Kid Safety Raising Healthy Kids Sponsored Content

How ExpressVPN is Helping HP Build a More Secure Future

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Full disclosure – I have no affiliation with HP, although I am powered by an HP laptop. ExpressVPN provides my annual VPN subscription free of charge in exchange for sharing information about the importance of cybersecurity and the role a VPN can play in internet privacy. I 100% believe in what they’re doing and that every single one of us has a responsibility to step up our own personal security and protect our data.

And in a world where the Internet is becoming more and more dangerous for our children, we all have to do more. (You can start really simply, by not using super easy passwords, and not using the same password on every different site, and changing all of your passwords NOW).

Cybersecurity has become a major focus for many around the world the past couple of years, but tech companies seem to be ignoring this shift completely. Every year, we see new releases of laptops that offer incremental improvements over last year’s model while at the same time remaining free of any sort of security improvements.

Fortunately, two companies are working towards influencing the tech industry to take the right steps, and those two companies are ExpressVPN and HP. I’ve been using ExpressVPN for a while and really appreciate the added security it gives me when I’m traveling, working from a hotel room, or instead of using public Wi-Fi in a restaurant.

How HP and ExpressVPN are Influencing the Industry

Image from ExpressVPN

HP recently released their new Spectre laptop, the Spectre x360 13, and the press release outlined many security improvements, including but not limited to: a way to turn off the webcam, a physical mute button for the internal microphone, an optional, built-in privacy screen, and a partnership with ExpressVPN.

The partnership with ExpressVPN allows HP to pre-install the VPN program onto all the new Spectre 13s, along with offering a 30-day free trial for any users of the new Spectre.

Now, you may read all that and ask what the big deal is, and I understand. Nothing about that partnership screams revolutionary or important. However, keep in mind how long HP has been making laptops and how much influence they have. ExpressVPN as well, as it’s one of the biggest VPN companies in existence as of the time of writing. It’s also one of the most secure consumer VPN out there that vows not to keep any VPN log.

ExpressVPN has stated that they already have more partnerships waiting to be announced, meaning even more tech companies are already realizing that partnering with cybersecurity companies is the best move to make right now. After all, the tech industry is shifting to an industry more focused on cybersecurity due to the numerous leaks that have taken place – Equifax, anyone? Capital One? Disney Plus??

Tech companies are realizing how dangerous things are becoming on the Internet, which is why I assume HP decided to partner with ExpressVPN in the first place. There comes a time when the blissful ignorance companies show towards cybersecurity fades, and I believe we’re living during it.

We All Need to Take Cybersecurity More Seriously

The new partnership between ExpressVPN and HP embodies the shift the tech industry is currently going through–a shift that demands attention towards security.

As I mentioned earlier, the Internet has become a dangerous place, and while security has improved tremendously, so has the number of scams out there. Companies know this, however…well, at least some do.

I believe the partnership between ExpressVPN and HP represents a step in the right direction where people become more aware of how they can stay safe online.


8 Wonderful Reasons to Visit Paris with Kids

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

We took our kids to Paris in 2016 as part of our 30-day trip to Europe that coincided with our daughter’s “I Do Take Two” – she and her husband had a small ceremony in the states with her U.S. family, then had a big, beautiful wedding in Nottingham with our son-in-law’s family. Since we were going anyway, we decided to visit some of our favorite places – Berlin and Wiesbaden, Brussels, and of course, Paris. We only had a few days, so hit the hot spots – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and paid homage to Jim Morrison at Pere Lachaise.

But if you have more time to visit (we’re definitely planning to go back), here are 8 wonderful reasons to visit Paris with your kids.

1. The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont Playground – A giant-sized playground-cum-landscaped park, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is full of streams for playing and has a pavilion on the top of a hill. The gigantic place also offers an alcove with a waterfall gushing out of it and a breathtaking view atop a suspension bridge above the water.

Image Source

Kids are sure to love the place, what with donkey rides and funfair events encircling the main pond. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a unique, green area certainly worth a casual family stroll.

Numerous birds share the space, such as black-headed gulls, moorhens, and mallards, which enjoy its heights and also the lakewater’s freshness. If you’re traveling to Paris anytime between autumn and spring, you’re sure to spot the long-tailed songbird jerking.

2. The Ménagerie  Zoo – Lying in the heart of the Jardin des Plantes, the nation’s most significant botanical garden, the Ménagerie Zoo is home to plenty of big cats including snow leopards, and red pandas and is exceptionally child-friendly. Easily accessible, the zoo also has orangutans, kangaroos, snakes, a 100-year-old turtle, and a variety of birds including vultures, ostriches, and flamingos.

Inside this living book of diverse wildlife, you’re sure to experience tenderness during your encounters with animals, letting you reconnect with nature. These unforgettable moments also make kids aware of the vital need to protect and preserve biodiversity. You can also take guided tours to understand common and rare types of animal behavior.

Younger kids will enjoy themselves at a petting zoo here, full of farm animals, while the older ones can spend quality time at the Microzoo, zooming in on tiny organisms.

3. The Jardin d’Acclimatation Amusement Park – A huge success with kids, the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a 19-hectare amusement park is best to visit during summer. Packed with kids’ attractions like pony rides and puppet shows, the park also houses a livestock farm and an aviary.

The Jardin d’Acclimatation features 4 fabulous roller-coasters, flying chairs and 18 hectares to stroll on. Summers offer kids ample scope to chill out with water-themed rides.

While the “Enchanted House” entertains toddlers, radio-controlled boats and mini-golf areas fascinate the older kids. What’s more, the park has, in its vicinity, a mini train with pushchairs running right up to its entrance.

4. The Grévin Wax Museum – Offering a wacky yet useful experience of French civilization, the Grévin Wax Museum houses more than 300 wax shapes. The figures include those of historical characters like Napoleon, political figures like Obama and singing superstars like Celine Dion. What’s more, kids could have their pictures clicked by the side of waxworks of these celebrities!

Image by Iva Balk from Pixabay

The fascinating museum takes kids through the history of France via its numerous waxworks. On the museum tour, you will also get to learn the detailed process of making the wax figures.

Last but not least the Grévin Wax Museum boasts an incredibly opulent marble staircase leading up to an equally exuberant hall of mirrors throwing light from every angle. Under dimmed lights, the hall creates eye-catching optical illusions of a temple, mysterious forest and a palace made of gold.

5. Disneyland – With a French-speaking Mickey Mouse and making a perfect fairytale family vacation destination, Disneyland Paris is full of classic attractions, entertainment events, and street processions.

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Your magical tour of Disneyland covers two parks, namely, Parc Disneyland and Parc Walt Disney Studios, Disney Entertainment Village, and countless restaurants. At Disneyland, kids can meet all Disney characters including Goofy and Captain Hook.

The little ones can enjoy themselves at Fantasyland that brings Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to life, while the older kids can indulge in adventure rides like the “Star Tours” where they need to dodge objects and fly at full speed for destroying the Death Star.

Don’t miss out on “The Pirates of the Caribbean”, the most popular family ride in Parc Disneyland, where spooky pirates will attack you.

Disneyland offers a unique experience in autumn due to Halloween as well as Christmas celebrations.

6. Aquarium de Paris – Situated opposite the iconic Eiffel Tower and brimming with interesting collections of marine life, Aquarium de Paris offers an extraordinary experience for kids as well as adults.

With approximately sixty tanks and ponds where you’ll find more than 7000 sea creatures, all from the French waters, seek out clownfish, the favorite aquarium pets, the poisonous puffers, and the endangered species of stingrays.

What’s more, the aquarium with its glass walls touching the floor caters to even toddlers as they’re able to see inside without you having to pick them up.

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Kids will love, in particular, the shark tunnel, the dwelling of twenty-four toothy sharks as well as the petting pond where they can fondle warm and friendly sturgeon fish as they thrust their long funnel-shaped noses outside the water.

7. Parc de la Villette Playground – A 55-hectares playground located in northern Paris, and full of slides and jungle gym-style, fun-filled activities the Parc de la Villette is a full-fledged, kid-friendly attraction. Children will find plenty of games as well as carnival rides to spend any additional time while relishing cotton candies.

Watch your kids shooting down Chinese dragon slides as you experience the beauty of this urban delight. Red-colored pavilions dotting the playground serve as huge climbing frames and also as a kids’ art center.

Summertime attracts large crowds to a film festival held on the lawns, in the open air.  Parc de la Villette has 10 themed gardens having reminiscent names like the “Garden of Mirrors”, “The Garden of Mists”, and “The Garden of Acrobatics”.

8. The Cat Cafe – “Le Café des Chats” – The first cat cafe in Paris offering a relaxed ambiance for you and the kids to savor your coffee and pastries while being around cats, Le Café des Chats is home to a dozen, beautiful cats.

The two-story cafe serves as a stable shelter for abandoned cats, thus contributing to animal welfare. With plenty of comfortable sofas and a large variety of pastries on the menu, kids will have a memorable time here, while gently interacting with the cats.

Children can also learn about the cats’ different personalities by reading a card about every individual cat, displayed near the tables. This way children will surely get to know the cats better while enjoying watching them play around the place.           

Bonus tip: Be sure to get a scratch-off map of the world so that once back home, you can add Paris to your travel memories.

Back to School Self-Improvement

Going Back to College as a New Parent

Starting a family changes your life in many ways. When you’re pregnant, it’s normal to think about how different your life will be in a very short time. You’ll have to make some sacrifices (including sleep!), it’s true. But one thing you shouldn’t have to sacrifice is your education or your desire to keep growing.

It’s not impossible for a new parent to go back to college. Whether you’ve never taken collegiate classes before, or you chose to stop to focus on your family, you can always go back. You can start over completely, or finish what you already put in motion in order to get a degree.

But parents (especially single parents) who choose to go back to school do face a unique set of challenges. You’ll have to balance your time between classes and your child (and maybe even a job), you might experience fatigue, and you’ll have to devote extra attention to both sides of your life, too.

Thankfully, having a support system in place and knowing your own limitations can make a big difference. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some strategies you can use to go back to college as a new parent.

Getting the Support You Need

One of the biggest obstacles you’ll face as a new parent going back to school is feeling like you have to do it all alone. If you try to go about it that way, it’s going to be much harder, and you’re more likely to quit or burn out quickly.

Raising a baby on your own is difficult. If you’re a single parent, going back to school can be more of a challenge because you don’t have a spouse at home to take care of the baby when you need time to attend class or study. It can also be more of a financial strain on single parents surviving on only one income. Some single parents even avoid going back to school because of the lack of affordability, the workload, or the inability to find clear information on what to expect.

If you’re married or living with your child’s other parent, rely on them for support. Talk to them about what you need and why you want to go back to school. Work out a schedule and a budget ahead of time that makes the situation comfortable for both of you.

If you don’t live with someone, it’s okay to rely on family members, friends, or even a childcare provider for support. Some colleges even provide on-campus daycare for parents in your situation.

Unfortunately, “mommy guilt” is a real thing, and it can be hard to disrupt your routine with a new baby if you feel like you’re leaving them alone or you should be spending more time with them. But if one of your reasons for going back to school is to better your career or your life in general, it’s worth it to reach your long-term goals.

Value Your Free Time

Newborn babies take up a lot of time. They require a lot of attention. If you already have other children, you’ll have even less time for yourself. It can feel overwhelming to balance yourself between school and your children, so don’t take any free time you have for granted.

Take an extra hour to study when your baby naps, or you can put them to bed early if they’ve had a long day and use that time to get your homework done. You’ll have to find unique ways to make everything work for you, and it might have to be around your baby’s schedule.

It’s also important to provide yourself with a little self-care during your free time. Get some extra rest, take a few hours off and go see a movie, or go to the spa. If you don’t have that kind of time, even spending 10 minutes in the morning meditating or doing yoga can help to calm your nerves and reduce stress.

Finally, use some of your free time to play. Babies are fun and can always make you smile and laugh. Taking time out of your day to play with your baby will strengthen your bond and help you to relax.

Think About Your Future

Before you decide on heading back to college, think about why you really want to. Is it just a personal goal you want to achieve? Do you want to get a better job, or start a completely new career? Are you willing to go the extra steps to put yourself out there with networking events, social gatherings, job fairs, and interviews when you graduate?

There are a lot of questions you’ll have to ask yourself along the way in order to make the experience worthwhile for you. College isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t the only path to success.

With that being said, if it’s right for you, then go for it. It’s a very personal decision you’ll have to make, especially with a new baby in your life, and it is doable. College can be a wonderful way to reach your goals and to show off your accomplishments to your child one day, showing them they can do anything they put their mind to. If you’re willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of your future and your child’s future, then going back to college is a great way to achieve your dreams.

Everything Baby On Motherhood

A Science-Based Look at Natural Induction Methods

Getting Real with Neve Spicer, Founder & Director at

The nine months we spend carrying our babies can sometimes seem to fly by in a haze of appointments, celebrations and preparations. Once a mom passes her due date, though, time may seem to slow down a bit – you’re eager to meet baby, and may be equally eager to avoid the prospect of medical induction, which can lead to labor complications. Though we don’t believe in rushing baby along, moms who are recommended for induction and are hoping to avoid a Pitocin drip may be interested in discussing natural methods of inducing labor with their doctor or health care provider.

Natural labor induction has been a part of recorded medical history for millennia, and the list of rituals, tinctures, herbs, and oils with which doctors, apothecaries and their patents have experimented is mighty long. While many of those fall under the heading of so-called “old wives’ tales”, other remedies have long been considered by traditional wisdom as legitimate ways to naturally trigger active labor.

For moms today who are armed with medical knowledge, natural labor induction methods pose a few important, clear-cut questions. Is it safe? Is it effective? Are there side effects? Does your doctor consider your method to be a safe alternative to hospital induction? While there’s not a proliferation of research available on naturally inducing labor, the studies that do exist let us know that there’s reason to believe some natural labor induction methods can actually trigger active labor. On the flip side, while some have a short and innocuous list of side effects, other methods can cause issues ranging from unpleasant symptoms to serious labor complications and birth defects – in other words, nature is powerful, and induction methods shouldn’t be assumed to be safe solely because they are natural.

As deceptively simple as it sounds to kick back with a bag of tasty dates and wait for your water to break, knowing the facts about the efficacy and safety of natural labor methods from a scientific perspective can help you understand the way they work and whether they’re appropriate for your situation. It’s always essential to discuss your plans with your doctor for a final go-ahead, as their informed knowledge of your pregnancy can help them steer you in the right direction. We The Parents put together a helpful visualization detailing nine of the most common natural labor induction methods to help moms understand what science has to say – read on to learn more.

Kid Safety

Cyber Safety: Is Your Family Safe?

It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Here’s some information to help families stay safe – and keep their kids safe – online.

While parents are busy building a family, supporting a household, and raising good children, one big responsibility is safety. Cyber safety has become an ongoing risk for quite some time now. A 2018 study conducted by Common Sense Media showed that 89% of teenagers have a smartphone, and 70% of teens are on social media multiple times a day. There’s no doubt the Internet is playing a huge role in our kids’ lives on a daily basis. But are you doing all you can to keep your family safe from cybercriminals? Here’s how to get started:

Protect your home network

A strong Wi-Fi connection starts with a reliable router. This connects all of your devices to the Internet. Although Wi-Fi is a necessity these days, it can also pose several risks to your home. An unsecured router could become vulnerable to hackers looking to access your private information. While installing your home Wi-Fi router, you should follow a couple of important steps to ensure it’s protecting your home network. Here are a couple tips:

  • Perform all necessary updates to your router. Not only will this help the router perform at its best, but it will keep your device free from any new threats.
  • Give your router a name (you’ll find this option in the security settings). Try to avoid anything too obviously related to you or your family (i.e. “Smith Family” “Sharon Smith Internet”) Use something basic like “xf456” or any other complex combination of letters and numbers.
  • Always disable WPS (Wi-Fi protected setup). Although this was created for an easier user experience, it’s not always the most secure option. Because the WPS uses a PIN as the login credentials, it can easily be hacked.
  • Establish a guest network. This network will give your guests their own SSID and password but will also block others from being able to access your regular network. Your original password will no longer have to be shared with guests who are in your home further keeping your network private and secure.

Arm smart devices

With the rise of smart devices, and the ability for all children to have access to them, comes the danger of the unknown threats. While children are going to and from school, friends’ houses, and any other public areas, they might be connected to Wi-Fi that is not secure. This could leave them vulnerable to being tracked, hacked, or even followed. Look into installing a VPN (virtual private network) onto your child’s devices so they are protected no matter where they are. The network establishes a private network from a public Internet connection. It also hides your browsing activity including anything you access while connected to the Internet. VPNs should be installed on all devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

Monitor screen time

Allowing children the freedom to explore the Internet can be difficult at times. With the number of anonymous people using the Internet daily, it’s imperative that parents enact smart ways to keep their children safe. Monitoring screen time is a quick way to ensure your children are being smart digital citizens while also maintaining their everyday life and responsibilities. As a parent, it’s your duty to make this screen time schedule however you’d like, but it should always be communicated with your child.

Here are some ways to monitor screen time:

  • Only allow screen time after dinner.
  • Shut off all devices by a certain time every night.
  • Lock specific games and apps from being used.
  • Only allow screen time on weekend nights.
  • Use parental controls to monitor what your kids are accessing and how they are interacting with it.

Use these tips to teach your family how to be safer while using the Internet. Focus on cybersecurity as another task to accomplish while you’re setting up your family home. Just like locking a door, never forget to lock your Internet connection to keep you and your family safe from cyber harm.

Parenting Travel

8 Travel Accessories Every Traveler Must Have in 2020

Traveling is fun, but some accessories make it even better. While you should always try to travel light, you should also pack smart. The things you carry should increase your safety and add convenience. Traveling is more comfortable when you have the travel accessories with you. 

With all the technology and design advancements, there is no reason to undergo travel hardships in 2020. Here’s our top 8 travel accessories every traveler must have in 2020.

International power adapter

We love our gadgets, don’t we? However, devices are more than fun objects. We require the gadgets to show us our way and to increase our safety during our travels. It is disappointing and frustrating if we carry a charger to another country and we can’t plug it in. 

erson holding white USB cable

Different countries have different power rules and the sockets may vary. An international power adapter is a convenient accessory. It ensures that you can connect your gadgets to a power source wherever you are.

Travel door alarm

This one is a brilliant invention. When you travel and rent places to stay, there are always keys to other people. You do not know who can access your room using the keys. The locks may or may not be secure. Travel door alarms alert the occupant about an attempt to intrude. These help keep you safe in unknown destinations. They are inexpensive and compact, therefore easily portable. You can now sleep in peace anywhere. The alarm is placed around the doorknob and rings when someone tries to enter your room. Reassure your safety with these compact, portable travel door alarms.

Camera lens for phones/tablets

All of us love to take travel pictures. The clearer they are, the better. Some of us want to preserve the memories of what we see. Some of us love posting travel pictures on social media with hashtags.

black Android smartphone capturing blue flower

We want to share our travel experiences with family and friends. We want to show them evidence that we saw something or did something particular. The camera lenses for smartphones or tablets enable us to take quality pictures. We can go back home and show off the pictures. It provides you with ample opportunities to photograph what you love. You can get these printed and frame too.

Laundry soap sheets

In the past, we have had face wash sheets. There are additions to that line in the form of laundry, shaving and body wash versions. The most interesting one is the laundry soap sheet. Once you add this sheet to water, it dissolves and produces sufficient lather. You can wash your clothes anywhere. There is no need to carry extra clothes anymore. Pack a few clothes and tuck this sheet pack in. Your clothes will be clean and will smell fantastic anywhere, anytime. You never have to worry about smelly clothes or extra luggage anymore. 

Backpack with solar panels

These are great for travelers who love to go hiking or trekking. It is such an innovative and useful design. It is sheer genius. Once you have one of these, you can rest assured you won’t ever be caught outside with a low battery or a drained gadget. The solar panels are usually detachable. Travelers can charge multiple devices. As long as the sun shines, you will have a constant power source. You don’t have to worry about charging devices even in a remote place.

Smart carry-on suitcase

Some accessories are so amazing that you won’t believe unless you see them. A smart suitcase is one such ingenious accessory. It comes with an in-built GPS which helps you locate it. Never lose your luggage or look for it at the airport ever again. 

These also have a no-lift built-in scale. You can weight it through an app! No more struggling to weigh a heavy suitcase. Remote digital lock guarantees you peace of mind wherever you are. If all those features weren’t reasons enough to get this suitcase, it also allows you to charge your devices. If there was an award for an ideal suitcase, this is the one that would receive it.

Water bottle with a built-in pill organizer

This one ensures that you have no excuse whatsoever for being dehydrated or missing your medicines. Your medicines and water travel with you with this compact and sleek water bottle. It is not only functional but also looks uber-stylish. Taking your medications never looked this cool before. It might just remind you to take your pills on time. Never be dehydrated or miss your dose ever again. These are compact enough to be carried in a purse or a hoodie. 

Packing cubes

Take your packing to the next level with the packing cubes. You can save space in your bag and even pack more stuff. These help keep your things organized on your travels. Repacking at the end of your tour also becomes easier because of these. 

This is by no means a complete list of all the amazing new travel accessories out there. But, it gives you an idea of what is possible and what is out there. If you notice, most of these are multifunctional accessories. They cater to varied needs. This is the mantra for travel accessories in 2020. Multifunctional accessories ensure that you travel light but always travel right. 

photo of assorted items on wooden table

Choose the perfect accessories for yourself, pack and you are good to go. These travel accessories will guarantee a good time on your travels. Choose accessories wisely and have a great time. 

For the time after your travel, it is a great idea to get a  scratch off map of the world. This map allows you to scratch off places that you have visited. You can display it on the wall for your family and friends to see. This kind of map keeps the joy of traveling alive long after you have reached home. Use it to plan your next adventure!

Healthy Eating Recipe Corner

Tips for Planning Meals with a Busy Schedule

Figuring out what to make can be the toughest part of putting a meal together. As a busy mom, you have a hard enough time getting everyone together for a meal, and then you don’t even know what to cook on any given night. 

This can often lead you to choose something quick and easy or you may find that you are eating the same meals repeatedly. The best solution to this problem is to start meal planning, and to look into other convenient options, like having kids meals delivered. With a little bit of planning, you can add some variety to your meals and take some of the stress out of putting them together.

If you’re not into the idea of sitting down once a week and making a formal meal plan, that is okay – you can use the following tips to help streamline the meal planning process.

Set a Time Limit

If you let meal planning take too long, it will become unmanageable. Set aside ten minutes a week to come up with seven dinner ideas. Make quick decisions about what to eat on different days and stick to your choices. If you don’t feel like planning the whole week of dinners at once, you could just give yourself a few minutes in the morning to pick a dinner idea for later that night. When you know what you are making beforehand, it will save you time and cut down on the stress that comes with preparing dinner.

Get Help from the Family

There is no reason to think that you have to make all of the decisions yourself. Get your partner and the kids involved in choosing dinners. If you assign everyone a night to pick the dinner they want to have, it will make the task easier for you. You can even set a rule that doesn’t allow anyone to pick the same meal two weeks in a row. 

Save Recipes that Work Well

Keep track of all of the recipes that work well in your meal plan. You might save some because they offer a meal that the whole family likes. In other cases, it might be a recipe that is quick and easy for the nights where you have less time. If you save all of the best recipes in one place, it will also make for a handy reference when you are trying to plan meals.

Make Extra

With some meals or food items, making extra can save time. Some meals can be frozen and then reheated as leftovers if you make twice as much the first time you cook. For basic staples like rice and pasta, you could also cook twice as much and use the leftover with a different meal later in the week. By cooking extra, you can cut down on some of the work. This is also a way to plan two nights of dinner at the same time.

Try Themed Meals

Everyone has heard of taco Tuesdays, but there are plenty of themed dinner ideas that can make your meal planning easier. You could plan a pizza night, a pasta night, or you could even do breakfast for dinner. It’s not the theme that matters –the idea is to narrow the options for that night and make it easier to pick a meal. You could even pick one night of the week that is a themed night and change the theme from week to week.

The main point to remember is that meal planning doesn’t need to be as stressful as it may seem. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll save a lot of time, no matter how busy your schedule is.


5 Nipple Care Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

As a new mother, you tend to focus completely on your baby’s needs and often forget to care for yourself. Breastfeeding is bound to cause some amount of discomfort but it shouldn’t be a source of constant pain. Ignoring nipple care, especially during the first few weeks of nursing can lead to sore, tender and even cracked nipples. Nipple care is important because it ensures that nursing is a time of bonding between you and your baby.

5 things you need to know about nipple care when breastfeeding

Your breasts will undergo several changes once you start breastfeeding. For the first few days after your baby is born, you will produce less milk (called colostrum) that is yellowish in color but within 5 days, your body will start to produce mature milk. This can will make your breasts feel fell and firm and even tender to the touch. It is during the first few weeks that you are likely to develop some amount of nipple soreness. You are also likely to experience soreness after about 6 months, when your baby starts teething. The good news is that there are several steps that you can take to prevent as well as treat sore nipples while breastfeeding.

Get a good latch

A poor latch results in poor milk transfer which will cause your baby to suckle harder which will lead to sore and cracked nipples. Make sure that your baby latches on correctly as this will minimize nipple discomfort while breastfeeding. To ensure that your little one gets a good latch, aim your nipple towards the roof of your baby’s mouth when his mouth is wide open so that he latches on to your nipple as well as the area around it (areola). Lasting pain or a pinching sensation is an indication of a poor latch so when this happens place a clean finger into your baby’s mouth to help him latch on correctly.

Avoid soap and shower gel

The small bumps on your areolas (called Montgomery tubercles) are sebaceous glands that help to moisturize and protect your nipples. Soaps and gels can strip your skin of these natural oils and can cause further irritation to cracked nipples so avoid using them on your nipples. The skin on your nipples is thin and delicate so be very gentle when cleaning them. Rubbing your nipples to “toughen” them up is an old wives tale and should be avoided at all costs. Wash your nipples with warm running water and then dab them gently with a towel or let them air dry.

Use homemade nipple creams

As any nursing mum will tell you, nipple cream is an absolute must-have! Constant breastfeeding can leave your nipples sore, dry and even cracking. A nipple cream helps to soothe your chaffed nipples and keeps your skin soft and moisturized. However, some of the most popular nipple creams available in the market today contain ingredients that can cause respiratory distress, vomiting and diarrhea in infants. You can make your own nipple balm by crushing calendula flowers in a little olive oil. Apply this mixture to your nipples after nursing and about an hour before your shower. Olive oil prevents drying and cracking while calendula will help to soothe inflamed skin. Use this homemade nipple cream on a daily basis to reduce nipple irritation.

Apply breast milk to your nipples

Breast milk contains 3-5% fat so applying it to your nipples after each feed will help to keep your skin soft and prevent cracking. Researchers found that women who applied their own breast milk to their nipples experienced less irritation and quicker healing compared to women who used lanolin – the most common ingredient in nipple care products. Apply a little breast milk to your nipples after nursing and then rinse your nipples and let them air dry just before your baby’s next feed.

Express a little milk before nursing

Babies can suckle quite vigorously at the start of a feed in an attempt to increase the flow of milk. This increases nipple soreness and can even be downright painful. A simple way to prevent this problem is to express a little milk right before you breastfeed your baby. This will help to increase milk flow which means that your baby will not suckle as vigorously. You can also apply a warm compress  to your breasts before nursing as this helps the milk to flow. Apply a cold compress right after a feed to reduce soreness and swelling.

Breastfeeding offers several health benefits from a lowered risk of asthma and allergies to fewer bouts of ear infection, diarrhea and respiratory infections. Researchers also found that breastfeeding can decrease the severity of pneumonia in children under 1 year. Some studies indicate that breastfeeding may also be linked to higher IQ levels later on in life. Breastfeeding is an important part of your child’s growth and development so take steps to ensure that nursing is a pain-free experience for both you and your baby.

Making Memories Travel

Sharing Quebec and History

14 years ago when I went with my Alfred University French class on a spring break trip to Quebec City and Montreal, arriving in Quebec City was a magical experience. It was like being transported to old world Europe. I’d been to Europe on my honeymoon, but Quebec was magical for me. My ancestors had helped to found the area; two of my ancestors were Filles du Roi (women from France selected by the king to help settle the province and grow the population), and my 5x-great- grandfather Nicolas Roussin, was one of the 20 founding colonists of L’Ange Gardien, a small village north of Quebec City that was settled in 1603.

So coming to Quebec was like coming home.

Today, I finally had the opportunity to share the experience with my kids and husband. We wandered the old port area, talked about how much snow was still there despite it being April, listened to the church bells ring out, and ate at a lovely bistro with a view of the Chateau de Frotenac and the statue of Champlain.

It was so much fun to share with my family. I realized that my ancestors were made of heartier stock than I am, to be able to live and survive in such a snowy, cold climate.

We spent the afternoon sharing a movie, cooked dinner in, and enjoyed the time together.

Tomorrow, we head to Montreal,  our home away from home.

Making Memories Travel

Perfect Imperfection

I am in Quebec City, a place I have not been for 14 years, since taking a trip with my French class. It was quite significant that I was able to go on that trip, as a non-traditional student with five kids at home. It remains one of the best memories of my time at Alfred University.

It was that same trip where I fell in love with Montreal, and I’ve taken my family back to that city a dozen times or more. But Quebec City is a longer drive from home – 9 hours – so we’ve never come up. The one time we came close, when I was off traipsing through graveyards buried in snow to find my ancestors, we couldn’t figure out how to get in.

So I’m here. In an AirBnB in a quiet neighborhood in Quebec City, the heart of Europe in North America.

And from yesterday’s tears comes today’s near-perfection. The drive was uneventful and quite lovely. We’d stayed in Watertown the night before so that today’s drive would be more manageable, so we were only 5-1/2 hours on the road.

We listened to great music. We talked. We dozed (not Dave, who was driving). We stopped for lunch and discovered a fun little place in Drummondville called Scores that has the best chicken sandwiches.  You could feel the tension draining from all of us.

We navigated into the city with no trouble and found our place and parking with no trouble. After getting settled in we discovered that the IGA was just 490 meters away, so we walked over, bought some ice, cheese, croissants, chocolatines, and of course, some Quebon (the best chocolate milk in the world). As we were walking back to the place, we decided it would be more fun to eat in, so Dave and Anika walked back, grabbed the sausages we’d been salivating over, some salad, and a still-warm baguette.

We sat together at the table, talking about anything and everything. It was a perfect moment, one I will cherish.

After dinner, we listened to music and played SkipBo. And we talked more.

This is one of those rare days where everything felt right. I went to bed happy, hoping this is sign of things to come on this adventure.