DIY + Teach Your Baby To Read

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The kids have gone back to school. The lunches are packed, first day photos have been posted and moms everywhere let out a sigh of relief as they no longer need to plan activities to occupy their children’s days.

I have a few years before I will need to start back to school planning, but I thought this would be a wonderful time to start a learning routine of our own. Now at 7 months old I know that my little guy is learning and growing every day. In fact, studies show that 60% of all the energy that an infant will expend is concentrated in brain development. This means that if a baby’s body grew at the same rate as their brain, then by one month of age they would weigh 170 pounds. Yikes!

With this information, I thought it was a good time to start using flash cards to help my baby’s brain development. These flash cards are similar to the flash cards that I remember using when I was learning to read. However, starting when your baby is between 6-9 months old greatly improves the chances of having an early reader. This makes sense since children’s brains have formed 1000 trillion connections between neurons by the age of 3.

So pull out your ruler, glue stick, and scissors (assuming you could find any along the barren school supply aisles) because it’s time to get a little crafty.

 

You will need:

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  • Cardstock – I used 140 lb. weight
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Self-adhesive laminate sheets (optional) I found them at target for under $7 a pack and needed two packs.
  • Printable ABC’s – click here and here.

Now the easiest way to create these cards would be to print the images directly onto the cardstock. I found that my printer would not take the thicker cardstock that I used. I simply printed the ABC’s on printer paper and cut them out. Then I glued them onto the cards.

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1. Cut out your cards.

Measure your cardstock (or eyeball if you like to live dangerously) and draw lines where you will cut out your cards. Cut the cards out.

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2. Paste

Glue the ABC’s to the card stock. Letters on the front of the card and pictures on the back.

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3. Round the corners

Optional: round the corners and laminate the cards, then cut the cards out of the laminate sheets. I used a bottle cap to trace half circles to round the corners. I didn’t do this at first but after realizing that my 7-month old wants to eat everything I went back to the craft table.

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4. Admire your work

This is a pretty simple DIY as long as you don’t get frustrated with the laminating sheets. Follow the directs for your sheets carefully and work with half of the sheet at a time, pulling the backing apart slowly.

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When it’s time to learn, Bronson and I sit on the floor with the cards, a few books and toys. We aim for a 30-minute lesson depending on his attention span that day. As I flip through the cards I start with the letter side first and pronounce the letter and word slowly a few times. Then, I flip the card over to show him the picture side and pronounce the word again.

We have been practicing baby sign language so as I show the picture side, I also do the sign for that word. I keep my phone close by in case I need to look up a sign that I haven’t memorized yet. After we are done with each card I hand the card to him so that he can explore it. Once we have finished with all of the cards I scatter the deck so that he can play with them. I also say and sign any card he picks up.

 

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Do you have any fun games for teaching your little one? Have you ever tried baby sign language? Comment below and tell me about your experience or ideas.

Postpartum Wardrobe Essentials

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It’s understandable that we get excited about our bump style and often forget that we may need a few postpartum clothing options. Especially while transitioning from pregnancy to back into our old skinny jeans– assuming that we ever get there…Fingers crossed. Don’t get me wrong, I had a few maternity pieces that I wore after my baby was born. In fact, I’m wearing maternity leggings now, but shhhhh we don’t need to make that common knowledge.

When it came to what I would wear post pregnancy, I didn’t give my wardrobe much thought. Aside from deciding that I was perfectly comfortable with the idea of wearing my maternity clothes long after the baby was born. It seemed like a great idea until that first trip outside of my comfortable home. The sad fact is that I was used to dressing up my baby bump and all of a sudden I had a belly that I desperately wanted to conceal. I quickly learned that some of the clothes that looked great while I was pregnant, gave me that same look post pregnancy… and by this, I mean that I still looked very pregnant. That meant that my favorite body-hugging maternity maxi dress didn’t help. My best advice is to put aside a little cash for a few postpartum wardrobe essentials. Also, try to get as much as you can second hand because the idea is that you won’t wear these clothes forever. Again, fingers crossed.

 

Nursing tanks

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Let’s just be honest, not everything in your postpartum wardrobe needs to be made for nursing. The truth is that if my shirt is stretchy enough to pull down and get my boob out it works for me. Nursing tanks, however, are a gift from the postpartum gods. Trust me when I say that you will want more than a few of these in dark colors. Black = no visible spit up or milk stains. My favorite one is soft and the elastic band is covered with fabric for maximum comfort.

Leggings

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Of course, leggings will be as much of a staple post pregnancy as I am sure they were during pregnancy. Again my top choices are always soft like the jersey knit maternity leggings that I am wearing now. Also try to grab something a little sporty looking, just in case you actually do make it to the gym at 6 weeks PP.

A tunic shirt

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Next up I highly recommend a front button or v neck tunic shirt or dress. If you are nursing then you will want easy access to your assets. The longer cut can help hide new mama hips and postpartum panty lines. Again a dark color will hide any spit, spills, or spots. Also, try to buy fabrics that don’t show stains when wet.

Button-up shirts

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As I pointed out above, those buttons will make nursing easier. I liked having a denim shirt and a plaid shirt. With those two options, you can actually get three different looks each. Fully button up the shirt, leave it unbuttoned and open to throw over a nursing tank, or tie around your waist for a 90’s throwback look.

A thin T-shirt

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You might already have a few flattering thin T-shirts. I was discouraged from wearing any of my favorite T-shirts because I didn’t want to expose my belly by pulling the shirt up to nurse. Then I realized that wouldn’t be necessary. All I had to do was layer the T-shirt over a nursing tank. When it was time to nurse, the T-shirt went up and the tank went down. It also gave me a little more coverage if I wanted privacy. By layering, it meant that I could get away with my T-shirt being a little shorter than I would normally have been comfortable with. This handy trick works with almost any shirt.

A cardigan 

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Similar to wearing a button-up, a cardigan is easy to throw over any shirt. Depending on when your baby is due will determine if you will want something thin and gauzy or something more like a sweater. Either way, you will be thankful that you have something to grab and throw over your tank and yoga pants when the Amazon delivery person is knocking at your door.

A wrap dress or shirt

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This may not be necessary for everyone but you might be heading back to the office. Or maybe Grandma is watching your new baby while you get a much-needed night out….and maybe you just need to find a reason to change out of the leggings that you have been wearing for the past four days. Whatever the case if you’re wanting to dress up a little, a wrap dress or shirt is a must.

Non-slip shoes

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Shoes are not always on the list of things to buy after your baby arrives. After all, you might have needed to go up a size during pregnancy. If you already have safe easy to slip on shoes from before or during pregnancy then, by all means, skip this suggestion. I gave birth in the middle of a blizzard. After most of the snow melted I didn’t need boots anymore but I didn’t want to risk slipping on the wet floor while babywearing. If you are going to buy some new kicks then you should at least make them cute and comfortable. Find the three pictured here, here, and here.