EveryDay Moms Photographer List

 

Tampa Area Photographers

In today’s photography world there are so many choices. Choices in photographers, choices in types of photography, different editing styles, full-service luxury or DIY digitals with everything in between. The list goes on and on. So how do you choose the right one? Is a documentary photographer right for you, would you rather more of a lifestyle session or maybe a posed portrait session is more your style? OR maybe like 90% of the world you don’t even know there is a difference in all of this! Maybe you don’t care about the label as much as the results!

 

When you start looking for a photographer the number one best place to start (after you have asked your friends, that neighborhood Facebook group and maybe looked through some Instagram hashtags) is by looking at a photographer’s portfolio. Scan through their website, pour through their latest images on FB and IG. Do their images speak to you? Do they make you feel something? Do you look at them and think, wow I want images like that? Does their editing style match your taste and your vision? Really look at their work and ask yourself if it is something you would hang on your wall! Do you just like their pretty pictures or do they make you feel something inside? Do they create art that you would hang on your walls?

 

Next thing to ask yourself do they fit in your budget? Remember that cheaper doesn’t always mean better but we all have a budget to work within. For some that might mean saving money for 6 months to have that dream session, asking the photographer if they accept a payment plan (many will!) or looking elsewhere to find someone that fits. Your photographer understands that everyone has financial constraints, talk to them about what your budget really is or if you really want them, wait and see if they offer a sale!

Ask yourself:

  • Do you want heirloom art to hang on your walls or an album to pass along to future generations?
  • Maybe you want digital images only to put on your computer or make your own prints
  • Maybe you want all of the above?
  • Does your photographer blog their sessions so you can share that with friends and family?
  • If you only want digitals ask yourself why and what you really plan to do with them
  • Do they offer family films as well as photography services?

Knowing these answers will help you narrow down your choices!

Other considerations are does their service match your needs? Are they a full-service provider to help you through each step in the process from a pre-consultation meeting to helping you put prints in your hands or on your walls? Maybe you don’t want that and just need someone who provides you with digital images and let you do the rest of the work.

tampa bay area photographers

Now let’s talk about different types of sessions. Posed Portrait traditional sessions, Lifestyle session or Documentary sessions.

Traditional Sessions

These can be in a studio or on a location. They are typically stiffer, everyone is placed in a certain position, told to look at the camera and smile. Clothes generally are coordinated, makeup artists hired, the background is pretty.

Lifestyle Sessions

These can also be either in a studio or on location, although more typically they are done on location. While everyone is dressed in their coordinated Sunday’s best, the session itself is much more relaxed. There is still a lot of direction usually given by the photographer, but mainly they are gentle cues to elicit warm funny reactions. These often take place in a gorgeous setting, sometimes with props, but not always. They can be more of a hybrid between Traditional and Documentary.

Documentary Sessions

This is all about real life, real moments and very little to no direction. Sessions like this can take place in your home or other places that contain memories for you and your family. They can be centered around a daily activity or just your everyday real life. No special bought coordinating outfits, no cheese, no stand there, do this. These sessions are more about photographing the pieces of your life that matter the most at this point in time (and yes those important moments vary from season to season, that’s what keeps it fun!). Think about a few things happening in your life right now that you would be over the moon to have in a photograph giving you the chance to remember once they no longer happen, that is what these sessions are all about!

Tampa Bay Area Photographers

Below is a list of local photographers that all belong to the EveryDay Mom’s group. They are moms, friends and post funny meme’s. Scroll through the list, look at everyone’s work and see what style really fits your tastes and needs! 

 

Momma Got Soul Photo and Films

http://www.mommagotsoulphotography.com/

Artistic Storyteller and Documentary Family photographer. Telling your family story through beautiful real-life moments.

Families, Day in the Life, Maternity, newborn and events

 

Running Circles Photography

www.runningcirclesphotography.com

Birth and Newborn Photographer

 

Nicole Marcellus Photography

www.nicoleleighmarcellus.com

Families and Weddings

 

Heartstrings Photography

https://www.facebook.com/heartstringsphotosbytiffany/

Families

 

Lokelani Photo

www.facebook.com/lokelaniphoto

Rather than giving you the same posed portraits you’re so familiar with, I’m more interested in capturing the authentic connection between loved ones.

All aspects of Family Photography from the engagement to the wedding, maternity, birth & newborn, and finally the traditional family photos.

 

Clara Aluri Photography

https://www.facebook.com/claraaluriphotography/

Families

 

Precious Memories by Michelle

http://www.preciousmemoriesbymichelle.com/

Newborn through the first year

 

Mama and Crew

www.mamaandcrew.com

Focused on capturing life’s candid moments

Families

 

Sunshine Smiles photography
Www.sunshinesmilesphotography.com

Glamour

 

Lauren McDonald Photography

laurenmcdonaldphotos.com

Newborn, maternity

 

Sweet Novalee Photography

https://sweetnovaleephoto.wordpress.com/

Capturing candid natural light images

Families

 

Sweet Plum Photography and Boudoir

www.sweetplumphotography.com 

www.sweetplumboudoir.com

Specializing in maternity, birth, family, and boudoir. I love making my clients cry (in a good way!) I find the beauty in you and your family and I capture it.

Birth, Families, and Boudoir

 

Andrea Dwyer Photography

Www.andreadwyerphotography.com

Beautiful heirloom portraits and a fabulous experience with personalized session styling

Maternity Newborn through the first year

 

Miranda Love Photography

https://www.facebook.com/Mirandalovephotography/

Maternity, Newborn and children

 

Sheena Marie Photography

https://www.facebook.com/sheenamariephotos/

Maternity, newborn, families

 

Christine Lee Photography
www.christineleephotography.net

Sessions focused on real emotions, genuine smiles, and honest laughter.

Families and Kids

 

Misty Jones 

www.mistyjonesphotograpy.com

Natural light photographer. Sessions are held in a home studio or on location.

Families, Children and couples

 

Kalyn Parrish Photography
Facebook.com/kalynparrishphotography

Newborn, maternity

 

Amber Lynn Photography

www.facebook.com/amberlynnphotography.ambernanton

Family

 

Anna Faiola Productions 

www.annafaiola.com

Photography and video production company

 

Kimberly Smith
http://www.faithfuljoyphotos.com/

Lifestyle, candid photographer

Families

 

Yanira McCall Photography

http://yaniramccall.com/

Specialize in Family, Women, Children, Senior, and Personal Branding/Headshots style Portraits.

 

Ali Shryock Photography
www.alishryockphotography.com

Families, Maternity, Newborn

 

Nadia Lauchman 
Www.nadialauchmanphotography.com

Newborn, maternity and families

 

Rachel Rayne Photography

https://www.rachelraynephotography.com/

Luxury Maternity and Newborn Photography specializing in beach sessions and an

award-winning experience

 

Memories Captured by Kelly 
https://www.facebook.com/memoriescapturedbykelly/

Family

 

Essentia Photography 

www.essentiaphotography.com

Specialize in beach photography,

Wedding, Lifestyle, and Maternity

 

Lindsay Bove Photography
Lbovephotography.com

Lifestyle, maternity, children and family portraits

 

Darlene Barlows Photography

www.darlenebarlowsphotography.com

I want to document the special moments in your life, whether at your wedding or the birth of your first child, but I also want to be there for the ordinary moments.

Wedding, Families, Headshots

 

Abbey Saxton Photography

www.abbeysaxton.com

I would love to document your family just as they are!

Families, Day in the Life, Maternity, newborn and weddings

 

Jennifer Lynne Photography

https://www.facebook.com/JenniferLynneSelf/

Families

 

Dream Portraits by Olaya

https://www.dreamportraitsbyolaya.com/

Maternity, Newborn and Family

 

Tee Lynn Photography

www.facebook.com/teelynnPhotography

Wedding & family photographer

 

Golden Owl Photography

www.fb.com/goldenowlphotography

Child and Family Photographer

 

Amie Brady Photography
www.facebook.com/amiebradyphotography

Family

 

Chelsea Stewart Photography

Facebook.com/chelseastewartphotographer

Maternity, Children, and Families

 

Allison Ward Photography

http://www.allysonwardphoto.com/

Family, Senior, and Head Shots

 

Jessica Cruz Photography
www.jessicacruzphotography.com

If traditional imagery and shot lists are your thing, we might not be the best fit. Your love is one of a kind and your photos should reflect that.

Weddings, family, maternity

 

Digital Myst Photography

www.digitalmystphotography.com

Maternity, Newborn and Family

 

Cherished Moments Photography

http://dustygirl4.wix.com/cherishedmoments

Family and Wedding

 

Nicole Elizabeth Photography & Design

www.facebook.com/NEphotography11

Family, maternity, wedding

 

Mir Salgado Photography

www.mirsalgado.com

With a very Elegant, Emblematic and Artistic style

Wedding & Portrait Photographer

 

J Morgan Images
Www.jmorganimages.com

Family, Portrait, Weddings, and Beauty

 

Marie Crowne Photography

https://www.mariecrowne.com/

Children, families, maternity, engagements, and weddings.

 

Soul Child Photography

facebook.com/Soul-Child-Photography

Engagement, families and children

 

Austyn Lee Photography

facebook.com/austynleephotography

Families

 

 

Make sure when you reach out that you ask lots of questions and tell them you are a fellow EveryDay Moms Member!

 

Mom and Daughter Selfie

The momma behind Momma Got Soul Photo and Films, Tampa Bay Family Photographer. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am an artistic storyteller. I stay up late, try to sleep late, and drink lots of coffee and beer (usually in that order, but not always). I grew up in sunny (which means really hot) central Florida, never go to the beach or Disney, but try to hike in the woods as much as I can. I remember a time when I said I would never photograph people, now that’s all I do. I think it started with wanting to explore the world and capture that to share with people. Now I want to scream to the world that real stuff beats out fake any day of the week!

Just Breath Supermom

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Thank you. Thank you to the mom that wrote something that moved me so much that I was paralyzed with emotion while sitting in my bed, surrounded by laundry, dust bunnies, and a computer that begged for me to do my homework. Thank you for making me realize that I am not alone. That it is “ok” to not be “ok”. That it is ok not be a supermom all-day, every single day. That sometimes letting the kids eat dinner in front of the TV just so I can sit down and breath for one damn second is OK.

You see we moms are pretty hard on ourselves. Call it biology. Call it societal pressure. Call it what you want – but we often hold ourselves to a ridiculously impossible standard. Why? I am certainly not the one who has it all figured out but what I do know is that I thank all the mommy bloggers and mommy posters out there that at some point, have had a rough day, and then have taken that opportunity to make light of it for the rest of us who just mig

SuperMom (1)

ht also be having a rough day.

And to the mom that posted in a mom’s group of 5600 women that today she was just surviving and that it was ok – you freed me from my self-inflicted notion that I suck at this parenting thing just because I feel too overwhelmed to do anything worthy of super-mom status, thank you. Thank you for making me feel, and connecting with not only myself but so many other women than needed to hear your words. Words can do so much. Because of words like hers and the many other women that put it all out there – even on really bad days we can remember that tomorrow is brighter and better than this one bad day. That because I am a mom I can survive this and pick myself up and move forward for not only the ones I love, but for myself.

So moms, let us give ourselves permission. Permission to turn on Micky Mouse Clubhouse so we can read a chapter out of our favorite book. Permission to hide in our bathroom for 5 minutes to paint our long over-do toenails. Permission to do whatever it is that helps us do this mom thing a little better. Some days are awesome – some are not. In those moments when we feel we just cannot do it anymore, remember you are not alone. There are women out there from all walks of life “just breathing” in their closets, bathrooms, and driver’s seat. Go on, and remember to “just breath”, and make tomorrow better.

How your family can Celebrate & Honor Black History Month.

February is African American History month. It is a time when we pay tribute to generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to secure equal opportunities in America. It is a time when we recognize that although we are all different, we are really all similar, too. There are many ways to celebrate with your family.

• Visit local museums. It’s likely that February’s premier exhibits will focus on the work of African American creators.

• Sit back, relax and listen to some good, classic jazz. Or go to a jazz concert. Enjoy African American music from the past from Duke Ellington, Zora Neale Hurston, Ethel Waters, and Langston Hughes.

• Read a book together or watch a movie about the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball.

• Join the celebration. Visit cities and towns that enjoy festive cultural celebrations during this month.

• Talk to your kids about diversity and racism. Ask them if they see it in their school and how they feel about it. What can they do to fight it?

• Study your own family’s history and help them see that we all come from another country and culture.

• Head to the library to check out a few books about African American adventures or biographies.

How do you like YOUR peanut butter?

I’m going to try to paint a picture for you…

Imagine you see a very normal looking, early 20’s girl get out of her car in a Walmart parking lot on Christmas Eve.
Now imagine you saw that she’s parked in a handicapped space. What would be your first thought?
Some old people driving by, thought that there couldn’t possibly be a reason for a young girl to have a handicap plate. PLATE, not tag. PLATE. They, considerably annoyed that they missed out on the front row spot, preceded to yell out the window “OH SHE LOOKS MENTALLY HANDICAPPED TO ME!!”

What they didn’t know, is that young girl almost died months prior. That she could only walk about 5 feet before having a really hard time moving. That she relied on that shopping cart for mobility.
They didn’t know her WHY.
It was none of their business.

Now imagine that same girl out at the Dallas Bull with her best friends. When they wanted to go to the second floor, they had to use the elevator because she couldn’t get up the stairs.
The elevator guards, looking for a reason to make sure they were not just trying to use the elevator, wait for a response. Her friends point to her. Guess what? That was ENOUGH. They rode the elevator. Week after week. While that girl, out at a bar with her friends, was re-learning to walk. What an accomplishment it was to be able to walk up and down those stairs.

What if I told you that girl…. was me.
I tell you my story, to remind you that you literally have NO IDEA what others are going through.
We all need to look at things from different perspectives…..

 

Let’s keep painting.

Now, imagine a mom. That first time mom who has questions, and nobody else she can turn to for answers. This is the reason she is in a MOM GROUP.
She asks a question, and gets completely ATTACKED. I’m going to use the most popular reason for receiving this reaction to a question.

Now, imagine that same mom. She gave birth to beautiful twin babies, and after getting the vitamin K shot, one of those babies had trouble breathing. MAJOR trouble. The on-call pediatrician was called umpteen times that night while that mother, fighting to stay awake, feared for her baby’s life.

YOU’RE PROBABLY ALREADY JUDGING.
That’s what everyone does.

What about when that same mom brought her baby back to the pediatrician several times in between the normal appointments because of issues that are not normal?
What about listening to the pediatrician when they said it was ok to get more shots?

Guess where they ended up? IN THE HOSPITAL. A 2 week old baby. With a reaction to those shots.

That is this mom’s WHY. And it’s none of your business.

 

Another picture…

What about that 5/6/7 year old kid you see being pushed around in a stroller in the mall?
Is your first thought “that kid is a little old to be riding in a stroller…”?
What if that kid has MS, or Palsy and their parents can’t afford a wheelchair?
What if the child is on the spectrum and that is the ONLY way to keep them comforted while their parents still have to go on with life? Maybe the kid just woke up from a nap and refused to walk, but the parent had shit to do.
Again, their WHY. None of your business.

 

What about breastfeeding vs. formula?

What about the bedsharers vs. cio?

What about the fast food vs. organic everything?

My point is, everyone is different. Some people need to learn how to be adults.
Let’s realize that our children are watching and learning EVERYTHING we do.

So to YOU, Judgy Mcjudgerson. Yes, you. The one who comments on everything. Turns anything into an argument because someone else has a different way. A differing opinion.

I have a challenge for you.
Take a look in the mirror. Find your WHY.
Do you not get any attention at home? Do you feel like nobody values your opinion? Do you lack adult interaction? Did you have a bad childhood? Do you not know how to make friends?
What does your constant need to undermine others have to do with your life? Seriously.

Find your WHY. Figure it out, for yourself and your kids.

 

And when you find it, guess what?

It’s none of MY business.

 

Becky Phillips

stay at home mom of 2

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You can find more of my posts on Workingwifemommalife.wordpress.com

Play-Dates Indoor Playground

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What do you do with two rambunctious toddlers, during the day, in the Florida heat (helloooooo Florida, it’s officially fall, I’m going to need you to get the memo!) to keep yourself from going stir-crazy in the house?  Take them out to play, of course!  But outside play is still face-meltingly painful, amiright??  That’s where Play-Dates steps up to the plate.  This new indoor playground in Valrico brings it all.  It boasts an expansive play room with everything from a decked out train table, to dress up, to a play house-complete with grill set up, and a full kitchen and laundry station.

My first impression, upon visiting Play-Dates, was that it is open, airy, bright and clean.  There are no smelly feet or stale diaper pale smells here.  The owner, Laura, greeted me with a smile and welcome, went over the easy paperwork ,and admitted my chomping-at-the-bit boys right in to play.  She then gave me a quick run-down of the space.  I promptly took advantage of the free coffee and wifi (that’s right, moms, FREE COFFEE. Take that, Starbucks!) and plopped myself into one of the several comfy lounge chairs.  The room is big enough to allow lots of kiddos to explore and play together with ease, but not so big that you feel like you’re constantly losing sight of your littles.  The sight lines are clear and easy, with one smaller area designated for really little ones that keeps them out of the direct path of any toddler-hulks who might be visiting for the day.  Laura also mindfully included a small snack area complete with toddler sized picnic tables, so that your always hungry munchkin (please tell me my kids aren’t the only ones who need to eat every 5 minutes??) can sit and enjoy a snack or drink that you bring with you, without worrying about them spreading cracker crumbs all around the play area.

Recently, Play-Dates was kind enough to host a private playdate for Everyday Moms that was loaded with fun and goodies, complete with a visit from Eddie Bull the mascot of Eddie Bull’s Cookie Dough, treats from The Sweet Tooth CakerySugar Sun Sweets, and a goodie bag filled with treats and discounts from other local businesses.  We had a great time getting together with friends old and new from this amazing group of moms.

Each weekday at Play-Dates is designated for different daily enrichment classes held at 10:30am that are free with paid admission.  Laura directs the kiddos in fun activities that are easy and geared to their ages.  There’s Movement Mondays, Story Tales Tuesdays, Arts/Crafts Wednesdays, Story Tales Thursdays and Fine Motor Skills Friday.  More info on each day’s activity here.  Our first visit was on a Friday morning and my boys – aged 3.5 years and 1.5 years both enjoyed the fun activity Laura guided them through of using their hands, or tweezers of different sizes, to sort different sized and colored pom-poms into mounted pvc pipes with corresponding colors above the pipes.  I was amazed to see my 1.5 year old take interest in the activity and spend quite a bit of time playing with it.

Laura is attentive and helpful without being overbearing.  She breezes around the playroom periodically picking up and putting away toys that the playful tots have discarded and cleaning off any that made their way into mouths.  She manages to keep the space tidy and organized with an appearance of ease that I would love to be able to adapt in my own home, as my clean up “routine” usually involves a fair amount of yelling and gnashing of teeth (mostly my own).  She also has a fun incentive for sharing photos of your little ones enjoying the space.  She draws winners for a free day of play, each Friday from anyone who has posted pictures on social media and tagged Play-Dates in them.  We actually won a free day of play after our first visit, SCORE!

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Play-Dates also has events and offers party packages.  Who doesn’t dream of a birthday party where everyone gets to play, have fun and you don’t have to clean up the mess afterward?  All the info and pricing for their parties can be found here.  Play-Dates is hosting a fun “Spooktacular Event” on October 14th from 5-7pm with food, music, games, crafts, trick-or-treating and a costume parade.  More info and ticket information here.

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Daily admission Play-Dates pricing for one-day play is as follows:
Ages 1-5 years old are $10
Ages 0-11 months are $6.25
Ages 0-5 months are FREE with a paid sibling.
First 2 adults are FREE. Additional adults are $3.25

They also offer packages including monthly and annual memberships.  I know what I’m asking grandma and grandpa to get my guys for Christmas!

So, as Laura says on her website, “be sure to stop by and play for a bit.  And don’t worry, we’ll clean up the mess.”

1040 E. Bloomingdale Avenue
​Valrico, Fl 33596
Tel: (813) 438-5248
laura@playdatesflorida.com
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Sharon Letsinger is a SAH boymom to two tow-headed cuties.  Her chosen partner in crime, Danny, co-owns The Big Red Barn in Riverview.  She enjoys sarcasm, yoga, dark chocolate, red wine and belly laughs.  She’s not a runner, no matter what Taylor says.

Homeschool Hindsight

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After resigning from my job (two years ago) to stay home with my daughter, homeschool was never on my radar… Now, its second nature.  There are many challenges, but my family loves this life. I can now say with confidence, “I would not have it any other way.”  However, before my family began this Journey, I wish I had heard more of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Here is a little of mine.

You spend ALL of your time with your child– Every single minute of my day is spent with my daughter. Every question and thought that runs through her brain, comes out her mouth and straight to my ears…every single one! It is mentally exhausting to take the majority of the conversations and turn them into a learning experience. At the end of the day/week I feel more exhausted than I did when I worked full-time, but my heart grows fuller and brighter EVERY single day!

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Not all Homeschool journeys are created equal– When I first started homeschooling, I was constantly comparing my journey with others. I felt a need to get ahead and spent more energy than I would like to admit worrying about why my child wasn’t as far along as others. I am a homeschooler. Where is the fire?? My daughter and I are walking our own path. We do this so that we can go at our own pace. There is no rush or need to compare yourself with others. Do what works for you and your family!

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Join Homeschool groups/Co-ops, but be prepared to leave a few too- We are lucky enough to live in an area with a large amount of Homeschool families. In the beginning of my journey, I joined Facebook groups, attended events and reached out to other Homeschoolers in Everyday Moms. Some groups weren’t a good fit for my family. It took some time to find like-minded groups, but we now have an amazing amount of support. I could not do this without knowing other homeschool mothers. I would honestly lose my mind without them! Their support has been invaluable.

You will doubt yourself constantly – I also see this as a positive. I am constantly questioning myself. Am I doing enough? Am I screwing my child up for life? Could I have approached this better? Is my child happy? Am I happy? Can I do this?. THIS is what drives me and makes us better. The very fact that I question myself means that I want to do this to the best of my ability. I know my child better than anyone else. NO one knows my child better than me!

You are the responsible party- The pressure and responsibility that comes with homeschool is taxing. You have to motivate yourself to engage with your child the majority of your day. Your Spouse, family, and most of all your child are counting on you! Their education literally rests on your shoulders. Sometimes I feel as if I am being looked at with a microscope by many.  Not always the case, but a horrible feeling. Like I said above…’This is OUR journey”. I believe that this lifestyle is best and will do anything to make it work. If for whatever reason it isn’t working, I will be big enough to admit it and fix it!

 

Family– I do not know what I would do if my Husband didn’t support homeschooling. I certainly wouldn’t be writing this if he didn’t. Homeschool is a decision that we made together (my daughter included). We are also lucky enough to have support from our immediate family.

Some days are lonely – There are days when my daughter gets sad and wants a friend to play with. It makes me sad too. There isn’t always someone available to come over and play. Those are the days that I try my best to get out of the house. We go to the park, for a walk or head to the pool for some fun. After all, we eat, sleep, and homeschool under the same roof Every. Single. Day.

We have so much fun- We have lots of time and opportunities to explore our surroundings. We go on nature hikes, field trips at least twice a month, and build long-lasting and deep seeded relationships. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for this opportunity! My daughter is more cultured at age 5 than I was. She gets to see and do so much. The freedom we have is priceless. This is why we do what we do.

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THIS IS “OUR” JOURNEY!

Suzette Foister

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SAHM, Wife, Homeschooler, Owner/Artist of Bring Your Own Canvas

 

Cake, Cake Pops and Cupcakes… oh my!

Looking for an activity to offset the dreaded summer vacation boredom? Do you love all things Sweet? Always wanted to make those cute desserts you see on Pinterest but don’t know where to start? Looking to improve on your decorating skills?

The Sweet Tooth Cakery is bringing you decorating classes to create fabulous cakes, cupcakes and cake pop designs! Learn tips and tricks from the experts to create fabulous desserts. We will share recipes, best practices and you will leave with new knowledge and your beautiful creations!

We have some great offers for Everyday Moms!

Everyday Moms get 10% off all classes with the code EM10.
If you book 2 classes, you can use the code 20OFF for $20 off your total.
If you book before May 17, you can use the code EARLYBIRD10 for an additional 10% off!

Click here to book now

(For anyone taking a full day of classes, there is a 1 hour lunch break. Everyone is welcome to pack a lunch, no need to leave while waiting for the next class to start.)
We are offering 6 different classes over 4 weeks in June. These classes are for all skill levels, ages 10 and up (except Mommy & Me). Classes are $60 each and you will take home your creations! All tools, ingredients and equipment will be provided. You don’t need to bring anything except your excitement (and your sweet tooth)!

All courses will be held at Brandon’s Event Space, 137 S Parsons Ave., Brandon, Fl 33511. (Corner of Parsons and Robertson)

Cake Pop Basics. Wednesday, June 7th, 2017 10am-12pm

In this 2-hour interactive course, you will learn step-by-step how to prepare delicious cake pops! In addition to learning the complete process, you will also receive recipes, tips for choosing chocolate, the different sticks and packaging available as well as how to customize with sprinkles, sugar and other decorations. Each student will decorate and take home their pops. (6 per Student)

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Basic Cake Pops

Advanced Cake Pop Design Wednesday, June 7, 2017 1pm-3pm
Take your cake pops to the next level! Create designs from popular movies, most used emojis and look alike ice cream cones! Learn tips and tricks from the experts to make mouth-watering creations! Each student will decorate and take home their pops. (6 per Student)

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Cupcake Decorating (buttercream flowers) Tuesday, June 13, 2017 10am-12pm
Each student will learn piping skills including easy ways to fill piping bags, the different piping tips and the designs they create. We will learn rosettes, sunflowers and the beautiful “cupcake swirl”. Each student will take home 6 beautifully decorated cupcakes.

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Cake Pop Basics – Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 1pm-3pm
In this 2-hour interactive course, you will learn step-by-step how to prepare delicious cake pops! In addition to learning the complete process, you will also receive recipes, tips for choosing chocolate, the different sticks and packaging available as well as how to customize with sprinkles, sugar and other decorations. Each student will decorate and take home their pops. (6 per Student)

 

Click here to book your class now!

Mommy & Me Decorating Fun Wednesday, June 21, 2017 10am-12pm

Bring the kids to make some delicious designs. Join us to make mini “Poppy Troll” cupcakes, donut sugar cookies and chocolate lollipops! Take home and enjoy your creations! All children must be accompanied by an adult. 1 ticket is good for 1 adult and 1 child (under age 10).

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Chocolates & Dipped Desserts Wednesday, June 21, 2017 1pm-3pm
Learn the art of making molded chocolates and chocolate dipped treats. Including: marshmallows, Rice Krispy Treats, Pretzels, Oreos and Apples. We will teach you the best chocolate to use, how to prepare, color and add designs and fillings. Take home your delicious creations!

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Advanced Cake Pop Design Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 10am-12pm
Take your cake pops to the next level! Create designs from popular movies, most used emojis and look alike ice cream cones! Learn tips and tricks from the experts to make mouth-watering creations! Each student will decorate and take home their pops. (6 per Student)

Mini Cakes that Wow! Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 1pm3pm
We will create 2 very popular designs using pre-made mini cakes. You will learn various buttercream piping techniques and simple fondant design tricks to create a super popular unicorn cake and a super colorful drippy candy cake. Then, take your delicious designs home with you.

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About the Instructor
Pam has been a professional baker and cake decorator since 2011. Her love for cake decorating began when she would bake cakes for her children’s school bake sales. She currently runs The Sweet Tooth Cakery and is the mom to 4 children.

Hey, Mom and Dad- It’s not your fault.

By: Taylor Arellano

I was a brand new Mom with a sweet little newborn boy. He was the center of my whole world, my iPhone was filled with nothing but pictures of him throughout every part of our day no matter how insignificant. I lived and breathed for every involuntary smile, coo, and wiggle.

Like any new Mom, I spammed my Facebook news feed with pictures of my new baby all day, every day. I was so proud of this little life Zach and I had brought into the world, and I wanted to share his never ending cuteness (no matter how insignificant the photo really was) with the whole world.

So, the day I received a Facebook message in regards to a picture I posted of a photo of my then 2 month old son still makes me question myself to this day…

I had just started my transition out of the Military and was home often by myself with Isaac. Being a brand new, young Mom I was learning how to balance home chores with trying to feed and please a newborn, as well as apply for new jobs, buy a new home, and more. These days were absolutely crazy to say the least.

One day, Isaac was especially fussy, and I distinctly remember it was a day where I needed to be on the phone to talk to the lenders for the home we were purchasing. Wondering if it would work, I turned on a quiet T.V. Channel and placed Isaac in his bouncer in front of the T.V. Stand to occupy him while I was on the phone. To my surprise, it worked, and I actually thought it was cute that my 2 month old was so entertained by a completely random T.V. show, so of course I snapped a pic and uploaded it to Facebook thinking how cute it was that my newborn was just lounging around watching a morning talk show.

It wasn’t but a couple hours later that I signed into Facebook to find a private message from an old High School classmate that I had not even remembered speaking to in at least 8 years. But what was even more shocking, was the context of her message.

In short, the message basically read that she was attending College to be an early childhood educator, and she wanted to advise me that letting young children watch television was extremely damaging to their development and that my “adorable son” (Yeah, she tried to bring me a up a little before she kicked me down) could actually end up with a speech delay or other cognitive disabilities. There was a lot more detail and degrading comments in her message, but I will spare you those.

Immediately, I felt awful. I was a brand new Mom, I had no idea what I was doing. Was that hour of T.V. going to damage his ability to speak in a couple of years? When is he allowed to start watching T.V.? Why do they even make those baby shows? The questions in my head were endless, but I knew that I did not want to ask this “friend” the answers to these questions because I felt degraded and dumb.

Fast forward 18 months later. Isaac is diagnosed as Speech Delayed.

If you don’t think that message from my former classmate popped into my head, think again.

Zach and I were sad, we were worried, we felt so bad. Did we do something wrong? Were we failing Isaac in his development? We by no means used the T.V. as a babysitter, we played outside with him, we played games with him, we read books. Was this still somehow our fault?

The short answer to those questions- NO.

We were assured by our pediatrician, speech therapists, hearing evaluation specialists and more that THESE THINGS HAPPEN. We were good parents.

I am a believer in science and medicine, I am a Nursing Student myself, and I know there is a clinical basis for almost everything. I know that there are predisposing factors for illnesses, developmental delays, etc.

…But I also know that I am a good Mom. Zach is an amazing Dad. Our Son is a healthy and curious little boy, and his speech development is a work in progress that we see improvements in DAILY. We are doing our best as parents, and Isaac is doing his best too.

It took a long time for me to stop blaming myself. I would think back on the message from my old classmate and wonder if this was my fault. If the occasional Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode made my little boy incapable of speaking at an age appropriate level. If I should have taken our T.V. and completely left it in the garage for 3 years since according to an early education STUDENT ” a child should see no T.V. until age 3″.

I need to add that I am in no way trying to discredit the knowledge of this person. I am sure she knew a lot about the subject. I also understand that television and other factors do have significant effects on a child’s development. That is not the point here though.

I wondered if that classmate (who had no children) knew what it was like to be so burnt out from being home with an 11 month old for 7 days straight and had 1 shower in that time frame- knew what it was like to just need 30 minutes of quiet so she could be a better Mom.

In addition to understanding that we cannot blame ourselves, we also need to think about how our words may affect another parent. Whenever I feel like I have a piece of advice for another parent, I stop first. I think about how I felt when I got that Facebook message.

Is saying this going to make them feel inferior in their parenting skills and decisions? Is saying this going to be helpful? Am I going to make him/her feel like they have done something wrong? Am I stealing this Mom’s joy right now?

OF COURSE- if a child’s safety or well-being is in danger, there are appropriate ways to intervene. But unless you have A LOT and I mean A LOT of probable cause to think someone is really affecting their child’s well-being, we have to think twice before we hand out unsolicited advice to parents.

The words of someone completely insignificant to my family’s life had a lasting impact on me.

Be a good friend. Be a good fellow parent. But be considerate.

And to my fellow Mom’s and Dad’s with a child who may be needing some extra help in one or more areas of development, hang in there. Progress comes with time, and I know very well how the wait for signs of progress can seem like ages. Be gentle on yourself, and on your child. The first time they call you “Mama” or “Dada” with true recognition and affiliation with the word, you will cry. That first “I love you” will make your heart burst, and it is so worth the wait.

My gassy, fussy, poopy little guy

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Photo cred Shannon Brie Photography

E is my second child.  He’s 23 months younger than his brother, my first child.  It hadn’t been that long since I’d done the newborn thing.  I thought, “This is my second little guy.  I’ve got this.  I know what to do now.”  But, as second children do, he threw me some curve balls.  The biggest being that he’s allergic to dairy.

Now, before I go on, let me qualify some information for you.  I’m a neonatal nurse practitioner, I have a friend, who used to be our neighbor, who is dairy allergic herself and I happen to have a close friend who has a child, a bit younger than my first, who has a severe dairy allergy that causes GI issues, similar to what E has.  These things helped me arrive at my findings with E.  I am NOT a pediatrician or an allergist.  If you should think some of this info might apply to you or your child, I encourage you to discuss it with your practitioner, as they will be best suited to help you navigate all of this, because they know your histories.

I had E at home.  I put him to breast within minutes after he arrived.  He breastfed like a champ.  Things were great.  He latched and nursed, no issue.  But from almost the moment he arrived, he screamed.  He was either nursing or sleeping or screaming or pooping.  Now, I know newborns sleep and eat and poop, primarily, but this kid didn’t have a happy waking moment.  And it got worse.  He was inconsolable at times.  He also had very runny breastmilk poops.  I remember thinking, in my fuzzy postpartum haze, that his poop was more on the diarrhea side than I remembered his brother having, but brushing it off as just a variation of normal.  It was yellow (bright yellow, but still yellow), soft and didn’t obviously smell.  So we pressed forward.  He was fussy and gassy.  SO gassy!  I remember talking to our pediatric nurse practitioner about it and some ideas being brought up, but he was growing and he was happy-ish (he still cried so. much.) so we just pushed on.  And then…

He was six months old and we started solids.  I do baby led weaning – which is an easy way to say I skip the baby food purees and just started giving him bite sized pieces of easy to swallow foods, that I was eating.  So of course I offered cheese and yogurt because those were staples in my own diet.  That’s when things got worse.  His poop became vivid yellow or fluorescent green, slimy and mucous-y and it smelled bad.  He never had obvious blood in his stool, but I could guess that if we tested it, it was there.  He was also MUCH more fussy and gassy.  He co-sleeps with me.  He would scream out in pain in the middle of the night, move around and let out a lot of gas.  Then he would calm down and go right back to sleep.

Finally, a light bulb went off in my head.  Maybe it’s dairy!  Dairy is the number one food allergen in infants and young children.  “Approximately 2.5 percent of children younger than three years of age are allergic to milk. Nearly all infants who develop an allergy to milk do so in their first year of life. Most children eventually outgrow a milk allergy.” –Food Allergy Resource and Education Dairy allergy reactions come in a range of severity from mild to extremely severe and anaphylactic.  E falls somewhere in the middle.  Fortunately (and I am so very thankful) his allergic reaction does not cause hives or swelling and doesn’t close off his airway, requiring us to carry emergency drugs, that we might have to administer, if he gets an accidental exposure.  His reaction qualifies as FPIES – Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome.  “FPIES is a type of food allergy affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  Classic symptoms of FPIES include profound vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. These symptoms can lead to severe lethargy, change in body temperature and blood pressure.” –FPIES Foundation

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Unfortunately, for me, I made this realization right before the holidays.  That’s right everybody, I had to eliminate dairy from our diets before Christmas.  No Christmas cookies, no Christmas dinner, no traditional Christmas breakfast that my mom always makes.  It was a big deal to me.  It was not something I took lightly or enjoyed.  I had played around with the idea of eating cleaner and trying Whole30 before, but had always chickened out when it came to removing dairy.  Well, now my choice was to eliminate dairy from my diet and continue breastfeeding or stop breastfeeding and find a viable formula option for my baby who now, I suspected, can’t have cow’s milk.  For me, the only acceptable answer was to stop eating dairy along with my son.  Unfortunately for people who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, there aren’t a lot of good dairy free formula options.  It can be very difficult to find a formula that works well and provides good nutrition for dairy allergic babies.

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So I eliminated dairy.  About two weeks in, I started seeing some improvement – not so much diarrhea, less irritable and gassy.  And six weeks later… that’s right… SIX WEEKS later, things were normal.  Why six weeks, you ask? Because it took around 2-3 weeks for the dairy protein to clear my system and another 2-3 to clear E’s.  We are now dairy-free.

So now a conversation, with someone new who finds out about this allergy, generally goes like this.  He’s allergic to dairy. Dairy? Yes dairy.  So like… milk? Yes. And Cheese? Yes. And butter? Uh huh. And eggs? Nope.  Not eggs? No… eggs come from chickens. Milk comes from cows.  You’d be surprised how often people confuse that.  I find it amusing, mostly.

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So what IS a true dairy allergy?  Dairy allergic or sensitive people are allergic to the protein in cow’s milk.  It is NOT the same as lactose intolerance.  “Lactose intolerance is caused by not having enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Milk allergy is a true food allergy caused by an allergic reaction to the protein in milk.” –Everyday Health

Ok, I bet I know what your next questions is… what DO you eat? Isn’t there dairy in EVERYthing?!  There is dairy in a lot of things, but not everything and not even in some things that you’d swear it’s in.  Eating dairy free at home was only a bit challenging in the beginning – once I learned what to look for, and how to read food labels, it became second nature.  Eating dairy free when we are out is still VERY challenging and almost makes it not worth going out to eat, which is hard for me because my family enjoys eating out.

Here’s what I’ve learned about how to look for dairy on labels.  The FDA requires that food allergens be clearly declared on product labeling.  What this means for dairy allergies is that if the word “milk” or “butter” isn’t clearly stated in the ingredients list, they MUST put a statement below the ingredients list that says “CONTAINS milk”.  It is VERY important to read ingredient labels and not just take products at their name because “non-dairy” items, such as non-dairy creamer, can still contain milk.  That’s right.  There’s no regulation on the words companies use on their packaging like “natural” and “non-dairy”.  In fact, the industry now uses “non-dairy” to mean lactose free, often, which is of no help to me because it still contains dairy protein.

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There’s another statement that ends up on a lot of food labels.  The “May Contain” statement.  This statement is something that a company can choose to include, or not, on their labeling as they see fit.  May contain milk basically means that the product is processed on shared equipment with products that do contain milk and could have some cross contamination from it.  This can be a problem for people with life threatening or severe allergies to milk.  More investigation is usually warranted if someone with a severe dairy allergy wants to eat something with a “may contain” statement.  A call or email to the company can help to discuss what their sanitation and testing practices are between share lines.

So, a quick look at processed food labels will generally show me if an item contains milk or not.  I’ve taken the advice of other, more seasoned milk allergy moms and use the triple check method.  I check food when I get it off the shelf at the grocery store – every time, because you never know when the company might decide to change the recipe, then check again as I’m putting the food into our pantry and check it once more before I serve it to myself or E.

Meats are not regulated the same way that other foods are, in the US.  They fall under the jurisdiction of the USDA and have different rules.  Why is this important?  Because a lot of meat has dairy components in it.  That’s right.  Turkeys, hams, sausage, lunch meat, all can contain dairy protein and they don’t have to state it directly on the packaging.  The only way to know if the meat you’ve chosen is dairy free is to have a conversation with the company, via email or phone to be sure, or to use a company that has openly declared that they don’t use dairy products, like Applegate Natural and Organic Meats.

So when we eat at home, we eat mostly meat, fruits, vegetables, pasta and some processed snacks that I’ve found that are safe.  I make more of our food now than ever before, so we are definitely eating healthier, which is an advantage.  When we go out during the day, I’m vigilant to bring our own snacks and lunch so that I won’t get stuck without something for us to eat.

Eating out at restaurants has become more challenging because even when I explain our dairy allergy, some restaurants are just not as careful as others about preparing safe food for us.  We have found several go-tos around town that are willing and happy to help.  Ciccio Cali gets it and makes it easy for me because their menu says right on it what is dairy free and what isn’t.  Tampa Pizza Company offers vegan pizza.  That’s right, I said, err… typed it, VEGAN pizza.  Sounds gross?  It’s not!  They have vegan crust with delicious sauce, mushrooms, roasted garlic and vegan (soy based or non-soy based) cheese.  It’s yummy!  Mellow Mushroom has a vegan pizza too, also delicious.  (Side note, it really blows a server’s mind when you order vegan pizza and add meat to it.)  Boca Brandon is one of our favorite brunch places and they have been good about accommodating us with our allergy.  I love to go on Sundays for brunch and get the steak and eggs.  I can’t get the delightfully creamy grits with it anymore, but they sub potatoes instead and it’s still yummy.  Far and away the place I visit more often now than I ever did before this, is Chipotle Mexican Grill.  EVERYthing on Chipotle’s menu is dairy free except for the obvious items – sour cream and cheese.  It’s so easy!  I just ask that they put on new gloves since their last ones likely handled cheese and they are so kind about it.  The best place I’ve found for food allergies all around – Disney World!  The sit down restaurants at Disney are very allergy conscious and very accommodating.  I can indicate online when I book a reservation that we have a dairy allergy and they flag it from the moment we step into the restaurant.  We’ve had some of the most delicious restaurant meals at Disney since we went dairy free and we don’t feel like we’re missing anything.

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There are some very interesting things that fall into the no dairy category that I would never have guessed.  Oreos, that’s right – no dairy in them.  Shocking, right? Or maybe not so shocking because I’m pretty sure there isn’t a lot that’s natural in Oreos, ha!  Original Ritz Crackers – butter “flavored” apparently doesn’t actually include butter.  A lot of microwave and movie theater popcorn doesn’t have any dairy.  Just flavored oil – yum!  Even more strange than those items that don’t contain dairy, are the unexpected places I found dairy.  Ready?  Wait for it… wine!  Some wine.  Not all wine.  Let’s not get too crazy here.  Some wine companies use dairy in the “fining” process of making wine.  I’m not sure what exactly that is, but I discovered this little truth after I had gotten dairy out of our systems and E had a reaction to something.  I couldn’t figure out what the problem was until I stumbled across the fact that the new bottle of wine I’d been enjoying that week (ok, ok it was really over two days…) was in fact from a company who uses dairy in their processing.  Barnivore.com keeps a list, that isn’t yet comprehensive, but has a lot of brands on it, in case you’re interested.

In the beginning I thought a dairy allergy was going to be a devastating diagnosis for us.  I was so sure that I would miss cheese, ice cream, butter, and milk shakes, and I do, in theory, but in my every day life I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all.  And ultimately, I’m happy to do what needs to be done to keep my baby feeling happy and healthy.  I did feel like once it all cleared my system, I wasn’t craving it any longer.  I consulted my milk allergy friends a lot through the beginning of this journey and one even added me to Milk Allergy Mommas, a great facebook group for all things milk allergy related.  I learned a lot from just scrolling through the board and reading posts, or searching posts to find answers.  It was this group that helped me find my now favorite dairy free substitutes for so many things including, but not limited to, ice cream, chocolate, and even pudding!  I also use godairyfree.org fairly often if I’m out and about and need to find something to eat.  As far as cooking goes, I have found that almost any recipe can be adapted to be dairy free – even green bean casserole!  Don’t believe me?  I made this recipe hummusapien.com for Easter and my family gobbled it up without complaint.  It’s also easy to search for Paleo or Whole30 recipes for good ideas and helpful substitutes.  I even made pressure cooker butter chicken without butter!  I subbed butter flavored coconut oil, instead of using ghee.

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Going dairy free isn’t easy, but it turns out it’s not all that hard either.  If you find yourself facing a similar challenge, take heart!  Consult your healthcare professionals, talk to others who have walked where you are about to tread, and reach out for help.  Hopefully E will outgrow this allergy, but even if he doesn’t, I now know we can handle it!

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Photo cred Running Circles Photography

A Healthy Body Starts With A Healthy Gut

The idea that bacteria is beneficial for our gut health is not revolutionary. We have all seen the commercials for certain yogurts that claim their product will keep you more regular. We understand that probiotics are necessary for digestion, but probiotics are becoming more and more important for other parts of our body as well.

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It seems that every day research is coming out about the amazing benefits that these “good” bacteria have on our body’s, and more importantly, our children’s body’s.  The gut regulates so many bodily functions that it is now becoming called the body’s “second brain”.  We now know that the majority of our body’s serotonin is actually produced in the digestive tract thanks to these good bacteria. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer and low serotinin levels can lead or contribute to depression or anxiety. If you or your family have a history of depression or anxiety, a probiotic may be helpful to help keep your serotonin at a normal level. Not only can these bacteria affect our minds, they also affect our immune system. About 75% of our immune function takes place in our digestive tract. These good bacteria are responsible for creating immune cells to help fight off illness. When the family is sick, make sure they are taking their probiotics. More and more research is coming out about our gut health relating to various pathologies, such as: obesity, Crohn’s disease, Type 1 diabetes (autoimmune disease), Type 2 Diabetes, autism, brain disease and food allergies. It is a really exciting time for researchers to link these different pathologies to various probiotics that can help reverse these conditions.

Our body’s are very good at regulating our gut bacteria, but certain things can alter our composition of bacteria in our gut. These things include: highly processed or unhealthy diets, high fructose corn syrup, overuse of NSAIDs, STRESS, antibiotics, alcohol, Polysorbate 80,  carrageenan, polyglycerols, glyphosate residues and irregular sleep cycles. Early symptoms of poor gut health is bloating after meals, flatulence, reflux, constipation or diarrhea.

In our baby’s, their gut bacteria is first populated by their journey down the birth canal. Mom’s bacteria will populate her baby’s gut as the baby exits the birth canal. If Mom has unhealthy bacteria in her digestive tract, she will pass them on to her baby. In order to ensure that the Mom has a good mixture of bacteria for her baby, I recommend taking a probiotic during her pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding. The probiotic will also help with yeast infections that are very common during pregnancy.

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Now that you know of all the amazing benefits of taking a probiotic, how do you get started? I recommend only taking probiotics that you will find refrigerated. These are live organisms and need to be refrigerated to make sure they don’t die on the store shelves. For infants, drops are best. These drops can be either applied to the nipple or put into the baby’s bottle. For toddlers, there are chewable probiotics. For older kids and adults, you can use powder or capsules. You want to make sure that the probiotic is specific for kids, women or men. Do you need to be on probiotics the rest of your life? The simple answer is yes. I cycle my patient’s on probiotics. I recommend 2 months on and 2 months off for adults. The only exception are for those that are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Those groups of people will be on probiotics long-term. If your child is constipated or colicky, they may need to be on the probiotics consistently until their stools are regulated or their temperament changes.  When you are taking a probiotic, I always recommend taking it with half a banana or some other type of prebiotic. A prebiotic is “food” for the good bacteria to chew on. This will help the good bacteria thrive and set up shop in your digestive tract. Other types of prebiotic foods are asparagus, garlic, onion and apples. If this is your first round of probiotics, expect some indigestion the first week. Bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation are all very normal the first week of probiotic use. This is due to the new good bacteria killing off the bad bacteria that have been living in your digestive tract.

Another great way to get more probiotics into your diet is with fermented foods. This includes, but not limited to: kefir (water or dairy), kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickled fruits and vegetables. These types of probiotics may be more difficult for your kids to eat, but you can experiment with the different flavors.

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There are so many wonderful health benefits from healthy gut bacteria. If you are currently not on a probiotic, give it a try! You will not be disappointed.