Monday, September 12, 2016

The Music of My Children

I’m not a very good dancer. I never really learned how to dance and I’m a little uncomfortable dancing when other people are around.

I also can’t sing. My mean, terrible, horrible sister told me I had a lousy voice when we were little and I just stopped singing all together. I love my sister and she’s not really mean, terrible or horrible, but she’s my sister so also she is.

I can’t play any musical instruments. I wanted to be good at playing an instrument and in elementary school, I played the flute for two years, but I really wanted to play the drums. After those two years I lost interest in playing an instrument and never went back to try anything else.

I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hope my kids dance in public like there is no one around, sing loud & proud and find an instrument that they love and feel in their heart.

The benefits for children of dancing, singing, playing and listening to music are profound.

Dancing helps toddlers develop their gross motor skills, practice self-expression, gain coordination, interact socially with others and much more. Dancing is great exercise and not to mention a lot of fun.

In her article for the British Council (, Lin Marsh explains that Singing is an aerobic exercise that improves the efficiency of the cardio-vascular system increasing the oxygenation of the blood. Signing can help with stress reduction, longevity and improved general health. Additionally, when you belt out a song, it increases airflow in the upper respiratory tract impeding bacteria that can cause colds and flu.

Reading music and playing an Instrument is a relative of mathematics and will help a child develop creative expression. But before they can read and express musical notes, using simple drums, bells and shakers are a fun and interactive way to introduce a child to musical instruments and allow them to be part of a song.

Music in general contributes to all areas of child development. Music stimulates cognitive, social, emotional, physical and language development. Music and song will broaden a child’s vocabulary as they are exposed to words they sing and want to repeat and remember. Additionally, Mary Gavin MD at explains that music exposes developing children to what experts call “a rich sensory environment”. This means exposing them to a wide variety of tastes, smells, sounds, colors, shapes and more. These experiences create more pathways between neural connections and will help kids in almost every area of school.

When considering a music class or program for your child make sure the class is interactive, fun and includes age appropriate instruments for your child. Additionally a class around 45 minutes long is generally what works best for children through toddler age.

With our own kids, we started them in music classes when they were 6 months old. I’ll never forget the joy I experienced as I watched them smile, laugh and move their little bodies to the music. At home, we make a point to turn up the radio and jump around and have a dance party. In both the music classes and at home I deliberately dance, sing and let my kids see me enjoying myself.

Thanks to this experience and to my kids, I’m not so uncomfortable anymore…even though I still can’t dance and my sister still says I’m a terrible singer!

Music Classes at A Mother’s Haven!

In our Baby & Toddler Music Classes at A Mother's Haven we incorporate music, movement, dance and play to help your child’s communication, social and physical development. Our classes are 45 minutes long and include age appropriate musical instruments, movement and sound to introduce your child to music in a fun interactive way. We have baby and Toddler music classes in English, Spanish and French! We can’t wait to see you and your little one!

Visit our class pages at for more information!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Benefits of a Mommy and Me Group

The birth of your new baby is a very rewarding experience, but it can also be a challenge.  New parents often report extreme emotions; high highs, low lows and inevitable anxieties.  Life changes drastically and you are suddenly responsible for a new little person who depends on your physical, emotional and cognitive stability.  This change can be difficult.  Before baby arrived, your attention was focused on yourself and your partner.  Now you must focus a significant amount of time and attention on your baby, leaving less time for you and others.
A Good Mommy and Me Class can help smooth the transition into parenthood.  The benefits can be significant for both Mom and Baby.

Mommy and Me benefits for Mom and Baby.
Just Get Out!
Taking a class and participating in activities together outside the home will help strengthen the bond between you and your baby.  Inside the home the mundane tasks required for daily life can make focused bonding time a challenge.  A Mommy and Me class allows you to focus your time with your baby.  Parent and baby bonding is important for your child’s development.  Early bonding contributes to your child’s sense of security and self-esteem and serves as their model for intimate relationships later in life.  For mom, isolation is a recipe for loneliness, anxiety and depression.  Just getting out for a Mommy and Me class can help you feel refreshed and energized.

Mommy and Me benefits can be significant for Mom.

Connect and Learn
A Mommy and Me Group will allow you to connect with others experiencing similar success and challenges.  This can be beneficial for you because;
- You will learn and get new ideas from other moms who understand what you are experiencing.
- It helps creates a support system and allows you to make real friends with others feeling the same stresses.
-  Realizing that others are experiencing similar challenges will help you feel normal.  Never underestimate the power of feeling normal and understood.

Postpartum Depression
According to the National Institute of Mental Heath (NIMH) 80% of woman experience some kind of mood disturbance after pregnancy.  For most, the symptoms are mild and they go away naturally, but 15-20% of woman experience more severe Postpartum Depression.   Mommy and me classes allow you to bond closely with your baby and promote the self-esteem of both of you.  It allows mom to meet and connect with other moms and have a support system.  When a Mommy and Me group is led by a professional facilitator mom can get guidance identifying when additional help is needed and where to get help.

Mommy and Me benefits are also significant for Baby.
Baby Socialization
Getting out and spending time with other babies is important for your baby’s social development.  Interacting with other babies helps build social skills and self-confidence and allows them to be around others their own age.  This will prove beneficial when they begin pre-school or kindergarten.

Cognitive Development
Seeing other babies and other people introduces new sights, sounds and smells critical for your baby’s cognitive development.  A good Mommy and Me group will include singing songs, playing with developmentally appropriate toys and include Mommy and Baby movement activities.  This helps baby acquire reasoning skills and increases self-control.

Motor Skill Development
A Mommy and Baby class that includes exercise will help your baby develop their motor skills and show them the importance of exercising and staying healthy.

Mommy and Me Options!
Whatever Mommy and Me group you choose, you’re making a great choice as there is a lot of
anecdotal and empirical evidence that suggests Mommy and Me groups are very beneficial for both mom and baby.

At A Mother’s Haven, our Mothers’ Gathering groups are our most popular and most full-featured Mommy and Me Class.  This class is led by a professional facilitator and is for moms and babies only.  The class starts as early as your child’s 4-week birthday.  Mother’s Gathering is an Education & Support group for moms who are looking for information & friendship.  This is not just a baby group, but a place to gather information and tools to determine what fits best for you and your child.  For baby, the class includes singing songs, developmentally appropriate play and movement activities.

Parent and Me Classes and don’t forget Daddy!
A Mother’s Haven additionally has several other great classes for Mom (or Dad) and baby as well as a Daddy and Me class just for Dad.

In our Mommy and Baby Yoga class we show Mommies how to nurture and be nurtured in a fun, interactive way while getting a great yoga workout.  You’ll be doing exercises both on your own and with your baby, including warm ups, abdominal/pelvic exercises, leg work, arm work and relaxation. Babies are incorporated into the class both as observers and as active participants using soothing infant massage, songs, rhymes and other playful exercises.

In our Baby & Toddler Music classes we incorporate music, movement, play, and dance to help your child’s communication, social and physical development.  The class includes age-appropriate musical instruments, movement and sounds to introduce your child to music in a fun and interactive way. We have Baby & Toddler Music Classes available in English, Spanish or French.

Baby Sign Language is a fun and cognitive activity for you and your baby.  Baby Sign Language gives your baby a way to share their wants and needs as early as six or seven months old by using basic American Sign Language (ASL) signs.  Using signs gives them a way to let you know what they’re interested in before they can tell you verbally.

Our Infant Massage class explores the use of massage and the power of nurturing touch. Infant massage is a wonderful way to facilitate the important early bonding of parents and their infants. It is very helpful in relieving and soothing common discomforts, promotes physiological and neurological development and encourages restful sleep.

Daddy and Me is just for dads and babies ages 1-12 months old.  Daddy and Me is a class for Dad to spend focused bonding time with baby and meet other new dads.  The class has activities for baby while the class facilitator discusses strategies for your parenting toolbox, helping you to find confidence in your parenting skills and choices.

Visit our class pages at for more information!

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The BEST Baby Shower Gifts!

The BEST Baby Shower Gifts!

When helping someone pick out a baby shower gift we like to suggest useful and fun items that might not be on a new parent’s registry. The products we pick are must-have baby items and are sure to be used and appreciated by baby and parent, but most likely won’t be found at the mass-market retailers. Below are just a few of the great items we suggest. Visit us in store for more ideas and beautifully wrapped shower baskets and gift bags! 

Mia the Lamb by CaaOcho Friends
Mia is made of 100% natural rubber and is certified Non-Toxic.  Mia has slightly ridged ears to sooth sore teething gums and she promotes sensory development with different textures for tactile exploration. Mia is sure to be one of your baby’s favorite toys.  Mia is produced sustainably and is completely biodegradable. 
Price:  $19.99 

Skwish by Manhattan Toys
The Skwish Toy is the perfect first toy for any baby.  This cognitive toy can be rolled like a ball and has colorful sliding beads.  The toy squishes and will then return to its original shape.  It appeals to baby’s visual and tactile curiosity and is a source of wonder and learning.  Made from renewable wood with a water based color finish.
Price:  $17.00  

American Sign Language Blocks by Uncle Goose
Babies know what they want as early as 6 months and sign language gives them a way to let you know what they’re interested in before they can communicate verbally.  Uncle Goose Sign Language Blocks are made of Basswood and give parent and baby the opportunity to learn to sign letters.  Supplemented with a sign language program they’re sure to help baby communicate before she or he can talk.  A must have for every new family!
Price: $45.00 

Baby Shusher by The Sleep Miracle
The baby Shusher is a doctor-approved and thoroughly tested technique to break a baby’s cry spell and engage their natural calming reflex.  The rhythmic “shush” reminds baby of the in-utero womb noises.  It has a timer option, volume control and is versatile and portable for use in the car, stroller, crib or anywhere!
Price:  $38.00 

Honest Baby Arrival Gift Set by The Honest Company
Treat mom and baby with a full set of Honest products made with safe & natural ingredients.  The set is wrapped in a beautiful, reusable wooden box made from sustainable wood.  A must have to start baby off with The Honest Company’s best products!
Price: $51.50

…and don’t forget something for Mom! 

My Mother, My Friend Necklace by Becoming
We like making the mom-to-be feel special at her baby shower so we like to suggest bringing something special just for her.  Becoming makes amazing necklaces’ and jewelry with special messages and special meaning.   The “My Mother, My Friend” necklace is sure to be a hit with mom.
Price:  $64.00

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Real Show

Happy 4th of July!

I love celebrating Independence Day!  For me it’s always represented the kickoff of summer.  Having the day fall on a Monday is a nice bonus as the three-day weekend is a welcome and needed break from work, obligations and general stress!  I try to remember to reflect for a moment that we are celebrating our Independence and the birth of our great country, but for most of the weekend I’m focused on my family, barbecues and fireworks!

Every year since the birth of our first, we’ve made an effort to spend the 4th with families we’ve grown close to with children of the same age.   We spend the day swimming, barbecuing and enjoying a little adult company while the kids run, jump, play and have a ball with their friends.  This year, we are going to make our way over to a local park to watch the annual firework show.  The kids are already super excited and I’m told that the show we’re planning to watch never disappoints.  My husband (I already know) is going to insist we enhance the show with patriotic music played by a local radio station.  This is a relic from his childhood and the kids and I will groan, but I secretly enjoy the music too and I have a strong feeling the kids will do the same when they are older!  When the show starts, I have no doubt it will be amazing, but this year the fireworks in the sky will not be the show I watch.  

I’ve seen plenty of fireworks shows and I’ve enjoyed them all and someday in the future I will enjoy watching them again.  The show I will watch is on the faces of my two kids.  Their little faces literally light up in the dark with every explosion and every new flare brings a new wonderful expression. I watch the show through their eyes even though I’m not watching it at all. On this day and especially in this moment I’m focused on and reminded of what is important…it is my kids and my family. So, I’m sure the fireworks will be amazing this year, but for me, the real show isn’t in the sky, its on two faces that make it all worth it.

Happy Independence Day from A Mother’s Haven!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pediatric Sleep and Travel

Traveling with young children can be a challenge, to say the least. I like to say that traveling with children is not a vacation, but a relocation. Those of you that have traveled with babies or toddlers probably know what I'm talking about. It is important to note that the better your child sleeps at home, the better he/she will likely sleep when you are away.  However, traveling can throw anyone off schedule, so trying to help your little one get the best daytime and nighttime sleep possible while away from home is key, since a well-rested child = a happier child.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when traveling with your young family:

- Make sure you pack bottles or sippy cups, extra diapers, plenty of wipes, low-mess snacks (for both parents & children), new toys for the car or plane ride, and a change of clothes for your little one (and a clean shirt for you).  
- Invest in a good travel crib (or borrow one) and bring along properly fitting crib sheets. If your child is older and sleeps in a bed, bring along his/her favorite small blanket and lovey.
- When you arrive at your destination, spend time with your little one in the room where he/she will be sleeping to help him/her become more acclimated and comfortable.
- Try to follow the same naptime and bedtime routine that you do at home. Bring along a nightlight, his/her favorite books, favorite pjs, and quiet toys, especially those that he/she associates with napping and bedtime.
- Bring a source of soothing background noise for where your baby will be sleeping: a sleep sounds app for your mobile device or a sound machine.
- Plan your daily activities around your baby/toddler's nap schedule. If possible, let him/her sleep at least once per day in the travel crib or bed where he/she will be sleeping at night.
- If you are traveling across time zones it is best to switch your child to his/her usual wake/sleep times according to the new clock.  Exposure to sunlight (particularly in the morning) can help the body adjust.
- Enjoy your visit/vacation. Even if it means your child gets off schedule somewhat (you can work on getting back on track when you get home), making memories with your little one is priceless.

Tracie Kesatie, M.A. is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach and an experienced mother of two.  In addition to working with private clients, Tracie also runs a pediatric sleep support group for parents and caregivers once a month at A Mother’s Haven in Encino.  If your family needs individualized pediatric sleep support, please do not hesitate to contact Tracie at Rest Well Baby ( to learn more about her gentle sleep solutions.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Safest Sunscreens for Babies

Are you using sunscreen on your baby? There are so many different options out there and frankly some of them might be doing more harm than good! The EWG has published their Suncreen Guide giving customers tips on what sunscreens are the safest for themselves and baby.

Before you go outside, EWG suggests the following:

1. Wear clothes.
Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays, reducing risk by 27%.

2. Plan around the sun.
Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky.

3. Find shade – or make it.
Picnic under a tree or take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade, reducing the risk of multiple burns by 30%.

4. Don’t get burned.
Red, sore, blistered skin means you’ve gotten far too much sun.

5. Sunglasses are essential.
Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation.

6. Check UV Index
The UV Index provides important information to help you plan your outdoor activities in ways that prevent sun overexposure.

Some of their best rated sunscreens are:

Babytime! By Episencial Sunny Sunscreen, SPF 35 - Rated 1

The Honest Company Honest Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 - Rated 1

Thinkbaby Sunscreen, SPF 50+ - Rated 1

Visit us at:
16101 Ventura Blvd. Suite 230
Encino, CA. 91436
p. (818) 380-3111 w.