Is God Searching for You?

I absolutely love this verse:

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

-2 Chronicles 16:9 (NKJV)

In this section of 2 Chronicles, we learn that King Asa had stopped being loyal to God. He started looking for help elsewhere. He became stubborn and turned away from God, and so God turned from him. Even when he became ill, he sought doctors for healing instead of God.

And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians.
So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.
-2 Chronicles 16:12-13
I know there are many times in my life where I have thought I had the answers. Or if I didn’t, I could find the answers myself. I’d Google it. I am smart and capable, I told myself. I still like to believe I am both of those things, but the key to real knowledge is wisdom. And the Bible has much to say about being wise.
Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.
-Proverbs 8:33 (NIV)
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
-Proverbs 3:7 (NIV)
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
Isaiah 5:21 (NIV)
God wants us to be wise, but he doesn’t mean we need to know it all. It’s quite the opposite. God wants us to rely on him and his word for the answers to our struggles.
Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers.
-2 Chronicles 13:18 (KJV)
And as for King Asa, well…
And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him,
Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.
-2 Chronicles 16:7 (KJV)
Now when we look back at that first quote I mentioned, 2 Chronicles 16:9, it begins to make sense. God is searching the earth, looking it over carefully, for those who choose to rely on him. Those are his people. Those are the wise ones. He cares about and loves each one of us, but he will “show himself strong” to “those whose heart is loyal to Him.” Think of it this way, which kind of person would you be more inclined to help, someone who tells you “I’ve got this! I can do it on my own.” or someone who says, “I can’t do it without you.”
If you are willing, say a quick prayer with me:
God, help me to humble my heart so that I can be wise to rely on you in all things.
Thanks for reading today. Feel free to share a way God has touched your heart this week in the comments below.

Guest Post: Top Five Books on Child Development

**I am so pleased with today’s guest post written by freelance writer, Naomi Esterly. She contacted me a short time ago about a guest post for Close Families, and she came up with a very informative post featuring five books for child development. I hope you enjoy it! Thank you for contributing here at Close Families, Naomi!**

About Naomi:

Naomi Esterly is a stay-at-home mom to two rambunctious, yet adorable, little boys and a newborn baby girl. In her spare time she balances writing freelance for 1800Wheelchair.Com and coaching her community’s little league.

Top Five Books on Child Development

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The health and development of a child will be established in their early years. It might seem unlikely but it’s within these formative years that the child develops the foundation of the person he or she will be. There will be milestones, tell tale signs, that parents, family and health professionals may need to note in order to ensure a child reaches their full potential through adulthood.

Here are five books on child development that could be beneficial in this arena.

How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor
By Robert S. Mendelsohn

A renowned pediatrician and author, Dr. Mendelsohn looks to demystify the medical profession. In this book, he hopes to give parents practical advice about relying too heavily on pediatricians and how they should take a stronger role in their child’s care. Subjects include Protecting Your Children Before They are Born, The Mythical Menace of Strep Throat and The Child Who Never Sits Still.

Baby Sign Language Basics: Early Communication for Hearing Babies and Toddlers
By Monta Z. Briant

Studies have demonstrated that signing babies will talk sooner; maintain a stronger bond with parents; have larger vocabularies; show a greater interest in reading; show less frustration and spend less time crying and throwing tantrums; and will have increased IQs. This book hopes to encourage parents to explore these possibilities with their child through fun and easy steps to signing together.

Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children
By David Elkind

Children are going to play. The Power of Play explores the idea of how imaginative, unscheduled play has a significant, long term impact on a successful social and academic career. Play is as important as learning and parents may need to curb those beliefs that a child should be constantly engaged in educational activities. The book combines research and personal anecdotes to make its argument.

What to Expect the First Year
By Heidi Murkoff

Considered a milestone in guides for child care, this book covers the first year of the relationship between parent and child. It incorporates advances in pediatric medicine in an exemplary user friendly manner. Topics include the expanded role of the father, sleep problems, causes of colic, SIDS, returning to work, siblings, weaning, sippy cups, how to give a bath and much more.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting Book
By John Gottman

With an intent of increasing self confidence and contributing to greater mental, social and physical health, this book explores coaching your child to regulate their emotions. The author believes doing so will have long lasting benefits in school performance and beyond. Subjects include empathetic listening and validation of feelings, solving issues in rational manners and labeling emotions with words children understand.

Children are spontaneous and mercurial. Their reactions are actually natural, if not considered acceptable. They do grow out of it, but how they do so is an important consideration. Parents should see these formative years as the perfect opportunity to help the child’s emotional growth. They should use them to engage with the child in emotional, physical and educational manners to ensure the best possible outcomes. The five titles above all have tremendous potential in that area.


Baby Tips for First-Time Parents (Part 2): Cleaning and Hygiene

Continuing my Baby Tips for First-Time Parents series from last week, part two covers cleaning (at home and away) and hygiene. Especially this time of year when the flu and other viruses are rampant, this is such an important topic to discuss. I hope you find some helpful hints here. Feel free to share some of your own tips in the comments below!

Cleaning and Hygiene

-Babies don’t need a bath every day. Typically, babies only need a bath every 2-3 days. Any more than that, and it actually dries out their skin! We tend to bathe our baby boy MWF or even only MTh if it seems like three times a week is too often for his skin. If this is a new concept for you, you might have two questions:

  1. Q: What if we use bath time as part of his nightly routine? A: Everything you do with your baby post-bath time (lotion, putting on pjs, nursing/bottle, rocking, reading, singing lullabies, etc) is your baby’s “bedtime routine.” A bath can be done right before your baby’s bedtime routine, but only 2-3 times/week instead of every day. In fact, it’s a misconception that bath time is relaxing to all babies. For some, it can be. For others, it is exciting! For example, bath time has the opposite effect on our little eight-month-old. He loves splashing, scooting, slipping, sliding, playing with toys, chewing on the washcloth… bath time is anything BUT relaxing for him, because he loves playing in water so much! I give him a bath during the day when he is active and playful, because that’s when he enjoys it most.
  2. Q: Won’t my baby get dirty? A: Yes! However, your baby’s body will stay relatively clean. Exceptions to this which might require an impromptu bath time might include a super messy sensory/art activity, an exceptionally messy meal (spaghetti!), or a leaky BM diaper (I’ve changed many diapers where it went all down the legs or straight up the back! A bath was a must!). Beyond those kinds of exceptions, the only parts of your baby that get messy daily are the diaper area (which is cleaned each diaper change), face, and hands. For the face, wash your baby’s face after meals and before bed with a warm, wet washcloth to keep it clean daily. As for the hands, that brings me to my next tip!

-Wash your babies hands often! For some reason, many parents tend to forget about washing their baby’s hands. To me, it is essential. Before and after they eat. After diapering (particularly when they start getting grabby with their little hands during diaper changes!). After playing outside. After petting an animal. And generally, anytime their hands look dirty. A lot of parents use a baby wipe to clean their baby’s hands, which is okay to get some dirt off when on the go, but it doesn’t take the place of good old soap and water. Not only will hand-washing help keep your baby clean and healthy, but you’re beginning a lifelong habit that is the number one way to help prevent the spreading germs and illnesses!

-Another way to prevent illnesses is through cleaning. However, not all cleaning products are baby-friendly. When you’re cleaning your home, keep in mind that most babies put everything in their mouths. You wouldn’t want your baby to put Lysol in his mouth, so you wouldn’t want to clean his toys with that either! That’s a good visual to keep in mind, but there are other potentially harmful effects of the chemicals in many cleaning products including eczema, allergies, irritating the airways, and eye irritation. Here are my favorite baby-safe products for cleaning at home:

  • Dishwasher. I love tossing pacifiers, bottles, teethers, and any other small toys that can be washed in the dishwasher. It cleans and sanitizes all at once, and it’s super convenient!
  • Washing machine. I wash all of the little stuffed animal toys, favorite blankets, and fabric books in the washing machine once a week or more often if needed.
  • Soap and water. For toys that can not be submersed in water, I like to fill the sink with warm water and dish soap, use a clean washcloth to wipe off the toys with the soapy water, and then rinse them using another clean, wet washcloth. Let the toys air dry.
  • Free and Clear detergents. While baby-specific laundry detergents like Dreft are unnecessary, if your baby seems to have problems with skin rashes, dry skin, or eczema, try switching laundry detergents to one that is free of harsh chemicals or dyes.
  • Steam mop. I love the shiny, clean look of freshly steam-mopped hardwood or tile floors. I use the Shark steam mop on our floors rather than a traditional mop and bucket or the Swiffer mop, because it cleans and sanitizes the floor without leaving behind any chemicals! With a baby crawling around on the floor (and sometimes our little guy even LICKS the floor!) all day long, this is a must for me!

-If you do use spray products to clean, avoid using them when your baby is in the same room. When I need to clean the bathrooms, for instance, I clean with the bathroom door closed and/or the fan on during my little guy’s nap or after his bedtime at night. That way he is not being directly exposed to the chemicals in the air.

-I saved my favorite hygiene tip for last because it’s our biggest life-saver right now! Our little guy has a runny nose from a little cold virus right now, and his absolute least favorite thing is getting his nose wiped. Even the softest, gentlest dry tissue product will still make a baby’s sensitive skin around the nose red and irritated when you have to wipe it 10+ times a day! The best way to remove nasal congestion is by squeezing a couple drops of saline solution up your baby’s nostrils and then sucking it out with a nose bulb (keep the one they give you in the hospital! It’s the best one you can get!!). However, my little guy absolutely hates that and will fight and scream and I can barely do it without fear of hurting him. So the next best thing is a product called Boogie Wipes! They are small, wet wipes with saline already in them. They are so gentle that even wiping his nose with them all day long, his nose never gets red or irritated! It also cleans up any little dried bits of snot around the nose all in the same swipe, so it’s quick, convenient, gentle, and even our tissue-loathing little guy rarely puts up a fight with Boogie Wipes!

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I hope you’ve found some of this information helpful, or that you can pass it on to some new parents who might!

Be sure to come back next Tuesday for Part 3 of this series where I will talk about some tips for helping your baby reach those first developmental milestones!

What are your favorite cleaning and hygiene tips for babies?