Monday, February 22, 2010

When Is It Safe to Keep Using a Car Seat After an Accident?

My family was in a car accident this past week. We were inside our car, which was parked in a Walmart parking lot. I had just finished buckling our infant daughter into her car seat when a car struck us on the driver’s side front door.

After getting everyone out of the car, calling 911, and calming our unsettled nerves, I began to consider the lasting impact of the car accident. Would all three of us be sore the next morning? Should I take my daughter to the doctor to be examined? The biggest question on my mind was the following: Can we safely continue using our daughter’s infant car seat?

I did a little research, and discovered that we would not need to replace the car seat. In a moderate or severe crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that an infant car sear be replaced. In a minor crash, however, there are some cases where it is possible to keep using the child’s car seat safely.

The website of NHTSA gives a sort of checklist to go through to help you decide whether your car seat is still safe and fully functioning after a car accident. A crash is only considered minor and the car seat can only continue to be used if both meet the following criteria:

  • Your vehicle must be able to be driven away from the accident. Our vehicle was running perfectly after being hit in the parking lot. Check.
  • The door closest to the car seat must be undamaged. Our car was hit on the driver’s side, and our daughter’s car seat is located on the passenger side. Check.
  • No one in the vehicle at the time of the crash can be injured as a result of the crash. We had no injuries, even though I wasn’t buckled in yet. Thank goodness, and check.
  • The air bags cannot have deployed. Ours didn’t deploy. Check.
  • There can be no visible damage to the car seat. No damage visible on ours. Check!

If you were in a car accident and the crash does not meet ALL of these criteria, you will need to either replace the car seat or have the car seat tested for safety.

Some information was taken from All information on the website is considered public information and may be distributed or copied.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

So, we got into our first car accident with our baby today...

We got in our first car accident with our baby today. It was very minor, thankfully, but it left me feeling very shaken.

Our little dear has been down with a cold for a few days, and we decided a little fresh air would be good for all of us. Since we were running low on groceries, we bundled up and headed to the store.

After shopping and loading our bags into the car, I got into the back and began buckling our daughter into her car seat. My husband waited in the front for us to finish, keys in the ignition.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a car driving towards us. It was approaching driver’s side of our car. I assumed it was waiting for us to pull out of our spot so it could pull in after we left. I was shocked when it kept coming closer and closer, and before I knew what was happening, BAM! It hit us!

My husband and I both stared out the window in shock, and became even more surprised as we realized no one was driving the car that hit us.

We got out of our car quickly – both climbing out the front passenger side door, since the car that hit us was pinning both driver’s side doors shut, and our baby’s infant car seat was blocking the passenger side door in the back. As soon as I was out of the car, I immediately I tried getting our daughter out. My hands were shaking too much, so my husband did it for me.

We had no idea what had happened, but found out from witnesses that someone hit a parked car as they were parking. The parked car that got hit rolled across the parking lot and hit us – thus, the absence of a driver. (In other words: Car A was parking and hit Car B. Car B rolled across the parking lot with no driver after getting hit by Car A and ran into us, Car C.)

It was a very minor accident, but scary, nonetheless. It made me very thankful for my family, thankful for a reliable car seat, and thankful that the car seat was on the passenger side of our vehicle.

I did some research after I got home, and was grateful that we will not need to replace our car seat.

Check back tomorrow to see which types of accidents make it possible for you to continue using your child’s car seat safely.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meal Prep With Baby

Meal preparation can be tricky with a baby.

A baby takes up a lot of my mental capacity. Some days, the last thing I want to do is think about what to make for lunch or supper, especially when I want my meals to be healthy.

A baby makes grocery shopping more complicated. If the baby is in a good mood, it can be a fun experience. I get to get out of the house, and my baby gets to see and hear interesting new things. However, if my baby is fussy, it’s a whole different story.

Even after I decide what to make and have the ingredients, putting the food together can take awhile. If my baby is napping during supper prep time, great! If she wants to be held when I need to be chopping vegetables or standing near the stove, it’s not so great.

My solution? When I go grocery shopping, I make sure to buy a green pepper, red onion, mushrooms, and tomato. I chop each of them up when my daughter is napping, and store them in the refrigerator in Ziplock bags. The possibilities for easy meals to make with these ingredients are endless, and most of them require only one hand (because your other hand is busy holding on to your baby, of course).

Lately, I’ve been making pizza. I buy pizza crust from the store, or make my own. I spread pizza sauce over the crust, sprinkle on a layer of cheese, and load it up with the pre-cut veggies. Ten minutes in the oven at 425 degrees, and supper is ready.

My husband likes making omelets with the veggies. He whisks a few eggs with some milk, throws in the veggies, and adds some cheese at the end. Breakfast is served!

An easy choice for lunch is a veggie wrap. I spread a little ranch on a whole wheat tortilla, add the veggies, and maybe add some avocado, lunch meat, and/or cheese.

If you like salads, the pre-cut vegetables liven up a plain romaine lettuce salad.

The next time you are chopping vegetables for a recipe, do yourself a favor and chop more than you need. Having pre-cut vegetables on hand makes meal preparation with a baby a breeze.

What Kind of Newborn Mommy are You?

Whether you’re a veteran mom or about to give birth to your first child, you probably have opinions about life with a newborn.

My husband worked in a church last year, so we built close relationships with many people. Everyone in the church felt a close connection to us, even if we didn’t know them very well. It was wonderful.

We found out I was expecting a baby in the fall, and as the due date approached, I got an increasing amount of comments from people that made me very nervous. They were comments like, “What hospital are you delivering at? We want to come see you and the baby right after you give birth!” and, “Are you going to have the baby baptized the first Sunday after it’s born?”

I always thought I’d be a laid-back mom, but I realized, after hearing these comments, how protective I am. The thought of my hospital room being flooded with well-meaning church members, quite honestly, freaked me out. I didn’t want people holding my brand new baby, and I didn’t want to sacrifice my bonding and resting time.

Even the thought of family members coming to visit filled me with apprehension. I didn’t mind my mother coming, because she’s not the type of person that will insist on holding the baby. She’s only there to help with whatever I need. However, I did not, under any circumstances, want my siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or anyone else coming to stay with us and visit us in the week immediately following the birth. I love them, but I wanted them to wait about a month before coming to see us. (In case you are wondering what the big deal is, anyone in my family would have to fly or drive at least 7 hours to see the baby, so it wouldn’t be a quick visit – it would be at least an overnight stay).

My ideal situation was one where I’d give birth, my mother would fly out to help with cooking, cleaning, and whatever else I needed, and the four of us (my husband, mother, baby, and I) would stay at home with the doors locked. I wanted to stay in bed all day, doing nothing but holding my baby. I wanted to nurse without having to cover myself with a blanket. I wanted my new family to have a chance to bond, without any interruptions.

I realize not everyone is like me. I know plenty of mothers who give birth on a Wednesday and are in church on Sunday. Some of my close friends had their entire extended family (or so it seemed) in their hospital room within hours of giving birth, and everyone held the baby. They couldn’t wait to get out of the house, go for walks, go grocery shopping, et cetera. To them, the joy of a new baby wasn’t complete if they couldn’t share it with others.

What type of newborn mother are you?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We've Got Nothing Planned Today

I went outside this morning for the first time this week. You might think that going three days without ever leaving the apartment is crazy, but there have been weeks this winter when we haven’t ventured out.

It’s a beautiful, sunny day, and if I wasn’t able to look at the temperature or see the snow, I’d think it was spring. The sky is blue, there’s a breeze rustling through the trees, and I can hear the mellow clanging of our neighbors’ wind chimes.

Sure, I could bundle my baby up and take her for a walk in the stroller. I could put her in my Moby Wrap and walk that way.

Instead, we’re staying in. She’s napping peacefully on our bed, and I’m catching up on my reading and cross stitching. We’re both toasty warm, and we’re not wearing mittens or hats.

Half of me feels caged in and stir-crazy. I don’t even want to think about how many winters I might spend like this – wanting to be out, but deciding it isn’t worth it. As I look outside, I’m dreaming of warm spring afternoons at the park. I want to throw on a pair of shorts, flip flops, and a tank top, and sit in the sun.

The other half is content to stay in. When will I ever again have the luxury of doing nothing all day? When it’s warm out, there’s so much to do, and I feel guilty if I waste a beautiful day being indoors. When we have more children (and we plan on it), I won’t have the leisure of doing whatever I please while the baby takes a nap. When our children are older, they’ll want to play in the snow – and it will be my job to take them out.

Sometimes I think the mindset in our country is that we need to constantly be busy and accomplishing something to make our life worthwhile. I don’t think we realize the importance of rest and relaxation.

Today is going to be a boring, uneventful day. I can’t wait!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tea Tree Oil: Worth The Risks?

I’ll admit it. I jumped on the tea tree oil bandwagon, and I don’t want to get off.

Tea tree oil is said to have numerous uses and health benefits. From relieving the itch of insect bites and speeding up the healing process of cuts and bruises, to clearing up acne and curing athletes food, it seems there is nothing tea tree oil can’t do.

I didn’t start using tea tree oil until I came across recipes for homemade baby wipe solutions that called for a couple drops of the oil. My baby has always had sensitive, diaper-rash-prone skin, and a few sprays of the solution cleared her rash up in no time.

Because I had a bottle of tea tree oil on hand, I began looking up other uses for it.

During my pregnancy, I developed a slight case of tinea versicolor. I didn’t treat it with medication, because I didn’t want to risk hurting my unborn baby. Because I waited quite awhile to treat it, it spread to cover most of my upper arms, neck, and a little on my chest. It isn’t noticeable now, but it will be once I get tan in the summer. I did a little research to see what tea tree oil could do for it.

During my research, I discovered that tea tree oil can indeed clear up tinea versicolor; however, it was also during this research that I became a little wary of using tea tree oil on my baby or myself, or even having it in the house.

Every article written about the benefits of tea tree oil contains a similar warning: “Do not take tea tree oil internally.” I was shocked to read that if an adult consumes a teaspoon of tea tree oil, it can be fatal. I didn’t even want to think about what an accidental ingestion of tea tree oil would do to an infant.

In addition, tea tree oil has been found to alter hormone levels. When tea tree oil was used on young boys, some of them grew breasts. Scary!

The articles all shared a second warning: “Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.”

To be fair, I realize that many products state that a woman should not use their product of pregnant or breastfeeding. The product manufacturers want mothers to check with their doctor before using any product to make sure it is safe in their individual situation.

And yes, tea tree oil is fatal if swallowed. That is alarming when thinking of how children put everything in their mouths. However, I bet that many dishwashing and cleaning products are also fatal if swallowed.

Tea tree oil alters hormone levels. What other unnatural products are in my home that might do the same thing?

I’ve made the decision to keep the tea tree oil around, because I still prefer to use it over other unnatural medications that are probably just as bad for a person. However, I have completely stopped using it daily on my baby’s butt, and only use it on my rash when mixed with body wash – that way it isn’t sitting on and being absorbed into my skin.

What are your thoughts and experiences with tea tree oil? Is it something a parent should be concerned about?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Excess Lipase in Breastmilk, Part 2

Upon discovering that my properly-stored breast milk consistently tasted sour, I talked with other moms and did research to try to solve the mystery of what was making it taste so bad. I discovered that the likely cause was an excess of lipase.

Lipase is an enzyme contained in breast milk that breaks fats down into individual fatty acids. Lipase is part of why breast milk is so easily digestible for babies. It’s good that we have lipase in our breast milk. However, too much lipase results in fat being broken down too quickly. (The fat in milk is apparently what makes it taste good.) The end result? Sour-tasting milk.

My first suspicion was that my milk, for whatever reason, had too much lipase – more than the average breastfeeding mother. I wondered what was making my milk that way. Was it something I was eating or drinking? Was it the vitamins I was taking?

The solution offered for too much lipase in the actual breast milk is to briefly scald the milk before storing. To do this, a mother needs to heat freshly-pumped breast milk on the stove until small bubbles form around the outside of the pan. When breast milk is scalded on the stove (not scalded in the microwave, not boiled in the microwave or stove), it stills retain its amazing properties, but the lipase will be inactivated.

I’m a little wary of this, because I figure God put lipase in breast milk for a reason. I don’t like the idea of inactivating any part of breast milk. If you’re able, feeding your baby directly from the breast is probably healthiest. However, if you need to pump, scalding is definitely a better option than switching to formula, and is still good for your baby.

After doing a little more research, I found another explanation for excess lipase. Many mothers blame the excess lipase found in their breast milk on metals found in their tap water. They feel that, when the breast pump and/or bottles are washed in tap water, the metals in the water stick to the pump and containers and get into the breast milk when it is stored.

The solution offered for excess lipase caused by water is to simply wash the breast pump, storage containers, and bottles in distilled water.

I like this idea much better, because nothing has to be done to the actual milk.

I haven’t tried either method, because I’m at home all day with my baby, and there’s no immediate need for me to do so. If I decide to test these methods, I’ll keep you posted on the results. In the meantime, I’m hoping this blog will help other mothers who have suffered frustration because of excess lipase.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Excess Lipase in Breastmilk

My daughter rarely takes a bottle. My fulltime job is staying home and taking care of her, so there isn’t any need for her to get nourishment from any place other than me. Every once in awhile, however, I get curious about how she’d handle taking breastmilk from a bottle.

For about a month, I was pumping and storing milk in case of an emergency. I figured if something happened to me and I’d be unable to breastfeed her, it would be nice for her to have a little comfort from breastmilk while she was slowly weaned off of it.

Sometime during that month, I was once again overcome by curiosity over how she’d handle a bottle. I took a container of frozen milk out of the freezer, put it in a cup of warm water, and waited for it to thaw.

One it was ready, we settled into the recliner, and I put the bottle in her mouth. She gave a few sucks, then pulled her face away and spit out the milk. I tried again, and got the same result. “Wow, she really doesn’t want it from anything but the boob,” I thought. I tried singing to her, switching positions, whatever else I could think of, then gave her the bottle again. This time she gagged for about 10 seconds. I decided to taste the milk to make sure it didn’t have an overpowering plastic-y taste from the bottle.

The second the milk hit my tongue, I ran to the sink, also gagging. It was sour.

My first emotion was pity. I felt awful for my poor baby, having a bottle of sour milk forced into her mouth. I got a fresh container of frozen milk out of the freezer, prepared the bottle, and smelled the milk before giving it to her, just to be sure.

It was sour, too.

My next emotion was anger. I assumed our refrigerator/freezer must not be working properly, because the milk hadn’t been in there very long. I muttered under my breath about worthless landlords who were too cheap to replace appliances that didn’t work.

Next, I felt sad. I realized all of my pumping and storing had been for nothing. I dumped all of the stored milk in the sink, staring sadly as the frozen chunks slowly melted down the drain.

I breastfed my now nearly starving baby, put her down for a nap, and began chatting with a fellow new mother on the computer. I explained to her how I had just fed my baby sour milk twice. She asked if I thought I had an excess of lipase in my milk.

An excess of what…? I’d never heard of anything called lipase, and certainly not in the context of breastfeeding.

I typed “excess lipase” into Google, and was surprised what I found. More on this tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's That Time Again: Swimsuit Season

We’ve probably all heard it before. We probably didn’t give it much thought until it actually happened to us. We probably all look back and think, “I didn’t know how good I had it until it was gone.” I’m talking about pre-pregnancy boobs.

Sure, some of us who were smaller-chested before pregnancy probably loved the increase in size that came with being pregnant. I was your average C-cup before being pregnant, and I enjoyed the newly acquired curves. During the first few months of my baby’s life, I was too busy with my baby to pay attention to what was going on with my body. Besides, before my milk supply regulated, my boobs were bigger and firmer than ever. I didn’t realize what had happened to them until I was trying on swimming suits at a department store. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Like I said, my boobs were your average boobs before pregnancy. Not too big, not too small, not overly perky, but not saggy either. Just nice, regular boobs. One look in the mirror in a tankini top (ha, you think I’m showing my stomach in public again?), and I realized things had really gone downhill – literally.

It was kind of a depressing moment. I realized I had entered the world of mom bodies. I see a lot of moms walking around who look great, but I bet that even they will admit that their post-baby bodies aren’t what they once were.

I also realized that my body serves a different function now. I still want to be fit, and I want to look good, but my boobs’ primary responsibility right now is not to look sexy in a swimming suit; it’s to feed my little girl.

I’m not admitting defeat, however. Since I have entered into the world of mom bodies, I plan to proudly enter the world of underwire swimming suit tops.

Were you shocked the first time you put on a swimming suit after giving birth? Which suit did you find to be most flattering?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday dear me! Happy birthday to me!

Yep, you guessed it: It’s my birthday. Another year gone, another year older.

Birthdays used to be so exciting. I remember looking at the calendar in anticipation when I was younger, counting down the days until I got to eat cake and open presents. It was nearly impossible to go to sleep the night before.

I’d wake up early, go into my parents’ bedroom, and the entire family would gather around for gift opening. I would be freed of my morning duty of making my bed, and would skip off to school.

Going to school on my birthday was the best. I loved handing out my homemade birthday treats to my classmates (ah, the days when it was safe and acceptable to bring homemade treats). I’d race home after school (I have to insert another “ah” here: Ah, the days when walking home from school alone was safe) and get busy playing with my new toys.

Having a Saturday birthday was even better – I got to sleep in AND play with my toys all day.

My dear mother always made whatever meal I requested, and my favorite cake – usually something with a lot of chocolate. We invited aunts, uncles, and cousins to help celebrate.

Now that I’m a grown-up and a mother, birthdays are still fun, but they sure aren’t the same as when I was young.

The excitement and anticipation are still there, but the night before the big day is sleepless because of frequent breastfeeding, not because of adrenaline.

I briefly consider abandoning my morning duties – making our bed, emptying and loading the dishwasher, rinsing poopy diapers, and doing laundry – but quickly decide against it when I realize no one will pick up my slack, and it will just mean twice as much work the next day.

I don’t go to school. In fact, this year, I didn’t even go outside. When your birthday happens to fall on the same day as a major snowstorm, going out with a 6-month-old baby isn’t exactly a good idea.

I still got to play with my new “toys,” however, and my husband made my requested meal and favorite cake. Just like when I was young, we invited family over to help celebrate.

As far as special treatment goes, adults might still be extra nice to me, but my daughter doesn’t know the difference. She still cries like normal, poops like normal, and, of course, snuggles like normal.

I tried explaining to her that, because it’s my birthday, she really shouldn’t be fussy at all today.

I’m not holding my breath.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Doctor’s Appointments: More Traumatic For Baby Or Mom?

My husband and I were advised by a G.I. Specialist to have our daughter’s blood drawn due to some issues she was having with blood in her stool. They wanted to test it to make sure she didn’t have any blood clotting disorders.

After giving it some thought for a couple weeks, not wanting to inflict pain on our baby if it wasn’t necessary, we decided we’d take his advice and take her to the “local” Children’s Hospital (a 30-minute drive, but definitely worth the extra time on the road).

The morning of the blood draw, I woke up feeling nervous and queasy. We are delaying vaccinating our daughter, so, except for her newborn screening, she’s never been poked with a needle. I had no idea how she would handle it. I’d heard that some babies do very well, and others scream and thrash the entire time.

I had considered having her pediatrician write up a prescription for EMLA, giving her Tylenol an hour before, or seeking other pain management techniques. However, as I am in favor of doing things as naturally as possible, I decided the only pain management we’d use would be a Sweet Ease. I packed a sippy cup of water and a ziplock bag of sugar in case the hospital didn’t carry them, but I was pretty confident they would.

My sister was in town, visiting from another state, and came along for moral support. We took advantage of the hospital’s free valet service and headed up to the outpatient lab. I breastfed her in the waiting room to keep her veins nice and plump. We watched as preschool-aged children were called and headed to their appointments with their parents. One by one, they all returned, smiling and holding a sparkly sticker - a reward for their good behavior.

It seemed like we waited forever, and when they called our name, I was eager to get it over with. The second we entered the room, I requested a Sweet Ease, and the nurses gladly brought one out. They asked me to lay my daughter down on the table, and quickly and efficiently prepped her for the poke, including dipping her binky into the Sweet Ease. They told me that they would hold her down, and I could stand nearby.

I felt close to tears as I envisioned my sweet little baby being restrained, thrashing around in pain, and wondering why her mother wouldn’t save her from the strangers that were inflicting pain on her body.

A few seconds after sucking on her sugary binky, my usually squirmy baby became unusually calm and placid. She lay completely still, hardly moving a muscle. “Just wait until you try to hold her arm still,” I thought, remembering how strongly she resists the few seconds when her arms are trapped as I get her dressed each morning.

One nurse applied the tourniquet, and I held my breath, waiting for the outburst. It never came.

Next came the needle, and I was shocked as they slid it into her vein (got it on the first try – go Children’s Hospital!)… and she didn’t even flinch!

I continued to watch in amazement as they filled three small vials with her blood, never once needing to restrain her.

They removed the needle, put pressure on the poke site, then applied a Band-Aid. Still no movement.

I was in shock. After a few seconds of silence, I exclaimed, “Wow, that really couldn’t have gone any better!” I was grinning from ear to ear with relief. “It really couldn’t have,” agreed one of the nurses.

I thanked them for the job well done, and walked out of the room, feeling triumphant. I chose a sparkly sticker on my way out the door.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

FYI: Questions You Should Ask Before Getting Your Infant's Blood Drawn

From the time my daughter was about three months old, she’s had blood in her stool. It’s not every diaper and not even every week, but it consistently reappears. Her pediatrician and a G.I. specialist have almost entirely ruled out the possibility that it is anything to worry about. Even so, they recommended we get her blood drawn to test for and rule out any blood clotting disorders.

I’m not the type of parent who immediately goes along with what a doctor tells me. I like to do my research, weigh the pros and cons, and then make a decision. If I decide to go ahead with what the doctor recommended, I try to make the experience be as pleasant and worthwhile as possible.

I decided I was alright with my daughter having her blood drawn, but I called different outpatient clinics at hospitals to decide where I wanted it to happen. I came up with a list of questions that I asked each location.

If your infant needs to get his blood drawn, you might find the following list of questions helpful:

  • Do you have a pediatric phlebotomist at your lab?

A pediatric phlebotomist is someone who has been trained in drawing blood from infants. They are skilled at finding their veins (this can be very tricky sometimes), and also are great at keeping them calm.

  • What size of needles do you use?

Only a butterfly needle should be use on an infant, and the nurse should preferably use the smallest size of butterfly needle.

  • What are your pain management options?

Whether you use the topical EMLA cream or dip your baby’s pacifier in Sweet Ease, there are ways to make the experience non-traumatic for her.

  • From which part of the body do you draw the blood?

Depending on the size of the baby and the tests that are being done, the blood may be taken from the arm, finger, heel, or even ankle.

  • How many attempts do you make before giving up?

I didn’t like the idea of my baby being repeatedly stuck with a needle, no matter how small it is or what type of pain relief was used. The place we ended up going said they would make two attempts to get in the vein. If both attempts failed, they would bring in another nurse, who would also make two attempts. That makes four attempts total. When you want zero attempts, four might seem like a lot, but it sounded very reasonable to me.

  • Who holds the baby while the blood is being drawn?

Some labs have the parents hold the baby, others have nurses hold the baby with the parent standing very nearby. You should go with what you are comfortable with.

  • How much blood do you draw?

It’s nice to prepare yourself for how many little vials the nurses will need to fill before the blood draw is over.

If you are like me, having information and being prepared makes unpleasant experiences like this much less nerve-racking and much easier to handle.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The JJ Cole Original BundleMe Saved Me This Winter!

A well-meaning friend gave us a JJ Cole Original BundleMe for Christmas. It’s pink, it’s thick, and it’s adorable. Is it safe for a car seat? I’m not so sure. For this reason, we decided not to use it on our daughter’s carseat.

Although we don’t use it in the car seat, the JJ Cole BundleMe is not collecting dust. I found an awesome way to use it. It is especially handy if you live in a state where winter lasts from November to April and is bitterly cold.

Before I get into what I use the JJ Cole BundleMe for, let me ask the following question: Have any of you mothers become frustrated when trying to take your baby for a walk on a cold day? Maybe the blanket you so carefully tucked around your baby in the stroller came undone or loose. Maybe your little sweetie was so busy kicking that his socks came off. Perhaps you’re simply annoyed with how long it takes to bundle your child in.

Enter the JJ Cole BundleMe. Attach this handy device to your stroller, and voila, taking your child on a walk on a blustery day just became much simpler. The Velcro openings on the back mean that it will fit in virtually any stroller and with any system of straps and buckles. The convenient zippers on either side make putting your baby in the stroller and taking him out very simple. The density of the fabric equals your baby staying toasty warm and protected from the frigid air. If you feel that the BundleMe alone isn’t enough to keep your child warm, it’s easy to stuff additional blankets inside, free from worry that they’ll fall onto the ground.

I’ve used the bundle me on our Graco Quattro Tour Stroller and on our Especially For Kids Deluxe Umbrella Stroller. It works great on both, and I’m much more willing to go on walks now that the process has been simplified.

If there’s one thing every mother needs, it’s a way to make life with a baby simpler. Do you have a JJ Cole BundleMe that you’re hesitant to use in your carseat because of safety reasons? Get some good use out of it and simplify your life by using in your stroller.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Really, Tyra?

I was watching The Tyra Banks Show a couple days ago, and the conversation that went on really irked me. The guests of the show were parents who entered their children in beauty pageants, and Tyra was clearly not a supporter of such activity.

She kept asking the parents questions like, “Does your child want to be in the pageant, or do you want your child to be in the pageant?” She was very much against the idea of a parent making her child do something the child didn’t want to do. I got the impression that to her, being a child was all about the child doing whatever made her happy and not being forced to do anything unpleasant.

She was also horrified to hear some parents limiting the amount of sweets and hot dogs their child ate in order to keep their children in shape for pageants. She made comments similar to, “Brownies are good for kids! Hot dogs are good for children!”

I am not writing to comment on children participating in pageants, and I realize the comments were made in the context of pageant-crazed parents. I’m also not trying to be too hard on Tyra, because I think her show sends out very positives messages for young women. However, I got the impression that, when Tyra made comments like, “You shouldn’t force your child to do something he doesn’t want to do,” or, “Junk food is good for kids,” she felt this way about all aspects of children’s lives, not only those related to pageantry. I reply to that with a resounding, “Are you kidding me, Tyra?”

You are horrified that a parent would make their child do something they didn’t want to do? So when a child doesn’t want to brush their teeth, go to school, look both ways before crossing the street, go to bed, or be polite, the child shouldn’t have to?

You think brownies and hot dogs are good for a child? Guess what? They’re not. I agree that parents need to let loose and allow their children to enjoy life, but if we are being totally honest, brownies and hot dogs really offer zero nutritional value to a growing child. They’re much better off eating a myriad of other foods.

Part of being a good parent involves making your child do things they don’t want to do. How will they learn to do the right thing if you aren’t expecting them to do so? Part of being a good parent also means monitoring and limiting what your child eats.

In short, good parenting isn’t all about making your child happy right now. It’s about guiding and directing them to ensure that they have a happy future.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bedtime, Bedtime: What To Do??

I go back and forth a lot on how to handle bedtime with our daughter.

Up until this point, I’ve been very relaxed with our routine. If she seemed tired, I’d let her sleep. If she woke up and wasn’t happy being in bed, I’d take her out and hold her, feed her, or do whatever else it took to make her happy.

In the last month, she settled into a routine by herself. She took naps about the same time each day and went to bed about the same time each day. However, every once in awhile she’ll wake up a couple hours after going to bed for the night, and will not be content. I can tell that she isn’t hungry, her diaper is fine, and she is obviously still very tired. These are the moments when I’m not sure what to do.

Do I pick her up and hold her, which is what she obviously wants? Do I let her be up with us for awhile, knowing full well that she is still tired? Sometimes I think, “Who cares if she is still tired? She wants to be held. Why not hold her?”

Do I let her stay in bed, cry awhile, and hopefully fall back asleep? Is it good for her to realize she can wake up and put herself back to sleep without relying on me to comfort her?

I realize that she eventually needs to be able to get back to sleep on her own. I’m not sure when is the developmentally appropriate time to let her cry it out.

Almost every person I ask has a different answer. There are people who get their babies on a strict schedule within a month of being born. There are some who say after the first four months that a baby is ready to learn to self-soothe. Still others say that parents should always go to their babies when they cry, because responding to those cries gives children an important sense of security that will benefit them the rest of their lives.

I’ve always leaned towards responding immediately to my daughter’s cues. The reason I do that is because I think it is best for her. When she is overly tired, though, and needs sleep, is sleep what is best for her, or is comfort what is best for her?

I also realize that consistency is important for her. If one night I immediately pick her up when she cries, she’ll expect it. If I make her cry for 45 minutes the next time she cries, that might confuse her.

Are the answers ever obvious when it comes to babies?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Baby's "Big-Girl" Car Seat

Although my only child is an infant, I feel like I have a small window into the world of parents sending their kids off to their first day of school. They dab at their eyes with tissues, give tearful hugs, then burst into tears as they (or the school bus) drive(s) away. They exclaim, “It’s too soon!” What gave me this insight? Today, my daughter will be riding in a convertible car seat for the first time.

I can’t believe she already outgrew her infant car seat. It seems like only yesterday that we were putting her in the car seat for the first time, taking her home from the hospital. She used to look so tiny in it.

Part of the reason I don’t feel ready is because I thought she’d be in it a lot longer. I wasn’t expecting her to outgrow it before she was 6 months old.

I know I’m being silly, and that a car seat is just a thing. It doesn’t really matter what she rides in, as long as she’s safe. I don’t care, though. I want her to always ride in that little infant car seat. She’s getting too big!

Our local Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) office has an awesome program where they give families free car seats as soon as they need them. Since our daughter is approaching the weight limits of her infant car seat, they made an appointment to set us up with a new one. I thought it would just be a matter of me picking it up and bringing it home. I figured I could spend a few days “getting to know” the new car seat before actually installing it into our car.

I was wrong. I spoke with the lady from WIC today, and she cheerfully informed me that they help me take out our old infant car seat, properly install the new car seat, and that my daughter gets to ride home in it today. Isn’t that wonderful?

No, it’s not wonderful. Yes, it’s wonderful that they are so generous and helpful. Yes, it’s wonderful that the car seat will be installed properly. I just don’t feel ready for it yet.

At this rate, somebody be better to sedate me on the first day of kindergarten. College? Don’t even talk about it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reusing Coffee Grounds - And Pampering Myself!

Has your relationship with coffee changed since becoming a mother? Mine sure has. I grew up in Seattle, and inevitably have had a lifelong love affair with Starbucks. I couldn’t imagine anything more refreshing on a warm summer afternoon then an Iced Vanilla Latte. Nothing warmed me up better during rainy fall afternoons than a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

After I got married and the reality of paying bills set in, paying $3-$5 for a cup of coffee was no longer a reality. I soon began brewing my own Starbucks coffee at home. The love affair continued.

Then, I got pregnant, and began avoiding caffeine. I dreamed of the day my daughter would be born and I could, once again, indulge in a steaming cup of Joe. She was born, began breastfeeding, and, lo and behold, was very, very sensitive to caffeine. If I drank a cup of coffee, she’d be fussy for the rest of the afternoon. Deciding that the cranky hours weren’t worth it, I ended my relationship with coffee and didn’t look back. I forgot about all of the fragrant grounds stashed in my cupboards.

I’m guessing that, if you are a new mother, your relationship with coffee has also changed. Maybe you’re like me and have had to give up drinking coffee altogether. If that is the case, you probably have unused coffee grounds that are getting staler by the minute. You might be on the other end of the spectrum, and have come to rely on coffee to get you through the day after another sleepless night. In that case, you’re probably going through coffee grounds like nobody’s business. Whatever the case, you probably have some coffee grounds around the house (brewed or unbrewed) that could be put to good use.

This week, as I was sorting through my cupboards, I came across my stash of coffee grounds. I looked at the expired dates on the bags and decided the grounds were no longer of brewing quality. I hesitated to throw them in the garbage, because Starbucks grounds aren’t cheap. I began researching alternate uses for coffee grounds.

I found many interesting uses for coffee grounds, but one really caught my interest. Many people suggested using coffee grounds as an exfoliating body scrub.

As soon as I read about it, I couldn’t wait to get in the shower and try it out. I put my daughter down for a nap, filled a little Tupperware with grounds, and got in. I dug my fingers into the grounds, rubbed them between my fingers, and started scrubbing. I can’t even tell you how good it felt. It was so relaxing, so calming, and my skin felt so soft and smooth afterwards. Sure, my shower looked like it was covered in dirt, but it rinsed off quickly and easily. The next day, I did the same thing, and loved it just as much. I began looking forward to showering as a time to indulge in a little self-pampering.

I didn’t only find a use for my old coffee grounds – I had fun doing it. The few minutes of scrubbing did wonders for relieving my stress, and the positive effects it had on my skin lasted all day. Are your unused coffee grounds getting stale, or are you wondering what to do with your wet, used grounds? Put them in your shower!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Homemade Diaper Spray

I’ve written before about my daughter’s diaper rashes. Her skin is sensitive, and she breaks out very easily, depending on the type of diapers and wipes we use. This rash isn’t simply a little redness or some bumps. It’s a full-blown, red, inflamed, scabby, awful rash.

We had a system that was working well for us. We had her diaper rash under control. That all changed when she started teething. I’m not sure why teething affects diaper rashes, but I know that it caused hers to return. I again found myself trying and testing new methods to see what would work for her.

I did a little research, asked around, and tweaked our system a bit. I’m happy to report that so far, so good. We continue to use bumGenius 3.0 One Size diapers and Pampers Sensitive Wipes. The new addition?: A spray bottle of homemade wipe solution.

A friend of ours uses this solution on her cloth wipes. She puts two cups of water, one tablespoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of baby shampoo, and two drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Each time she changes her baby’s diaper, she sprays her wipes with the solution.

Since we had a bad experience with flannel wipes, I decided to try this with our Pampers Sensitive Wipes. I made a trip to the local drugstore, stocked up on supplies, and headed home to make the spray. Each time I changed our daughter’s diaper, I’d give the wipe a few sprays of the solution, or I’d spray a little right on her butt before I wiped.

Her rash went away within two days, and it hasn’t come back. As always, I’m not sure if what we are doing is what made the rash go away or if it would have gone away on its own. All I know is that she had a rash we couldn’t get rid of, and as soon as we started using the spray, it went away.