Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cleaning Baby's High Chair

Warning, I'm aware that this post resembles an infomercial. I resisted using words like “Voila!” “Wow!,” and “Vanish.” I’m not pushing some new product. I’m touting the use of something even better … hot water.

I’ve been cursing our fancy wooden high chair since Henry started eating solid foods. Food has a ridiculous ability to bind itself to wood. It doesn’t help that Henry smooshes his food between his fingers and then wipes it all over his hair, ears, neck and ultimately his high chair. If I don’t wipe the chair down thoroughly and immediately, I have to scrub the chair down for half an hour. I tried kitchen spray, rough sponges, and oil wood cleaner. The kitchen spray couldn’t release the food particles. The rough sponge started wearing away at the wood finish. And the oil wood cleaner, which worked the best, makes my wood floors dangerously slippery.

Hooray, I found an easy and obvious quick fix. It’s so obvious that you’re all probably thinking, “Yea, duh. Thanks for wasting 30 seconds of my day.” For me, it was so obvious; the thought never crossed my mind. The obvious solution isn’t always so obvious when your mind is occupied with: “what do I feed baby;” “why won’t baby eat;” “why does baby throw everything on the floor,” “baby has banana lodged behind his ear;” “baby threw banana in my face;” and “yay, baby is fed. Now it’s naptime.” Thanks to my sister, E, for giving me the obvious answer.

Hot water.

I place the high chair on our splat mat (Sugar Booger), and pour a little hot water on the problem spots. I place the sponge on the chair, or wear a water/heat resistant oven glove, and pour some hot water onto the sponge. Food magically releases its death grip from the chair and table. The hot water trickles down to the splat mat, which I wipe down at the end. I finish off with a dishcloth to soak up the excess water.

Thanks to hot water, my life is just a little more fabulous. I lerf hot water.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baby Gift Ideas: 6-12 Months

Now that baby is getting curious, dexterous and mobile, he can play with lots more interesting toys! Here are some ideas.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baby Class Reviews: YMCA Lakeview Swim Class: Shrimp and Kippers

I will be rating baby classes on a 5 star (*) scale.  I will also review price, age, size, length, cleanliness, space, parking, open play toys, instructor, content, Henry’s opinion, mom’s opinion, other moms, music, make-ups and activity.  Some of the classes are exclusive to Chicago, and some are national/international chains.  For a stay-at-home mom in the winter, baby classes are part of a survival guide.  A baby class introduces you to other moms with babies of the same age, and gets you out of the house.  Plus, baby gets to interact with others his age, which is great for his socialization and development.

YMCA Lakeview
3333 N. Marshfield Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 248-3333

**** FOUR STARS ****

Price:   $132 (non-member) for 6 week session; $66 for member. 

Age:  6-12 months

Size:  Small.  Around 5-10 moms/babies 

Length:  30 minutes

Convenience:  If you don’t currently have a YMCA card, you have to show up in person to sign up for a class.  Once you have a card, you can sign-up online.  Staff is very helpful and friendly. 

Cleanliness:  Kind of clean.  Everyone must soap shower before entering the pool.  The family locker room is clean and simple.  The pool and poolside are very clean.  The pool toys aren’t washed between classes, but the chlorine probably serves as an antibacterial guard.  Some of the pool toys are a little mildewy, but they just got new ones recently.  (Scale: Super, Very, Kind of, Not at all) 

Space:  The pool room/floor is heated – hooray!  Pool is very clean.  The swipe card entrance door to the family locker room is broken.  But the locker room has private changing stalls and lockers (bring your own lock).  The showers are satisfactory.  They provide soap.   

Parking:  Relatively easy street parking (pay box, up to 2 hours for $2).  YMCA parking lot – $5. 

Open Play Toys:  Bath toys:  duckies, noodles and balls.

Instructor:  Woman with flower swim cap – I don’t remember her name!  She is a little nutty and has a satisfactory singing voice.  She likes to tell jokes … a lot of jokes. 

Content:  Caregivers and babies learn how to get in and out of the pool.  We stand in a circle and let babies splash, show them how to blow bubbles and put them on their backs.  We don’t generally put their faces in the water.  H once dunked his head under on his own.  Babies learn to kick and reach for balls.  We throw duckies across the pool and help them swim across.  We collect balls by colors.  We sing songs like:  The hokey pokey.  The first few classes were the same, but at class #4 we started using noodles and mixing it up a bit more.

Henry’s Opinion:  H loves the water.  He’s a natural.  He splashes and kicks and generally is content in the water.  He even likes the shower, which a lot of kids hate. 

Mom’s Opinion:  It’s a good work out lifting and holding H in the pool.  The timing of the classes isn’t ideal, I have to wake Henry up early from his nap to get there on time.  It’s also a lot of work to get Henry dressed in his swim diaper and swim suit and then out of it and into his clothes after class, while also dressing/undressing myself.  The chlorine and multiple showers/baths dries out H’s skin, but it’s not severe, and it’s all worth it! 

Other Moms:  The other moms are very friendly.  Although, there isn’t much socializing going on because we have to concentrate on keeping the babies heads out of the water. 

Music:  B: No background music, just singing, but we don’t go to swim class for the music. 

Make-ups:  1 make-up per session allowed.  Email or call (773) 248-3333.

Activity:  Tons of activity.  Swimming is great exercise for both of us.

Bonus:  YMCA has open swim hours that you can attend.

See Other Baby Class Reviews

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cleaning Baby Toys

Baby toys are filthy.  Henry sucks his toys all day every day.  I don’t clean them as often as I should, but here are a few tips on how to keep baby’s toys germ-free – or relatively germ-free. 

Lovey:  Henry has a favorite stuffed animal that he sleeps with.  I send it through the washing machine on gentle cycle every other week.  Air dry.  I have 2 extras as it takes a while to air dry, and he never is awake for more than 4 hours.

Bath toys:  Do not buy the squirt bath toys.  They grow mold inside, and eventually you will be able to see the black mold through the brightly colored plastic.  Most parents use bleach diluted with water to clean bath toys.  If you’d rather use a safe non-toxic cleaning agent try baking soda or vinegar mixed with water.

Teething toys:  I run these through the dishwasher on the top rack regularly.  These are constantly in Henry’s mouth and then he chucks them on the floor when he’s done with them. 

I generally clean the toys once a month, but more often if we have a play date or if Henry has been sick. 

Apparently, the most popular and most effective way to clean plastic toys is to hand wash or use the dishwasher and then wipe down with a cleaning solution: 1 tablespoon of bleach mixed with 1 quart of water.  Just using the bleach mixture won’t guarantee cleansing, as bacteria can hide in grease and dirt. 

Honestly, I haven’t used the bleach mixture.  It doesn’t sit well with me, but it is the most commonly used and apparently the most effective.  I’m ok with germs floating around. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Baby Class Reviews

I will be rating baby classes on a 5 star (*) scale.  I will also review price, age, size, length, cleanliness, space, parking, open play toys, instructor, content, Henry’s opinion, mom’s opinion, other moms, music and activity.  Some of the classes are exclusive to Chicago, and some are national/international chains.  For a stay-at-home mom in the winter, baby classes are part of a survival guide.  A baby class introduces you to other moms with babies of the same age, and gets you out of the house.  Plus, baby gets to interact with others his age, which is great for his socialization and development.

Please find links to my reviews below:

Musical Magic
Bubbles Academy
YMCA Swim Class
Old Town School of Folk Wiggle Worms

Coming Soon

Little Gym
My Gym
Chicago Park District

Baby Class Reviews: Bubbles Academy -- Music for Crawlers

I will be rating baby classes on a 5 star (*) scale.  I will also review price, age, size, length, cleanliness, space, parking, open play toys, instructor, content, Henry’s opinion, mom’s opinion, other moms, music, make-ups and activity.  Some of the classes are exclusive to Chicago, and some are national/international chains.  For a stay-at-home mom in the winter, baby classes are part of a survival guide.  A baby class introduces you to other moms with babies of the same age, and gets you out of the house.  Plus, baby gets to interact with others his age, which is great for his socialization and development.   

Bubbles Academy
1504 N Fremont St
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 944-7677

*****FIVE STARS *****

Price:  Drop in:  $25 (call for reservation)  $184 for 8 week session; $230 for 10 week session (depending on holidays) – Bonus:  If you sign up for a session you can attend the open play sessions for free – otherwise it’s $10.

Age:  Crawlers

Size:  Medium/Large.  Around 15-20 moms/babies 

Length:  45 minutes

Convenience: Easy to sign-up online.  Staff is friendly and helpful. 

Cleanliness:  Very clean.  The toys are cleaned after each session, I think, but they are strewn about for songs and kids exchange toys.  Usually the toys are returned for cleaning after each song.  The open play part of the class has lots of climbing toys and balls that are shared.  There is an antibacterial station with wipes and sanitizer.  No shoes in the playroom.  (Scale: Super, Very, Kind of, Not at all)

Space:  Amazing.  The Meadow Room is a gigantic loft enclosed room.  There is green plush carpeting, murals on the walls, a sloped wall, and butterfly cutouts and lanterns that hang from the ceiling.

Parking:  Parking lot – FREE - across the street with Bubbles Academy permit.

Open Play Toys:  Lots of different toys are put out for each song, and during the open play part of the class it is wonderland of climbing stairs, rolling balls, instruments, giant drums, mirrors, see saws, etc. 

Instructor:  Kim has a peppy disposition and a cutesy singing voice.  She plays the guitar with the songs.  Henry is mesmerized by her.

Content:  Caregivers and babies sit in a circle at the beginning, but as the class moves along we walk in circles, spin around, run to the middle with baby rocket ships, bounce baby on our laps, put baby in laundry baskets and push them around the room like train cars.  We also learn some signs.  The first sign song we learned was “I like to eat apples and bananas.”  The class is actually a workout.  Wear short sleeves!  Certain songs include baby musical instruments and toys, which are returned for cleaning.  There’s also a bit of socializing with music in the background.  Kim usually walks around blowing bubbles for babies.  Most moms sing along.  After the structured music part of class, there is a short open play period.  Moms help Kim bring out large soft climbing obstacles, see saws, balls, etc.  Babies and caregivers socialize.  During the entire class babies are encouraged to crawl around and play with other babies.  Some babies crawl all over the entire room without paying attention to the class or other kids.

Henry’s Opinion:  H loves the freedom.  He can crawl all over and there are lots of kids to play with.  He also loves climbing on the open play toys, and on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, if Chris works late, we go to the free open play session from 5:30-6:30. 

Mom’s Opinion:  I love Bubbles for the huge room, the laid back atmosphere and great open play toys.  The music is great.  They put the words up via projector on the giant wall with picture. 

Other Moms:  The other moms are very friendly.  Although, the class can sometimes be quite large, it is good because you have a large group to pick from.  Generally, the moms are easy going, not germophobic, and let the kids wander around.  It’s a great free atmosphere.    

Music:  A-: Cute baby music – some songs I know, and I like that Kim plays the guitar. 

Make-ups:  Call to schedule a make-up class.  An absence is logged onto your account, and you can select any age appropriate class that week to substitute.  No limit.

Activity:  Tons of activity:  crawling, dancing, singing, playing, climbing, signing, etc.

See other Baby Class Reviews.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sample Baby Schedules: Month by month

0-3 1/2 months -- No sleep schedule.  Henry generally woke up every 3 hours to eat, but I let him lead.

Nursing schedule (give or take an hour)

3 1/2-5 months -- Still no sleep schedule.  Before sleep training, I night weaned him – beginning with the 2am feeding, then the 11pm. 

Nursing schedule

5-6 months -- During the start of this time period of sleep training, Henry’s schedule was in flux, but after a few weeks we settled into a great schedule.  I also started feeding solids twice a day around 5 1/2 months.

6:30am Nurse
8:30-10:30am Nap
10:30am Nurse/solids
1:30-3:30pm Nap
3:30pm Nurse/solids
6:30pm Nurse
7pm Bath
7:30pm-6:30am Night Sleep

6-7 months – around 6 months, I moved Henry’s first solid feeding earlier to mimic breakfast

6:30am Nurse
8am solids
9-11am Nap
11am Nurse
1pm solids
2-4pm Nap
4pm Nurse
6:45pm Nurse
7pm Bath
7:30pm-6:30am Night Sleep

7-9 months – around 7 months I added a 3rd solid feeding to the day

6:30am Nurse
8am solids
9-11am Nap
11am Nurse
1pm solids
2-4pm Nap
4pm Nurse/snack solids (half of a normal meal)
6:45pm solids/Nurse
7pm Bath
7:30pm-6:30am Night Sleep

9-11 months – around 9 months, I cut back to nursing 4 times a day.  Henry started showing less interest in nursing after his afternoon nap, and I determined that he wasn’t hungry. 

6:30am Nurse
8am solids
9-11am Nap
11am Nurse
2-4pm Nap
4pm Nurse
6:45pm solids/Nurse
7pm Bath (every other night – the baths every day weren’t good for his eczema)
7:30pm-6:30am Night Sleep

11-12 months - around 11 months Henry started sleeping in more, and I started weaning him at 11 1/2 months.

7:30am Nurse
9am Breakfast solids
9:30-11:30 Nap (Nurse/Snack once weaned)
1pm Lunch
2-3:30 Nap
6:30 Dinner/Nurse
7     Bath (every other night)
7:30 Night Sleep

Monday, November 16, 2009

First word ... "Dadda"

Henry has started speaking his first word:  “Dadda!”  Around 8 months he was babbling “Dadda” and “Momma” without any meaning.  Then 2 weeks ago, he started babbling “Dadda” exclusively.  Last weekend (10 months) he said “Dadda” as he crawled towards Chris, but I wasn’t convinced he meant “Dadda.”  Then on Monday, Chris called from work, as he does every day, to check-in, and Henry cried out, “Dadda.”  Now each time I pick up the phone, Henry says, “Dadda.”  How do I know he doesn’t think the phone is called “Dadda?”  I don’t.  But I do know that every morning at 6:30 I nurse Henry, and then we head into the master bedroom to wake up Chris.  On the way into the bedroom, Henry says, “Dadda” the entire time, and looks for Chris, who is usually hiding under the covers.  The sound of his voice, high pitched with lots of inflection, is so sweet. 

Every day Henry gets more interactive.  He’s starting to copy our actions.  If Chris spits out his tongue, Henry spits his tongue back.  He waves hello and goodbye by folding his fingers down with his palms facing him (although it’s usually very delayed).  He smiles at the camera.  He reads books on his own – i.e. sits on the floor with books turning the pages independently.  He can hold half a pear (very ripe and skinned) and take bites out of it.  If I get down on the floor and crawl, he’ll chase me around the house.  After I change his diaper on the floor, he usually escapes (he has an amazingly quick first step), I let him crawl away and then I chase him.  Each time he'll take a few paces then stops and looks back at me grinning from ear to ear.  He turns the wheel on his leapfrog play table to trigger the music, cruises away while dancing (bending his knees), and when the music stops he returns to spin the wheel and start the music again.  He dives at me when I play peek-a-boo.  He gently pets dogs (he used to gouge out their eyes).  He can sit in a toy car and hold the steering wheel as I push the car.

Unfortunately, he is also learning to scream and growl when he doesn’t get what he wants.  He arches his back when he doesn’t want to sit in the stroller.  He deliberately drops food and toys on the floor when sitting in his high chair.  He opens doors and cabinets.  He pulls up on furniture and grabs at the stove knobs – we have covers now.  He also pulls up on the toilet – a no no.  I’ve resorted to putting his toys in a bunch of cabinets, so that he can explore.  I got tired of saying “no” all the time.  Baby toys and other baby safe items that aren’t toys, are exploding from every nook in our 2-bedroom apartment. 

This is a very fun time for us.  *Sigh*tear* good times.    

Friday, November 13, 2009

Baby Class Reviews: Musical Magic Boogyin Babies

I will be rating baby classes on a 5 star (*) scale.  I will also review price, age, size, length, cleanliness, space, parking, open play toys, instructor, content, Henry’s opinion, mom’s opinion, other moms, music, make-ups and activity.  Some of the classes are exclusive to Chicago, and some are national/international chains.  For a stay-at-home mom in the winter, baby classes are part of a survival guide.  A baby class introduces you to other moms with babies of the same age, and gets you out of the house.  Plus, baby gets to interact with others his age, which is great for his socialization and development.   

My first review is of Musical Magic’s Boogyin Babies class.  We went for a free trial run when Henry was already crawling. 

Musical Magic
Roscoe Village
2255 W. Roscoe Street
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 529-5600

**** FOUR STARS ****

Price:  $152 for 8 week session; $133 for 7 week session; $114 for 6 week session (depending on holidays)

Age:  0-12 months

Size:  Medium.  Around 10-15 moms/babies

Length:  45 minutes

Convenience: I often got the answering machine.  Cash or check only.  But she is flexible regarding when payment is made before the session begins.

Cleanliness:  Super clean – toys are heavily regulated, and each time an activity is finished soiled toys are placed in a bag to be washed.  No shoes in the playroom.  (Scale: Super, Very, Kind of, Not at all)

Space:  Pretty and small carpeted square room, colorful, but minimalist.

Parking:  Street parking is easy to find.

Open Play Toys:  Very few – just a few bean bags in the corner.  All toys are regulated for cleanliness.

Instructor:  Rosanne has a warm disposition and a beautiful singing voice.  Henry loved her – he stared at her like a deer in headlights for half of the class.

Content:  Caregivers and babies sit in a circle.  Rosanne has background synthesizer music for songs, and sings herself.  Some moms sing along.  Each song includes different toys: musical instruments; puppets; scarves.  At the end of each song the toys are placed into the dirty or clean bag.  There was also a parachute.  We walked around in a circle around the babies under the parachute – some started to cry due to separation anxiety.  Henry just watched as I went around and finally started laughing and crawling towards me. 

Henry’s Opinion:  H loved the music and interacting with the other kids.  It was our first baby class ever, and I realized he is a very social little person – I wonder where he gets it!

Mom’s Opinion:  I love Musical Magic for its style and music.  I think we might sign up for next session.  I did not sign up for the fall session, however, because I felt that Henry needed more activity.  Sitting in a circle wasn’t good enough for him.  He wanted to crawl and inspect the room, but there wasn’t enough in the room for him to inspect.

Other Moms:  The other moms were generally friendly and somewhat reserved.  I’m actually surprised at how friendly they were considering we tested the class at the end of the session and they had already known each other for 7 weeks.  The situation reminds me of some of the partners at my old firm.  Why bother getting to know young associates when the associates would probably be leaving after a couple years.  It takes a lot of energy to meet new moms – it’s like dating.  

Music:  A+ -- very cute baby music – most songs I didn’t know, and Rosanne has a lovely voice.  The synthesizer is a little cheesy.

Make-ups:  Make-up classes allowed in classes with availability.  Make-up class must be taken within scheduled session.  No rollover.  No limit.

Activity:  Some activity: playing with instrument toys, puppets and parachute.

See other Baby Class Reviews.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mommy Skincare Regimen

Since having Henry, I’ve noticed that my skin is looking old and wrinkled.  I’m sure it’s due to a combination of 3 things:  stretching from weight gain and weight loss; the many walks we took outside this summer – opposed to my past summers spent in the office; and dehydration from breast feeding.  Since high school, I’ve had the same skincare regimen.  Despite being surrounded by women who are obsessed with keeping their skin looking young, I never gave it much attention.  I used a gentle skin cleanser and spf 15 moisturizer twice a day.  I’ve tried eye creams, masks and other products, but could never keep to a routine.  Now that the sun damage is taking effect I’ve finally decided to be proactive about my skin. 

My new routine is low maintenance to ensure that I can maintain it.  In the AM I wash with a gentle cleanser and smooth on spf 15 moisturizer.  In the PM I wash with a gentle cleanser, smooth on Regenerist Regenerating Serum, then I put on Regenerist Night Recovery Cream, on top of that I dab Olay Regenerist Filling and Sealing Wrinkle Treatment on my problem areas.  Apparently, your skin repairs itself at night, and putting on a heavy moisturizer aids in the process.  Once a week I use a mask (5-10 minutes) and exfoliate every other day in the shower with St. Ives apricot scrub.  St. Ives makes a milder apricot scrub now that is gentler on your skin.

Let’s hope this works.  Let me know if you have any tips!  I may feel old now that I have a baby, but I don’t want to look old!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Allergies: Egg and Dairy

Despite being exclusively breastfed for 10 months and counting, Henry is allergic to eggs and dairy.  The first question people usually ask is “how do you even know that he is allergic to eggs?”  Eggs, eggs whites in particular, are highly allergenic, and most pediatricians recommend waiting to introduce them until 6 months to a year.  When Henry was 3 months old – before he started solids – we were visiting my mother.  One of her secrets to her youthful skin is to make a mask out of egg whites.  When the whites dry it results in a tightening effect.  One morning holding Henry, Chris mocked us as we applied our egg white masks.  I suggested he try an egg white mask to smooth away his wrinkles.  He abruptly refused my suggestion and continued to make sarcastic comments about salmonella and bird flu.  Suddenly I lunged at his face with a droplet of egg white on my finger.  Unfortunately, gravity was faster than my baby weight body.  I watched in slow motion as the egg white droplet fell onto Henry’s face.  We laughed and wiped the goo from his cheek.  A few minutes later I noticed Henry had red and white splotches all over his face and arms.  It was hives.  I was terrified.  An allergy to egg whites from just touching his skin?!  My stepfather is a doctor, and he assured me that the hives would pass in an hour or so and he was right.  Henry’s pediatrician recommended we keep Benadryl on hand at all times in the event Henry has another reaction.  We haven’t tried eggs since, and Henry was unable to get the flu shot due to his egg allergy.  Apparently the virus is grown in eggs, which is why children with egg allergies will have a reaction.  Both the mist and the shot are egg allergenic.  Be sure to read the waivers for your baby before he/she gets shots! 

At five months, Henry’s pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to try yogurt and cheese.  I tried the Yo-Baby brand yogurt by Stonyfields – I’ve since learned that Yo Baby has a lot of additives that plain yogurt doesn’t have.  Henry gobbled up the yogurt in two seconds, but ten minutes later broke out in a rash, not hives.  The nurse suggested we stay away from dairy until after his first birthday.  Ugh.  Around 9 months his pediatrician suggested we either have an allergy test (blood draw), or try slowly reintroducing dairy to Henry’s diet.  I try to avoid pricking Henry as much as possible, he had enough of that after his birth.  I first introduced nonfat yogurt.  I bought the nonfat yogurt on accident, and was thrilled to find no reaction.  I didn’t notice any reaction with shredded whole milk cheese.  But when I tried whole milk yogurt, as recommended, he showed a rash.  Some people have suggested that Henry might just have very sensitive skin.  He has eczema, and we bathe him every other day to prevent over-drying.  I’ve stopped giving him dairy, and it seems that his eczema has slightly improved.  Instead of dairy, I give Henry soy products.  He loves Tofu (silken - it's smoother and doesn't make him choke) and I mix soy milk into his oatmeal in the morning.  Luckily, he can still drink my breast milk when I eat dairy. 

Allergies are a pain.  There are some milk allergies in our family, and I’m lactose intolerant.  The intolerance disappeared when I was pregnant, but unfortunately returned a few months after the delivery.  We don’t have any history of egg allergies.  I’m hoping Henry will outgrow both soon.  In the meantime, I’ll refrain from lunging at Chris with peanut butter, egg whites, milk and anything else that might irritate Henry’s delicate skin.        

Below are a couple informational links on egg and dairy allergies:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Breastfeeding: One Year

I’ve been nursing Henry for 10 + months, and I plan to wean him after the 1 year mark.  For me, nursing has been relatively drama free, which has entailed having self-diagnosed mastitis twice, clogged milk ducts countless times, and cracked and bloody nipples.  Since Henry’s top teeth came in, a bit of soreness returned, but it passed in a few days.  He’s nibbled while nursing a few times, each time followed by a grin, but I’ve learned that he only nibbles when he’s full.  I’m not a breastfeeding crusader, but Henry and I have a great routine going and I love the quiet time we have together nursing.  I’ve considered weaning before the 1 year mark, but the expense of formula, and Henry’s dairy allergy requiring soy formula have deterred me from seriously considering it.

Half of the moms I know breastfed their babies, and half of those moms weaned around 5 or 6 months.  For many moms nursing is extremely painful and frustrating.  A wonderful mother I know had two children who were allergic to her breast milk anytime SHE ate dairy.  She nursed both kids for as long as she could, but finally gave in to formula.  Her kids are healthy and happy.  Another baby I know never figured out how to latch on, and her mother gave in to formula after a few days.  Again, the baby is happy and healthy.  Each mother and baby makes the decision for themselves on whether or not they will breastfeed or use formula.

Breastfeeding at the Hospital

I attempted nursing soon after the birth.  A lactation consultant met us before we left the delivery room, but she was unhelpful.  Henry took to the breast quickly and furtively from the beginning.  He nursed so well.  He once choked and spit up what looked like 3 tablespoons of collostrum.  We were worried at first as we didn’t know what it was.  Other than the spit up incident, I was upbeat and encouraged.  Unfortunately, lactation consultant #2 made me feel inadequate.  Her discouraging tone made me nervous and uneasy, and Henry stopped nursing.  He must have sensed that something was off.  We had trouble nursing for a couple feedings.  Thankfully the morning we checked out of the hospital, lactation consultant #3 came by to check on us.  She suggested SNS to encourage Henry’s latch.  It worked like a charm.  I taped the plastic tube to my nipple.  The tube was connected to a milk reservoir that I pinned to my hospital gown.  My milk hadn’t yet come in, and taping the tube to the nipple encouraged Henry to latch.  The formula also supplemented Henry’s feedings to ensure he got enough milk.

To help my milk come in I used the hospital pump regularly.

Breastfeeding at Home

Once my milk came in (day 4), we no longer needed formula.  In fact, we still have the unused and unopened hospital formula in Henry’s closet.  Henry nursed 8-10 times a day for 45 minutes to an hour each time.  I basically nursed him all day long.  My nipples were extremely sore, cracked and bloody.  Henry’s pediatrician recommended I limit Henry’s nursing to 45 minutes.  Apparently, he was comfort nursing.  Once I capped his nursing at 45 minutes, the bloody cracks started to heal.  Using Lansinoh lanolin was also helpful.  

I was so thrilled when the milk came in.  I pumped after each feeding to encourage the milk to come in.  Of course, that backfired, because I started producing too much milk and got clogged milk ducts.  I soon learned to time each pumping session to ensure I didn’t over-pump.

Clogged milk ducts are literally plugged up ducts.  The milk gets backed up, and it feels like hard inside out pimples scattered all over your breasts.  The only way to cure them is to encourage feeding and massaging the hard spots in a hot shower.  It’s a vicious cycle as baby will have trouble nursing if there are hard spots, and the milk won’t flow consistently.  It is extremely painful, and if they persist it can develop into mastitis, which entails horrible flu like symptoms such as chills, sweats, fever, fatigue etc.  That was the first time I learned the concept: mommies don’t get sick days.  Henry quietly sat in his swing and seat most of the day as I suffered through the symptoms.  Luckily when I woke the next morning the symptoms were gone.  My OB/GYN told me that I probably didn’t have mastitis since the symptoms went away without antibiotics, but I’m convinced my diagnosis was correct.

To prevent getting clogged milk ducts/mastitis:
1.    Don’t skip feedings.  If baby sleeps too long, try pumping a little bit to relieve the engorgement.
2.    Don’t over pump.  If you’re going to create a stock in your freezer of milk, choose an extra time each day (a non-feeding time) to pump.  When baby is eating 8-10 times a day, this isn’t really feasible, but it can be easily done when baby eats 4-5 times a day.
a.    Over-pumping causes engorgement, and when that happens baby will have trouble latching on.


Engorgement feels like your breasts are overfilled water balloons.  They get hard as rocks and leak.  The milk will even spurt.  Whether you pump or not, you will get engorged while nursing.  At the beginning your body is figuring out how much milk baby needs, and it will sometimes produce too much.  For example, when Henry slept a long stretch at night, I would wake up soaked.  Then I would be engorged and Henry would have trouble latching and get frustrated.  He even got sprayed in the eyes a few times.  I learned to manually squeeze or pump off the excess before feeding him.  Waking up before his regular feeding to pump was tricky, but I succeeded in doing that a few times.  

Breast Feeding in Public

I was extremely shy about nursing in public.  I didn’t think I’d be able to do it.  I made it 3 months without having to nurse Henry in public, but I definitely was feeling restricted.  My sister insisted I learn to nurse in public, knowing that I wouldn’t last long if I didn’t figure it out.  With heavy coaxing from my sister, and a busy day, I finally did it!  We were visiting Henry’s new cousin at the hospital, and then headed to a baby shower in the neighborhood.  I didn’t have a choice but to nurse him in the hospital lobby.  I set up a chair in the corner of the room, put on my Bebe Au Lait nursing apron and tucked Henry underneath.  We did it, although not without Henry’s protest.  It took many tries to get Henry comfortable nursing under the apron.  He still doesn’t enjoy it.  He kicks his legs and flails his arms, but if he’s hungry he will nurse.

43 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in public.  28 states, D.C. and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.  24 states have laws relating to breastfeeding in the workplace.  There are even 12 states that exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty.  I recently received my first jury duty summons, and postponed it easily with a short phone call.

How Much Milk Should I Produce?

Each mother produces a different amount of milk.  Milk production depends on many factors, but mostly on how much the baby needs.  First, the more often you feed and the longer you feed the more milk you will produce.  From birth to 2 or 3 months Henry fed every 2-3 hours for 30-45 minutes.  The stronger he grew the quicker he fed.  Starting around 3 months he nursed for 10-15 minutes at a time.  At around 6 months, Henry could get all his milk in 5-10 minutes.  

In the first couple months I could pump 2-4 oz. max in one pumping session (5 minutes).  When Henry was around 3 months old, I was producing close to 8 oz of milk in one session.  He started solid foods at 4 months old, and at around 6 months started eating enough to supplement his breast milk.  The more solids he ate, the less milk he needed.  Solid Food post coming soon.

The amount I pumped roughly corresponded with the amount of milk Henry consumed.  Around 3 months I was having trouble producing milk late at night.  I had developed a habit of pumping at Henry’s 8 p.m. feeding so that Chris could give him a bottle.  What I didn’t know was that my body was decreasing milk production at the 8 pm feeding, because I was pumping at that time every day.  I started moving the pump session around each day, and my milk production went back up to 8 oz after a few days.

I also learned that my body produces more milk in the early part of the day.  And my milk production goes down when I’m exhausted or dehydrated.

At 6 months, Henry was nursing 5 times a day (7am, 11am, 2pm, 4pm, 7pm), and I would pump once in the mornings between his first and second feedings.  Generally, I would feed him every 3 hours, give or take an hour depending on when he was asleep.

At 9 months, we cut his nursing down to 4 times a day (630am, 11am, 4pm, 730pm), and I still pump once in the morning.  On days that I’m tired, I skip the pumping session knowing that my milk production might be down.  As convenient as pumping is, it’s also tedious.    

The Long Haul

Nursing for a year is a serious commitment.  It’s been more difficult than I anticipated, but I’ve enjoyed it.  I have a wonderful bond with my little baby boy.  I’m so proud of what Henry and I have accomplished.  I’ve watched him drink my milk and grow at an amazing rate.  It’s the same feeling I get when I water my plants and watch them bloom, but multiplied by a million.  I feel a part of every giggle and every smile.  Of course, there are days when I envy moms who have the freedom and convenience of formula, but I know I will miss nursing him when it is all over.  I will miss the quiet time we have together.  I will miss watching him pull at his hair and kick his legs.  I will miss the comfort my milk gives him.  But I will be free.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Maclaren Plans to Recall ALL strollers produced between 1999 and 2009

"Maclaren plans to recall 1 million strollers --- all its production between 1999 and 2009 --- after receiving 12 reports of hinges on the stroller that amputated childrens' fingertips."

Eek!  Although we don't have a Maclaren, most moms we know have the Maclaren Volo umbrella stroller.

Wedding Registry List

Wedding Registry List

Although this is a blog about babydom and mommyhood, there was a time when weddingville was my prime focus.  I’m a sucker for lists, and decided to share this list with those of you who haven’t quite reached the baby stage in life.  Registering was one of the first things we did after getting engaged, and with my sister’s expert chef’s knowledge, I initially registered for 3 different sized ice cream scoopers, etc.  With Chris’ sensibility, I pared the registry down to something more practical.  The obvious registry sites are:  Crate & Barrel; Williams Sonoma; Macy's; Bloomingdales; Target; and Bed, Bath & Beyond.  We also registered at REI.  Below is a realistic comprehensive wedding registry list.  Enjoy!

Kitchen Aid standing mixer
Kitchen Aid hand mixer 7 or 9 speed
Cuisinart (Regular and prep sizes)
Breville Electric Tea Kettle
Coffee maker
Rice cooker
Convection Toaster Oven
Blender?  Don't get the Waring Ice cream maker
Hand immersion blender
Coffee bean grinder
Waffle Iron

Le Creuset Dutch Oven 5Q Oval
I think All Clad is the BEST!  Although there are a lot of other wonderful brands.  We registered for a big set, and then a few individual pieces.  It depends on whether or not you think anyone will spend $500-1000 on you. 

All Clad stainless steel fry pans 12", 10", 8"  
All Clad brushed nonstick fry pans 10", 8"
All Clad Sauté Pan 3 and 6 Q, if you're only get 1, I'd get the bigger one. 
Splatter screen
All Clad saucepans 2, 3, 4 Qt
-- with 4 Qt steamer insert
All Clad Steamer Set (good sized soup pot with steamer insert) -- we have the stock pot with insert and don't use that size that much
All Clad Roaster with rack
All Clad slow cooker

Cutting Tools
Cutting Boards (plastic with the rubber on the bottom, and a nice wood one can double as a cheese board)
Knife Block
Chef's knife
Fish knife
Paring knife
Steak Knives
Mandolin or Kyocera slicer
Cheese Grater
Cheese knives

Baking Stuff
Nesting bowls (glass and Melanine)
Pastry Scraper
Measuring cups
Cookie Press
Straight rolling pin (recommended by cooks illustrated - no handles)
Spoon rest for the stove top
Stainless steel measuring tools
Flour sifter
Cooling racks
Round and or square baking tins
Cupcake/muffin tins
Loaf tins
Baking Casserole dishes - 2 or 3, 1 long rectangular and 2 square or 1 large oval and 2 small oval?
Pie Dish (I like Emile Henry, but they're all great, even pyrex is great)
Cupcake carrier
Cookie Sheets (2)
Baking Sheets (2 with edge)


China and Glassware

Dinnerware (fancy (12), everyday (8))
Silverware (fancy (12), everyday (8))

Cereal bowls
S&P shaker
Sugar bowl/spoon
Beer glasses
Water glasses (fancy/everyday?)
Wine glasses (Riedel, some people also get crystal)
Champagne flutes
Serving platters, dishes and bowls - a few different shapes, sizes is handy (you will probably get a few off the registry)
Chips and Salsa Platter
Serving Utensils
Salad bowl/salad tongs
Butter dish
Gravy boat
Alfi Carafe (I love it!!!!)
Water pitcher - doubles as margarita or lemonade
Lobster/Crab claw crackers
Soup spoons (ceramic)

Cooking Tools
Meat Tenderizer
Grill tools
Picnic items (plastic cups, etc.)
Fish Spatula
Pancake type spatula
Tongs - short and long (nonstick safe and stainless steel)
Long chopsticks
Slotted spoon
Oven Mitt
Hot pads
Kitchen utensil holder for the counter top
Spice Rack
Salad spinner
Pepper Mill
Salt storage container
Olive Oil dispenser
Ice cream scooper

Cereal storage container
Storage containers for rice, sugar, and flour
Tupperware type storage
Candle sticks
Mat for the sink
Step stool for kitchen
Bath towels
Bed linens

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Diapers Stink

I walked into Family A’s condo and was immediately hit with the stench of steaming poo.  I could’ve cut the thickness of the stink with a knife.  The entire apartment wreaked of simmering excrement.  “What is that smell?” I asked.  I walked around the apartment sniffing for the source, and found the diaper pail in the utility closet.  They were storing their dirty diapers next to the furnace.  It was sadly hilarious that the family was desensitized to the stench, and probably burned off all their nose hairs in the process.  After that incident they kept the diapers out on the deck.  Whether or not you boil your baby’s poo, diapers stink.  Storing human waste in a trashcan, no matter how airtight, is going to drive your olfactory glands crazy.  There is no magic diaper pail that will save you from the stink – not even the Diaper Genie.    

We keep our diaper pail in the obvious place - next to the changing table in Henry’s room.  If you’re really sensitive, or if baby had a particularly stinky poo, the best thing to do is to change your diaper pail every day or every other day.  This explains the special bags required for the Diaper Dekor and the Diaper Genie.  The specialty bags cut away so that you can throw out the diapers as often as you choose without having to change the entire bag.  The Diaper Champ doesn’t require specialty bags, but throwing away a tall garbage bag every day doesn’t sit well with me.  It’s a lose lose situation when it comes to disposable diapers.   

Another good tool is putting a dryer sheet in the bag with the dirty diapers.  I double up by placing a second dryer sheet outside the bag in the can. 

Although baby’s diapers won’t stink up your entire house until he or she starts solid foods (4-6 months), little babies do “go” more often, so you’ll get used to taking the diapers out regularly. 

If it isn’t already, poo will soon be a big part of your life.  You will be charting poos, checking the color, feeling the texture (if it’s hard, baby is constipated and needs a softener like prunes), wiping poo, washing poo, sniffing poo, watching poo, etc.  Don’t just tolerate it.  Embrace it.  For example, today we discovered Henry’s poo to have 2 distinct colors – bright orange and speckled green and black.  Amazing.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Winter Share Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

I picked up our first CSA share yesterday!  We signed up with Simply Wisconsin, which provides produce from 30 family owned certified organic Wisconsin farms.  Our advance payment helps farmers with preseason planning and planting, and we get fresh locally grown organic produce for a price that’s competitive with store bought organic produce.  Everyone wins! 

Our pick up site was in the garage of a private home.  The produce was stacked in individual share boxes.  I initialed the sign up sheet, and Henry sat on the pile of broken down boxes as I gingerly placed my produce into a canvas bag.  I broke down my share box, grabbed my twenty-pound bag of produce and picked up my twenty-two pound son.

Our share this week included:  red cabbage, delicata squash, green acorn squash, gold acorn squash, carrots, garlic, parsnips, thyme, white button mushrooms, red beets, and apples.

For dinner we had leftover steak (Chris) and leftover chicken breast (me) on a bed of parsnip, potato and garlic puree sprinkled with thyme and s + p, with a side of blanched haricot vert.  I also made a side of plain parsnip puree for Henry.  For breakfast this morning, I whipped up a white button mushroom, onion and egg white scrambler with wheat toast.

I’m loving this CSA already! 

The best part about the CSA is that we are forced to try things we normally wouldn’t try, while supporting local farmers.  And when I say we, I mean Henry.  He will be having fresh squash and beets next week.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baby Showers: How-to for the hostess and the mom-to-be

Contributed by B. Anderson, Henry’s Grandma, our in-house guru on etiquette

Baby showers are a special time for new parents, grandparents, sisters, as well as friends.  For the mom-to-be (“MTB”) it is a challenge to decide whom to invite and what to do if there are distinct "friendship groups,"  e.g. office friends, social friends, or family.  For some MTB’s there may be as many as 3 different showers depending on these different groups!  Consider how these various groups might mesh if there is only one shower. 

MTB’s To-Do-List

Step 1:  MTB and dad-to-be (DTB) should decide whether they will have a couples’ shower or a ladies’ shower.

Step 2:  MTB will provide a guest list to the hostess(es).  The hostess will also give some idea of the numbers she can handle.  These lists should include the mailing address or email addresses (if sending an evite).  Be sure the list is current and correct.  Sometimes it is hard to decide who should be invited.  On the one hand, the MTB doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by excluding them.  On the other hand she does not want guests to feel like she is asking for gifts.  It is helpful to spend several days on the guest list.  My experience has been that folks like to be included, and a guest can always regret if she does not care to participate. 

Step 3:  The MTB should give a gift to each of the hostesses as a “thank you” for the party.  This gift does NOT have to be expensive.  Consider the hostesses' interests, hobbies, home decor, etc.  I have given or received a beautiful orchid in a ceramic pot (Home Depot has good plants and prices), a planter of fresh herbs, a collection of wonderful soaps and lotions, a set of paper placemats, a selection of seasonal paper products (napkins, plates etc.), nice candles, candlesticks, a collection of dried soup mixes, etc.  If the shower is a couples’ shower a good bottle of wine is always well received.  Usually these gifts are brought to the shower, but the MTB can deliver them earlier to avoid confusion on the day of the shower.

Step 4: The MTB should do her part to ensure that the guests know each other.  If she has included some friends from another part of her life, she should try introducing them around.

Step 5:  The MTB should be expansive in her thanks and appreciation for the event.  Thanking the guests in-person with a toast for taking time from their schedules to be there and of course special thanks to the hostesses.  I am a big thank you note person and feel that a personal note or an interesting post card is a requirement.  I have been to a shower where each guest fills out her name and address on an envelope to make the thanking process easier for the MTB.  I have also attended showers where the hostesses say that a verbal thanks as gifts are opened is enough, although, I don't agree with that, but that is a personal feeling!


It is definitely sensible from all standpoints to work with a group in hosting a shower.  Each person brings a set of talents and skills, and it is usually an enjoyable experience to be part of a team.  The timing of the shower can vary depending on the group.  Sunday afternoons are often a good time for working ladies.


Dress up in hats and gloves for an afternoon tea
Weeknight light dinner buffet
Saturday or Sunday morning brunch – strata, muffins and fruit
Toy Shower
Education:  each guest brings his/her favorite baby books, and contributes a small amount to baby’s college fund – hostess collects before hand
Couples’ barbeque
Friday night cocktail party (remember MTB will not be drinking!)
After-work girls’ night out
Lunch during the week with work friends


Invitations can range from simple and clever to expensive!  Some MTB’s know the baby's sex, so the invitation can display a girl or boy theme.  If the group is under 20 guests, it is easy to buy packets of cute invitations and fill in the details by hand.  Larger groups may require a printed variety.  I have found cute card stock, and with my husband’s help, printed them at home.  There is clever baby stationery available at big box office stores.  Maybe one of the hostesses is good with poetry, so a poem could be used as the invite.  I suggest getting the invitations out about 6-8 weeks in advance to give everyone plenty of notice.  Be sure to include a deadline date for the RSVP!  You are more likely to get responses back if you provide an email address in addition to a phone number.


The hostesses will decide what type of gift(s) should be presented.  Would the MTB like to receive one or two large items or a variety of useful and clever baby necessities?  The size and nature of the group as well as the MTB's situation will help with this decision. At a large shower it will take the MTB forever to open individual items.  In this situation,  having the guests contribute to a group gift is very effective.  This large gift could be a major item from the registry - a car seat, stroller, crib, etc.  If  a contribution to purchase a large gift is to be collected it is nice to include a slip of paper with the invitation asking guests to contribute a decided amount to a group gift.  Sample: "If you would like to contribute to a group gift, please send $25.00 to Jane Doe (one of the hostesses) by December 1."  The amount chosen is up to the hostesses.  I have seen amounts suggested anywhere from $20.000 to $35.00.  Remember that this slip of paper should not be included in the MTB's invitation!  It is by no means a requirement for guests to contribute to the group gift and some may have chosen something special they would like presented, but it is a nice way to shower the MTB and baby with one of the more expensive items.  It is fun to have a few cute baby things along with the group gift and that always happens!

Another wonderful gift idea is to ask each guest to bring a children's book to start the new baby's library.  These can be wrapped or not.  Often as unwrapped they serve as a good conversation piece during the gift opening. 

Shower games or activities

My experience has been that there is a shift away from the typical shower games such as word search, mustard in the napkin, etc. Prizes should be simple:  Starbucks gift card or the flower centerpieces.

Activity 1:  Name that baby food.  Guests are divided into teams of 4 - 6.  Each team is given a tray with 5 baby food jars with the labels obscured.  The jars are numbered. Provide a pen and paper to each team.  Each person tastes and records what she thinks is in the jar.  The group that guesses the most jars correctly, wins.  

Activity 2:  Name that baby tune.  Provide a pen and paper to each guest.  If you have a piano and a pianist, great, if not use an iPod.  Play a variety of songs with "baby" in the title.  Guests listen and write down the name of the song.  The guest with most correct answers wins. 

Activity 3:  Guess the $ of baby gear. Provide a pen and paper to each guest.  Pass around small baby items (baby hanger, pack of diapers, diaper rash cream, baby shampoo, etc.).  Have guests guess on paper how much each item costs.  Guest with closest guesses wins.

Activity 4:  Go around and have the guests give one piece of child raising advice or one thing they remember about how they were raised. 

Activity 5:  Have each guest tell about the book she brought and why she chose it.  


Usually guests go through a buffet line and sit with plates in their laps (light weight basket trays are often helpful).  If there is space to set a table, consider putting the honorees - MTB, grandmas, special aunties etc. at a table with place cards.  Other guests can sit around the room.

Menus: keep it simple

Offer a variety of salads (3 or 4): chicken salad; fruit; caprese salad; pasta salad; rice salad; corn salad; Oriental cabbage salad; tossed green salad - with nice bread rolls.

Wraps cut into a manageable size are also nice.  Chicken pouches: chicken salad in a wanton pouch is easy.

For a dinner shower, try a chicken rice casserole and tossed salad with French bread.

A tea could include finger sandwiches (cut into teddy bear shapes, squares or triangles), sweet pastries, fruit kebobs, scones and clotted cream.

When guests arrive they may like juice, iced tea, or champagne punch.  Be sure that each table has a water pitcher and glasses.  Seasonal touches are always fun:  e.g. apple cider in the fall, lemonade and iced tea in summer, hot tea or cocoa in the winter.

Dessert:  Cupcakes are popular.  Recently I found tiny naked babies (plastic) at Michaels and put one atop each cupcake.  A baby themed cake is great (find out what appeals to the MTB) or decorated cookies.


Be creative with  a floral arrangement for the table center or buffet.  There are many ways to incorporate a new baby into the arrangement - containers, adding baby items (rattles pacifiers etc) to the arrangement, using a seasonal arrangement with pink or blue flowers I used green gourds to surround pink roses for a fall shower.  One group decided to use their flower budget for baby boy toys - trucks, cars, etc as table centerpieces. If books are the gift, pile them at the center with flowers atop.
A “diaper cake” centerpiece: directions for making these are online.  They are fun to do and MTB will need a good diaper supply.


This is strictly up to the hostesses and the budget.  I have seen beautiful cookies wrapped individually and tied with a bow given to each guest as she left.  One MTB found seed packets and wrapped them cleverly in a tiny bag and gave them to each guest along with a little poem about the seed sprouting like the new baby.  A variety of teas could be wrapped in a clever bag.  The packaging is the key here!

There are probably millions more clever and enjoyable shower ideas out there, but I hope these thoughts will get you folks going!

- B.
Etiquette Guru for Babies In The Wilde