Lullaby Earth Blog –

4 Ways to Reduce Stress Before Sleep Training

Sleep Training

By: Jenni June, Certified Child and Family Sleep Consultant, CLC and Mom of 4!

1. Honor your own readiness.
No matter what anyone advises, don’t embark upon this journey until you feel ready, and you are prepared to be consistent, patient and committed to the process, for your child’s sake. Regardless of whether your child is ready or not, any amount of sleep training won’t go well if you don’t feel good about what you are doing. And if you don't feel good about what you're doing, you won’t have the confidence needed to provide one of the most important things for infant mental health: a simple, clear and consistent message. Sometimes timing is everything!

2. Create a simple, but well thought out plan.
Put it on paper, or work with a certified child and family sleep consultant to put a plan together for you. Don't waste your time by reading into all the fads out there! Most of the families who hire me have already read all the sleep training books, blogs, articles and mommy Facebook group postings one could possibly consume, only to be more confused and unsure than ever. The temptation to try a little bit of everything, toss it every 4-5 days when you become impatient and try something new is too great, and will most certainly make your sleep issues worse, not to mention buy your child additional days of struggle as they have to get used to another change.

3. Enlist an accountability partner.
Whether it's a supportive friend, grandma or your spouse, if you have chosen not to use a certified child sleep consultant. Choose someone who will be faithful to encourage you to stay consistent with your sleep plan and to be patient. Ideally, this person should be comfortable with you expressing your feelings, especially your doubt, anxiety or tears, rather than one who is uncomfortable with your feelings, dismissing them or trying to distract you when you just need to release your emotions. These are healthy, normal feelings around “change” -- even good change! Teaching your child, limit-setting or evolving your parenting responses to match your child’s temperament, as well as developing needs for sleep, can be hard emotional work, especially when your child is not particularly happy being outside of their comfort zones until they adjust to new routines. Having healthy support during this time for yourself will in turn give you the strength and ability to provide healthy, consistent support for your child.

4. Give your plan 21 days and remember what normal learning and progress really looks like.
It takes 21 days of perfect implementation of a new routine for any new habit to fully come together and take effect. And since your child is a human being and not a programmable robot, their progress throughout these 21 days will look a lot like ours whenever we are adopting a new lifestyle change, such as a new diet or workout routine. Some days we take two steps forward, then take one step back. Nobody has perfect sleep cycles all the time. Your child will have an “off” sleep cycle, nap or night of sleep once in awhile, but don’t let it discourage you and tempt you to give up and go backwards on your child. Be patient. Be a sure, steady place for your little one.

 About Jenni June:

Jenni JuneJennifer Metter, founder of Jenni June™ LLC, is a Certified Child and Family Sleep Consultant, specializing in pediatric and adult sleep hygiene; A Certified Lactation Counselor, Host, Nationalspeaker, and Mom of 4!

With thousands of successful sleep cases under her belt since 2011, she is a valuable resource for everyday and celebrity parents all over the country, including Guiliana and Bill Rancic for the Style Network! And, she is the sleep training expert on The Doctors TV show! She is a practitioner member of the National Sleep Foundation and collaborative health care provider as a certified sleep coach for infants, children and adults for the Breathe Institute, and the go-to sleep trainer for LA’s top pediatricians!

Jenni is also a popular national speaker and guest on CBS, FOX, NBC news and the host of series, “Baby Care with Jenni June” and the resident sleep expert for the BabyLeague and FamiLeague Networks.

If you were to ask Jenni why she has joyfully dedicated her entire life to building up and equipping families (including her own, who are now all grown!), she will tell you, “Because the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” She is gifted in encouraging new parents to raise the standard of their significance.

10 Non-Toxic Baby Registry Picks

Non-Toxic Baby Registry

Deciding what you need for a new baby is so overwhelming with all of the options in stores and so much research to do on the safest and healthiest gear for your new little one. We’ve put together a list of ten non-toxic baby items for your registry to make things easier! 

1. Aden + Anais Organic Muslin Swaddles

Aden + Anais is the go-to brand for premium muslin swaddles, available in organic cotton and conventional options. We love the softness and easy-to-use of their muslin swaddles and think you will too! Check out their collections for a variety of adorable prints to coordinate with any nursery theme.

2. Bannor Toys Wooden Teether

You probably already know that babies put everything in their mouths, so make sure they have a safer option when it comes to teething relief! These wooden teethers made by Bannor Toys use sustainably harvested maple wood with a smooth sanded finish and no oils or finishes.

3. Boon Pulp Silicone Feeder

Mesh feeders are a great way to introduce food to your little one when they are ready for solids (check with your doctor - this is usually around six months or older), and Boon’s feeder is an ideal option made without plastic, using durable silicone instead.

4. Applecheeks Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are more affordable in the long run and much more eco-friendly than their disposable counterparts, but there’s a learning curve and a lot of apprehension for first time users. Luckily Applecheeks has a starter kit that will set you up for success if cloth diapering is something you want to try!

5. Bambo Nature Diapers

While cloth is great, sometimes you really just need the convenience of a disposable diaper for laundry day or an emergency backup in your bag. Bambo Nature diapers are made with renewable and eco-friendly materials for a healthier baby and healthier planet. They also make training pants, wipes, and more!

6. Charlie Banana Organic Cotton Wipes

Charlie Banana’s two-sided wipes are a top pick for the cloth diaper enthusiast (and they’re handy even if you never use them for a diaper change at all). Made with comfy cozy organic cotton, they’re machine washable for convenience and easy cleanup.

7. EZPZ Mats

Available in a full-size and mini-size, these silicone mats from EZPZ are perfect for finger foods and big kid meals. They combine a sectioned plate with a placemat that suctions to the table, significantly reducing overturned bowls and other messes.

8. Kiddy Star Bandana Bibs

Babies spit up and drool - luckily, they’re so cute that we keep them around even when they’re messy. These absorbent bandana bibs are perfect for keeping baby’s face clean all day long. Made with super soft organic cotton, they’re machine washable for easy laundering -- but definitely buy the eight-pack, you’re going to need them all.

9. OrganicKidz Stainless Steel Baby Bottle

Whether you’re nursing or formula feeding, you may be in need of a non-toxic baby bottle! OrganicKidz stainless steel bottles convert from baby bottle to sippy cup to water bottle without needing to purchase new cups each time your little one needs the next step up. Their Baby Grows Up Bottle Kit has all the accessories you need to go from baby to big kid.

10. Lullaby Earth Breeze Breathable Crib Mattress

Baby sleeps up to 18 hours a day, which is all the more reason to invest in a quality crib mattress made without harmful chemicals. The Breeze combines a trusted waterproof crib mattress with a washable breathable pad, for maximum airflow without any hygienic worries. It’s easy to keep clean and provides a comfortable, healthier night’s sleep for your little one.

Happy Registering!

Keep these products in mind when you create your non-toxic registry in-store or online. And let us know about your favorite non-toxic nursery products!

Non-Toxic Baby Bump Care

Non-Toxic Baby Bump Care

The baby bump. It’s adorable, it’s a weird new center of gravity, and it’s something that makes strangers forget all about personal boundaries. During pregnancy, your body will shift and grow and change in all sorts of new ways. So how do you take care of your growing baby bump? Our tips and recommendations will help you keep a happier bump with healthier products.

1. Moisturize: As your bump grows, your skin is stretching and probably feels super itchy. Whether or not you’re prone to stretch marks, you need to keep your skin moisturized to reduce itchiness and promote healthier skin. We love Zoe Organics Belly Oil, Earth Mama Body Butter from Earth Mama Angel Baby and this Coconut Nourishing Body Cream from 100% Pure. Look for natural moisturizers like aloe vera, coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter, as well as Vitamin E.

2. Get Some Rest: Sometimes the best action you can take is no action at all. Sleeping through the night gets tricky as your bump grows and makes it hard to find a comfortable position. Get some rest whenever you can, with naps or breaks during the day, and put your feet up to reduce the pressure in your legs, ankles, and feet. Growing a baby is hard work! Find something on Netflix and take a break, mama. If you need a little help relaxing, try a pillow spray made with lavender or another calming scent, like this one from Goddess of Spring.

3. Keep it Clean: Lots of commercial body washes and soaps can be drying, which means you’ll be reaching for even more lotions to moisturize! Cut down on the quantity when you improve the quality of your body wash. Earth Mama has a Happy Mama Body Wash to go along with the Body Butter we already recommended above, with a pleasant ginger citrus scent and non-irritating formula for a happier bump. We also love Real Purity, with options like Hydrating Body Soap and a moisturizing Fragrance-Free Body Wash.

4. Practice Good Posture: Your growing bump is sure to make your center of gravity and your posture out of whack. Talk to your doctor about pregnancy-safe core exercises and pay attention to your posture, making sure your pelvis isn’t tilted to overcompensate for the weight of your belly.

5. Don’t Forget About Postpartum Care: Your belly may not have a baby inside anymore, but postpartum care should continue to include your healthier skincare routine - especially if you’ve had a C-Section. Earth Mama’s C-Mama Healing Salve is a great option to take care of a healing incision and reduce scarring. You’ve got enough on your plate with a new bundle of joy, so a high-quality skincare product is one less thing you have to worry about.

Best wishes for a healthy pregnancy and a happy baby bump!

How to Avoid 7 Common Toxins In Baby Products

common toxins in baby products

Did you know that many harmful chemicals that can impact your child’s health can be found in common baby products, like mattresses, toys, and clothes?

1. Flame Retardants: Flame retardant chemicals or chemical flame barriers are known carcinogens. Sometimes mattress companies don’t even have to disclose their flame retardant ingredients if they use a fabric pre-treated with the chemicals. Watch out for “natural” flame retardants as well, as chemical ingredients like antimony (which may contain and mimic arsenic) and boric acid can still cause health issues.

How to avoid: Avoid flame retardants by choosing organic cotton clothes and bedding, tight-fitting pajamas that don’t legally require flame retardants, and Lullaby Earth crib mattresses and accessories. We believe the only safe flame retardant is none at all, and our products meet all flammability standards without the need for flame retardant chemicals of any kind..

2. Heavy Metals: Heavy metals can be found in many children’s products including toys, shoes, and more - and they can even be found in your nursery’s paint or carpeting. Metals like lead and mercury pose a major health risk to babies and children, especially since they may touch the contaminated object or surface before putting their hands or toys in their mouth.

How to avoid: You can purchase lead testing kits to check for the presence of lead in your home. Lead paint isn’t common these days, but if your home was built before 1978 you should check it for lead. Be aware that commonly-used CFL bulbs (which have replaced incandescent light bulbs as a more energy-efficient option) contain mercury and have special procedures to follow if one breaks. Consider skipping the CFL bulbs in the nursery to reduce potential exposure to mercury (and of course, use a non-mercury thermometer).

3. Plastic Additives: The big players in this category are BPA and phthalate plasticizers, commonly found in teethers and pacifiers, plastic toys, and even in waterproofing treatments for crib mattresses. BPA is also found in plastic cups and bottles.

How to avoid: When purchasing plastics, look for BPA-free options. For crib mattress waterproofing, look for food-grade polyethylene, which is the same food-safe plastic used in sandwich and snack bags. To avoid plastic, look for silicone food containers, stainless steel or glass bottles and sippy cups (we love organicKidz), and wood toys with non-toxic paint or polish.

4. Pesticide and Antibacterial Treatments: Did you know that conventional cotton is one of the most highly sprayed and treated crops on the market? And those pesticides don’t go away even if you pre-wash baby’s clothes and blankets before the first use. Many home and nursery products are also treated with antibacterial agents like triclosan. It could be in your linens, mattress, or carpet -- or even in garbage bags, storage containers, and outdoor playground equipment.

How to avoid: Avoid pesticides by shopping for clothing and textiles made from organic cotton or non-toxic synthetic materials made without harmful chemicals. Shop for household products that don’t tout their antibacterial properties (including antibacterial soaps, some of which are being banned by the FDA).

5. Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and yet it’s still present in common household products - including baby products and furniture. Formaldehyde is commonly found in particleboard furniture (as well as plywood, pressed wood, and fiberboard), paints and varnishes, wallpaper and paper products, smoke (from cigarettes, fireplaces, and wood stoves), wrinkle-resistant clothing and textiles, and cosmetics.

How to avoid: For starters, don’t smoke in the home, and make sure any fireplace or wood stoves are well ventilated and maintained regularly. Opt for solid wood furniture when possible, or shop second-hand for things like cribs and furniture for the nursery to reduce VOC off-gassing in your home, choose low- or no-VOC paint and carpet, and let fresh air in to help reduce indoor VOC levels.

6. Fluoride: Dentists tout the benefits of fluoride for healthy teeth, but some research indicates that fluoride can cause damage to forming teeth and may be toxic in the body with long-term exposure. Fluoride is found in many toothpastes and mouthwashes, tap water, and specially formulated “baby water” with added fluoride. Like any medical application, you should check with your doctor or dentist to make the decision that’s right for your family.

How to avoid: Consult your dentist about when and if fluoride treatments are
appropriate for your child. If appropriate, use fluoride-free toothpaste and mouthwash treatments and choose filtered water without fluoride for drinking and cooking.

7. Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs): Commonly found in stain treatments, nonstick pans, and food wrappers or containers, PFCs have been found to disrupt endocrine function. We’re usually exposed to them after using nonstick cookware (or even certain dental floss made with non-stick coatings!). PFCs are also used in waterproofing technologies and may be in your baby’s waterproof crib mattress. PFCs pollute the environment and our bodies, and they take a long time to break down and be eliminated.

How to avoid: The EPA has been helping to phase out certain PFCs since 2000 but it’s best to choose cast iron or stainless steel cookware to avoid exposure. Choose a crib mattress and other waterproof products made without PFCs.

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge to avoid these harmful toxins in your baby’s environment, you’re ready to create a non-toxic nursery that will help your baby grow up big and strong!

common toxins in baby products

And remember: Lullaby Earth never uses these harmful chemicals in our products. Read more about our healthier crib mattress design here.

How Room Temperature Effects Baby Sleep

How Room Temperature Effects Baby Sleep

 By Jenni June Certified Child and Family Sleep Consultant, CLC and mom of 4!

Of all of the detailed recommendations I provide my families for improving the quality of their infant’s sleep habits, health, and safety, the easiest adjustment with instant improvement is the one that surprises them the most: lowering the temperature of the sleep environment and improving air circulation around their child.

“Research has concluded that 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit is best for baby.”

I often encounter hesitation from some clients regarding this recommendation due to the common, cultural belief that over-bundling one's baby and keeping the room warm is more beneficial to their health. However, research has concluded that 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit is best for baby. In fact, the cooler end of this temperature range is both optimum for the immune system and safest for infants and children.

If the room is too warm, babies struggle to regulate their core body temperatures, and sometimes even their breathing, during sleep. The result is poor quality sleep and elevated risk for SIDS. The sleep hormone, melatonin, elevates in our system when core body temperatures drop. Yes, babies who are sleeping in warmer rooms will eventually crash, due to exhaustion, if you keep them up long enough, but they are still falling asleep without enough of this powerful sleep hormone at sleep onset that allows them to experience the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep. Their sleep will instead be fragmented and light.

“Humans begin to suffer the ramifications of sleep deprivation after only two consecutive nights of poor sleep!”

It only takes two consecutive nights of poor sleep before humans begin to suffer the ramifications of sleep deprivation, such as elevated stress, poor digestion, crankiness, cognitive impairment, and insomnia, to name just a few. These things are not good for anyone, but especially for a developing infant or child under the age of three! Ultimately, if a child is not sleeping well, neither are their caregivers. And there is no arguing that sleep deprivation negatively impacts the ability to be a fully attuned, patient, and attentive parent.

For those who do not have air conditioning (common to many homes in Northern regions of the country), to help regulate the temperature of sleep environments, here are a few tips on how to prevent your little ones from overheating:

 - Use a fan in the room to improve air circulation (just be sure it is not facing and blowing directly on your child).

- Regulate the humidity levels using a cool mist humidifier. This, in combination with a fan, will help cool the room down.

- Dress baby in a single layer, breathable, cotton pajama. If using a swaddle or sleep sack, just a diaper underneath is sufficient in temperatures over 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Invest in a breathable mattress! Lullaby Earth, known for their safe, non-toxic crib mattresses, has created a waterproof mattress wrapped in a breathable mattress pad that provides a pocket of air between baby and the mattress, allowing for 360 degree airflow around your child when they sleep. This Breeze Breathable Crib Mattress also helps baby regulate core body temperatures -- dramatically improving sleep quality!

About Jenni June:

Jenni June™ LLC, is a Certified Child and Family Sleep ConsultantJennifer Metter, founder of Jenni June™ LLC, is a Certified Child and Family Sleep Consultant, specializing in pediatric and adult sleep hygiene; A Certified Lactation Counselor, Host, National
speaker, and Mom of 4!

With thousands of successful sleep cases under her belt since 2011, she is a valuable resource for everyday and celebrity parents all over the country, including Guiliana and Bill Rancic for the Style Network! And, she is the sleep training expert on The Doctors TV show! She is a practitioner member of the National Sleep Foundation and collaborative health care provider as a certified sleep coach for infants, children and adults for the Breathe Institute, and the go-to sleep trainer for LA’s top pediatricians!

Jenni is also a popular national speaker and guest on CBS, FOX, NBC news and the host of series, “Baby Care with Jenni June” and the resident sleep expert for the BabyLeague and FamiLeague Networks.

If you were to ask Jenni why she has joyfully dedicated her entire life to building up and equipping families (including her own, who are now all grown!), she will tell you, “Because the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” She is gifted in encouraging new parents to raise the standard of their significance.

10 Bedtime Books to Cuddle Up With

bedtime stories

Whether you read bedtime stories to your newborn or started a story routine in the toddler years, a good book for bed is a lovely tradition. We’ve put together a recommendation of our favorite children’s books that are great for bedtime at all ages.

Bedtime Stories For Babies & Young Toddlers

These storybooks are specifically written for the younger crowd, but you should expect them to stick around for years as favorites well into the school age years.

Goodnight Moon: This book is a classic first bedtime story, with a rhyming structure that’s easy to follow and might even bring up some of your child’s first words or sentences.

Caitlin H. says: “I used to nanny a little boy with autism, and he loved this book. He used to ‘read’ along with me and loved to whisper ‘hush!’ with the story. And he knew it all by heart and loved to read it back to me.”

The Going to Bed Book: You can’t go wrong with Sandra Boynton’s children’s books, they all make excellent bedtime stories. This story specifically helps kids wind down and get ready for bed with a nightly routine.

Melissa M. says: “This book is my kids’ favorite, especially when their dad was deployed because they pretended they were on a boat too.”

Bedtime Stories For Toddlers & Preschoolers

Written for ages 2-3 and up, these books are great for small children with a little more attention span for stories.

I Love You, Stinky Face: There’s a whole series of Stinky Face books, and they are kid favorites! In this story, a child at bedtime learns about unconditional love as his mother promises to love him even if he had a stinky face (and other afflictions).

Kat B. says: “We’ve read this book since birth.”

Misty W. adds, “We LOVE this one!”

I’ll See You In The Morning: This classic board book is about a mother saying goodnight to her son and makes an excellent quick bedtime story for toddlers and up.

Tracy T. says: “We’ve read it to our son nightly since he was born and he calls it the Night Night Book. The cover is torn off - it’s a well-loved book. I am going to buy a new copy to put in his baby box.”  

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site: This bedtime story is perfect for kids who love trucks. It’s a construction site twist on the classic bedtime routine that will help your little one wind down.

Sarah S. says: “My son is truck obsessed and loves seeing the different construction vehicles. Both kids love that one of the trucks sleeps with a teddy bear, and my boy loves to tell each truck goodnight.”

Little Blue Truck: A fun story about a little blue truck and its farm animal friends helping others out of trouble is sure to delight your young reader time and time again.

Sara M. says: “This book has been a runaway favorite in our house since 18 months.”

Llama Llama Red Pajama: A reassuring story to remind your little one that even when mama leaves the room at bedtime, she’s not far away.

Jacklyn M. says: “My son loves the Llama Llama books. He’s almost six and still wants to read them.”

Bedtime Stories For School Age Kids

These books are written for older children who can start to handle chapter books and longer stories.

Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues: All of the Pete the Cat books are great fun for kids. This one specifically deals with winding down for bed, so it’s a great nighttime story book for kids.

Hilary T. says: “We still read every night with our six-year old son. We do more chapter books but he also listens to our four-year-old’s stories. He really likes the Pete the Cat books.”

The Gruffalo: The Gruffalo is a fun story that’s not just for bedtime! It’s about a mouse finding his way through the forest and meeting a monster - but there’s definitely a happy, non-scary ending.

Tracy T. says: “The Gruffalo is a favorite! There’s also a short 30 minute film version available on Netflix. So good.”

The Book With No Pictures: This book is lots of fun and includes silly words throughout, making it a loved favorite among kids everywhere. In a book with no pictures, you have to read whatever it says!

Terra J. says, “We love this book!”

Tell Us Your Favorites

Did you find a new book to read at bedtime from this list? Share your favorite bedtime story with us in the comments below.  

Tags: kids

Safe Sleep Tips For Summer

Worried about baby’s safe sleep in the summer heat? We are too! It’s why we partnered with CJ First Candle to create this infographic that tells you how to keep your little one safer when it’s warm outside.

Safe Sleep Tips For Summer

Tags: baby, nursery, sleep

Interview With A Stay At Home Dad

Stay At Home Dad

In a month that’s all about dad, we celebrate all kinds of fatherhood! Good dads deserve our respect because they’re helping raise the next generation of happy, healthy kids who will grow up and make big changes. Lots of people imagine dads going to work and supporting the family financially, but there’s also a growing number (an estimated 1.75 million in the US) of dads who stay home and support the family in less typical but no less important ways. We reached out to talk to at-home dad Ryan. R, who takes care of his kids at home each and every day.

Ryan is 38 years old and has a degree in Video Production and Recording Audio Engineering, but his career path was varied with all sorts of jobs over the years, most not even related to his degree. When he told his wife he wanted to stay home with their first child, Ryan had an excellent job with great benefits, good pay, the works!

He says, “It wasn’t like I was in a job I hated and couldn’t wait to get out of - I left a good job to take care of my boys.”

We asked about when, how, and why Ryan and his wife decided he would be a stay-at-home dad. Ryan said that when his wife was about five months pregnant with their first baby (L, now three and a half), “we realized daycare was going to cost almost as much as our mortgage payment. We could have afforded it with our income at the time, but we were planning on more kids later. After a second child, the cost of daycare just wouldn’t be worth it.”

Ryan’s own father was a temporary stay-at-home dad while recovering from an injury and unable to work, and Ryan always appreciated that time with his dad. It wasn’t something strange or outside of a gender role to him, it was just normal - a parent taking care of his children. Ryan says, “I’ve always liked the idea of staying at home. I have a ton of respect for all stay-at-home parents, mom or dad.”

At-home parents are subject to flack from friends and family, since “mommy wars” and mom guilt are ubiquitous. A mom who works is seen as selfish (hardly!), while a mom who stays home is seen as decadently not doing anything all day (seriously?). Both of these stereotypes and assumptions are dead wrong, and stay-at-home dads are subject to some of the same issues.

Ryan remembers, “We went to our baby shower and I was talking to her uncle. When I told him I was going to stay home with the baby, he laughed. He thought I was joking.” Ryan also says that he got just as much negative feedback from women as he did from men. “It’s not seen as a ‘manly’ job.”

After a brief chat about how raising your kids is about the most fatherly thing a dad could do, and how that could possibly be seen as unmanly, we chatted about stay-at-home dad challenges and the best parts of being an at-home parent.

The conversation about people’s expectations and stereotypes continued into our chat about the challenges Ryan faces on a regular basis. He says, “The world expects women to be stay-at-home parents. It’s understood that it’s what a mother is supposed to do. I get a lot of comments like ‘When are you going to go back to work and give your wife a chance to stay home with the kids?’ that assume she wants to stay home and my role is at work.”

We talked about the isolation that is so prevalent among stay-at-home parents regardless of gender. “I absolutely feel isolated. The only thing I miss about having a job is the adult interaction with somebody who doesn’t care about the wheels on the bus.” He’s joined a stay-at-home dad group on Facebook but hasn’t had luck with in-person meetups.

“When I take the kids to the park, the moms don’t talk to me. The moms usher their kids away from mine because it’s ‘weird’ for me to be there.” He even tried to join local stay-at-home parent groups, but hit a wall there too. “I’d be okay if I could get into a parent group, but nobody would take me because I’m a dad. I reached out to 20 groups in the area, and they all wouldn’t take dads.” When we asked if he had thought about starting his own group focused on dads he said, “I’ve thought about it, but I’m a little busy!”

He struck up a weekly game night with some friends and now he has an outlet where he can get out and interact socially without having to be in dad-mode. He says, “It’s as important for the parents to socialize as it is for the kids.” Time alone with his wife is important too, and Ryan makes sure to get a date night on the books at least once or twice a month. He spoke a lot about how much he values his wife’s support.

“She’s 100% supportive of whatever I want to do. When I said I wanted to stay home, she said OK. She’s always right there on board.”

He says it’s hard sometimes because “when [L] sees me all day, he gets a little tired of me and he wants mommy. But other times he hugs me and says ‘You’re a good daddy, daddy’ or tells me he loves me.”

Discussing the best parts of being a stay-at-home dad, Ryan says, “When you’re working with them on something - letters and numbers, walking, anything - when they start to get it and do it on their own, it’s really rewarding. It’s something they’ll know or do for the rest of their life, and they learned it from you. It’s amazing. It’s awesome.”

Speaking of teaching the kids new things, we asked if Ryan planned on homeschooling in the future. “Absolutely not,” he says, “I’d like to say that I’d do it right but I don’t think I’m the homeschooling type.” He is, however, very attracted to the idea of staying home to manage the house while the boys are at school. “The longer I stay at home, the more I like the idea of being the PTA dad, the house-husband, the community dad. I want to be there when they get home from school and be there for their activities.”

In closing, Ryan had this to say about staying home to care for his children as a stay-at-home dad: “It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. But it’s also the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”

Thank you for chatting with us and talking about your experiences as a stay-at-home dad, Ryan! We appreciate all your hard work.

Tags: dads, parenting

12 Potty Training Hacks

potty training hacks

Potty training your toddler might seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. And we won’t sugar coat it - sometimes it DOES get overwhelming! But these potty training hacks will help you get through it a little more easily. Read our 12 potty training hacks and feel free to share your own when you’re done.


1. Remove the Pants: If you can strip your toddler naked from the waist down, this tends to work best, especially for kids who don’t realize they need to go until it’s time to go. The trick here is that they’ll immediately realize the connection between the potty and a major cleanup on aisle three (and hence an interruption of whatever they were doing). This plan works best for parents with patience and willingness to accept the risks of pantsless potty training. But many parents swear by this method!


2. Use the Potty Backwards:This one is great for boys and girls who get easily distracted or haven’t mastered the art of aiming. By using the small training potty - or even the big toilet - facing the “back” of the potty, you have a designated catch zone that means they won’t be leaking out the front of the potty and making a mess everywhere else in the bathroom


3. Set a Timer: Set a timer (on your phone, on the microwave, or use a special potty timer) for every 30-45 minutes and have your child sit on the potty whenever the timer goes off. If they go, celebrate and praise them with your reward of choice (be it a special high five, a sticker, a treat, or anything else). If they don’t, go back to playtime and try again next time the timer goes off.


4. Use an App: There are a variety of apps available for your smartphone or tablet to make potty training easier. Some are designed to entertain or educate the kids about the potty, while others are useful tools for mom or dad to keep track of timing and progress. Check out The New Potty - Little Critter (for $1.99 on the Apple App Store for iPad and iPhone) and Potty Training Kids Learning With Animals (free on the Apple App Store for iPad and iPhone). For Android devices, try Daniel Tiger’s Stop & Go Potty ($2.99).


5. Select 2-3 Designated Potty Books: Keep some books for entertainment in the bathroom while pottying, but don’t switch them out to keep your child interested. This isn’t about reading, it’s about you-know-what. Keep a library of two to three designated potty books. As the books get a little boring and predictable, the bathroom will become more about doing their business and getting back to the fun stuff.


6. Sing a Song: Make up (or borrow from your child’s favorite show or book) a song about potty training to make each trip to the potty entertaining and add a sense of ritual. This could be as simple as singing “wipe, flush, and wash your hands” to a favorite tune or making up new lyrics to the tune of a popular song.


7. Use a Disposable Changing Pad: This one is a great life hack for potty training. Use a disposable changing pad or even a puppy training pad to place in your child’s car seat or anywhere else you need to avoid a mess when you’re not sure if you’ll have trouble making it to a bathroom on the go.


8. Use Incontinence Pads or Pantiliners: It’s one thing to rinse out and wash an accidental leak, but cleaning up an accidental poo should be avoided at all costs. Place a small pantiliner or incontinence pad in your child’s undies for easier cleanup of #2 accidents.


9. Pack the Sticky Notes: This hack is for public toilets with automatic flushing mechanisms. A sudden flush before your child is ready can scare them and set you back in the potty training process. Savvy parents keep a pack of sticky notes in their arsenal to place one over the sensor on an automatic toilet. No flushing until you’re ready!


10. Mark the Point of No Return: Use decorative tape to mark the “do not pass” zone for toilet paper. Kids are still figuring out how much they need, so set the mark at a few squares’ length so they can get used to appropriate toilet paper usage.


11. Designate Kids-Only Toilet Paper: Giving your child their own roll of toilet paper is a small hack that makes a big difference. They’ll be so excited to have a sense of control since parents aren’t allowed to use this roll and might be extra excited to use the potty for their special toilet paper.


12. Make a To-Go Bag: Sure, keeping your kid pantsless at home is easiest, but when you need a trip to the grocery store or have to leave the house for a playdate, you’ll need to be prepared. Pack your training pants, underwear, sticky notes, a potty book, and anything else you need.


There you have it - 12 hacks for potty training to make things easier on you AND your little one. Potty training is hard work, so every little thing helps until you find the trick that works best for your family. Of course, we also recommend a waterproof pad for your child’s crib or toddler mattress, like the Breeze Breathable Crib Mattress Pad, which maximizes airflow for a more comfortable sleep and has a waterproof backing to keep those nighttime accidents from becoming a nightmare.


If you're still not sure if your child is ready to potty train read on for 5 Signs Your Child Is Ready To Potty Train.

Room Share with Baby and STILL Sleep Great!

Room Share with Baby

By Jenni June Certified Child and Family Sleep Consultant, CLC and Mom of 4!

If you lack an additional bedroom in your home for baby, or want to keep in line with the recent safe-sleep and SIDS prevention guidelines from the AAP, you are probably thinking great sleep and/or sleep training won’t work for you and your baby if you are both in the same room. Think again! It’s completely possible.

The most notable upgrade to this well-regarded list of SIDS prevention and safe-sleep recommendations is the call to "room share" (not bed share) with baby at least until they're 6 months old (but optimally until 12 months old).

I was flooded with calls from panic-stricken sleep consultants and families alike about this edict the moment it was handed down. “Jenni, how can we sleep train, or sleep well, while still following these newest guidelines?”

Easy! Here’s how:

#1- Place baby’s crib inside your room as far away as you can from your bed (and ideally from your bedroom door). Be sure there is nothing in the crib but a firm, breathable mattress and a tight-fitting crib sheet. No bumpers, no stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, or positioners -- these are all potential suffocation hazards!

#2- Make sure the room is dark enough during sleep time so that baby cannot see you, since your presence may be stimulating to them. Many babies who have not yet learned healthy independent sleep skills, and thus still associate parents with how they get to sleep, or back to sleep (as they connect from one sleep cycle to the next throughout the night), will yield quicker and easier to sleep with correct sleep hygiene in place when the shiny carrot of mom and dad (their old sleep crutch) isn’t dangling in front of them. It’s the equivalent of parking a recovering alcoholic in front of a tavern during happy hour otherwise.

If you are in the initial stages of sleep training, you may use a folding screen or room divider. When doing so, be sure to have a video monitor in place so that you can clearly see your child, even in the dark. You must be able to see them, but they shouldn't see you!

#3- Use healthy, ambient white noise in the room during sleep. Buy a proper white noise machine with ambient sound, or use an inexpensive fan, placed on the other side of the room and facing away from your child. This will help condition the stimulating sounds that might arouse your child all the way awake during their lighter, more active stages of sleep, such as mumbling, talking and moving around in bed.

Babies and non-verbal children do the same in these active stages of sleep. Except, they will have fussing or crying sounds and moving around in the crib, sometimes even sitting up or standing. But they, just like us, have no idea they’re doing it. They are actively moving about, but still technically asleep. These periods within our sleep cycles may last from 1-5 minutes. Adult sleep cycles are 90 minutes long, while babies are about 50 minutes or so. As a result, we are constantly fragmenting each other’s sleep throughout the night. So, invest in proper white noise.

#4- If you have chosen to sleep train (teach independent sleep skills and provide proper sleep hygiene), this sleep environment will work with any behavioral "method" you choose for your child. If using an integrative approach, the only difference is that your engagement is from your bed to crib, rather than your bed to the crib in a separate room.

Your perfect consistency in providing a simple and clear message for your child as you support them in discovering that they can both fall asleep, and connect from one sleep cycle to the next, even faster and better than you can do it for them, is all that is needed from here! Sleep health and safety for all!

About Jenni June:

Jenni June™ LLC, is a Certified Child and Family Sleep ConsultantJennifer Metter, founder of Jenni June™ LLC, is a Certified Child and Family Sleep Consultant, specializing in pediatric and adult sleep hygiene; A Certified Lactation Counselor, Host, National
speaker, and Mom of 4!

With thousands of successful sleep cases under her belt since 2011, she is a valuable resource for everyday and celebrity parents all over the country, including Guiliana and Bill Rancic for the Style Network! And, she is the sleep training expert on The Doctors TV show! She is a practitioner member of the National Sleep Foundation and collaborative health care provider as a certified sleep coach for infants, children and adults for the Breathe Institute, and the go-to sleep trainer for LA’s top pediatricians!

Jenni is also a popular national speaker and guest on CBS, FOX, NBC news and the host of series, “Baby Care with Jenni June” and the resident sleep expert for the BabyLeague and FamiLeague Networks.

If you were to ask Jenni why she has joyfully dedicated her entire life to building up and equipping families (including her own, who are now all grown!), she will tell you, “Because the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” She is gifted in encouraging new parents to raise the standard of their significance.

Tags: baby, parenting, sleep