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Sep 25, 2011

How to Throw a Baby Shower on a Budget

So, you want to host a great party, but you have limited funds. Can it be done? The answer is ABSOLUTELY!!!

There are numerous ways that you can cut costs when planning a shower. Perhaps the easiest way is to split the hostess duties among several friends. Homemade
food, favors, and invitations are another way to make things less expensive. The time of day you have the shower may also influence the cost. A mid-afternoon party with cake, punch, and light snacks is much less expensive than a dinner or a spa afternoon. Having the party at a restaurant may be less expensive if the guests all know each other and are willing to pay for their own meals. This may be somewhat awkward, though, so it definitely is a plan that will only fit certain situations.

Handmade invitations are a very easy way to cut corners. With a computer, a printer, and cardstock or specialty paper, you can make invitations that will look practically professional. Or you can choose to make a crafty invitation that perfectly complements your theme. Another option for invitations is to email invitations. Sites like sendomatic allow you to send invitations and maps, track responses, and even send weather reports for the big day for less than $15 dollars for 100 invitations. Sending email invitations saves on the purchase of invitations, as well as the postage.

Food for a shower can be very simple. If you have an early afternoon party that falls after lunch but before dinner, you can serve cake, punch, mints, nuts, and perhaps a fruit tray very inexpensively. The presentation is often more important than the actual food that is served. Use nice bowls and silver for a formal atmosphere. If you do not have crystal or silver, you can usually get plastic that looks like crystal and silver and will still look nice. Finger sandwiches also add an elegant touch and are inexpensive and easy to prepare. If you want a more casual feel to the shower, a vegetable platter and chips and dips are always welcome. Or get everyone in on the act and ask each person attending to bring a snack. You might want to have a sign up sheet, though, so that you don't end up with 5 bags of chips.

Believe it or not, even if you don't consider yourself a baker, there are several alternatives to expensive bakery cakes. Cupcakes are very easy, and sugar or plastic decorations in baby themes are fairly easy to find. You can also use frosting to "glue" small plastic baby decorations to the tops of Little Debbie snack cakes. These are precious, and they look like you spent a lot of time. Another option is to skip the traditional decorated cake, altogether, and go for individual cheesecakes (easy to make in muffin tins) or a delicious chocolate cake (make sure that the mom-to-be isn't avoiding chocolate first). Cookies can make a great sweet treat also, and there are some really cute cookie cutters readily available. Finally, if you think you can make and frost a rectangular cake but are concerned about trying to do fancy decorations, you can find edible cake art images online. These are easy to apply to the top of the cake, and they are the same images used by bakeries.

Many of the games and activities for a baby shower are free. There are printouts available online if you want to play games like bingo. While party favors are a nice touch for a shower, they certainly are not necessary. A personal thank you, in person or written, is all that is necessary to thank the guests for attending.

Throwing a baby shower is a wonderfully generous thing to do. It does not, however, have to break the bank. Remember, the most important thing when hosting a shower is to create wonderful memories for your friend. Years from now she will remember the laughter and the thoughtfulness of her friends more than she will remember fancy favors or expensive cakes.

About the Author

Jill Manty is a stay at home and co-owner of www.delightfulchild.com, an online business dedicated to providing information about baby showers, breastfeeding, and natural parenting.

Sep 8, 2011

Baby Names - Choosing Trendy or Traditional

Lists of baby names are always fun to look at, whether you're seeking a name for your soon-to-be-born baby boy or baby girl, wondering about the popularity of your own first name, or just curious about what baby names are currently hot.

What I find particularly interesting is tracking the popularity of baby names over the decades. In looking through U.S. government baby name lists from 1880 to the present, some amusing patterns emerge, particularly in regards to baby names for girls.

For example, in Victorian times Biblical names, such as Mary, Sarah and Ruth were very popular for baby girls. There were also many baby names that sounded very old-fashioned to me, as a kid growing up in the 1960s, including names like Martha, Alice, Bertha and Minnie.

From the 1920s to the 1950s certain baby names rose in popularity. For example, I went to school with many Susans, Debbies, Patricias, and Lindas. All of these baby names have since waned, to be replaced, by the 1980s, with fancier names such as Jennifer, Jessica and Nicole. When I was a children's librarian in the 1980s my preschool storyhours were populated with little girls named Lauren and Jenny, and little boys named Alex and Matthew.

More recently there's been a lot of renewed interest in more "old-fashioned" baby names like Hannah, Abigail and Ethan, plus many Biblical names such as Sarah, Rachel, Joshua, Jacob, and Samuel. There's also been a surge in nontraditional baby names including Madison, Ashley and Brianna for baby girls, and Brandon and Logan for baby boys.

It's interesting to consider the whys and wherefores of such developments. Sometimes, I suspect, the popularity of a specific actor or fictional character might result in many babies with a particular name. For example, were some of the Lauras born in the 1970s and 1980s given a name suggested by older brothers and sisters who were growing up watching "Little House on the Prairie ?" Were some attributable to the super popular Laura of "General Hospital" fame ?

Today Madison is a very highly ranked baby name for girls (ranking number 3 in 2003) but, when the film "Splash" came out in 1984, Tom Hanks' character told Daryl Hannah's character that Madison was not a bona fide first name.

While baby girls' names seem quite subject to the whims of fashion and the top ten lists can change radically over time, I've noticed that, in general, the top baby names for boys remain far more stable. Names like John, William and James are perennials, perhaps because baby boys are often named for their fathers, perpetuating the popularity of certain baby names from generation to generation. The "Junior" factor aside, baby boys are also less apt to be given fanciful names.

When naming a baby there are, of course, many other points to consider besides how popular or unique a name is. Here are some helpful tips that you can use with your other children to get them involved in choosing a name for the new baby and to make the process fun:

1. Baby names need to go nicely with the sound of your last name. Also, pick a first name and a middle name that go together well. (So maybe not something like Erasmus Beelzebub Smith !)

2. When your family finds a name you all like, look at the initials to be sure that you don't give the new baby a name with initials that will make people laugh. (So maybe not Pamela Iris Green, which equals P.I.G. !)

3. You might not want a baby name that is so unusual that the other kids will make fun of your little brother or sister as he or she grows up. (So maybe not Rosebud or Molasses !)

4. You also might not want a baby name that is so trendy that it will sound funny by the time the baby is ten years old. (So maybe not Sunshine !)

5. You probably shouldn't pick a name that's really cute for an adorable little baby but will sound silly when the baby grows up. (So maybe not Dimples !)

6. Avoid baby names that might produce insulting nicknames when people shorten them. (So maybe not Smellonius, or Smelly for short !)

7. You and your family might not want a name that is so hard to spell or to pronounce that people will always get it wrong and your poor little brother or sister will have to go through life correcting people. (So maybe not something like Incandescence, or is it Incandessints ? )

8. You and your family might want to pick baby names in honor of favorite relatives or ancestors, or special names that show your family's ethnic roots. You might even find a special name from a book or movie that you love. (Like Harry ?)

9. You might want to look through books of baby names and pick one that has a special meaning that you like - maybe something that means "sweet" or "kind" or "brave." (So maybe not wimp !)

10. You might want to think about names that will go nicely with your name and your other brothers' and sisters' names, so that if mom or dad are calling you all for dinner or signing a birthday card to grandma it won't sound too crazy.
(So maybe not "Happy Birthday, Grandma ! Love, Joey, Cindy and Dweevo !")

There are hundreds of names waiting for you out there, so good luck on your search for the perfect name !

Visit Barbara Freedman-DeVito's website at http://www.childrensclothingbabyclothes.com for baby clothes, children's clothing and gift items decorated with her colorful and amusing artwork for kids. Barbara is a professional storyteller, teacher and artist.

Baby Bedding Information for your all your Nursery Furniture

When you choose a baby bedding, choose the one which can guarantee optimum baby bedding safety and coziness to your baby. The best fabric for the baby would be 100 percent cotton. Below are descriptions of the different types of nursery bedding for each type of furniture.

Crib Bedding:

Until the baby is one or one and a half years old, the crib is its ideal bed. Cribs are of many different types, but they all need to be strong and durable. You could choose a standard crib, or go for a more expensive one such as a convertible or portable crib which would be ideal for traveling. It is best to always choose a crib from a reputable company.

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Bassinet bedding:

Bassinets are suitable for the baby for the first 3 or 4 months. A perfect bassinet will have a soft cuddly mattress, a small little pillow and a blanket. A bassinet should be made of soft material with preferably the color blending with the baby’s room.

Cradle bedding:

Cradles have a lovely rocking motion which makes sure that the baby gets a sound sleep. Light colored cradles are preferred by parents because they look nice and you can notice when they get wet.

Baby blankets:

Baby blankets should be of soft material and must be non toxic. Today there are many types of blankets to choose from that will be soft, smooth, and pleasant smelling with attractive and eye pleasing colors.

Bedding for the baby could be different for a boy or a girl. They could be gender neutral as well. The color combination and the cute looking cartoons are common to both the gender.

Normally for the girls, the baby bedding is replete with shades of pink, light blue and purples. A baby girl’s bed is laid out like a princess. A baby boy’s bed is sport oriented. You could see baby bedding for boys themed around superheroes, WWE personalities or baseball stars. The colors tend to be darker and bolder for boys.

As pointed out above, it is not a hard and fast rule for the baby bedding to be in a certain set of preferences for baby boys and girls. In fact you will see a lot of neutral nursery bedding themes with regard to cartoons like Disney or Popeye characters or cute animations.

The kids are too small to understand the difference about having gender specific cartoons and animals and they are attracted to anything which pleases their eyes and make them smile. It is just that when they get a little older, little boys would feel a little awkward having his bed done in pinks and pastels.

When baby girls grow older, their beds could have blinds with the curtains hanging on rods above. This gives the bed somewhat a princess bed kind of appearance. Not that the girls would be complaining!

Bedding is one interesting avenue where there are a lot of options in store for the parent from choosing the kind and texture of sheets, the choice of colors and baby bedding patterns.

While purchasing a baby bed it is up to you if you choose a gender neutral baby bed or something which would make her feel like a princess or make him feel like a superhero.

© Copyright Randy Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

Randy is owner of http://www.planning-a-baby-shower.com where you will find further tips on baby showers and baby shower games.

Welcome an Adopted Baby into the Family with an Adoption Bab

The addition of a new child to a family is a wonderous occasion! An adopted baby is just as much a miracle as any other and should be celebrated as such.

And all babies need “stuff”, even an adopted child, so having an adoption baby shower for this child is not only acceptable, but necessary.

There are some differences you should consider when attempting to plan this a baby shower for adoption. You will need to know the age of the adopted child first of all. Some couples may have adopted a baby, but others may have adopted a toddler or older child.

You will also want to find out if the family wants to celebrate the baby shower for adoption before or after the baby/child is adopted.

For infants, the
basic necessities, such as diapers, clothing, feeding items, and nursery décor are appropriate for adoption baby showers. The parents-to-be of an adopted baby/child should register for baby shower gifts just the same as any other parents.

Though it is rare, some adoptive mothers are able to breastfeed their infants, so you should take care to find out what this mom-to-be will be doing. If she will be bottle feeding the baby, gifts of baby formula will be helpful, though you may want to wait to find out what type of formula she will be using, since there are so many.

Some families choose to acknowledge the adopted baby’s birth mother in some way. In some cases, they have formed a close bond with the birth mother and may choose to include her in the adoption baby shower festivities.

Or they may want to give the birth mother a gift. Discuss with the parents (tactfully, since it is a delicate subject) if this is their wish. Then consider asking guests to bring a gift to the adoption baby shower for the birth mother.

Because this baby is adopted and the mom-to-be is not pregnant, stay away from any maternity-type games at the adoption baby shower, like “how big is Mom’s tummy” or any other such games. You can however, play games to guess the baby’s sex or birth date (if they have not yet been born) for adoption baby showers.

It is important to know the age of the child being adopted in order to know what types of baby shower gifts to purchase. Buying rattles and baby booties for a 3 year-old is not helpful to Mom and Dad!

Parents can still register for an older child at any retailer that has a baby registry for the baby shower. Make sure you have an idea of not only the child’s age, but also what size clothing they wear.

For families adopting an older child, a fun idea is to have a “welcome” party for the child after he or she comes home. Find out the child’s sex, age and what toys or types of entertainment they like.

Randy is owner of http://www.planning-a-baby-shower.com where you will find further tips on baby showers and baby shower games.

Baby Shower Recipes

Baby shower recipes are available on the Internet and in various cook books. It is a great idea to have a wide variety of snacks, drinks, and desserts since people enjoy so many different things. Most people who are planning a baby shower plan a few simple appetizers. Some juice, pop, perhaps a punch, and some desserts such as cake and cookies. Try to stick to the baby shower theme and basic flavors and your culinary work will be appreciated by all that attend.

There are cook books at your local book store that offer great ideas for baby shower recipes. There are many cook books that guide you through entertaining a variety of occasions, not only baby showers. Some of these parties could be bridal showers, Halloween parties, and holiday entertaining, not just baby shower parties.

One of the tastiest treats at a baby shower is baby shower punch. This type of baby shower punch is quite delicious and always alcohol free. The new or expectant mother would surely like to enjoy some as well! There are many different types of baby shower punch recipes. Some of the most delicious we’ve tried for a baby shower are as simple as orange juice, Sprite, and orange sorbet.

If you do a search on the Internet for baby shower punch recipes you are sure to find many baby shower recipes to choose from.

If you prefer, you can always have some white wine or champagne on hand to add to each cup of the punch. Be sure to check with the new mom if this is okay with her.

Baby cake is another must-have treat at a baby shower. A baby shower cake can be any sort of cake that you choose, shaped into a baby-type shape. This can be anything really, but the most popular shapes for baby showers are bottles, diaper pins, and teddy bears. Chocolate or vanilla are the most popular type of cake used to make a baby cake. You can do something a little different though with black forest, angel food, or marble cake for your baby shower.

Of course there is the other type of baby cake. It is essentially a gift basket containing items for the new parents and baby. These are usually referred to as baby diaper cakes or just simply a diaper cake.

Appetizers are also a must at a baby shower. You should have a variety of different types. Be sure to have some vegetarian ones since many people don’t eat meat these days. Keep in mind that seafood allergies, especially to shellfish are also common.

A great type of appetizer is baked brie. This is always a hit at baby showers and so easy to make. All you need is a round of brie placed into a baking dish. Place garlic cloves and sun dried tomatoes on top and bake at a medium temperature for approximately 15 minutes. It should melt nicely and the cloves of garlic should be soft. This goes well with crackers or baguette rounds for your baby shower party.

Some other baby shower recipes could be finger sandwiches, crackers and cheese, spinach dip, veggie plates, and fruit plates. If you are expecting a large crowd to show up you may want to consider asking some close family members to help with the baby shower food. Making all these appetizers may sound simple, but if you are planning baby shower food for 20 or so people you could be in the kitchen for hours.

The Internet is a great resource for finding help and guidance for all of your baby shower planning.

© Copyright Randy Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Randy has dozens more baby shower related articles such as Baby Shower Centerpieces,Free Baby Shower Games and Baby Clipart.

Baby Shower Invitations

The best baby shower invitations ideas are both practical and sentimental. Plan your baby shower the way you would any other celebration, starting with the baby shower invitation. Invitations let everyone know the details of the upcoming event. The baby shower invitations set the tone and the theme for the event. Everyone gets excited when they see a baby shower invitation arrive in the mail. Again, the best baby shower invitations are beautiful, simple, and informative.

The first thing you need to do before you order invitations or make your own baby shower invitations is to decide on the theme of your party! You can choose from baby shower invitations ideas like teddy bears, ducks, baby bottles and diaper pins. And what colors do you want? Blue for boys, pink for girls, or yellow and green for the baby yet unseen?

You need to consider the mother’s personal style. Would she prefer bright and bold or subdued and sweet? If you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to get some input from those who know her best. Most of all what kind of baby shower invitations ideas would she like best? That’s the thing that will be saved in the baby scrapbook for the rest of the child’s life. After all, as much fun as it is for you to plan the baby shower, it is the mother and child who will cherish the special, once in a lifetime memory forever. So, plan well!

Once you have decided the theme for your baby shower party. Designing the baby shower invitation is the first step in letting all the family, friends and co-workers know. So you want to make a great first impression. Using the baby shower invitations ideas will help make everything run smoothly, and that’s the impression you want to give.

Now let’s get on with it, because those baby shower invitations need to be sent out weeks in advance to allow everyone time to shop for the perfect baby gifts and make travel plans if necessary. And you’ve got to figure in printing and delivery time as well. There is no time to waste.

You’ve finally chosen your theme, colors and you’re confident you know the mother’s style. What important details should be included? First and foremost is the date and time of the event and the location. You may consider including a map to the location if necessary for out of town guests. Include the RSVP information and the places where mother and baby are registered.

If the event is open to the guys, you need to say so. Otherwise, they will assume that this is a ladies only event. But having the guys around can be great fun! Don’t rule it out as a possibility.

Once you think you’ve got the details of the baby shower invitation down pat, it’s time to decide whether you should create them yourself or look for a printer. Creating baby invitations yourself is always an option, but you may decide it’s worth paying an expert for their services.

They can help you make decisions about baby shower invitations ideas you may be less familiar with. Like font colors, paper styles, baby shower invitation wording, and matching accessories like envelopes, thank you notes, and baby birth announcements.

If you decide to use a professional printing service, make sure you know what you’re paying for up front. Let them know your budget, but be aware that they will try to add on services. Know before you go into the sale exactly what you will and will not pay for.

Do you really want to pay for embossing or engraving or custom design? Do you want the heavier paper with accent ribbon that will cost more postage to mail as well as take longer to print and deliver? There are lots of choices for you and a little time spent in researching your options and asking good questions will go a long way and possibly save you money.

Whatever you decide, make the mother to be a special keepsake with these wonderful baby shower invitations ideas. Perhaps frame an invitation and display it at the baby shower, and then let her take it home as a gift. Or find a picture of the expectant mother. Then tuck it along with the baby invitation into a new baby scrapbook.

This will help get her started in saving all of her precious memories. She will be touched by your thoughtfulness. This is a special time in the mother’s life, and you will be appreciated for all that you do to welcome the newborn into the world.

© Copyright Randy Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Randy is owner of http://www.planning-a-baby-shower.com where you will find further tips onbaby showers and baby shower games.

How to Choose a Car Seat That Meets The Needs of Your Baby

There are many types of car seats available on the market today. In order to be able to make an informed decision it is best to check out car seat manufacturers. You can also check any consumer guide for information on recalls, seats that have been crash tested, the best type of restraint systems for your child. Before that even starts be aware of the fact that there are many types of car seats. The choice you make will be based on your prior research and your child's needs. A note of caution: before you purchase a car seat check the manufacture's recommendations and be sure the seat is compatible with your vehicle.

One type of car seat is the infant only car seat. This seat comes with a detachable base, comes with higher weight and height limits, harness slots that will help to change the seat from rear facing to front facing. The multiple slots can be adjusted to fit your baby. They also have handles that can be folded down while the child is in the car. They can be raised to make carrying your baby easier.

Convertible car seats are bigger and heavier and may not be appropriate for some newborns. The reclining position and ease of adjusting the harness are important assets. A convertible seat can be used rear facing for most newborns and front facing for older babies over twenty pounds. The American Pediatric Association recommends a child stay rear facing until s/he reaches the maximum weight and height listed by the manufacturer. The straps and are adjustable to a child's size, the seat should be moved to the proper position for the weight and height of your baby. The seat belt should be threaded through the seat belt path.

Forward facing seats cannot be used in the rear facing position. They are only for children over a year old and over twenty pounds. They can be used with either a lap only or lap/shoulder belt system.

Combination seats also cannot be used in the rear facing position and are also only for babies over a year and over twenty pounds. It has an internal harness for children whose weight is between forty and fifty pounds. It can convert to a belt position booster seat by removing the harness for larger children. They can be used with lap only or lap/shoulder belts.

Booster seats come in different types. Some come with shield boosters that are padded bars that lock into position much like the handlebars on carnival rides. There are booster seats that come with a high back to support your child as s/he rides in a car. Some booster car seats are built into vans and some cars. Check with your vehicle manufacturer to be sure the seat will accommodate your child's size. There are travel vests that attach to the seats with lap only belts.

Now that you know the types of car seats, there are things that must be considered in order to ensure the safety of your baby. Is the seat safe? How did it fare in crash testing? Is the restraint system easy to manipulate? If they are difficult to buckle your child in or remove him from the seat your child's safety could be compromised. In an accident, a sudden stop, or quick swerve will the seat hold your child? If the seat moves in any way in these situations your baby could be at risk. The car seat should attach snugly to the seat if properly installed. With seats that have multiple belt slots to accommodate your child be sure you use the right one. The belt should be at your child's shoulder level or just above.

Most newer car seats come with the LATCH (lower anchor and tethers for children) system. Installation is supposed to be easier but they are difficult to use and are not always safe. Parents complain that upon installing seats with this system there is too much slack, the seats have a tendency to move or slide out of position. In an emergency situation this could have seriously disastrous results. A company has created a tool called Mighty Tite that is used to pull in the slack and it has been safety tested and is recommended.

As previously stated check consumer guides and online sites for recalls. This is especially important if you have a used car seat. If you purchase your seat second-hand you need to inspect it thoroughly. Check that all belts and buckles are in good shape and working as recommended. Make sure the belts aren't frayed or the buckles cracked. Check the frame for any breaks or gaps that your little one could get fingers stuck in or that are sharp. If you find such things don't use the seat until you can get it repaired or replaced. If the seat comes with removable covers it is suggested that you remove them and wash them well. If it doesn't have cloth covering you might want to buy some. A vinyl seat, could in the summer, burn your little one's tender skin. In a desperate attempt to remedy this when my own child was an infant, I found a large towel and cut holes in it and place it on the seat so that anywhere my son's skin would meet the seat, it was protected at least with the towel. If you are really creative you could make your own.

Be practical in purchasing your car seat. If you have an infant buy a seat that will convert to a front facing seat as your child grows. Infant seats also come with a base that remains installed while you are able to remove a sleeping child from the car without disturbing him too much. Some such infant seats can also attach to a stroller frame. This multi-use seat is practical and will save all the bending and unbuckling and buckling of seat belts and then stroller belts. The internal harness keeps your child appropriately restrained.

Let's go over some important considerations in purchasing car seats. Keep in mind compatibility with your vehicle's specifications. Check for recalls and safety testing- how did the seat fare in these situations? Is it the proper seat for the size of your child? Can the seat be converted from a rear and front facing seat - it is more economical to buy a convertible seat. Is the installation easy or does the seat seem to move around in the belt system? There is a tool called Mighty Tite that can take up any slack and make the seat secure in its position, thus enhancing your baby's safety. Choose carefully and choose wisely, you are carrying very precious cargo.

About the Author
Declan Tobin is a successful freelance writer providing advice for parents and consumers on purchasing a variety of baby products which includes baby crib bedding, strollers, and more! His numerous articles provide a wonderfully researched resource of interesting and relevant information.

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