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Friday, September 21, 2012

Product Reviews: Nursing Pads

So Little Man is almost 3 months old now and I have not stopped leaking.  I don't think I will.  If you are lucky enough to stop, good for you!  Otherwise, you're going to be investing in some serious nursing pads.  Here's what I've tried.  You can purchase all of these at any baby store or Wal-Mart.

Johnson & Johnson Contour Nursing Pads

These come in a box of 60 for about $10 per box.  They have a little contour for your nipple so they don't flatten it out uncomfortably, but that contour shows through on the other side, so if you don't wear a padded bra, it looks like you're...well...chilly all the time!  Not cool.  Also, the fabric sticks to your skin when it gets wet, so they get itchy.  Last but not least, after nursing a time or two, the absorbent material inside them bunches and won't lay flat again, so then you can see them through your shirt all bunched up.  This is probably due to the fact that these only have adhesive on one corner of the pad instead of two, so they slide around a lot.

Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads

Let me start out by saying that Lansinoh is a great brand for nursing items.  I've liked everything I've tried.  Their lanolin was a life saver.  So when I tried their nursing pads, I was not dissapointed.  They have adhesive on two sides, so they don't slip, and the fabric is soft and absorbent, despite being nice and thin.  The only thing I didn't like about them is they're not perfectly smooth on the outside, so for the first hour you wear them with a thin bra or sportsbra, you can see the shape of them.  But after a couple hours of being against your body they smooth out.  Did I mention they're the same price as the Johnson's?

Lily Pads

When I read about these, they sounded great.  They're reusable and actually use compression to prevent you from leaking, so even though they're about $20 each, I decided to try them.  Here's the deal, forgive me for the slightly graphic explanation.  When you first put them on, they are great.  They stick without irritating and do prevent you from leaking.  But you have to remove them to nurse, which is fine at home, but a little difficult when you're out.  Where do you put them?  How do you get them off/back on without flashing someone?  And I kind of depend on the disposable ones to catch the dribbles Little Man lets out of the corner of his mouth when nursing.  Obviously these won't do that.  And here's the worst part.  After you nurse, your nipples will be hard, and they will stay that way for longer than you will want to wait to put the pads back on.  If you press down on your nipple when it is hard and put the Lily Pad back on, it will leave a little gap of air all around your nipple inside which milk can and will collect.  So the pad will either leak, or next time you take them off milk will squirt out everywhere.  So. Not. Cool.  And when you sweat, which you will as your boobs will stay hotter than the rest of your skin when producing milk, when you take them off your nipples will smell icky.  Imagine old milk plus old sweat with a hint of sulfur...yes, it's pretty unpleasant. 

Sorry if I grossed you out, but this is what I went through testing these.  I never tried the cloth reusable kind because milk-soaked cotton sitting in my hamper for a week sounded too icky to even test.  If someone has had a good experience with these, let me know and I'll do a test run.  But I'm not promising I won't go right back to my Lansinoh's!  And remember the most important rule of nursing pads, change them at least twice a day - I do once in the morning and once before I go to bed, and I change them during the day if I leak a lot or if the pad ever feels wet.

Product Reviews: Diaper Pails

When I registered for baby gear, if there were a couple different pricepoints on items, I generally chose the lower-priced item, thinking that there aren't generally substantial differences.  NOT SO with diaper pails.  Here's the dish:

Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail: This is what I registered for.  It's made by Arm & Hammer, so it has to be good at keeping the smell at bay, which it is.  But it's a little small, so you end up emptying it more often.  And you have to push the diaper into the bag with your hand, which can get unsanitary.  It's also a hand-open model, not the foot-pedal open style, which is also less than sanitary.  And last but not least, you have to buy 2 things, both the bag refills and the Arm & Hammer baking soda refills.  So while it costs less, I prefer the Diaper Genie Elite.

Playtex Diaper Genie Elite : (For reference, the only difference between the Diaper Genie and the Elite model is the foot-pedal opener, which is totally worth the extra $10.)  This model has a claw-type mechanism that opens when you push the foot-pedal, and the diaper drops in, hands-free.  It also has about twice the storage capacity of the Arm & Hammer model.  My parents bought one for when they baby sit, and when I visited for a week, we only emptied it once at the end of my trip, and I never smelled it.  Not to mention, it just looks nicer.

Diaper Dekor Plus: Recently on a trip to Buy Buy Baby, I used their changing room, and they had one of these in it.  It did not have any type of closure on the bag to keep the smells in, and I noticed the refills are a bit more pricey than the above two models.  So I'll pass on that.

These are the only models I've tried, but I wouldn't recommend going up to a higher price point for something that is essentially just a fancy trash can.  If you're like me, your husband will more than likely end up breaking it somehow and you will have to buy another anyway!  Hope this helps.

Have a review you want me to do?  Post your questions/comments below!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Product Reviews: Infant Bath Tubs

Purchasing the wrong baby bath can be a big mistake.  Take it from me, I did.

I purchased this:

There were a couple things I liked about it in the store.  The package said you could use it for infants and toddlers.  And it had a little motorized shower to rinse with.  Pretty nifty, so I thought.  For infant use, it has a little net prop to lift the baby's head out of the water.  There are multiple issues I have with this.  First of all, the baby slides down the prop, so you have to hold him up constantly.  Also, if you put enough water in the tub to touch the baby and keep him warm, his ears end up under water.  Dirty bath water and ears?  Just asking for an ear infection.  Next, when you want to wash the baby's back, again he will slide down the net and you will have to hold his head out of the water.  It's just dangerous to me.

And then there's the nifty sprayer.  The tube gets kinked and it won't spray.  The button is slick and hard to push when wet.  I often run out of water from the resivoir before I'm done and have to get my husband to refill it, because I certainly can't walk away from Little Man while he's in the bath.  So bath-time has now turned into a tag-team ordeal.

Lastly, this bath is made to sit on a flat surface.  When you fill it with water it's heavy and will slosh if you move it, which leaves you two options, putting it on the kitchen counter if you have the counter space (I don't) or putting it in the bottom of the bathtub.  So here you are, on your knees on the bathroom floor, leaning over the edge of the bathtub and constantly needing both hands on the baby.  Not the most efficient situation.  (If you wanted one of those fancy and pricey whirlpool tubs, keep this is mind: How will you fill/empty it?)  For a while I just filled the bath and got in with the baby or brought him in the shower with me so I could hold him the whole time, which was actually easier!

That's until I saw the bath my sister has for her little one.  She has a this:

The First Years Sure Comfort Newborn to Toddler Tub

So hers costs less, and when I saw her use it I was impressed.  It doesn't have a flat bottom like mine, it has a bottom designed to sit over a  kitchen double-sink, which most people have.  It also has a seat, so the baby is held up basically hands-free, but is still sitting deep enough in the water to keep her warm.  And her little one seemed to enjoy it much more than my Little Man likes his, and who wouldn't?  She's warmer and feels more secure.  The only thing it lacks is a crappy sprayer, but since it sits over the sink, you can use the sink sprayer.  Just make sure to keep the temperature between 90-99 degrees (that's right, you still need that digital thermometer I recommended on my Registry List!) 

Flying with an Infant

We recently took a trip from Alabama to California so Little Man could meet his great grandpa.  Traveling with an infant involved a lot more planning than any previous vacation my husband and I have taken.  I did tons of research and made a few mistakes, but learned that it's really not so bad, as long as you know what you're doing.  So here is everything I learned from my experience, all in one place for you!

Making travel reservations: Flights are cheapest on Tuesdays.  They are far more on the weekends, up to double the Tuesday price!  If your baby is under 2, he can sit in your lap for free, but he needs to be on your reservation.  So I booked my husband and I tickets on a travel website (we used Orbitz) and then called the airline, gave them my confirmation number, and they added Little Man to my reservation for free.  We packed our carseat base in the suitcase and carried on our stroller and carseat, which attaches to it (it's a free carry-on.)  I found out later this was unnecessary because car rental companies do rent carseats, which I didn't know.  So call the car rental company and see what they have available.

Carrying on: I packed my diaper bag like I normally would and added my Moby wrap.  Your arms will get tired on a long flight holding the baby if you don't bring a sling or carrier of some kind.  We brought our stroller right to the gate, and they put it under the plane for us.  If you want to bring breastmilk or formula, the TSA makes a special exception for the 3 oz liquids limit for those, you just have to take them out of your carry-on and show them to security.  Little Man fell asleep before we ever took off like he does in the car, and when he got fussy because his ears were popping, I just nursed him and he was fine.  I sat by the window and had my Moby for privacy, so I had no problem.  And if you're wondering about changing the baby on the plane, there is a fold-down table in the bathroom.  It's tiny, so just grab a diaper, the wipes, and your changing cushion and leave the bag.

What to bring: We were staying with family, and they of course did not have a crib.  No problem, we just made Little Man a pallet on a recliner.  I'm sure there are tons of people who would freak about this, but it was a big sturdy one, and in the reclined position there was no way he could fall out, since he's not rolling over yet.  But if you don't want to do this, you can make a pallet on the floor out of towels, couch cushions, etc.  We didn't want him in the bed with us because one thing I am afraid of is rolling over on him.  Just remember, you have options, and you can always bring a pack and play.  I brought my hand pump and 2 bottles and some clothes, and his bath soap and lotion, but not much else.  I bought diapers and wipes when I arrived. 

The only other advise I have is, don't try to do a hundred things on your trip.  Relax!  If people want to meet the baby, they should come to you!  Because flying an infant 2,000 miles is hard enough, right???

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nursing for Real

Nursing.  I think out of all the parenting decisions we make for our infant, this is one of the most important.  And of course that means there is a ton of online information to go through.  I myself knew I wanted to nurse because allergies run on my husband's side of the family, and I wanted to give my little man the best chance I could at being healthy.  So I researched.  And I researched.  And I researched.  And you know what I found?  Well, first that there are a ton of very opinionated (and often uneducated) blogs that pop up on Google that throw tons of statistics at you.  "Breastfeed 6 month and your baby has X% less a chance of having food allergies."  "Breastfeed 1 year and your baby has X% less a chance of having respiratory infections."  "Breastfeed 2 years and your baby has X% less a chance of having Type 1 Diabetes!"  But the statistics on different websites were all different.  Another fun fact: when formula first came out, it was all the rage, and nursing became taboo, something only poor people did.  Don't believe me?  Ask your mom.

I'm not going to throw any statistics at you, because the end conclusion is the same.  If you can breastfeed, do, because  it is the best existing source of nutrition for your baby, can help you to lose some of those extra baby pounds, and will save you some substantial cash on formula.  But if you want more health info, please don't read blogs.  Go to the American Association of Pediatrics and do your research from an accredited source!

I've heard many women say that they weren't cut out for breastfeeding, just didn't have what it takes, etc.  I never understood this because, well, what did women do before formula?  Maybe they gave them cow's milk, I'm not sure.  I'm not judging, and I don't have the answers.  What I can tell you that for the first 2-3 weeks, it's hard.  Very hard.  And even after it becomes routine, there's always cluster feeding to deal with, and then you will feel like you are chained to your baby because you're the only person who can feed him.  So what can you do?  I'll tell you what I did, I hope it helps you.

Since my baby was in NICU and I was in the hospital for a week after having little man, we had both unique difficulties and unique opportunities to take advantage of.  I had to have C-section because Little Man was what they called "Sunny Side-up", or facing forward.  And since he was in NICU, I couldn't nurse him for a few days.  So by the time they let me try, he was used to a bottle, and just did not want to nurse.  It was unbelievable frustrating.  I was sore from trying, and since we were still required to supplement him with formula, he didn't try very hard to latch because he got the bottle in the end anyway. 

The lactation department at the hospital tried to help with a Medela nipple shield.  It's like a bottle nipple that you put over your own to help the baby transition.  The combination of that and lanolin helped, but it was kind of hard to use.  You have to hold it on and it's constantly falling off... but it did help both with Little Man's latching and my soreness.  That seems to be one of the main reasons women stop nursing, and for about $5, I would definetely recommend you try it before you give up.

Holding the baby in a position he likes also helps.  One of the nurses helped me with this.  If your little one isn't happy in a cradle hold, try a football hold.  Once he learns to latch, you could hold him upside-down for all he cares and he could still find your nipple.  My husband laughs sometimes because if Little Man is really hungry and I'm holding him, he'll flail around until he finds a breast and try to nurse right through my shirt, often in public.  It's pretty comical.  He's even given me bruises on my arms from trying to suck on them if he can't get to a breast.  Impatient little guy!

An electric pump helps too.  If you just can't breastfeed, consider pumping and bottle feeding him your milk.  The number of hours Little Man sleeps at night seems to be directly proportional to how much he drinks before he goes to sleep.  So often I will feed him a bottle of pumped milk at night, and pump another bottle once he goes to sleep, so I can control how much he has before drifting off.  Since I'm completely draining myself at night, it seems to help increase my supply as well. 

But I found that going out in public was impossible, because while I could bring a bottle, I would still have to pump every few hours or I would be in quite a bit of pain.  And the electric pump is pretty cumbersome.  So I got an inexpensive, small manual pump.  It's great for travel too.  It comes with 2 small storage bottles, a stand (which I never use), a size small guard, and a nipple.  I don't like the nipple, Little Man collapses it.  So I just use the storage containers.  I keep it in the diaper bag so I have it wherever I go.

Nursing clothing is another real issue.  Nursing bras are expensive, and not all of them are practical.  There are side-sling and full-sling, one is just a strap and one is a hole in front, different websites seem to confuse them, I just know that the strap is best because it doesn't compress your milk ducts.  And absolutely NO underwire!  I don't even know why them make them with underwire, but they do, so beware!  They cause mastitis.  That being said, the Bravado body silk is the best one I've found.  It's pricey, but my hospital lactation department had them for a better price than I found online.  And I found a really smart idea for super-easy DIY nursing tanks.  Me, I'm out on maternity leave, and even after my milk came in, I'm still only a C-cup, so I opt to wear just a bra-top cami sans bra.  I bought a couple from my local maternity store, and not only were they expensive, but they fit weird.  I thought, if only I could just buy the little clips, I could hand-sew them on!  Well, here they are, and for only $0.95 each, what a deal!  Even I can manage this tiny amount of hand-sewing.

Now for the controversial issue: public nursing.  My opinion is that of course it's perfectly acceptable and most teenage girls show off more skin in public than a nursing woman, but in practice, well, I just never see anyone else doing it, and I'm so afraid of flashing someone, so it makes me uncomfortable.  I've got a Moby, but I'm not very good with it yet.  Once I am maybe it will be easier.  Until then, I go to my car or a public bathroom.  However, if anyone ever said something to another woman doing it in plain sight, I'd be the first to come to her defense!  I'm such a wuss.

I think the only issue I haven't covered it nursing after you go back to work.  I plan to nurse for 12 months.  I'm going to pump at work.  At least, that's the plan.  We'll see how it goes when the time comes.  Until then, I'll just enjoy my time with Little Man!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Baby Registry: What you REALLY need

After the birth of my little man, just like after my wedding, I discovered that the registry lists provided by most stores are completely overkill compared to what you actually need.  Or at least what I needed.  Keep in mind I'm a first time mom, and every situation is different.  There are also multiple stages to a baby's life for which they will need completely different things.  And knowing that you won't get more than probably 50-75% of your registry list, I would start with the things you will need first!  I would also register twice, once at a baby specialty store like Buy Buy Baby or Babies R Us, and then a discount store like Target or Wal-mart.  So keeping all this in mind, this is what I needed for the first 6 weeks:

1. 15-20 burp cloths.  You'll need at least one or two a day.
2. Diapers.  I'd register for 1 box (100 count) of size newborn, and 4 boxes of size 1's.  You can register for more if you want, any store will trade them for another size.  But know this: different stores carry different size boxes (96 instead of 106 etc.) that you can't return to another store.  So ask for gift receipts, and if you don't get them, look up the sku number before you try to take them back. Try Amazon Mom for diapers.  They send them to you on a subscription basis so you never have to run out to get them!  Such a life saver for the busy mom.
3. Wipes.  I've tried a few brands, and Huggies Natural Care  are the best.  Pampers are too thin, Regular Huggies aren't wet enough.
4. Diaper rash cream.  Desitin can be very irritating for infants, instead try an organic variety like this.
5. 0-3 month sleepers and AVOID buttons.  You want zippers.  Squirmy babies make it difficult to line up buttons.  I didn't like the ones with the elastic at the bottom either because you have to pull them over the baby's head.  Little man didn't like that!  You'll need 7-8, depending on how often you do laundry.
6. A bath gift set.  It'll have anything you need for a bath.  We tried Johnson & Johnson, but Little Man had sensitive skin and broke out in rashes when we used it, so we use Shea Moisture now.  You can buy it at Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Buy Buy Baby.
7. A DIGITAL bath thermometer.  The ones that change color aren't as accurate.

8. A baby swing.  I couldn't live without mine.  Make sure it plugs in and has shoulder straps.

9. A bottle gift set.  It has everything you need, including multiple nipple sizes.  Some even come with the bottle brush.  I like the Joovy Boob bottles.
 10. A manual breast pump if you plan to nurse.  You may need the electric one (you can rent one from the hospital for pretty cheap), but you'll need the manual for when you're out or if you're traveling and the electric one isn't an option to carry around.  Nowadays your insurance is required to provide an electric one.  You usually have to call them to find out what kinds they offer.
11. Carseat & stroller (you can get a set, just make sure you can lift/open the stroller by yourself.)

12. 4-6 pacifiers of DIFFERENT varieties.  You may have to try a few different kinds to see which ones your baby likes.  My first child liked the Nubies from the hospital.  My second will only take a Mam, and then only begrudgingly.
13. 10+ socks.  I use mine as no-scratch mittens too because they fit his hands better.
14. A baby bathtub.  I went through a couple, check out my reviews here.
15. An infant recliner or lounger, they are a little expensive but it's basically a portable bed.  I've used mine endlessly.***
16. A backpack style diaper bag - hands free!  Mine has an insulated bottle compartment and a portable changing pad and was under $30 at Babies R Us.
17. Wipe warmer, some people say that these spoil your baby and when you use cold wipes when you are out they will scream...I did not have that experience.  My babies were fine in public.
18. Soft strap covers for your car-seat and stroller.  I use these little teddy-bear velcro cushions strapped to the shoulder straps, they work much better than the ones that came with it.
19. A carseat mirror so you can see the baby in the back seat.
20. Baby detergent and dryer sheets, and some stain spray for diaper leaks.
21. Foam hand sanitizer to put on the changing table.
22. A changing table cushion and a couple washable covers.
23. A few baby blankets
24. A swaddler blanket - I'd say a few but my little man loved his for 2 weeks then hated it.  So if you want, register for more and then take them back if you don't need them.
25.  10-12 onesies, and one collared jumper.  You really won't need much else for a while.  And most people are going to get you clothes not on your registry list.  Here's some more advice - don't remove tags or wash any clothes that are the next size up yet.  You may get too many in one size or get 0-3 sweaters when your baby is born in July etc etc etc, and if you need to trade up you need them to have the tags on!
26. A baby monitor with a portable viewer.  It's so nice to be able to see and hear your baby, I don't know what our parents did without them!
27. Nursing pillow
28. A sleep sheep or other soothing noise maker
29. Gas drops.  I only use these when I'm out, when I'm in I have a natural trick.  My mother-in-law taught it to me.  Make some bay-leaf tea.  Steep 2 leaves per 8-ounces of water, and keep a bottle at the ready in the fridge!  It works like a charm.  (If you worry that the leaves are poisonous, read this.
30. Gripe water
31. Ear or temporal thermometer.  Because I wouldn't want my temperature taken rectally, and I'm sure my baby wouldn't appreciate it either.
32. A soft baby brush, aspirator, and nail clippers, you can get a little grooming kit if you want, I only use those three items out of mine, but the little bag is very convenient for carrying around all the items I do use!
33. A kneel cushion for baths
34. If you don't already have them, a good camera and a small video camera, I have a Canon Rebel and a Flip.
35. Baby books.  When your friends send out shower invites, request that people buy you a baby book instead of a card.  You'll just throw the cards away, and at $3-4 a pop, you can get a cute book instead!
36. A nursing wrap
37. A bottle warmer, even if you're nursing, for the milk you store
38. A crib and mattress and bedding set, changing table, and glider.  Walmart has great prices on gliders. 
39. I don't have a dresser because the nursery is small, so I use closet hanging organizers.
40. A 'mommy hook' for the stroller to carry bags/purse.
41. A good diaper pail and refills. 
42. Baby hangers
43. A hamper and trash can, we just use some we already had.

And really, that's all I've used.  My baby was born in the summer so I didn't need any warm weather clothes yet.  I'm nursing so I didn't need formula.  I didn't register for nursing bras and tanks because you need to wait to get measured after your milk comes in.  (By the way, Medela side sling are the best, the kind with the holes in front can cause mastitis, OUCH!)  You'll notice I didn't have towels or washcloths on it.  Because really, yours work better anyway.  I know I'll need other things later like a bath seat, toys, a high chair, etc., and I do have some of those things, but I don't need them yet.  I'll keep posting as I go along.

***NOTE!!!  The Nap Nanny has been recalled, the company, Baby Matters, is no longer in business.  Read about it here.  Most recalls come from parents not following the manufacturer's instructions, this and the Bumbo chair being the most glaring.  Please read and follow all manufacturer's warnings on all of your baby products.