4.06.2017

Knee Deep in Sleep Training

Today's post is coming to you from a very weary mama.

I'd love to tell you that we're doing well, that Asher is making great progress, and that we're delighted with how easily sleep is coming to our precious six month old.

But that would not be true. In the slightest.

This is so hard. My heart is breaking hearing my dear son crying his eyes out. How I wish he didn't know how to say, "Mama," as awful as that sounds. 

We started gentle and tried the frequent calming techniques as I vehemently opposed just letting him cry. But the truth? Any change to a sleep history that involves nothing but warm cuddles and closeness from Mama and Dada is going to bring tears. There's is no tear-free sleep training.

Everyone keeps telling me to turn down the volume on the monitor, or put on head phones when I remain in the room. But I'm not going to do that. If he's gonna be expected to cry and endure, so am I. I'm an adult and this is breaking my heart, so I'm not going to try to ignore the massive shift that is going on in my son's sweet heart and mind.

If you're looking for tips to help your own kiddo sleep well in the crib, I can't help you. We're still figuring that out, and I don't believe any one method will work for every baby. I wanted to stay near and calm him often, but that seemed to frustrate my persistent little love. It was easier for me, but making things even more confusing for him. 'Why are you right there but won't help me?' 

So I've stepped back, and he's right smack in the middle of having his world turned upside down. I believe in his ability to learn to calm himself, and I've covered him with every prayer I know how to say. Outside of that, I'm helpless. And I wait.

This sucks. I don't know how this could go down without it sucking. I'd love to hold him to sleep forever, honestly. But I can't. My body is telling me every day that I just can't do that. It's not about time or other things needing to get done. I care about nothing else right now. It breaks my heart and every cry makes me weary. 

This is sleep training an infant. I'm not going to sugar coat it or put an encouraging spin on it because you must know, when you're in the thick of it, there's nothing sweet about this. 

3.31.2017

My Baby Essentials: 3 to 6 Months

This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on any applicable links.


Life with Baby These Days


This period with Asher has been a lot of fun! We're past most of the meltdown-worthy moments, getting some decent sleep here and there, and seeing his sweet little personality come out, which ultimately makes it all worth it. We still have leaps and teething to contend with, so we have our days, but I feel like it's been a totally different experience once we got past the two month mark. (So hang in there, brand new mamas...you will make it!)


Infant Essentials: 3-6 Months

Our "essentials" are no doubt going to vary from some of the other lists you'll see out there, but these are the items that have really allowed us to incorporate Asher into our lives and get by as a family. 

Carriers 
Wearing Ash in my Wildbird 
I know I've talked a lot about babywearing already, and we're still going strong with that in our household. But as he grows and changes, we find that different carriers become more or less used. For example, I like using the Ergo these days because he's heavier and it's easier to get in and out of a soft-sided carrier than our Solly Wrap. However, I find the SSC a little bulky for wearing around the house, so I've recently been breaking in a new ring sling from Wildbird, which is much easier for quick ups and downs. I love having him close, and he naps amazingly when snuggled next to Mama's heart. Carriers also giving me the freedom to use my hands and get things done (like writing this post, in fact). There are so many options when it comes to babywearing, though, so I encourage any mamas to find your local BW group and try out different styles and price points for your little one. 


High Chair 
Asher seemed to be interested in our food since he was about 4 months old, but I wanted him to have breastmilk only for as long as possible. By 5.5 months, though, I realized it was time to start preparing for baby food. With our pediatrician's blessing, we busted out the Baby Brezza (which is another essential I'll share more about soon), and looked for a simple high chair. The Snug (mentioned below) can be used for feeding, but after seeing a hook-on chair while dining out recently, we decided to get something that would travel well and function at home. Eating with both hands again, FTW!


Infant Seat 
Playtime in the Snug
PIt took me a little bit to realize that Ash was ready to sit up...with some help. As of 3 months, he liked being propped up, "sitting" on the couch, but I didn't realize that baby chairs were even a thing. (Seriously, zero experience with babies before having one.) His chair has provided an age-appropriate place to hang out when he's not being held or worn, which was great since he no longer enjoys being in the his swing or Rock N Play. Keep in mind that they need to have decent head control before using a seat, so don't forsake that Tummy Time (even if you got a late start, like us).


Rompers 
We're a little past the pajamas-all-day period, but I still like him to be comfortable if we're home and doing lots of Tummy Time. (He's big on rolling from front to back, front to back, over and over, so constricting outfits are no bueno.) It's also starting to warm up already here in Texas, and we take regular walks to Central Market, Starbucks, or Chick-Fil-A to get some exercise and get out of the house, so we needed something light and airy since we usually wear him during those jaunts. (We keep his skin protected by carrying an umbrella.) The soft, short-sleeved rompers have been a huge hit for us, and I even love using them as PJs since he still sleeps with me. (Let's just leave that one alone for now.)



Sun Hat 
We get a kick out of hats in general for our little guy, but when we started taking our family walks more often, I realized how much we needed a good sun hat. It was also important that we found something with decent sun protection and coverage. (I'm thinking ahead to trips to the zoo or visiting family near the beach.)  

Our choice: iPlay Baby Flap Sun Protection Swim Hat (Toddler sizes, too!)


In case you missed them....
Check out my newborn essentials, as well as my favorites for the first 3 months with baby.

3.24.2017

Teething Survival Tips and a GIVEAWAY! {CLOSED}

This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on any applicable links.

I am not going to represent myself as an expert on teething babies. However, I am all up in the mix with a teething infant, so I wanted to share some love and simple advice come-lately with all you mamas and dadas out there.

It seemed that we hit a serious drool situation right at around two months, which based on research is very normal and coincides with when they start working with their mouth more and literally get more saliva going to that area. Makes sense. However, we went from dripping drool to chewing like a crazed puppy pretty quickly, so I wasn't entirely surprised when we discovered teeth in Asher's mouth at twenty weeks. (OK, that's a lie. I kinda gasped when I felt those sharp little suckers during bath time. And I may or may not have cried, thinking about the limited days of his sweet gummy smile.) It still took weeks--almost a month, actually--before they were really visible, but that didn't stop him from feeling the effects of this new, quite painful addition to his little body.

I read somewhere that if adults had to go through the pain that a baby does while teething, we'd go insane. And observing an infant, that makes total sense. Sometimes they look like they're just losing their mind with discomfort, so we as parents should to do everything we can to make this development easier to bear.


Tips for Supporting Your Teething Infant


  1. Let them chew. Especially if you're a germaphobe, you may hate the idea of them chewing on everything. And I mean everything...their toys, your hand, water bottles, the cat. The counter-pressure helps bring relief, much as holding pressure on a smashed finger can feel better. If you don't want them chewing on items that could harm them (because they don't discriminate), get them a handful of teething "toys" that they can regularly access. (You can see some of my favorite teething items below.)
  2. Snuggle them. Let them cry. Let them meltdown, and hold them so, so close. It's not their fault they feel and are acting miserable. They are miserable. So comfort your sweet baby and put everything else aside. They'll probably pass out from the meltdown here shortly, so just hold them for a little bit longer and cover them with love and encouragement.
  3. Opt for Zen. When they're in the throes of cutting a new tooth, don't over-schedule your day with playdates, family gatherings, or back-to-back errands. Make the time (because it won't magically appear...you have a child, after all) to remain in their familiar environment--your home--and let them get through it moment by moment, knowing that their beloved toys and people (i.e. Mommy) are right there to support them. Give them Epsom salt baths, fire up the diffuser with essential oils, and give them lots of soothing baby massage. (I know, my crunchy is showing.) But seriously, they need this comfort more than anything, and you won't distract a baby out of teething. Yes, read them their favorite book over and over (and over again), and keep their mouths busy with appropriate things to gum and slobber on, but shuffling to and fro is not going to benefit you or your little one.  


Goobie Baby's Audrey teething necklace and some bright, chewy blocks


My Favorite Teething Products

  • Banana Teether - This is one of those favorites that you see time and time again, but Asher really does seem to like it. And you can actually use it as a baby toothbrush to help them start to get comfortable with that process.
  • Copaiba Essential Oil - We are big on Young Living essential oils in our home, and feel completely comfortable using oils on and around Asher. I am not a fan of a lot of the teething medications and products offered over-the-counter, but we've found that Copaiba oil is really effective when used on inflamed gums and to provide support when our little guy is most uncomfortable. 
  • Silicone Teether - These are great to keep in the fridge because the coolness feels soothing on their poor little inflamed gums. (Of note, it's not recommended that you freeze teething products to give to babies.) The shape of the Nuby teether also encourages coordination and makes it easy for them to handle on their own. Fair warning: They may try to stick the whole "nuby" end in their mouth...and you may laugh at your own baby.
  • Teething Necklace - I ordered a simple, cute teething necklace from Goobie Baby on Amazon and it has been a huge hit. This is also a great solution to distract those tiny hands when they discover the joy of pinching while nursing. Teething bracelets are another option, but I find myself wearing the necklace all the time because it's so cute. 


Giveaway Time!!

Because I have nothing but love for other mamas and daddies who are supporting their little ones during this difficult phase of growing up, I have a fantastic giveaway to share with y'all! 

Goobie Baby has very generously agreed to provide one of their adorable teething necklaces AND a set of their reversible, waterproof drool bandana bib sets for one of my readers! We call this the "Teething Survival Kit," though we regret that we can't include the glass of wine that you may desperately need as you cope alongside your precious babe. 

Enter using the form below, and I will choose one winner for this awesome prize on April 8th, which just so happens to be Asher's 6 month birthday. (WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?!?)


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Feel free to share and spread the word. Winner will be contacted on April 8th!



1.31.2017

My Baby Essentials: The First 3 Months

This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on any applicable links.

A few months back, I shared my Top Newborn Essentials. While many of those items are still in play, I wanted to share an updated list of some items that have been helpful during these early infant months. 


Baby napping in Solly Wrap
Asher napping in his Solly Wrap

Life With Baby These Days


Asher is now 16 weeks old, and we're definitely in more of a rhythm as a family. But lest you think we have some kind of unicorn child, rest assured that the 4-month sleep regression, 15-week leap, and teething are no joke. (All things at once? Not cool, man. Not cool.) We're ALL UP IN this parenting thing and still learning every single day how to do it better (or at the very least, survive). I'm starting to figure out that we'll never really feel like we have a grasp on things. One day at a time, y'all.


Infant Essentials: 0-3 Months


Activity Mat  
We like to encourage play time, but there's only so much you can do with a three-month-old. The activity mat has been great for getting him active on the ground, rolling over, grasping at toys, and interacting with his reflection in the little mirror. (He typically just playfully screams at his reflection, but he loves it. No doubt, Dude has found his voice.) We also do Tummy Time on the mat, but he tends to prefer the Boppy for that.

Our choice: Infantino Twist and Fold Mat ($40)

Cloth Diapers 
You can read a lot more about our cloth diaper journey here, but suffice to say, we are really happy with our decision to use AIOs (all-in-ones). We use both cloth diapers and wipes, and they're so much easier to use than we imagined. It's nice to know we're reducing our strain on the environment, and it's so cute to see a big fluffy baby butt.

Our choice: bumGenius Freetime AIO Cloth Diapers ($20/each)
Diaper tote to carry ALL THE THINGS

Diaper Bag  
OK, this one is probably obvious, but I have to say that not all diaper bags are created equal. I had actually registered for a more expensive bag, but decided to use a gift card from a returned item at BBrU to get something more affordable, figuring I didn't really know what I would need until baby arrived (if that makes sense). I've been super happy with my tote. I love having lots of compartments to keep me organized, as well as a lightweight bag given that all the gear itself starts to add up.


Flannel Burp Cloths 
I have to update my previous recommendation as far as burp cloths. While we do still use the Burt's Bees cloths a lot, a friend of mine made us some adorable fleece burp cloths, and we found that material is far superior when it comes to corralling the spit-up and drool. I ordered a set of flannel receiving blankets to use as additional burp cloths, providing more coverage and lasting us a little longer (since soaking one cloth every hour is a lot to keep up with), and they've been great.

Our choice: Luvable Friends Flannel Receiving Blanket - Set of 4 ($10)
  • Note: I would not recommend these as actual blankets. They're really thin, small for a blanket, the print is only on one side, and they don't hold their shape. But for spit-up? All day long. Get you some. 
Slobber/Drool Bandanas 
Drool Bandanas - Catch that slobber in style, yo.
I admittedly had no idea that these things produce so much spit. The pee and poop? I saw that coming. But when Ash started leaking from his mouth on a regular basis around the two month mark, I didn't know what to think. It sadly took me a few weeks before I realized that now was a great time to start using bibs (Mommy Brain is so real, you guys), and while I really like the Aden + Anais muslin bibs (especially their size), I've found these adorable baby bandanas to be much more absorbent. And let's face it: they're also adorable. We have 8 bananas and 3 A+A bibs now, which is just enough to get us through laundry cycles. (Seriously, so much spit.)


Snot Sucker 
I just don't know how else to phrase this, y'all. The idea of sucking the boogies out of my child's nose was straight up disgusting, but after I learned more about this little gadget and it came so highly recommended by many mamas that I trust, I caved. And I'm so glad I did. It's a genius invention and has made clearing LO's stuffy noses (which happen on the regular) so easy. He hated it at first, but now he tolerates it well, especially if we use a saline mist first and wipe the boogies clear with saline wipes.

Our choice: NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator + Filters ($17)

Teether Toy 
Asher likes to chew on everything. He's like a puppy. Seriously. I bought him a sensory play and teething toy for Christmas, and he loves it. It has been so great for keeping him occupied in his carseat or the Rock N Play, and I know it's also helping him with his coordination.
Our choice: Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether ($13)

White Noise app 
This has been huge on so many fronts. Aside from swaddling him (we like the Aden + Anais swaddle blankets), turning on white noise has been one of the best, most consistently successful ways that we can help him calm down and/or go to sleep. We use the noise to signal bed time (for both overnight and naps), and it's so nice to have this in app form so that it's always handy. We have it loaded on all of our phones, as well as a track of his mobile sounds so that we can help him wind down wherever we are. (One of the perks of being married to an audio engineer.) We find that the pink noise in this app has been most effective, for whatever reason, but there are lots of great sounds and tones to choose from. The best part? The app is free. Mama likey!

Our choice: White Noise app (FREE)

Wrap (for Baby Wearing) 
Yes, I'm totally one of those moms. I love having my little dude near me, and I believe 100% in the 4th Trimester, so I am a huge fan of the wrap for this clingy period. We have an Ergo 360 Cool Air Carrier as well, which is generally M's jam for hanging out with Ash, but I love my wrap. It was a little cumbersome at first to get used to tying it and getting everything positioned just right, but after repeated use, I can get baby wrapped up and secure in about a minute. It's a great way to get your hands free for chores around the house (I can literally vacuum while wearing him and he falls asleep). I feel like it has allowed me to be more independent, as weird as that probably sounds, and I know he loves being close to mommy's heart. In fact, he still will only sleep if we're holding him, so he takes all his naps in the wrap, which allows me to work during that time. I cherish it, honestly.

Our choice: Solly Baby Wrap - Natural & Grey Stripe ($65)

Every baby is different, and I'm sure our necessities will drastically change when the saliva situation has let up. But for now, these are the helpers that keep us chugging along.

What were the must-haves for your little one's first 3 months?

1.30.2017

Cloth Diaper Review: bumGenius Freetime vs. Thirsties AIOs

Let me preface this post by saying we're eight weeks into cloth diapering. An expert in fluff, I am not. However, you learn pretty quickly what works and what doesn't. 


Starting Cloth


We totally skipped the newborn phase of CD'ing because of some sage advice I read while pregnant, and I think it was the best decision for us. We used Seventh Generation disposable diapers and wipes during the early days, and they suited us just fine. (We were also gifted some Honest Company wipes, which I liked too, though I recently switched to Water Wipes to have on hand because of how simple is the ingredients list.) Asher was about 8 weeks old when we started cloth, and I think that was a good age. We were past the "Sweet Heavens, what do we do with this little creature?!" phase, and he had gained enough weight to fit into the cloth diapers we purchased really well.

We opted for a stash of AIOs (all-in-ones) only. I read about more cost-effective options, but I knew that simplicity and sanity would rule the day (and I was right...which is pretty much the only thing about parenting that I estimated correctly). I also wanted a system that M could get behind as well, and AIOs are very similar to disposables, so I went that direction. We started stocking up early (once we were well into the second trimester), buying a diaper with each paycheck, and rounded out our stash thanks to two beautiful baby showers. 

Mommy Tip: The bumGenius diapers we got are coupon-eligible at Buy Buy Baby. Holla!

We ended up with 17 diapers in total (which turned out to be just right at his age), and it's a mix of bumGenius Freetimes and Thirsties All-in-Ones. I had read good reviews and feedback about both, but I have to say that one far outperforms the other...


bumGenius AIOs vs. Thirsties AIOs


I'll cut to the chase: bumGenius Freetimes for the win. No question. 


Thirsties AIOs (left) and bumGenius Freetimes (right)
They are very, very similar in style and function, which makes it easy to split a stash between the two. Thirsties has some really cute prints to select from, and they're ever so slightly cheaper. (We're talking $1, folks.) But when it comes to holding in the pee and poo (which, you know, is the whole point), the Freetimes hold up much better. 

Both styles are considered OS (one-size-fits-all), so they adjust to fit just right for your little one via snap configurations. (Thirsties also offers a Hook & Loop option.) But where bumGenius has two layers of microfleece (two attached inserts), Thirsties has only one. I even bought a set of bumGenius doublers to add to the Thirsties, and while it helped, I still get leaks with the Thirsties diapers. 

To be fair, cloth diapers are not as absorbent as disposables, so I am not expecting miracles. I changed his diaper every 1.5 - 2 hours, and I still regularly had leaks. I have yet to have a single leak with the Freetimes, even leaving him in the same diaper for 3 hours at times. (We've yet to have a single case of diaper rash, by the way. I apply a mix of organic coconut oil, Lavender oil, and Frankincense to his bum every other change and overnight, and we've been in good shape.)

Speaking of overnight, I will clarify that we do not cloth diaper for nighttime. After his evening bath, we use the homemade bum balm I just described and Seventh Generation disposables. Again, keeps things simple, and we rarely have leaks.

So, there you have it, bumGenius Freetimes are the AIOs that take the cake (at least compared to Thirsties). They really are so simple to use and don't leak. I only have to wash the diapers every three days (which is not difficult at all, especially at the rate babies go through laundry in general), and have been so pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to transition to fluff. Not to mention, going from throwing away 50+ diapers a week to just 7 feels pretty dang good. 


Cloth Diaper Accessories Worth Mentioning


Since I don't plan to do eleventy thousand posts about the joys of CD (given that many, better posts are out there en masse), I will go ahead and share a few additional tidbits that helped make cloth work really well for us...

We switched to cloth wipes about a month ago, and I'm loving them as a natural extension of doing cloth diapers. If I'm washing diapers, I figure it's easy enough to do wipes at the same time. I use a mix of bumGenius flannel wipes and these ridiculously soft Duckery Kid washcloths. I keep them in our Munchkin wipe warmer, folded and soiled in a solution made with distilled water, witch hazel, Lavender oil, and Tea Tree oil (which I apply via the peri bottle from my delivery). I love that they're gentle enough to use on his face too (because all the drool), and I don't have to worry about a bunch of ingredients that are sure to damage him for life (because all the mommy guilt for everything).

We also use the Aquaus 360 sprayer and Aquaus SprayMate, which makes rinsing the poopy diapers super simple. You technically don't have to rinse poop if they're exclusively breast fed, but, ew. We put soiled diapers and wipes in the Ubbi diaper pail with the Ubbi cloth pail liner until we're ready to wash, and no stink, no fuss. Pop all of the above in the wash on laundry day, and there ya go! 

(I'm not even going to mention wash routine and all that, but I will say that Fluff Love has been an amazing resource for us, and I have had great luck following their guidance.)


Want more baby crap?

Nothing to shill here. All opinions are my own, and no discount or compensation has influenced this post.
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