Teething

It’s so cute to see a baby with two little teeth sticking out, but it’s not so fun being the parent dealing with a teething child! Well, some parents are lucky and their kids have virtually no symptoms when their teeth begin to come in. We weren’t so lucky.

Archer got his first two bottom teeth in around 5 months. It started with night waking. He was sleeping through the night and then started waking several times a night. We figured out it was his teeth once we could feel them breaking through the gums. This night waking lasted 3 weeks! Now again around 7 months his two top teeth are coming in and not only have we had night waking (up 3-4 times a night) we also have had low grade fevers. I’ve since done lots of reading on teething symptoms and what you can do to help your baby. Here’s what I learned:

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Product: Aden + Anais 100% Cotton Muslin Burpy Bib

When registering I had heard how awesome Aden + Anais products where, specifically the muslin light receiving blankets (perfect to drape over the car seat to block the sun or to keep germs out when out and about). I never heard about this product however, until last week at my Mommy and Me.

The Aden + Anais muslin burpy bib is perfect for drooling and spit up prone babies! From 4-6 months we experienced the most drool and spit up — teething causes excess drool and spitting up becomes most problematic around 5 months. This burp cloth and bib is super absorbant and as you can see from the photo below you can wrap it around your baby’s shoulders, secured in the back with a simple button, and it soaks up everything that drips and splats from your baby’s mouth. You also can turn it easily when one section gets soaked.

Oh how I wish I registered for this instead of the Aden + Anais washcloths (which I think are too big and bulky). Make this a must have item! You’ll save yourself a lot of time changing outfits!

Amazon.com: Aden by aden + anais 100% Cotton Muslin Burpy Bib, Oh Boy: Baby.

Sleep: What Should Baby Wear

I am not sure why, but this topic has been a concern of mine from the beginning! How do you keep baby warm when you can’t place blankets over them when they sleep? I know the optimal room temperature is supposed to be kept at an optimal 70-72 degrees for SIDS prevention, but just a cotton onesie during the dead of winter doesn’t seem like enough. Especially as the room cools throughout the night. If babies are supposed to be dressed in one layer more than you are and I sleep under a down blanket what is the equivalent for them?

We found two types of products that worked well for us, both at different stages of his growth.

As a tiny newborn we’d dress him in a onesie and then swaddle him. The swaddle blanket was thick enough to provide enough warmth. We also had him wear a little hat for the first few weeks when he slept. (he was born in December, so use your own judgement for your child based on the weather/temperature where you live).

Then during the next few months (1-3) we preferred to use a footed fleece sleeper. This you can put over a onesie or just by itself. If it was a colder I’d put over a onesie, if not then just by itself. This was great until Archer was a few weeks shy of 3 months old. You can also swaddle in a fleece sleeper, but I’d use a light swaddle as the sleeper is already warm. (As a reminder, you should only swaddle until 2 months old).

Carter’s Micro Fleece Jungle Animal Footed Sleeper

Once he began to move around more the 0-3 footed sleeper was getting tighter and because it’s micro fleece it doesn’t stretch. He simply outgrew this so we moved to the next item… the sleep sack! We loved the sleep sack. We would dress Archer in a cotton footed onesie and then put the sleep sack of that. It was warm and gave him freedom to move about. At this point he wasn’t being swaddled so he needed movement. Size small fits babies 10-18 lbs. It was also great in that if he diaper leaked, we had two layers of protection before it hit the mattress sheet. The issue with sleep sacks is they should only be used until the baby is 6 months old — according to physical therapists it’s not good to inhibit their leg movement even slightly, which the sleep sack might do. After 6 months it’s best to transition back to a footed fleece sleeper or just use a cotton onesie if it’s warm enough in your home.

Amazon.com: HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Wearable Blanket, Baby Blue, Small: Baby.

Now that it’s summer Archer just wears a traditional cotton footed PJ. When it gets cold again, we’ll have to get some bigger footed fleece sleepers… sad to say goodbye to the sleep sack… just one more thing he’s grown out of!

Working Moms: Pumping at Work

When you head back to work on your first day, you’ll likely have one extra bag with you — a bag with your breastpump! You arrive thinking all you need is your equipment, ice pack and storage bags or bottles. Think again! Here is a list of what to pack in your breast pump bag from someone who more than once was caught without something I needed:

  1. Breastpump and accessories: this seems obvious but make sure to double check that you have everything before you leave for work
  2. Paper towels: there will be all sorts of drips and drops that you’ll want to catch so they don’t mess up your clothes
  3. Cleaning wipes: medela sells some breastpump “quick clean” wipes for your equipment. A must if you don’t have a sink where you pump
  4. A sharpie! Important if you are pumping into bags or containers that you will store, make sure to date each one.
  5. Frozen ice pack: don’t forget to put in the freezer the night before! No one wants to put their breastmilk in the work refrigerator.
  6. Nursing cover or shall: on a normal day you won’t need this, but those few times you have to pump on the go (yes, I have pumped while driving in the car on the way to a meeting) you’ll wish you had it
  7. Extra breast milk storage bags: just incase you have to stay longer than you thought, you want extra storage containers on hand
  8. Hands free nursing bra: you’ll be upset if you forget this! The nursing bra is essential for a productive or at least entertaining pumping session (you can use your hands to check email, read, make calls, etc…)

Here are other tips in terms of making time for pumping at work:

  1. Schedule time on your calendar to pump. That way no one will book meetings back to back and not allow you a 30 minute break to pump.
  2. In a long meeting, don’t be shy to speak up and say you need a 15 minute break. People who know you ‘re pumping will respect it and for those who don’t, everyone appreciates a break in a several hour meeting.
  3. Plan ahead. This is the single biggest bit of advice. Look at your calendar to know when you will pump based on your schedule. Sometimes you’ll need to pump 45 minutes earlier than you would have because of meetings.

I am quite busy at work and usually have several meetings a day, sometimes all day meetings. I have always found time to pump you just have to plan ahead and make it a priority. One more thing to manage I know, but totally worth it.

Happy pumping!

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Working Moms: Traveling With Breastmilk

For many working moms, our jobs include travel. That can be quite difficult when you’re nursing and need to pump every 4 hours. That plane flight cross country that’s 5 and half hours long, plus 30 minutes to pre board and 30 minutes to deplane, that’s almost 7 hours. When to pump? Where to pump? Where to store the milk?

These are all questions I had to figure out on my first business trip to Denver when Archer was just 4 months old. I was nursing and was going to be gone for 2 days and 1 night. The good news is the flight is only 2.5 hours long so I didn’t have to get too crazy with pumping on the plane… or so I thought. (stay tuned)

The way there was quite simple. I pumped right before I left and had my breast pump with me as a carry on. Included in my breast pump bag was the frozen ice pack that came with my Medela pump. Security was fine with it because it was frozen solid. Once I landed I headed to the airport bathroom, washed my hands, found a stall and pumped for 10-15 minutes. The ice pack was still pretty cold so I easily stored the milk in my little portable cooler. Pumping in an airport bathroom is less than glamorous — they actually had shut of my side of the restroom for cleaning while I was in it and all you could hear was the cleaning person mopping and my pump going “urr urr urrr urr”. Hilarious. Oh well, assume she figured out what I was doing in a stall for that long with that humming sound.

Once I arrived at my hotel I asked for a freezer/refridge. They had one available for $10 a day and had it delivered to my room. Most hotels have fridges or freezers you can have brought to your room. I was able to store all my milk in it over the next few days.

While at the conference there were no private rooms, so during lunch and the afternoon break I would head to the ladies restroom, pick a stall and pump! More bathroom pumping, not idea, but you got to do what you got to do. Stored it in my portable cooler until I could get to the hotel.

Next morning was full of the same, but then when it was time to leave I had to pack up all 30oz I had packed, keep it cool during the last few hours of the conference AND have it cool and safe through airport security.

This is where things got funny. I had brought 2 ziplock freezer bags with me. I filled them with the bags of breast milk, then went to the ice machine to fill up each bag with ice. The breatmillk was surrounded in ice so I figured I could at least keep it cool until I went through security at the airport.

Almost made it… security pulled me over for a few reasons:

  1. My ice pack had partially defrosted . Since it wasn’t frozen solid they weren’t going to let me take it through.
  2. My breastmilk had to be inspected, but both machines to check the breastmilk were broken.
  3. The ice I had around the breastmilk had partially melted so there was liquid in the bags.

Long story short, they poured out any water from the melting ice and they made me open every single breatsmilk bag so they could test it with a vapor strip (two breastmilk bags had burst and were now wasted) —  all of this was in front of the entire security line! It was quite embarassing, but I made it home with 20-25oz of breastmilk so it was worth it.

Lessons from this experience:

  1. make sure your ice pack is frozen solid when you go through security and pour out any liquid from melted ice. Ice though is ok.
  2. make sure to tightly seal any milk bags so they don’t leak, seems obvious, but check each one to be sure.
  3. make sure to head to the airport early! I was held up in security so long that I didn’t have time to pump before my flight, so I ended up having to pump on the plane. Just imagine standing in a small, windowless plane bathroom for 15 minutes while everyone outside wonders what you’re doing in there for so long. I was so over it all by that time I just didn’t care.
  4. bring a few large size ziplock bags. You’ll need this to hold any ice for the trip back

What we mother’s do to protect the liquid gold we produce. Of course now I have no future plans to travel without a baby, but if you have to travel it can be done.

Happy Travels!

Toys: Bright Starts Rattle

We were gifted this rattle and just gave it to Archer to play with a few weeks ago (around 4 months old) and he just loves it! It definitely is his favorite rattle at this age. He loves to shake it and chew on it.  At only $4.99 it’s a cheap and entertaining toy!

Amazon.com: Bright Starts Start Your Senses Rattle A Round: Baby.

Play: 4-6 months

By this time your baby is getting a lot more fun and responsive! They should be smiling back at your, trying to talk and able to grasp toys — albeit clumsy they’re working on their hand to mouth sills. The games below are all things we’ve been playing to help Archer develop his muscles, coordination and start to better understand language and interaction. During this time they are also start to roll over, first from tummy to back then back to tummy, so their movement needs to be encouraged.

  • Toy wagon wheel: this is just how it sounds. On the floor we lay a blanket down and place his toys all around him in a circle, all slightly out of reach. This encourages him to look around and try to move (roll) to reach something. You can place your hands behind his feet to give him something to push off on so he understands he can push himself forward. We do this every day with Archer, however it wasn’t until the last week or so (he’s almost 5 months) where he became interested in reaching for his toys on the ground. Before that he was only interested in people. Timing on this depends on your baby.
  • Pull ups: you may have already started to do this or notice your little one flexing his stomach to try and sit up. You can help them along by holding out your fingers and saying “up” then wait until they pull with their arms and flex their neck until you slowly pull them up to a seated position. Then lower them down and do over again. Eventually they’ll learn to pull their legs up too which helps them sit. (sitting up on their own doesn’t happen until 6-8 months) Archer loves doing this, he gets so proud of himself when he’s sitting!
  • Scanning: when babies are on their tummies they scan the room. When they’re on their back and you’re dangling toys, it’s important to dangle the toys across their body, from side to side, passing their midline. Not only does this help with coordination, but it helps their brain develop properly so they understand full cross body range of motion. We just learned this important tip so will make more effort in this area.
  • Peek-a-boo: we all know this game. This is a great game to help them learn their name. Take a thin slightly see-through scarf and hold it up between you and your baby. Call their name. When they look at you drop the scarf and say peek-a-boo!
  • Patty cake: Archer loves this game! It’ll turn him from crying to smiling in 10 seconds flat. Basically start by holding up your hands in patty cake stance, fingers wide and exaggerated, then start tapping their hands and singing Patty Cake. Eventually your baby will mimic you and open their hands, hold them up and sing along.
  • Tickling: around 4 months you may have gotten your little one to laugh. Some do it on their own others need to be prompted. Usually you can start tickling them under their arms or on their sides and get all sorts of giggles and laughs. It shows playful human interaction and “cause and effect”.
  • Reading: you may wonder what your newborn is gathering from books at this point, but it’s important to start showing them pictures and getting them acquainted with books. Sit them up in your lap, hold the book in-front of you and show them the book while singing or reading in an animated fashion. I will do a separate post on reading books to your newborn, we just learned about this in class today.
  • Of course all teh games in 0-3 months also can be played during this phase as well.

Have fun playing with your little babycakes. They won’t always be willing or able to sit and play with you so enjoy it while you can. They’re little sponges and you’ll see them learn and develop so fast!

Here’s Archer and I playing patty cake. He didn’t always hold up his hands this way but learned quickly!

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Here I am playing peek-a-boo with Archer:

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Wagon wheel set up where Archer plays:

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Hair Loss, Your Baby and You

When it comes to hair, there are a lot of questions — Will my baby be born with hair? What color will it be? Will it fall out? Will my (mom) hair fall out? When the babies hair comes back in will it be the same?  — and there really are no answers. You won’t know for months how everything will pan out.

Some babies lose their hair around 3 or 4 months, but can happen up to 6 months of age. The drop in hormones in a babies system usually is the cause of the hair shedding and within a few weeks you’ll notice peach fuzz coming in of the  hair they’ll keep.

Mom also loses hair around month 4 after giving birth. Again, this is caused by a drop of hormones. Eventually I’m told hair thickness returns. I have very thin hair to start with and additionally during my pregnancy suffered from hair loss. My OB said that some women experience hair loss during pregnancy, but most experience thicker than average hair while expecting. I was not so lucky. Tben around 4 months postpartum my hair started to really fall out. Now it’s thinner than ever and I just hope it’ll grow back when my  hormones level off. We’ll see. Unlike baby hair loss, almost all moms will experience a shedding of hair around 3-4 months.

Archer lost his hair around 3 months. I remember picking him up from his bassinet one morning and it looked like a cat had slept in his bed! It was that much hair all over the sheet. There’s nothing you can do about it and usually there’s nothing wrong. If you see red patches, bumps, bald spots vs. overall hair shedding talk to your pediatrician. Now at four and a half months his hair is really coming back in. He was born with wheat colored hair and now it’s coming quite blonde!

Again it’s those darn hormones that cause this, but rest assured both you and baby should have your manes back in no time!

More Posts Are Coming!

I am still updating the 4-6 month section, more posts will be coming. I am writing this blog as Archer grows and we’re in month 5 now!

Breast Feeding: Building a Back-Up Supply

It’s always a good idea to have some milk stored up in your freezer for any time you have to be away, whether for pleasure or work, or if you’re very sick and aren’t strong enough to breast feed. But if you’re a mom who has to go back to work and wants a supply of milk for your caregiver to use while you’re away then I recommend getting started early to get your reserves built up.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to build up a freezer supply while still breast feeding every meal, but then once Archer started sleeping in 5-6 hour stretches at night it gave me an opportunity to pump and save the feeding he would have gotten 2-3 hours after his last feeding. For us this started when Archer was around 2 months old.

The longer your baby can sleep at night the more chances you have to store the feedings he would have gotten. It’s also a great way to keep your milk supply up. Also, I always pumped before I went to bed, it was an extra way to store more milk and to make sure I didn’t wake up in pain from full breasts a few hours later. Once your baby starts sleeping 8-10 hours at night you can also get up and pump then freeze that feeding. Some people would rather sleep than get another 5-10 oz stored and others (like me) had no choice because my breasts hurt when they were so full.

Here is a picture of just the top half of our freezer, there are two more shelves full of milk not pictured. When I am at work I pump and replace what was used that day, this way when I stop breast feeding Archer will still be able to have breast milk for a few weeks after I stop. This liquid gold is worth all the effort!

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Sleep – Putting Your Baby to Sleep

It’s important to know there are two philosophies for getting your baby to sleep: cry it out method and the Dr. Sears sooth to sleep. Both work, it just depends on what you’re willing to go through/do to help your baby sleep. We used the Dr. Sears method. Mostly because I wasn’t willing to let Archer cry for extended periods of time and I generally believe it’s the right approach.

If you opt for the cry it out method of sleep training it shouldn’t stat before 4 months or before they weigh 14 lbs.

We’re not sure if we’re lucky because we have a baby who is a great sleeper or if we had good habits early on that have helped our baby become a great sleeper. Probably a little bit of both, but what we did has worked.

-Make the crib a happy place. We would help Archer fall asleep by walking and rocking him to sleep. Then we’d put him in his crib. If he woke up, we’d get out of bed, pick him up and help soothe him to sleep again. He learned that we’re there for him and going to bed isn’t scary and he isn’t alone.

-Gradually start putting your baby in their crib when they’re just drowsy, not fully asleep. At first when you start doing this, you may have to put them down up to 4 or 5 times. Each time Archer would start to cry and fuss, we’d pick him up promptly before he’d get too upset, tell him it’s ok and it was time for bed, and when we was calm and falling asleep again, we’d put him back.

-Now at 4 months our night time routine is set: promptly at 7:00pm we get him in his PJs and sleep sack, bath or wipe him down (sponge bath) and turn off all the lights in the house. Then I hold him laying in my arms and we walk around the house for 5 or 10 minutes until he’s calm and starting to self soothe. Then in his crib he goes! He knows it’s bedtime. If he fusses we quickly pick him up and walk or rock him a bit more. Sometimes we have to put him down once and he’s out and other times we have to put him down up to 4 times. Yes it takes anywhere from 15 to 45 mintues to get him to sleep, but there isn’t any crying involved and it’s more bonding time between me and him.

Some people say up to 45 or more minutes to rock and walk with your baby to put them down is too much, but I disagree. When you do sleep training (cry it out method) it can also take to an hour, but that hour is filled with crying. Which would you rather have? An hour of crying or and hour of holding your baby in your arms and walking around? Easy answer for me, but as my sister says (who sleep trained) it’s all about what you’re willing to do.

My whole motto with sleep is to not make it scary or forced. Make your baby feel secure, that you’re there for them and if they have trouble one night falling asleep that’s ok. You’re there to help them. Don’t you have trouble sometimes? It’s only natural.

Now at almost 5 months old, he sleeps 10 hours every night and another 2 or so after he gets fed in the morning. I will say that during certain developmental milestones (e.g. cognitive burst around 3 1/2 – 4 months) he has more trouble than other times going to sleep on his own. That just means sometimes I have to hold and walk with him longer than usual.

I’ll also note that sleeping through the night for us has varied. When he started teething he would wake 3 times a night for a few weeks. It was bad. He often wakes 1 time a night still even when not teething. I asked my pediatrician about night waking and she said her kids always woke at least 1 time a night so nothing to be worried about just something to deal with. (for those of us who don’t sleep train I guess)

This is a tricky subject for all parents, you have to decide what you’re comfortable with and what you’re willing to do to get your little bundle to sleep. Good luck and feel free to share what worked for you!

Here’s Dr. Sears’ video on sleep tips: