Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ready, Aim, Poop!

“Ready, aim, fire!” I’m convinced that if my daughter could talk, she’d be saying that phrase every time I change her diaper.

During her week-long stay in the hospital, she successfully pooped on my mom, my husband, the nurses, and me. She’s a pro at fooling people into thinking she’s done pooping. She’ll let out a bunch of grunts, accomplish a few good poop explosions, and everything will be calm for quite awhile. “Time to change her diaper,” we’d all think.

The unsuspecting victim would calmly slide a new diaper underneath her, undo the dirty diaper, and get ready to wipe. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the changer would feel a warm, wet spray, and her hands would be covered with mustardy goo.

It was funny at first. Now that I often change her on our bed, however, it the laughter has turned to fear. I have enough to do during my day without having to add “wash sheets and comforter” to the list.

I suppose I could be better prepared. I could change her on a changing table, or lay a blanket underneath her to protect the bedding. I could always have a diaper partially covering her in case of an aftershock.

No matter how many precautions I take, however, there are always a few moments when I am utterly vulnerable. These are moments when she is in prime launching position, when all odds are in the favor of a successful mustard attack.

These are the moments when I’m holding both of her legs up in the air and I’m ready to wipe.

There’s nothing protecting me during these moments, and there’s no way around them. I have to lift her behind up in the air to be sure I’ve completely cleaned it. I can’t cover it up or I won’t be able to see if I’ve missed anything. I can’t keep my face partially turned away, or I won’t be able to get a good view. No, I have to face my fears, and allow myself to be in the most dangerous position possible.

I think she can sense my nervousness. Sometimes she lets a little gas escape, just to keep me on my toes. Every now and then, she’ll sneeze, making me cringe in anticipation of what the force of the sneeze might push out the other end.

Rent a suspense-filled movie on a Friday night? Nah. We’ve got diaper changing to keep us at the edge of our seats.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baby: To Schedule, or Not To Schedule?

My husband and I never considered putting our baby on a schedule while I was pregnant, and we didn’t think about it after she was born. When we thought she was hungry, I nursed her, and when she seemed tired, we let her sleep.

I thought that was what most parents did, but as we talked to more and more new parents, we realized it’s very common for parents to get their babies on a regular schedule almost immediately.

I admit that there were some days when I wondered if I was hurting our daughter by having a “go-with-the-flow” attitude. I wondered if she might benefit from a more regular eating and sleeping routine. I usually dismissed those thoughts, though, because she was happy, and my husband and I were happy.

In addition to being happy, my daughter was also well-fed and well-rested.

Because I nursed her on demand, I never had trouble with low milk supply. Maybe my body would have produced an abundance of milk whether I fed her on demand or not, but I’ve read about and heard first-hand stories where women had extremely low amounts milk as a result of trying to get their babies on a schedule.

We never tried to force her to sleep when she wasn’t tired, and we never tried to keep her awake if she wanted to sleep, regardless of the time of day or night. This might have been easier for us than other families because she was our only child and we didn’t have to coordinate naps and bedtimes. In addition, I stay at home with her, so I can usually nap when she naps. Either way, it worked very well for us. Naps and bedtime weren’t stressful – we just waited until she was tired, then let her sleep (often in our arms and in our bed).

This non-schedule continued until she was about 5 ½ months old. At this time, she began making her own schedule. I noticed that she was getting tired, hungry, and ready for bed at about the same time each day. It was nice to follow her cues and plan her naps, feedings, and bedtimes accordingly.

Instead of wondering whether a parent-imposed routine would be a good idea or not, I’m confident and at peace with the routine our daughter chose for herself. It might not work for every family or with every child, but it sure worked for us!

Monday, January 25, 2010


My daughter has an insatiable curiosity these days. She wants to know what everyone is saying, doing, eating, and holding. She wants to touch and taste anything and everything she can get her drool-covered hands on. No more are the days when I can hold her on my lap and expect whatever food or drink is in my hand to remain un-spilled. I have to be on a constant guard.

I’ve always made a point to talk to her and explain everything I am doing. “Now Mommy is pouring the hot water into the mug for her tea,” or, “Daddy is taking out his computer to do his work.” I do this to help her develop a good vocabulary, and also to keep her entertained. Now that she likes to touch things, I make a point to talk about what I am doing and, whenever safe and appropriate, let her feel what I am doing.

She was a little cranky today and wanted to be walked, so I decided to take her on a tour of the house and let her touch and hear the names of everything. “Snowman,” “plant,” “picture frame,” and “TV” were some of the items she got to touch and hear the names of.

About 30 seconds into the tour, I was struck with a genius idea: Why not dust and tour at the same time?

You might not be excited about this idea, but I was. I’m at home all day with an almost 6–month-old child. She’s a people person. She likes to be held and talked to. On the other hand, my husband is a carefree sort of guy. The kind that puts things down when he’s finished with them, and then forgets to put them away. I’m constantly battling to keep my house clean and organized and also keep my baby happy. The idea that I could kill both birds with one stone filled me with joy.

We had a delightful 15-minute walk around the house. She was eager to look at, hear about, and touch everything I picked up, and I was relieved to wipe the dust from under each object. Happy baby? Check. Cleaner house? Check. Satisfied mother? Double check!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cradle Cap

My daughter was born chubby, bald, and beautiful. It doesn’t look like she’ll have a full head of hair anytime soon. I didn’t see any reason we’d need one of those cute baby brushes for quite awhile, although we received a few as gifts.

As I was lying next to her one lazy afternoon, I thought about how I love having my hair brushed. It always relaxes me and feels so good. I decided brushing my daughter’s “hair” with a soft brush might feel good to her too. I got one out, and started softly brushing her head. She seemed to love it, appeared very relaxed, and was lying very still.

Suddenly, I noticed little white flakes floating in the air after each brush stroke. Having grown up with taking care of babies, I knew exactly what this was – cradle cap.

I continued brushing until the flakes stopped coming off. Then, I got on my computer to do a little research. (I have to admit, I go a little crazy with my computer research when it comes to my baby.) From everything I read, it seemed that no one really knows what causes cradle cap, and that, although it might not be pretty, it isn’t harmful to the baby. Satisfied that the cradle cap wasn’t a result of me being a bad mother who had a dirty baby, I decided to keep an eye on it and relax.

I recalled my mother telling me that when one of my siblings had cradle cap, a well-meaning friend told her, “Just leave it alone. It will go away on its own.” My mother cringes as she remembers how it indeed did not go away on its own. Instead, it got out of control, and thick. Yuck! I wasn’t letting that happen.

After doing a little trial and error with cradle cap control, I figured out a system that works very well for me. First, I wash my baby’s head gently with a washcloth each morning. I don’t put any shampoo or soap on it; I just use warm water. About once a week, I put a little baby lotion on her head (we use Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Lotion) and brush it for about five minutes. I make sure to wash the brush with soap and water after I’m done.

This has completely taken care of the problem. Every now and then I see some yellowish patches on the top of her head, which I promptly take care of, but other than that, the cradle cap is a thing of the past.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Mommy Must-Haves

When I try to think back on the first month of my daughter’s life, everything is a little hazy. It seems like all I did was hold her, feed her, change her diaper, and sleep. She was a relatively easy baby and slept pretty well from the get-go, but I still felt like I was in some sort of survival mode. Not only did I have a new baby to take care of, but my poor body took a while to recover from a tough 30-hour labor.

I don’t know how I would have made it through the first month without three items I happened to have on hand: stool softeners, frozen maxi pads, and a Moby Wrap.

Maybe you’re reading the phrase “stool softener” and wondering why it made the list. I’m not sure if my experience was unique, but going number two was terrifying for me after giving birth. Not only was I extremely sore (the doctor told me I had received the equivalent of about 15 stitches), but my number two wasn’t of a consistency that came out easily. To put it bluntly, I felt like I was trying to push rocks out, and that the rocks would tear my stitches. After spending agonizing hours in the bathroom, thinking to myself that I’d rather go through another 30-hour labor than be in this situation, I finally began to take stool softeners regularly. Trips to the bathroom were still scary, but a lot more manageable.

I wasn’t prepared for how much pain I would be in after I was finished giving birth. I had heard labor was painful, but no one prepared me for the aftermath. The hospital had ice packs for me to use “down there,” but they didn’t get quite cold enough to relieve the pain and soreness. Once I got home, I bought a pack of overnight maxi pads with wings, put water in the middle of them, and put them in the freezer. These home-made ice packs gave the best relief out of anything else I had tried. They fit perfectly in regular underwear, and were so refreshingly cold.

The stool softeners and frozen maxi pads were very important, but my number one, most-needed baby product, one that I highly recommend all new mothers purchase, was my Moby Wrap. It was comfortable, adjustable, and easy to use. If my daughter was ever crying and I couldn’t figure out how to get her to stop, all I had to do was put her in the Moby Wrap. It was like magic. She would instantaneously stop crying, and usually would fall asleep within five minutes. Even when she wasn’t crying, I’d put her in the Moby Wrap, and she’d be content for hours. It was an easy way for me to keep her close to me and still have my hands free.

Did you just have a baby? Congratulations, and take my advice: if you don’t already own these items, send your husband out to buy them.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

We LOVE BumGenius Diapers!

It took my husband and I quite awhile to decide which route we were going to take when it came to cloth diapers. After much research and deliberating, we decided on the bumGenius 3.0 One-Size Pocket Diapers.

It may have been the best decision we’ve ever made.

I can honestly say I don’t have a single complaint about these diapers. They are awesome.

First of all, they are adorable. Yes, they are bulkier than disposables, but they come in a vivid array of colors: yellow, orange, white, as well as different shades of green, pink, and blue. Our baby happens to be a girl, and when she wears dresses, we often skip the little matching underwear that comes with the dress and go with color-coordinating diapers.

Second, they expand according to your baby’s size. That means your baby can wear the same diaper from birth to potty-training.

Third, they fasten with Velcro and stretchy tabs. I’ve heard people say Velcro doesn’t last as long on a cloth diaper as snaps do. For that reason, we purchased a few Fuzzi Bunz, which fasten with snaps, just to see if we’d like them better. Don’t get me wrong, FuzziBunz are nice diapers, but the snaps are not our favorite by any means. What is the problem with snaps? Half of the time, our daughter is between sizes. That means we either have to have the diaper on her a little too tightly or a little too loosely. Too tight, and it hurts her. Too loose, and it leaks. With Velcro and stretchy tabs, you can get the perfect fit every time.

Fourth, they are easy to care for. Rinse the poop off, throw everything into a dry diaper pail, and wash every couple days. You have to use a detergent free of dyes, perfumes, and whitening agents, but it’s probably better for your baby’s skin anyways. You also have to do two wash cycles and an extra rinse at the end, but it’s really pretty simple.

Fifth, our daughter rarely gets diaper rashes when she wears them. When we put her in disposables, we have to coat her butt with diaper rash cream to avoid her getting a horrible rash, and she sometimes gets it anyways. But, with these, she almost always has a rash-free behind. Why? I give credit to the material the diaper is made from. The part that is against her skin wicks moisture away from her bottom and onto the inserts, keeping her nice and dry.

Last, and definitely not least, these diapers contain blowouts like nobody’s business. Our girl will sometimes have poop up to her armpits when she’s in her disposables (and we don’t use generic brands – we use Pampers all the way). In a bumGenius, though, she’ll have poop explosions that would make any veteran parent cringe, and when I go to change her, it’s all neatly contained in the diaper. (Maybe “neat” isn’t the best word to describe it, but it’s contained nonetheless!) There have only been a couple times when had poop has gotten onto her clothes when she’s in a bumGenius, and it has only been a small amount. I know every parent out there who has changed a nasty blowout would love the idea of never having to clean one up again).

In our experience, these diapers are simply the best. We’ve never regretted our decision to use them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Decision To Stay Home

When people hear that I quit my teaching job to be at home fulltime with my daughter, they often respond, “You are so lucky that you can afford to do that.”

I indeed feel very lucky. I know I’m blessed, and I’m thankful for it. Contrary to what people might think, however, I don’t stay home because we have piles of money just sitting around. I don’t live in a situation where we have so much money that I decided I might as well not work. In fact, my husband is a fulltime student. Not only do we not have piles of money, we hardly have any. We make it work, though, because me staying home always been a priority in our family.

Our decision for me to stay home means we don’t do some of the things other couples our age are doing.

We don’t own a house, yet, and won’t have enough money for a down payment for quite awhile. Some people might call paying rent a waste of money, but I’d rather waste my money than miss out on my daughter’s baby years.

We don’t go out on dinner/movie dates often. Some may say we aren’t taking care of our marriage if we don’t regularly go out. I respond with, “Eating a good home-cooked meal and renting a movie while our daughter is taking a nap is just as romantic to us – and a lot cheaper!”

We like to be fashionable, but we do it in a different way. I don’t get my nails or my hair done professionally, but I’ve learned how to do my own nails and my own hair. We don’t buy clothes whenever we want, and we don’t buy them full-priced; however, we hit the clearance racks at the end of each season and find very nice clothes for a fraction of the price.

We don’t go on elaborate vacations. Instead, we fly to visit our family members, where the food and lodging are free. We camp instead of staying in hotels. We shop at grocery stores and cook instead of going out to eat.

Some people may call these things a sacrifice, but we don’t view it that way at all. If I ever start to wish we had more money, I try to flash-forward to when I’m eighty. When I’m eighty, I won’t look back on my life and think, “I wish we’d gone out to eat more,” or, “If only I could have gotten my nails done every week.”

In contrast, if we decided today that I should go back to work so that we could afford the things we do without, I am fairly certain that when I’m eighty, I’d have regrets. I’d wish I had spent more time with our children.

The bottom line for us is that people are more important than things. We love that the first thing our daughter sees every day when she wakes up in the morning or from her naps is one of our faces. We cherish being able to rock her to sleep. Giving her consistency in her life means more to us than anything money can buy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Experience With Kangaroo Care

My daughter was born with some minor health concerns. Because of this, the pediatricians at the hospital recommended she remain in the hospital for a week to be observed. It was very upsetting that we didn’t get to take her home; however, the experience was not entirely negative. I was able to stay in my daughter’s room the entire week, and we learned about a very valuable method of caring for babies. This method is called Kangaroo Care.

Kangaroo Care is a method often used with premature babies, but it has been proven to be very successful in helping both premature and term babies overcome a myriad of problems. Our daughter was not a preemie, but she had health issues related to her respiration rate. We were encouraged to do Kangaroo Care with her to speed up her recovery.

When I first entered my daughter’s room and expressed my desire to hold her, the nurses instructed me to wear my hospital gown with the front part open. They placed my baby, wearing only her diaper, on my bare chest. They described her position as head-up, skin-to-skin, tummy-to-tummy. She was hooked up to many monitors, so we could see exactly how this method of holding was affecting her breathing, oxygen intake, blood pressure, and pulse. The nurses were pleased with what they saw, and encouraged me to keep holding her like this – head up, skin-to-skin, and tummy-to-tummy.

In addition to holding her in this position, they also encouraged me to breastfeed on demand – that is, feed her whenever she wants to eat, paying no attention to the clock.

My husband and I were eager to do anything to speed up her recovery, so we utilized Kangaroo Care around the clock. She was constantly held skin-to-skin by either my husband or me, and I breastfed her whenever she so much as hinted that she was hungry.

After one 24-hour day of continuous Kangaroo Care, she had almost completely recovered. She remained in the hospital to complete her round of antibiotics, but we were no longer worried about her. I obviously have no way of knowing if she would have had such a speedy recovery without Kangaroo Care, but I truly believe it played a major role in helping her get better.

For a full week, our daughter had skin-to-skin contact with us and breastfed whenever she wanted. Even after she got out of the hospital, we continued to use Kangaroo Care regularly. It was wonderful. Rather than trying to get my house back in order, I was content to relax and snuggle with my baby. I knew that I needed to rest, and I felt confident that my daughter was reaping tremendous benefits.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Benefits of Kangaroo Care

Kangaroo Care is a wonderful way to bond with your baby and improve your baby’s health and well-being. There are numerous benefits associated with Kangaroo Care.

My husband and I did Kangaroo Care with our daughter nearly 24 hours a day for the first week of her life. We can’t say enough good things about the experience.

This blog will discuss the benefits of Kangaroo Care, and why Kangaroo Care works.

As I read and research Kangaroo Care, many of the benefits seem to center around an amazing feature of the female body. When a baby, wearing only a diaper, is placed between its mother’s bare breasts, the mother’s breasts change temperature in order to help her baby maintain its optimal body temperature. For example, if the baby begins to get a bit chilly, the mother’s breasts will warm up. If the baby is too warm, the mother’s breasts will cool down. It sounds a bit unbelievable, but it’s true.

Why is this important? If you think about it, a baby that isn’t using his energy to regulate his body temperature is able to use that energy elsewhere. As a result, babies participating in Kangaroo Care are shown to gain weight more quickly and have more rapid brain development.

Kangaroo Care gives the baby constant, easy access to the breast. This results in improved weight gain and better success and confidence in breastfeeding for both mother and baby.

Men do not have the ability to regulate body temperature like women and obviously cannot breastfeed, but there are other benefits of Kangaroo care that are able to be achieved by fathers. For this reason, men should also be encouraged to provide Kangaroo Care to their infants.

Kangaroo Care from either parent usually results in an improvement in breathing patterns, a more regular heart rate, and better oxygen saturation levels. When a baby is placed on the parent’s chest, the baby can hear the breathing and heartbeat of the parent. This stimulates the baby to have a similar breathing pattern and heart rate. In other words, the baby mimics its parent.

Additional benefits of Kangaroo Care include the following: longer periods of restful sleep, less crying, and longer alert periods.

To learn more about Kangaroo Care and our experience with it, visit my other blog.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


After watching the way my daughter has been acting the last month, I realize how miserable teething must be for babies.

She’s always been a mellow, easy-going baby. In fact, the only times she has ever really cried are when she is hungry or when she is tired. Even then, her cries were pretty quiet, and short-lived. In addition to being easy-going, she slept through the night early on. I felt pretty lucky.

I still feel lucky, because I love her dearly, but for the last month, she has been a much different baby. More often than not, she is fussy. She still rarely full-out cries; it’s more like a quiet, steady whine. Also, sadly, long stretches of sleep no longer exist. She is waking up at least three times a night to nurse, more for comfort than out of necessity. What is causing this change? Her teeth are on the move.

I’ve wondered how I should deal with this. I know that there are many remedies out there. These include medicine that goes directly on the gums to numb them, teething tablets to ease the pain, and cold toys for her to chew on. I’m always hesitant to give medicine unless absolutely necessary, but I also don’t like my baby to be in pain. I’ve tried several solutions, and would like to share which ones worked best for my daughter.

The most effective method of easing her pain is letting her chew on frozen wash cloths. When I first heard the idea of putting wet wash cloths in the freezer, then letting my child chew on them, I thought the coldness might be too severe. I compared it to sucking on an ice cube and not being allowed to spit it out. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the cold isn’t very intense at all. I’m not sure why, but the frozen wash cloths stay a nice, moderate temperature – cold enough to relieve the pain, not so cold that they hurt. Another nice perk is that they freeze pretty quickly. It takes maybe an hour for them to be ready. At any rate, I hold them up to my daughter’s mouth, and she chews and sucks happily on them until they thaw.

The competition for the next most effective method of teething relief resulted in a tie.

The first are those nifty liquid-filled chew toys. Most of the packages these toys arrive in warn, “Do not freeze,” but I freeze them anyways. They are pretty cold at first, but they thaw quickly, so I’m not too worried that they will hurt her.

The second member of the tie is something I like to think I invented, although I’m sure other mothers have tried similar remedies. I take a Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder, open it up, insert an ice cube or ice chips where the food normally goes, close it, and give it to my daughter. She chews and sucks on the ice, and there is no danger of her swallowing any of it. I’m sure she ends up drinking some of the melted water, but I’m okay with that.

Coming in at last place in ending teething discomfort, we also have a tie. The two methods are the numbing gum medicine and the natural teething tablets. Although not as effective as the first, second, and third place methods, they do seem to lessen the pain. They don’t often stop my baby from fussing, but her fussing is less intense, and she can be more easily calmed. On occasion, she has fallen asleep directly after I’ve given her one of these two remedies. As far as I can tell, one doesn’t work better than the other for her.

As I said before, I am hesitant to give medicine unless absolutely necessary. Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking that my bias led me to give the numbing medicine and teething tablets the lowest rating. For awhile, those two remedies were the only solution we were using for her teething pain. It wasn’t until I realized they weren’t working very well for us that I started seeking out other ideas.

Now that we’ve discovered some successful strategies, we have a much happier baby. I’m not able to get as much done around the house, because I spend a good amount of time with my daughter on my lap, holding something cold in her mouth. Some days I feel trapped, but I remind myself that these days will pass quickly.

I am mentally sending an extra dose of patience to all of you mothers whose babies are also teething. I hope, like me, that you are also able to take a step back and realize that it is okay to slow down, that these phases are only temporary. I also hope that some of these ideas can make your life easier, and your baby happier. Good luck!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nail Polish Review

Fashion has gone a bit on the wayside since my daughter was born. My former beauty routine is becoming a distant memory. Put a full face of makeup on? I’m lucky if my face is washed before going out of the house. Curl my hair? It’s a rare morning that it’s blow-dried. Whiten my teeth? Let’s be realistic – my daily goal is to brush my teeth before lunchtime.

And yet, some days I miraculously find the time to look almost normal. I look in the mirror and realize I somewhat resemble my pre-baby self.

It’s on these days that I really feel the need to paint my nails.

Painting nails used to be simple enough. I’d push back my cuticles, apply the polish, then flip on the TV while waiting for it to dry.

It’s not so simple anymore. Now, I push back my cuticles, apply the polish… and my daughter poops. Or, my daughter spits up. Maybe my daughter just wants me to hold her. Either way, I usually end up with smudged, bumpy nails.

This Christmas, one of my stocking stuffers made having perfectly painted finger- and toenails an achievable goal. My mother-in-law gave me a bottle of Sally Insta-Dri nail polish.

Sally Insta-Dri nail polish works better than other nail polishes for me for a few reasons. Number one, the applicator brush is about three times as wide as a regular brush. Getting the polish on my nails takes less than half the time. Number two, this stuff really does dry very quickly. Even during moments when I think, “Oh great, I put way too thick of a layer on that time. This will never dry,” it does dry, and dries quickly. Number three, I like the colors. There are 32 to choose from, making it easy to find a shade that fits my mood.

There is only one thing I don’t love about it. It chips relatively easily. It’s not awful, but it won’t last for a full week. It’s an easy fix, though – a touch up is applied and dried within a minute.

Want to feel a bit like your old self again but don’t think you have the time? Try out this nail polish. It might be the pick-me-up you’ve been looking for.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Experience With Cloth Wipes

After deciding to use cloth diapers for various reasons, I decided we might as well use cloth wipes too.

I liked the idea of using only plain, warm water on my daughter’s behind most of the time, and using a gentle, non-irritating soap the rest of the time. The thought of not having to buy container after container of wipes also appealed to me.

In the last months of my pregnancy, when I was as big as a boat and unable to do much activity (yes, I gained 60+ pounds, despite the fact that I tried to eat mostly healthy foods and stay active), I spent many enjoyable hours making my own wipes. As I cut rectangles out of old, flannel receiving blankets, I dreamed about all the ways my baby would benefit from not having harsh soaps and alcohol put on her skin every diaper change. As I sewed the rectangles together, I marveled at how much money we’d be saving because we’d be able to use the cloth wipes over and over. As I stacked the adorable wipes in the top drawer of her changing table, I grew more and more excited for our baby to arrive.

Arrive she did, and we used disposable wipes for the first month or so while we were adjusting to life with a baby. We’d gotten many different kinds as shower gifts, and I was able to form opinions on which we liked the best. Some of the strongly-scented varieties gave her a horrible rash. Some felt too rough to be using on her skin. We very much liked the Pampers Sensitive Wipes, but I knew that my cloth wipes would be even better for her.

I finally decided I was ready to start using the cloth wipes exclusively, and could hardly wait to try them out. We used them all day, and I felt so good about the decision we had made for our daughter.

I felt good, that is, until she got the worst rash of her life.

This rash was awful. It started off as bright red. “Good thing we started using cloth,” I thought, “because this must be from the disposable wipes we were using. It’ll clear up in no time with these babies.”

It didn’t clear up. It got worse. It started looking scabby. It caused her to SCREAM anytime she had to sit in her carseat. When we took her in for a checkup, which happened to be right after we started using the cloth wipes, her pediatrician took one look at the rash and said, “If you can’t get that to clear up in a few days, I’ll need to prescribe a steroid cream. That rash is going into her skin.”

I can’t exactly recall why, but we used disposable wipes (Pampers Sensitive Wipes) shortly after, and what do you know? The rash disappeared. It totally went away. Boy, was I surprised!

I’m not sure what caused the rash. It could have been the flannel material or the type of water in our city. It could be something I’m not even thinking of. All I know is that when we use the cloth wipes, she breaks out, and when we use the Pampers Sensitive Wipes, her butt is great.

So, we gave cloth wipes a good try for a few days. It didn’t work for us. I thought about trying wipes made of other materials, using a different solution for the wipes, but finally, and happily, settled on buying Pampers Sensitive Wipes in bulk.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Celebrity Births

I love hearing labor and delivery stories. Whether I’m talking to friends, relatives, or watching TLC’s “A Baby Story,” I can’t get enough of the different experiences women have. Some go all natural, some get an epidural the second they realize they arrive at the hospital, and many fall in between. Some births are scheduled C-sections, some are induced, and some begin all on their own. Many women give birth in the hospital, while others opt to give birth at a birthing center, or even at home.

I often find myself wondering, “What type of labors and deliveries do celebrities have?” There doesn’t seem to be much information out there in this department. Magazines and TV shows seem to dish on everything when celebrities are pregnant, including how much weight celebrities gain and who designs the maternity clothes. After the baby is born, magazines are scrambling to be the first to release the precious photos of the new baby and family. Rarely, if ever, do magazines give any information on the actual birth itself.

Maybe I’m not reading the right magazines, but the ones I read seem to skip nothing when it comes to the personal lives of celebrities. Why do they avoid the topic of birth?

When flipping through magazines (something I do almost daily), I often speculate as to what birth experiences the lovely ladies I’m looking at ended up having. Did Angelina Jolie get an epidural? Did Gwen Stefani give birth in the water? Was Nicole Richie’s doctor male or female, or did she decide to use a midwife? Did Jennifer Garner need stitches afterwards? Which women screamed during contractions, and which were quiet?

I also wonder if being a celebrity has perks during this special time. Are the birthing suites of Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez similar to the one I gave birth in? I’m assuming the babies of these celebrities do not go to a nursery with the rest of the babies, so does that mean these families always have an in-room triage, or is there a private nursery just for the famous baby? Do celebrities have to give birth in the hospital, or can they opt to have the doctor, nurses, and all medical equipment brought to their homes?

If anyone has answers to these questions, please let me know where to find them. I love celebrity gossip, and I love birth stories. I can hardly imagine anything more exciting than combining the two.

I Love

Going to the store used to be pretty simple. I’d throw on my jacket, grab my purse, stuff my car keys in my pocket, and go. Now that I have a baby, it’s not so simple.

First of all, getting ready to leave takes longer. I have to time it so that my daughter has a full belly as close to departure time as possible. She needs to be dressed appropriately for the weather. I check and double check the diaper bag to make sure I have teething medicine, diapers, wipes, burp cloths, and enough toys to keep her entertained.

Secondly, I have to keep her entertained in the car. That can mean singing, talking, or having the window cracked to give her some fresh air or a little white noise. When none of those things work, I can feel my body tensing with stress, hating that she is miserable and there is nothing I can do about it.

Finally, the shopping itself takes longer than it used to. Once we get to the store, I am stopped about every five minutes by admiring passers-by. I never get tired of hearing how cute they think my baby is, but I am wary of complete strangers who feel the need to touch her chubby cheeks with their hands. I always wonder what kinds of germs she is being exposed to. In addition, it is much harder to put items in my cart (I feel faint just thinking about lugging a case of bottled water off the bottom shelf), load them into my car, and unload them when I get home.

“If only I could buy the things I need without ever leaving the house,” I sometimes sigh to myself.

Luckily, when it comes to baby products, I CAN get everything I need without leaving the house. In addition, I can use all my manufacturer coupons, not pay anything for shipping, have wonderful customer service, receive my items in two days, and even have the chance to earn some money.

I know, I know, I can already read your mind. You want in on my secret. I am more than happy to share!

I do most of my baby shopping at They are awesome for so many reasons.

You can earn money on their website. When you place your first order with them, they email you a code. This is a code you can give to friends and family that will give them $10.00 off their first order. In addition to them getting $10.00 off their first order, your account will be credited money for every time they order. The standard credit is $1.00 per order placed, but every once in awhile, runs promotions where you can earn $5.00 per first order. My husband and I earned enough money during one of their promotions to buy our entire stash of bumGenius diapers.

Their shipping is always free when you spend $49 or more. I usually cringe when I hear that I have to spend a minimum amount to get free shipping, because when I shop for myself, I don’t usually spend enough to qualify. However, when it comes to baby items, it’s pretty easy to meet the minimum. For example, when I am about to run out of baby wipes, I could order only one box of refills and pay the $5.00 shipping, or I could order three boxes of refills (because I know I’ll use them eventually) and get free shipping.

Using manufacturer coupons with is so easy. You simply mail the coupons to their address, and their staff adds them to your account. You can use them whenever you buy the qualifying items.

Their customer service representatives are quite possibly the friendliest, most helpful people I have ever done business with. A few times, my orders have taken longer to arrive than normal (very rare, but it happens), or the items were not to my liking (there was a smudge on one of our cloth diapers). In all cases, the person I spoke to cheerfully corrected the problem. Not only was the problem corrected, but money was credited to my account as a sort of apology.

If you need baby products quickly, this is the website for you! Most website’s shipping policies claim that their products will ship in 5-7 business days. When you are on your last box of baby wipes, that just doesn’t cut it! promises that your order will arrive in two business days. Some items even ship on Saturdays. That means if you place an order before 6:00pm on a Wednesday, your order will arrive on Friday.

If you’re like me and dread the thought of dragging your baby along to the store, check out this website. It has made my life so much simpler, and I hope it can do the same for you.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Deciding Which Cloth Diapers To Use

After my husband and I made the decision to use cloth diapers, we undertook the daunting task of deciding which kind to use.

The only kind of cloth diaper I’d ever seen or heard about were the good ol’ prefolds, fastened with diaper pins, and covered with plastic pants. I was ready to take on the task of rinsing poopy diapers in the toilet, learning how to pin without poking my baby, and wiping down the plastic pants with a washcloth so they could be worn through multiple messes.

There’s no doubt about it – cloth diapering with prefolds is cheap. However, talking with friends and family and looking up cloth diapers on the web opened my eyes to a whole world of cloth diapering that I never knew existed!

There were so many brand names and terms to learn: Fuzzi Bunz, bumGenius, Thirsties covers, Snappis, and diaper sprayers. Those words meant nothing to me before I started my search. Paying 17+ dollars for one diaper? I would never have dreamed of doing such a thing.

And yet, as I read and researched, those words became common household terms for my husband and I, and $17.00 didn’t seem so outrageous. Yes, prefolds were the cheapest cloth diaper available, but they seemed like they required the most effort. Would it be worth the money saved if I gave up on cloth diapering altogether due to frustration? A diaper sprayer seemed like a luxury item, something totally unnecessary; however, it also seemed like it might be worth its weight in gold!

We did hours of research, and I really mean HOURS. After weighing pros and cons and comparing costs, we decided to go with the bumGenius 3.0 One-Size Pocket Diapers. This was our reasoning:

  • 1. Compared to prefolds, they were much more expensive ($17.95 a pop!), but compared to disposables, they were much cheaper.

  • 2. Because they have expandable sizes and supposedly fit a child from birth to potty-trained, this would be a one-time purchase.

  • 3. They seemed very easy. We wanted to be sure to stick it out when it came to cloth diapering, so it seemed wise to pick a system that we knew we could deal with.

  • 4. Other parents loved them. It’s hard to find a bad review on bumGenius diapers.

  • 5. They were SO CUTE! Just LOOK at the adorable colors! (Okay, this wasn’t a deciding factor, but still important in my eyes.)

We also decided to get the diaper sprayer. This coincided directly with reason number 3 for going with bumGenius. I was okay dipping my hands into the toilet to rinse dirty diapers, but the idea of being able to neatly spray the poop off seemed so much nicer.

So, here we are, a frugal couple with a limited income, owning a huge stash of top-of-the-line cloth diapers and a diaper sprayer. To me, it was worth it. We’re saving tons of money because we don’t have to buy packages of disposable. Our daughter’s health is better off because of it. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, because we don’t feel overwhelmed, we’re sticking with it!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Who Holds the Crying Babe?

I’m struggling with a seemingly never-ending dilemma of how long to let my baby cry when others are holding her.

I want her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others to be able to spend time with her. I realize that by holding her, they are able to bond with her and get to know her. However, I also don’t want this to happen at the expense of my daughter feeling secure and safe. Yes, she loves them, but there is no substitute for the kind of comfort and security a mother can bring.

I’ve come up with a few ways to better cope when she fusses with others. When she starts sounding less than content, I usually let it go one for at least five minutes. I give myself little jobs to do. For example, before I take her from them, I force myself to get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, or fold a load of laundry. This gives them a chance to comfort her, and helps distract me from the fact that she is upset. What I really want to do is take her right away because I know I can get her to stop crying almost instantaneously! But, I don’t want to hurt the feelings of the person holding her, especially if that person has already raised children. I get the impression that that would be insulting – they obviously know what to do if they’ve raised their own children, right?

Anyways, I usually try to wait awhile, but if she is getting upset and nothing is working, I take her. Sometimes I say something like, “I think she is hungry,” but other times I simply say, “Come here, sweetie,” and take her.

I always wonder what impression this leaves on the person holding her. The following questions run through my mind: Are they relieved that I am taking her? Does it hurt their feelings, because they think she doesn’t like them? Are they insulted, thinking that they are perfectly capable of comforting her and don’t need my help?

I’ve decided that, although I definitely care about the feelings of others, especially those of people in my family, I care more about my daughter. If she is upset and wanting me, I’ll let it go for five minutes, but that’s long enough. I’d rather an adult be upset, because adults have the ability to reason. When my daughter knows she wants me, she can’t understand why I’m not getting her right away. I try to take her in the nicest way possible and give people a chance to comfort her, but if it doesn’t work, I don’t hesitate to step in.

Friday, January 8, 2010

When to Introduce Solids

Our daughter is approaching the age when solid foods can be introduced. She’s 5 1/2 months old and currently is exclusively breastfed. I’m going back and forth on when we’re going to start giving her solids.

She’s gaining weight fine on breast milk alone (hello, I think weighing 17 pounds at 4 ½ months probably means she’s getting enough!), and I hesitate to mess with something that is going so well. I know there are people who are of the opinion that breast milk alone isn’t enough for a baby once they reach six months of age, but I’ve witnessed cases where babies had only breast milk until they were one and had no negative effects from it. One might even argue that these children benefited from not eating solids until later.

I’ve read about possible allergies that can be caused by introducing solids too early, and putting food off seems like such an easy thing to do to avoid what might be a lifelong allergy.

I also love the bond we have with breastfeeding. As of right now, I am the only person who can feed her. If we are in a group of people who all want to hold her and she gets hungry, whoever is holding her has to give her back to me. When she is fussy, I can always comfort and soothe her through breastfeeding. And, when someone else is holding her, even if she isn’t hungry or fussy but I can tell she wants me, I can always use the excuse of, “Well, she’s probably hungry,” and take her immediately. This helps me avoid hurting anyone’s feelings or making anyone mad, because no one can argue or feel inadequate when I truly am the only person with the ability to give her anything to eat.

On the other hand, I’m so excited about the thought of her eating real food! I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she first tastes rice cereal, squash, sweet potatoes, pears. I see her curiosity when we eat, and notice how she watches what we do. I watch my friends feeding their babies, see how anxious and excited their little faces get when they see the food coming, watch as the drool drips down their chubby little lips and chins in anticipation.

Even with all the excitement surrounding a baby’s first taste of “real” food, I don’t feel any sort of rush to get started on it. I suppose there is no hurry in doing “big kid” things with her. Once we start solids, we probably won’t go back. Someday, chances are, I’ll look back and wish I hadn’t been in such a rush. I’ll probably think back to the days when life was simpler, when what my baby wanted or needed didn’t have to be opened, heated, or spoon-fed. I’ll think back to the days when lunchtime meant snuggling up on the couch, then taking a nap afterwards.

Solid foods? Those can wait.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

We first noticed that our daughter's poop looked a little strange when she was 2 months old. It had taken on sort of a purplish hue. We took her to her pediatrician to test it, and discovered it contained blood.

I immediately eliminated dairy and soy from my diet, which helped at first, but the blood came back. Then I did block feeding to correct a possible foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, which helped at first, but the blood came back. Then I tried Dr. Sears' Elimination Diet. Everything I tried seemed to work at first, but the blood always came back.

She was exclusively breastfed, and her pediatrician told us I had to switch to formula, that she was allergic to my actual breast milk.

This immediately raised red flags for me. I know it's not possible for a baby to be allergic to breastmilk - maybe to something in the breastmilk, but not the milk itself. I also had read that breastmilk is given to babies to fix GI problems. In addition, I knew of the numerous health benefits of breastmilk, and the risks associated with formula. Why was her pediatrician so quick to want me to switch to formula? I went home feeling upset and confused, because I wanted to do what was best for our baby, but I also really wanted to breastfeed her, because I truly believed it was the best thing for her.

I sought a second opinion in another pediatrician, who told me that as long as our daughter was gaining fine and not appearing to be in pain, we wouldn't do any permanent damage to her if I continued to breastfeed her while we spent more time trying to figure out what might be causing the blood.

Her regular pediatrician still continued to check up on her poop and still continued to urge us to switch to formula. I asked her many questions one day, including, "What happens if we switch her to formula and she continues to bleed? What if we had never noticed the blood - would she suffer permanent damage?" She didn't have answers for me, and finally suggested that we take our daughter to a GI specialist.

I took her today. He tested 2 of her diapers, and found no blood. He said that unless you test the poop as soon as it comes out, you can get false positives for blood. This makes me wonder if there was ever blood in any of her poop, since we never tested them right after she pooped. He also said that even if there was blood, it is VERY common in infants, and they grow out of it. He said as long as she is gaining weight and not fussy, she is fine. Said breastfeeding was completely fine. Said I could eliminate dairy and soyif I wanted, but that if she was happy, I didn't need to.

I am SO relieved that nothing is wrong, that I can continue to breastfeed with support from the GI specialist, that there is no permanent damage being done to my daughter.

I am also VERY upset with her first pediatrician for trying to make us switch to formula. I realize she was probably giving us the best advice she had, but shouldn't she be more informed? If I was able to find this information, shouldn't she also be able to? Isn't she aware that breastmilk is SO far superior for a baby's health than formula? That breastmilk is best ESPECIALLY for a baby like ours, who appears to have a sensitive GI tract?

In researching this for my baby, I discovered that many mothers struggle with this. They discover blood in their child’s poop, are encouraged by a pediatrician to switch to formula, are even told it is the only option, and then have the constant struggle of whether they should do what the pediatrician says or do what their instincts tell them to do.

I feel sad for all of the babies who have been switched to formula under our first pediatrician’s care and are missing out on all the benefits of breastfeeding. I'm debating whether I should talk with her about this, or just switch to the pediatrician we saw for a second opinion. I don't want to make her feel like she is being attacked, but, at the same time, I don't want other babies to miss out on breastfeeding, or other mothers to feel like they are hurting their babies by breastfeeding them.

More than anything, however, I am so thankful that I trusted my own instincts and sought other opinions, and I encourage other mothers to do the same.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Choosing Cloth Diapers

With the “Going Green” trend being bigger than ever, most new parents have probably considered, or at least heard about, the idea of using cloth diapers.

Although I have always known I’d like to use cloth diapers on my babies, I knew I’d need to convince my husband if it was going to work. I began reading articles on why cloth was better so as to be armed with plenty of information should he decide to argue on the side of disposable. He never did argue (lucky me!), but I gained a wealth of information on the topic.

After hours of reading, I discovered that parents who use cloth seem to do so for one (or all) of three leading reasons. They are as follows:

  • It is better for the environment (just think of all those landfills full of disposable diapers!).
  • It is cheaper (it is AMAZING how many diapers a baby can go through in one day!).
  • It is healthier for the baby (what’s that stuff called that turns the pee into gel?).

My husband and I care about the environment, and we like to save a buck as well as the next couple, but the deciding factor in using cloth was the fact that cloth would be healthier for our baby.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a disposable-hater. We use them for convenience when necessary. For example, when we flew to visit my family, we used disposable. The thought of lugging poopy cloth diapers around the airport for hours didn’t exactly appeal to me. Neither did paying for another checked bag so that we could bring all of our bumGenius diapers and diaper sprayer along. However, there are several alarming ingredients that go into most disposable diapers that make me not want to consistently put them on our baby.

Many disposable diapers are bleached and contain dyes and perfumes. These can be irritating and harmful to a baby’s sensitive system. The scariest ingredients to me are two things called dioxin (a byproduct of bleaching diapers) and sodium polyacrylate (the stuff that turns all the pee into gel, the reason a baby can wear the same disposable diaper after peeing many times in it without ever leaking on her clothes). Type those words into Google, and you’ll find phrases like “cancer-causing,” “birth defects,” “banned in other countries,” even “death.” Put that on my baby’s soft, bare little butt? No way!

To be perfectly honest, if I knew cloth was better for my child but was worse for the environment than disposables, I’d still use cloth. If I knew cloth was better for my child but cost more than disposables, I’d still use cloth! My number one priority is the health of my child.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Holidays with a Baby

Ah, the holiday season. So full of fun and exciting activities! For me, the best part of the holidays is getting together with family. I do not have the privilege of living in the same state as my family, so I really look forward to the times we get to be together.

Now that life is returning back to normal, I’ve had some time to reflect on our experiences this year. A big thing that sticks out in my mind is that nothing is the same with a baby!

For example, flying without a baby is nothing like flying with a baby. Our daughter behaved beautifully on the plane, but my stress level was much higher because she was along. What if she cries and it bothers people? What if she poops and the guy sitting in the aisle is sleeping, making it necessary for me to wake him to get out to change her? Are her ears going to hurt because of takeoff and landing? Are people going to stare at me while I breastfeed her? What about all the germs circulating in the air?

My family is big into hiking and the outdoors. We usually go on at least a few outdoor excursions when I visit. This year, due to the cold weather, we stayed in. Other than church, we really didn’t leave the house. Why? Because there was a baby around!

Another BIG difference is trying to return to normal life now that we are home. Bedtime? Ha! Used to be a breeze, now it’s a struggle. Our daughter used to go to sleep within 5-10 minutes of being put down. Now she’s wide awake, talking, laughing, doing anything but sleeping. Of course, I can’t blame her for it – we were on a different time zone, she was meeting tons of new people, and we stayed up much later than normal.

I’ve come to the realization that, even though having a baby might bring a little more stress when we are out of our routine, the stress is SO worth it. I love visiting my family and I love that they got to meet our daughter. Is bedtime more stressful because we were in a different time zone for awhile and stayed up late? Yeah, but who cares? I’ll live. Were our activities different this year? Yep, but we still spent time together and talked, which is what matters most. Did our daughter’s cold result from the germs on the plane? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, she got over it, and her immune system is that much stronger now. Was this year’s holiday season the best one I’ve ever had because I got to share it with my child? Definitely!