Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bizzy Babee Nursing Cover Review

Disclosure: I received a nursing cover from Bizzy Babee as a trade for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Bizzy Babee makes a nursing cover that is designed to be more fashionable than some of the standard options for breastfeeding mamas. (Which it is). The cover comes in a selection of trendy colors including purple, teal, pink, black, grey, and cream.

The nursing cover is a soft t-shirt material and is shaped a bit like a poncho. It has a cowl-neck and asymmetrical hem. One side has a slit over the arm to create a sleeve-like drape-y look.

I tested the cover out at a small town Farmer's Market. It was blouse-y enough to allow me to easily position my baby under it and see him through the neck hole to get a good latch. He latches on really well on his own now that he is 6-months-old though - and I have never been that graceful at nursing him with a cover over him. So if you are like me, then I'd say any nursing cover isn't for you if you have a young baby and are just starting out at breastfeeding. (But like I said, it's easier now that he has the neck/head control to lift himself to the breast and latch on without me having to guide him there).

The nursing cover comes in only one size, but it's plenty big. Yet I didn't feel like I was completely swallowed in a Snuggie or anything. It was great for outdoors because then it also provided a little warmth and cover from the early autumn breeze.

Word to the wise: How not to take an attractive breastfeeding picture. *ahem* Don't sit like a dude.

I did feel a little frumpy... but that is probably also because I had no bra on, hadn't showered, and had no makeup on either...

But I did feel that the cover was much better than the other one I have, which is essentially a rectangle of a stiffer material with a strap attached to the center. That one is easy to use and more commonplace - you just slip the strap over your head and voila! no more exposed boobage. But, it doesn't wrap around your back and I always was pulling at it to try and cover my side and it just never laid right. The Bizzy Babee, on the other hand, is more comfortable, more attractive, and easier to use. You can even leave it on when you're done nursing the baby and you wouldn't look completely loony-toons walking down the street. My sides were both covered, I didn't have to pull at it to adjust it, and there were no straps to tighten.

Just add a belt when you're done nursing and you'll look so chic!

Plus, (and this is a big one for me), it doesn't look like a nursing cover. I've breastfeed in public many times, but didn't often use a cover (because sometimes it was just too much trouble). I also think that it's easier to go unnoticed whilst breastfeeding if you aren't fumbling with a cover and people aren't staring at you trying to figure out why you're wearing a giant apron. But because the Bizzy Babee cover doesn't look like all the other nursing covers I've seen - and looks more like a lightweight poncho or dolman top, people won't automatically know that you're breastfeeding.

So, all in all, I'd say that if you are in need of a nursing cover or want to replace the apron-like one you already have... the Bizzy Babee is definitely the way to go. At roughly $40, it is double the price of the standard nursing cover, but I can really see myself using this cover much more than I use that other kind. It's much less hassle to use it and much more attractive. Well worth the $40.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bizzy Babee Nursing Cover GIVEAWAY

Bizzy Babee makes a beautiful nursing cover that you can get for FREE! All you have to do is enter this giveaway for a chance to win a cover in one of five colors (your choice). The nursing cover is fashionable and can be used for breastfeeding, pumping, or just bonding with baby and actually looks more like a cute top than one of those apron-like covers that just screams "I"M BREASTFEEDING UNDER HERE!!"

See the bottom of the post for how to enter the giveaway. I will announce the winner once it has ended, and then you can let me know which color you would like!


Color options: Plum, Black, Teal, Watermelon, and Natural

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

An Open Apology/Thank You Letter to Target

That awkward moment when your baby embarrasses you at Target...

Dear Target,

I am a big fan and frequent your store on numerous occasions. Sometimes I have a shopping list in hand, but usually I come in to browse your beautifully wide aisles, grab a drink from Starbucks, and awe over the adorable baby clothes. Or stock up on e.l.f. makeup.

On my most recent visit, my not-quite-6-month-old baby boy was with me and helped me select a sippy cup, among other infant products. He began getting cranky, signaling the end of our outing and letting me know that nap time was near, so I headed to the checkout line.  I met another young mother in line and chatted with her while fumbling around with my wallet, baby on my hip, searching for a coupon and my debit card.

My boy gave a small cough right before I swiped my card and as I turned to check on him, he spat up on me. This is nothing new, it was no huge amount, but I was mildly dismayed since I had my hands full and a burp cloth was not within arms reach. But then, he continued to spew, and in quantities I had not seen come out of his mouth before. It was disgusting, to say the least, and there was a pool of white and pale-green (from his breakfast of avocado) baby vomit between my arm and stomach as well as all over him, my shoes, and the floor. I was shocked, never having witnessed anything like it, and frozen on the spot momentarily.

I'd like to give my apologies to the store (Aliso Viejo) for the mess and for my behavior, or lack thereof. You see, because I was holding my baby, I couldn't exactly bend down to clean the mess up myself. Also because the way I had him in my arms created a pool of liquid, as I indicated before, and I knew that were I to try to get a burp cloth or a wipe, all of that lovely baby puke would then go onto the floor. I'd like to apologize to the customers in line behind me as well - my baby and I held up the flow of traffic through the checkout process a bit.

So, thank you, Target employees, whose names I am heartily sorry for not knowing, for helping me in that situation. They acted without a moment's notice; the cashier grabbed another employee's attention and quickly handed me paper towels to mop myself and my baby up with while they cleaned the bit that had gotten onto the floor. I worked in customer service for many years before my son was born, and I know that cleaning up baby puke is not a standard or very enticing part of the job description. Thank you for not making a big scene out of it either; no one wants an embarrassing moment like that broadcast throughout the entire store. Having any witnesses at all was humiliating enough. Though the situation was entirely out of my control, and I myself am not the one that hurled at the checkout line, it is still mortifying to be covered in puke, in public. I sincerely do appreciate the speed with which your employees acted and the manner in which they handled the situation.

In closure, Target, I'm sorry my baby puked at the checkout line, but thank you for cleaning it up.

"Eep! Sorry Target!"

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bye-Bye Binky: Is it time to say goodbye to the pacifier?


I was always on the fence about whether to use a pacifier or not. I didn't want to struggle to get our newborn boy to calm down, but at the same time I didn't want to end up with a 6-year-old that still sucked on a pacifier (like some of the kids I've seen at the grocery store...)  

I also wanted to avoid having our baby still sucking on pacifiers once he was grown...

Our pediatrician told us early on that she thought some "nipple confusion" was a good thing, and so we decided to use the pacifier to soothe our newborn if nothing else would work. The very last resort would be letting him suckle at the breast (non-nutritive sucking) if he was really inconsolable. I read (in The Happiest Baby on the Block) that you should phase out the pacifier by the time they are 6-months-old so as to avoid an emotional attachment to it. So I planned to have Baby G off the binky by that age, and didn't think it would be too difficult because we hardly used it anyway. Mostly in the car if he was fussy (since there was little else we could do) or at night, though we tried not to let him fall asleep with it. However, sometimes if he seemed tired and cranky, the minute the pacifier went in his mouth, his eyes closed and he was out. That was a handy trick that we still tried not to overuse.

We barely used the pacifier on our vacation, so I started thinking we were on the way to saying goodbye to it, but right when we got home, he seemed like he was beginning to teethe. Everything was going in his mouth, he was drooling like a faucet, was really cranky, and orajel and the chilled gel-filled teethers seemed to soothe him. I'd read that you shouldn't take the binky away while they're teething, since it can be a great way to pacify them (heehee). Plus, babies often chew on their pacifiers when they're teething too. 

Just a couple weeks later though, we started trying to get him to sleep in his own room at night, and stopped letting him nap on us. I think it was harder on me than on him; for that first week, it went magically. Hardly any fussing at being laid down, he wasn't waking frequently, and when he did wake, it was only to eat and then he went right back to sleep. The second week though... he seemed angry when we'd lay him down and no amount of back patting or rubbing or soothing lullabies would calm him down. So as usual, we'd turn to the pacifier to see if that would work, but it just made him angrier! He would thrash his head to the other side and scream bloody murder if we tried to put it in his mouth again. At first we thought it was merely because he was already upset and just wasn't noticing that we were giving him his binky, but when we offered it to him the following night while he was only fussing a little bit, it flipped a switch in him and he went berserk again! This went on for a week; us offering the pacifier to calm him down so he could go to sleep and him rejecting it vehemently with heart-wrenching screams and cries. 

I stopped giving him the pacifier during the day as well - he didn't seem to need or want it. And after a week of difficult bedtimes and him still refusing the pacifier at night, we stopped using it altogether. The pacifiers remained untouched on the drying rack and sank to the bottom of my diaper bag from disuse. He started solids during this time, which perhaps helped.

About a month passed with absolutely no sign of the binky, and I thought "Hurray! He's weaned himself off the pacifier!!"

But then...

We had a rough couple of nights a little over a week ago, and nothing was working. He was inconsolable and on a whim, thought I'd dig around for a pacifier and see if that's what he wanted. I hesitated to give it to him because 1) it could just make him even angrier like it did before, or, 2) would just put him back on the binky, which we thought we were done with.

Thankfully/unfortunately, the pacifier worked and it calmed him down and he was able to go to sleep. Darn it. I tried not to use the pacifier after that, but I ended up giving it to him again. Now it seems like he's back on it, but hopefully not emotionally attached to it. He's coming up on his 6-month birthday... but there's no sign of him self weaning again anytime soon. Although, that last time did just happen out of nowhere, so perhaps he will surprise us again.

I did recently see some cute ways for toddlers to "say goodbye" to their pacifiers, with little ceremonies and parties and letting the binkies be carried away by balloons. Though I do not want our boy to be attached to a pacifier for the next couple of years, I'm still intrigued and excited by the thought of letting him be in charge of a "goodbye ceremony." He would be initiating himself into childhood and perhaps that would be exciting for him as well; to take a "big boy" step and happily move on from babyhood.

But... we shall see. I really don't want to just take the pacifier away cold turkey, but I'd still like to try and avoid too much of an emotional attachment to it. Which means I need to phase it out soon.

Didn't have a pacifier handy... and couldn't get him to suck his own thumb (which he rarely does), so he sucked on my finger instead. Leaving me immobile for a short while.

How old was your baby when they stopped using the pacifier? Did you use any special tricks to wean them off of it or use a "ceremony" to have them say "Bye-bye binky"? Comment below!
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Maturity in Motherhood

It seems that after my first baby boy was born, I matured over night. At least, it feels that way. It’s not that I was overly immature prior to his birth, and not that him being born aged me, just that there are ways in which I grew up very rapidly.

I feel like I was always a bit more mature than my peers in many ways: I didn’t drink or party in high school, and rarely in college; I prioritized studying and intellectual growth over other things; I wasn’t glued to my phone when out at social events like my peers were… Yet there were many things I needed to change; ways in which I needed to “grow up.” I tended to be a bit lazy and hardly accomplished any housework, to my husband’s dismay. That laziness was also sometimes reflected in my appearance, especially when I was pregnant and didn’t feel like wearing “real” clothes. I also was not the greatest with sticking to a budget and enjoyed online shopping to a scary extent. 

Since my son was born, I am much less lazy, partly because he is definitely not lazy. He is not content with sitting on the couch for an hour (whereas I could be content there all day). I take a walk every day – sometimes multiple walks – and also attempt to get some type of housework done during his naps (even if it’s just wiping off the counters).

 I care a lot more about what my clothes and appearance say about me now. “Do I look like a competent mother?” “Does my look reflect my knowledge and wisdom about parenting?” “Do I look like I care about myself?” I certainly don’t want to let myself go – not yet! I was never a big fan of the new crop-top trend, but I am definitely not going for it now. I think there’s a certain level of appropriateness that parents should strive for. No bare bellies, sagging pants, exposed undergarments… parents should send a good message to their kids, even at a young age. I also used to be a bit tentative about cutting my hair, though I’d gone as short as chin-length before. But my long hair was getting in  my way and kept finding its way into chubby baby hands (and mouths!) so it had to go. In the end I rationalized that it is “just hair” and will grow back – it’s not something anyone should get terribly attached to. It’s much more manageable now and I can spend much less time with it and more time focusing on my little boy!

While at times I still spend more money that I should, I have definitely cut back. Diapers are expensive enough! I still enjoy making the odd online purchase, but instead of for me, my carts are now mostly full of baby stuff. I love having someone else to shop for, but I also am now better at prioritizing. I would rather have emergency money in savings and start saving up to buy a house than to buy a bunch of toys that he will probably never play with.

Are there ways in which becoming a parent seemingly matured you overnight?
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why I No Longer Blog Every Day

Over two months ago, I had lofty intentions of writing a new post every day except Sunday. And for a while I was able to keep up with it - I even came pretty close while I was on vacation for two weeks! But once we came home from vacation, my baby boy turned 4-months-old and it started getting harder and harder to find enough time every day to write. Sure, I could knock out a couple paragraphs in a matter of minutes, but I try to have my posts be well-written and full of photos and sometimes good resources, references, and links. Plus I like to have a nice title image as well. And all of that often takes much longer.

This post is kind of serving as a brief apology letter to all of my readers for not being "on the ball." But I'm assuming that the majority of my readers are also moms, and hope that you all understand how precious time is when you have a baby (or kids in general).

When my baby boy was only a couple months old, he slept a lot. He took numerous naps throughout the day - often an hour or two hours long - giving me plenty of time to write as well as do other things around the house. Now that he's nearly 6-months-old though... he is attracted to bright screens like a moth to a flame - he wants to touch them and stare at them, and I don't want him watching any screens for any length of time. The American Pediatric Association says kids shouldn't watch any TV before the age of 2 years, and I'm sure any screen time, whether it's a cell phone, ipad, laptop, or tv - is bad. I can no longer have him lay peacefully on one arm while I type. Now he's squirmy and wants to see what the bright light is. I could try to blog while he's entertained by his toys/jumperoo/activity gym/etc, but I would rather spend time with him. So working while he's awake is a no-go.

Now that he's nearly half a year old, he only naps about three times a day, and usually only for 30-45 minutes. Perhaps that could be a sufficient amount of time to write a quick post... but sometimes creating the title image alone takes 20-30 minutes (I'm a perfectionist). Also, sometimes I have other things I need to do - like shower, eat, walk the dogs, vacuum, laundry, or pack (we're moving in just a couple of weeks). If I spend the baby's entire nap writing... what happens is he wakes up and I realize I'm still not wearing any pants and my lemon meringue flavored Greek yogurt is sitting next to me, untouched.

While I do have some time to do things after Baby G goes to bed for the night (he is usually asleep by 8:30 at the latest), I try and use that time to relax with my husband before we go to bed. We've said in the past that we won't be on the computer much after he gets home from work, and though we've been slipping a bit lately, I'd like to start enforcing our "no computers/ipads rule" again.

I'm actually quite upset that I do not have as much time to devote to this as I would like. I am quite upset I don't have as much time to devote to a lot of things - like read, sew, cook, and watch Doctor Who. But making sacrifices comes with the territory [of being a parent]. And if it comes down to writing about nipple blisters or playing with my son and watching him laugh... you tell me which one you would pick. #sorryimnotsorry ;)
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Daily Life With a 4-Month-Old

Just a few days after we returned home from our 2-week vacation, little man turned 4 months old. Soon after that, we moved him to the crib in his own room to see how that would go. That also meant we were getting a little stricter on ourselves about making him nap in his crib versus in our arms. 

So what is daily life like with a 4-month-old?

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Monday, August 18, 2014

5 Reasons I Don't Pick Up My Crying Baby

I recently read an article titled "Good Mothers Pick Up Their Crying Baby" - and this post is inspired by that article. Even though in the end, that article wasn't even about crying babies and whether or not to pick them up. (It was actually about not being so judgmental of other people and mothers and instead trying to understand their situation).

I don't always pick up my baby boy when he cries. Does this make me a bad mother? Perhaps in some peoples' eyes. But I think I have pretty good reasons not to:

1) Because I'm on the toilet. Or in the shower. Sometimes it is literally impossible to pick up your baby, and instead are forced to resort to saying loudly, "I'll be right there baby!!" as you wipe (or dry off, or spit out the toothpaste, etc).

2) If I'm out grocery shopping by myself, I usually have baby in the stroller and have a small shopping basket in hand. If he starts to cry, I'll try to make him happy while he's still in his seat. I will pick him up if he won't calm back down, but that then means I can no longer push the stroller and continue with my shopping. (I can't push a stroller, hold a baby, and hold a basket all at the same time). Plus, then I'm just stuck in the middle of an aisle, possibly getting in the way of other shoppers. I will have to leave the store eventually. So sometimes that means I have to put my crying baby back into the stroller so that I can either continue shopping or just give up and leave. Regardless, that means he's crying in the stroller and I'm not able to pick him up.

3) Sometimes, you have your little one strapped into the car seat (which is attached to the stroller) and are happily strolling through a [insert store/location/shop/etc name here]. Right towards the end of your excursion, baby starts to cry. When I'm in this situation, I don't want to pick him up because that means unbuckling him from his car seat, and we're only mere minutes from getting back into the car... I don't want to take him out of his seat for a few minutes, only to have to then buckle him back up moments later. Snapping baby into the car seat can be a real fight sometimes! It's easier to just race back to the car with him crying than to deal with those straps.

4) Perhaps this doesn't quite apply, but sometimes I don't "pick up my crying baby" because he's already strapped to me. If I'm wearing him in the Ergo or a wrap and he starts crying... I can't really do much. I'm not exactly going to try to take him out of the darned thing while out in public - usually I'm wearing him because I need my hands (and also because he's normally happier in it!) Also, what am I supposed to do with the carrier once he's out of it? Carry him in one hand, the wrap in another, and diaper bag in my third hand...? So if he cries... all I can do is bounce and sway and try to soothe him until I can get back to the car or house to take him out.

5) Our five-month-old is now getting to the point where he's enjoying time out of our arms. So sometimes he's fussing, and I pick him up, he's still fussing. I'll try walking, rocking, bouncing, swaying, singing, sitting, standing, the whole shebang... and then I put him down to give my arms a break, and guess what?! He stopped crying. This isn't always the case, but there are times when he's sitting there fussing or crying and I know holding him isn't what he wants and therefore won't work.

This is by no means meant to start a debate on whether or not to use the "cry it out" method. It was merely meant to be a somewhat humorous illustration on times I don't pick him up when he's crying. :P

What are some reasons you don't pick up your baby when he cries?
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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tips on Flying With a Baby


            Definitely my father’s daughter, I love planning for trips, even ones I may never take. I get into all the details and compile Powerpoint presentations complete with photos, budgets, and even packing lists. (My husband graciously always allows me to plan our vacations and even the more involved day-trips). Now a new mom to a baby boy, I was excited about planning our first trip as a family, though intimidated a bit because it was going to be one of the most intense journeys we’d ever taken. Here are some of the things I learned both from my preparation pre-flight and from my own personal experience.

            Babies come with lots of baggage and you’ll have to accommodate all of that extra stuff when packing. Try to travel as light as possible so as not to incur any additional charges for an extra bag or for excess weight. Plus, your airline may gate check the stroller or car seat (or possibly both) for free. I read up on United’s policy, and it was unclear, so I tweeted the company before our trip to find out if I could have both the stroller and car seat gate checked. (You can!) In addition, United, like many airlines, allows you to have one carry-on bag and one personal item (like a purse or briefcase). However, they allow certain items in excess of your two carry-ons: like a diaper bag. Both of these policies allow parents to avoid having to pay extra fees for all of their little one’s stuff.

I think that I packed the lightest for this trip than I have for any other my entire life, and this was by far the longest one. I managed to get all of my clothes and our baby’s clothes in my suitcase; I just had to put my shoes (only three pairs!) in my husband’s suitcase. Both of those bags were checked, then we each had a diaper bag (his, a backpack) and then I had one carry-on (which I ended up checking on later flights). Fewer bags meant less to pull, which was great considering someone had to push the stroller, and it meant we’d be faster through the security line.    

If you need to bring milk (or juice, water, or baby food) through airport security, read up on the Transportation Security Administration’s policy regarding medically necessary liquids. Normally you are allowed a clear zip-loc bag of 3.1 ounces of liquid, but if you have an infant (or require medicine) you are permitted to bring liquids over that amount, you just have to alert a security officer and take the bottle cooler out of the diaper bag and put it in it’s own tray to go through the x-ray machine.

            Some other things to note when flying with a baby… try to feed your little one during take-off and landing. They can’t chew gum to alleviate ear discomfort, but sucking can help. If you want to be able to use your hands during the flight, either 1) buy a ticket for your infant and put your car seat in it, 2) fly with someone else who is willing to hold them for part of the flight, or 3) bring an infant seat like the FlyeBaby, which is like a hammock that attaches to the seat in front of you and then to your waist for you to set your baby on. Otherwise, be prepared for aching shoulders once you de-plane.

Note Feb 04 2016: This post was originally published online at Family Culture Magazine, but it seems to no longer be active. I previously had only a snippet here on my blog, but because the link to the full article was defunct, you can now read the whole thing right here at Prego to Legos!

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Friday, August 8, 2014

7 Reasons You Can't Sleep When The Baby Sleeps


I’m sure all new and expecting parents have been offered the advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps.”  For the first week or two after your baby is born, you may be able to squeeze in a couple naps a day with him. Especially if you are mom – baby may fall asleep after nursing and then you can just snooze right along with him. You’re still recovering, so you can’t do much else anyway. At least, I couldn’t. I was fairly incapable of walking around and doing laundry and cooking and cleaning. (That’s what all that visiting family is for, right?)

However, once your little one is a few weeks old… they start doing more than just eating and sleeping. They start having awake periods and start sleeping less. Plus, at this point, most moms have nearly fully recovered and are capable of doing things around the house. This is the point where I was still tired most the time (who am I kidding… five months in and I’m still exhausted all the time!) and wanted to be able to take lots of naps to catch up on sleep I may have missed during the night, but at the same time, I wanted to be able to do things.

So here’s my list of reasons why that is the worst and most tired advice (pun not intended) that new parents can get.

1)    Sometimes, you have to shower, and baby’s nap is the only chance you get.
2)    At times, they are cranky and fight sleep and won’t let you put them down to get anything done while they’re awake. So once they’re finally asleep, you have a choice: eat, clean, walk the dogs, take a shower, or take a nap. And when it comes down to that, napping is not even an option.
3)    There are times when you can’t sleep because you have things you need to do (see number 2, above) and then there are times when you can’t sleep because you have other things you want to do that you never get a chance to do otherwise. Like read a book, watch a movie, take a bath, or spend some alone time with your partner.
4)    There are occasions when you put your little one down, that by the time you head to your own bed and crawl in and close your eyes… he’s awake. And stays awake for another hour and a half. By the time he falls back asleep, you’ve given up on the idea of catching a few winks.
5)    And, then sometimes you lie down to nap and no matter what you do, you just can. not. fall. asleep. Many parents experience insomnia. 
6)   Though young babies don't have much of a schedule, sometimes you try to schedule your life around their naps. You know they're going to be sleeping soon? Now's the time to head out to get a bite to eat, or get groceries, or go to the mall, cause they'll nap the whole time and you won't have to worry about them crying, or having to feed them or entertain them. 
7)   Babies definitely don't sleep on demand. So sometimes, it means putting them in the stroller and going out for a walk (or in the car and going for a drive) just to get them to fall asleep. You can't exactly fall asleep at the wheel... and at least in my experience, often taking baby out of the car seat or stroller to take them inside and lay them down wakes them up. And at that point they've either been asleep just long enough that now they'll be awake for another hour or two, or they're cranky cause you woke them up and need to be soothed back to dream land. 

And a bonus number 8: Sometimes you use their nap as a photo op. :)

This is by no means the complete list of reasons – just the ones I’ve found over my short five months as a new parent. Do you have any other reasons you can't "sleep when the baby sleeps"?

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stop Sanitizing! Why Hand Sanitizer is Dangerous

Hand sanitizer has been on the rise the last few years: showing up in bathrooms, schools, parks, airports, and more. While it’s great that we’re pushing for good hygiene and cleanliness, it is possible to take it too far.

It’s true that hand sanitizer will kill most of the bacteria on your hands – up to 99.9%. But it will not clean away any visible dirt or grime, and it kills both bad and good bacteria. (There’s such a thing as good bacteria?!) Experts still say that washing with soap and water (and rubbing your hands together for a good length of time – try singing the ABCs) is always the best option – especially if your hands are visibly dirty. Hand sanitizer should only be used if you cannot get to a sink. (So if you’re in a restaurant, don’t just whip out the little bottle of sanitizer. Make the short trip to the bathroom and do the job right).
It's always better to just wash your hands with soap and water.

Studies show that kids that grow up in less tidy environments end up with a lower risk of having allergies, illnesses, and asthma. Keeping your environment too clean (who knew there was such a thing?!), by using too many bacterial soaps and sanitizers, for example, can lead to your immune system becoming more sensitized to allergens and irritants. Dr. Richard Gallo of the University of California, San Diego says, “Being too clean can lead you to have a high allergic set point that will overreact to the environment.” If you over-wash your hands and continually strip them of all germs (by using hand sanitizer), then you will be hurting your immune system, which actually uses germs to build up its strength. You have to be exposed to germs in order to build up immunity to them.

Most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based and contain 60% alcohol or more. Most beer contains only 5% alcohol, and whiskey only 40%. If you were to ingest a small 2-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, that would be equivalent to doing four shots of hard liquor. In fact, there have been cases of young children being sent to the emergency room for lethargy, slurred speech, and worrisome behavior due to an unknown cause. They then discover that their blood alcohol level is startlingly high and realize it’s because they licked their hands after having hand sanitizer put on (or they ingested some straight out of the bottle). So never apply a sweet-smelling hand sanitizer to your young child’s hands as it will just tempt them to give it a taste.

Never use a sweet-smelling sanitizer on a young child. They may be tempted to lick their hands or worse, drink it out of the bottle.

Alcohol-free hand sanitizers are hardly any better. Most of those contain an ingredient called Triclosan, which has been shown in animal studies to reduce muscle strength and disrupt the endocrine system. (At this time, it is unknown if these findings add up to human toxicity, but the FDA is currently reviewing the issue). Triclosan also breaks down rapidly when exposed to chlorinated water and produces toxic chemicals, including chloroform. Lastly, when bacteria are exposed to Triclosan, it elicits antibiotic resistance, meaning that over time, bacteria can develop a resistance to many types of antibiotics. And then hand sanitizer will no longer be effective.

The safety of an ingredient in alcohol-free sanitizers is dubious. Steer clear of it, just in case.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends that hand sanitizers be kept out of reach of children, that children be supervised when using it, and that hand sanitizer should not be used on children under 2 years old.

So please, don’t routinely wipe your baby down with hand sanitizer. I myself know a handful of kids who were practically bathed in the stuff as infants, and today suffer from an absurd amount of allergies and are constantly in and out of the doctor’s office due to illness. It may seem like you are keeping your little one clean, but you may be doing more harm than good.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WubbaNub Pacifier Review

When registering for baby stuff before my son was born, I came across a pacifier with a stuffed animal attached to it. Perhaps you've seen it? It's called a WubbaNub (though I've always thought it was called a "Wubba Nubba"), and comes in a plethora of adorable animals. I thought it was cute but kind of frivolous. Close to $15 for a pacifier?! But I bought the giraffe pacifier anyway, just to try it out (and because it was just too cute!)

Though when I bought it, I didn't think it could possibly be better than any other pacifier - plus I was planning on using pacifiers sparingly - but I quickly fell in love with it. We almost forgot about every other pacifier - I had them stuffed in diaper bags as our "backup," but we never went anywhere without what we began referring to as "THE Pacifier." (I wouldn't even leave the room without grabbing it). 

What makes this pacifier so great? 

I'm glad you asked. 

Here's my list of things I like (and don't like) about the WubbaNub. 

1). The pacifier/nipple itself is a Soothie, which is the kind our boy preferred. It's also the type that our hospital used to soothe him during his circumcision. So this was great for us - I didn't waste $15 on a pacifier we'd never used. (He only rarely took a Nuk pacifier and any others almost never. There are still some rejected pacifiers in the nursery somewhere...) If your baby prefers a flat nipple such as the one on a Nuk over the round one on a Soothie, then this may not be the pacifier for you.

2). The attached stuffed animal makes it larger - therefore easier to find when you're fumbling around in the dark looking for it. Or when fumbling around in a cavernous diaper bag. It also makes it less likely to get lost in the sheets or blankets. This may seem trivial, but trust me. When you're dealing with a crying, upset baby, you don't want to be spending precious minutes digging around for a tiny pacifier.

3). Aside from making it easier for you to grab, it's also easier for little baby hands to hold on to as well. Baby G didn't hold the giraffe right away (too young!), but he got into it eventually and now whenever he sees the giraffe he grabs it and stuffs it in his mouth. Some may say this is because he knows that it's something he likes to suck on... some may say it's because he's stuffing everything in his mouth... 

4). A potential downside of the WubbaNub is that you can't attach many paci clips to it. However, because of the plush animal, you can shove it places to get it to stay. For example, it gets wedged quite nicely between my body and any of our baby carriers (like my husband in the Ergo, below).

The WubbaNub between my husband and the Ergo shoulder strap. The nipple rests in the perfect spot for baby to suck on!
It's hard to tell, but the giraffe's body is actually in the front pocket of the Balboa Baby Ring Sling.

5). Other than the actual nipple, the WubbaNub provides many things for baby to suck (or chew) on. Though I haven't tried any of the other animals, the giraffe in particular has feet that are the perfect size and shape to fit in baby's mouth. He loves to suck on those almost as much as he likes to suck on the pacifier part. Though, now he's teething, so he's really chewing on the poor giraffe more than anything else...

Mouthing on the giraffe's foot.

6). It's slightly more difficult to clean than standard pacifiers - depending on how neurotic you are. I don't like to rinse the nipple because then the giraffe gets wet - and normally when I'm rinsing it, I need to use it right then and don't have the time to lay it out to dry. Not a big deal... but I'm a bit weird. :P You can throw it in the washing machine though. I actually don't do that too often (or put regular ones in the dishwasher) because I read that heat wears down the plastic and it can eventually break off. (Apparently you're supposed to replace pacifiers every 2 months. Not a big deal for $3 ones, but I really didn't feel like replacing a $15 pacifier when he may only use it for another month). I do stick it in the bottle warmer (which doubles as a sanitizer). The warmer isn't huge, so I just tip the pacifier piece in, letting the giraffe's body hang over the edge.

Do you have a WubbaNub for your little one? What did you think of it?
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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Breastfeeding Issues: Hyperlactation

I was producing so much, I began to feel like one of the sea nymphs on the Fountain of Neptune.

I was blessed to have a fairly great breastfeeding experience with very few issues. My boy latched on within an hour of being born, all by himself too! He then quickly bulked up and was back at birth weight within a week. It all seemed to be going well that first month - no pain, no fussing, lots of weight gain... But right after he turned a month old we started having issues.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Traveling With Baby: Baby Travel Gear

We recently took our first family vacation, and because it was two weeks long, there was a lot of preparation on my part. Some things that we took were completely unnecessary and then there were others that I wish I would've thought of before hand.

The Best Baby Travel Gear

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Having Dogs Prepared Me for a Baby

Couples often get a puppy before having kids as “practice.” Shortly after we got married and moved to California, my husband and I got not one, but two puppies. (They weren’t from the same litter, by the way. We got our first one and then a month later brought home the second one). It really helped curb our baby fever and satisfied my maternal drive.

I thought with all the pain those wonderful dogs put us through, a baby would be a piece of cake. I mean, there’s no way a baby would be chewing chunks out of the counter, scratching massive holes in the wall, eating my leather jacket, or throwing up all over the carpet in the middle of the night. Hopefully, I’m not the only delusional parent who thought that dogs would in any way train me for a baby.

That’s not to say that they didn’t prepare me a little. Here are some of the ways that having dogs helped prep me for having a baby:

1.     Having dogs got me used to handling/seeing/smelling poop. Living in an urban environment, we have to pick up our dogs’ leavings in little baggies, and one of our dogs always seemed to get some stuck in his fur on his backside. So he certainly got me used to having to wipe behinds. 
2.     I became adjusted to having to spend money on living creatures other than myself (and my husband). $40 a month on two dogs is chump change compared to what a baby costs. But at least we kind of eased our toes into the spending pool. Plus, I liked spoiling my dogs with new toys and treats and now I can transfer that desire over to my own flesh and blood (much to my husband’s dismay).
3.     I was never much of a clean freak, but once we got dogs (and two big ones at that), I was kind of forced to vacuum more frequently. In a small apartment, it’s astonishing how quickly the carpet gets saturated with dog hair. A baby doesn’t exactly contribute to all the hair in the carpet or dirt in general (they’re so tiny!), but at least it got us into the habit of cleaning, which helped create a healthier environment for our little boy.
4.     Two dogs produce a lot of noise, and therefore got us used to noise in general. Granted, our dogs bark only on occasion - and usually out of excitement - whereas a baby screams and cries, and aside from hurting your ears, it also breaks your heart! Plus, we trained our dogs to “quiet” on command, and though they don’t always listen, they do sometimes. A baby on the other hand… good luck getting one to just stop crying just because you said so. 

And… here’s how dogs did absolutely nothing to prepare me for a baby:

1.     I thought having to take the dogs outside to go potty and house-training them as puppies would help prepare me for diapers and eventually potty-training. But in reality, dogs, even puppies, go to the bathroom much less frequently than a baby. An 8-week-old puppy can go at least one hour between potty breaks (and adult dogs can hold 8 to 12 hours on occasion!) so I was taken aback when I changed my 8-week-old boy’s diaper four times in a 15-minute span.
2.     Dogs, from a very young age, are able to walk on their own. You don’t have to hold them all the time, and if you have to go to the bathroom, you don’t need to worry about what to do with them because there’s pretty much no chance that a dog will accidentally roll off of the couch.
3.     Though not as self-sufficient as cats, dogs are still more independent than a human baby. If you leave the house, just leave a bowl of water for them and they’ll be fine. If you leave the house once you have a baby, you kind of have to take them with you (or get a sitter). A baby is 100% reliant on you, and if you are breastfeeding, then they’re also pretty much attached to you all the time.
4.     Dogs don’t need help going to sleep - even young puppies fall asleep on their own. Babies, on the other hand, as I’m sure any parent will tell you, often will not go to sleep unless you hold them/rock them/swaddle them/feed them/sing to them/shush them/walk them/drive them around in the car/etc.

Well, that’s my list. How did dogs prepare you for a baby? (Or, how did they not prepare you?)

Note Feb 04 2016: This post was originally published online at Family Culture Magazine, but it seems to no longer be active. I previously had only a snippet here on my blog, but because the link to the full article was defunct, you can now read the whole thing right here at Prego to Legos!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Baby's First Vacation

Our first family vacation was quite a long one! The longest trip I'd ever taken - 2 weeks long. We wanted to visit family (both sides) so they could meet baby G, since we didn't know when our next opportunity to see all of them would be. (Hey that rhymes!)

We traveled from California to Virginia where my parents and all of my husband's family live. That's where the majority of our time was spent - about a full week. Then we flew to New Orleans and drove to Picayune, then Hattiesburg, Mississippi to visit some of my family. Our final stop on the trip was Pensacola Beach, Florida, to join my mother's family in their annual group vacation.

It was a lot of fun though a bit stressful at times - but also a great learning experience. Here's the rundown of our trip:

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Getting Baby to Love the Water Part 5: At the Beach

We recently took our first family vacation, and on this two-week trip, our boy had his first experience at the beach. This is the fifth part of a series on getting your baby to love water! The first 4 parts? Baby baths, big baths, breastfeeding in the tub, and then swimming pools

Daddy and Nonnie introducing baby G to the ocean!

We were lucky to be able to have his first experience with the ocean be in Florida, where the water is much warmer. (We live on the West coast, and the sea is super cold year round!) That would be my first suggestion: if possible, introduce baby to the beach and ocean when the weather is warm (and try to introduce them to warmer water first).

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Friday, July 25, 2014

First Giveaway... AllieLou Baby

Just a heads up that I will be hosting a giveaway on this blog soon. The wonderful AllieLou Baby shop from Etsy is providing the prize - a beautiful baby set (to be revealed soon).

Still deciding how to run the contest entry portion... For you readers that have entered blog giveaways before... what are your favorite entry methods? Facebook like? Comment? A click-to-enter button? I certainly don't want to have a page-long list of things you must do in order to be entered ("like this," "like that," "comment here," "tweet this," "share that," etc).

Comment below or tweet me @elrussell10 to let me know your thoughts!
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Why I Have Three Diaper Bags

Before my son was born, I read lots of tips that suggested having three sets of crib sheets and three changing pad covers. One that would be in use, one that would be in the laundry hamper/washer/dryer, and one that would be in the closet. Well, these are great tips, but do not apply to my three-diaper-bag situation. So why do I have three diaper bags?

Well, I got all of them as gifts (one off my registry and two from different military spouse baby showers) and wasn't really intending to use them all (at least, not all at once). But my mom suggested putting one (stocked with diapers and wipes) in the back of my car in case I ever run out of the house without my fully stocked diaper bag.

Then, just recently, I began using my third one. My main diaper bag is so heavy and really all of that stuff isn't necessary for quick trips (but it's great for all-day outings). So I put the most minimal stuff in that extra bag for shorter trips.

What is in each of my diaper bags:

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Daily Life With A 3-Month-Old

Though I promised not to write solely about my day-to-day life and turn this blog into a diary, I have posted about what daily life is like with a 2-month-old, and intend to write a similar post each month as my boy ages.

So, here's what a standard day is like (for me) with a 3-month-old. It really isn't all that different from when he was 2-months-old... he's just awake a little bit more. We were on vacation for two weeks, which sort of threw of his schedule (not that he really had one). But, this is roughly what life was like with him for that month. These are all average times... perhaps in the future I will try and document one full day, if it's an interesting one.
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Traveling With a Baby: Preparation

In preparation for our first trip with our baby, (three-months-old at the time), I did a lot of research. I didn't want to get stuck having to dump out pumped milk or having to pay extra to check a stroller cause we didn't do the process right, or have a flight attendant fuss at me to cover up while breastfeeding. I especially wanted to check all the policies and rules because we would be flying on four different planes over a two-week period and visiting four different states. I just like to be prepared!

So I hoped to save someone else a little trouble and compile everything I found here. This is the first part on a series of traveling with a baby and it's solely on preparing for your trip.

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