Visit a Fire Station

Fire Station (4)Fire stations are the latest on my list of places to visit with a baby. You may have already done so with kids aged everywhere from toddlers on up to big kids – but infants will love the sights and sounds, too!

As with other field trips Veronika and I have taken, firehouses are full of vivid colors (babies can see red quite well), and of course sounds. Note: you may want to take care that sirens are not too loud or flashing lights too vivid.

If you’re worried about the sirens in the fire station proper, see if your local firehouse has an adjunct museum. This space will have all the excitement of fire vehicles without the noise.

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And of course, that means big siblings get to play!

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Visit a Local Store

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Veronika and I were in need of a field trip today. With warmer-than-usual weather and bright sunshine, I simply couldn’t stay in the house!

Rather than heading off to an enclosed, sunless mall, I recommend traveling to your nearest Main Street and checking out local stores. Or if your own town doesn’t feel safe for walking about with a stroller, find a cute Main Street a few towns over.

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Small boutiques were full of interesting things for Veronika to look at, so much to catch her eye from bright colors to sparkle to contrasting shapes. Here she is checking out jewelry displays…

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…and in the kids section!

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In addition to the visual stimulation, many small shops will have a wonderful smell as you step through the door – pine, or incense, or the aroma of coffees and teas, perhaps.

Needless to say, this was the perfect time of year for local browsing. Even if your baby falls asleep, you can knock out holiday shopping! Even just browsing, it felt good to get out of the house with Veronika, and to support local businesses in the process.

This sign says it all:

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Trade Top Tips

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If you’re a new parent, chances are you sometimes feel like you’re the only one dealing with that particular problem – whatever your baby’s current issue is! Fussiness at night, big siblings who suffer from jealousy, spit up, colic, allergies. You name it! It can be such a relief to have other parents as a sounding board, and to learn you’re not alone. These are the people who get it.

If you are new to being a parent, and don’t have a network yet, check out your local library – many have new mom groups just for this reason: venting sessions, and a chance to share tips!

I tapped into the network from Travis’s school, eagerly seeking advice of veteran moms of two (or more!). It’s great to take a moment just for coffee together while the big siblings are in school.

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That left the moms free to gab. I love finding moments of solidarity (her husband sleeps through all kid interruptions at night, too!) and also being the one to offer tips sometimes (time management, craft ideas).

So today’s activity is to take some time with your own pack of parents. Find a stroller-friendly restaurant or coffee chop, and get talking! Chances are you’ll find more similarities than differences, plus enjoy the adult socializing after a morning of cooing at a newborn.

Also P.S. None of us are having a good night’s sleep. Whether it’s the older 4-year-old having nightmares, the middle child needing milk, or the newborn baby (Veronika) nursing at 3 in the morning, we’re all popping up and down. Somewhere out there in the night, another mom or dad is up! #solidarity

Scarf Play

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Here’s a variation on dangling toys for a winter baby – turn the tassels of your warm scarf into the latest fascinating object to watch!

First, I simply dangled my scarf, and let Veronika look at the tassels.

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Seeing her wide-eyed excitement, I next held the tassels closer to her fingers. Sure enough, she clasped her fingers around them once in reach.

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I then held the tassels very still within arms-length, to see if she would reach out. Yes indeed!

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She also seemed to enjoy it when I made the tassels “jump” down to her belly and back up again.

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What an easy and delightful game! It was just right for a few moments of one-on-one play, and perfect for the season.

Record Your Baby

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Remember when you started your baby journal? Right, I barely do either – it’s so easy to full behind on chronicling things when you are sleep-deprived plus over the moon about a new baby.

Today, I made a point to pull out the camera and capture moments; not with the still camera, but the video recorder. It’s one of the best ways to ensure you remember this fleeting period, even those simple moments like lying down and kicking those little legs and making those little gurgles.

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Veronika was an easy subject of course, happily starring in the little video clips I took.

I recommend keeping these short (I have footage of Travis cooing at this age that goes on for five minutes, and even I get a bit bored!), but definitely hit “record” and you’ll play through the memories so happily years from now.

Other cute moments to consider – tho not posted here on the blog – are bath times, nursing, and those adorable little naps where Veronika grunts in her sleep.

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Yoga Relaxation Walk

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It’s useful to have poses or tricks for those times your baby is hard to settle, and today I tested out this yoga-inspired method.

If you don’t own a yoga belt, no worries – simply lay a long strip of fabric down on the floor. My husband’s ribbon belts were perfect for this!

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I held Veronika over one shoulder, and walked along the belt with small steps. Keep your knees slightly bent and your spine straight, and concentrate on putting your feet one in front of the other. It was great to hum to Veronika as I walked, too.

I confess that I like the calming pose better, but this move had the advantage of taking up so much concentration that it gave me a mental break from a crying baby.

If baby’s cries are getting on a big sibling’s nerves, the game can also be fun for them. I told Travis I was challenging him to walk in a straight line along the belt, and he had a blast setting them up on the floor and testing it out, a nice distraction.

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In sum, this is a good trick to have up my sleeve!

Read Aloud

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Chances are you spend a lot of time talking to your baby in parentese, but it’s equally important for infants to absorb the sounds of adult language. One great way to do so? Read aloud to your baby in quiet moments, whether nursing or just sitting together in a calm place.

If you feel like you never have time to read the news or a book anymore as a new parent, this is the perfect excuse. The next time you want to do some adult reading, snuggle up and read out loud!

I did this with Travis without any prompting when he was an infant, reading my way through the entire novel Crossing to Safety in out quiet moments (much easier with a first child!). Today, I remembered to do so with Veronika.

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We tested out a newspaper article first, but I find it more enjoyable to read from a magazine. Whatever you pick, I recommend something with lots of vocabulary. Simple and elegant prose seems perfect to me – slow, quiet articles and books, rather than those with lots of actions. Although that is only my preference!

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Of course, read whatever pleases you – even the latest celebrity gossip would do. Baby won’t care; he or she will just love the sound of your voice. I kept catching her mouth quirking into a little smile, in fact.

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Happy reading!

Visit a Bakery

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I’ve been posting suggested field trips for even the youngest babies, and here’s a reminder that some are not necessarily for the baby… they’re for you, stay-at-home parent!

Getting out can feel great, especially if this child is your first and the weeks of “nesting” are starting to seem confining. But you also want to go some place relatively calm. Bakeries are perfect.

Head off to your nearest local bakery, and make an afternoon of it. Baby can snuggle in your arms when awake, or nap peacefully if asleep (Veronika slept the entire outing!). Meanwhile, you get a nice pause and a tasty treat – vegan chocolate chip cookies and a cup of decaf? Don’t mind if I do!

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Big sibs can of course come along for the fun.

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If baby wakes up, there are lots of things to excite the senses in a bakery; the smell of fresh-basked goods (even though he or she can’t eat them yet!); the noise of coffee grinders or the bell on the door as customers pass in and out; lots of people to people-watch. And of course, yummy treats to ogle!

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Kisses to Learn

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Let’s face it – parents can’t stop kissing their babies! Those adorable faces, those irresistibly chubby cheeks, those tiny hands and feet… And today we added in a little learning to the kisses!

Diaper time is a great moment for this activity, but any time will do, really. As you kiss each part of baby, say, “I love your feet/tummy/cheeks” etc.

Perfect places for kisses: hands, feet, foreheads, eyebrows, ears, noses. And really anywhere! This foot is about to get a kiss of course.

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You can also bring stuffed animals into the game. “Giraffe loves your cheeks, Veronika.”

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Babies really absorb language when it’s combined with actions in this way – plus they get to feel you’re affection! So get smooching.

Bond More Deeply

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Today, it was time for a trip down memory lane – all the way back to one month ago!

Okay, one month wasn’t so long ago, but they don’t call this infant period the “longest shortest time” for nothing. So much happens so quickly for newborns, changing almost daily. And yet the long hours, middle of the night feedings, and sleepless nights can feel endless.

So today, we took a pause to look back on photos. First, I took in Veronika’s old ultrasounds. Hard to imagine that only 10 months ago, she was the size of an apple seed!

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Then we took in more recent ultrasounds, when she more closely resembled a human than a part of a fruit. You can also go back and look at photos from soon after birth, remembering that beautiful moment. She’s so new she’s still covered in vernix here!

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Travis loved seeing these pictures, and we took time to show them to Veronika too

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In addition to reminding us how far we’ve come as a family already, looking at pictures this way will release the feel-good hormone oxytocin – as if you need another excuse to gaze at cute baby pics!.

So take a moment today as a family to look back, and enjoy, and feel your bond deepen.