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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