Tag Archives: baby

Silver linings all over

It’s funny, I’ve often thought “Oh wow, I wish I would have done more spontaneous things, gone to more events, taken more little trips before we had 80.” I didn’t really want to blog about it, because it’s pretty whiny, and I don’t want to give the impression that life is limited now. It’s more like I didn’t realize how much free time I had until now.

Now that I’ve spent four days in bed (thanks to my back), I realized I’m starting to thing “Oh wow, I can’t wait until I can walk, and I’m going to go on walks with 80, go down to Harvard Square to look at people, play in the snow, and go visit friends.” Part of the reason why I’m lying here in bed is because I’d not being leaving the house much and not getting exercise. A million feet of snow will do that to you.

So now, I’m reminded that much like before I had 80 I should have done so many things that are harder to do with a baby, now that I have her I should go and do all of the things that are great to do with a baby, that maybe seem a little hard (restock the diaper bag, put tiny snowpants on) but that I’d kill to do today instead of lying here in bed.

Today’s lesson is: Pollyanna yourself! Also, don’t forget to exercise (especially walking) if you’re a new mom. Those ligaments are extra stretchy still and not being able to take care of your child is reason enough to get moving.

BLW update

80’s been eating adult food (non-pureed solid food, you sicko) for a month and a half now. It’s taking me a while to figure out BLW. She’d been cramming entire “sticks” of food in her mouth, so I started giving her smaller sticks of food (which works, because she’s gotten the fine motor skills to hold them … mostly). She’d just stick more smaller sticks of food in her mouth, creating the same traffic jam, just in more chokeable chunks. Today I had cut up apple into 1/16th sticks, and left a quarter for myself. I was feeling playful, and offered it to 80 (I bit off the skin around the edges so it wasn’t … so she couldn’t … you know, get a paper cut with the skin. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen, but I’m a little short on sleep.)

She LOVED IT. This is what she’s wanted all along. She happily gnawed on the apple (both soft side and skin side) for a good long while. She cried when I took it away (she’d been rubbing her eyes so furiously, I knew we needed to get her cleaned up and on to napping pronto). The look in this picture is her “extreme pleasure” face.

The big lesson is that the baby-led weaning book I love (Baby-Led Weaning: helping your baby to love good food)* really does know what they’re talking about. There’s a picture of a baby nomming on a whole apple, and I thought “yeah, maybe in a few months”.

Also, I remember my friends Abby and Sara having to keep apples on hand at all times, when their son would nom on a whole one for a snack every day. They’d have to keep track, so the chewed-on apple didn’t end up forgotten under his bed, since he took it to play with him all over their house.

The word “apple”, much like the word “fork” will become hilarious as 80 learns to say them, and yet sounds more like she’s swearing a blue streak. Remind me to take a video of her narrating eating an apple with a fork.

*which is now “translated” into American English, so courgette becomes zucchini and spello-tape becomes Scotch tape. One of the authors left a comment here, to let me know.

Baby arm warmers

indeed. by sundaykofax, on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sundaykofax/5325523129/”>Tiny thumb hole, indeed.Full credit for this pattern and idea go to Eidolons’s blog post and pattern. Her baby chews sleeves, my baby can’t doesn’t have enough sleeve to chew. Either way, baby arm warms save the day.

80 is a long, tall drink of milk. All of the sleeves of her shirts and onesies are too short. She looks like she’s always heading to a clam dig, wearing three quarter sleeves and capris. Since we live in a northern climate, having bare wrists in winter is not something I’m willing to live with. Thus, the baby arm warmers.

Baby arm warmers!Arm warmers are probably the second-most easy thing to knit (outside of a scarf), and BABY arm warmers are even better because they’re small and are quick to knit. It’s like knitting a hat you don’t have to do any decreases on, and you get to use up small amounts of yarn that are curled up in the bottom of your stash.

I used sport-weight yarn, and did 36 stitches in a k2, p2 rib. The yarn is KnitPicks Stroll in Heath Multi.

I added thumb holes, but they turn out not to be necessary for indoors. I think I’d put the thumbhole in effect if I was then going to put mittens on her.

Baby-led weaning in action

Here’s a video of 80 having lunch. It’s not actually that exciting, but I thought it would be good for someone who was skeptical (as I often am).

Ask any questions about BLW in the comments — and anyone else who is doing this, let me know if you have other tips.

Baby-led Weaning

I had read about baby-led weaning (BLW for short) at moms4mom.com when researching the whole “eating food” thing. The description by a parent made it sound like you feed them solid solid food (not purees) from the get-go. At first I was confused by the name, since weaning was not what I was looking to do. It’s kind of badly named — I’d call it baby-led feeding.

I read a little bit more online, about the idea. Right now in the US, the conventional first foods for a baby are soupy grain cereals and vegetable purees. Outside of the US, and historically, this has not been the case.

I was excited about the idea of it because it’s apparent that 80 is into eating, and we haven’t had any trouble with her wanting to try new food, gagging on the purees we’d been giving her, or anything else that would be a sign that this wouldn’t be a good idea.

In fact, one big reason why I was so excited is that the babies feed themselves. 80 is acting so independent, and wasn’t very happy being fed. She’d tolerate it at the beginning, but by the middle of the feeding she’d grab at the spoon. It’s amazing how fast her reflexes are, which meant she would have her hand (or hands) around the spoon, and I’d be saying “let go, please” in my nice voice while prying her little fingers off it. This did not make her happy. So then we’d have a crying, frustrated girl, and I’m trying to give her more food ON THE VERY SPOON I’D JUST TAKEN AWAY. It reminded me of that meme crying while eating.

I didn’t find a comprehensive explanation online, so resolved to see if the library had a book on it. I asked at the weekly mom meet-up we have on Friday afternoons, and one of the moms offered to lend me the book she had. Perfect! It’s Baby-led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

Basically, the idea is that babies are capable of eating on their own, because their tongue-thrust reflex keeps them from eating before they’re ready, and the gag reflex helps to teach them how far they can put food into their mouths. It takes some courage to just hand your baby a “stick” of food, since we’re told not to let them near anything they could take a bite out of. The only other unpleasant part of starting BLW was freaking out about 80 gagging on food.

The gag reflex is awesome — it lets 80 know when she’s crammed that banana too far into her mouth. It’s just that she then make the “gork gork” noise, and Jason and I jump from our chairs and stare at her with our arms out to the side like we’re ready to tackle her. Just like the book said, she’d gag a bit, spit out the food, then calmly continue eating. All babies are going to do this, even if they’re eating purees. The book goes over in great detail how to handle gagging and choking (which is less likely to happen). 80 hasn’t choked once, but she’s gagged maybe three times — not recently though.

BLW is said to be messy, since your kidlet has access to all the food, but I found purees to be just as messy, since they’re basically food paint.

The big thing on what to feed your baby is that you should be offering them food from your plate, and eating together. Outside of the big no-nos (honey, salt, nuts, peanuts, dairy), you can feed your kid anything. It’s a little hard to wrap my brain around, since we’ve been in a pureed vegetables culture for so long, but once I finished the book, and started offering 80 some different things, it got a lot easier to imagine what I could feed her from my plate.

A side benefit is that you end up eating healthier! It’s hard for me not to eat salt, so this is an excellent exercise in moderation.

I’m going to give you a list of what 80’s eaten so far, but bear in mind that the point is not that she’s ingest much (if any) of all of the foods. The point is that she’s practicing eating for when she’ll need the calories.

Since we’ve started, 80’s eaten sticks of avocado, apple, carrot (baked and peeled first, so it’s solid but not crunchy), potato, rice cake (I found regular old plain rice cakes broken into sticks work better and are cheaper than the baby versions), kale (from a soup), lettuce (she mostly gummed it and didn’t eat any), chicken breast, grapefruit, lemon, and she’s moved on to eating the standard “O”. I looked at Cascadian Farms version of Cheerios, but they had way more sugar. Turns out Cheerios (or their generic equivalent) have the lowest sugar — 1g per serving. Os are great, since they are the perfect shape for little chubby hands. It’s an excellent exercise in the pincer grasp, and it keeps 80 amused for a long time. We brought Os on the plane to NC last week, and she’d pick one from our hand and work on getting it to her mouth — and then we’d put another in our hand for her to take. Not messy on her face or clothes, tiny snack, not hard to clean up even if she got it all soggy and it ended up on the floor, and it was a good way to pass time.

I’d suggest the book I read — it’s well written, it has a nice balance of historical information, reasons to BLW with reasonable encouragement (not making you feel like you’re signing up for a cult), and lots of suggestions for foods.

The only downside for me was that it’s British, and I had to look up what a rusk was, as well as try to remember the American words for aubergine and courgette.

If you’re not a fan of personal stories (they are in all the baby books I read), you can just skip them. In fact, if you don’t care about the history of feeding babies, you can just skip to chapter 4 where it gets down to the nitty gritty.

Eating food! (pause) Oh.

Right before Thanksgiving, we started feeding 80 … food. It seems redundant to say feeding food, but up until this point, she’d only had breast milk and formula.1. We decided 80 was ready for food because she’d been staring at us eating in front of her and my impression was that she thought it looked like fun, she was sitting up well, and she generally seemed game to try new experiences.

Wearing a bib, ready to go.

I’d read a while ago about what to feed babies, and at the 6mo checkup, our doctor reminded us about the things NOT to feed babies until they’re older. You might find it surprising what’s not OK: honey, peanut butter or peanuts, any dairy, salt, sugar (everything I love, basically). I checked my favorite parenting site Moms4Mom to see what other parents have opined about what to feed your 6mo.

I knew the basics, but was surprised to find out about feeding theories that weren’t covered in the books I had read. I had come to the site to find out if I should start with rice cereal with breastmilk, or some sort of vegetable. I wasn’t expecting to find anything else. I settled on rice cereal as 80’s first food, because it is iron fortified, and at 6 months there isn’t much else she needs other than breastmilk.

The other feeding theory had caught my eye. At the time, I was impatient to start in on the food, and didn’t want to wait, so I made a mental note to look it up later.

I also read about other good first foods, things that are easily gummed. I decided that 80 should also try avocado, because I find it so incredibly delicious. Plus, as Keem says, “It’s the cheese of the vegetable kingdom.” So we sat down to try eating.

And it was awesome! The rice cereal was mostly milk, and 80 slurped it down. There was no pushing it out of her mouth with her tongue (this being a reflex that younger babies have, and a good indicator that they’re not ready for food yet), and not that much mess … until she realized that the spoon was the food vehicle. Then it was not so awesome. She wanted to hold the spoooooooon. Why couldn’t she just hold the spoooooooon? (Answer: because she would gnaw on it, not give it back for a refill, and couldn’t get it into her mouth without rotating it so all the cereal fell off.)

But whatever, it was eating food! This meant the eventual freedom of my boobs.2 It meant new adventures.

Within 24 hours, I was reminded of the other aspect to starting solid foods. The poop. I’d forgotten that it changes, even though everyone who’s had a baby talks about it. I wouldn’t have been so excited about food if I’d remembered. I now understand why people get a Diaper Genie.

See, breastmilk poop doesn’t smell that bad at all. I think it smells vaguely like bagels. It’s a subtle odor. Everything-else poop is wow. Like adult poop.

We realized we’d need to start using a sprayer or liners with her cloth diapers. The trash can in her room was suddenly smelly. My favorite baby book ever, Be Prepared, suggests having a trash can outside the window, and dropping diapers out the window into the trash can below. I seriously considered it.3

What can be done about this new development in diapers? Nothing. As long as we keep feeding her food, her poop is going to stink just like everybody else. Perhaps we could just feed her roses.

Next up, I’ll explain moving from shoving gruel into my angry baby’s mouth, to the much more fun Baby-led Weaning!

1. We gave her formula the first week of her life, as a means to flush out the jaundice she had.
2. This was a bigger thing than just having my boobs to myself again. I have a low-level amount of worry that 80 will be hungry and I won’t be around.
3. I’m sure the other condo owners are glad I didn’t.

List: things to have when you have a baby

These are things I was glad to have, or we had to go get at inopportune times.

For the home:

  • Bran muffins, raisin bran, bran flakes to sprinkle on other things (for constipation)
  • Extra Tupperware, because people will bring you big pans of food, and it’s handy to freeze some of it, and keep some of it in the fridge. This way you don’t get tired of spinach lasagna right away.
  • Milk and cereal and sandwich fixings and reheatable servings of comfort food (for me, Italian Soup and homemade mac and cheese).
  • Dishwasher detergent, if you have a dishwasher. You won’t want to be doing dishes by hand, and it’s great for washing bottles.
  • Quarters for laundry (if need be). You never want to run out of quarters.

For me:

  • Stool softeners. I ran out. You’d be surprised at how constipated you are.
  • Whatever over-the-counter pain killers are OK’d by your practitioner.
  • Ice packs or peas. For your lady bits the first few days. It feels marvelous. I put peas in ziplock bags. They conform nicely and don’t leak water like ice does.
  • Toilet paper. I was instructed to use plenty of toilet paper, and to not fold and re-wipe, to keep infection away. I went through more toilet paper than usual.
  • Good pads. I’m not a pad girl, but I learned that Kotex pads are more comfortable and absorbent than generic. Kotex specifically isn’t necessary, but DO have pads on hand. Also liners, as you’ll move to them after a few weeks.

For nursing (*and bottle feeding):

  • Comfy chair*. You’re going to be spending a lot of time sitting and feeding your baby, so having a chair that’s comfortable to sit in while feeding is important. I got an Ikea rocking chair, which is incredibly comfortable, but actually tips me backwards a little too much. I wish I had gotten a glider.
  • Nursing pillow*. Your arms are going to get tired holding up your baby while feeding, and a nursing pillow helps. I had a boppy which was easy to conform to different chairs. I also had a (sigh) My Brest Friend, which has a better baby surface, but a weird wrap-around part that sucks if you’re trying to sit back. I finally figured out if I flipped the back of it up at an angle, it supported my back rather than being a horizontal lumbar gouger.
  • Figure out where the kid sleeps. We had a Snuggle Nest, which was great for us, because it provided a (mostly psychological) barrier against rolling over onto the baby. We could also prop up our pillows high enough to be able to look at her while sleeping next to her. This was great hovering. You’d be surprised how often you wonder whether or not they’re breathing. We then acquired an Arms Reach cosleeper, which may have been a better choice from the start, as the Snuggle Nest makes for a very small nest in a queen size bed. The Arms Reach (and similar) put the baby right next to the bed, where you can still position yourself to hover and be able to reach over and put your hand on their sleeping chest to check for breathing. (This only really happened for about the first week, then we realized we didn’t have to be so paranoid. That cycle continued with many other things.) After six weeks or so, we moved to cosleeper to the foot of the bed, so we could sleep better since her noises always woke me up, and she was down to feeding once or twice a night.
  • Nightlights*. Night feedings are MUCH easier on everyone with low light options. You don’t wake up as much, your baby doesn’t wake up as much, and anyone else in bed doesn’t either. Also, if you’re bottle feeding, nightlights that take you from your bedroom to the kitchen mean not having to flip on blinding overhead lights. We used the oven light in the kitchen, and plug-into-the-wall lights in the hallway and bedroom. At first I needed more light in bed (I nursed in bed), so I used our reading lamp. After a few weeks, 80 and I were good at nursing, and we could do it by the dim light of the plug-in nightlight by the bed.
  • Prenatal vitamins. You’re supposed to keep taking vitamins if you’re breastfeeding, so don’t run out.
  • Massive water bottles. I drank so much water — at least a gallon a day — in the first few weeks. My routine was to drink half a liter (at least) every time I nursed. I kept a bottle in the living room, and one in the bedroom that I filled up before going to bed.
  • Extra burp cloths*. We had 12, and they weren’t enough for the first few weeks. Even if your baby isn’t a spit-upper (ours wasn’t really), you still end up with milk on them and you.
  • Nursing pads. These are like menstrual pads for your boobs. They’re circular, and fit under your clothes to wick breastmilk that leaks. I have some rewashable ones, and some Lansinoh disposable ones. The rewashable ones I wear at home since they’re a little bulkier, and because they don’t have a waterproof barrier which means they can leak through. That they don’t have a waterproof barrier means they breathe, and you don’t have to worry about things getting dank. I wash them with the baby clothes, with Dreft. The disposable ones are like disposable pads–they have some sort of magical chemical that soaks up liquid. They’re also waterproof, and thin. This makes them great for when I go out in public and don’t want to leak or look like I’m smuggling yamakas.
  • Easy-to-use nursing tops for at night. I bought a bunch of spaghetti strap tank tops, and pulled the one strap off to nurse.
  • Nursing tops and bras in general. I didn’t have any nursing tops. I had two nursing bras. Almost all of my teeshirts were too tight. So, I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere. I still had a small chest post-baby, so lots of the nursing top designs didn’t work (they require a certain amount of curve to fold fabric below). I bought some teeshirts that fit a little looser, and were longer. I bought two more nursing bras (one fancy one and one cheap one from Motherhood [that’s a store, commonly found in the mall]). I bought some nursing tank tops from Target. This was summer, mind you. My post-partum doula gave me the tip of wearing a tank top under a teeshirt (this is for us with the small chests), so you can pull up your shirt and pull down the tank to nurse, and you leave very little bare.

For the baby:

  • Extra pacifiers (aka dummy, binky, nuk). Controversy aside, we chose to use a pacifier occasionally. If you’re going to have them around, make sure to have more than one. They go missing. We got a really great gift of a little pacifier holder, which keeps the thing clean in the diaper bag, and helps you put the pacifier back in the same place, thus increasing the chance that you won’t use it.
  • Really good receiving blankets for swaddling. Some blankets are better than others, and swaddling tightly meant the difference between 80 sleeping or not. You will not believe how easily a newborn will wiggle their arms free, then freak out at having their arms free. They should be big enough. They should have a bit of stretch to them. Alternately, you could get swaddler thingies with sleep sacks. They are to a swaddling blanket what a sheet is to a shirt. Especially if you have a Houdini, the velcro means swaddling them up tight, and their shape means less change of wiggling an arm up out the neck hole.
  • Pampers with the color strip. We decided to cut ourselves some slack for the first few weeks, and used disposables. We tried Huggies, but if 80 was in them too long, the gel would come out of the diaper and onto her butt. Pampers never had this problem. Plus, they have a magical yellow line that turns blue with urine. It was handy to know when 80 had a wet diaper without having to take it off or stick a finger in the side.
  • Waterproof pads for 80 to lay on. They’re soft, but waterproof, and we laid them under her when she hung out on the couch, so none of her many liquids would end up on the couch. It also works as an impromptu changing pad.
  • Thermometer and infant acetaminophen. If your newborn may have a temperature, you don’t want to mess around. You need to have a thermometer to check, and Tylenol to bring the fever down.
  • Couple of baby reference books. You’ll be infinitely fascinated to read them now, and it’s handy when things happen like scratched eyes, weird poop, or what developmental things you can expect.
  • 3-4 boxes of wipes (or cloth ones). We went through a lot at first–sometimes two wipes per poo diaper.
  • Long sleeve onesies with mitts for night. Unless it’s 90 degrees at night, a newborn is more likely to be cold than hot, especially at night. Some long-sleeve onesie have little flaps at the end, so you can fold it over and keep their hands warm. It means they’ll sleep uninterrupted longer.
  • Hats. 80 wore a hat to bed for the first week, since she got cold so quickly.
  • A few onesies in kimono style. It means not having to pull a onesie over your newborn’s head, which for a new parent is one of the trickier handling movies.
  • Bottoms that snap open. If your kid is wearing anything that has a bottom to it, I’d go for the ones that have a closure at the bottom. You don’t want to entirely undress your child for a diaper change. Also, I’m not a fan of pjs that have a zipper from the foot all the way to the neck–you have to completely unzip them to change a diaper, and their little bellies get cold.
  • Nail clippers. I hear some people just tear newborn fingernails, or bite them off. I didn’t find either of those feasible. We have a good pair of clippers, tiny ones with a round plastic handle so they’re easy to use. We waited till 80 was asleep. We’ve managed not to cut her, but I have a feeling you don’t pass through the gauntlet of parenthood until you do.
  • Laundry detergent. Before, I’d buy whatever was on sale. Now, we have three detergents. Sale stuff for the adult clothes*, the generic equivalent of Dreft for baby clothes/blankets/burp clothes, and Tiny Bubbles for diapers and covers. (Apparently Dreft does bad things to polyurethane covers.)
  • Car seat! Sure, we had acquired a car seat, but we hadn’t yet tried putting it the car for the ride home from the hospital. When we got to the part where we put the baby in the car seat and, oh my god, they’re going to let us take her home, we discovered that a piece was missing. Luckily, we had friends with a carseat we could borrow to get our kid home. You can imagine you’d be someone nervous about putting your baby in a carseat for the first time, so I highly suggest you figure out how the thing works, and clip it into the car at least once before you do it with your baby. Of course, if you give birth at home, or plan on walking home, this isn’t a problem.
  • Diaper/feeding app. Ok, or a notebook. Jason and I found an app called Baby Geek that let us track diapers (which specified the three varieties: 1, 2, and 1+2), as well as feedings. As we were both feeding her bottles and I was breastfeeding, it was important to keep track of. I continued to keep track of nursing until recently. I did switch to an notebook eventually.

So there you go. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

*By “adult clothes”, I mean clothes that Jason and I wear, not latex facemasks and furry animal costumes.

Flashback: Dirty Diaper game

I’m gearing up for my 30th birthday party with a candy bar-related bash. We’re going to have a candy bar tasting. (About a year ago, I read Candyfreak, so now I’m all about trying different kinds of candy bars.)

I was just arguing with a friend that indeed his three-year-old son SHOULD come to the candy bar and booze party, but he thinks not. I then joked that we should feed candy bars to his infant daughter.

Then it hit me. The flashback.

I was at a baby shower. There was a baby shower game called “Dirty Diapers”. Disposable diapers with melted candy bars were passed around, and you had to try to figure out which kind of candy bar it was, based on its melted form, within the context of a diaper. It’s harder than you think.

I wasn’t a huge fan of baby showers anyway, but I hit the point of no return when the old lady to my left passed me what I think was a hot Butterfinger in a diaper and said “Oop! I think this little one must be sick!”
shark puke

On the upside, the expectant mother is still a good friend (in fact, she’s flying out here for my birthday. I should make her stare into some diapers of chocolate), and the little fetus inside is now one of those superserious cuties.

Leaving the farm