We have lots to say about the importance of what we do...
I always thought to donate breastmilk you have to have a super over-supply or be pumping around the clock. I thought "Wow, god bless the women who put in the extra time and energy to do that in their most exhausting time of life but nope, that is not for me." My thinking was WRONG. Here's what I've learned with baby #2.
How it went down:
I had a totally normal supply of breastmilk for baby #2. My milk came in faster and stronger for sure (as is typical with the second babe) but it wasn't anything crazy. I started pumping at day 5 just to alleviate myself. The 2 weeks following, I pumped 2-3 times a day and sometimes only one boob or only to half empty because I didn't like the feeling of being engorged. BUT I also didn't want to pump TOO much because I didn't want my body to produce more milk (the more you pump/breastfeed, the more your body makes especially in those early weeks until your boobs regulate to your baby's needs and child out.) My body regulated at around week 3 and my milk supply started to line up more with the routine of my baby plus a little extra because of the pumping.
What I did:
I liked that little extra because it allowed me to start storing a rainy day supply in my freezer. By rainy day, I mean if I got sick and my milk supply dropped, we'd have a stash to tap into. OR if I want to leave the baby for a day (or even a night?! Yolo?), I would have plenty of milk to leave with grandma. Mark my word, mamas, stored freezer milk IS FREEDOM!
Here's the thing, my baby doesn't eat half of the milk I produce so I really do have a lot of extra building up. Some of the milk just stays in my boobs until the next feeding (telling my body to not make more), and some of the milk gets pumped and goes into the freezer. The main idea is that I took the supply that came in those early weeks and relatively maintained it. Expended no effort to increase it and actually decreased it to the amount my baby takes + about 4 ounces extra for storage.
So now I'm 9 weeks in and I put away one extra bag of milk a day, I all of a sudden have 75 pouches of stored milk in my freezer! That's roughly 300 ounces of liquid gold!!!! I feel proud, I feel grateful, and I feel surprised at how that happened with little-to-no thought or effort. Just one pump a day when I wake up after feeding. One package a day. Literally, not a big ordeal for me AT ALL.
How I became a milk donor:
I have more milk than we will ever use so I contacted Mother's Milk Bank and got screened to see if I qualify to donate. It was a 15 minute interview, a survey, and a blood test at Newton Wellesley Hospital. The requirement is to donate a minimum of 150 ounces which is pretty much exactly what I'm willing to give up while reserving that "rainy day stash" that I want to have.
What I've learned:
If you have a typical supply of milk in those first few weeks, you can pretty easily put away an extra pouch or two a day. Keep doing that and voila, you will have enough to donate in a couple months. Your milk will be used to help save babies who are fighting for their lives in the NICU and the mommies who are struggling along with them.
I feel SO SO SO happy that my baby and I can contribute to helping less fortunate babies thrive and I really am shocked at how easy this was. SO I'm sharing it with you to demystify the process and break the perception that donating breastmilk is burdensome and requires a mega oversupply of milk because it doesn't. IF you feel inspired, are pregnant and interested, or have an overflowing freezer stash, I highly recommend contacting the Mother's Milk Bank to learn more.
With love from my heart and boobs,
p.s. Share this blog post on social media so more mommies can learn!
School’s out for summer but continuing a circle time routine at home is beneficial to your child’s learning and development! In a toddler or preschool classroom, circle time is a way for the teacher to unite students through song and rhyme and is typically the time of day where letters, colors, numbers and more are introduced. Implementing a circle time routine at home is a great way to reinforce concepts that were learned in school this past year.
Structuring your Circle Time:
Tips for Success:
Need a little more support? Use our Little Beats Clubhouse videos as a launching point and your will be leading an educational and fun at home circle time in no time!
Life with young children can become, dare we say it…repetitive. You repeat yourself over and over, feeling like your instructions are going in one ear and out the other. Your toddler also likely asks you to read the same stories and sing the same songs again and again. Maybe your child repeats the same action daily, like throwing food off their highchair to see what happens. Though this can frustrate adults, it is critical for children as they learn best through repetition.
Repetition is familiar and comforting to little ones. When children feel comfortable with a song or rhyme, they will recite it more often eventually leading to mastery. Every time a book is reread to a child, they pick up on something different. New words assimilate into their vocabulary and their confidence in using them grows. All of us like to feel successful and kids are no different, thus performing tasks over and over to show they can do them independently!
There are many ways you can support your child’s learning through repetition:
In an effort to support learning in youngsters, our Little Beats clubhouse meetings and our in-studio classes always start and end in a familiar way. Check out our Youtube channel for activities you can do at home to support your child’s learning and development.
Navigating your child’s feelings and emotions can certainly feel like an uphill battle sometimes. One great way to help them understand their feelings and open up the dialogue is through reading a story that deal with the emotion at hand. Validating their emotions in a non-judgmental way is critical to building trust and open communication. A child that feels comfortable sharing how upset they are about having to take a bath or clean up their toys, will (hopefully) grow into an adolescent that opens up to you about the tricky, messy and confusing parts of being a teen.
You may be asking yourself – “Where do I even start?” Well, it’s more simple than you may think.
Here are a few tips:
In this video, Dani reads Emily’s Tiger by Miriam Latimer, a story about a child who is dealing with some serious anger. Emily’s parents are struggling to understand her and are frustrated with her outbursts. Luckily, Grandma saves the day by sharing that she has also felt these feelings and offers solutions to help Emily cope.
Use this video as a conversation starter when your child is feeling calm and revisit it after your child experiences anger. Remember to use active listening so your child feels accepted and loved!
Being home in quarantine has certainly been isolating and lonely at times. But in some ways, it's brought us closer to the people we love! Whether having Zoom time with relatives and friends or more time with siblings, our time together seems less a bit less rushed and a little more focused these days. Perhaps we've even come to appreciate many of our relationships more than ever before! I know I have.
The Invisible String is a great tool for helping our little ones know that even when we are physically separated, we are ALWAYS connected to the people we love. Sometimes as a parent, it can be heard to teach the less tangible lessons of life which is why I am SO grateful to amazing stories like this one (and shows like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood) for assisting me in the job.
This book may also be useful when it comes time to transition back into school, leaving behind our parents for the first time in months! I know that will be hard for both me and my 4 year old daughter. Enjoy this one with me today, and any time you need a little reminder that you are never truly alone.
In our favorite book about brain and body development, A Moving Child is a Learning Child, Cheryl McCarthy and Gill Connell write, “The body is the brain's first teacher.” That’s why building body awareness is such huge part of what we do in our baby classes, tyke classes, toddler classes, and preschool classes. When we are born, we don’t quite know what we have to work with and it's through sensory experiences (touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing, MOVEMENT) that we discover the world.
In the aboveLittle Beats From Home dance class, we explore body awareness through an isolation activity. Using a great action dance song that challenges the kids to dance with one body part at a time, we use our brains to identify that body part and self-control to keep the rest of our body still as we move that one part to the rhythm of the music.
Body awareness develops in many different stages over the course of early childhood. Here is a high level snapshot of how we incorporate it in our classes:
1. Intellidance Babies (ages 4-12 months): Raising awareness
Grown ups play a very active role in helping the babies learn about their bodies. Introducing the language of body parts through nursery rhymes and songs, engaging in sensory, tactile activities to bring awareness to the feelings of our different body parts, and using guided stretching and exercises to facilitate key developmental movement patterns in the body.
2. Intellidance Tykes (ages 1-2 years old): Building control
Building on what we learn about our bodies in the babies level, we start to introduce new challenges as the enter year 1-2. The little ones take on a little bit more of an active role in the moving and exploring the bodies with the loving support of a caregiver. As they develop motor skills, they start to be able to label and move isolated body parts themselves building on their rapidly developing balance, coordination, language, and self-regulation skills.
3. Intellidants Tots and Tutu Tots (ages 2-4 years old): Creative Movement
Once a young child is familiar with their body parts and how to move them in isolation, we start to introduce more imaginative play and skill building into the mix. These children LOVE transforming their bodies into different animals, characters, shapes, and sizes. They also are working on some critical movement skills that will benefit them far beyond dance class. We hone in on skills such as marching, galloping, running, jumping, leaping, moving in all directions, levels, speeds, and balancing.
It is truly astounding to watch a child progress from babyhood to preschooler in our dance program! Knowing where they've been and where they're going helps us provide a more impactful learning experience which is why Little Beats music and movement classes are truly unique. We LOVE what we do and our heart explodes every time we see one of our little ones discover new things about their body and what it can do. While growth happens so fast from ages 0-4, it is a slow and gradual, nonlinear process that has a huge impact on your child's future. We hope to help you help your child reach their potential no matter where they are at in their journey!
One of the best things about yoga is the ability to energize OR relax our bodies depending on the poses that are practiced. In our Little Beats yoga classes, we intentionally infuse each class with both types of poses to bring children to a calmer place by the end of class. When practicing with your children at home, we suggest starting with breath work – we LOVE Kira Willey’s Mindful Moments. Breathing helps us to find center and get us in the correct headspace to enjoy some yoga time.
Next, try some active, energizing poses. The goal here is to really get the blood flowing! Here are some poses featured in this video that you might try:
Finish up with a calming posture such as child’s pose. Child’s pose is particularly effective because it draws the energy of the body inward. When we lie our forehead on the mat, we are stimulating the vagus nerve. The pressure created between the eyes helps to lower blood pressure and slow our heart rate. Do you ever find yourself resting your head on your palm when you are feeling overwhelmed? You may have been trying to regulate your nervous system!
Use this video from the Little Beats from Home collection as your guide and enjoy all the wonderful benefits of yoga!
Though your child may not master right vs. left until elementary school, there is still a benefit to introducing this concept at a young age! You may notice very early on that your child is favoring one side over the other when they reach for objects or turn around. By encouraging them to use both sides of the body you will help them to build strength on their non-dominant side which is helpful for overall body balance and strength.
In this video from the Little Beats from Home collection, Dani is singing a song to encourage using each side of the body in isolation. If you're looking to continue building your child's brain-body connection, check out Shoe A Little Horse from Intellidance which introduces cross-lateral movement. Cross lateral movement involves using BOTH sides of the body at once and strengthens the corpus callosum which is responsible for connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. Cross lateral movement practice supports emergent literacy – check out this video from "Active Learning with Rae" for more info on the benefits of cross-lateral movement at any age!
Thursday's dance party was filled with fun but what we want to focus on from this video is the use of the song "Happy and You Know It." We sang it together but changed the emotion and action every time we sang it. All in one song we acted out being happy, scared, angry, excited, and sad! Much like this quarantine, it was an emotional roller coaster. But I'm really glad we got to practice feeling all the feels so when the real ones come on, we're a lot more prepared to deal with them.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
The ability to identify and express one's emotions appropriately in addition to the ability to interpret other people's emotions and respond with sensitivity.
Strong emotional intelligence leads to all good things such as empathy, trusting relationships, resilience, leadership skills, and a less-stressful, overall happier life. Learning emotional intelligence starts at birth. From the moment they can see our faces, our infants are reading our body language, the tone of our voice, the every little nuance of our facial expressions. And as they grow smarter, they grow more attune to our feelings in addition to their own.
How do we teach it to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers?
In early childhood, we most commonly nurture emotional intelligence by constantly labeling/identifying present feelings in ourselves and others, role playing with toys, and reading about feelings in stories. We also teach feelings through the arts- dance, music, and visual arts are all amazing ways to express feelings for ALL ages. In fact Expressive Arts Therapy is an entire field of study that many including our own Miss. Holly, make careers out of. What's most important in social and emotional development is that our children have the chance to explore, talk about, and feel their feelings safely- without judgement or reprimand. And there's no safer way to explore than through song and dance!
One of the best things about yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere including at home home! Practicing yoga together is a great bonding activity but you may feel a little lost on how to make this practice appropriate for your kids. Yoga cards are a great way to get started! In this video you will see Dani using the Yoga Pretzels card deck but there are many free card sets that can be printed on Pinterest. If your feeling crafty, you can take photos of you children in various yoga poses and use them as your yoga cards! Kids will LOVE seeing themselves and may be more likely to participate if they are the star of the show.
Now that you have your own card deck, there are a variety of ways to use them:
As you can see, yoga cards are a useful tool when trying to bring yoga into your home. Don’t forget to check out our Little Beats From Home Youtube channel for some awesome yoga videos!