Baby Ear Infection Signs and Treatment

Signs of baby ear infectionsBaby ear infections are one of the most frequent ailments to affect newborns, second only to the common cold. In this article we’ll talk about the signs and symptoms of ear infections, the treatment options, and how to prevent them.

Ear Infection Signs and Symptoms

An ear infection is often hard to diagnose as a parent, but you’ll probably be aware that something is wrong. Look for these symptoms:

  • Changes in mood, tending toward fussiness. These tend to be dramatic and last throughout the day.
  • Flu-like symptoms including runny nose, cough, and/or congestion.
  • Fever defined as a temperature of 100.3 or above, ideally taken using an accurate digital thermometer.
  • Apparent discomfort when nursing, drinking bottles, eating, or sucking on a pacifier.
  • Reaching toward, touching, or pulling on ears (his own, not yours).
  • Pus or strange odors emanating from the ear (less common).

How to Tell if Your Baby Has An Ear Infection

Otoscope for baby ear infection

Stainless Steel Otoscope

If you suspect that your child has an ear infection, the best thing is to take him or her to the pediatrician. Your doctor will use and otoscope to look inside your baby’s ears and make the diagnosis. Anyone can buy an otoscope for home use on Amazon for about $30, though one would need training to use one safely (especially on an infant). I’m not suggesting that non-medical-professionals go out an buy one and learn what an ear infection looks like, but hey, it’s a free country.

There is a surprisingly simple way to check for an ear infection: face your baby when he’s somewhat happy (not crying or screaming) and grab both of his ears with your hands. Gently, now! A healthy baby won’t be bothered by this, whereas a baby with tender ears due to an infection will undoubtedly scream. I just tried this myself on my son who we suspected had an ear infection. He took it quite well and seemed rather amused; it turned out that he’s got about 4 teeth coming in which seems to be the cause of the symptoms. If we do come to find out that he’s got an ear infection, I’ll come back and edit this article.

Treatment for Baby Ear Infections

Baby Ear

Flickr: LisaW123

The best thing you can do is take your baby in to see the doctor. Some ear infections will go away on their own, but usually your pediatrician will prescribe an antibiotic to help it clear up. If your baby has persistent ear infections, or one that doesn’t seem to go away, your doctor may discuss a surgical option: the insertion of tubes into your baby’s ears canals to mitigate infections. This form of treatment is actually quite common; I know several people who have had their ears “tubed” or done so for the children, and I hear nothing but good things. Again, discuss with your doctor.

If it’s the middle of the night, all you can hope to do is make your baby comfortable. Don’t force the bottle or pacifier, as these may cause discomfort. You may think about offering some Baby Tylenol to help make your infant more comfortable. Also, try to keep your baby hydrated: offer breast milk or formula frequently, even if it’s refused.

Preventing Future Ear Infections

From my own non-medical experience (as a parent) and from reading up on this topic, I can offer some suggestions to help you prevent future ear infections for your baby. This is, after all, an infection, and it often occurs when your baby has a cold. Thus, my tips are themed around becoming a germophobe:

  • Keep anyone who’s sick, has been sick, or might be sick away from your baby.
  • Ask people to wash their hands before playing with, holding, or feeding your baby.
  • Wash your own hands, especially after coming home from work, in from outside, etc.
  • Be aware that little kids are walking germ factories. They pick it up at school or day care, they bring it home, and they just don’t know any better.
  • Have hand sanitizer within reach at all times, especially while out in public, and use it liberally.
  • Anything that your baby touches will be on his finger and then in his mouth within ten seconds. Remember that.
  • Keep people who smoke away from your baby, his room, and his things. This is a major risk factor for ear infections and a host of other problems.

Some of these may seem a bit harsh – you might feel uncomfortable asking your mother-in-law to wash her hands before picking up her grandchild. But do it anyway, as politely and apologetically as possible, for your baby’s sake. Sometimes people don’t realize that in the past five minutes they’ve touched a car door handle, a public doorknob, and their own face/mouth/hair, but they want to scoop that cute baby right up. Worst case scenario, you can always rub your baby down with hand sanitizer as soon as it’s polite to do so.

Make sure you stock up with everything you need to head off a major cold before it gets going. See our list of 14 things for baby’s medicine cabinet for some suggestions.

Stay healthy, and good luck!

What To Read Next

If you like this article, you might want to subscribe by e-mail or RSS so that you’re notified when new content is posted.

Baby sleep problems Periodic Table of Baby SLeep Train baby to sleep through the night Sick Baby medicine cabinet
Baby sleep problems takes you through the most common sleep issues and how to address them. The periodic table of baby sleep has all the essential elements for healthy baby sleep habits. Visit our sleep training section for strategies and tips for teaching your baby to sleep through the night. With cold and flu season approaching, here are 14 things for baby’s medicine cabinet.

Starry Night Night Light

Starry night night light

Starry night turtle night light

Getting babies and toddlers to fall asleep on their own is sometimes challenging, especially as they get old enough to be curious about or afraid of things in the world. Fear of darkness is one of these. We’ve been looking for a long time for something that would both comfort a child and entertain without over-stimulating at bedtime. The “starry  night” night light seemed like a good fit.

We set out to find the best constellation night light out there. It turns out, the most popular and favorably reviewed night lights are made by Cloud B.

Why a starry night night light?
Twilight Turtle
Starry Night Ladybug
Sea Turtle Night Light

Why A Starry Night Night Light?

There are various different kinds of night lights out there, and I’ve evaluated many of them in my guide to choosing a night light for baby. In our case, we prefer the starry night kind because:

  • Soothing but not stimulating. The stars are projected in a soft, colorful light. They don’t move (unless the turtle is moved), so it comforts the child without being entertaining enough to keep him or her awake too long.
  • Quiet. Some of the other projection night lights we’ve tried play music or sound while projecting something on the wall or ceiling. It’s too much stimulation (almost like TV) and made our kids want to stay awake to watch.
  • Safe for children. There are no small or moving parts, no exposed light bulbs, or anything else that might cause me concern in letting my children play with this. That’s unusual for a night light!
  • Educational. The twilight turtle projects some real constellations on the ceiling, so you can start teaching your children to recognize them.

Twilight Turtle Night Light

Because the turtle is soft and easy to carry, he gets treated like a stuffed animal, usually ending up in bed with our daughter as she falls asleep. That’s become a much faster process since the night light arrived; usually we’re on the hook for 3 stories and rocking and snuggling before she wants us to close the door. Now she wants the door closed right away so her stars are easier to see.With a 45-minute auto timer, there’s no need for us to go in and shut it off either. All around, we love this night light!

Starry night light turtle
Buy STarry night night light
The Twilight Turtle night light by Cloud b is one of the best gifts our daughter ever received. It projects a complete starry night sky (with moon!) onto the ceiling and walls of her room. Pressing any of 3 buttons changes between the soothing colors of amber, blue, and green. It’s lightweight and battery-operated, so we’ve taken it along in the minivan as well to great effect.

Features: -Projects a complete starry night sky onto the walls and ceiling of any room
-Three color options (blue, green, and amber) for dynamic, magical environments
-Auto shutoff with 45 minute timer
-Requires 3 AAA batteries
Dimensions: 14 inches x 8 inches x 5 inches
Reviews: Starry night light reviews

Ladybug Starry Night Light

Starry night light ladybug
Buy STarry night night light
This slightly smaller but equally (if not more) adorable version of the starry night night light is a cuddly ladybug. Just like the turtle, she projects a starry night sky with three color choices, but hers are sapphire blue, emerald green, and ruby red.Weighing less than a pound and battery-operated, this is a perfect night light option for your little girl or bug-obsessed little boy.

Features: -Auto shutoff with 45 minute timer
-Three color options: Sapphire Blue, Emerald Green and Ruby Red
-Includes Twilight Ladybug story and adoption certificate
-Requires 3 AAA batteries
Dimensions: 12 inches x 8 inches x 5 inches
Reviews: Starry night light reviews

Endangered Sea Turtle Night Light

Starry night light Sea Turtle
Buy STarry night night light
I saved my favorite one for last, the Cloud B Sea Turtle night light. This one’s colors are all ocean-themed (blue, green, aquamarine). It also features 5 endangered sea animal images on turtle shell that illuminate one at a time: the Blue Whale, California Sea Otter, Knysna Seahorse, Leatherback Turtle and Vaquita Dolphin. It comes with a “twilight turtle storybook” with educational facts about endangered species.Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from each turtle are donated to an international conservation organization.

Features: -Shell glows in three “sea” colors: ocean blue, emerald green and aquamarine
-Auto shutoff with 45 minute timer
-Star Guide to help identify constellations
Dimensions: 12 inches x 8 inches x 5 inches
Reviews: Starry night light reviews

girl-twilight-ladybugGive Your Child the Stars

This is hands-down one of the coolest sleep-related items we’ve gotten for our kids. Not only has it shortened the bedtime process, but it’s been a fun addition to nighttime journeys in the minivan. So far the batteries have lasted a long time — I suspect the lights are LEDs — and the turtle we’ve named Shelly is a cherished member of the family. And hey, who wouldn’t like to give their little one the stars to sleep under?


5 Things To Do When Gas Keeps Your Baby Awake

Got-Gas2If your recently-fed baby is fussing, odds are that it’s due to gas. This is a major source of discomfort for babies, and for newborns in particular. There are two main reasons for it: (1) they eat only liquids, which often involves gulping down a lot of air, and (2) their digestive systems aren’t yet fully developed, which often seems to make digestion an uncomfortable process. If your baby has problems with gas, you’re not alone. It’s quite common and almost a guarantee with preemies. When gas prevents your baby from sleeping, here are five things you should try.

1. Burp Your Baby Early and Often
2. Elevate the Head of Baby’s Bed
3. Switch to Gentle Infant Formula
4. Try Gas Relief Drops
5. Give Your Baby Gripe Water

1. Burp Your Baby Early and Often

This is the single best piece of advice that I can offer. The gas has to come out from one end or the other, and a burp is a lot easier to get. I used to think that you simply fed a baby his entire bottle and then put him on your shoulder for some back-patting. This is not enough! You should pause every 1/4 bottle, at a minimum, to give your baby a chance to burp.

And once he’s done, you must absolutely get one. I know, it’s hard. Sometimes they don’t seem to have a burp in them. Try a change of position: sitting your baby up on a hard surface instead of putting on your shoulder, or vice versa. Try rubbing his back in an upward motion. If all else fails, hold your baby upright and walk up and down some stairs. Gently. You’d be surprised how often this seems to get a burp loose. For more, see How to Burp A Baby.

2. Elevate the Head of Baby’s Bed

You will want to check with your pediatrician first, but I find that this helps when babies get gas after you put them down. Most baby cribs have multiple height settings for the mattress; you’re probably using the highest one for a newborn, so lower one end a notch.

Or, you can put a couple of books under one side of the mattress. Don’t put anything in the bed to achieve this. Put the baby down with his head on the high end. Now gravity works in your favor, and bubbles can more easily come up and out.

3. Switch to a Gentler Formula

gentle baby formula for gasThe major formula brands have a gentle digestion canister of the powder that’s partially broken down to aid your baby’s digestion. Even generic brands tend to carry these. Be cautious, though, in switching your baby’s formula – he or she may not like it. It’s important to stick with one kind at a time, so don’t mix and match.

Once your baby is a bit older, you might wish to switch back to regular formula which tends to keep them content for a little bit longer (because it doesn’t digest as quickly).

4. Try Gas Relief Drops

baby gas relief dropsYou might have heard of Mylicon – that’s the brand name – but Little Tummys has gas relief drops for cheaper. The active ingredient is called simethicone, and it’s actually a mild, ingestible soap that breaks up bubbles in an infant’s belly.

The smell is noticeable, but my babies didn’t seem to mind it. You can get the generic kinds as well. Don’t give it to them straight; mix the required dose in a full bottle. If your baby doesn’t always finish a bottle, mix a half-bottle with the full dose first so that he takes it all.

5. Give Your Baby Gripe Water

I hesitate to recommend a specific product (much less a homeopathic one), but many parents of fussy babies swear by something called gripe water. With our twins, we were desperate enough to try it.

It worked very well for a month or two, seeming to help them rest more contentedly after eating. The downside is that this stuff is pretty expensive ($12-14 per small bottle in the store). You might try it, though, if none of the above steps work.

What To Read Next

If you like this article, you might want to subscribe by e-mail or RSS so that you’re notified when new content is posted. Also, check out our comprehensive e-book, Baby Sleep Training 101.

Baby sleep problems Periodic Table of Baby SLeep Train baby to sleep through the night Essential Baby Sleep Gear
Baby sleep problems takes you through the most common sleep issues and how to address them. The periodic table of baby sleep has all the essential elements for healthy baby sleep habits. Visit our sleep training section for strategies and tips for teaching your baby to sleep through the night. Check out our reviews of Essential baby gear for helping babies sleep at night.

Wireless Video Monitor Reviews

wireless video monitor reviewsWe love having a wireless video monitor in the nursery. Nothing is more comforting than being able to see and hear your baby at night or while working around the house. A few years ago, there were only a handful of decent video baby monitors available, and they were all prohibitively expensive.

Now there are dozens of options, from the low-cost the high end. Which video monitor is best for you? Here, we evaluate the top rated video monitors, compare their features, and highlight some of our favorite models to help you choose one for your nursery.
Features of Wireless Video Monitors
Wireless Video Monitor Reviews
Baby Touch Wireless Video Monitor by Summer Infant
Motorola MBP36 Wireless Video Monitor
DXR-5 Wireless Video Monitor by Infant Optics

Key Features of Wireless Video Monitors

Here are some of the terms and features that we evaluate in wireless video baby monitors:

  • Range. This is how far the receiver can be from the transmitter (which is in the nursery) and still get a signal. At best, these are guesses from the manufacturers; the actual range depends on the elevation difference, wall thickness, interference from other electronics, etc. Even so, it’s safe to say that you want a longer range if possible.
  • Frequency. Higher is better, so 2.4 GHz is better than 900 MHz. Generally speaking, the higher the frequency, the stronger the signal between your transmitter and your  monitor. Also, devices that are on the same frequency (such as a monitor and a cordless telephone) may interfere with one another, so it’s best to take stock of your current electronics while shopping for a baby monitor.
  • LCD Screen. LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display – it’s the color screen that displays your nursery’s video feed. Remember that this measurement is the diagonal, not the width. Most monitors have a 3.5″ screen, and the owners of monitors with smaller screens often complain that they can’t see anything. Some monitors or camera-only packages don’t come with a handheld LCD unit, but transmit to your iPhone, iPad, or smartphone. So obviously the screen size is whatever you’re using to look at it.
  • Night Vision. High-quality video baby monitors transmit color images during daytime naps. When the nursery is dark (at night), the monitor will need infrared night vision to see anything. Monitors without it will be blind in the dark, rendering the camera useless unless it has infrared night vision (all of the monitors we recommend do). At night, the infrared lets you see your little one, but the images will be in black and white or grayscale.
  • Tilt, Pam, and Zoom. These let you move the camera remotely to get a better look at your baby. They’re especially useful if your baby (1) moves around in the crib, and/or (2) is a light sleeper, because you don’t have to go into the nursery to adjust the view field of the camera. And you will need to adjust the camera! It seems like our boys wedge themselves into a different corner of the crib every night.
  • Dual Camera Capability. If you’d like to keep an eye on more than one child, it’s useful to have a video monitor that supports additional cameras. Both the Motorola and the Summer Infant baby monitors support this; the Summer Infant is particularly nice because it has a scan mode to flip between cameras automatically.

For the sleep safety conscious, you might consider complementing a wireless video monitor with a baby movement monitor, like the Snuza Halo, which alerts you of any irregularity in your infant’s breathing.

Wireless Video Monitor Reviews

Here we review twoof the bestselling and top-rated wireless video baby monitors available today. Though there are certainly other wireless baby monitors out there (Angelcare, Philips, Safety 1st, and others), these two monitors — from Summer Infant and Motorola — are consistently the most popular based on customer rating and sales rank.

Baby Touch Wireless Video Monitor by Summer Infant

Summer Infant Best Video Monitor
Buy this Monitor Now

Monitor Review:

The Summer Infant Baby Touch digital video monitor is consistently a  top selling baby monitor on Amazon. This super quiet camera can be remotely activated so parents can reposition their viewing angle to better see the baby. Infrared night vision lets you see your baby in the dark, too. For multiple angles or to monitor more than one child, this monitor lets you add up to three additional wireless cameras.This video monitor has a lot of features to like:

  • The ability to pan, tilt, and zoom camera remotely
  • Two-way audio so you can hear and talk to your baby
  • Rechargeable, portable 3.5″ LCD viewer.
  • Belt clip, built-in stand, and sleek magnetic docking base.

Two features set this monitor apart from other wireless video monitors. First, the touch screen lets you adjust tilt, pan, and zoom in a user-friendly fashion, far superior to the clunky side controls on other monitors. Second, when multiple cameras are installed, the Summer Infant monitor auto-rotates through them on a timer, letting you watch multiple rooms without doing anything.

Model: Summer Infant Baby Touch Digital Color Video Monitor
Screen: 3.5″ Touch Screen LCD
Reviews: Summer Infant Wireless Monitor Reviews

Motorola Wireless Video Baby Monitor MBP36

Motorola secure video monitor
Buy this Monitor Now

Monitor Review:

The Motorola wireless baby monitor is usually the #2 best selling monitor on Amazon The latest model features a 3.5″ screen, two-way communication so that parents can talk to the baby, and data encryption.
It has a longer advertised range than the Summer Infant, up to 600 feet. Plus, there’s an audible out-of-range warning to let you know when the monitor isn’t receiving from the transmitter. This is an important feature for a baby monitor, as some models don’t have it.The Motorola also has a remote nursery temperature sensor, which is critical if your baby’s room fluctuates in temperature as ours does. Like the Summer Infant, the camera has night vision and can be panned/zoomed remotely. And you can add an extra camera to monitor two rooms or two angles at once.
Motorola Secure Transmission

My favorite feature of this monitor is the Motorola 2.4 GHz FHSS technology. Much like Motorola’s 2-way radios, these monitors transmit with an encrypted Motorola signal so that only your LCD receiver can pick up the audio and video feeds. It also won’t interfere with other electronic devices. A nice feature if you live close to other parents with monitors.

Model: Motorola MBP36 Remote Wireless Video Baby Monitor
Screen: 3.5″ Color LCD, up to 25 FPS
Reviews: Motorola Wireless Baby Monitor Reviews

12 Ways to Make A Baby Sleep

ways to make a baby sleep

Getting a baby to fall asleep sometimes seems like the easiest thing in the world. At the newborn stage, when they sleep about 18 hours a day, you have trouble keeping them awake. It’s eat, sleep, diaper, repeat. Then they start to grow up and everything changes.

At some point babies realize that there’s a whole wide world of things to see and touch and (especially) eat out there. They don’t want to miss anything! And so they start staying awake longer, fighting sleep with ever-louder cries.

To help you, the frazzled sleep-deprived parent, we’ve put together this list of tips and techniques for making a baby go to sleep. The quick and easy ways are listed first, followed by more advanced strategies for when your baby still won’t fall asleep.

Quick Ways to Make Baby Sleep

Your baby’s tired, well-fed, in a clean diaper, and ready to go to sleep. Here are some quick ways to help him or her zonk out.

#1. Rocking the Baby

The gentle back-and-forth motion of rocking your baby — either in your arms, in a rocking chair, or in a baby swing — has a natural soothing effect. Make this part of the routine and your baby’s sure to enjoy it.

#2. Singing or Humming

Few things are as comforting to an infant as the sound of your voice. Combine that with the natural cadence of a lullaby and you’ve got a powerful way to get your baby to sleep, one that’s been around for thousands of years. Literally. See our article on 9 lullabies to help baby sleep.

#3. Swaddle the Baby

Swaddling the baby before he or she goes to bed is a good idea not only for warmth and safety, but to help mimic the snug comfort of the womb. The famed Aden+Anais muslin blankets are ideal for this. When the baby starts kicking or rolling out of a swaddle, try a baby sleep sack or sleeping bag instead.

#4. Offer a Pacifier

The pacifier may be your most important weapon in getting a baby to fall asleep. Find which ones your baby loves, and buy lots of them. Save the best, most cherished pacifier for bedtime. For some great options, see our article on the Best Baby Pacifiers.

#5. Soothe by Touching

The soft touch of a parent is a powerful thing for an infant — it conveys warmth and comfort and a sense of safety. Nuzzle the baby cheek-to-cheek, rub his or her head, stroke the hair (if there is any), or just snuggle her against your chest.

Get Baby’s Room Ready for Sleep

Setting the stage for your baby’s sleep is an important element for success. Here are a few of the ways that we get our nursery ready for a critical nap or the overnight sleep stretch.

#6. Darkness

Use room-darkening shades, heavy curtains, and/or miniblinds to block out the sunlight (or artificial light) from windows. Books or a few pieces of scotch tape can help eliminate little cracks where sunlight might peep in.

#7. White noise

The steady hum of background noise, from a fan or a crib soother, for example, help cover up errant household/neighborhood noises. It also serves as an audio cue, just for the nursery, of when it’s time to go to sleep. See our review of crib soothers and sound machines for some good options.

#8. A Welcoming Crib

This is more of a safety and convenience tip, but the crib should be clean and clear of loose items before the baby goes in. Then you just plop the baby in and make your escape. If you need help in this department, see our guide to getting baby to sleep in the crib.

Ways to Get Baby to Sleep Longer

You might have a good handle on helping your baby fall asleep, but you’d like to work on getting him or her to sleep longer. Maybe to extend the length of naps, or to start sleeping through the night. Here are some ways you can start working toward that.

#9. Make sure baby’s tummy is full

As we emphasized in our article on nighttime feeding and sleep, the feeding right before bed is critical. Make sure your baby has a full belly right before going to bed, as hunger is a major cause of early wake-ups.

#10. Use a nighttime diaper

Both Huggies and Pampers make a heavy-duty, super-absorbent diaper for overnights. We’ve used both brands and they’re pretty good. More expensive than a standard diaper, but they hold a LOT more while keeping the baby comfortable. See our article on the best diapers for sleeping.

#11. Get the gas out

An infant’s digestive system is not fully mature at birth, and their diet is 100% liquid. That’s why you have to burp them during and after feedings. Thoroughly. You can also look into some of the treatments for gas and colic; see our article on 5 things to do when gas keeps your baby awake.

#12. Establish a bedtime routine

One great way to get a baby to sleep quickly and consistently is to follow a bedtime routine — a set of steps that prepare your baby mentally and physically for bed. Repeating these steps in the same order every night sets up a series of cues so that your baby knows what’s coming next, and is less likely to fight it.

If Your Baby Still Won’t Sleep

If you’ve tried everything in the book and your baby still won’t sleep, you may have to toughen your resolve slightly and let him or her cry a little bit. This isn’t torture (on them, at least); it’s a natural part of being an infant. Some parents may disagree, and I do get the occasional comment from someone who believes that your baby should never be allowed to cry or even whimper without being attended to. But that’s not what the world is like. Sometimes your baby will just be unhappy. See our article on Letting Your Baby Cry to Sleep for an in-depth discussion of this topic.

Have Your Own Ways for Getting the Baby to Sleep?

If you have tips or techniques for getting a baby to sleep that aren’t covered here, we would love to hear them! Please use the comment section below. Your comment won’t show up immediately (all are moderated) but should within a day or two.

Baby Christmas Pajamas for the Holidays

baby christmas pajamas

How cute is this? Posed in front of the fireplace and Christmas tree, no less!

The holiday seasons are approaching, and if you have babies (or small children) in the house as we do, that’s a very special time for you. Christmas is one of those times when you really come to appreciate being a parent. Everything becomes a memory or a new tradition. You find yourself doing things — like putting out milk and cookies for Santa — that you haven’t done since you were a kid. And even if it’s your baby’s first Christmas (and you know he or she won’t remember a thing), you want to make it as special as possible.

Christmas Pajamas for the Baby

Finding a cute set of Christmas pajamas for baby is one great way to do that. It makes for a great photo opportunity (exhibit A to the right) and captures this moment in time in your child’s life. Heck, if you want to go all out, there are lots of matching Christmas pajama sets for the whole family. I’m not willing to go that far, but I did look around to find some of the cutest baby pajamas on Amazon.

Baby christmas tree pajamas Reindeer Long Johns

Mud Pie Baby-girls Newborn Triple Tree 2 Piece Set

Long sleeve Christmas tree shirt, polka-dot pants and an adorable tutu!

Mud Pie Newborn Reindeer Long Johns

These long johns will keep your little reindeer warm over the holidays!

Santa Pajamas for Baby Reindeer Baby Pajamas

Mud Pie Baby-Girls Santa Tunic And Leggings

This is a cute 2-piece set with flared bottoms on the pants and a polka dot Santa shirt.

Carter’s Red Reindeer Snug-fit Pajama Set

A cozy pajama set with bright colors and a cute reindeer on the front.

I believe in Santa Pajamas

I believe in Santa Claus!

Do You Believe in Santa?

We just watched The Polar Express, another favorite holiday tradition of ours. The movie (and also the book) really set the stage for the holiday season, and remind kids that Christmas isn’t just about presents.

It’s a great defense against the seeming barrage of cartoons, movies, and even (gasp) Disney productions in which the existence of Santa is doubted. You have to be so careful in what you let your impressionable young little ones watch this time of year! Also, what they might overhear: Be prepared to kick or elbow eggnog-soused relatives who might blab the wrong thing out in front of your kids.

With that in mind, here are two more little Christmas pajama sets that I love, for your little ones who still believe. Put them on Team Santa this year!

I believe in Santa Set Santa Overalls for Baby

Mud Pie Infant I Believe Santa Set

This machine-washable 2-piece set inclues red corduroy pants with green tree embroidered pattern, and a white long-sleeved shirt.

Mud Pie Santa Infant Overalls

These adorable red-and-white-striped overalls have a felt Santa applique, snap closures, and matching back pockets.

All of these are available at Amazon right now; even standard shipping will get them to you well before Christmas. You might also enjoy our article on cute baby pajamas for year-round; we found some adorable sleeper sets out there!

Are Christmas Pajamas Worth It?

Some part of me wonders if it’s silly to buy pajamas that they’re only going to wear a few times in December (and possibly January, depending on how long you stay in the spirit). But they’re so cute, especially for taking photos that you can give as gifts or send to relatives. Also, a lot of families have the tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve, which is perfect if it happens to be a set of cozy pajamas for your little one.

So yes, go ahead and spoil your little one with some cute Christmas pajamas! Or get them as a gift for friends or relatives. The photos will be well worth it. And while we’re on the subject, see last week’s article on keeping baby jolly over the holidays.

Keeping Baby Jolly Over the Holidays

Holiday baby survival

Credit: BabyCenter Community

The holidays are a very different experience when you have a baby in the house. Gone are those days when you simply showed up in relatives’ houses, ate, drank, and made merry without a care in the world. Now you have to pack extra diapers and hand sanitizer, and (in my case) spend most of your time making sure your toddlers don’t destroy a relative’s home. Keeping your baby happy, healthy, and on a good sleep schedule is especially challenging over the holiday season. Here are some tips to help make sure all of your holidays are jolly.

Taking Baby Out in Public

It takes a certain amount of courage to face the holiday crowds with a baby in tow, but sometimes it’s necessary. Here are some tips for braving the sea of humanity at malls and stores and other crowded places.

  • Hand sanitizer. It seems like such a basic thing, but you can never have enough of this stuff. You’ll touch things and your baby might touch things too. Remember that every piece of merchandise was probably hand-stocked by a clerk and handled by other customers too. It’s also good for when strangers come up and touch your baby’s hands.
  • No touch! Speaking of which, be prepared for the dual effect that a baby and the holiday season can have on people. Total strangers will come up and tickle your baby’s foot, hold his hand, or touch his face. If you can prevent this bodily or with a quick [kind] word, do so. I like to say “Ooh, he’s just getting over a cold.” That usually has people keep their hands to themselves.
  • Use stroller or car seat canopies or a blanket to protect your baby. These help keep out chills, sneezes, and over-curious strangers. I recently was on a trip and saw a couple with a newborn drape a lightweight Aden+Anais blanket over their baby’s car seat/stroller.

See also our article on traveling with infants for more good advice on taking your baby out in public!

Visiting Friends and Relatives

Few times are better than the holiday season to show off your cute little baby to family and friends. That said, holiday gatherings bring new sources of concern when you’re taking a baby along. You have to watch out for hazards, especially in rooms that aren’t babyproofed. You have to keep the baby fed and entertained. And you have to avoid germs as much as possible. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Prep and pack in advance. Remember to bring diapers, a change of clothes, a bottle or sippy cup, a pacifier on a clip. If the party will go late, bringing pajamas and a nighttime diaper isn’t a bad idea.
  • Bring your own stuff and keep track of it. Especially things like sippy cups and pacifiers, which tend to be grabbed by any toddler who sees them. It’s better to keep your child’s sippy cup with you on the table, and let him or her come by for a drink.
  • Watch for babyproofing hazards. Unsecured furniture, fragile decorations, places to fall, and sharp objects are just some of the things your little one might encounter in a house that’s not babyproofed.
  • Preheat the car. This is such a little thing, but it makes babies much happier and cozier when you have the car all warmed up by the time they’re loaded. Also, the first thing we do when we get in the car is hand-sanitize all the babies’ hands. God knows what they touched when you weren’t looking.

Maintaining Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule

One down side to the holidays is that they can wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep schedule.

  • Arrive on time, leave early. You’ll notice that most parents with small children scoot out of a party at around 7 or 8:00 because that’s when babies and small children generally go to bed. These are the “veterans” who understand that a good night’s sleep for the baby pays far more dividends than another cocktail or smoked sausage.
  • Plan for naps. If you have an engagement that would normally be in the middle of your baby’s sleepy time, try to get the day started early so that the nap can be going on. Or, if you’re having people over, just let the little ones sleep and wake up when it’s time (as unrealistic as that may be when you get a houseful). See also our answers to common baby nap questions.
  • Encourage sleeping in the car. Comfy clothes, clean diaper, pacifier, and sometimes a soft blankie will encourage your little one to snooze in the car on the way to and from places. Those little half hour naps can make a difference!
Last but not least, make sure you have fun and take lots of pictures over the holidays with your cute baby! He or she will never be this little again, and the memories will last a long, long time.


Baby Won’t Sleep

Baby won't sleepBabies are supposed to be sleeping most of the time (14 to 18 hours a day, according to baby sleep charts). So when your baby won’t sleep, it gets pretty frustrating. Sleep deprivation can be harmful both to babies and their parents, especially when it’s a long-term problem. Hopefully you’re not here because your newborn of 0-2 months won’t sleep longer than 2-4 hours at a time, because that’s perfectly normal.

However, if your baby is 3 months or older and you’re still having some sleeping problems, this article might help you.
How Much Should Your Baby Sleep?
Problem: Baby Won’t Sleep Long Enough
Problem: Baby Won’t Fall Asleep
Problem: Baby Won’t Sleep in the Crib

How Much Should Your Baby Sleep?

The hours you might expect your baby to sleep depends largely on his or her age. Newborns (0-3 months) typically eat, sleep, and poop in 2-4 hour cycles around the clock. Not much you can do about that. Starting at 3-4 months, your baby might turn a corner and start sleeping longer (hopefully at night, but the morning nap after breakfast is common too), say 5-7 hours. At this point, you know your baby is capable of sleeping for long periods, and your goal should be to line that up with your own nighttime sleep schedule as much as possible!

At around 6 months of age, usually when your pediatrician encourages you to start feeding the baby solid food, you might see another change, as many babies start sleeping through the night. It might not happen at 6 months; it could just as easily be 12 months until the stars align to make this happen. Be patient, and keep working at it.

See our baby sleep chart for a detailed breakdown of average daily sleep, number of naps, and longest sleep stretch by adjusted age.

Problem: Baby Won’t Sleep Long Enough

why won't my baby sleepThe thing about babies is that they’re completely unaware of “expected” sleeping hours and sleep charts and the need for mom and dad to actually get REM sleep. If your baby won’t sleep for long stretches (especially at night), you are not alone! Most parents go through this with at least one child. First, reassure yourself that, eventually, your baby is going to sleep through the night. It may not be tonight or even a week from now, but it WILL happen. This is human nature. Second, let’s go through some of the more common reasons that a baby won’t sleep, and see if there’s anything that applies to your little one.

Cause #1: The baby is hungry

Hunger is, in my experience, one of the most common reasons that a baby won’t sleep for long periods. In support of this notion is the observation that breastfed babies tend to have shorter sleep cycles than formula-fed babies, simply because breast milk (being completely natural) is digested more easily. When your baby wakes up crying, does he or she root around for a nipple? If you offer a pacifier, is it slurped at hungrily and then spit out in utter disappointment? If so, hunger is a likely culprit.

Of course, you’re probably not a moron. Of course you fed the baby before bed. However, a lot of times parents just don’t realize how much babies are capable of eating as they grow and get older. What filled the little one’s tummy last month probably isn’t enough any longer. Making sure that your baby’s appetite is fully sated right before bed is a key step in extending those sleep hours. See our article on nighttime feeding and sleep for more help in this area.

Cause #2: The baby has gas or digestive issues

Many babies, especially at the newborn stage, don’t have a fully developed digestive system yet. This can cause delayed stomach discomfort that wakes your baby up in the middle of an otherwise happy sleep cycle. Also, since their diet for the first 6 months is completely liquid, it’s very easy for babies to get bubbles in the tummy. Unless you do a great job burping the baby, those can come back to bite you in the middle of the night.

One way to determine if gassiness or digestive discomfort are to blame is to watch how your baby acts and cries when he/she wakes up. Squirming, grimacing in pain are positive indicators. A baby that simply lays still and cries might just be hungry. Even if you’re not certain, working to minimize gassiness overnight is always a good strategy for baby sleep training. See our article on 5 things to do when gas keeps baby awake.

Cause #3: When baby is teething

Teething is one of the most troublesome events you’ll ever encounter. Usually the process begins when the baby is 3-4 months old and continues until all the teeth have come in. This one is frustrating because there’s just no way to see it coming. You’ll just suddenly notice an exceptionally fussy baby who:

  • Can’t fall asleep, or doesn’t stay asleep for long.
  • Wakes up screaming, as if in pain
  • Spits out the pacifier
  • Seems hungry, but refuses to drink from a bottle

Check for this by washing your hands thoroughly, and then running a finger, with great care, along your baby’s gums. Often you can see where a place is red and/or swollen. If you run a finger over it, you’ll feel the roughness of the tooth breaching the gums.

Once you confirm that teething is the reason your baby won’t go to sleep, apply a teething pain ointment (mild antisthetic like Baby Orajel) to that part of the gums. Baby Tylenol may help as well. The torment will end when the tooth breaches and comes in. For more help, see our article on what to do when baby is teething.

Cause #4: Something External Woke the Baby Up

Babies, just like adults, wake up in response to things in their environment. It’s a survival instinct, but often when your baby is safe and sound, it’s just something that causes unnecessary wake-ups. There are lots of external things that can have this effect, including:

  • Temperature changes. If the baby gets too hot or too cold, they might easily wake up. Do your best to keep a steady temperature in the room, and consider swaddling your baby or using a baby sleep sack to keep them warm enough.
  • Wet or dirty diaper. Some babies can sleep through this, but most won’t. That’s why you change the diaper right before bed and maybe use the super-absorbent nighttime ones. We have a whole article about the importance of diapers for sleeping.
  • Loud noises. The world outside your baby’s nursery can be quite inconsiderate when it comes to baby’s sleep time. We’ve had issues with garbage trucks, leafblowers, noisy neighbors, and even older siblings waking our little ones up. Unfortunately, most of us can’t control everything that could make a noise, so the best defense is a crib soother or sound machine or even just a fan. The idea is to provide some white noise that drowns out random sounds.
  • Sunlight. A lot of people are early-morning risers who are up by sunrise. I am not one of them. For me, a baby waking up at dawn is not a good thing. If you notice your little one’s wake-ups coincide with when it starts to get light out, the sun might be to blame. Block out that light as much as possible with room-darkening window shades and heavy curtains. Even a tiny crack can let a beam of sunlight in to shine right on the baby’s face. We use tape, books, pillows, or whatever’s necessary to make every window totally sunproof.

For a more in-depth look at this, you might enjoy our article 7 reasons your baby woke up last night.

Problem: Baby Won’t Fall Asleep

Another issue many parents encounter is the baby that refuses to fall asleep, even when it’s bedtime and mommy and daddy are completely worn out. If you have this problem, the solution is less about finding a “cause” and more about establishing good, regular habits for you and your baby. This is what baby sleep training is all about: finding a routine that works because it meets all of your baby’s needs and prepares them, mentally and physically, for falling asleep. Here are three questions to ask yourself:

  1. Did you get your baby ready for sleep? This means you’ve fed and burped the baby, changed the diaper, put on soft comfy pajamas, done the swaddle or sleep sack, and maybe even did some rocking and/or a lullaby. All of these are the sensory cues that your baby’s about to go to bed for the big sleep.
  2. Is it time for the baby to go to sleep? If the baby just got up an hour ago, he or she won’t be ready for bed. Many parents find a sort of rhythm with their babies, a cycle of eating, play time, diaper changes, and sleeping so that everything is spaced out nicely. Some of my readers object to the idea of a “schedule” for a baby. However, if you’ve ever visited (or been in) the NICU, you’ll see a very organized one: each baby under a nurse’s care eats, gets changed, and sleeps by the clock. You don’t have to be this draconian, but keeping to a somewhat regular daily routine will help.
  3. Have you established and followed a good bedtime routine? This is a process that you go through every night with the baby, both to get them ready for bed (as in item #1) and to make the process a habitual one with no surprises. The bath-bottle-bed routine is a classic example. The warm wetness of the bath, brief chill of getting out, followed by warm clothes and a bottle of milk has been putting babies to sleep for decades. See our guide to establishing a baby bedtime routine for some pointers.

For more help with this problem, see our list of 12 ways to help a baby go to sleep.

Problem: Baby Won’t Sleep in the Crib

This is a special problem, one for which (unfortunately) the parents get most of the blame. It’s very easy to get into the habit of letting your baby fall asleep where he or she does it best: the swing, the couch, the parents’ bed, or in mommy’s arms. And it tends to be fricking adorable when your baby does konk out in these places. However, getting your baby to sleep in the crib is a critical, critical step for you to establish healthy sleep habits. It also happens to be the safest place for baby to sleep at night.

Ideally, you started putting baby in the crib to sleep from the day he or she got home from the hospital. That’s the easiest way because they’re so little that their bodies just need sleep and they can’t fight it. The longer you wait, the harder it gets to make a transition. If you need help, see our article on getting baby to sleep in the crib.

Best Digital Baby Thermometers Reviewed

Better digital baby thermometers

No more crappy thermometers

Flu season is approaching, and wouldn’t you know it, all three of my little ones seem to be coming down with something. There’s nothing more pitiful or helpless than a sick baby. For me, the worst part is the not knowing: are we dealing with a baby that’s sick, an ear infection, or just allergies? Should we call the pediatrician or take the baby in? When we do call, the first thing they always seem to ask is whether or not the baby is having a fever.

The problem is that those cute little baby thermometers they give you in the hospital don’t work for crap when we leave the hospital. I feel stupid telling the nurse over the phone “Well, he sure feels warm, but his temperature is 94.” It’s ridiculous. Compare that to the pediatrician’s office, where they wave a high-tech handheld thermometer somewhere in the vicinity of my baby’s forehead. It beeps almost instantly, taking a super-accurate temperature that’s right on the money.

Why Digital/Infrared Baby Thermometers?

baby with thermometerI want one of those, and I just found out, I can get it. Amazon has two bestselling digital baby thermometers: the Braun Thermoscan (an ear thermometer) and the Feverwatch non-contact thermometer. Both are under $40 with free shipping. Below I compare their features in some detail, but first, let’s talk about some good reasons to invest in a good baby thermometer.

  1. Accurate temperature reading. That’s number one. I’d like to finally sound competent on the phone with the doctor’s office.
  2. Fast temperature taking. The little hospital thermometers seem to take forever when you’re trying to pin them in a squirming baby’s armpit. These measure temps in just a few seconds.
  3. Know and record baby temperatures. These will even save the most recent temperatures, so you can track your baby’s fever as it rises and falls.
  4. Take baby’s temperature without a fight. Either an ear measurement or a non-contact model will go much better than the traditional ways of temperature-taking.

Baby Thermometer Reviews

Now, let’s compare some of the features of these two bestsellers.
Baby ear thermometer

Braun Thermoscan Ear Thermometer With Exactemp Technology

The Braun Thermoscan ear thermometer is used by more doctor’s offices than any other, according to their claims. This device features a patented “pre-warmed” tip and measures temperature on the eardrum, yielding very accurate results. When you’ve taken a proper temperature, it lights up and emits a soft beep. This takes only a few seconds. The Thermoscan’s features include:

  • Small, soft, flexible, pre-warmed tip.
  • A guidance system to help you put the thermometer tip in the right place
  • Memory function to store up to 8 recent results, so you can track temperature over time
  • Disposable lens filters for sterile use with each measurement
  • Oral, rectal or underarm use
  • Includes: 2 AA batteries, 21 lens filters and thermometer tip cap

Buy this thermometer at Amazon

Baby infrared thermometer

FeverWatch Professional Non-contact Infrared Thermometer

This may be the best baby thermometer available to consumers, and I think it’s the model used by our pediatrician’s office. The FeverWatch non-contact infrared thermometer measures your baby’s temperature in less than 1 second with with 0.3 degree accuracy, all without touching the baby. You hold it 1-4 inches away from the forehead, click the button, and the temperature is taken. It’s kind of amazing that these devices work so well. The FeverWatch features:

  • An intuitive guidance system to help you position it, and one-button operation
  • A huge backlit LCD screen, so you can take temperature even in dark rooms.
  • Very energy efficient: takes 100,000 temperatures on 2 AA batteries
  • Stores up to 32 temperature readings for future reference.
  • No touch, so no need for disposable tips and no risk of spreading germs!

Imagine being able to tiptoe into the nursery while your little one sleeps and take his or her temperature without (1) turning on a light, or (2) touching the baby at all. Just brilliant.
Buy this thermometer at Amazon

If you don’t have a good baby thermometer, get one of them now! It’s free shipping, and should arrive just in time for the sore throat / coughing / runny noses.

9 Songs for Baby Sleep

Baby sleep songs

Babies love lullabies!

Parents have been singing their babies to sleep for time eternal. It’s a simple, soothing, and often under-appreciated technique to get your baby ready for bed. We’ve recently been singing lullabies as we dress our twins for bed since they’re toddlers now and often fight going to sleep. I went out and collected some of our favorite lullaby lyrics to give you 9 songs to help baby go to sleep:

  1. Rock-a-bye Baby
  2. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  3. Hush, Little Baby
  4. Somewhere Over the Rainbow
  5. Frère Jacques
  6. Brahms’s Lullaby
  7. Sleep, Baby, Sleep
  8. All Through The Night
  9. All the Pretty Horses


Rock-a-bye Baby

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all


Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Baby sleep songs on CD

Lullaby Classics – 17 tracks from classic composers played by the Baby Einstein Orchestra. Great for baby’s bedtime.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are


Hush, Little Baby

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word.
Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring

And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass

And if that looking glass gets broke,
Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat

And if that billy goat won’t pull,
Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull

And if that cart and bull turn over,
Papa’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover

And if that dog named Rover won’t bark
Papa’s gonna buy you a horse and cart

And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.


Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby

Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why, can’t I?


Frère Jacques

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong.

English Version:
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong.


Brahms’s Lullaby

Lullaby and goodnight, with roses bedight
With lilies o’er spread is baby’s wee bed
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed
Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed
Lullaby and goodnight, thy mother’s delight
Bright angels beside my darling abide
They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast
They will guard thee at rest, thou shalt wake on my breast


Sleep, Baby, Sleep

Sleep, baby, sleep
Your father tends the sheep
Your mother shakes the dreamland tree
And from it fall sweet dreams for thee
Sleep, baby, sleep
Sleep, baby, sleep

Sleep, baby, sleep
Our cottage vale is deep
The little lamb is on the green
With snowy fleece so soft and clean
Sleep, baby, sleep
Sleep, baby, sleep


All Through The Night

Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee,
All through the night;
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night;

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping,
All through the night.

While the moon her watch is keeping,
All through the night;
While the weary world is sleeping,
All through the night.


All the Pretty Horses

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleep my little baby.
When you wake you shall have
All the pretty little horses.
Black and bays, dapples, grays,
All the pretty little horses.

Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleep my little baby.
Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleep my little baby.
When you wake you shall have
All the pretty little horses.

Thanks To…

Special thanks to the good folks at BabyCenter for their Primer on Lullaby Lyrics, which provided some of the hard-to-find lullabies here.