Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Holiday foods and pregnancy don’t always mix

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Holiday mealThis time of year is often filled with family dinners, holiday parties and gatherings full of delicious food and lots of drinks. If you’re pregnant or thinking about pregnancy, you may need to reconsider indulging in some of your usual favorites.

Here’s a list of “no’s” and “maybes” to help you through your holiday celebration.

The no’s – foods to definitely avoid

  • Holiday spirits & cocktails: Drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for your baby. But, this doesn’t mean you need to miss the party – read our tips and substitutions to keep your holiday celebration going.
  • Soft cheeses: Unpasteurized soft cheeses, such as brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela can cause listeriosis, a kind of food poisoning caused by listeria bacteria.
  • Raw or lightly cooked eggs or foods made with them, including cake batter, raw cookie dough and soft-scrambled eggs: These foods can contain salmonella bacteria, which can cause another type of food poisoning that can be dangerous during pregnancy.
  • Unpasteurized juice, milk or any foods made with unpasteurized ingredients are also a listeriosis and salmonella risk.

The maybes

  • Eggnog: Store-bought is usually ok, but you must check the label before drinking it. Read how to safely buy eggnog from a store. Homemade eggnog can contain raw or undercooked eggs. Our safe homemade recipe will help you create your own version that you can enjoy worry-free this year.
  • Coffee and hot chocolate: We don’t know a lot about the effects of caffeine during pregnancy so limit the caffeine you get each day to 200 milligrams. This is about the amount in 1½ 8-ounce cups or one 12-ounce cup of coffee. An 8 ounce cup of hot cocoa has 3-13 mg.
  • Holiday ham & meats: Be sure all meat is cooked thoroughly and never eat raw or undercooked meat, which can contain salmonella.
  • Too much sugar: During the holidays, you will find many desserts have added sugar or chocolate, which can put a dent in your healthy balanced diet. If you are eyeing that chocolate pie, try substituting another item with less sugar, to keep your overall sugar intake within reason. For example, switch out your juice for sparkling water with lemon.

With these ideas and a little extra attention to labels and how much you eat, you will be able to enjoy all your holiday festivities.

Have questions? Text or email us at

January – doldrums? extra struggles?

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

No matter how you slContemplative womanice it, January always seems to be a tough month for people. After the holidays, it is hard to get back into the old routine. Somehow, the leftover cookies and sweets still linger, making it extra hard to get back on track.

Getting back in the swing of things is hard for parents. If this is how you have been feeling, you are far from alone.

But, if you are struggling, imagine how lost your child with special needs may be feeling! Getting your child to transition back to his “old normal” is easier said than done. If your child is experiencing a slight backward step, you might want to read these posts: Adjusting to life after the holidays gives tips on surviving “re-entry” as I call it, and this post includes suggestions on how you can help your child adjust back to your old routine.

Note:  The mini-series on Delays and Disabilities has lots of info to help you if you have a child with special needs. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions.


Holiday cocktails and spirits

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Holiday mocktailTis the season for yummy eats and alcoholic drinks. I was at a holiday party this past weekend and as wine was being passed around I noticed my friend was opening her own bottle. “What’s that?” I asked. And she replied “sparkling cider! I’m pregnant, so I’m not drinking alcohol” and we both poured some into our wine glasses, and enjoyed the night with our non-alcoholic beverages.

If you are pregnant, you know you need to stay away from alcohol, but that doesn’t mean you need to miss the party. Don’t be afraid to bring your own cooler of drinks with you – your friends may be asking to have some of yours.

Not sure what to bring? Here is an idea that is festive and works with almost any of your favorite fruits:

  • Select a festive glass, such as a flute champagne or martini glass.
  • Choose your favorite garnish – lemon, lime, mint leaves, cherries, diced apples or oranges.
  • Add seltzer or club soda along with your favorite fruit juice.

For a really fun treat, freeze cranberry, orange or pomegranate juice in ice cube trays and add to your drink. Voila!

Looking for more ideas? Check out our alcohol free bodacious beverages!

Pregnant? Have young kids? Learn how to stay safe during the holidays

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Holiday babyWith a little planning and a few tips, your holidays can be healthy, safe and bright.


Roaring fires in your fireplace are a beautiful sight in the winter, especially during the holiday season. But, it is essential to take simple steps to ensure your home is safe.

Keep your fireplace curtains or door closed when the fire is lit and be sure the damper is open. After the fire dies down, wait until the ashes are completely cold before disposing them. It is best to place the ashes in a metal trash can to ensure that a smoldering ember does not cause another fire. Have you had your fireplace flue cleaned recently? If not, consider having it done, to help prevent smoking.

Live Christmas trees

Christmas trees are beautiful and fragrant, but should be kept far away from your fireplace or any burning candles. Be sure all electrical connections are in perfect working order, and water your tree daily so that it does not dry out and become tinder.

If you have asthma, or anyone in your family has allergies or breathing problems, a live tree may cause irritation to the airways. Check with your health care provider to see if a live tree will cause any difficulty. If so, an artificial tree is a great alternative.


No one loves the sight of flickering candles more than I do, but the risk of a candle tipping over and causing a fire is real. Since I switched to battery operated candles, I no longer worry about accidents. They look so realistic and create the same effect. Do yourself a favor and take one more worry off your mind by using battery operated candles, especially if you have curious toddlers or children at home.

In addition, sometimes scented candles cause allergic reactions in people with breathing problems. Look for unscented versions or use battery operated candles.

Got any tips for this holiday season? We’d love to hear them.


You’re pregnant, can you drink eggnog?

Monday, December 14th, 2015

eggnogThe answer is yes and no. It depends. Here’s the scoop:

Store-bought eggnog

Traditionally, eggnog was made with raw eggs, which is not good for pregnant women due to the health concerns of salmonella. Salmonella causes salmonellosis, a kind of food poisoning that can be dangerous during pregnancy . However, currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restricts the use of raw eggs to less than 1% in products.

  • If you’re buying eggnog at the store, be sure to check the ingredient label to ensure it is egg-free or contains less than 1% egg product.
  • Also it is important that your eggnog be pasteurized. Pasteurization is a heat process that destroys salmonella that might be in eggs.

Homemade eggnog

Many families make a batch of home-made (and alcohol-free!) eggnog as part of their holiday traditions, but homemade eggnog causes many cases of salmonella each year due to raw or undercooked eggs. If you’re going to make your own eggnog, here are some tips:

  • Use egg substitute products or pasteurized eggs.
  • If you are using pasteurized eggs, the FDA recommends starting with a cooked egg base to ensure your safety.
    • To make a cooked egg base, combine eggs and half the milk as indicated in the recipe. (Other ingredients, such as sugar may be added at this step.) Cook the mixture gently to a temperature of 160°F, stirring constantly. The cooking will destroy Salmonella, if present. At this temperature, the mixture will firmly coat a metal spoon. After cooking, chill the mixture before adding the rest of the milk and other ingredients.

You can keep your eggnog holiday traditions, but remember to read all the labels on eggnog containers or carefully prepare your homemade eggnog.

Holidays & your child with special needs- tips for the NICU, visiting Santa, dinners & traveling

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Parents in NICUFrom spending holidays in the NICU, finding developmentally appropriate toys, eating at Grandma’s house (without a meltdown!), to visiting Santa in a loud, bright mall, the holidays can be oh so hard for a child with special needs. Here is a walk down blog post memory lane to help you get through the next few weeks and even have some fun.

We wish you a stress-free, calm, smooth holiday season. If you have any tips that have worked for you, please share them! You can find more posts on parenting a child with special needs, here.

Questions? Send them to


The holidays are here…

Monday, December 7th, 2015

pregnant woman in bedBesides the usual stress of pregnancy and getting ready for your baby, the holidays often add more pressure, which can take a toll on your health. Feeling stressed is common during pregnancy, but too much can make you have trouble sleeping, have headaches or lose your appetite. High levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems like high blood pressure, which can increase the chances of having a premature baby.

December is a very busy time: there are friends and families to see, holiday gatherings to attend, meals to cook, and gifts to buy. So much to do! During this time, remember to take care of yourself: breathe deeply, relax and concentrate on your pregnancy.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep moving. Exercise can help reduce your stress and prevent pregnancy discomforts. If you are shopping for gifts, walk an extra loop around the mall before you head out to your car. Park further away in the parking lot (this way you can also avoid some of the traffic of shoppers trying to park close to the mall entrance).
  • Holidays are a time for delicious desserts and heavy meals. Before you sit down and indulge in your family dinner, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch earlier in the day.
  • Extra sleep is important during this time, but taking breaks is just as important. If you have some free time between wrapping gifts, put your feet up, read a book or magazine, or watch a favorite TV show. Even just a 15 minute break can help you relax before your next task.
  • Ask for help. Holidays are a time of giving, but also receiving. Accept help when a friend or family member offers and ask for help when you are feeling tired or overwhelmed.
  • Cut back on activities you don’t need to do. Instead of spending time making a holiday dessert, why not have your favorite bakery do it for you?

Holidays can be stressful, but remember to take time for yourself.

Have questions? Email

Sweet dreams

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

On Christmas eve a few years ago, my colleague, Lindsay, published this post. The sentiment is perfect to capture the wonder of this special day, even if you do not celebrate Christmas. Enjoy!


familySweet dreams

When you were a child on Christmas Eve, how long did it take you to fall asleep? If you had brothers and sisters, did you all talk about Santa and wonder if you would hear the reindeer on the roof? If you hid behind a chair, would Santa know and not come, or would you get to sneak a peek at the big guy?

As we grow older our sense of wonder seems to change. Those special dreams from childhood often turn into adult worries about expenses or finding a job. Many of us get jaded and find the holidays more taxing than tantalizing. I find that sad.

Here’s an idea for tonight. Look at your little ones, or your neighbors’ children, and imagine this night from their eyes. Put on your PJs when your children do and snuggle up with a story. Tell them about Christmas when you were their age. Become young again and let them share their excitement with you. Look for the joy of the moment and be grateful for what the morning will bring. Let your worldly trials and travails go for 24 magical hours.

And if you do not celebrate Christmas, snuggle up with your babies anyway and let them know how beautiful they are and how much you love them. Sweet dreams everyone.

Spending holidays in the NICU

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Parents in NICU If your baby is currently in the NICU, this may not be how you envisioned spending your holidays. The realization that your baby is not home for Hanukkah, Christmas or the start of the New Year can be a real jolt. But, with a little creativity, an open mind and a willingness to adapt, you can still make your holidays bright. Here’s how:

• Although no two NICUs are exactly alike, many will allow you to decorate your baby’s bed space (but ask first). You may be able to attach pictures or tiny holiday decorations on the side of the incubator or warmer bed.

• Engage your other children if you have them. You can take a photo of them and pin it up on the side of your baby’s bed (if allowed). Likewise, take a photo of your baby and bring it to your child or children at home to decorate. They can make a Christmas ornament out of it and hang it on the tree or draw a picture around it and set it up next to the menorah. This way, your littlest one is always present at your home in a physical way.

• If your baby is healthy enough, see if you can put him in a special holiday outfit. A snowman, Santa or elf onesie would be adorable! (But be sure to check with the head nurse or doctor first.)

• Depending on the health of your baby and NICU rules, perhaps Dad can pose as Santa and take a photo with your baby. (Be sure the Santa outfit is squeaky clean please!)

• Place a tiny “Charlie Brown” tree, menorah or other symbolic decoration on the windowsill or counter next to your baby.

• If appropriate, see if you can play soft holiday music when visiting your baby. Humming or singing to your baby may be soothing to him and in this way you can introduce him to his first Christmas Carol or Hanukkah song.

• Make a clay impression of your baby’s foot as a keepsake. There are kits that you can buy that are easy to prepare. Or, if you have a creative streak in you, you can make the “dough” yourself. Search the internet for recipes.

• Enjoy your New Year’s toast together as a family in the NICU with your baby, even if you do it well before midnight to accommodate bedtimes of your other children.

Spending your holidays at the NICU is not something you planned on. But, hopefully, the New Year will be one of improved health, weight gain for your preemie, and a soon-to-be united family at home.


Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and Disabilities – How to get help for your child. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view a Table of Contents of prior posts.

Visiting Santa is do-able for kids with special needs

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

child w SantaThe sensory challenges experienced by many children can make a visit with Santa impossible, or at best, uncomfortable. From the noise and crowds of a busy mall, to the waiting on a long line, a fun and fulfilling experience can soon become a very stressful one. The sensory overload can quickly turn the visit upside-down. It is for this reason that a specially trained Santa and a well-planned visit can make all the difference in the world.

The good news

Across the U.S., there are opportunities for kids with special needs to visit Santa in a sensory friendly way. Malls, private organizations such as occupational therapy centers and doctor’s offices, fire stations, and many local disability groups offer programs that feature a specially trained Santa who welcomes children with varying needs. These Santa visits are unhurried, calm, quiet and understanding of the sensory issues of little ones. Parents often say the best part about visiting a sensory special Santa is not having to wait on long lines (which can be an impossible hurdle for many kids with special needs). An advance reservation may be required, so call ahead to learn about any important details that will help your visit go smoothly.

To locate a special Santa, check with the your local mall, town hall, parks and recreation department, fire and police stations, therapy offices, disability organizations, etc., to see if a “Special Santa,” also known as a “Sensitive Santa” or “Caring Santa” is in your area.

If you do see a special Santa, you might want to give the staff a quick heads up about your child’s needs. Or, you can write a short note to give to Santa before your child’s visit. The note can give a brief description of your child (eg. “Johnny is non-verbal but understands if you speak slowly,” or “he wants to tell you something, so please be patient and wait as he gets his words out”). Your note can also state the toys he wants for Christmas, so Santa can mention them and your child can nod in agreement. With a little planning and creativity, the visit can be smooth and successful.

If your child can not leave the house, you may be able to find a Santa that makes home visits. It is worth calling your local disability organization or town government to inquire. If there isn’t a program in your area, perhaps ask a therapist, special education teacher or another parent or relative familiar with your child’s special needs, to transform into Santa and visit your child.

It is a happy time of year, and a calm visit with Santa will undoubtedly make Christmas brighter for your child…and you!


Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and Disabilities – How to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view a Table of Contents of prior posts.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to