Baby Play Mat – A Great Infant Toy

There are many names for them such as baby activity mat, play gym, play mat, etc., but they essentially consist of a soft mat with overhanging beams where toys are attached.

Tiny Love Activity Gym
Baby Einstein Activity Gym
Fisher Price Play Gym

I got one for my newborn girl (who’s now almost 3 months) and it has been, by far, her favorite toy. We play on it every morning and it still gets her excited and smiling every time. While there are many toys attached to it, the ladybug in the center is definitely her favorite. Since she also has some other favorite toys, I didn’t just go with all the standard toys that came with the mat. Some of those were removed in favor of her favorite chimes, rattle, musical sheep, and others. That’s the best part of these mats… when your baby gets bored with one of the toys or finds a new favorite, just switch them out for an ever-changing environment. Attach some new plush animals, chimes, rattles, pictures, bells, lighted toys, squeaky toys, and anything else your baby enjoys. Just make sure whichever mat you buy has toys that can be easily changed to others that are not necessarily from the same manufacturer. That way, your baby will never be bored with the same activities, and the play mat can be adapted to meet your baby’s current developmental skills and age. Overall, this is a great toy that your baby should enjoy for many months.

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Baby’s Flat Head Comes on Quickly

It was always in the back of our mind and we even tried to do what we could to prevent it, but our 2+ month old still wound up with a bit of flat head syndrome – Plagiocephaly. From birth, we tried to alternate how we faced her head so that each side would be equally exposed to the surface of her crib, car seat, bouncer, etc. Unfortunately, the flat head came on so quickly (2-3 weeks) that we didn’t even fully realize it until it was there and we’ve spent the past 1+ months trying to correct it.

It seems that our baby’s crib was faced in such a way that she always wound up looking in the direction of the door or light no matter how we originally faced her head. We put her in the crib and alternated her head to the left or right, but when we went back in later on, her head was always facing to the right. By 3 weeks there was a nice flat spot on the back of the right side of her head. Since then, we’ve switched the way we place her in the crib and put a small rolled-up burp cloth or blanket under her right side so that she’s been facing left for over a month. The lopsidedness has gotten better, but now the back of her head is pretty much flat all over. Hopefully that will round-out a little more over time.

Had we known, or realized, that a baby’s flat head could develop so quickly, we would have kept a closer eye on the situation and tried to prevent it sooner. There are ways to help combat or prevent flat head syndrome, but you need to do them right from the start. Firstly, alternate how you place your baby in the crib. Not just how the head faces, but how the whole body is placed. If your baby likes to look at a toy, window, light, etc., make sure they’re positioned to look at it on the left side one day, and on the right the next day. There are also baby positioning beds available from many manufacturers that claim to prevent flat head syndrome. It’s probably too late for us to use them now, and our rolled burp cloth seems to be working, but if we knew about these products from the beginning, perhaps we would have purchased one. If you do notice the beginnings of a flat head, be sure to get the advice of your pediatrician as well. Either way, be vigilant and pay attention since a flat head comes on very quickly.

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Quick and Easy Baby Bottle Warming

It’s 4AM, your baby is crying with hunger, and all you want to do is go back to sleep. That means it’s time for Mommy to wake up and breastfeed for the next 1/2 hour, or you can give a bottle of pumped breast milk or formula. In my household, we opt for the bottle of pumped breast milk. However, preparing, heating, and finally feeding the bottle takes some time and, all the while, baby is starting to scream louder. At this point, speed is of the essence since the longer babies scream and wake themselves up, the tougher it may be to get them back to sleep.

Thankfully, you can speed things up quite a bit with a baby bottle steamer or warmer. We didn’t have one or even know they existed for the first few weeks, so our method was to run the bottle under hot water or leave it in a glass of hot water until it was warm. That may be fine when your baby is only drinking 1 or 2 ounces and it heats up quickly, but once they start drinking more, it becomes time consuming and water wasting. Make your life easier and buy a bottle warmer.

Now that we have the bottle warmer and some experience, the overnight feeding is quick and fairly easy. Prepare your overnight bottle(s) before you go to bed and leave them in the refrigerator. When it’s time to feed, pop them in the bottle warmer for 2 to 3 minutes and they’re ready to go. Trust me, both you and baby will be happy to get back to sleep… the sooner the better!

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‘What to Expect’ Book Review

Throughout my wife’s pregnancy and now that I have a 2-month old, I’ve been reading the “What to Expect…” series of books which are an excellent resource for expectant or new parents.

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is a pregnancy guide to help you get through pregnancy, labor and delivery, postpartum , and breastfeeding. It’s organized month by month so you can follow along as the pregnancy progresses. Each month addresses your baby’s development and what’s going on in your body as well as issues that may arise with your pregnancy. The book includes diet tips, what to expect on your OBGYN visits, information and advice on pregnancy issues such as nausea, edema, stress, and much more.

“What to Expect the First Year” is a month-by-month guide for your baby’s first year of life. Since my baby’s only into her 3rd month, I’ve only gotten through the first few chapters… and that’s one of the best features of these books. Just like with “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” there’s no need to read the whole book at once since all the relevant information you need to know is presented as your baby ages.

Each chapter contains milestones that your baby should be reaching in a given month so you can have an idea if there are any major problems with your baby’s development. The chapters also address things you’ll need to know and any concerns you might have with each month such as feeding and sleeping concerns, developmental progress, health and safety issues, and more.

Both books are an easy read and a great reference. While they don’t contain every small bit of detailed information you might want to know, they are good overall and any further, more detailed, information you want can usually be found online at some of the better baby and children’s health sites and pregnancy sites.

Further down the road for me, the series also contains “What to Expect the Toddler Years” for parents with toddlers. Hopefully that one will be as useful as these were.

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Welcome to the BinkyLinks Baby Blog

Thanks for checking out the Binky Links Baby Blog. This blog is written and managed by the editors of the BinkyLinks Baby Directory and its goal is to share some real-life experiences about raising a baby or young child.

Each week we’ll be reviewing baby products that we are currently using or have used in the past, sharing experiences about parenting and children, offering advice, and writing about anything else baby related that piques our interest.

Please enjoy our blog and feel free to leave feedback on anything you like, don’t like, or just want to comment about.

- Binky Links Editors

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