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Apr 30 2013

Playing the Baby Competition Game

By at 12:42 pm

tara filowitz babyCharly’s turning 9 months old next week–she’s been in the world longer then she was growing in my belly!

Now that I’m back at work full time, it feels like months are literally zipping by. I’m trying to treasure every moment, but everything is starting to become a big blur. It feels like any moment I’ll have to start planning her first birthday (and I’ll admit, I’ve already been filling up my Pinterest board with ideas). Every day she grows cuter and cuter, does more and more new things, and finds new ways keeps us on our toes. With four little teeth coming in and her finally mastering the art of crawling, I tend to think my baby is AMAZING!

Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 26 2013

When Being with Your Baby is Like Being Alone

By at 11:50 am

mom and baby in strollerYesterday afternoon I ran some errands with my baby. Being as I live in a neighborhood where it sometimes feels like I know everyone, I bumped into a friend. She asked where I was headed. I explained that I was out doing errands alone since my almost-4-year-old daughter was at dance class.

My friend looked at me, looked down at the baby cooing up at her from his stroller, and looked back at me again. “You know you’ve got the baby, right?” she asked. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 24 2013

Why “Bet on Your Baby” is Bad for the Babies

By at 4:15 pm

baby watching baby on tv

Were you among the millions who tuned in to watch  ABC’s new primetime show Bet on Your Baby, which premiered earlier this month with 2.36 million viewers? This past Saturday the show increased its audience by 17%, with 2.92 million viewers. But it’s actually one show you shouldn’t be watching.

Bet on Your Baby is a game show with the vibe of a real-time America’s Funniest Home Videos. Five families appear in each episode. The parents come out one after another to chat with comedian hostess Melissa Peterman before deciding who will lead their child in a task inside something called the “Babydome.” After all the families compete for a chance to win a $5,000 scholarship, one representative parent comes back out to solve a puzzle for the chance to win a full college scholarship (valued at $50,000–which likely won’t cover a year of college by the time these tots are ready). Then those parents can smash up to five piggy banks to find the largest dollar amount possible. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 4 2012

Two Isn’t So Bad, Really

By at 4:13 pm

You know who’s screwed Jordana, you are!

black and white photo of tamara's sons

Via Tamara Reese

I had a lot of fears about my firstborn’s reaction to a new baby. We did everything we could to prepare him and I believe much of it was a success, particularly the “big brother” books that we read at ad nauseum. We’ve been especially diligent at pointing out what Big Brother can do that baby cannot.

That being said, it’s been a rough month over here.

My firstborn, now 2 and a half, refused to eat our first week home from the hospital. He’d pick at the occasional carbohydrate here and there but showed his displeasure through exerting control over what went into his mouth. That passed and now mealtime is accompanied by tantrums and food throwing. Yay.

And then there’s sleep. A first he went to bed at a reasonable hour and then had a nice 4 a.m. wake up where I was trying to juggle two crying boys. The past few weeks, we put him down for bed and he stays up in his crib until well past midnight talking, screaming, playing, calling for me and claiming to have poop in his diaper (which turned out to be true only once).

The only upside is that he’s still in a crib and hasn’t attempted to climb out (knock on wood).

Read the rest of this entry →

“Hey Kiddo, I’m Your Dad”

By at 9:23 am
Boaz Harel

Boaz and his daughter

I can clearly remember the first time I made a decision as a parent. It was around 1:30 am on October 22, 2011, the night my daughter was born.

I had just arrived at the nursery of the hospital, pushing in front of me a little rolling cradle with an incredibly tiny new person inside. Mine, they told me, though she definitely felt alien.

I had held her in my arms and welcomed her into the world not fifteen minutes earlier, but somehow it still didn’t feel real. I guess after 30 hours without sleep, nothing really does. I had actually wanted to simply carry my child to the nursery in my arms, but the hospital wouldn’t have it. The delivery rooms were on the eighth floor, and the nursery on the third, and they weren’t taking any chances on new parents dropping their kids on the way down. Annoying, but I had to concede the point. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 3 2012

How to Name a Child

By at 12:12 pm
Tamara Reese's Baby

Naming a Jewish child comes with much responsibility

Naming another human being is a tremendous obligation.

It is the first of many duties of a parent and the name you choose will grace your child from the moment they are born. It is how you as parents will come to know your baby and how his friends will eventually call to him on the playground.

Naming a Jewish child comes with added responsibility. A boy’s Hebrew name will be spoken by his parents during prayer and blessing. It is the name by which he will be called by the Rabbi to the bimah on his Bar Mitzvah and the one his wife will lovingly commit to under the chuppah. And, God wiling, after a long, fruitful life, that same name will be whispered in Yahrzeit by his children and grandchildren.

One of the main sources of inspiration we use when naming our children, for both their Hebrew and English (secular) names, is a family tree. My husband and I both come from diverse backgrounds and we feel compelled to give our children meaningful names that reflect what we have passed on both historically and genetically. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 14 2012

Girl Gone Wild

By at 10:20 am

outlet on purple wallHoly sh!t.

I’ve thought this, or its equivalent, approximately 980 times a day in the past few weeks. Why? Because my baby is on the move.

I’m not talking about the one comfortably ensconced in my uterus. Thankfully, she seems to be doing well in there. Occasionally, I feel her burp or hiccup or whatever the heck she does all the time. Since this is my fourth kid, we’re well past those idyllic days I remember with the first fetus–you know, where you lovingly put your hand over your belly and feel the movements, where you have your husband bend over and talk to and sing to the little tadpole. Yeah, that ship has sailed. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 5 2012

Swooshing Vertical Blinds, Crinkling Paper, And Other Things My Daughter Taught Me

By at 9:04 am

As new parents, we assume all the responsibility for teaching lies with us; in many ways it does. After all, we’ve lived longer than our babies. We know how water faucets and doors work. The flip-side of familiarity, of course, is blindness and the chance to be distracted and bogged down by the petty and unimportant.

The beauty of a new baby is the opportunity to be excited by swooshing vertical blinds and crinkling paper all over again. Everything thrills and deserves study, and if you’re lucky to have a teacher like my Lila, you find you can learn plenty.

1. First things first, second things never. Lila is a cheerful baby, recognizable by her ear-to-ear grin. However, if she misses a nap or has to wait too long to eat – say, while we’re driving somewhere – her sweet temper can be displaced by miserable screaming. So, we’ve learned to stay focused on what matters. Every day, I concentrate on ensuring that Lila naps and eats, according to her body’s schedule. With that, everything else hums along.

2. Every day is special. I never liked mornings, but now, it’s a treat to see and hold Lila, who always flashes her smile. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Monday or a Friday. Every day is another opportunity to play. Be grateful for every day.

3. Lead with a smile. Smiling is infectious. There’s nothing like seeing Lila beaming to make grumpy commuters smile at us on the Metro. More effective than department store make-up, a smile lights up your face and distracts people from any raccoon eyes spawned by late nights.

4. Be persistent. The best way to master a new skill is to practice relentlessly. As adults, we sometimes forget that it takes time to become expert. Lila charmingly has no such expectations for herself. When she decided she wanted to move across the living room, she started with Plank Pose and jumped forward stiffly (a new Yoga pose I dubbed “Flying Plank”). From there, she progressed to scooting and crawling, all at her own pace. If you want to develop a flair for something, practice without an eye on the clock.

5. Develop resilience. Life involves hardship; there’s no avoiding it. Our best solution is become resilient, which Lila is already doing. I marvel, as I watch her practice standing, inevitably tipping over, often backwards, and sometimes headfirst into a table leg. Occasionally she cries – mostly seeming startled – but she’s always lunges right back toward the box or chair, pulling herself up yet again. Don’t let trips and falls ruffle your feathers; keep going.

6. Push your limits. Everyone has a comfort zone, and leaving it is hard. However, it can also be fun. Lila amuses by constantly finding new things to try and explore. Her latest athletic invention is leaping off the My Brest Friend pillow post-feeding onto the couch, then crawling to the other end and peering over the curved edge, giggling all the way. If I weren’t fast on my feet, she’d leap onto the floor too. Look beyond the edges of your known world. That way may lie fun.

7. Be joyful. Nothing makes Lila happier than singing. When she cries, it’s the fastest remedy, and when she’s happy, there’s nothing more likely to elicit squeals of joy, except maybe dancing. Having an audience makes both singing and dancing more fun, and both add lightness to any day. Sing or dance daily; music makes even the gloomiest day brighter.

8. Be a change agent. Presumably, there are things you don’t like about your life. The question is what you do about them. Lila has already decided to be proactive. While she still can’t vote with her feet, she has already learned to remove herself from situations she dislikes. For example, increasingly, diaper and wardrobe changes involve Lila’s rolling or crawling away. I know she’d rather be tugging at wires in the wall or pulling the doorstop to hear it vibrating. So, I persist, trying mightily to quickly finish the change at hand, but so does Lila. If there’s something you dislike, move on or try to change it.

These are important lessons for a parent, and I envision many more to come. After all, Lila still can’t speak. If she could, I imagine she’d quote Rabbi Hillel, citing him as her personal inspiration: “I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.”

Oct 12 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: Ack! My 4-month-old Won’t Sleep

By at 12:47 pm

If this isn't what's happening in your house, it's time to talk to Batya.

Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to

Dear Batya,

My child is screaming upstairs as I write this.

My 4.5 month old has been very good about going to sleep. He nurses during naps, at night, and every two or three hours during the night. He sleeps with us, so we just lie down together and then once he is asleep I sneak away. Just this week, he started nursing for a few minutes and then pops off and starts babbling. He does this during naps and night time. He didn’t really take a good nap today or yesterday. I adore him and would much rather play with him than clean up the kitchen, but the child needs to sleep. So I am trying to let him cry himself to sleep (thanks for the suggestion, Mom). It feels terrible and I’m having a glass of Manischewitz. No joke.

Our ideal situation would be that my husband or myself could get Abraham ready for bed, help him wind down, and then put him in his crib (we’d like our bed back for at least part of the night…) and then he would sleep with minimal fussing for more than three hours. I know it won’t happen overnight, but maybe by the time he goes to college? Maybe sooner?

Hi Vicki,

First of all, you can definitely teach him to become a better sleeper…before he goes off to college! There is typically sleep regression at 4 months of age, so it’s not surprising that he suddenly has decided to fight sleep.

The most important thing to address first is a consistent routine to prevent his overtiredness. Here is an example of a schedule that may work for you both:

6:30 – Wake and Breast milk or Formula
7:45 – Nap
8:15-8:45 – Breast milk or Formula
9:45 – 10:00 – Nap
10:45 – 11:15 – Breast milk or Formula
11:45 – 12:00 – Nap
1:15 – 1:45 – Breast milk or Formula
2:00 – Nap
3:45 – 4:15 – Breast milk or Formula
4:45 – Nap
5:45 – Begin bedtime routine
6:00 – Breast milk or Formula
6:15 – Bedtime (aim to have him asleep by this time)

Additionally, he will still probably need 1-3 night feedings as well.

Once you’ve guided him into a routine, you can then begin to gradually teach him how to fall asleep on his own so he won’t need you to nurse him all the time, only to have him pop back up and want to hang out! There are many methods that work, but are really dependent on his temperament and how he responds to stimuli. Therefore, if you’re uncomfortable with Crying It Out (which it seems you are…and I doubt the Manischewitz is easily solving this problem!), try a gentler approach. You can begin by placing him in his crib after bedtime, when he’s in a calm, relaxed, mellow state. Once he is used to being in his crib, you can help him fall asleep without picking him up, but using other means (holding his hand, rubbing his belly, singing to him, etc.). As the nights progress he will gradually fall asleep more quickly and easily and you can then begin helping him less and less until he’s more or less learned how to self-soothe.

Contact Batya and mention you saw her on Kveller for a free phone consultation!


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