Don't wait until you're pregnant to improve your eating habits. Set the stage now with healthy diet changes to ensure your baby gets off to a strong start. Pay attention to your diet For both men and women, food and fertility are linked. Stick to a balanced diet to boost your chances of a healthy baby. Eat several servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cheese, and milk every day. Not getting enough nutrients can affect your periods, making it difficult to predict when you ovulate. And you may not ovulate at all if you're significantly underweight or obese. Your partner should also pay attention to his diet since certain vitamins and nutrients – such as zinc and vitamins C and E, and folic acid – are important for making healthy sperm. Fish is a nutritional powerhouse for a growing baby, offering low-fat protein with omega-3 fatty acids, but you need to take care to avoid types that are high in mercury, which can be dangerous to your unborn baby. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration urges women to eat 8 to 12 ounces of a variety of fish each week. Because mercury can accumulate in your body and linger there for more than a year, avoid high-mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Instead, eat lower-mercury fish such as salmon and canned light tuna (not albacore, which is higher in mercury) once or twice a week. Read more on eating fish while trying to conceive. And once you're pregnant, experts recommend limiting yourself to less than 200 milligrams a day of caffeine – that's a little less than a 12-ounce cup of coffee – because higher amounts have been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. If you have a strong coffee or soda habit, you might want to start weaning yourself off caffeine now. Take prenatal vitamins Although you can meet almost all of your nutritional needs through a balanced diet, many experts believe that even the healthiest eaters can use extra help. Taking a prenatal vitamin ensures that you're getting enough folic acid and other essential nutrients to boost your chances of conceiving a healthy baby. Remember that a supplement is a safeguard, not a substitute for a sound diet. And since regular over-the-counter multivitamins may contain megadoses of vitamins and minerals that could be harmful to a developing baby, choose a pill formulated specifically for pregnant women. If you have a vegetarian diet, you may also need vitamin D and B-12 supplements, along with extra protein. Talk with your healthcare provider about the right prenatal supplement for you. Get enough folic acid Folic acid has been proven to reduce a baby's risk of neural-tube birth defects such as spina bifida, and it is linked to a lower incidence of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and diabetes. Most women of child-bearing age should take a supplement with 400 micrograms (mcg) daily for at least a month before pregnancy, and 600 micrograms during pregnancy. If you have a family history of neural-tube birth defects or take medication for seizures, your healthcare provider may suggest that you boost your daily intake to 4,000 mcg, or 4 mg, starting at least a month before you conceive and continuing throughout your first trimester. A good over-the-counter prenatal vitamin should contain more than the minimum recommendation of folic acid, between 600 and 800 mcg – what you'll need during pregnancy. In addition, you can eat folate-rich foods, such as dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals. Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, so your body will flush out the excess if you consume too much. But there's a downside to being water-soluble, too: You can lose a lot of this vitamin in cooking water, so steam or cook vegetables in a small amount of water to preserve the folate. Be aware that getting too much folate may hide a vitamin B-12 deficiency, which is sometimes a problem for vegetarians. Ask your doctor or midwife if you think you may be at risk. Maintain a healthy weight It might be a good idea to shed some pounds, or gain a few if you're underweight, while you're trying to get pregnant, since you want to be as close as possible to your recommended weight when you conceive. Being over- or underweight can make it harder to get pregnant. Also, obese women have more pregnancy and birth complications, and underweight women are more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby. In addition to following a smart eating plan with low-fat, high-fiber foods, get regular exercise. If you're overweight, aim to lose one to two pounds a week, a safe rate of weight loss. Extreme weight loss from crash dieting can deplete your body's nutritional stores, which isn't a good way to start a pregnancy.
Your toddler now First steps now…or later Many children take their first steps sometime between 9 and 12 months and are walking well by the time they're 14 or 15 months old. But don't worry if your child hasn't let go of the coffee table yet. It's also perfectly normal for kids not to take that first step until they're 15 or 16 months, or even later. (Learn more about when kids walk.) Encourage both cruising and walking by giving your child lots of opportunities to move without help and by not picking him up and carrying him too often. You can encourage a tentative walker by arranging furniture so there are safe and convenient handholds all along his path. Remove any dangers he might grab on to, such as a dangling tablecloth or electrical cord. If your child is trying to toddle, he might feel more secure if he can hang on to one of your fingers, or if he puts his hands in the air and you walk behind him, holding his hands. A push toy provides walking practice, too. Just make sure it's stable and has a wide, secure base. Two walking aids you don't need: walkers (the American Academy of Pediatrics says they're unsafe and actually discourage kids from learning to walk) and shoes in the house. Bare feet, socks, or the popular soft-bottomed "baby shoes" help a beginning walker practice balance and coordination. Reserve real shoes for protecting your toddlers' feet outdoors.
What are the signs that my baby is getting enough breast milk? Your breastfeeding baby is probably getting enough nourishment if: Your breasts feel softer after nursing (because your baby has emptied some of the milk that was making them firm). Your baby seems relaxed and satisfied after a feeding. Your baby continues to gain weight after gaining back the weight she initially lost after birth. (Most babies lose up to 7 percent of their birth weight and then regain it by the time they're about 2 weeks old.) A rough guideline: Your baby should gain about 6 to 8 ounces a week for the first four months, then about 4 to 6 ounces per week from 4 to 7 months. Your baby wets at least six diapers a day after your milk comes in. In the first few days, when your baby is getting only your thick, nutrient-rich colostrum, she may have only one or two wet diapers a day. But after your baby starts getting regular breast milk, she'll start having a lot more wet diapers. In the first month, your baby has at least three stools a day, and they lighten to a yellowy mustard color within five to seven days after birth. She may have less frequent bowel movements once she's a month old or skip bowel movements for several days now and then. Once she's eating solid foods, at 4 to 6 months, she'll probably go back to having at least one bowel movement a day. What are the signs that my baby isn't getting enough breast milk? Watch for these signs if you're concerned about your baby's milk intake: Your baby continues to lose weight. If your baby doesn't start gaining weight after five days, or if he starts losing weight again any time after that, talk with his doctor. Your baby is wetting fewer than six diapers in a 24-hour period after the five days following his birth. Your baby has small, dark stools after his first five days. Your baby's urine is very dark, like the color of apple juice. (If his urine is pale or clear, he's getting enough liquid. If it's more concentrated, it may be a sign that he's low on fluids.) Your baby is fussy or lethargic much of the time. He may fall asleep as soon as you put him to your breast but then fuss when you take him off. Your baby appears to have a dry mouth or eyes. Your baby just doesn't seem satisfied, even if feedings consistently take longer than an hour. Your breasts don't feel softer after nursing. You rarely hear your baby swallow while nursing. (Some babies are very quiet feeders, so if all other signs are positive, don't worry about this one!)