21 Months, 2 Weeks

Henry does seem to be feeling better, but his lower GI difficulties are hanging around. Unfortunately we had just gotten over the last bout when this stomach ailment came around so i'm expecting another 3 weeks of gross diapers. Boy, will we be happy for spring!

We had Henry's final surgery follow-up visit today and it took about 1 minute-- long enough for the Doctor to say that everything looked great. Yeah, one less Doctor to be seeing! I'm just hoping that this concludes the portion of Henry's life where he needs surgery. And, here's to a surgery-free Silas-- i'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed.

Henry and I have swim class again today. Hopefully they've got the water heater cranked up because it's super cold here this week. I talked to Henry about going swimming when i picked him up and he seemed to remember what i was talking about and be excited about it. He had therapy tomorrow morning and hopefully it will be a good session and not one horrendous hour of crying.

Today's picture is of one of Henry's newest accomplishments. If toys fall under the couch, we use a closet rod or "stick" as Henry says to fish them out. Henry now opens the armoire, grabs the stick and attempts to get the toys out on his own. He's very excited about this and as long as the stick is on the ground it's usually all good. Once he stands up with that thing though you immediately have to intervene or anything within a 3 foot diameter gets wacked!


21 Months, 1 Week, 6 Days

Yuck-- that pretty much sums up our weekend. I'm referring her to the stomach bug that Henry came down with on Saturday night. After a brief spice-shopping expedition we headed to apho restaurant that we've lately discovered that's actually quite good (we've been searching for good Pho in Chicago since we moved here). While there Henry had two bouts of acute diarrhea. Unfortunately-- no changing table in the restroom. We did our best, ate as quickly as possible and headed home.

He had a few more bouts before bed and after a quick bath went to sleep by
about 8. Later that night the real fun started around 11:30 with morediarrhea and then waves of vomiting from about 1:30 to 3:00. I'm not sure whether it was a good thing or not but the only thing he had eaten for dinner was a strawberry smoothie. Things weredayglo but i'm sure it could have been worse.

He finally fell asleep with JT in the guestroom around 3:00 and slept until 8. I got up with him then and he acted like everything was fine. The diarrhea kept up and was just plain severe all day but no temperature and his temperament was pretty normal. He took a standard 2 hour nap butseemed pretty exhausted by bedtime and went to sleep early. We were waiting to see how last night went before we made a decision about daycare today. He slept through the night and didn't seem to have any more gross

We waited to talk to the nurse this morning at the Peds office and she said as long as he didn't have a temperature that he was okay to go to daycare-- but to remind them about the importance ofhandwashing since he's contagious only through actually touching the gross diapers.

I took him to Brenda's and gave them a full explanation and told her to just call if anything changed and/or she needed me to come get him. Hopefully this spate of gross diapers won't last as long as the last one!


21 Months, 1 Week, 1 Day

Yesterday was swim class day and Henry is making some real strides. He's still not the baby splashing around and squealing (that would be Ellie who we're getting to know), but yesterday he was excited about swim class when i asked him about it, and his body was completely relaxed the whole class. He was comfortable enough that he'd float with his legs out behind him rather while i supported him under his arms, rather than his normal pose of legs wrapped tightly around me. He even put his arms over a floatydumbbell and let me just hold his hands while he floated out in front of me. All of these are things that have caused him some real distress in the past, but yesterday he took it all in stride.

I'm hoping that by the end of the class he'll be more comfortable and really looking forward to swimming this summer (which hopefully we'll be able to manage once Silas is here).

I'm hoping that JT will be able to come to the class next week and take some pictures, because i can't exactly photograph him while i'm supporting him and immersed in the water.

Speaking of pictures, i've run dry, but i can share my new "signature" that i'm using on my message board-- thanks Tammy!


21 Months, 6 Days

You may notice that the last several posts have been copies of the "baby roundtable" missives i've been sending to a group of new and experienced parents. I posted them
all to my blog and then created permanent links to these posts so that they will be a resource to other parents that aren't participating in the "live" version of the roundtable. You can find the links by looking in the sidebar on the right.

Henry will have quite a treat when i pick him up from Ms. Brenda's today. My mom spent Sunday with us and then headed out to the suburbs where she's been attending a conference. The conference wrapped up this afternoon so she's on her way out to stay with us tonight. Henry has added "Nonna" to the list of people that he asks about so i know he'll be exited to see her. It's funny though because he has a tounge twist when he says "Nonna"-- literally. I can't do the pronunciation justice in writing but it's pretty fun to watch.

Roundtable- Baby Gear- Baby Lounging/ Entertainment

During this time your baby isn’t going to need much in the way of entertainment, but it is nice to have a place that you can put the baby when you need your hands-free, and it’s a bonus if the baby actually enjoys being there.

Personally I think a bouncer is pretty universally appreciated item of baby gear. This is a little baby seat that is a bit springy so as they get more active they can actually bounce themselves by kicking, or you can bounce them by using your foot. Even really basic ones now have vibration or some music built in which your baby may or may not appreciate (ours didn’t). When they’re really little they can sleep in the bouncer and also hang out and play there. A lot of bouncers now have all kinds of souped-up toys built in, either in a toy-bar that goes across the seat, or on a mini-mobile. At least a basic bar is kind of nice because then you have a place to clip your own toys on as the baby’s interests change. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy the most expensive bouncer though because really they just need a comfortable place to hang out that’s mildly entertaining. We also had a variation on the bouncer which was called the “baby papasan” by fisher price. It didn’t bounce but was just a really soft and cushy little angled seat for babies. Henry loved this thing and spent a lot of time in it, especially at the beginning. He had reflux and had to sleep at a 45 degree angle which the papasan chair provided. We just put him in the chair and put it in his crib at night. If you have two floors, it’s nice to have at least one place on each floor to put the baby, so you might think about two bouncers, or a bouncer and a papasan-type chair.

Lots of people swear by a swing for babies and tell you they would have been lost without them. Most babies are lulled asleep by the rocking motion. I believe almost all (if not all) swings that are sold today are battery operated (maybe some with ac power) so you don’t have that annoying feature our parents had of having to re-wind the swing up manually just as the baby is about to fall asleep. I will say that not ALL babies love the swing and ours was one of them. He tolerated it kinda. The main thing I would suggest is buying a swing marketed as a “travel” swing. These are usually low to the ground and fold up. I can’t imagine actually traveling with it, but it takes up a helluva lot less room than a full-size swing, especially if you don’t know if your baby is really going to love it. They make fancier swings that are almost like a cradle—they go from side to side and back and forth. If you’ve got room for a full-size swing and fall in love with it—go for it, but if none of those apply just get the most basic one you can find. One thing to consider—it’s nice to have a swing that is either open on top, or that has a bar overhead that flips out of the way so that you can get the baby in and out of the swing without having to contort you or the baby so their head doesn’t get bumped.

Another crucial baby lounger/entertainer in my book is the baby gym. This is generally a square playmate with bars that criss-cross over the mat which hold a few toys that dangle down. The more basic models are really designed for the baby to lay on their back and have stuff to look-at/reach for. I’ve seen a lot of the newer/fancier ones that have more activities built-in that would apply if that baby was on their stomach as well. I think this is a feature worth considering because the babies need to be on their stomachs a good deal, and the more entertainment they have while they’re hanging out in that position the better. I have noticed they sell separate “tummy time” mats, but this way you wrap two up with one.

For the first 3 months, babies don’t need a whole lot in the way of “toys” because they’re enamored with each new thing they can actually focus on and see. They’ll love your face, looking at the light, watching things held close to them etc. It’s nice to have a few rattles and some babies really dig the little wrist and ankle rattles that babies can wear. They also make socks with rattles built in called “rattle toes” which are cute. A mirror made to stand up that baby can look into when they’re on their stomach is often a winner and some babies like really soft little stuffed animals this early as well. Most of the toys marketed at this age are soft and they make some kind of little noise- a crinkle or a squeak. There’s lot of cute stuff so I would register for some and just see what you get. You’ll always be able to fill your collection in once your baby is here and you learn what they really like.

Roundtable- Baby Gear- Clothing

Gowns are the one-piece outfits that are open on the bottom, although they’re gathered with elastic. They make diaper changing really easy at night (you’re not fumbling with snaps, zippers, or god forbid, buttons). Many gowns have built-in mittens which you fold over a newborn’s hands to keep them from scratching themselves (especially in that 2 week period before you cut their nails).
We actually dressed Henry exclusively in gowns for about the first 2 weeks because we didn’t feel ready to “graduate” to putting on other clothes. I do really recommend them for nighttime, but they tend to ride up a lot when you’re holding them during the day so don’t be afraid to branch out into sleep-n-plays. If the gowns sound like something you’d be interested in using I’d try to register for 6-8. I believe they often come in 2-3 packs.

I’m not sure this is the real name of these, but they are the one-piece outfits, with or without feet, that zip or snap all the way up. They’re usually really soft cotton or terry. These are great for during the day because they’re very soft and comfortable and generally don’t having any doodads or scratchy things to get annoying or make the baby uncomfortable. They’re basically pajamas, but they’re acknowledged as “clothes” so if you have a thing about your baby being “dressed” during the day these are a great compromise—the baby is dressed but comfortable. Again I would recommend 6-8 of these.

Onesies come in short and long-sleeve. You’ll probably want some of both depending on when your baby is due and what the weather is generally doing at that time of year. Onesies are great because babies can wear them alone when it’s warm enough, or as a layer underneath outfits, or with a pair of pants when it’s a bit cooler. Onesies are more practical than shirts when the babies are tiny because the onesies stay put and don’t continually bunch up. These usually come in packs of threes and again I would get 6-8 to start.

Side-snap Shirts

Although in general I preferred onsies to t-shirts, it was nice to have some side-snap shirts—especially at the beginning when the umbilical cord is still on. Side-snap shirts are also nice to use at first because you don’t have to pull anything over the baby’s head which can take a little getting used to. That said, they’re not always easy to find. I’d buy 1-2 packs to try and see if you like them.

If it’s still going to be cool when your baby is born I would get a couple pair of pants (2-3) in basic colors. Paired with a onesie this can be a really comfortable, easy outfit that’s easy to layer more onto if it’s really cold. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy shorts if your baby is going to be born during the warmer months. They come as part of the zillion cute outfits you’re likely to receive as gifts.

You’ll need some socks and a few hats—but you’ll probably get both for gifts as well, especially hats. Depending on what you decide to dress your baby in, a lot of their clothes will be footed at the beginning so you won’t need a zillion pairs of socks. That said baby socks are notoriously easy to lose. I would say 8-10 pair would probably be plenty. Eventually you’ll need some of the small “drool” bibs for when babies start to drool all the time around 3-4 months, or if your baby spits up a lot from the beginning. I’m not sure on amount—probably somewhere in the area of 6 to start with. Then you can see if you need to expand your holdings depending on your baby’s needs.

Homecoming Outfit
A homecoming outfit is something special you pick out to dress your baby in for their first trip home from the hospital. If you’re the kind of person that really enjoys “prepping” for special occasions than have a ball trying to find the perfect outfit. I would suggest buying a preemie and newborn sized outfit. If you have a small baby (somewhere around 7.5 lbs or less) they’ll be swimming in the newborn stuff at first, but the preemie clothes will fit great and they’ll look super-cute for pictures. If the list of everything you have to “get” before this baby arrives has already stressed you out, please give yourself permission to skip this item. I fell into the first camp, I’m a planner and organizer by nature and I really enjoyed gathering everything together for the baby. That said, on the day I came home from the hospital I could have cared less what Henry was wearing. We did dress him in the outfit I brought and he did look mighty cute but I just cared about being able to get into the car and up the steps to our condo and into BED. So don’t sweat this one—it won’t be the most important thing by a mile you’ll do or not do for your baby.

I mentioned preemie and newborn sizes in the section above. Unless you’re expecting to have your baby really early (medical reason for a scheduled c-section), I wouldn’t buy more than one or two outfits in the preemie size because even small (full-term) babies will grow out of these very quickly. The standard size you’ll receive for gifts is “newborn” or 0-3 months. Depending on your baby, how big they are at birth, and how quickly they grow, this size will fit them for a few months, or they’ll outgrow them before you even get the tags off. If you have the opportunity I would ask people to buy some things in 3-6 month size and if you’re compelled to buy some “cute” outfits for your baby, I would start-off buying 3-6 month sizes.

Baby Hangers
Maybe you have a dresser that you plan to use to store most of your baby’s clothes. We have a small dresser in our son’s room and use it to store all the blankets, sheets, changing table covers, socks, hats, etc. but we hang all of his actual clothes. If you plan to hang anything, you’ll want to buy some baby hangers because your normal adult-size ones will just be too big for all those tiny clothes. We use medium sized binder clips to hang pants from the hangers and they work like a charm.

Roundtable- Baby Gear- Bathing/Grooming/Health

The main item to buy related to bathing is a baby bathtub. The main reason to have/use a baby bathtub is that it can be convenient to bathe a tiny infant in a smaller tub you can have next to the sink or on the floor or just about any other surface you want to put the tub on. That said, tubs aren’t the most expensive thing you’ll buy and most of them aren’t exactly water-tight. Plus they’re pretty heavy and difficult to carry without sloshing water all over once they’re filled. So, you’re most likely going to use the tub a) IN your sink b) next to your sink or c) on the floor near your sink or bathtub. You can also put the tub inside your big tub but until your baby gets a little older or unless you have super long arms, that will kill your back to lean over.
There are basically three kinds of baby bathtubs—plastic ones, mesh sling-type chairs and blow-up mini baby pool types. The plastic ones are the most common and probably the easiest to find. The thing is the bath is something your baby may take to right away or may hate for a very long time. We ultimately abandoned our baby bathtub after the screaming fits weren’t getting any better during bath time. We started taking baths with Henry and while he didn’t become a bath convert right away he was much more comfortable being held rather than feeling adrift in the open water.
I think it’s possible the sling chair or blow-up baby baths would provide a more secure feeling. Their drawbacks as I see them are that the chair is designed to sit in your sink or bathtub and you fill up the normal sink bowl or bathtub with water. You still have the issue of having to lean over the bathtub if that’s where you’re bathing and you have to use a lot of water to fill the tub up enough that the baby isn’t just sitting out there freezing. The blow-up thing would be fine but I wasn’t really that excited about having a blow-up pool stuffed somewhere in my house for several months. You wouldn’t really be able to blow it up and deflate it every time you wanted to give a bath (at least I wouldn’t have!) so you’d have to find a place to store it which is a real concern for us.
Rather than not buy a tub at all this time, we decided to register for another plastic tub but one that comes with an “infant mesh sling.” This is a little mesh hammock that lays in the tub and is used when the baby is itty bitty. I think it might help with feeling more cradled, without having to take a bath WITH Silas every time he needs to get clean.

Towels and Washcloths
You need some hooded towels and some baby washcloths. These were both items I was convinced were a total waste—what’s wrong with just using a regular towel and washcloth? The problem is that at the beginning their skin is pretty delicate and they are very tiny and adult sized towels and wash cloths are just too big and rough. Having 2 towels is nice so that you have some rotation ability. Having 6 washcloths (or more) is nice because you’ll use at least 2 for each bath (one for face and body and one for the genitals). One note—I would actually try to register for towels that maybe have a closer weave than your adult towel but which actually have some noticeable “plush” to them. We got a ton of baby towels that were more like a blanket than a towel—there was no fiber to soak anything up (even though they were soft) and they just pushed the water all around.

Body Wash/Shampoo
You’ll probably get some samples of the major brands at your birthing class (if it’s through a hospital) or in a packet when you leave the hospital. This is nice because you can try different ones to see what you seem to like. The main thing is that especially at the beginning, babies need the mildest soap/shampoo you can use. They don’t have much “toxic” going on that you need to aggressively clean up and their skin is sensitive. In fact just using water is fine if your baby doesn’t spit-up much or have other messes on them. You want to wash the face first and don’t want to use any soap on the face. You can use one product for both the body and hair—if your baby has any at the beginning.

You’ll need a pair of nail clippers and/or nail scissors (although you won’t use them for at least 2 weeks after the baby is born), a nose bulb, a thermometer, and some basic medicines. It’s not a bad idea to have a pair of both baby nail clippers and the scissors so you can see which you feel (slightly) more comfortable using on your baby. You don’t cut their nails until at least 2 weeks after they’re born because they’re so soft at the beginning you’ll wind up cutting their fingers instead of the nail. I’ve never met a first time-parent that wasn’t squeamish/terrified of cutting their baby’s nails, so give yourself all the options you can.
You’ll also need a nose bulb to help suck out their mucus (they don’t learn to blow their nose for awhile—in fact, anyone know when they DO learn to blow their own nose?) There are basically two kinds—one that has a blunt end and one that has a long tapered end. They both work well but the blunt end one looks less menacing—you can be sure you won’t suck out their brains by accident with that.
Thermometers should be straight-forward but aren’t. If your baby is really sick and you have to call the Doctor—they’re going to want to know a rectal temperature. This means you need a basic digital thermometer that says something about being safe to use orally, rectally, etc. You want to buy the thermometer with the quickest “compute” time so you don’t have to hold that thing anywhere longer than you have to. You can also use the thermometer under their arm, although this is considered much less reliable. Additionally there are forehead scan thermometers, pacifier thermometers, and ones that go in the ear. We had an expensive forehead thermometer and although our Doctor’s office used one, our consumer brand gave us wildly variant readings. I’d take my temperature and it would say 93.8 then a few seconds later and I was back up to 106—we pretty much decided it was unreliable and then Henry dropped it. Now we just use an inexpensive digital one and stick it under Henry’s arm (knock on wood, he’s not been much for fevers so far.)
I think it doesn’t hurt to have a few medicines around before the baby is born so that the first time they get sick you aren’t frantic (well, you’ll probably be frantic anyway, but at least you won’t be frantically driving to the drugstore!) I would buy infant Tylenol, infant decongestant, infant benedryl and some anti-gas drops. You might also want to buy some pedialyte to have on hand.

You may have strong feelings one way or the other about using babies and pacifiers. Even if you really don’t plan to use any with your baby, you might consider buying one or two to have on hand just in case things don’t work out the way you want. Some babies really need to and are very good at sucking and the pacifier can satisfy them in a way nothing else can’t. Other babies never take to a pacifier, so like everything else it’s a bit of a crap-shoot. Still if you’re having one of those nights where nothing seems to soothe the baby, having one on hand can at least let you feel like you tried everything. Pacifiers are sized, so just make sure to buy the 0-3 month ones so they aren’t way too big.

Roundtable- Baby Gear- Feeding

If you are planning to bottle feed, or breast-feed, but have someone give your baby a bottle at some point, you’ll need to have a few bottles around before the baby is born. We didn’t really give a bottle until probably around 2 months and Henry didn’t routinely take them until he was at daycare at 4 months, so someone with more extensive bottle feeding experience should feel free to jump in here.
Not all babies will take to just any bottle, so I wouldn’t actually spend that much time deciding what bottle or bottle system YOU like. I would buy one or two bottles of a few brands that look reasonable in the store to you or that someone recommends. Then I would see how the baby reacts and buy more of them if your baby seems to do well with the ones you bought. If your baby balks at the bottle you bought, you may need to try lots of different ones before your baby finds the one they like.
You can wash your bottles on the top rack of the dishwasher or in hot soapy water. Most Docs now tell you you don’t have to sanitize the bottles by boiling them or anything like that. A bottle brush helps if you’re hand-washing and a little dishwasher caddy helps to contain all the nipples and small bottle pieces if you’re using a dishwasher.
If you’re planning on bottle-feeding with formula, you’ll need to have some of that on hand. I really don’t know much about all the different types of formula—I just know that the more convenient to use it is, the more expensive it is. Meaning the cheapest is powder that you buy in canisters and mix with water; then there’s the cans of concentrated formula that is pre-mixed but to which you add water, finally there is the ready-to-drink kind of formula that you just pour into the bottle and go. I believe I read that all formula has to meet pretty restrictive federal guidelines so there’s not actually a whole lot of difference between one brand or another. I think the main things to figure out are with iron or without and regular milk formula or soy formula—this stuff I leave to other people to comment on, or better yet ask your Dr.

I would stress from experience, even if you are planning to breastfeed, you should have a few bottles around. Like Tamra said, babies don't always see things the way we do so even if we think it's the best bottle (etc. ) in the store, they might not be happy with it. So don't go crazy and buy a bunch but a few of a different kind (keep the receipts in case you hit on THE ONE the first go round).

The same goes for formula, have a few of the premade cans around, just in case you have to supplement in the very beginning. I'm sure this will come as a topic for discussion later.

A dishwasher caddy is an essential in our house and we have not used bottles for some time now. This is a HUGE timesaver for working Mom but in the very beginning, there may be something primal that tells you to BOIL the nipples, along with your pedi. It's Ok go with it if you have time, and especially if you have a breast pump which will need cleaning. I used a giant stockpot every night and had a baby bottle etc. witches brew going for a few minutes. Dump it into a colander and let dry, tada, instant sanitizing, for me anyway.

Breast Milk Bags/Bottles
If you’re planning on breast feeding and at some point you think you’ll be expressing (pumping) some milk, you’ll need some kind of milk storage receptacles. Keep in mind that even if you’re staying home for a year with your baby and plan to breast-feed diligently, you might like to have some expressed milk on hand for someone else to feed your child so you can get a break. As far as milk storage goes, you can either buy storage bottles or bags. Depending on what kind of bottles you settle on, you can find storage bottles that use the same nipples so that you can just pop a nipple on the storage bottle without having the transfer the contents to your normal bottle. If you’re planning on pumping much, i.e. you’d like to build up a serious supply, i’d go with the milk storage bags. They’re a lot cheaper, and they take up less room in your fridge or freezer because you can lay them flat and stack them on top of each other. The best kind have a Ziploc top. We used Lansinoh storage bags and they worked great.

Breast Pads
If you’re planning on breast-feeding you will leak milk, at least at the beginning. Your best friend will be some good breast pads. Breast pads come in disposable or washable options. I’m a fairly environmental/crunchy person but I’ll tell you, at least for me, the washable ones were fairly terrible. They didn’t contain nearly enough liquid, they weren’t big enough in diameter, so they stick right on top of your breasts and make you look like you’re wearing some kind of pasties under your shirt. I loved the Lansinoh disposable brand. They have a huge absorption capacity and they’re big enough that they cover your whole breast so they don’t show up under your shirts. Buy at least 1 big box pre-baby and know that you’ll be back to the store frequently for more.

Nursing Bras
If you’re nursing, it really, really helps to have some nursing bras. I would recommend waiting to buy them until you actually have the baby though, because your breasts will change sizes and you’ll want to get some that actually fit.

Breast Pump

If you think you’re going to be serious about breast-feeding you’ll probably want a pump. Pumps are either manual or electric. If you’re just going to be expressing a bottle of milk now and then and you think you’ll primarily be feeding your baby directly until you stop breast-feeding, a hand-pump/manual pump would probably work fine for you. These are very inexpensive. I will say that I personally never got them to work but that was probably my own short-coming.
If you plan to keep breastfeeding after you head back to work or you are really set on pumping enough that your partner can give a certain daily feeding, you should seriously consider an electric breastpump. I believe the most popular brand is Medela (which is what we had) and these things aren’t cheap. I think they’re in the neighborhood of $200-$300 new. The best kinds will have all the parts so that you can pump both breasts at the same time. You’ll want one that plugs in although a battery option can be nice for travel. Remember that you’ll be lugging this thing to work so you want something as compact as possible.

I have a medela double electric breast pump and I think if you are planning on working or at least being active or getting any amount of sleep, you need one. You may not need the fully electric version depending on what your lifestyle is but if you want to work and pump at work, you need electric power. I'm sure this will come up so I won't go in detail but we used bottles. Working away from home, with the double electric pump, bottles were the best choice for me. They fit right into the specialized compartment so I could carry home my milk everyday. Plus, you can wash these and reuse. Probably the best solution is a combo, bags in the beginning when you are at home to save milk and bottles when you are at work away from home.

Feeding Pillow
When you’re feeding the baby it’s nice to have some kind of pillow to be able to lay them on and help raise them up a bit (especially if you’re breast-feeding). A lot of people use the boppy for this purpose. You can also just use a regular bed pillow. I know I’ve heard that one problem with the boppy is that if you’re on the bigger side or don’t lose that much weight right after birth, it can be hard to get the boppy around you. We had a regular bed pillow we used and it worked great.

I have a boppy, it was far better to use the regular pillow with a nice cover.

Highchair/Booster Chair
A little down the road, you’ll use some type of highchair to feed your child—especially once they start solids. Highchairs can generally be folded-up, raised and lowered, and the seat can be reclined—which can be nice if you’re using one more as a hang-out spot for your little one. They also take up some serious space and can be hard to clean. Another option is a booster seat. This is very similar to a high-chair (they come with a seat back and tray) but you just strap it to an existing chair. They obviously take up less space and I’ve even seen some new ones that have a recline feature as well. We have only ever used a booster seat and are glad we did. One really nice feature is that the entire thing can go in the dishwasher so if it’s just too gross to really get clean I throw it in the dishwasher and it comes out totally clean with very little effort on my part.

We have a Graco highchair with a removable tray that can go in the dishwasher. If you have space and or nice furniture, a highchair is nice. We have neither but went the highchair route anyway. I wish I'd bought the little strap on boosters Tamra is talking about but we don't have nice chairs either.


Q: I have a couple of questions about storing milk. Do you know how long your milk is good for if you freeze or refrigerate it? Also, with the storage bags, I am assuming you defrost an entire bag at a time - are there any devices to transfer the milk from the bag to the bottles? I imagine transferring gets quite messy.

A: Monette and I have a lot of experience in the storage of fresh breast milk. In a deep freezer, you can store milk up to 6 months. In your regular run-of-the-mil freezer, if you store it near the back, it can last up to 3 months (do not store it on the side door). Be careful not to contaminate the breast milk, or it gets sour quickly, or you can give your baby a yeast infection, or if you both bottle feed and breast feed, you can give yourself a yeast infection. Monette has a high amount of lipase in her milk, so we learned the hard way. All of the milk she stored without scalding it first, went sour after defrosting. After scalding, and then freezing, it was good. Fresh milk can stay out at room temperature for about 2 hours. In the fridge for almost a week, but I wouldn't go past 4 days without using it. There are a lot of information on this subject on the Internet. Yes, you do defrost an entire bag at a time. Never refreeze the milk, or it will go rancid. We hardly used the bags because the hospital gave us really nice sterilized plastic jars with lids. They were perfect to stack and store without worrying about puncturing them or leaking.

A: In my experience it wasn’t a big deal to transfer from the bags to the bottles because they bags have a little “spout” area built in to them. We did have some bottles and I preferred those but I had up 30+ containers of milk in the freezer at one time, and we just eventually ran out of bottles. I also found it nice to just be able to throw the used bags away rather than having to wash the bottles out.

If you’re freezing your milk you want to rotate your stock, i.e. put the newer milk at the back and pull from the front to use. The bags have a place to write the date on them with a sharpie. We found that the blue painters tape with a sharpie works well on the bottles—it stays on in the freezer but pulls off without leaving any residue when you’re ready to wash.

Roundtable- Baby Gear- Diapering

The biggest decision to make around the topic of diapering and changing is what kind of diapers to use. You might be like me and just assume you were going to use disposable and that’s that—which is fine of course. Or you might be open to considering cloth—either way I’ll outline the basics of both as well as things like where to change the baby and what to do with the diapers once you’re done.
Disposable Diapers
Disposable diapers are convenient and easily available. Each brand fits a little differently and you just don’t know what size or shape baby you’re going to have in advance, so I would advise buying a package or two of newborn size in a couple different brands so that you can experiment and find out what seems to work best for you. I think it’s fairly typical to start-off with a name-brand like Pampers or Huggies and then as the baby gets older switch to something that’s generic and a little cheaper. Newborns typically go through 10-12 diapers a day and that slows down to 8-10 after a bit (maybe 3-5 months or so) and then down to 6-8 after their first birthday (those are really big generalizations, but just to give you an idea). You can get Huggies in bulk at Costco as well as the Costco brand of diapers which we’ve had really good luck with. At least in the Costco brand they don’t have newborn sizes though so you’ll have to wait a bit before you can save a little money that way. The primary disadvantage to disposable diapers is cost. Based on some rough estimates I ran, disposable diapers could run you from $500 to $800 in the first year, depending on what brand you buy.
Cloth Diapers
Not as many people use cloth diapers so you might not know that much about them or think they seem difficult (i.e. pins and rubber pants). Luckily cloth diapers have come a long way and they’re actually pretty straight-forward now once you understand your options. Although there are three main variations (which I’m happy to expand upon if anyone is interested) cloth diapers today consist of an inner “diaper” that actually absorbs everything and an outer cover that is generally layers of cloth with a laminated layer between them to hold the wetness in. You can pretty much only buy cloth diapers on the web (the stuff you find at stores are really just good as burp cloths). Keep in mind that you don’t have to go whole hog one way or the other. We used disposables with Henry until he was 9 months old and then switched to cloth. We still use disposables when we go out, travel and at daycare. Still the cost is less. Based on my estimates a year of cloth diapers (not including washing costs) would be about $380 for the cheapest cloth option.
Diaper Crème
There are all number of different diaper crèmes on the market. They generally fall into two categories—the ones that are petroleum based and the zinc-based ones. The petroleum based ones are some version of yellow and are used as a preventative. The idea being, you slather a layer on the baby to keep the wetness from making contact with their skin. A&D is a pretty reliable standard. The second kind which is zinc-based is for healing diaper rash once you already have it. Zinc-based creams are white just like the lifeguard nose stuff. We’ve had good luck with A&D and Burts Bees.
Changing Station
The decision here is first whether you want to have a specific piece of furniture to use as a changing table or if you are more of a “change anywhere” kind of person. Changing tables can definitely be had inexpensively and some people really like having the extra two shelves for storage of all kinds of baby stuff. They generally come with a changing pad that is on the top “shelf.” The downside to changing tables is that they take up a lot of room and some people wind up switching to the bed or the floor if their baby is particularly wiggly, once they’re bigger.
Another option is to use a low-dresser or other piece of furniture that you already have as a changing table. You can buy the foam changing pads to go on top of the piece of furniture and then if you’re no longer using it as a changing table anymore, you just use the furniture for it’s original intent. Of course this way there are no railings around the baby and if it’s true that you can’t leave the baby on a standard changing table without a hand on them—you absolutely can’t leave your baby when they don’t even have that inch tall lip around them.
There are also baby dressers that are now sold with a changing table top (i.e. there are wood railings around the sides) so you combine two pieces into one.
Other people prefer to just use the floor, couch or bed and find it more convenient to be able to change wherever rather than having to go to a dedicated place to change diapers. One thing to consider is that babies sometimes make messes while you’re in the middle of changing them—you’ll want to make sure you have some kind of good water-proof protector on any surface you’re using to make clean-up easier.
Assuming you’re using one of those foam changing pads (either on your changing furniture or on the couch) you’ll need a few covers that go with the pads. I found these got washed pretty frequently and we’ve been really happy to have the 4 pads that we have. I would say that at least two are pretty necessary.

Diaper Pail
I’m not sure what it is about diaper pail marketing but before I knew anything about changing diapers, I had heard of the Diaper Genie. There’s also the Diaper Dekor, and the Diaper Champ rounding out the top of the diaper pail market. We chose the Diaper Champ because I liked that it used regular trash bags (with the other systems you have to buy their refill bags which are pricey) and was easy to use—some of them are actually a little confusing or just physically hard to use until you get the hang of it.
I was actually pretty happy with the Diaper Champ until somewhere after a year. It still held the smell inside well, but heaven forbid you had to open it and change the bag. No amount of bleaching, baking soda, sunlight, or scrubbing could get rid of the absolutely disgusting smell that just imbues the plastic. So, we took a note from our cloth diaper experience and bought a small trash can with a lid and a foot lever. It was about $12 at home depot and works great. It holds the smell in just as well as the Diaper Champ, cost a LOT less, and even if the plastic winds up smelling as bad we can easily replace it without losing any sleep.
Diaper Bag
I feel like diaper bags are similar to slings—there’s absolutely too many makers to give any sense of what’s really out there. You can find all manner of them at boutiques, at Target, online, at Babies-R-Us, etc. The main thing is to find one that a) you like the look of, b) both Mom and Dad won’t mind carrying, c) it’s got the kind of straps you want and d) you think the design of it (i.e. pockets and zippers, etc) seems like it makes sense for what you’ll need to carry.
I think elastic pockets on the outside are great because you can stick a bottle or a sippy cup in them and be able to access it easily. I consider it a must to have either back-pack straps or a courier-type strap so that the bag isn’t falling down my shoulder when I’m trying to balance the baby on the opposite hip. I also tend to pack light so I don’t want something that I could plan a week’s camping trip with. Many diaper bags come with portable changing pads—if the one you like doesn’t definitely plan on registering for this item as well. If it holds some wipes, even better.
Another thing to consider is just finding a bag, any bag that you like and that looks like it would work to carry around the stuff you’ll need. You can add your own portable changing pad and it doesn’t have to be sold as a “diaper bag” for it to work.
At the beginning you’ll need space for more stuff. When you go out you’ll need the changing pad, several diapers, wipes, a pacifier if your baby is taking one, bottles and formula (if you’re not breastfeeding), as well as a change of clothes and at least one light blanket.


Q: Do you put the diaper creme on every time you change the diaper or just at night? I haven't changed many diapers, so the whole process is new to me. Also, how many cloth diapers are you starting off with?

A: I think it depends a lot on the baby how much diaper crème you’re using. Henry doesn’t have particularly sensitive skin and I don’t think he ever had a diaper rash until he started eating solids. We probably used the A&D regular ointment occasionally when he was itty bitty but then since there was never any diaper rash didn’t keep it up. Once he started eating solids and the poop gets worse to have against your skin, he did get some diaper rashes. In that case we would use the A&D zinc ointment every time we changed him (to help heal what he had) and would use the A&D regular ointment anytime his bum started looking a little red.

I know some Docs will tell you to use the regular petroleum jelly preventative kind every diaper change and you’ll never get a rash, but it seems like it just depends a little bit on your baby.

One important note—any kind of diaper crème, but especially the zinc kind can ruin your cloth diapers. If you’re using diaper crème you have to make sure to use paper liners between the diaper and their bum and it also helps to have a little strip of fleece in there as well—just to make sure the crème doesn’t get on the diapers. I can explain this in more detail in person if you’d like.

As far as how many cloth diapers to have. If you are going with the cheapest “system” which is pre-folds (the diapers) and separate covers, I believe they advise 2-3 dozen diapers and 6-8 covers so that you’re doing laundry every other day or so. If you’re not using cloth exclusively you could probably get away with closer to 1-2 dozen diapers, but I would still have the 6-8 covers just to make your life easier.

I would recommend having some disposable diapers on hand even if you’re pretty sure you want to go with cloth for two reasons—the first few days of their life babies’ poop is called meconium and it’s completely disgusting—thick, black and tar-like. I would really suggest using disposable diapers until you’ve moved on to the much less offensive normal stuff that comes next. Also, there’s a lot to adjust to when you have a newborn and you just might not feel up to learning the inns and outs of cloth diapering. That doesn’t mean you should just give up on the idea altogether, but it’s perfectly reasonable to want to get the basics of babycare down before you move on to cloth diapering (which isn’t to say it’s hard really, it’s just probably something you haven’t already done and need to learn a little about.)

A: In the beginning, especially I think if you breastfeed, they really do not need diaper rash cream, although mentally it may make us feel better:). Their pee/poop is not as acidic as when they are older and eating more solids and even then, it depends on what they eat and sensitive their skin is.

There is a really good diaper rash powder called Caldesene, it's not talc based and it has great drying properties without drying out the skin and the risk some say talc powders have. When you reach the point that your baby is eating solids and you are using diaper cream, highly recommend this powder in addition to the cream especially if you find your baby is really sensitive to wet skin and wet/poopy diapers. You can get it at Walgreens only though.

A: One final note on diaper rash creme: A friend of mine with a two year old raved about a product called Boudreaux's Butt Paste. It has garnered much online acclaim as well. They sell it at Target. If nothing else seems to work, it seems to be the stuff to try.

Roundtable- Baby Gear- Out-and-About

You have one primary decision to make about car-seats, do you want to start with an infant seat and have your baby graduate to a convertible later, or just skip the infant seat and go straight to the convertible seat?
Infant Seat
An infant seat is the kind you’ve seen people lugging around—it’s a car-seat (kinda bucket like) with a handle. Generally you snap it into a base that you have mounted in your car, and then you just remove the car-seat, baby and all when you’re ready to get out of the car. The BIG plus to this arrangement is that you don’t have to wake the baby up once you get to your destination—you just pop the car-seat out of the base and you’re off and there’s no wrangling a cranky baby required. The other great thing about infant seats is that they are compatible with various strollers (discussed below) so you don’t have to lug the seat around—you just snap it into your stroller and go. There are all manner of infant seats and they’re all about the same, unless you get a really cheap one which probably has less comfortable padding. We used the Graco snugride and were very happy with it. Make sure to look for one that has a seat cover that comes off and can be washed and try to pick one that feels comfortable carrying it—although truly once your baby is in it—it’s just going to feel heavy.
Convertible Seat
A convertible car seat is one that can go rear-facing (your child has to be rear-facing up to 1 year or 20 lbs, whichever is later) or forward-facing. A lot of babies don’t stay in the infant seat more than 3 months, so it can be a money-saver to skip the infant seat and just get a convertible seat. The big downfall to this is that as opposed to the infant seat, when you are ready to get out you have to get the baby out as well- asleep or not. Also even though most convertibles are supposed to accommodate newborns it’s unclear that a smallish baby would really fit in a convertible and a preemie would definitely not. If you are thinking about a convertible just let us know because there’s all kinds of details to consider (that primarily have to do with size of the seat and the space in your car) that I won’t get into at this point.
I’m planning to focus on strollers for singletons. Just keep in mind that if you have two stroller-age children it’s a whole ‘nother ball game.
Universal Frames
These are nothing more than a stroller frame that most infant seats fit into. When we bought ours there was the Kolkraft Universal and the Snap-n-go and they were pretty much interchangeable. I noticed now there’s one by Combi called the flash. They all have a basket underneath and some have a little tray or cupholders on the handles. You just need to make sure that the infant seat you like (or have) is compatible with the frame you choose and you’re set with a very light-weight but infant appropriate stroller while your child is in the infant seat. This is a great choice if a) your trunk is really small, b) you take public transport a lot or c) simple seems better to you. However, keep in mind that when your baby outgrows the infant seat you’ll have to buy another stroller. If people are planning on registering or buying a non-travel system stroller for when the baby outgrows the infant seat, let me know and we can talk about what to look for and consider.
Travel Systems
This is where you buy an infant seat and a stroller together in one package. The infant seat snaps on to the stroller so you get the benefit of being able to tote-around the infant seat on wheels, but when the baby outgrows the infant seat, they graduate to the stroller that came with the system. There are all different brands of travel systems and I’m generalizing, but travel system strollers tend to be medium to large-sized strollers that come with more bells and whistles including more extensive padding and a full-recline feature. If you tend to go on long-outings, have a larger vehicle with some decent trunk space, or are really set on having the seat on your child’s stroller fully recline this could be something to check out. As with all strollers, make sure that you can open and shut the stroller with one hand and that you can actually lift it into the trunk.
If you live in the city or near the city you’ve probably seen people using all manners of baby carriers. And in fact, there are so many different types of carriers that I’m starting with what I know and people can feel free to jump in with info on others or questions about ones they’ve seen. If your baby likes to be held a lot, a carrier can be a life saver because you can keep them close, and generally soothe them when all else fails, but still have some amount of freedom—at least with your hands.
Probably the most popular front-carrier is the Baby Bjorn. It’s designed only to be worn in front of you and holds the baby upright. When they’re itty bitty they face towards you and you have the neck support up so that they’re pretty much cocooned against the front of your body. As they get older and can hold their head-up you can face them forward and fold the neck-support flap down so they can see out as you walk around. The Baby Bjorn is nice because it goes on with back-pack like straps and leaves your hands completely free. The first time you try to read the instructions and put it on it will be confusing but if you try it a few times or have someone show you it’s easy to get the idea. We had one and JT loved it. Henry needed to be held literally all the time and the Baby Bjorn was a lifesaver. It never really worked for me though. With a short torso (I’m 5’2”) the straps could never get small enough and instead of supporting the weight on my hips (like a good backpack is supposed to do) all the weight of Henry hung right off my shoulders. It was doable at first but the heavier the baby gets the worse it feels. I just mention this because it might not be the most comfortable thing for other small women.
Again, with slings the sky’s the limit. If you search around on the internet for them, you’ll find some popular sling makers as well as tons and tons of women making their own slings. They generally come either as a sling that can be adjusted (often by using a ring mechanism) or as a sling that you have to buy sized exactly to you that can’t be adjusted. I owned an adjustable and non-adjustable one--a Kangaroo Korner and a New Native. You order the Kangaroo Korner sized to you but there is a series of snaps that allow you some flexibility in making the sling tighter or looser. I had a fleece one that I absolutely loved for the early spring when Henry was born. It was completely soft and stretchy so it was pretty easy to get Henry in and out of and hefell asleep every time I put him in it without fail. Alas, eventually the fleece started cooking the little dumpling so I bought a New Native sling.

This sling is not adjustable and had to be ordered after you’ve taken some extensive measurements. All slings work about the same—the baby lies at an angle against your body—usually all of them in the fabric when they’re newborn, and then can gradually sit a little more upright with head or arms out of the fabric as they get older. It’s possible the New Native carrier I had didn’t fit right, but it always seemed to ride too low and really pulled on my arms. This time I’m buying another Kangaroo Korner sling in cotton so that I can continue to use the sling with Silas once the weather has gotten warmer.

Roundtable- Baby Gear- Sleeping

Where will baby sleep? You’ve got a few options to think through here. First, realize that whatever well-thought decision you make may go out the window when your baby arrives and will only sleep with you. I’ll try to cover the various sleeping options for the first several months so that at least you know what choices you have.

You’ve probably heard of a crib and may have already picked one out. Even if your child doesn’t sleep in the crib right away, s/he will probably use one at some point (unless you’re dedicated to the idea of the long-term family bed). The key thing on cribs is to buy one that’s new or at least made after 1974 because there are several safety standards that weren’t in place before that. If you’re considering an older crib one key test is to make sure that a soda can can’t fit between the slats on the side. If the can fits, the slats are too wide and the baby’s head could get stuck. All new cribs sold in the US meet safety standards so you’re in the clear there and just need to find one that you like and that fits your budget.
One thing to consider is if you want the side to drop or not. Cribs with non-drop sides are harder to find but there are fewer moving pieces and things to “learn” about your crib. If you do want a crib with a side that drops, make sure the mechanism that moves the side up and down is quiet and that you can operate it with just one hand—or foot. You’ll have a baby in your arms when you’re raising or lowering the crib and that baby may be sleeping. You want to make sure that you don’t wake the baby up or have to put the baby somewhere just to get the crib side down.
Some cribs are “convertible” meaning that they convert into a toddler bed and possibly a full-size head-board. This can be a nice feature but you have to think a bit ahead about any future kids you’d like to have and how sleeping arrangements might change. Kids generally transition from a crib to a toddler or “big” bed somewhere between 2-3. A lot of people that have a second child within 2-3 years of the first, transition the older child to a big bed and the new baby gets the crib. In this case the toddler bed or head-board features aren’t really useful. However, another option is to convert the crib to a toddler bed for the older child when s/he’s ready and put the new baby in another crib or pack-n-play.
Mattress Settings
Another feature advertised with cribs is the ability to set the mattress at different heights. You definitely want at least two options—the high feature for when the baby is tiny and not going anywhere, so you can easily put them into and retrieve them from the crib. You also need a low setting for once the baby starts to sit or pull-up so that they can’t get out of the crib. Some cribs have 3-5 additional settings. Personally I think anything over two settings is overkill. It’s usually not that easy to adjust the height of the mattress and once the baby is to the point where you’re lowering it, why not just lower it all the way and get it over with rather than tempting fate that you’ve used the wrong “in-between” setting?
Tamra’s Pick
We wanted a crib with sides that didn’t lower so there were fewer things to worry about. We also didn’t want to spend a ton on our crib, so we went with the “Diktad” crib from IKEA. We’ve been completely happy with it and absolutely recommend it.

Mattresses are fairly straight-forward, which is a relief after you’ve sorted out your feelings about the crib. Like anything you can spend very little money or as much as you would for a new mattress for yourself. There are some new products on the market that are quite expensive and said to help reduce SIDS—based on the what I’ve read there aren’t any studies that really prove this so I would just pick a mattress that fits your budget and which you wouldn’t mind sleeping on. Keep in mind that babies are not supposed to sleep on really soft-surfaces, so the mattress doesn’t need to feel like a feather-bed. I believe spring mattresses are on the high-end and foam ones on the low end. All crib mattresses are a standard size, so just pick one that feels right to you. We went with a mid-priced spring mattress. It wasn’t one of the cheapest but not the most expensive either.

Mattress Pad
Crib mattress pads are generally quilted fabric on one side with a waterproof plastic layer underneath. If you used the mattress pad normally and your child spit-up badly or had a big diaper leak you would have to change the sheet and the mattress pad, because both would be wet. We have the mattress pad on inside up so that the waterproof side is up. This way, if the sheet gets wet you just wipe the mattress pad off with a cloth before putting a new sheet back on. This is why I hardly ever have to wash the mattress pad.

Many people use a bassinet or the bassinet feature on their pack-n-play for the first several months. These are places for the baby to sleep that are smaller than a full-size crib and easier to get next to your bed (even in a small bedroom). If you are breast-feeding, it can be particularly helpful to have the baby sleeping right next to you*. Bassinets are intended only for very little babies and most babies outgrow them at 3 months (or much earlier depending on their size at birth). They can be very pretty and if the space between your bed and the wall is very small might be the only choice you have. I don’t believe that there are any safety hazards with using old bassinets—this may be something that you can easily get as a hand-me-down. Just make sure that the bassinet is stable.
A pack-n-play is a portable crib that folds up into a bag the size of a really long boom-box. It’s fairly easy (although heavy) to transport and is a pretty vital piece of baby gear if you plan to travel with your baby during the first year or two. Pack-n-plays come in all price ranges and generally get more expensive as more features are added. Unless space is a real concern, I would buy one that is full-size. There are a few “mini-sized” models which your child will outgrow much quicker than the regular sized ones. It’s pretty important to have an insert that allows the child to sleep at an elevated setting (like in a crib) for when they’re little. If you have short arms at all, putting an infant on the bottom of the pack-n-play isn’t the easiest thing at all. Another nice feature is a changing-pad that clips on to the pack-n-play. If you have more than one level in your house, this is an easy way to have a changing station on both levels. Other features such as bassinet inserts, mobiles, organizer bags, vibration/music, etc. are pretty much just gravy, or annoying depending on how you feel. I would evaluate the product for the major features first and if it comes with a cute mobile great, if not you’re probably not going to lose any sleep over it.
Tamra’s Pick
*With Henry we had him in the crib from day-one. He didn’t sleep particularly well in it, but he was the noisiest baby I’ve ever been around and as a light sleeper I just couldn’t get any rest with him in the pack-n-play next to me. With Silas we’ve planning on using a pack-n-play we’ve bought for him. If he’s a quiet baby it will be next to my side of the bed. If not, he’ll be at the other end of our room. Both pack-n-plays we have our Graco. We bought Silas’ used and it just has the elevated platform and changing pad feature. Henry’s had a mobile as well but we never used it.

Other sleeping options:
There are a few other options that I haven’t personally used but know about. If someone has a question or more info on these we can discuss them further. They include the Snugglenest, the Amby Baby Hammock and the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper. The Snugglenest- is a little bed that you use if the baby is sleeping with you in your bed. It’s designed to sit on your mattress between you and your spouse and keep you from crushing the baby. The Amby Baby Hammock is basically a hammock for babies that is supposed to soothe them because of it’s swinging motion. The Co-Sleeper is like having a mini-pack-n-play next to your bed, but it actually connects to your bed. This way the baby is sleeping in her own space but it’s basically an extension of your own mattress.

Sheets and Blankets, etc.
Crib Sets
A lot of people spend a lot of money on a crib set for their baby. They usually include a dust ruffle, quilt, bumper pads, sheet and sometimes curtains or an organizer bag. If you have the money and you fall in-love with something don’t let me stop you. Just know that you won’t actually use much of the set, even if you use your crib from day-one. You aren’t supposed to use blankets with a child until 1 year for SIDS reasons, so the quilt could go on the wall or be played with on the ground, but it won’t get much use as a blanket. Lots of people still use bumpers, but they are also considered a SIDS risk, and even if you feel okay with them on that level, you’re absolutely supposed to take them out of the crib by the time the child is pulling up so they can’t use them as a step-stool to launch themselves out of the crib. My personal opinion is it makes more sense to buy individual pieces that you can coordinate—you’ll save money and can get just what you think you’ll need.
You need to have at least 2 and ideally 4 sets of sheets. This way when your child throws up or has a massive diaper leak in the middle of the night you can easily change things without having to worry about the wash. There are different sized sheets for mattresses, pack-n-plays and bassinets, so just make sure you have at least 2 sets of sheets for each sleeping option you’re using.
Lap pads
Lap pads are little water-proof pads that you can put anywhere you’d like to catch some wetness without having to wash the sheets, or the changing-table cover pad or the stroller seat, etc. You can find small ones that you lay under the baby on the changing table or larger ones which you can lay on top of their sheets. If you have a baby that spits-up a lot these will be life savers. The small ones come in packs of 3. It’s probably a good idea to have that many on hand so you can decide if you like them and need more.
You most likely will receive 8 billion baby blankets if you are having your first baby. It’s great to have lots of light-weight receiving blankets, especially when they’re very little. You’ll use these when the baby is at home in the bouncer or you’ve covered her for a stroll outside, or in the car-seat etc. You won’t use them when they’re sleeping in their crib. For that you need either a swaddle blanket or a blanket sleeper.
They’ll teach you how to swaddle your baby at a birth-prep class or in the hospital. No matter how much you practice, you won’t be as good as the L&D nurses and unless your baby is the most compliant baby ever, they’ll manage to wriggle their arms free. Swaddling basically wraps your little one in a tight burrito of a blanket so that they can’t exercise their startle reflex by throwing their arms out to their side and waking them up. That’s why a good swaddle blanket is your best friend—it can help your baby sleep longer and more deeply. You can buy the “swaddleme” brand at toys-r-us and a I think Target. I personally recommend the “Miracle Blanket” which you can only order online. It’s a bit of a baby straightjacket, but it totally and completely works and this time around I bought two – one for upstairs and one for down.
Blanket Sleepers
Since babies can’t use blankets, if it’s chilly at all when your baby is born you’ll want to get some blanket sleepers. These are fleece sacks that you zip baby up into over their pajamas. Most are sleeveless, but some have long sleeves if it will truly be winter when your baby arrives. You’ll want to have 3-4 of these so you don’t have to do laundry all the time. Halo is a popular brand and now there are several knock-offs that are cheaper.

Baby Monitor
If you live in a multi-level home, or have anything other than the smallest single story abode, you’ll want to consider a baby monitor. In some cases you have to have one because without it you wouldn’t be able to hear your baby crying (i.e. your bedroom and the baby’s room are really far away or during the day while the baby is sleeping upstairs, you’re in the basement on the computer, etc). In other cases the baby monitor can be a mixed blessing/curse. On the one hand you can hear your baby starting to wake up so that you can get in and feed him/her before she really wakes up fully and gets agitated. However, lots of babies actually make lots of noises the whole time they’re sleeping even when they’re not anywhere close to waking up. If you’re a light sleeper all these noises can a) keep you from getting precious sleep and b) make you respond to your baby’s tiniest noise which can ultimately make them worse sleepers down the road. So, certainly buy a monitor if you need one, but if you’re a light sleeper you might consider turning it way down so that you can hear the baby when s/he’s actually crying, but not be woken up by all the grumbling old man noises that some babies can make all night long.

Q: I know that there is an increased SIDS risk with used mattresses for cribs, have you heard of any such risk with a used pack-n-play? Also, did you do anything to avoid bed head? A couple of my friends are getting the special helmets because there babies got flat heads from their cribs - was this ever an issue for you?

A: Since our baby girl was in the hospital for so long, the nurses taught us how to reduce bed head. You take 2 blankets, roll them into 2 rolls, then take another blanket and put it on top of the rolls, separating the rolls wide enough to fit the baby between. Every 2 hours or so while they are laying down, shift the baby's body and wedge it against one of the rolls, and position her head to the side. When you shift the body on the side, make sure it's no more than 45 degrees elevated on the roll, that way it prevents the baby from rolling all the way on her tummy. Shift her right, then flat, then left. Skip over laying the baby flat if the head is already kinda flat.

A: I haven’t heard of any increased SIDS risk with used pack-n-plays. The pack-n-play “mattress” is actually just a very lightly padded board so I can’t imagine it would make a difference. It’s not like it ever gets very soft.

There are sleep positioners you can use to keep babies on their back. The one we had (which we had to use because we had to keep Henry at an incline due to reflux) had a foam pad for the head which was supposed to help prevent flattening of the head.

I think the most important thing is to try to get them off their backs as much as possible during the day. Either by holding them or in a sling or especially on their stomachs on the floor. All the Doctors will push tummy time and most babies don’t really like it. The earlier you start it and the more you put them on their stomachs the more they’ll tolerate it (and the less time they’ll spend flat on their backs!)

Q: I have a question on the bedding topic: I briefly heard someone mention that they put two or three sets of plastic mattress covers and sheets on a mattress crib in alternating layers (cover-sheet-cover-sheet) so that they can just peel off the top sheet and cover layer if the diaper leaks without the hassle of remaking the bed in the middle of the night. Has anyone tried this? I am wondering (1) whether multiple layers of plastic mattress covers and sheets would actually fit over the mattress at the same time and (2) whether this could potentially increase the SIDS risk by making the sleeping surface thicker, like a blanket.

A: We actually only have one mattress pad so it wouldn’t work for us but I also wonder about being able to get more than 2 sheets and 2 mattress pads on the mattress. I don’t know about the softness/SIDS factor but I do know that most of the crib sheets are (and should be) quite tight so that the baby can’t bunch a whole lot of fabric up. I’m not sure you’d be able to fit more than one sheet over one mattress pad.

A few other ideas might be to use the large “lap pads” (at least at the beginning when they aren’t moving around). Or I’ve seen (but never used) QuickZip sheets where you can just zip off the top part and leave the part that goes around the mattress.

Frankly even with all the serious spit-up issue my little one dealt with and some seriously leaking diapers, I’ve never had to change anything other than the sheet unless it’s regular washing day. I just take the top sheet off, maybe wipe off the plastic part of the mattress pad and put a new sheet back on.


End of an Era...

We officially retired Henry's "birds" yesterday. This is a crib-dohicky that we received from his grandparents before Henry was even born. I remember being a little skeptical but it turned out to be something that really helped Henry learn to sleep through the night. As he got older, he would simply activate the birds and music when he woke up in the middle of the night, and would usually fall back to sleep on his own.

Now it's not that he no longer needs it anymore, it just that it finally bit the dust. We noticed that it seemed to be sucking down 4 D cell batteries more and more quickly until a few days after i installed brand new ones it was playing the sluggish version of it's music and the lights were really dim. I thought it might be going and JT confirmed that one time he couldn't get it to turn off.

So, we replaced it with the rainfall version that appears to be the new one. Henry went crazy over it when he woke up from naptime yesterday and we had it out for him to play with. He LOVES monkeys and just kept exclaiming over the animated monkey on this one. After some difficulties falling asleep last night he slept like a rock overnight so hopefully we're back in our good sleeping groove!



Henry, giving his squirrel a drink of water...

We all had a pretty busy week and i for one am quite pleased it's the weekend. We don't have a lot of plans this weekend, but i did find out my Mom will be coming in to Chicago for a conference and will be able to spend Sunday afternoon with us. Of course that's the day of the big Bears Football game and a predicated 1-4 inches of snow, so hopefully the gods are smiling on us that day.

Brenda told me that she thinks Henry is in a growth spurt. She said that at daycare he used to be very picky about what he ate but now he's eating everything. I wouldn't go that far to describe his activity at home, but he is definitely in a more "exploratory" mood lately. Last night JT didn't get home until late so Henry and i stopped off at our local taco joint to get a burrito and some rice and beans to take home with us. A long time ago Henry loved rice and beans and then somewhere over the summer he decided he was no longer interested and wouldn't even try them when they were offered. Last night he went to town on the rice and ate a decent amount of the beans after he saw that i was eating them as well.

He seems to go in eating cycles so i'm sure he'll be back to eating on crackers before we can fully appreciate this little blip.


21 Months

My post frequency has been affected by a "baby e-roundtable" i'm running with some friends and acquaintances. A fellow Mom and i were talking awhile back about all the people that we knew that were about to become first-time moms. She suggested we have a roundtable to pass on what we knew. I thought this was a great idea but would be difficult to pull together given our differing schedules. So, i came up with the e-roundtable.

Basically we've invited a group of current and future parents to participate. I send out an email to the group on a specific topic each week and then other participants chime in with questions or their own experiences or advice. So far it's been a lot of fun and i'm hoping helpful for those first-time moms we were targeting. I'm thinking that when it's all through i'll post it online and set-up links to the information on the right side of this blog. That way if you have friends you think could use the advice, it's there for the taking!

Henry and i had his second swim class today and he seemed a little more animated. Of course that swung wildly between really excitedly splashing around and screaming no, no, no when he didn't want to do something. All in all he seemed to have fun. One thing we really have to work on though is getting out of the pool. They have this set of steps that goes all the way down into the water and has a very gentle rise. Henry insists on being carried up and down these steps. Into the water isn't too big a deal but after i've been weightless for 30 minutes and then have to walk out of the water into real gravity with a 24 lb toddler-- i feel like i weigh about 300 pounds.

I had my 30-week midwife appointment and everything is still looking good. I passed my gestational diabetes test with flying colors, the baby is moving STRONGLY, and the heartbeat was really clear. We've started trying to make plans for Henry's care when i go into labor. Since the last labor was so fast, i feel like we don't have a lot of time to get Henry where he needs to go which is a little stressful. We'll be talking to some key Chicago actors in the coming days to hammer all of the details out.

20 Month pictures are up on Yahoo so don't say i'm not timely about everything!


Nature Museum

After recovering from a 36-hour stomach bug that hit on Friday, Henry and I enjoyed a really nice MLK-day morning at the nature museum. We started our visit in the butterfly room and although it took me awhile to adjust to the 80 degree temps, Henry was so interested in all the butterflies and flowers that were everywhere he looked. We spent awhile in there getting acclimated to seeing butterflies everywhere we looked and then went on to explore other areas of the museum.
You never really know what's going to scare Henry and other than the loud fans at the start and conclusion of the butterfly room (to make sure you don't have any butterflies leaving with you) Henry had a ball. He LOVED the life-size dioramas they had that you could walk through. One had a huge buffalo, one a deer and the other all kinds of different sized birds. He liked them so much we walked back through them a second time. In fact he walked by himself the whole time we were in the museum which was great because i got to use the stroller to push around our huge coats we had used to brave the snowstorm on the way over.
Henry probably liked the "riverways" exhibit the best which consisted on several different fish tanks as well as a whole room-size riverway that kids could play in. After we snagged a stool Henry happily played with a little green boat in the river water for as long as i would let him.
We finished with some time in this crazy kids-room where there were a zillion kids and lots of climbing equipment and kid-sized boats, etc. We happened to be there when it was time for a story and Henry sat right up in the front row and listened intently. He looked back a few times to see i was there and just flashed a huge grin. After the story was over he was ready to walk some more so we headed back out to the main part of the museum and walked and then sat and had a snack. About that time i was exhausted so we got ready to brave the snow again and head home.
Henry's "napping" now but he was talking to himself and giggling like crazy a good 30 minutes after i put him down, so we'll see if he really gets much sleep.



Today Henry and i had our first swim lesson in about a year. I decided that if Henry and i were going to take a class--now is the time to do it before Silas arrives. Depending on how much of an adjustment period we need with Silas, i'd like to sign Henry up for a gym-type class in either the summer or next fall. But, for now it's just Henry and i and my big pregnant belly swimming around.

Henry was really excited at first about his bathing suit (with sharks) and his swim diaper (with fish). Then he got scared of the noise of the showers as we walked through them to the pool. He had kind of a typical Henry first class-- most of it he was gritting his teeth and clinging very closely to me but at the end when i asked him if he wanted to get out he said "no." He did warm up as the class went on and certain things he really enjoyed so i'm hoping that by the end of our 7 week session he'll be fairly comfortable.

I know i need to take some more pictures-- so i don't have one for today. I did upload the 18 and 19 month pictures on yahoo and as soon as i get my Dad's Christmas pictures i'll have some new cute ones to share!


Back to the Routine

After getting back into the swing of things after the holidays for a few days, i took a 4-day weekend solo-trip to OK to attend my Grandmother's 80th birthday party and see family. We had a really nice weekend together and my Grandmother's party was lovely-- although threatened by a town-wide power outage less than 2 hours from the start of the party. By all accounts, Henry and JT enjoyed a fun boys weekend together and now we're all back and trying to catch up on work and in general get back into a routine.

I took Henry in to the Dr. today as the lower GI problems that have been plaguing him are still around and last night i had to change his diaper twice in the middle of the night. The Dr. checked him all out and said he is just fine and that the problem is still post-infection diahrrea. She said that actually it can last 6 weeks and it is sometimes just really hard to get rid of. She also said that it will just very slowly get better rather than one day being normal again. So, we're slugging it out for a few more weeks hoping to at least slow the number of nasty diapers we're seeing a day.

In developmental updates, Henry is obsesses with his legos. He got a set for Christmas from the Tricoli family and he's been playing with them pretty steadily for the past few days. He's actually gotten really good and building little towers and being able to take them apart again. Toting the lego bucket around and putting other treasures in it is great fun too! Brenda tells me he plays with them all the time at daycare as well. She said that when she's put them away he'll walk over to the bin and take them out one by one while he smiles at her, as if his smile blinds her.

You might remember that Henry went through a "suddenly afraid of the bath" phase. He seems to be going through a "suddenly afraid of loud noises" phase. Until recently, he loved to hear dogs barking outside. He would get excited and pointedly do the dog sign. Now he cowers and tries to cover his ears and says dog in a really whiny voice. He's just been more sensative to other noises as well-- getting freaked out when Dad comes up the stairs, or the space heater is on. I'm going to check with Brenda to make sure nothing happened that we don't know about, but otherwise i assume he'll outgrow it soon.



Henry digging the bath and all his new toys-- thanks Eric and Kai!

Today Henry had his first time-out. When i came to pick him up Brenda told me she had a funny story. She said that Henry was hitting another child and when she told him to stop he paused, looked at her and hit again. So she told him he needed to get into the time-out chair. She said that as soon as she sat him down he got up looked at her like she was crazy and defiantly got up and walked off. This repeated two more times until he finally got the idea and sat there. She said he looked at her like "but you're supposed to be my friend" but stayed there the whole minute.

I told her we hadn't tried it at home yet, because we weren't sure if it was too early (plus it's easier to just distract him at home where he's the only child we're dealing with*) but that i was glad it had ultimately worked and that she had gotten Henry used to the idea. Henry definitely seems to get overexcited and aggressive when he's around a lot of people-- we saw some of this at the holidays and i'm sure at daycare sometimes the stimulation just turns him into a crazy monster. I'm always amazed at how calm Brenda is, so i'm sure she'll help him through this phase.

I told Henry in the car that Brenda wasn't being mean, just helping him learn the rules. I'm sure we'll have to have that conversation just a few more times.

In (tempered) good news, Henry slept all the way through the night last night for the first time in probably a month. Between his surgical recovery, diarrhea and a recent cold, i've been trudging up and down the stairs up to 3 times a night for a month now. There's a reason the new baby is going to be up here with us and this up and down stairs stuff stinks. As i mentioned Henry slept last night from 7:30 to 7:30 this morning. He moaned a few times at 6 and then went back to sleep. Unfortunately tonight he seems to be having some trouble sleeping because between 7:30-9:00 i've been in there 4 times. Hopefully he's getting all his rocks out now and once i turn in he'll really be asleep.

* for approximately 12 more weeks that is. I had my midwife appointment today and everything looks good and i'm measuring right on. The baby's heartbeat was strong and clear and my crazy weight gain slowed a little which is good. I know i should enjoy it now because sometime around 35 weeks last time my face and the rest of my body ballooned out. For now i just have a gigantic pregnant belly which is decently easy to deal with.


20 Months, 2 Weeks, 2 Days

I forgot to mention that after the generous bounty of the holidays-- i finally got around to opening a savings account specifically in Henry's name. We've already been good little savers for him, but that has gone in accounts we know are for him, but in our names. Now he's got his very own savings account and a decent starting balance. I emptied his piggy bank over the weekend and plan to deposit the contents of it as well. In the process, we discovered that some generous visitor had slipped a $20 bill in his bank. Big thanks for that gift as well as all the spare change he's been provided over the last year and a half!

I have a midwife appointment tomorrow and after that i start going every two weeks for check-ups. Now that the new year is here, we're definitely starting to concentrate on Silas' arrival a little more.


20 Months, 2 Weeks, 1 Day

We enjoyed a mix of activity and a quiet ringing in of the new year this weekend and appreciated very much having the extra day together. We were hosting out-of-town friends on Friday night and turned it in to a dinner party for 8 adults and 4 kids based on who knew our friends when they were in Chicago. JT cooked up a storm, and we had the best kind of dinner guests-- those that pitched right in and did almost all of the dishes!

We ran around doing shopping and errands on Saturday and then Sunday night went out to an early dinner with all three of us. The restaurant we had planned to go to was closed so we went to another one right up the street. It was quite good but a tiny bit fancier than the one we had planned to visit. They had highchairs, so it wasn't like the time we went to the sushi place and they didn't even have highchairs and everything was upholstered in white-- this place was just a bit quieter than the normal restaurant we frequent with Henry. He did really, really well and was super quiet, even if during dessert he was occupying himself by dipping a sugar cube in butter and moisturizing his face with it.

Sunday night we did last until midnight, but we didn't watch the ball drop. Instead we looked at Henry's baby pictures and talked about what the new year holds for our family.