January 25, 2012
Whatever way you look at it, flu season is just no fun for adults. And when it comes to infants and the flu, what’s a new parent supposed to do?
Flu shots, of course, are key for prevention – even for babies. Doctors recommend that any child older than six months get a flu shot. The instant of pain (or abject fear at the sight of the needle) is absolutely worth a flu-free season for your kid.
Luckily, infants under six months are less likely than older babies to succumb to the flu because the antibodies in their mothers’ milk protect them. However, anyone living with or caring for a child under six months old should be vaccinated to decrease the risk of exposure.
Flu prevention can start even earlier! According to a 2010 study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, mothers who get the flu shot are 41% less likely to have a baby with the flu.
Knowing the symptoms that may indicate your baby has the flu is important. If it’s flu season (generally, this means October to March) and your baby has a sudden fever, fatigue, chills and/or a runny nose, he may have the flu. Other potential symptoms include a dry cough, loss of appetite, swollen glands, diarrhea or vomiting.
If your baby does contract the flu, don’t panic. In many cases, rest and lots of fluids will be enough for a full recovery. Be sure to feed him often. On average, the flu lasts for three to five days. When the baby’s fever breaks and his appetite returns, the worst is over.
Call The Doctor
There are certain warning signs of a more severe case of the flu. If your baby exhibits any of the following symptoms, it’s time to call the doctor:
- A fever of 100.4 degrees or higher (if he is under three months),
- A fever of 101 degrees or higher (if he is three to six months),
- A fever of 103 degrees or higher (if he is older than six months),
- A fever that lasts longer than three days,
- A cough that lasts longer than a week,
- An earache,
- Difficulty breathing, or
You should also call the pediatrician if your child gets sick soon after recovering from the flu.
The good news is that if your baby does get the flu, chances are he won’t get it again this season because getting it once usually provides immunity to that year’s particular strain.
Good luck to all parents, new and old, this flu season!
January 18, 2012
Whether we like it or not, Jack Frost has blown into town and the cold weather is here to stay for now. Yes, that means snowsuits and wet mittens galore, but we’re here to help you make the very best of the season. Get started with these 5 quick and easy kid-friendly activities.
1. Snow Hunters
Think about how eggcited (hehe) your kids are when they’re hunting on Easter morning. Who says the snow has to put a damper on that fun? Find some old treasures around the house, inexpensive holiday decorations for example, and then bury them in the snow.
Give some directions or even create a map! Your kids will love trying to find the treasures you’ve hidden. Turn it into a challenge to make it even more fun for them.
2. Rainbow Snow
Why paint indoors when there is a huge blank canvass in the backyard? All you have to do is equip the kids with a spray bottle filled with water and food coloring. They’ll be creating masterpieces in no time at all.
This activity is great for kids of all ages. Best of all, the entire family can get involved in this art project. And the cleanup…? What cleanup?
3. Castle Wars
You don’t need to completely turn away from the classic fun of the season. Spend the afternoon making snow forts with the kids. When you have them built, get ready to launch a full-scale attack and defend your castle.
This activity is best with older kids, ages 6 to 10. The adventure will break them out of their video game slump!
4. A White Picnic
Picnics aren’t just for summer anymore. Pack some seasonal snacks and head to the park for a white picnic. Be sure you’re bundled up with hot chocolate and popsicles on hand (you can keep them cold in the snow).
After the food is gone, turn some traditional picnic games into snowy fun. Frisbee and tag in the snow are totally doable. Despite Jack Frost, this activity will get the entire family in the chilly spirit.
5. Winter Olympics
You’re going to wish you had thought of this one sooner for sure. Buy some medals from the discount store and put on your own version of the Winter Olympics. This works best with big families or with family friends. Just split into teams and get ready for the games to begin.
Modify traditional Olympic sports so that they work for you. Bobsleighing? Sledding. Biathlon? Snow races. Curling? Snowball shot put. The list is endless!
Don’t let the snow ruin your family fun or keep you locked in the house all season. What other fun activities are there?
December 29, 2011
Let’s be honest. Who among us can’t remember a moment in our childhood (or even in more recent history) when our mom did something absolutely crazy? And what mother can’t remember a moment when she herself did something nutty, whether it was leaving the pediatrician a frantic midnight voicemail because of a single cough or speaking in baby talk to some adult friends?
Once you become a mother, quite simply, you’re on a slippery slope to insanity. But this is exactly why we appreciate our mothers so much – or, at least, why we should appreciate them. So for all the moms out there who haven’t been feeling the love through the holiday season, here’s our little ode to you. Just remember, we’re no Shakespeare!
We may not always remember to thank you for being there
Or immediately obey when you scold “eat your greens!” “brush your hair!”
Or simply “shhhhhhh.”
We know that our antics have at times been less than angelic
And any semblance of your sanity seems like nothing more than a relic
Of days gone by.
So for all the moments when you’re on the edge or have lost your way
We’d like to take one moment and say:
We appreciate you.
Thank you, moms! We love all that you do for us and for children from around the world. Here’s to another year of cold bottles, missed naptimes and screaming babies. Here’s to you, mom.
November 21, 2011
The Information Blanket is founded on the principle that all new parents – not just those in countries with high infant mortality rates – need a crash course in baby care. Every parent we’ve ever met has had a midnight moment of panic, be it over a high fever that seemingly came out of nowhere or the news that the neighbor’s kid has chickenpox.
That’s why anyone can buy our blanket in English for themselves or for the expectant parents in their lives. Having some basic information at your fingertips can always come in handy, right? While the tips on our blanket are about the health of your baby, new moms and dads need to stay healthy and sane too!
Here are some must-dos for new parents.
Pick a close friend or relative and ask them to help out with the baby so that you can sleep. You’ll never get through this stage of your child’s life if you don’t get some rest! Although newborn babies sleep 15 to 16 hours per day, they usually do so in 3 to 4 hour increments at most (yikes). Finding someone you trust to take care of your infant while you rest every once in a while is vital.
Let the other stuff slide for a while. Sure, the house may be a mess and maybe you still haven’t sent out all of the thank-you cards you meant to mail the day after the baby shower. But even if you’re the type who absolutely hates to procrastinate, tell yourself that those things can wait. Taking a few moments for yourself and taking care of your health is far more important than some dirty dishes or unanswered emails.
Bond with other new parents. Keeping in touch with your pre-baby friends is important, but sometimes you might just want to celebrate (or commiserate) with people who are experiencing the same ups and downs you are. They can recommend pediatricians, reassure you when you question your parenting tactics and bring their little one over for play dates.
Don’t ever lose your sense of humor. There’s no way to avoid it: you’re going to make some mistakes. Chances are those mistakes won’t cause any long-term emotional trauma for your child, so sometimes it’s okay to laugh at yourself and your parenting skills. Besides, laughter is a great remedy when times are tough.
November 4, 2011
Our dirty little secret: we’re just as obsessed with celebrity baby gossip as you are. We always keep our eyes on the baby bumps that dominate People and Us Weekly (Beyoncé, we mean you). And when those babies are born, we love to see famous moms, from Sarah Jessica Parker to Victoria Beckham, grace the cover of those magazines. But we love the celeb dads just as much as the celeb mommies. So, even though Father’s Day is almost eight months away, this seems like a good time for our ode to our favorite celebrity dads!
Every picture of Seal, Heidi Klum and their two children, Henry and Johan, makes us (and the rest of the world) want to melt. Besides their two biological children, Seal has also adopted Leni, Heidi’s daughter from a previous marriage. If that doesn’t prove his #1 dad status, we don’t know what will.
2. Ben Affleck
Ben seems like such a down-to-earth dad, which is a rarity in Hollywood. We love seeing Ben and Jennifer Garner playing in the park or at a baseball game (stars… they’re just like us) with their two kids. The only way this family could get any better is with the addition of yet another Affleck-Garner child. Luckily for them (and us), one is on the way!
3. Jon Stewart
Nathan and Maggie Stewart, Jon’s two kids, must be budding political prodigies. We can’t imagine trying to keep up with Jon’s wit at the dinner table, but according to all reports, he mixes that sharp tongue with a lot of sweetness when it comes to his children.
4. Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp is notoriously private about his family life, and we love how protective he is over eleven-year-old Lily-Rose and nine-year-old Jack. But, hey, we’d still love a few more photos! Either way, Johnny has to be the coolest dad on the block (who else gets to say their dad is both a notorious pirate and Willy Wonka?).
5. Neil Patrick Harris
Can this man do any wrong? He’s won our hearts time and time again on How I Met Your Mother, on Broadway and even in kid-friendly movies like The Smurfs. Now NPH has taken on a different role that we can’t get enough of: dad. In the fall of last year, he and partner David Burke had twins Gideon and Harper with the help of a surrogate. Here’s hoping those kids inherit at least some of Neil’s talent!
October 13, 2011
I really didn’t know what to expect from my trip to Uganda. Oddly, and I guess subconsciously, I didn’t do that much research into the country beforehand. I suppose, now that I look back on it, I wanted it to be a surprise. I didn’t want to be too prepared for what I might see. I knew it would intense and emotional, but I could have never prepared myself for what I experienced. I’m not sure anyone could.
I traveled to Uganda with my dad, Larry. Dad had spent 13 months in the jungles of Vietnam in ’68 and ’69. He’s since traveled back on three separate occasions. He’s been a witness to horrific human plight, much of which he’s openly shared with me over the years. Dad is an accomplished photojournalist and came along, not only as a close friend and travel companion, but also to document our seven days in the country distributing Information Blankets. He has an amazing eye for the human condition, and I knew the images we’d come back with would be powerful and moving. The photos in this, and future posts are his.
We landed at Entebbe airport, which is about an hour outside of Kampala, on the morning of May 22nd. A little exhausted from the 17-hour flight, we made it through customs with little trouble. We opened the weathered and worn exit door and entered a very different world. I felt as though I was in a time warp. The airport was built sometime in the middle of last century—very early 1960s architecture. It was run down and broken and quite crowded with people from an amazing variety of cultures. Taxi cab drivers jockeyed for position to get fares. To my surprise, it was very westernized in dress. Young guys with cell phones wearing Phillies caps and Lil Wayne t-shirts loitered in the corners. There was a very clear obsession with American pop culture.
We picked out a driver, gave him our bags, exchanged some currency and made our way to the parking lot. As we pushed through the doors, I could feel we were in a very different climate than New York. It was very humid and the air was thick and sweet. The sky was bright blue and big, bouncing white clouds that looked like cotton candy moved on a warm breeze in front of the sun. We loaded our bags into the back of a run down, early model Fiat and took off to for the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala.
As we traveled down the two-lane highway, we passed through a countryside that was lush, green and very bountiful. For as far as we could see, the landscape was a series of gently rolling hills populated with fruit-filled banana, mango, papaya and avocado trees. This surprised me, and it became obvious that food wasn’t necessarily a dire issue—or certainly not as dire as the neighboring country of Somalia. Along the roadside farmers herded their cattle, young children carried water containers, traders pushed their carts or road their bikes and hundreds of motor scooters with passengers whizzed by. I’d describe it as busy but peaceful.
As we neared the city, the landscape changed dramatically. The beautiful green countryside gave way to a never-ending row of shacks and dilapidated shops. It was at this point that I realized something was very wrong. Gone were the clean air and the tranquil, agrarian lifestyle. Suddenly, we had entered into an entirely new world. A world filled with the congestion of stop-and-go traffic¬—deafening honking and beeping with air so thick with exhaust that my eyes watered and my lungs burned. Small groups of men stood about as if they were waiting for something, but for what? Work? Food? A ride? They weren’t socializing or interacting. They just stood there in the hot sun with a hopeless look in their eyes while cars, buses, vans and motor scooters whizzed by. It was a haunting, heartbreaking sight.
We had entered the city limits of Kampala. It was the most chaotic system of existence I had ever encountered. The noise, the pollution, the traffic, the people sprinting across busy streets barely avoiding death, cows grazing wherever there was a spot of green—it was madness. I will never forget it.
October 10, 2011
It’s mid-October and that means it’s almost time for one of our favorite kid-friendly holidays: Halloween. ‘Tis the season for sugar highs, jack-o-lanterns and, more importantly, costumes. If you’re looking to celebrate Halloween without breaking the bank (or attempting to craft an elaborate outfit out of feathers, faux fur and sparkles…) try out one of our easy DIY costumes for toddlers this year!
1. Joel from Risky Business: This is one of the easiest costumes out there. Grab a white button-down, a pair of cool shades and some socks. Your kid will be Tom Cruise cool in no time.
2. Bouquet: All this requires is a quick trip to the flower or craft shop. Buy some artificial flowers (different types and colors to make it more fun), glue them on a cap, and dress your toddler or infant in an all-green outfit. A little bit of spring in the middle of fall!
3. Oompa Loompa: The perfect costume for a toddler because they’re almost the right size! Start with a pair of white pants, a brown turtleneck and some striped socks. If you can’t find a pair of toddler-sized white suspenders, try clipping two white belts to the pants. Next, paint on some non-toxic orange face paint (with white for the eyebrows). If you want to, top it off with a green wig.
4. Paper Doll: Start with a piece of poster board. Draw or trace your child’s favorite outfit – or a dream outfit – on the board. Next, paint it with fun colors! Don’t forget to draw in the tabs around the edges. Make shoulder straps and a waist strap out of elastic. Voila! Your little guy or girl is a paper doll.
5. Pumpkin: This is the classic Halloween costume, of course. Get an oversized orange sweatshirt and stuff the inside with tulle (or another soft and fluffy material). Jack-o-lantern-esque eyes, a nose and a toothy smile can be drawn on with a black marker. Pop on a green cap and your toddler will be ready to go!
Just like that, your “little monster” is ready to clean out the neighborhood (hehe).
October 6, 2011
The words are whispered with dread among new parents: “the terrible twos.” It’s the most feared stage in a child’s development. Well, until the rebellious teenage years at least. Fortunately, the year your child learns the all-encompassing power of the word “no” doesn’t have to be so terrible. Here are five tips for surviving the terrible twos.
1. If your child throws a temper tantrum, try not to give in unless he actually becomes destructive. Of course, this will be difficult. Nobody wants to stand around while her kid is screaming. Responding will only feed the tantrum though, which will make your toddler even more resistant to anything and everything you say.
2. When your child really acts out, and you just can’t ignore it, it’s time to begin disciplining. Use time-outs and take away privileges to teach your toddler what behavior is inappropriate.
3. On the other hand, you should reinforce good behavior with constant praise. If your toddler hasn’t pitched a fit today, tell him how proud you are. Don’t just give praise once – keep doing it!
4. Create a regular schedule and stick to it. Have meals, naps and playtime at the same time every day. This creates limits that your toddler will learn to stick to. Plus, it’ll help keep you sane.
5. Offer your toddler limited choices. Instead of asking what kind of juice he wants, give him two specific options. Your little guy is trying to exercise his independence for the first time… mostly by saying, “NO!” Offering limited options gives him the feeling of being in charge without allowing room for outlandish requests.
Most importantly, remember that this is just a phase. Two-year-olds have plenty of adorable moments between the temper tantrums. There are lots of great phases ahead, so cherish the happy moments and stay calm!
September 22, 2011
This is the first post of my first blog. I’ve been encouraged by many to start a blog about what I am attempting to do (I’ll get to that in a minute), but writing a blog, while on my list, is low in priority with everything else on my plate. Also, I find it hard to believe that anyone will actually want read what I have to say, but I guess it’s possible. The content of this blog will attempt to chronicle my experience as a social entrepreneur, and the trials and tribulations of building something I passionately believe in. Thus, the name Blanket Diary–an unfiltered expression of successes and failures, ups and down, highs and lows. I hope you do find it interesting.
Anyway, I picked today as the first day to post because it’s symbolic for two reasons. First, it’s my 44th birthday. Forty-four years ago today I was born at a military hospital in El Paso, TX to a future Vietnam Vet and his smart, beautiful wife, both from Kentucky. Three days later they packed all their stuff into the bed of an old pickup truck and drove back to Louisville. My dad had received his orders and a few weeks later shipped out to fight in war no one understood or supported, leaving me and my mother to live with relatives. Fortunately, thirteen months later he arrived on the door step of my mother’s new apartment, not unscathed, but alive. He announced himself with a loud knock while saying “Western Union”. Not what a young wife with a baby and a husband at war ever wants to hear. From there I had an “interesting” childhood growing up on a pig farm in rural western Kentucky. I’ll leave those stories for future posts. Read More »