Melanie Kissell

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Take Out the Mystery and Put in the Fun: Reading with Babies Birth through Two Years

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2009 at 9:57 pm


Let’s switch up the conversation a bit today from “lactation” to “literacy” – two important life skills that begin with “L”.

Post By Cathy Puett Miller, Independent Children’s Literacy Consultant

You are starting a whole new world with the arrival of your new baby. You have lots to think about and probably are full of questions and uncertainties. One of most important gifts you can give you new baby doesn’t cost a dime. It’s the gift of literacy and the gift of you.

Start reading with your baby right away when you come home from the hospital. It will grow the bond between you as your child listens to your soothing, familiar voices (get Dad in on the act too). Relax, trust your instincts, and follow these simple guidelines. You’ll be an expert in no time!


While you are still getting ready, add books to your baby shower “wish list”. If you have favorites of yours from your childhood you can list specific titles. Otherwise choose from the wide variety of picture books (simple, colorful stories with little text to artistic, beautifully illustrated stories). Here are a few to get you going:

The Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier (there are several books with this very same title)

When Daddy Comes Home At Night by Eileen Spinelli (there’s one for Mamas too)

I Already Know I Love You by Billy Crystal

Welcome them all and take time in those few quiet months before the baby arrives to read them yourself. If you like them, your child is likely to also. When you start to read with your baby, it won’t matter so much what you read as that they are hearing the sound of your voice. A few dads even read The Wall Street Journal or Sports Illustrated to their “chip off the old block”. Try these tips as you read with babies six weeks to three months old:

  • Don’t try to read too long. As few as five minutes as you put your baby down for a nap or when you are rocking your baby in your arms.
  • Keep your voice calm; no need to be theatrical at this age. Choose books like Mem Fox’s Time for Bed, a lullaby of a story or excerpts from Hush, Little Ones by John Butler.
  • Once you’re in a routine, try reading to your baby when he or she is fussy. If you’ve already set the pattern to connect reading with a calm, warm, close time, sharing a story before your baby becomes too overstimulated can help him or her to quiet down.



Through varied avenues such as her award-winning Reading is for Everyone® tutorial model, her contributions to as their national “Reading Coach” monthly columnist and her training workshops for children, educators and parents,
Cathy Puett Miller, The Literacy Ambassador™, spends her time spreading the news that reading can be fun, powerful and practical.

Mrs. Miller received the coveted 2003 National Silver Award for investigative educational reporting from Parenting Publications of America and regularly writes for both on-line and print publications including peer-reviewed educational journals such as the Georgia Journal of Reading. She continues to contribute to the world of literacy by designing research-based initiatives, creating reading packages such as’s first reading page for parents, and serving on the Alabama School Readiness Advisory Council and the board of directors of The Reading Tub. She proudly serves as a member of the International Reading Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the National Council of Teachers of English.

Mrs. Miller’s most recent projects involve presenting at regional and state reading and preschool conferences, authoring a book for parents of preschool children on emergent literacy, creating and managing the pilot of a local United Way’s Fun Learning Moments™ parent involvement/school readiness initiative, and conducting a national study on at-home reading in collaboration with university early education departments in AL and TX.

Melanie Kissell



Creating A Personalized Space For Breastfeeding

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2009 at 8:56 pm


Once the third trimester approaches, you’ll want to start stocking up on nursing bras, breast pads, nursing pajamas, and loose button-down shirts for the coming months ahead.  While getting ready to breastfeed, you can also have fun creating your personal space,  a custom-tailored breastfeeding area for yourself and your precious baby.

Your special nursing area should reflect your unique personality. If you prefer a bright, active, yet friendly surrounding, you should consider sitting in a corner of the living room or family room.  Keep an extra chair or two nearby so family members or even friends can keep you company.

If you prefer peace and quiet, a cozy study or guest bedroom would be ideal.  You can close the door, dim the lights, and do some deep, calming breathing exercises for relaxation.

Your Own Special Chair:

No matter if you choose a glider rocker, overstuffed recliner, or desk chair with wheels, you should make sure your nursing chair is super comfortable.  You’ll be sitting in the chair for hours each day, so you’ll want it to be as comfy as possible.  You should always look for one that offers back and shoulder support, along with arm rests.

Support Underfoot:

You can use a footstool, low coffee table, or a stack of firm pillows to elevate your feet as you breastfeed.  If you raise your legs and feet to bring your baby to your breast, you’ll avoid the possibility of backache.

Pillows, Pillows, And More Pillows:

Your neck, arms, feet, and back will need as much support as you can provide, so don’t hesitate to surround your body with pillows.  If you lay a pillow across your lap for your baby, she’ll be very comfortable and that much closer to your nipple.  For extra comfort, you can even purchase a specially made nursing pillow, a “boppy”, that will encircle your waist.

Table For One:

You should always keep a small  end table or stand within arm’s length of your breastfeeding chair. What you use should be accommodating enough to hold a glass of liquid. You’ll also want to keep healthy snacks on hand as well, such as fresh fruit, nuts, or crackers and peanut butter to help you replace the energy you use while you breastfeed.


If your baby is a slow eater or has a really voracious appetite, you may want to keep yourself busy while he feeds.  You can fill the shelves of a nearby cupboard or bookcase with your favorite books or crossword puzzles to occupy yourself until your baby is full.  You should also keep a phone nearby, as well, so that you can talk to family or friends to pass the time.