probiotics for children: how to tell if your child has a healthy gut?

Illness, infection, allergies and GI issues in kids are common topics among moms.  Occasional illness and stomach upset is normal, but when it seems like it's more than occasional, one wonders if there's a reason her child seems to get sick so often.  Whether you're dealing with another ear infection, constipation or the common cold, we all want to do something to help make our kids healthier and happier.  Many researchers and health practitioners believe there is a way to make us healthier and happier and it starts in our gut!  Here's a breakdown of how to tell if your child has a healthy gut and what you can do to get it or keep it healthy!

how to make bone broth & the many benefits

My 4 year old has been a super picky eater lately so I'm racking my brain for creative ways to get more nutrients in his diet (more to come on that in a future post).  Soup is one of his favorite foods and bone broth is a great natural, easy and affordable way to up the nutritional value of those soups.  And it's not just for 4 year olds...

The simplicity and health benefits of bone broth can't be beat and it's incredibly affordable and versatile.  Plus, it helps reduce waste...ever buy a rotisserie chicken and end up throwing what seems like half of it away?  Here's how you can use that chicken to make bone broth and some of the benefits of said broth:

Inspirational Women: Shannon of Graytmama Blog

Raising kids is a challenge, no doubt about that.  And there's also no doubt that there's plenty of advice out there: books, older sisters, in-laws, doctors...everyone's full of it and they almost all say something different.  Graytmama is a blog about one mom's quest to find the answers to all things baby and make them available to us in a concise way that makes visiting her site like a good chat with your most knowledgable and trusted confidant. Whether your dealing with teething, sleep training or wondering how and when to start discipling your little one, Graytmama is an amazing resource written by a real mom.  Below is an interview with Shannon, the inspirational mama behind Gray T.  Thanks for helping make this whole raising kids thing a little easier for all of us, Shannon and for your support no matter what choices we're making for our families!

How did you get inspired to start the blog?  Was there an 'aha' moment?  And where do you find inspiration for new posts?

I don't know if it was so much inspiration, but more like frustration! Frustration at the lack of websites out there with good information on raising babies.  Sites like babycenter can be very frustrating, because you get WAY too many answers and opinions. Truthfully, most moms don't have the time to sit down and read a 300 page book to learn about sleep training, naps, foods, etc.  I took what I read, researched, and experienced and put it all down for moms to have and use. A lot of my readers tell me they use my site as a reference, which is exactly why I started it. I know when I have baby number 2, I will be using it as a guide as well.

My inspiration comes from my experience, if I'm going through it, then I usually write about it!

Maternity Style: Best Dressed Bumps II

It's not always easy to find your style when pregnant.  I did a post about maternity style the last time I was expecting and it gave me lots of great ideas.  Here's a second round for even more inspiration.  These 12 lovely ladies have it figured out!

I love the idea of the maxi skirt turned dress from Quality Rivets, especially with the jacket.  She has lots of great maternity style on her blog!

A very pretty look from Let It Be.

co-sleeping with your kids: a look at the pros and cons

We never thought we'd do it...and now here we are.  The 4 year old has gone from coming in in the middle of the night to full-on sleeping in our bed from start to finish.  I know a lot of other parents, especially of preschoolers, are dealing with this and asking themselves: is this okay, is this best for my child, our relationship, our sleep (or lack there of).  It still feels a little taboo to have your child sleep in your bed, even though in so many other countries and cultures, it's the norm (or at least much more accepted).  So here's what I've discovered and what some of the experts say:

Is butter good for you?

The other day my friend asked me about butter and wanted my opinion on the best option out there.  I’ve been using more butter in the last few years and think it can be a healthy option if you choose the right butter and use it the right way.  But what is the right butter and what are the real pros and cons?

All these questions bring me to the bottom line issue that's receiving a lot of attention these days in the nutrition community and among those interested in these things: fat, particularly of the saturated variety.  When the fat free diet craze started in the 80s and continued into the 90s, many foods came onto the market that had little to no fat and people ate them as part of their "diet".  The catch is that the fat in these foods was replaced with carbohydrates (mostly refined, and sugar) and actually contained roughly the same amount of calories as the original product.  All of this was mostly in response to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by the USDA in 1980 which stated that we should "Avoid too much fat, saturated fat and cholesterol".  

Healthy Snack Ideas: 2 minute honey avocado "butter"

My family loves guacamole but it can be a little time consuming to make or just too spicy for some kids.  Here's an idea for a sweeter avocado dip/spread that's incredibly simple, versatile and as my 18month old says "mmm mmm"!

Here's what you'll need:
1 ripe avocado
sea salt

Playroom Design: 5 things every great playroom needs

I'm a firm believer that children don't need an excessive amount of toys, but how you organize and display what they have can make a huge difference in how effectively, productively, and how long they play.  I spent a couple hours going through and organizing toys yesterday and I think it finally gave me the motivation to take on the playroom makeover I've been contemplating.  Kids learn by playing and when they have the tools, they expand their creativity, imagination and independence...and have plenty of good old fashioned fun!  In fact, just today my Baby Center email said that preschool age kids learn just as much, if not more, by playing as they do in structured classes.

I think playrooms work best with a variety of stimulation.  Here's my inspiration for the 5 things every playroom needs to promote productive play, fun play dates and happy moms!

1.  Energy expelling toys:
Obviously you have to do what you can with your space, but climbing walls, rings, ladders, swings and sports focused toys help kids get their energy out and build confidence.

Rock walls are a great idea and you really don't need that much space (pieces found here).  I'm also really liking the rings and basketball hoop on the door to save space!

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