Why pre-natal belly dancing just makes sense

Why Prenatal Belly Dancing makes sense

Two conversations I had recently made me think that even though belly dancing sounds intimidating and not-my-thing, I might do it if I were pregnant again.

Sitting is the new smoking

My friend Kelsey, a life coach and acupuncturist, said “Sitting is the new smoking” during a marathon road trip discussion we had about careers, childbirth, relationships, and parenting. “You’re going to hear that more and more,” she said.

And she was right. Within a couple weeks, I saw this article, Be A Writer That Moves Be A Mover Who Writes, acknowledging that humans in the past did not sit in one position for hours each day, and the impact this has on our body should be considered, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time at computers.

Rise in sitting, rise in C-sections

Part II of my interest in prenatal belly dancing as a good idea came when a Bay Area baby resource center called Then Comes Baby announced their new class series From The Hips, with a message that explained, “With most of us sitting at desk jobs and clacking away on the computer or smart phones, our bodies aren’t getting that hip and belly movement needed during pregnancy and birth to help babies move into position, helping labor progress at a more steady pace. This leads to things like posterior babies (ouchie), ‘failure to progress’, and increased use of labor augmentation, pain meds earlier than hoped for (if at all), and C-section.”

Not a new thing, but a totally old-fashioned thing

I asked Sabrina Freidenfelds, the founder of Then Comes Baby in Oakland, where the classes will be held, to tell me more. She said, “When people who think of Belly Dance, most think of seductive ladies dancing around men smoking hookah pipes, but it was actually a dance and movement form that dates back originally to the Red Tent — women helping other women in labor. It’s a way of moving the hips and belly to help get that baby down, move into optimal position, and help distract women from the pain of labor (pre-epidural days).”

How it works

The doula who is teaching the Oakland class describes the benefits of belly dancing as:

  • Strengthen abdominal and back muscles
  • Assist with pelvic floor flexibility and stretching
  • Improve body mechanics and posture ((for optimal fetal positioning and for regaining and maintaining core strength)
  • Plus, calming relaxation, breathing, and/ or visualization techniques.

Why pregnant women should try belly dancing classes

Sabrina, who at 32 weeks pregnant, is taking the class herself, says, “There are general belly dancing classes and online resources, but they definitely don’t have that vibe, the “sisterhood” thing that we have going on. Most of us have two left feet and are just laughing our way through it, but there is also some serious instruction going on too, and sections of the class that are really thinking about birth prep and postpartum recovery.”

“That’s the potent part, when it goes from a bunch a women having fun, making our belly dance belts shimmy, and then then we realize “Wait! This is actually helping us prepare and recover from this crazy ‘having a baby’ thing!”

How to get started

No prenatal belly dancing class in your area? First, feel free to take a regular belly dancing class. You’ll be the cutest lady there when you shake your big belly around. Second, consider a video you can try in the privacy of your own home.

photos courtesy Then Comes Baby in Oakland

Brace yourself: The zero to ten scale


The best advice Ryan and I got during our first days with Julian came from a source that I can no longer remember, perhaps the pediatrician who made rounds in the hospital.  It was this:

Babies need to go from 0 to 10 on a daily basis. A sleeping baby is at 0 and may spend most of his day that way. At 10, loud and incessant crying, your baby is also doing his job.  At 0, 1, and 2, you probably feel like a pretty good parent, while at 8, 9, and 10 you assume you are doing everything wrong, your baby is in terrible pain, and wish that someone, perhaps the real mother of this baby, would come show you what the problem is.

Remember this scale, rookie moms.  Your own baby’s crying is surprisingly difficult to endure.  And it’s not because you’ve been reinvented as the most empathetic person on the planet or because you are so completely bonded with your baby. It’s because the sound is blood-curdlingly horrific and you know that no one else is responsible. Whatever the problem is, it’s yours to solve.

There might not be a problem is the point, however. It might just be your baby’s daily visit to the number 10. Rock her, change her, shush her, swing her, feed her. Even put her down in her crib and leave the room. Hey, for some kids, that works!

Remember this tip, pregnant readers, so that when your baby is at 5, 6, or 7, you can maintain a little perspective and save some energy for the rating of 10 that typically arrives around 4 or 5 pm.

Toddler and preschooler moms, are you still reading? Here’s my advanced patented theory of parenting: Your walking, talking child also needs to go from 0 to 10 on a daily basis. That’s why he’s hyperventilating over a light switch that you flipped on when he wanted to DO IT BY MAH SELF! He’s just exercising his ability to get to 10.

Maintaining perspective for the preschool set: When your kid is bouncing off the walls with glee, rolling around in the laundry you just folded, and hurling plastic tractors down a slide toward other kids, at least it is a happy 10. Isn’t it more pleasant than a tantrum about getting in the car seat that forced you to brace your knee against your child’s torso while you buckled him in? What? I do this to my daughter on a regular basis.

Find some positive ways to help your child get to 10 every day, to run around like a  maniac; to jump on a pile of pillows, stuffed animals, and scarves; to throw rocks into water; and to scream “HOORAY!” and “POOP IS FUNNY!” loud enough for the neighbors to hear.  Then hope that you’ve bought yourself another day.


Does your child reach 10 every day? What tip have you passed on the most to new parents?

Give thanks (a holiday bonus) to your regular caregiver

This post originally ran a few years ago.

I love our very sweet caregiver for Scarlett. She comes to our house three times per week, for five hour shifts, to allow me to do some of the freelance writing and marketing work that I do.

Around here, it’s pretty common to set up what we call a “nanny share”. In our case, another mom drops her daughter off at my house and our nanny watches both girls. We each pay her two-thirds of what we’d pay if we had her all to ourselves, so she gets to make more money hourly, while we save money.

It is very important to me to keep our sitter happy. If she’s happy at work, she’ll have more patience with my daughter, more flexibility towards me, and we’ll all be happier.

It’s time to start thinking about a holiday gift for all of our caregivers. (We have a different sitter for Friday nights.) Before I had experience as a mom who employs a nanny, I thought options might be a thank you card, a photo of baby, money, or a gift card for groceries or Target. Now I believe that money is a must.

Money fits everyone.

It gives the person you value the option to do what they want. A gift certificate is thoughtful, but it takes the control out of the hands of the recipient. In this special relationship between a parent and a household employee, it’s nicer to just give her the choice.

How much do you give a nanny for a holiday bonus?

If you’re new to this game, here’s what I’ve gleaned from my city’s parenting online community. One to two week’s salary is an appropriate holiday gift. You can pro-rate this for the year, so if you’ve only employed the nanny for 6 months, give half that amount. If she only works 20 hours, adjust accordingly.

Other tokens of appreciation

My friend Lisa has a picture of her nanny with her child displayed among the family photos on their mantle. From an ethnographic study of nannies I did many years ago as a Sociology student, I know that this particular meaningful gesture that is appreciated.

More info about hiring a nanny

For those who have smaller babies and are going back to work in the near future, your relationship with your child’s caregiver is one that you’ll want to take care of. In Oakland, CA there is a wonderful organization called Bananas that provides help to both parents and caregivers. Among their online resources (good for parents in any area of the country) are the following handouts:

  • Employing a Limited-English-Speaking Caregiver:
    Ideas to help parents hire and retain caregivers who are not fully proficient in English.
  • Sample Employment Agreement for Parents and In-Home Caregivers
    I call this a “nanny contract”.
  • Your Rights and Responsibilities as an Employer of an In-Home Caregiver
    How to hire a nanny; how to interview a nanny.
  • Breastfeeding and Working
    Ideas to help plan a schedule to combine nursing with working.

Holiday Card deals, advice, and glitter

This post contains affiliate links. Save 25% on your TinyPrints.com order when you shop via this link and use code AFF25OFFTP.

Every year, I write up the hottest thing in holiday cards so that you can be ready for the trendspotting exercise I enjoy every year as the cards begin arriving at my house. We’ve been through rounded corners, infographics, and last year, the color black arrived on the scene. So long red and white.

black-holiday-cards-2 black-holiday-cards


This year? We are transcending color. We are glitter-bound. Shiny. Shimmering into the new year.


Expensive? Yes. ($2.89 per card for 50 cards on TinyPrints.com.) But so much sparkly fun, no?



Here are some ways to keep costs under control without taking the glitter into your own hands:

  1. Use a promo code: TINYPRINTS: Save 30% off orders or 40% off orders of $149 or more using the code TPSAVE40 at checkout.
  2. Choose limited glitter or instead go with a flash of foil. Many choices on Shutterfly. And save 50% there with code CARD50.
    Glitter holiday cards and promo codes to save money on them.
    Ok, this is no help in the money-saving department, but Tiny Prints has Rose Gold foil. I just wanted you to know that, in case you are swept up by the rose gold trend. I like this card, whose shiny accent bubbles come in silver, gold, and rose gold.
  3. Comparison shop: Minted makes beautiful cards, too, and they have a whole section of Foil-Pressed Holiday Cards.
  4. DIY: Spend $3.00 on a 4-pack of glitter tape that you can cut into thin strips to embellish cards or envelopes. Big kids can seal the envelopes with a strip of it for a hand-crafted look.


What’s your holiday card plan? Are you loyal to one company, or are you a holiday card Ho Ho Ho like me?


A love letter to Music Together

Yes, I’m endorsing a product/service here. No, I am not being paid to do so.  It’s called Music Together and two past experiences made me decide to recommend this activity.

Why we love Music Together

Several of my friends had done Music Together for three consecutive “semesters” and then decided to skip a semester. During that period we met at the park during the time that many of us used to do Music Together and Sarah was saying how much she missed it, couldn’t wait til it started up again, and that not doing it made her see how much she values it. Our park-based playdate was simply filling the hole in her life left by abstaining from Music Together. [Read more…]

Join Crawlers Anonymous aka gymnastics classes for babies

Baby Gymnastics

Once the bambino is crawling, you’re pretty much kicked out of postpartum yoga. Consider a local gymnastics studio — they usually have Parent & Tot classes in the mornings when big kids are in school.

Franchises like My Gym, Gymboree, Great Play, and The Little Gym also offer Parent and Child classes, often for as young as 4 months old.  The chains usually have a free trial class, so be sure to do that.

Baby getting squirmy at home? Consider signing up for something new.

When you research your options (search “mommy and me gymnastics” and your city’s name), look out for the benefit of membership entitling you to access drop-in times. To me, this is appealing for rainy days when the living room is getting tiresome.

Use baby signs – it’s not too late.

Why you should use baby signs with your baby
Once your baby can wave “hello”, she or he can begin signing other things, too. If you’re convinced that your baby has something to say, but just doesn’t have the words, consider getting with the signing program.

The experts on baby stuff say that you should start signing a few things consistently around 8 months.

I followed this advice, but also want to debunk it.

We started with “more” and “eat” and “nursing”. Julian started responding around 11 months by doing these signs back to us. I have to admit that his “nursing” looked very much like “bye-bye” and sometimes I thought he was telling total strangers that he wanted to nurse.

At 14 months, his vocab was still limited to about 5 words, so the signs were really amazing. Our number one favorite baby sign is “help”, which is tapping both hands against one’s chest, like our friend Norrie was doing when her walker got stuck in the picture above. The Rookie Moms kiddos all used this “help” sign to tell us that they wanted us to open a drawer, help with a toy, or grabbing something that they couldn’t reach. MUCH MORE CIVILIZED THAN POINTING AND GRUNTING!

Rookie Moms Unpopular Opinion #49: You don’t have to start signing months in advance to get your baby to catch on.

If you show her the sign, right when she needs it, a few times over a couple of days, she may try it out herself. I have heard so many parents say that they “messed up” in some way, and didn’t teach their baby the signs, and I don’t mean to sound like a crazy hippie/signing evangelist, BUT, if your baby is still not using a lot of words, why not try signing for a few days starting now? I’m guessing most one-year olds will catch on to the “more” pretty quick if you do a little Pavlov’s dog-style experiment with them. (No, do not blow a whistle or give your child doggie treats.) Use something a little more exciting than cheerios – say raisins – and show your baby how the “more” sign earns her more raisins.

Using signs gives babies a way to “talk” with their parents, before they can talk. Babies can communicate about the world around them, long before they have mastered their verbal speaking skills!

— Bay Area Baby Signs website

Take a class.

Search for “baby signs class” and Google will be smart enough to show you the options near you. A class will a) force you to be more disciplined about using signs and b) give you and your baby somewhere to go once a week. You may even meet another parent you like enough to chat with outside of class.

Look around  – a 90-minute overview class could be a one-time event that suits your needs or a weekly class for a full session will take the format of a toddler play class, with signs incorporated.

Not your style?

If you are not a class person, or money, location, or health issues make a class impossible for you, there are other resources that can put basic baby sign knowledge in the palm of your hand.

Signing Time is a tv program you might find on your cable menu. There are numerous episodes, and I think the first one is all one needs. Want to try it out? It’s only $1.99 to “rent” from Amazon.

My Baby Can Talk is the same deal. You can buy the DVD or watch episodes on your phone as you wish.

This book, Sign With Your Baby: How to Communicate With Infants Before They Can Speak, is better if you’re a book person.

How to get started with Baby Signs

Activity #514: Make your preschooler a geoboard

Mike posted an awesome list of indie stores to browse online. I am returning the favor with a suggestion targeted at his demo: crafty dads of preschool-aged kids. (As a marketer, I will say this demographic is probably the least valuable to any company, but it is one that I personally adore.)

geo board
photo by megret7

Take a square of wood, pencil in a measured grid and place nails at the corners of your grid. Hand your preschooler a fistful of rubberbands and you’ve got yourself 20 minutes of quiet.

I am not as hard on myself as to take the handmade pledge, but I very much cheer on those who do. Heather and her husband have taken their own holiday shopping pledge and are trying to buy only local gifts. Perhaps she’ll do us the favor of blogging about what that means sometime soon.

The geoboard is a project and a gift that will probably meet everyone’s goals of being frugal, green, and creative.

My son can be kept busy for some quiet time with this, and he has successfully used it with friends, taking turns to place rubber bands. My parents bought him one and since we sometimes need to keep him busy at the dinner table while we eat and he’s done, we hand this to him then.

Gift Advice
DIY’ers: You can probably make it yourself for a couple of dollars.
I’d Rather Buy It’ers: Find a geoboard on amazon.
Super Lazy One-Click Shoppers: Check out the Rookie Mom’s Gift Guide on Amazon for more gift ideas that you can add to your cart without filling out a bunch of new form fields.

Stuff rookie moms should know for the cold weather ahead


This jacket extender that can be worn over a pregnant belly, and later, over a baby in a front carrier is so clever.

Maternity Coat options

It is essentially a pie-shaped piece of insulated weather-proof fabric with zippers on both sides.


A pregnant woman zips it with the wide part of the triangle at the bottom to make room for her belly. A babywearing person zips it with the wide part of the triangle at the top to make room for her baby’s head and body, now worn on her chest.

Bridge the Bump, from Toronto, CA, makes this product. When you buy it, you indicate the type of zipper your winter coat features, and your extension will come with adaptive zippers for both sides.

For stroller walks, I love the Bundle Me bags by JJ Cole. We had a sherpa-lined Bundle Me for the infant carseat.  They come in escalating levels of warmth, up to “polar”. Lucky for me, we don’t need polar-level stroller insulation. It looks like this.


I got a sneak preview of the version that’s new for 2016, an adorable cable-knit sweater style (with a matching hat!), but didn’t get a picture of it. (See their Facebook post with a picture of it.)

I am also a fan of the skip*hop footmuff, which features this cool grey fabric. This one has an outer layer that snaps off (look closely at the picture), so it is good for very cold weather and can be toned down when it’s not quite so cold.

Keep baby warm outdoors

Don’t stay indoors, rookie moms. Going outside builds your confidence and combats the isolation that comes with a new baby. See our list of 52 things to do with your baby for more inspiration.

9 cool new baby and kid products I saw at ABC Kids Expo 2015


Karen — who has written numerous posts here and who has her own site Off the Meathook — and I spent the past two days walking the enormous floor of the annual ABC Kids Expo, where folks in the baby industry show off their products to potential buyers and media.


Karen even spent some time laying on the floor, enticed by a lesson on how to give herself a prenatal massage with a small rubber ball. (That was at the Pariday booth; they make postpartum recovery products that are definitely worth knowing about.)

We saw zillions of strollers, bedding sets, bibs, and tiny lounge chairs, and these are ten of the items that I’d most consider buying myself.

  1. Storage bins by fluf.ca. I liked these because they are stylish patterns and sized just right to go into that basic IKEA cube shelf system.
    Adorable storage bins and more new items for baby and kids
    Some of the Fluf collection is stiff fabric bins that you can toss a bunch of train tracks in and drag around, but a bunch of the 2016 stuff is made out of Tyvek, which is the lightweight indestructible material used on construction projects. That means it won’t rip, even if covered in slobber.
  2. Fold-up, portable cot bunk beds by Kid-O-Bunk. I think a picture is worth a thousand words in this case. So I’ll just leave this here.PROMOTION-2 PROMOTION-6
  3. Infinite privacy for breastfeeding. We looked through a lot of infinity nursing scarves. This concept, a highly wearable privacy shield for breastfeeding, is a much better solution than it’s ancestor, the Hooter Hider.
    Nursing scarf and other great finds for moms
    Many manufacturers are using fabrics that aren’t soft enough, or using dated prints that you wouldn’t actually want to wear as a scarf. We liked the jersey versions from Bebe au Lait, and when we asked them why the scarves are single-layered (ie, there is a wrong side that reveals seams and has no print), the brand representative explained that a double-layered scarf becomes so thick that it’s a burden to wear. Well done, Bebe Au Lait.
    Nursing scarves and other discoveries for new moms
  4. Speed jogging stroller from Bumbleride. This stroller is for serious running, and it will be available in 2016. I loved everything Bumbleride showed me from how easily the tires popped off, how it folded and stood up on it’s own, and the modes that the wheels can be set in for efficient running or steering.
    2016 jogging stroller from BumblerideShopping for a stroller is overwhelming, and I’m not your expert, but this demo won me over. And so did the olive green color. You’ll find this particular stroller in local independent baby stores where it’s worthwhile to get guidance from actual employees, not just online reviews. Shop small, y’all!
  5. Chalkboard for monthly baby photos by Pearhead. It’s okay if your chalk art skills are not Pinterest-worthy because this reasonably priced template will do the trick.
    Chalkboard for monthly baby photos - about $20
  6. Bassinest from HALO. This thing is so flexible that you can swivel baby closer and further while you are half asleep.
    Plus when you get up, swivel it so that you can get out of bed without scootching down. It’s got a flexible side so you can push it down when you want to touch baby, and a bunch of other (soothing) bells and (quiet) whistles. A clever solution for close-sleeping rather than co-sleeping. Wait, is Karen laying down again?
    Bassinest by HALO and other discoveries for new moms

[Read more…]

Halloween costume ideas for babies in carseats, strollers, or other things with wheels

Halloween costume ideas for babies

We are obsessed with Halloween costumes for babies and toddlers, and for years have been taking note of any clever, especially homemade costumes that cross our paths.  Here are some impressive costume ideas that we’ve spotted for little ones who are going to stay in their strollers while you’re out for the evening.

Above, I made this iPhone from foam core to place over a stroller so that your baby is the photo on your screen. Simply tie the sides to the stroller’s frame. Full tutorial for iPhone costume is here.

Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar Heather was shown this cozy stroller bunting (right) at a holiday toy preview event. The brand claimed it was for everyday cold weather use, but Heather thought it was obviously an excellent Halloween accessory.  How easy is that? We found the one in the car seat picture and this other Hungry Caterpillar bunting (left) on Amazon. Make a slit right between the legs and you’ll be able to buckle the carseat or stroller.

Easy baby costume: Very Hungry Caterpillar

Blackjack dealer – I suppose all those accessories are glued in place! Source – Jen Schulte on Pinterest

Halloween costume ideas for strollers and carseats

This nostalgic E.T. costume requires a kid old enough to both ride a bike and to have seen E.T. I’m guessing this kiddo is a model and that most kids who can appreciate/handle E.T. are in the 7-10 range. My son was 9 or 10 when he watched it. Regardless, the costume is super simple, requiring only a bike with a basket, a red hoodie, and an E.T. stuffie. Source: Tumblr.

ET-Costume and other costumes for kids on wheels or strollers

Car seat cover costumes – I shared this Kathy Kovaleski etsy shop last year, and it’s still one of my favorite solutions for a baby too young to bother with a costume, as my first (October) baby was. Find the shop at this link.

Halloween costume ideas for strollers and carseats

Thomas the Train with cardboard baby sister train – Oh, cardboard boxes, you get me every time. SO versatile! This image came from a slideshow on LilSugar with even more stroller costumes.

Thomas train costume and other costumes on wheels

Mouse in a cheesy stroller – These two items are sold on Etsy from Kikis Things as a package: a fleece stroller cover with peek-through pocket and a mousey hooded sweatshirt. If she’s sold out, she can make you something else amazing.

Halloween costume ideas for strollers and carseats

Garbage Truck Wagon – I think this might be nirvana for preschoolers. BE A GARBAGE MAN? The base appears to be a wagon. Genius. Got a crafty retired grandpa? Email this to him, stat! Source: 9Gag.

Garbage truck costume and dozens of more on wheels

A woman in my community shared this photo of her daughter dressed as a Cabbage Patch doll. You can buy similar wigs on etsy – via LillePad (pictured below).


Your little doll can ride in a stroller, which is straightforward, or you can craft a whole Cabbage Patch doll box to go around the stroller, like this one that I pinned.

Have you started working on Halloween costume ideas?

Related: Halloween costumes for babies in swaddles and wraps

Rookie Moms Giveaway: Eeples, Livie & Luca, Petite Marin, and Willa Walker

If you’re new here, a little something to know about us is that we are based in the Bay Area. Heather and I live about two miles from each other in Berkeley, twenty minutes from San Francisco.

We’ve partnered with four other Bay Area companies in the baby space to bring you a giveaway. See below for what’s included and several ways to enter.

If you have a lot of pregnant friends, feel free to share this link on Facebook and cross your fingers that one of them will be the lucky chick.

The prize: one set of 3 milk charms; one Willa Walker; one pair of Livie and Luca shoes, sizes up to 24mo; one custom Petite Marin outfit up to size 18mo.

Let’s see what we’re talking about:

Petite Marin

A photo posted by Petite Marin (@petitemarinkids) on

Petite Marin re-purposes your fave men’s dress shirts into custom children’s clothing, including bonnets, dresses, rompers and caps. Handmade with love in California, from one generation to the next. Included in this giveaway: one custom outfit (dress and bonnet; romper and bonnet; or romper and cap- sizes 6-12 mo or 12-18 mo). Value: $125 I can tell you that I attempted to refashion a button-down shirt of my husband’s into a dress for my daughter and it was a failure. So, I vote to leave that business to the experts at Petite Marin. Petite Marin Eepples MilkCharm – The Breast Milk Labeling Charm (3-pack) eepples-milkcharms_fridge_LR The MilkCharm is a cute, simple to use dial that takes the worry out of remembering how fresh your breast milk is. Also great for formula, baby food and many other food containers, so its usefulness last long after you’re done breastfeeding. Works with any bottle. Made in the USA by Eeples. Value: $14.99

The Willa Walker willa_walker_on_grass

You need this picture to get it, because when we say “device” you might think electronic. But the Willa Walker is a handheld device that makes helping a baby learn to walk even more joyful. Walking tool for new toddlers It allows an adult to stand upright and still participate in this incredible milestone of their baby’s development. Value: $35

Livie and Luca baby and toddler shoes

Livie and Luca is an East Bay children’s shoe company known for their adorable shoes and charitable giving. Winner of giveaway will receive one pair of Livie and Luca baby sized shoes, your choice of Petal (white) or Flint (navy) models pictured below; available sizes: 0-6mo up to 18-24mo. Petal shoes Live+Luca Flint shoes Livie+Luca giveaway-header a Rafflecopter giveaway

We wish you good luck!

Along with our contributor Karen, I’ll be heading to a baby industry trade show in Las Vegas next week, so we will be reporting on more innovations in the space soon! Follow us on Instagram to see what we see at ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas.