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15 Ways to Maximize your Maternity Leave

15 Ways to Maximize your Maternity Leave

With nearly 4 million babies born in America every year, you can bet plenty of new mommies are wondering how best to use their time during maternity leave.

Here are 15 unique ideas of what to do on maternity leave to help you fully experience the joy of this short, and wonderful time.

1. Get Photos Taken

Oh, those sweet little newborns only last so long. They look different with every passing day. Don't let that newborn face pass you by. 

Be sure to arrange newborn photos or a family photo session during your time off.

2. Order Vital Records

Sometimes new mommas forget to order their baby's vital records during the chaos of bringing a new baby home.

Maternity leave is the perfect time to order copies of the baby's birth certificate and social security card.

3. Eat Yummy Food

Mom, that baby belly will disappear. You'll return to a regular workout routine. Maternity leave is the time to boost your milk supply and enjoy a hearty meal.

4. Start a Baby Book

Create a baby book. Include photos, the birth story, and any other items you want the baby to see when he or she is older.

5. Join a Parenting Group

Finding mommy friends or other new parents to talk with will bring insight and comfort to your new life.

6. Develop a Sleep Schedule

Newborns have no set sleep schedule. But, towards the end of your maternity leave, you should be able to start seeing signs of a routine. Help baby and yourself by sticking to a regular routine.

7. Nail Down a Care Plan

If you're heading back to work, maternity leave is the perfect time to find a high-quality caregiver. 

8. Accept the Lack of Control - Hire a Parenting Coach!

You've had a baby. Welcome to a whole new life. Things will never be the same again. The sooner you accept the new lack of total control, the better off you'll be. Schedule a free 15-min consultation with our Wunder parent coaches!

9. Pump Extra Milk

If you've decided to breastfeed, maternity leave is the perfect time to pump a little extra milk. Especially if you're planning to return to work full-time and need to leave the baby with a caregiver.

10. Nap, Nap, Nap

Honestly, this can't be overstated. Every single chance you get to enjoy some extra shut-eye, TAKE IT. 

Babies don't keep and neither will you if you don't sleep while you can.

11. Take it Easy

Doctors often recommend no strenuous exercise for 6 weeks after delivery. So, take it easy with light walks or doctor-approved exercise.

12. Scope the Parks

In the coming days, you may spend lots of time at the local park. Find the best ones where fellow mommies and babies might gather.

13. Pamper Yourself

You just popped a baby out. It's time to "treat yo-self." Get your hair done. Eat dessert. Buy some new clothes. Whatever makes you happy.

Work and tantrums and sleep-loss are coming...

14. Plan a Pumping Routine

If you're planning to pump at work, gather your goods. Get your pumping bag and supplies ready so you can store milk away from home.

15. Make Some (More) Freezer Meals 

You probably did this before the baby came. But if you're wondering what to do on maternity leave, making freezer meals for your return to work will be a lifesaver. It'll also leave you more time after work to enjoy newborn cuddles.

Still Not Sure What to Do on Maternity Leave?

Don't stress, mama! As long as you've stayed in touch with work and hammered out details, just take this time to enjoy being home with the baby.

If you're planning to continue work from home after the baby comes, read our tips for new moms working remotely.

Cliff’s Notes: What is the 30 Million Word Gap—And What Does It Mean for Your Child?

Cliff’s Notes: What is the 30 Million Word Gap—And What Does It Mean for Your Child?

As a parent, research studies and concepts are tossed at you often—and you can feel like you haven’t done your homework if you’re caught off-guard. We’re here to help you demystify what’s out there, and put those theories into practice to help your child grow. Let’s start with a big one: The 30 Million Word Gap.

What is the 30 Million Word Gap?

In 1993 researchers Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley found that “children from high-income families hear up to 30 million more words by the age of four than children from low-income families.” 

That’s a pretty hefty claim and one that can feel really overwhelming, so it’s worth taking a moment to untangle the study and understand what it means—and what it means for your child.

For two and a half years, Hart and Risely studied 42 families of differing socioeconomic status, meeting monthly and tape recording the young children’s (from 7 months to 3 years) language environments. They found the children in the upper income households were spoken to significantly more often than their lower income counterparts. They used those numbers to extrapolate over the child’s waking hours to arrive at that 30 million number aggregate number that forms the difference by age four. While the original study also touched on qualitative aspects of the language as well (vocabulary, pace of talk, tone, eye contact, etc.), that information didn’t get nearly as much attention.


The findings sparked endless debate, as one would expect for research summarized under the heading: The Early Catastrophe. Programs and policies based upon the research exploded, including the founding of the Thirty Million Words Initiative by Dana Suskind. That Initiative organized home interventions to teach parents (especially those in low-income areas) how to speak to their children more and how to speak to them better, and garnered positive impact on those children’s test scores (you can watch a video showing some of their effects here).

So why is this a hot button issue again?
In the last two years, the debate was reignited, and the number isn’t believed to be quite as dramatic—partially because new automated technology like LENA has been developed to arrive at more accurate numbers and partially because the original sample wasn’t as representative as modern standards would dictate. NPR has a great article that summarizes the counterpoints to the original study, while still acknowledging that “the underlying desire to help kids is still pretty compelling.”

What’s most interesting to Wunder (and we think to most parents) is how that original study pairs with recent findings from neuro-imaging studies at Harvard and MIT.

As scientists have spent more time examining early development, modern studies show that the language areas of the brain (the Broca’s area) are actually most stimulated by interactive talk.

In short: It’s not just how much you say but how you say it. 

The MIT/Harvard study showed that conversation turns are more critical to helping language development than giving your baby a laundry list of words. Back-and-forth exchanges boost the brain’s response to language, regardless of socio-economic status.

While there might be an achievement gap, the types of conversations you have are far more important than the quantity. So it’s important for families of all levels to focus on modeling language types in those early stages to help make sure all children are on a level-language playing field. 

That’s why we believe a monitoring both word and conversation count is the way to go. It’s important to keep an eye on both the quality and quantity of conversation you’re having with your kids.


So, how can I provide diverse language examples to my child?


It’s important to engage your child in various types of language. Sitting down and trying to come up with 30 million vocabulary words isn’t going to better prepare them for middle school, but introducing them to cognitive stimulation and conversational skills at a young age does. 


Try some of these techniques:

  • When pointing things out to your child, look back at them and maintain eye contact to impress the vocabulary word
  • Play songs and sing along to promote memory throughout the day
  • Integrate counting throughout the day, for example ticking off their toes while you are changing their diaper. 
  • Identify noises you hear, say while you are on walk
  • Offer your child choices (keeping in mind that you’ll want to be happy with any of their options
Ask your child thought-provoking questions that guide them to: 
  • Come up with their own ideas
  • Think about something else he/she did recently that's related
  • Lead them to think about the real world outside the book you’re reading


    Wunder can help. Our app tailors activities to your child’s age and development, and features an entire section of ideas focused around improving language and literacy skills. Sign up to join our waitlist today.

     

    Baby Sleep Schedule 101: How to Get a Routine Down with Your Newborn

    Baby Sleep Schedule 101: How to Get a Routine Down with Your Newborn

    There are few things in life more exciting than bringing home a brand new baby!

    Babies bring joy, excitement, and fulfillment to life, but they can also leave you feeling exhausted.

    You'll need energy, though, to care for your baby, and a great way to get the energy you need is by establishing a baby sleep schedule.

    Now, this isn't going to happen overnight. But, it can happen a lot faster if you are intentional with it.

    Here are some helpful tips you can use to create a good sleep schedule for your little child.

    Start When Your Little One Is a Few Weeks Old

    It's not easy to train a brand-new baby to stick to a schedule, so don't try to rush this. Instead, wait until your child is at least a few weeks old before implementing a sleep schedule routine.

    If you start too soon, you may feel discouraged when your plan is not working. Be patient, and start slowly. It will take some time for you to learn your baby, and for your baby to learn a routine.

    Your baby will most likely adapt well to an established routine by the time he or she is a few months old.

    Keep Day and Night Separate

    Babies aren't born with a sense of night and day, so helping them learn the difference is key to a successful sleep schedule. You can start right away!

    During the day, keep the blinds or curtains open to let lots of daylight in. When your baby isn't napping, give them lots of stimulating play, conversation, and eye contact. At night and nap time, turn the lights and volume low.

    When your baby wakes to feed at night, turn on the dimmest light possible, keep talking to a minimum, and resist the urge to gaze into their eyes (they find it really stimulating!). They'll soon start to realize that day is for activity and night is for sleep.

    Create a Routine Before Bed

    As your baby begins growing, you should create a routine to use before bed. A lot of parents like bathing their babies before bed. Next, they may read a story to their child. After that, they may cuddle them and sing them a lullaby.

    These are all great activities to incorporate into a sleep schedule. As your baby develops, he or she will get used to the order of these events and will know what to expect next.

    Having a schedule is essential for a baby's cognitive development. Babies will even sleep better when they have a schedule to follow.

    Let Him or Her Fall Asleep Alone

    One aspect to include in your bedtime routine is letting your baby fall asleep on his or her own. Don't wait to put your newborn to bed until he or she is sleeping. Instead, let your child learn how to fall asleep alone.

    Offer a Safe, Nurturing Environment

    It's also essential to provide your newborn with a safe, nurturing environment to sleep in. Your baby should sleep in a room that is dark and cool. It should be free of drafts, too.

    You can play white noise in the background to offer a soothing sound for your baby, and you should always put your baby to sleep in the same place for naps and bedtime.

    Learn More About Developing a Baby Sleep Schedule

    Creating a baby sleep schedule is vital for you and your child. If you start working on it and stay consistent, you'll have a good routine to use each day.

    If you would like more information about parenting a new baby, check out our blog for more helpful articles.