Music and movement in the Mahoning Valley

After you meet your miracle connect your little one with the cognitive and social benefits of music and movement at Valley Little Melodies.

music and movement

Even before your miracle is born, he or she is listening and research shows, that’s a good thing.

Mixing music and movement can be an important part of learning your child’s whole life. But engaging them soon after birth and through the early first years offers many benefits.

Knowledge of the cognitive, social and bonding benefits to exposing children to music and movement from the earliest age is what drove Cara Vernal to leave her job as a third grade teacher and open up Valley Little Melodies in Canfield.

Pregnant with her toddler Ella, Cara knew the Mahoning Valley didn’t have anything like the program she offers now from her 4358 Boardman-Canfield Road studio.

The studio uses the Kindermusik curriculum, developed in 1978 in Germany based on child development theories.

“This is a really amazing way to for kids to bond with their caregivers, it’s not just mom or dad, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, nannies. The kids are learning in a loving environment where they can find comfort with their mom, dad or whoever brought them. That level of comfort, combined with the curriculum allows the child to engage more, because they feel that love and safety,” Cara said.

Babies as young as six weeks old can attend the class and  benefit from the interactive experience.

music and movement

Caregivers stay with the kids they bring, and even find social opportunities themselves, Cara said.

The most popular age group at the studio is toddlers 1 to 2. Cara recommends you sign up early for classes in that age group.

And once you get started, the always evolving routines and daily activities will keep your child coming back for more.

Even shy kids eventually come out of their shells, comforted with the routine. Even though the themes and activities change, every session begins and ends the same way and includes a relaxation period.

“We have the same hello and goodbye song ritual, so they feel safe, they know what is coming,” Cara said.

Every four to five weeks Cara changes up the themed unit, focusing on subjects like food or animals. Each week of the unit builds on the week before. The schedule allows kids to bond with each over the course of the unit and learn together.

“And it helps build neural pathways in the brain, because they might hear a song they recognize from before, but notice they are doing a different activity to the song.

Each session is about 45 minutes long with 12 to 14 different activities. Cara has instruments for the children and all sorts of surprises.

Age groups

0 to 1

1 to 2

2 to 3

mixed ages for kids up to 5

Contact information

Visit www.kindermusik.com/studio/56354/ for session times, class availability and more information about the value of the Kindermusik program. Reach the studio at 330-980-5198.

Kid-friendly warm spinach dip recipe for the holidays

Kid-friendly warm spinach dip recipe for the holidays

This creamy and savory recipe for warm spinach dip isn’t only a delicious dish to gather around during the holidays, it is kid-friendly in several ways. Though it is chock full of vegetables, it has plenty of cheese and baking it takes some of the crunch out of the traditional cold spinach dip, making it more friendly to young palates.

It goes great with any bread or rolls you have at the Thanksgiving table, or any cracker in your cupboard.

While not all children raise their hands at the sight of spinach, I find when you take off the spinach stems and chop it finely before wilting, it is more kid-friendly to chew and children come back for more if you can get them to take the first bite. And if they don’t? More for the adults!

Feel free to substitute the cheese with what you have on hand. Make it night or two advance of your holiday dinner or party, just bake before serving.

Tip: If you let the little ones add the ingredients and stir they will feel more inclined to taste their creation.

kid-friendly warm spinach dip recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 oz bag of spinach, thinly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • ½ cup finely diced sweet red or yellow pepper
  • 1 cup finely diced white button mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, walnuts or both
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • a splash of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • ¾ cup Asiago cheese
  • ¾ cup cream cheese
  • ½ cup of shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • pepper and garlic salt to taste

Instructions

Start by prepping the vegetables and cheese. If they are able and willing, have the kids take the stems of the spinach, shred the carrot and shred the cheese, it’ll save you time!

kid-friendly warm spinach dip recipe

In a saute pan on medium heat, warm the olive oil and cook the onion, peppers and mushroom until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have shrunk, about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and a splash of soy sauce and cook until aromatic, about 4 minutes. Take off the heat and season with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Set the mixture aside in a mixing bowl.

kid-friendly warm spinach dip recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toast the nuts in the same pan with a sprinkle of garlic salt on medium-low heat, stirring consistently for about 5 minutes. Empty the pan into the mixing bowl with the onion mixture.

 

Keep the heat in the pan low and cook the fresh spinach until wilted, stirring consistently for about 5 to 7 minutes.

kid-friendly warm spinach dip recipe

Press the cooked spinach in a fine-mesh strainer with a rubber spatula to release all of the water. Add to the mixing bowl, along with the shredded carrot and mustard.

kid-friendly warm spinach dip recipe

Microwave the cheeses for 30 to 40 seconds to soften and then mix with the other ingredients. Stir the mixture until it is well combined and the mozzarella isn’t stringy. Add the sour cream and stir until consistent.

kid-friendly warm spinach dip recipe

If you have left over shredded cheese, sprinkle some on top and bake in the oven at 375 degrees, covered with foil for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Mahoning Valley’s 30 days of November

30 days of November in the Mahoning Valley, an activity a day to keep the Meet Your Miracle family and kids busy in fun:

 

Nov. 1
Music and Movement program for toddlers 19 to 35 months 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, 444 Mahoning Ave. NW. Sign up for story time, music and hands on activities by calling 330-399-8806.

Nov. 2
Story time for babies between 6 to 23 months 10 a.m. at the Canfield Library, 43 W. Main St. Language enrichment with rhymes, songs, stories and socializing.

Nov. 3
Preschool dance party for kids 3 to 5 at 11 a.m. at the Howland Branch Library, 9095 E. Market St.

Nov. 4
Sensory story time for children 3 to 8 with autism and other sensory-integration challenges, 11 a.m. Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, 444 Mahoning Ave. NW. Call 330-399-8807 ext. 206 to register.

Nov. 5
The last day of Maze Craze is the only day canine friends are allowed at the Beauty and the Beast themed day of family fun. Open from 12 to 7 p.m., but ticket sales end at 5 p.m. at the 14070 state Route 165 (Woodworth Road) location in New Springfield.

Nov. 6
Have a child interested in wildlife? Check out Bear Aware 1 p.m. at the Brookfield Branch Library, 7032 Grove St., for a look into the world of black bears, which live in Ohio and have even been known to make appearances in the Mahoning Valley. Or, for an after school activity connecting reading to food, check out the 6 p.m. Cook, Chew and Create program pairing picture books with cooking and crafts at the main Warren branch. Register by calling 330-399-8807 ext. 206.

Nov. 7
Baby story time 10 a.m. at the Boardman Library, 7680 Glenwood Ave. Or take a drive to Akron after voting, where there is free admission 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Akron Zoo, 505 Euclid Ave., Akron. Parking is $3.

Nov. 8
Your little scientist in the making can put her science skills to the test at the 6 p.m. Mini-Mythbusters event at the Brookfield Branch Library, 7032 Grove St., call 330-448-8134 to register kids kindergarten through 6th grade.

Nov. 9
Family Night Bingo is fun for all ages at 5 p.m. at the Struthers Public Library, 95 Poland Ave.

Nov. 10
Free admission for veterans today 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Youngstown’s OH WOW! is the perfect excuse to visit the Mahoning Valley’s hands-on, children center, 11 W. Federal St.

Nov. 11
Call 330-740-6086 now to reserve a spot at the Disney Princess and Super Hero Breakfast fundraiser 10 a.m. Saturday at the Poland Library, 311 S. Main St. For a $15 ticket and the donation of a gently used children’s book, your child can meet 99 other kids dressed as their favorite princess or super hero, and earn a free ticket to the Disney on Ice show, “Dream Big.” The donations benefit kids’ reading programs at the library.

Nov. 12
Take the kids to an afternoon of free holiday fun 12 to 3 p.m. at the Butler Institute of American Art, 524 Wick Avenue, Youngstown, where there will be cookie decorating, face painting, hot cocoa, crafts, story hour and a chance to take a photograph with Santa Claus.

Nov. 13
Kids from Kindergarten to 6th grade are welcome to cuddle up to a therapy rabbit during a 15-minute reading session at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, 444 Mahoning Ave. NW. Call 330-399-8807 ext. 206 to register.

Nov. 14
Family story time 6:30 p.m. at the Main Branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, 305 Wick Ave.

Nov. 15
Strengthen the reading skills of kids in Kindergarten to 6th grade in the company of a Pet Partner therapy dog, after school from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Brookfield Branch Library, 7032 Grove St. Call 330-448-8134 to register.

Nov. 16
Get your preschooler ready for reading with an early-literacy geared story session for kids 3 to 5 p.m. at the Liberty Branch Library, 415 Churchill-Hubbard Road .

Nov. 17
Watch a “Journey to a Billion Suns” for a journey through the Milky Way with older children comfortable sitting in the dark and keeping their voices low at 8 p.m. at the Ward Beecher Planetarium. The shows are free. Visit http://www.wbplanetarium.org for more show times and parking information.

Nov. 18
A 2 p.m. matinee of “Legends: Perseus and Andromeda” at the Ward Beecher Planetarium is even more kid friendly than “Journey to a Billion Suns” at 8 p.m., with an animated owl guide exploring Greek mythology and the constellations in a free show.

Nov. 19
Santa’s Christmasland at Kraynak’s, 2525 E. State St., Hermitage, Pa., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, but 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every other day. The holiday displays are extensive, picture perfect and visits are a local family tradition.

Nov. 20
Story time and craft time come together 1 p.m. at the Lordstown Branch Library, 1471 Salt Springs Road, for kids 3 to 5.

Nov. 21
High energy kids 2 to 5 years old who might have trouble sitting still during other library events, are invited to participate in a Movin’ and Groovin’ session 11 a.m. at the Liberty Branch Library, 415 Churchill-Hubbard Road.

Nov. 22
Finger plays, songs, rhymes and books perfect for toddlers 2 to 3 during Baby Brilliant: Tales and Talk, 10 a.m. at the Boardman Library, 7680 Glenwood Ave.

Nov. 23
Begin the holiday season after Thanksgiving dinner with the Joy of Christmas Holiday Light Show in Columbiana’s Firestone Park, 338 E. Park Ave. The $10 drive is open between 6 and 9 p.m. and continues through the season.

Nov. 24
OH WOW! is hosting a Black Friday membership sale, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., memberships and membership renewals will be 50% off when requested in person; the discount is 25% off from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and can be awarded in person, 11 W. Federal St., Youngstown, or over the phone, 330-744-5914.

Nov. 25
Teach your child about the holiday spirit and donate new hats, scarves and mittens for children in need from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the 19th century Lanterman’s Mill, 980 Canfield Road, Youngstown, while enjoying the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, artisan crafts and the charm of Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill.

Nov. 26
Bundle up to visit Santa’s Winter Barn from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mill Creek MetroParks Farm, 7574 Columbiana Road, Canfield, and see Santa and “some of his animal friends.” Bring your camera and $1 to participate in crafts.

Nov. 27
Messy Monday for toddlers 18 months to 3 years features multi-tactile exploration. Dress for mess, 11 a.m. at the Liberty Library Branch, 415 Churchill-Hubbard Road.

Nov. 28
Bring your Minecraft maniac to Minecraft Mania from 5:30 to 7 p.m. At the Howland Branch Library, 9095 E. Market St. Laptops provided and free admission, but registration required. Call 330-856-2011.

Nov. 29
Grandparents get into to OH WOW! free. Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.,11 W. Federal St., Youngstown.

Nov. 30
Watch Rudolph’s nose save Christmas in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the Musical, 7 p.m. at DeYor Performing Arts Center, 260 W. Federal St., Youngstown. Call 330-744-0264 for tickets.

Build your own fairy garden!

catalpa-header

Do you live in the Mahoning Valley and have a little one who loves fairies! I have the perfect activity for you! Did you know Catalpa Grove Farm in Columbiana has a whole shed of fairy garden materials? Bring your fairy lover and build the perfect little magical fairy garden! They have everything you would need to build the perfect garden of any size: terrariums, beautiful little plants, colored pebbles, fairy houses, ponds, secret garden doors, and of course a bunch of fairies.

catalpa-small-fairy-gardens

A beautiful little piano player fairy in a little fairy gazebo.

catalpa-fairy-piano

 

A fairy playing with a bird.

catalpa-fairy-bird

 

 

A little fairy cottage.

catalpa-fairy-cottage

 

A mysterious secret fairy garden door and staircase.

catalpa-fairy-door

 

A fairy rock pond.

catalpa-fairy-pond

 

A fairy seesaw.

catalpa-fairy-seesaw

 

 

And because fairies need a place to relax and nap in their garden, we have a perfect little leaf hammock!

catalpa-fairy-hammock

 

This whole back wall is full of fairy accessories to be sure every fairy lover builds the perfect fairy garden!

catalpa-big-fairy-garden-1

 

And of course, Catalpa has all the other staples of a farmer’s market in the fall. Get delicious homegrown produce, locally made specialty food and bakery items, beautiful plants and fall mums, and pumpkins of every size! The kids will surely love the apple cider and frozen apple cider drinks, hay rides, little petting zoo, and corn maze. For the littles, there is a small hay maze in a close off building so, parents, feel free to let them loose and not worry about losing them!

catalpa-collage

 

Take a family picture in the beautiful flower garden, in the pumpkin patch, or in front of a giant hay cow or minion. Don’t forget to keep all picture duds with the kids running around like crazy and not paying any attention to the camera! One day, these are the ones that will make us laugh the most!

catalpa-out-takes

 

Catalpa is definitely a place to check out during the fall season!

Heartbeat Tattoos

Tattoo examples 2

Heartbeat Tattoo Examples

I already did a blog post about our line of custom heartbeat jewelry.  We have truly enjoyed launching this line of jewelry for our clients who would like to carry their loved one’s heartbeat with them, always.  I should take a moment, however, to talk about where the idea for this jewelry came from.  It surely wasn’t an idea we copied from anywhere, which became painfully obvious when looking for jewelers to partner with!  Although, we found several options for generic heartbeat jewelry, we heard a whole lot of no’s to custom heartbeats before we were finally able to find a few jewelers who were able to bring our idea to life.

Our idea came from one of our clients who requested an image of the heartbeat of his unborn daughter for the purpose of getting a tattoo.  We were happy to give it to him, and we thought, why not also offer the heartbeats in the form of jewelry?  Hearing your baby’s heartbeat when you are an expectant parent is one of the most exhilarating and magical experiences.  Why not find a variety of ways to memorialize it?

This all brings me to the topic of this blog post.  Are there any loved ones’ heartbeats you would like to have created into a tattoo?  We can capture the heartbeat of anyone: babies in utero, children, and adults!  This can be an especially symbolic sentiment for heart attack survivors and survivors of all kinds to be able to carry your strong, enduring heartbeat on the outside of your body as well as on the inside.  The other side of this, of course, is to have this be a part of a memorial tattoo.  Four years ago, I lost what would have been my oldest child, a son.  Shortly after, I did get a tattoo to keep his memory with me, but I truly wish I would have had the chance to capture his heartbeat and keep it with me forever since I was only able to experience it for such a short time.  From survival to memorial, there are a million reasons in between for wanting a tattoo customized to your or your loved one’s heartbeat.  You choose the meaning that holds significance to you.

The Process is Safe and Easy!

Heartbeat captures are quick, painless, and safe!  The process consists of a 2 to 3 minute ultrasound.  The ultrasound is performed by our registered sonographer with a degree in diagnostic medical sonography, using a well-maintained ultrasound machine regularly serviced by an FDA approved service provider.

What is the Cost?

Our heartbeat capture package is just $25.  The package includes the capture of one heartbeat, a printout of the waveform, and the outline of the waveform if desired for you to use as you wish for your tattoo. You can take your image to any reputable tattoo studio and literally have it be a part of you forever.  Have more than one heartbeat to capture?  Schedule everyone at the same time, and get $5 off each capture when you have 2 or more.

Here are a few more ideas of different types of heartbeat tattoos you can get with a heartbeat captured through an ultrasound.  The possibilities are endless.  They can be integrated into a larger tattoo design or stand alone.  Talk to your tattoo artist to get an idea of what design you would prefer, and schedule your appointment with Meet Your Miracle to capture the heartbeat you want to carry with you forever!

Using the heartbeat waveform

Using the heartbeat waveform

Using the heartbeat outline

Using the heartbeat outline

As always, we welcome any questions so feel free to contact us at 844.696.2229 or contact us by email here

The Valley’s Baby Shower Venues

Baby Shower Title

So, you’re having a baby shower! But, where?? The Valley has a wide selection of excellent venues for a variety of styles and budgets.  Hopefully, this can give you an idea of some of the options you have.  Since our business is with pregnant mamas we get quite a bit of insight on all things baby, and we figured we would put our connections to work for our local expectant moms.  We were lucky enough to have some awesome mamas here at Meet Your Miracle were willing to share their experiences at different venues in the area.

You have two basic options: venues who require you to make your own food or obtain outside catering services and venues who do it all for you.  Obviously, the former venues fall on the more affordable end for those looking to save money, and the latter offers a more worry-free experience in exchange for the higher price tag.

 

Bring Your Own Food!

The Upton House of Warren

The Upton House, one of the oldest houses in Warren, is a beautiful building boasting a lush garden, which is also available.  The Upton House, built in 1840, is styled after the era and can accommodate over 150 guests.    It offers a catering kitchen, air conditioning, and handicap accessibility.  One of our contributing moms told us it has “old style charm inside and out”.

380 Mahoning Avenue NW, Warren, Ohio 44483          (330) 392-4202          http://www.uptonhouse.org/

 

 

Elton Beard Cabin in Boardman Park of Boardman

The Elton Beard Cabin is a quaint little cabin in Boardman Park, located just beside the children’s play area.  It offers accommodations for up to 72 guests, a kitchen area, fireplace, heating and air conditioning, and private restrooms.  The cost is very reasonable, starting at $160 for Boardman residents. We are lucky enough to have worked with two lovely mamas, who are also sisters, who highly recommend Beard Cabin, saying it was “cute and cozy” and that they loved the outdoor play area to keep the little guests occupied.

375 Boardman-Poland Rd., Boardman, Ohio 44512          (330) 726-8105          https://www.boardmanpark.com/facility-details.aspx?id=41

 

 

Pioneer Pavilion in Mill Creek Park of Youngstown

Pioneer Pavilion is a gorgeous sandstone structure located in Mill Creek Park between Youngstown’s west and south sides.  With room for up to 96 guests, the building offers use of its upper and lower levels as well as an outside terrace.  For those wanting to serve mimosas or champagne, alcoholic beverages are permitted here.  This one is not air conditioned though, so while absolutely stunning, moms may want to consider booking spring, winter, or fall showers here.  Our contributing mom described it as “beautiful!”, and the pictures support her claim!  It is rented by the hour with a 4 hour minimum for a Mahoning County resident hourly rate of $50.

Old Furnace Rd., Youngstown, Ohio          (330) 702-3000          http://www.millcreekmetroparks.org/visit/places/reserve/pioneer-pavilion/

 

 

Birch Hill Cabin in Mill Creek Park of Youngstown

Birch Hill Cabin is another recommended Mill Creek Park location on Youngstown’s west side.  This cedar cabin offers charm and a cozy atmosphere with a beautiful fireplace, heating and air conditioning, private bathrooms, a kitchen area, and an attached deck with a grill.  Tucked away in the trees of Mill Creek, it would be a lovely choice for a fall shower.  The price is pretty fantastic, starting at just $95.  One of our moms told us it was a beautiful venue for her shower.

End of McCollum Rd., Youngstown, Ohio          (330) 702-3000          http://www.millcreekmetroparks.org/visit/places/reserve/birch-hill-cabin/

 

 

Have Your Venue Do It All!

Ciminero’s Banquet Centre of Niles

One of our mamas has nothing but good things to say about Ciminero’s, stating that Mr. Ciminero is “so easy to work with” and does “a wonderful job taking care of all the little details”.  Ciminero’s offers a newly renovated banquet facility that can accommodate 50 to 550 guests.  Beautiful fruit and cheese displays are optional, along with homemade crackers and bread. Yum!

123 N. Main Street, Niles, Ohio 44446          (330) 652-1064          http://www.cimineros.com/catering-banquets/

 

 

The Hippodrome Grand Ballroom of Warren

The Hippodrome is a part of the Mocha House family so choosing a Mocha House desserts is an absolute must if you have your shower here!  The Hippodrome can accommodate 20 to 300 guests, and offers preselected or custom menus.  Prices here start at $8.50 per person.

150 High Street, Warren, Ohio 44483          (330) 392-3020          http://www.mochahouse.com/hippodrome.php

 

 

The Gentry of Hubbard

The Gentry offers full banquet services at its newly renovated banquet hall in Hubbard, and it also offers off-site catering services in case you have your eye on one of the venues listed above but would still prefer to pay someone else to do the cooking.  One soon-to-be mom told us she had her wedding shower at the Gentry, is planning her baby shower there, and says “Mary Beth does a great job to make your special day stress free!”  She also had great things to say about the décor and food!

116 East Liberty Street, Hubbard, Ohio 44425          (330) 534–4710          http://www.thegentrycatering.com/

 

 

The Blue Wolf Tavern of Boardman

The Blue Wolf is one of the most well-known restaurants in Boardman for good reason, great food!  They also provide catering services, offering full banquet services at the Maronite Center in Austintown, off-site catering services at a venue of your choice, or even pick-up for simpler affairs.

 1295 Boardman-Canfield Rd., Boardman, Ohio 44512          (330) 726-1736          http://thebluewolftavern.com/catering/

 

 

Honorable Mentions

A couple of our moms also recommend the Highway House in Austintown and the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Boardman, but these facilities did not have information available on the internet.

 

Well, there you have it.  I hope this helps you sort through some of the venues in the area.  And don’t forget, no matter where you choose to have your shower, Meet Your Miracle can come and introduce the star of the show to all of your friends and family with a 3D/4D ultrasound!

It’s here! Custom heartbeat jewelry!

We are so excited to launch our new line of custom heartbeat jewelry!  This has been a long time in the making, but I think our expectant mothers and mothers at any stage will love what we have to offer.  We are now able to capture heartbeat images from babies, children of all ages, and adults to have them created into beautiful keepsake jewelry pieces. These are truly unique to Meet Your Miracle, so contact us if you are interested!

I was actually so excited for these, that a couple of the items featured on our website are mine!  This beautiful rose gold double pendant necklace holds the heartbeats of my boys, with their names engraved on the back.

And this sleek silver cuff bracelet features our entire family’s heartbeats (4 in total, including me and Jason as well as our sons).  We chose to have the phrase “Live, love, laugh” engraved on the back.

Finally, this necklace and bracelet display the heartbeat of the daughter of one of our clients who truly just touched our hearts.

 

The process of capturing the heartbeat is quick, painless, and safe! Our registered sonographer takes a brief ultrasound to capture the heartbeat which can be completed in our studio or in the comfort of your own home if you prefer. We are then able to have any of these jewelry items customized to that individual heartbeat. This one-of-a-kind piece could be the perfect gift for the lady in your life, or yourself if you’re like me!

More information and a pricing guide can be found here, or you can give us a call at 844.696.2229 with any questions!

Getting the best 3D images at your session – Part II

Getting the best 3D ultrasound images at your session

Part II

So we have covered things you can do to prepare yourself for your ultrasound in Part I: staying hydrated and having orange juice available during your session.  Here are a few more tips to ensuring your 3D/4D ultrasound experience is everything you hope for!

Timing!

Time

You can get a 3D ultrasound at just about any time during your pregnancy.  We start ours at 12 weeks and will do them until birth, but the difference between what you get at 12 weeks, 28 weeks, and 38 weeks should definitely be considered.  So, when is the best time for an ultrasound?  I could probably write a whole article just on that in itself, but here are the basics.

It depends on what you want to see and how many times you plan to get a 3D/4D ultrasound done.  If you’re planning on one time only, the best time is around 28 weeks.  Baby is just filled out enough to see the lovable lips and chubby cheeks but small enough that he’s not running out of room yet.  But, many studios offer repeat customer discounts or packages that include 2 or 3 sessions.  If you want to see baby at all ages and stages, consider buying one of these.  They are usually deeply discounted, and will save you quite a bit more money than just scheduling another session, usually to the point of getting one practically free!

The earlier ultrasounds will show you more of the baby’s body and body movements, and the later ultrasounds will have an even more developed face.  However, if you only plan to come once, don’t wait too late.  The later the pregnancy goes, the less room baby has and the less amniotic fluid compared to baby’s size.  In case you forgot how important space and fluid are, go back to Part I for a reminder.  Scheduling a session for 37 weeks might get you some great face shots, but it might also get you the blob-like thing we discussed in Part I, and there is no going back in time to try again!

Here are some examples at different weeks for reference (the weeks are labeled in white):

15 23 28 32 37 Weeks Meet Your Miracle

 

What do ask your sonographer?

There are a few things you will want to discuss with your sonographer before booking to get the best pictures.  Not too long ago, if you wanted a 3D ultrasound, you had one option and that was it, maybe two if you were lucky.  Since the elective ultrasound business has exploded in most parts of the country, you almost always have a few options to choose from, so be picky.  Search out your options.  Call and ask questions.  We don’t mind!

Choice in ultrasound

  • What machine do you use?
    • This can be a tricky thing to ask because you would need to know a thing or two about ultrasound machines, and who has time to research that? It’s not too hard, I promise!  A good machine is critical to getting a clear image.  When we purchased ours, we got quotes for $5000 all the way up to $80,000!  And let me tell you, the $5000 machine just does not cut it!  We did NOT get the $5000 machine, by the way.  Trust me when I say that you do not want to waste your money on a cheap machine.  The GE Voluson series seems to be the industry standard, although there are several machines that will do the job.  Here is a quick reference on the different machines, so check it out.  Here’s another quick tip.  The studios that have a great machine will usually brag about it on their website, so if you don’t see it on their website, ask!  They may have an awesome machine or a blob producer.  You’ll never know if you don’t ask
  • What is your makeup policy?
    • Now, I say this cautiously because not all ultrasounds are going to look like the pictures we put on Facebook or our website. They just aren’t.  There are so many variables, like positioning, fluid levels, gestational age, maternal tissue, etc.  However, most studios will offer a redo if they aren’t able to get any decent pictures at all during your session.  Ask ahead of time what their policy is.  Some are more liberal than others, and you want to find one that will do their best to give you the images you want.  Again, that doesn’t mean 20 picture perfect, pristine images, but have a discussion with your sonographer so you know what to expect during your appointment.
  • What are your sonographers’ qualifications?
    • This industry has sonographers with all kinds of experience, education, and certification levels. In most states, there is no regulation, so you might get someone who has never touched an ultrasound machine before starting their own business, or you might get an experienced, registered sonographer with a college degree.  Obviously, experience and knowledge matter.  Ultrasound is kind of an art form, at least we like to think of it that way, and it takes a lot of technical understanding to get the best images.  Want a quick way to find out?  Many studios commit to using registered diagnostic medical sonographers, so ask.  You can also check for yourself if you have the name of your sonographer here.  It’s quick and easy.  Not every great sonographer has gone through the process of being registered.  I will say that.  But, if your sonographer is registered, you will know they have the education, experience, and technical knowledge to be eligible for and pass the board examinations.

So there you have it!

One final tip (and I think this one is probably the most helpful):

Find all of your local studios and compare their galleries.  Most studios will post their work on their website galleries or Facebook page, so check them out.  You will be able to tell which machine and sonographer you like the most, and that is really all that counts!

Now go see some so kissable, but not quite yet, baby faces!

Meet Your Miracle  3D Ultrasound Boardman Smiley Baby

Getting the best 3D images at your session

 

Getting the best 3D images at your session

Part I

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and schedule your 3D ultrasound to get a glimpse of your baby before your due date. In our Boardman, OH 3D 4D Studio we see how exciting it is for the family to experience this! Who wouldn’t love the chance to see their baby’s button nose, pouty lips, and chubby cheeks? But, if you want images clear enough to fight over who he or she looks like, follow these tips for getting the best 3D/4D ultrasound images of the newest member of your family.

 

Drink, drink, drink… water, of course!

3D/4D ultrasound technology relies on mom having enough amniotic fluid around baby’s face to get a clear picture. Too little fluid results in baby’s face touching one of the surfaces in the womb, such as the wall of the uterus or placenta. If baby’s face is actually touching these objects, the ultrasound machine can’t tell the difference, and the result looks more like a blob than a baby.

When this image turns, you can see some things in front of baby’s face. We still got a great image because they weren’t touching the baby’s face, as you can see. The amniotic fluid between the face and everything else is why we were able to get a great image.

 

The only way to increase amniotic fluid levels is to stay well-hydrated. In addition to the many health benefits of adequate water intake, drinking a lot of water will more often than not results in some amazingly detailed ultrasound images!

Water is the best way to stay hydrated. Coffee and tea just don’t seem to give us the same results as we get with moms who drink a lot of water. And this is especially important during the summer months, when we all tend to get a little on the dehydrated side.

 

A few words about orange juice

A lot of our moms have heard or read the advice to drink orange juice before their ultrasound appointment. Orange juice is quite the magical elixir in the ultrasound world. Even if a mom has a ton of amniotic fluid, if baby has his hands or feet covering his face, you’re just not going to get a great picture unless he moves. Cue: orange juice!

Orange juice does work wonders here, but there is one caveat! Don’t drink it before your ultrasound. While the magic of orange juice can be a sonographer’s miracle worker, the effects are short-lived, and once it’s worn off, baby is usually done moving around for a while. The best policy for orange juice is to start the ultrasound first. Baby might already be in modeling position. Have it on hand, and you can always drink a little juice to get baby moving if he’s stuck in a bad position. We always have orange juice available for our moms in case we need it. Of course, dietary restrictions should be considered before chug-a-lugging a glass of the orange gold.

Check back for part two to get images like these: