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Top 10 First Finger Foods for Baby

November 13, 2011

Your baby is growing up!  Once he is about 8 months old and showing more interest in the food on your plate than those delicious purees you’ve been feeding him, it’s time to introduce finger foods.  I really enjoyed this stage with my first son and am happily in the midst of it with my second.

Be prepared for a mess.  The clean up isn’t quite as bad for those of us with a dog.  And keep your camera out to capture more hilarious reactions to those foreign objects entering his mouth. Here is what I prepare, where to buy it, and why giving your baby a solid start with solid foods is so important!  (Please add more steamed green vegetables to your list..I just don’t like them..)

What to prepare

#1 Happy Baby Organic Puffs

#2 Ripe banana, diced

#3 Ripe mango, diced

#4 Ripe avocado, diced

#5 Extra firm tofu, diced

#6 Boiled egg yolks, diced

#7 Cooked small wheat spiral pasta

#8 Soft wheat bread

#9 Baked sweet potato, diced &

partially mashed

#10 Steamed peas

#11 Pasteurized soft cheese, diced

Where to buy

For the items in today’s list, I shopped at my local grocery.  During the winter here in Chicago, I grocery shop online at Peapod.  For more about where I like to shop for all things baby, check out Where to buy.

Why to prepare

Feed baby secured in her high chair, always keeping her in your line of sight and within reach. Review Infant First Aid for Choking & CPR should the need arise.  Add a sippy cup (Munchkin Mighty Grip Trainer Cup) with breast milk/formula or water to mealtimes if you haven’t already.

Mealtime is not a battle to train for or to attempt to win.  No food flying into baby’s mouth on airplane spoons required.  Just set a few finger tip sized pieces on her tray and let her feed herself by hand.  (Resist the urge to push baby to eat since mother knows best and she must be hungry…  That is an internal war waging inside every caregiver!)  Developmental food issues aside, babies eat when they are hungry, just like their other human counterparts, adults.  While it is certainly important to feed your baby healthy, age appropriate foods, her main source of nutrition is still breast milk/formula.  Don’t worry or give up if her first response to a food is NO. Keep whatever it is that didn’t suit her in the rotation and reintroduce it a few days later.  Wait 3 days between introducing each new food so you can watch for allergic reactions.

You are laying the ground work for an individual with a wholesome and varied palate.  And even more important than an adventurous eater, someone who doesn’t have unhealthy emotional ties to food that may lead to eating disorders.  Even when she turns into a boundary pushing toddler, refusing foods she once liked, know it has nothing to do with the food, but with asserting newly acquired freedoms.

Continue nurturing a pleasant, messy, experimental eating environment.  You will soon be the envy of all your friends, dining out at restaurants without crayons and paper placemats!

*NO COMMENTS HERE SHOULD BE TAKEN IN LIEU OF PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE.*

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What to Pack for the Hospital–Only the Essentials

November 9, 2011

The big day is just around the corner and it’s time to pack your hospital overnight(s) bag. Aside from the Birth Plan, this is one of the last in preparation for baby items on the list – and one of the final things you actually have control over before labor & delivery…and a newborn. I can’t truthfully say that filling your bag with this stuff will make the experience any more pleasant, but it always feels good to think you’re prepared, right? So get out your bag, and round up the following for your life changing 2-4 night getaway!

What to pack

 #1 Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat & Base

 #2 Birth Plan x4 copies

 #3 Phone/Camera & Power Cords

 #4 Baby Announcement Email Address List

#5 Toiletries

#6 Boppy Pillow

#7 Sleep Sheep On the Go Sound Machine

#8 Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe Small/Med

#9 The First Years Newborn Pacifier

#10 Born Free Wide Neck Bottle, 5 Ounce

#11 Going home outfit for baby

#12 Robe & going home outfit for mom

#13 Baby book

#14 Overnight bag for significant other

Where to buy

For the items in today’s list, I shopped at Amazon.com and around my house. See Where to buy for more information about online shopping.

Why to pack

#1 Leave your properly installed car seat and base in the car until you’re ready to go home. The rooms are small and you may deliver in one room and recover in another so it’s easiest to retrieve it later. I used the Graco Infant SnugRide with both of my babies. Unlike me, be sure you know how to operate the seat’s 5-point harness, WITH a child inside. We strapped my first son in without removing his swaddle blanket and just thought it was a weird fit. Not completely unsafe and illegal. Lucky for him, we were just driving through the traffic-less streets of Los Angeles to get home…  And yes I did say L.A., but that isn’t a recent collagen injection in my face pictured here, but pregnancy puffiness that didn’t immediately recede, as I naively expected.

#2 The Birth Plan. A wonderful exercise to think through your ideal birthing experience and discuss with your doctor and partner. Used as scrap paper by the nursing staff to write down their lunch order. But just in case they’ve already eaten, bring several copies to hand out to each new shift.

#3 Bring your phone/camera and power cord. Some moms bring their own music too. If we have nothing in common and you’re interested in videoing the birth, check with the hospital in advance as some do not allow recording of medical procedures in the event of a lawsuit.

#4 Create your baby announcement email contact list ahead of time and send to your partner. You might not feel up to the task.

#5 Think camping trip, not the Ritz. Pack basic toiletries including shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste & brush, deodorant, lotion, chap stick, hairbrush, and under eye concealer if you’re having visitors. They are there to see the baby, but you’ll be in the pictures.

#6 Whether you are planning to breast or bottle feed, a nursing pillow like the Boppy is convenient for both. It minimizes the strain on your hands/wrists/arms. And it’s a great way to prop baby on your bed and just stare at her sweet face.  (While looking for a Boppy link for today’s list, I came across a new to me product that got rave reviews – Boppy Newborn Lounger– and just purchased one for a friend who brought her new baby home this afternoon.  Only a place for baby to hang out, not for nursing.)

#7 Continue the white noise baby was listening to in utero with the travel size Sleep Sheep Sound Machine. With hospital staff in and out of your room every few hours, it’s nice for both yourself and baby. I’m actually listening to my favorite ocean waves sound right now via my son’s monitor.

#8 Hospitals provide perfectly adequate swaddling blankets, but the Kiddopotamus SnuggleMe velcro swaddlers are more user friendly and require less repositioning of baby to secure them tightly.  They run small, go with the Small/Medium if you’re baby is full term.  Once baby outgrows this one, move on to the HALO SleepSack Swaddle.

#9 I am an advocate of the pacifier to satisfy baby’s need to suck as a means of self soothing. (See American Academy of Pediatrics Oct 2011 SIDS journal under Articles) If you are too, pack a few different brands to give your little one some options to choose from. My oldest child liked Born Free pacifiers and my youngest started with the The First Years Soothie Newborn pacifier pictured to the right, and has since transitioned to the MAM Pearl Silicone Pacifier.

#10 If you are planning to nurse, also plan for the unexpected. I needed to pump in the hospital with both boys, and fed my second formula in order to be discharged due to his nearly 10% weight drop. Consider a bottle no matter what your position on bottle feeding should the need arise. I use Born Free Wide Neck bottles.

#11 The super cute baby outfit you bought finally gets worn! Baby also needs mittens to protect his face from those unruly newborn fingernails, a hat, socks, and blanket.  The hospital provides diapers and wipes.

#12 Don’t bother with cute pajamas or underwear; they will get ruined. And if you don’t know why, check out Top 10 Essentials for a Healthy Mama. Cover up your hospital gown with a robe for visitors. A nursing bra is optional for support, or if you’ve somehow managed to deliver a baby and still retain any sliver of modesty. The hospital provides disposable underwear and socks. You will still be wearing maternity clothes out of the hospital so leave the pre-pregnancy jeans at home.

#13 Bring the baby book to capture baby’s footprints and fill out any special details of his big day before you get home and forget them.

#14 It’s a nice gesture to pack clothes, toiletries and snacks for the one who likely landed you on this overnight getaway. And consider surprising them with something as it will be the last time for some time that you won’t be totally focused on someone else!

Don’t forget your insurance card if you are not already registered with the hospital.

Top 10 Essentials for a Healthy New Mama

November 9, 2011

Giving birth – and recovering from it – is a real pain…especially once you’re home without a bedside button to call for the nurse. The inspiration for today’s topic comes from two friends due this month with their first and second babies, respectively. Nothing but friendship would motivate me to dredge up memories of my postpartum recovery! (There’s a reason it’s rarely discussed..) Thankfully, I don’t have any pictures to illustrate, but will entertain you with a few family photos instead. Here are the ten essentials items you will need to care for your body post delivery, where to purchase them, and why. After your bathro0m is stocked, you are equipped to heal and to focus on your newborn baby!

What to buy

#1 Enormous Maxi Pads

#2 Dermoplast – topical anesthetic spray

#3 Sitz Bath

#4 Perineal Warm & Cold Pads

#5 Perineal Irrigation Bottle

#6 Tucks Medicated Pads

#7 Preparation H with hydrocortisone

#8 Waterproof Sheet Protector

#9 Inflatable Donut

#10 Disposable underwear (hospital)

#11 stool softener (generic drug store brand)

Where to buy

For the items in today’s list, I shopped at Amazon.com, soap.com, my local drugstore, and the goodie bag sent home with me from the hospital. See Where to buy for more information about online shopping.

Why to buy

Some hospitals will send you home with written instructions and extra “product” so you will already have and know why you need many of these items. This was the case with the birth of my second son. NOT the first. After 40 hours of labor followed by delivering a baby with a very large head, I was ill prepared both physically and emotionally for the toll on my body. And the hospital staff was “hands off” to say the least. Apparently choosing the hospital because Suri Cruise was born there and it had wi-fi shouldn’t have weighed so heavy in my where to deliver decision. If you find yourself in similar circumstances, here is WHY you need these items.

*NONE of the opinions stated here are in lieu of direction given by a medical professional*

#1 Enormous maxi pads for the initial excessive bleeding (“lochia”) post delivery. Did I mention excessive? Tampons are not to be used while your body heals.

#2 Dermoplast – topical anesthetic spray will numb the perineal pain A LITTLE BIT. At the very least, makes you feel like you’re doing something. I went through 2 cans.

#3 The sitz bath saved me after the birth of my first son. I literally would not have been able to go to the bathroom without it. Fill it with the warmest water you can tolerate. Don’t bother with the natural oil sprays like Motherlove.

#4 Instant cold pads are another simple yet effective invention to ease perineal pain. The hospital may give you an adequate supply.

#5 Fill the perineal irrigation bottle (little plastic squirt bottle) with hot water and use before/during/after you go to the bathroom. The water soothes and cleans.

#6 Whether or not you have hemorrhoids, use Tucks pads in lieu of toilet paper and line the Enormous maxi pad with them. An invaluable piece of advice from a mom of 3.

#7 If you didn’t get hemorrhoids while pregnant, giving birth might do the trick. Use Preparation H with cortisone as directed. If that doesn’t work, ask your OB/GYN for a prescription strength medication.

#8 A waterproof sheet protector will save your bedding from your leaking postpartum body. I awoke countless times drenched in sweat and leaking breast milk.

#9 An inflatable donut cushion will ease the discomfort of sitting and take the pressure off hemorrhoids. Carry it around the house with you or buy a couple.

#10 Disposable underwear. Yes, they are hideous. And try not to feel depressed that these large unsightly underwear actually fit your body. They are the only ones to also fit the Enormous maxi pads. I haven’t seen the hospital style ones anywhere but the hospital. Perhaps a medical supply store, but this is something you should ask for when you’re discharged from the hospital.

#11 Use stool softener if needed. Pushing too hard can rip your stitches, ouch.

One last thing – Fill the pain medication prescriptions given by your doctor even if you don’t think you’ll need them. Things change when you get home. And if okay’d by your doctor, have OTC pain meds on hand too – I rotated between acetaminophen (“Tylenol”) and naproxen (“Aleve “). Consult your doctor and all medication labels if breastfeeding. Breastfeeding requires a list of its own.

*NONE of the opinions stated here are in lieu of direction given by a medical professional*

Ahhhh!! I had no idea this is what women endure post-labor! Why doesn’t anybody ever talk about this? News to me…I think every new mother deserves a medal of honor for what they suffer through…and men, THIS is the reason for “push” presents! -Grace

5 Items for Feeding and Changing Baby

November 5, 2011

I made some impulsive baby product purchases over the weekend.  Nothing terribly significant like a stroller..there’s already 5 of those in the garage..but am still annoyed with myself for getting caught up in the hype of this new store opening, and buying baby items based on brand and packaging.  The fun way to shop!  Versus my usual obsessively researched method.  This is what I brought home, where (else) you can get it, and why it just might work for your little one.

What to buy (or not)

#1 Boon Snack Ball
#2 Skip Hop Zoo Bib
#3 Boon Gnaw
#4 Hoppop Drinking Cup
#5 Diapees & Wipees Waterproof Carrier

Where to buy

For today’s items, I shopped at Wonder!, a brand new higher end children’s megastore in Deerfield, IL.  But it all can be found at Amazon.com too.  Check out Where to Buy for more information.

Why to buy

#1 The Boon Snack Ball is advertised for children 9 months and older.  Ha!  My 2.5 yr old son cannot open this thing!  So, it is true that it won’t spill.  Because YOU will be opening it and handing your child his snack.  Ours is filled with rocks and used as a “musical” instrument.  Try Munchkin Snack Catchers instead.

#2  The Skip Hop Zoo bib is great!  It meets my bib criteria for Feeding Baby on the Go, and then some.  It folds up into a built-in pouch, perfect for transporting a dirty bib.T Gnaw and SH bib

#3 I truly had no idea what the Boon Gnaw was when I picked it off the shelf.  And didn’t bother to read the directions on the box, so me and my 7 month old struggled with it for a few days.  Now that I’ve figured out it’s a clip-on teether with retractable mesh to insert food, I like it and so does my son.  But it takes just the right size slice of banana, not too big, not too small, to actually work.  Meaning fit inside the mesh and also not fall out.  I use a little bottle nipple brush to clean it which is a lot of work for something intended for the modern dishwasher using family.  This is entirely too messy for anywhere but a high chair, but the Sassy Teething Feeder is much easier to use for parent and child.

#4 The age appropriateness of this cup per the labeling of the Hoppop Drinking Cup is waaaay off.  It says 4 months, but has no valve so the liquid literally pours out of a small hole like a to-go coffee cup.  Any sippy cup is better than this one.  My 7 month old likes his NUK Learner Sippy Cup and my 2.5 y/o uses the CamelBak 0.4-Liter Kids Bottle.

#5  I received an original cotton Diapees and Wipees carrier as a gift and used it all the time after transitioning from a diaper bag to a large purse.  It carries a couple of diapers depending on the size and a travel case of wipes.  The patterns are modern and the latest versions are even more functional, constructed in waterproof fabrics.  When you aren’t carrying a bag or purse, the Kalencom Quick Change Kit is perfect for carrying the minimal necessities. All surfaces are waterproof making it easy to clean, and it’s compact. The only downside to contend with is the obnoxious print selection. I bought the Skip Hop Pronto because it comes in solid black, but don’t like it nearly as well.  It is very bulky even closed, too big unfolded on a public restroom changing table, and the zip off changing pad zips off on its own!

IMG_1930Back to my trusted research before you buy method!

Top 10 Essentials for Feeding Baby on the Go

October 23, 2011

Taking your solid food eating baby out to eat for the first time – or even contemplating such an event – can seem daunting, even to a seasoned parent. And rightfully so, just feeding baby in a controlled environment at home is a mess; imagine taking that show on the road! Here are the ten essentials items you will need for a successful lunchtime outing with baby, where to purchase them, and why. After your diaper bag is stocked, enjoy this milestone with your little one!

WHAT to buy

WHERE to buy

For the items in today’s list, I shopped at Amazon.com, Diapers.com, Giggle, L.L. Bean, Target, and my son’s closet.

After about a year of comparing prices at big box stores like Target to such sites as Amazon.com and Diapers.com, shopping online is the clear winner FOR MOST ITEMS in terms of price and convenience, as long as shipping is free.  The downside is the wasteful packaging – please recycle!  Free shipping is available with an Amazon Prime membership ($79 annual fee) and better yet through the new free Amazon Mom membership. I recently switched from Amazon Prime to Amazon Mom and received a prorated credit for my unused months. Signing up for Amazon Mom entitles you to 3 months of free 2-day shipping on Prime-eligible items, and you earn an additional month each time you spend more than $25. Select diapers and wipes are 20% off. I also tried the Subscribe & Save program for additional savings, but it did not work for me as it is standard versus 2-day shipping. That requires knowing too far in advance when you’re going to run out of diapers!

WHY to buy

For those of you who have not read About Me, I am a mom of two boys, 2 ½ yrs and 7 months. Mr. 7 months was a pleasant surprise, and I had given his big brother’s baby gear away when he arrived on the scene. That afforded me with the opportunity to research and re-research, test and retest nearly everything twice for the 2 and under set!

#1 The MeToo portable high chair definitely makes it in my Top Five Most Practical purchases. I bought it for my first son intending to only use it in lieu of the dirty wooden high chairs with one strap missing at restaurants. It worked so well having him right at the table that I started using it at home instead of his regular stand alone high chair. It’s great to just clean off the table as I already do at mealtimes vs. the additional tray. One less step! And there are far fewer parts and crevices to clean than in a typical high chair. Yes, I am aware of the recent voluntary Recall to Repair, installed the new part, and like it even more!  (Update:  I just saw Phil&Teds Lobster portable high chair in action, it’s great!, but probably not worth the extra $30 price tag.)

#2 Bumpkins bibs are waterproof and thin so they dry fast. And are machine washable unlike some other similarly styled bibs.  Disposable bibs were a waste of money; my son ripped the paper at the adhesive tab on every try. Same with the Kiipis Bib Clips that turn “anything” into a bib. I wanted them to work, but they don’t.

#3 These disposable placemats are a must once baby is around 8 months and eating finger food. I use them even before that stage as a sanitary play surface for toys and feeding utensils. Yes, I tried the more environmentally friendly Kiddopotamus Tinydiner reusable placemat, but constantly forgot to take it out of my bag to clean. Pureed peas are even more disgusting a week later.

#4 On the rarest of occasions, my favorite portable high chair does not work with a restaurant’s table. It’s either too thick to accept the chair clamps or sits on a single post vs. four legs making it too unstable. In those cases, I thoroughly sanitize the restaurant’s high chair with Clorox wipes. Baby wipes won’t do as they do not disinfect. And cloth seat covers are as useful as the reusable placemats; caked with food sitting in the trunk of my SUV until the next dinner out.

#5 Earth’s Best, Huggies Natural Care, Nature Baby, and Seventh Generation travel wipes all clean baby’s hands and face without harsh chemicals. Sometimes I throw in a baby wash cloth and clean up my son’s face intermittently throughout the meal with that dipped in my water glass. Save hand sanitizer for yourself and your child once he keeps his hands out of his mouth.

#6 L.L. Bean’s lunch boxes are the perfect size to transport everything for a meal out less the high chair and wipes. Both the inside and out clean up easily. They come in a variety of kid-friendly but not adult averse prints and are relatively inexpensive.

#7 HAPPYBABY Organic baby food pouches win out over similar products because they are the most economical per case. And over traditional glass jars or plastic containers for sheer convenience. No bowls required, just squeeze directly onto screwed on dispensing spoon. No dripping baby food on your lap or baby swatting the spoon out of your hand mid-air. I keep the pouch/spoon contraption right at baby’s mouth and just keep squeezing! Take home whatever baby does not eat by unscrewing the spoon and replacing the cap. Great for babies who crave continuous feeding as if they are drinking from a bottle.

#8 What a fantastic simple little tool! These dispensing spoons by Boon are branded to only be compatible with the pricier Plum Organics line, but work equally as well with the less expensive HAPPYBABY pouches. They screw directly on to the pouch and are reusable.

#9 Bring the mess home in a gallon size plastic bag or try a trendy reusable bag from etsy.com. This Bumkins Zippered Wet Bag looks useful too. I use plastic; if anyone has experience with a reusable gallon size zipper bag, please leave a comment!

#10 A change of clothes. In case the meal doesn’t go as planned..

#11 Here is an extra item that both entertains baby and is great practice for graduating from a bottle to a sippy cup – the NUK Learner Cup. My son uses the soft silicone spout as a teether too.