Monthly Archives: May 2012

Top 10 Favorite Baby Products (3-6 Months)

Now that my little one has hit the 6-month mark, I have a whole new list of favorite baby products from the 3 to 6 month time period.

  • Baby Brezza One Step Baby Food Maker:  I’ve just started my son on solids, and this device has worked miracles.  Allow me to explain.  I never set out to make my own baby food – but after checking out all the options on the market, I simply decided that I wasn’t overly thrilled with any of them.  So then I had to overcome my next challenge: I CAN’T COOK.  (Seriously.  Throwing a frozen pizza into the oven presents me with a myriad of challenges).  So if I was going to go the make-it-myself route, it had better be E-A-S-Y.  I checked out the Baby Bullet and other like devices, but the big issue for me was the number of steps everything took.  First I would have to chop the veggies.  Then I would have to steam the veggies (either the old fashioned away or by purchasing a separate steaming device).  Then I would have to puree the veggies using the Baby Bullet or like device.  Then clean-up.  Call me lazy, but that’s just too many steps for me.  Enter Baby Brezza.  This device handles the steaming and the pureeing ALL IN ONE.  So now I can buy organic fruits and veggies from Whole Foods, chop them (or for time-pressed folks like myself, buy them pre-chopped), dump them into the Baby Brezza, press a couple of buttons, and VOILA: 15-25 minutes later I have a BPA-free canister of fresh homemade baby food.  Miracle accomplished.
  • Fisher Price Luv U Zoo Jumperoo:  My baby absolutely loves this contraption.  His face lights up whenever we carry him over to it, and he can happily bounce and turn and bounce some more for up to a good hour (even crying when being taken out).  We actually got it for him a couple of months ago.  At that point, he was too short to touch the floor (we used a stack of three books), but he still loved it.  Mommy and Daddy weren’t quite as enamored, however, because he hadn’t yet figured out how to bounce himself – so guess who was stuck sitting there bouncing him.  Fun for a while, yes, but not practical if you’re setting him into the seat to get a quick chore or two done – especially since any attempt to stop bouncing him would result in wails.  But now – we love it.  He can self-entertain and we can get a few dishes washed or pieces of laundry folded.  And he loves the toy attachments; he reaches for the hanging toys and spins the rattles.  I especially like that while HE is mobile, the toy is NOT.  So once he’s set into it, he’s not going anywhere until we take him out.
  • Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair:  My house has begun to resemble a Chuck E. Cheese with all the toys, bouncers, playpens, and swings laying around.  The last thing I needed (or wanted) was another huge apparatus in the living/dining area.  I was so happy to hear about this space saving high chair through a friend’s recommendation.  It snaps to any chair with a skid-resistant bottom and back strap, has a 5-point harness, a dishwasher-safe table, and a table that is latch-able and releasable with one hand (while the baby is in the other).  And my son gets to sit at the table with us while we all eat.  An added bonus – it’s cheaper than most standalone high chairs (and more portable should that need arise).  For us it was a no-brainer.  We love it and so does our messy eater.
  • Munchkin Shampoo Rinser:  What’s that saying – It’s the simple things?  While this is a simple thing that helps oh-so-much.  It’s a soft/flexible shampoo rinser, just as its name indicates.  WHY do you need this?  Because it is so soft that it will mold to your baby’s head – which means that you can tilt your baby’s head back, press this towards the top of his forehead (where it will bend and give), and then rinse his hair without getting any water in his eyes.  I like that it’s big, holds a lot of water, and has a one-piece design.  Nice added convenience for bath time.
  • The Mommy Hook:  Now why didn’t I think of this?  My nanny actually told me about it.  It’s simply a hook that you can quickly hang on the handlebar of your stroller to carry diaper bags, grocery bags, purses, etc.  So handy!  If considering, you may want to check out Home Depot first – I hear they have hooks that are the same idea and design, but for almost a third of the cost.  Either way, a great and useful idea.
  • HALO Sleepsack:  Once we stopped swaddling our baby, we started looking for alternatives to help him stay warm at night without keeping loose sheets or blankets in the crib (a big no-no for SIDS).  Now we love HALO Sleepsacks.  We zip them up right over his long-sleeved onesie (or PJs, depending on temperature) and he is good to go for the night.  They do a good job of keeping him warm but not overheating him (also a concern for SIDS).  We have both the cotton and microfleece versions and alternate depending on season.  They are roomy and the sizes are big enough that you won’t be using one size bracket up within a few weeks.
  • BOB Ironman Running Stroller:  Prior to purchasing this stroller, we had been gifted a Jeep All-Terrain Stroller.  The Jeep stroller is great for its own purposes, but we incorrectly and dangerously assumed it was a running stroller.  Although we did notice that the front wheel swiveled, and that sometimes the stroller seemed unbalanced when jogging up or down hills, we didn’t have anything to compare it to so thought this was normal.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, in our case), one day the front wheel exploded when filling it with too much air.  That prompted us to search for a replacement wheel, which prompted us to review the Jeep website, where we were horrified to learn that this particular stroller is NOT meant for jogging and should never be used for that purpose.  We immediately went on the search for a stroller that IS meant for jogging, and came across the BOB Ironman.  By no means the cheapest jogging stroller, for us, it appeared the best.  It offers a fixed front wheel (which we learned was far superior in safety to a swiveling wheel when running), easy-to-operate hand and foot brakes, a safety strap, and a surprisingly smooth ride.  There is even a small basket where our little dog rides during our runs (spoiled, I know).  Our baby is still in his infant car seat, so we also purchased the Infant Car Seat Adaptor which provides a reassuringly secure fit (unlike our other stroller which relies on a strap and a balance on the tray).  Finally, my husband also purchased the Handlebar Console which is a negligible convenience for carrying bottled water and zipping up your keys and wallet.  All in all, a pretty pricey package, but well worth it if you’re an avid runner (as this stroller is rated up to 70 pounds).  One of our best purchases that we utilize almost daily.
  • Aveeno Baby Lotion:  After trying almost all different baby lotion brands packaged in cute pink and blue bottles, I could never seem to get rid of the red bumpy rash my son would always get.  I knew I had to moisturize, but I was pretty certain that the moisturizers themselves were causing his rash.  My pediatrician’s wife recommended I try Aveeno Baby.  WOW.  Within a day of using it, his rash completely and permanently cleared up.  It’s rich and creamy with a pleasant scent, but not the harsh perfumy scent of the other baby lotion brands.  I will be sticking with this one.
  • All Free & Clear Laundry Detergent:  After getting caught up in the hype of Dreft baby detergent (which granted, is an excellent detergent), I couldn’t justify the premium cost on an ongoing basis.  So I decided to test out a few other brands.  BY FAR, the best I have found for my baby’s sensitive skin is All Free & Clear detergent.  And at almost half the cost of Dreft, I can feel good knowing that I’m saving a bit of dinero.
  • Wee Wee Puppy Pads:  Puppy pads as a favorite baby product??  Hear me out.  When giving birth, I noticed that the labor and delivery bed was covered in puppy pee pads.  Think absorption.  I now stock these at home for the baby as well (it’s convenient that I also have a small dog who uses the same pads – so they actually share the supply).  Anyway, I lay them over the changing tables, on the counter for before/after sink baths, stock them in diaper bags, basically anywhere where the baby may be laying “unprotected” (aka undiapered) for any period of time.  They’re cheap and they work!  Many a furniture top has been protected from a baby fountain or blowout.

So there you have it.  My latest batch of favorite baby products.  What are yours for the 3-6 month timeframe?

Traveling with Baby

Well, we’re gonna do it.  Travel with the baby.  After postponing and even cancelling other trips due to the anticipated hassle, we’ve decided it’s finally time to break the seal.  So hubby and baby will be joining me on a work trip.

Granted, it’s a short trip.  And only an hour’s flight away.  But for people who formerly rolled their eyes and inwardly cursed every time being seated next to a crying infant on a flight, it is daunting.  If Karma has any say in it, I will now be one of those parents with one of those babies.  (And yes, parents of infants, I now eat my curses and have a whole new empathy for you).

So the planning begins.  I almost want to cancel again.  But then what good is baby’s shiny new passport if we’re never gonna use it?  Armed with Google and the TSA website, I’m capturing my notes:

Flight Seating Arrangements.  It appears that the standard amongst domestic airlines is that children under the age of 2 may be permitted to sit on the parent’s lap, although it is “not encouraged” (I don’t think think that’s ever stopped a soul).  Many ask for proof of age, which brings me to my next point.

Copy of Birth Certificate.  Many domestic airlines say that they require proof of child’s age (in the form of a birth certificate copy) upon check-in to ensure they meet the under-age-2 requirement of sitting on a parent’s lap.  Now, I find this a bit ridiculous in the case of a little infant who is clearly no way near 2 years old, but I will comply and bring it.  That said, I’m not even sure how careful they are about asking for it… But knowing my luck, if I don’t bring it, they will argue that my 17 lb. baby is 2 years old and we will be off the flight.

Bottles of Formula/Breastmilk.  According to the TSA, these are permitted to be brought through security in “reasonable quantities” (e.g. only what may be needed for the flight) greater than 3 oz.  They need to be separated from other carry-on liquids, declared to a Security Officer, and then presented for further inspection.  Apparently these liquids fall under the same guidelines as liquid medication – a good thing, since I do recall reading news articles about horrified new mothers having their breast milk confiscated at security checkpoints in the past.

Ice Packs.  If you’re bringing prepared bottles to the airport, they need to remain chilled.  And ice packs contain that gel stuff, so I wasn’t sure if that fell under the bucket of liquid medication or not.  Turns out, it does.  As the packs are required to maintain the freshness of the bottles, you can bring them through.  That said, I’ve heard many stories of people having to discard them at Security (whether it be due to an uneducated TSA Security Officer or for other reasons).  In fact, I had one mother recommend that we also carry through bags of frozen peas to keep the bottles chilled in the event that our ice packs get thrown away.  I think we’re gonna risk it with just the gel backs, but take that for what it’s worth.

Car Seat.  I had two questions here: 1) Can we check it at the gate, and 2) How difficult is it to install it into a taxi without a base?  For #1, yes, we can check it at the gate.  Apparently if the flight isn’t full, many airlines will even allow you to bring it and use it onboard.  I did hear that the car seat can get pretty dirty and banged if being gate-checked, so I just ordered a cheap car seat travel bag that should help prevent that from happening (there are several; I chose the Jeep version).   For #2, I don’t know yet how difficult it is to install a car seat sans base.  I’ve tasked hubby with reading the manual and watching a few YouTube clips to make sure we (he)  can do it quickly and safely while the taxi meter is running.

Stroller.  For the flight, we decided to bring the lightest and easiest stroller we own, the Graco Snugrider Infant Car Seat Stroller Frame (wow, until just now, I always thought it was called a Snap N Go – Turns out that is Baby Trend’s version).  Anyway, I digress.  Strollers can be brought to the flight gate along with car seats.  They can also be gate-checked.  For most domestic airlines, both the car seat and the stroller can be gate-checked with no fees and in addition to regular baggage carry-on and check-in allowances.  I’m sure there are probably travel bags to protect stroller frames also but, since I don’t really care if it gets a bit dirty, I didn’t purchase one.

Destination Cribs.  I was planning to bring our Graco Travel Pack N Play for hotel bedtimes BUT I was happy to find out that most larger/chain hotels provide cribs upon request, free of charge (who knew??)  I do plan to bring our own sheets and perhaps even breathable bumpers, but it’s great news that we have one less thing to carry.

Destination Refrigerators.  So back to the issue of keeping prepared bottles chilled, most parents of infants are going to want a fridge in their hotel rooms.  Fortunately, most larger/chain hotels have mini-fridges in the room (usually stocked with bar stuff).  I haven’t checked yet, but I imagine if I call the hotel and ask them to clear out the bar stuff before I arrive, that I could then use the empty fridge to store prepared bottles.  Since most of these mini-fridges don’t include freezers, my plan is to store ice packs in filled ice buckets.

Destination Microwaves.  This is more of a nice-to-have.  I imagine most parents would use them for heating bottles.  Fortunately, my little one enjoys his chilled bottles just fine, so we don’t have a need for this.  Except if we look at bottle cleaning.  We have a microwave sterilizer that we love to use because it’s quick and we don’t have to wait for the dishwasher to be loaded and emptied for clean bottles.  I haven’t looked into it yet, but I doubt most larger/chain hotels have microwaves available unless you go with the family-suite hotel brands.  Either way, something to consider.

Formula/Baby Food.  I use a slightly harder-to-find infant formula, so I plan to bring all that I will need for our trip with me.  For the more common formula brands, however, I would absolutely just bring enough for the flight and then purchase the rest at my destination.  Same thing with baby food – no need to pack and carry it if it can just be purchased at your destination.

Diapers.  Same as above.  No way I’m packing tons of diapers to bring with me.  Just what we need for the trip, and buy the rest there.

Packing List.  So now we need to decide what else to pack.  There go our days of carry-on only baggage.  So far, this is what I figure we’ll need to bring for our short trip with baby:

  • Clothes.  And more clothes.  Daytime clothes, PJs, and backups for inevitable spit-ups, bottom blow-outs, and messes.  Jackets and hats.  Sunhats and sunglasses if warm.  Wearable blankets for bedtime.  Socks.
  • Snuza.  See previous post.  Its portability is one of the main reasons I love it.
  • Bottles and Cleaning Supplies.  Bottles, nipples, cleaning brushes, soap, etc.  And if we can swing a microwave, the bottle sterilizer.
  • Blankets.  At least a few.  Thin, thick, for Tummy Time, and extra in case of accidents.
  • Baby Wash.  Although it’s tempting to go several days without bathing the baby, I don’t think that would be the right answer.  So will pack a bit of baby wash.
  • Baby Sunblock.  I just saw that Neutrogena has an SPF 60 formulation for infants (not sure how the formulation compares with regular adult formulation, but the cute pink bottle sucked me in and I bought it).
  • Toys.  Not going overboard here.  But a few rattles and teethers to hopefully keep him occupied (especially in airports and on flights).
  • Baby Carrier/Sling.  My son gets sick of sitting in the carseat all the time and, frankly, so do I.  So this will be a must to break it up and make him feel more a part of wherever we are.

And that’s what I have… SO FAR.  I’m sure there is more to come as the date draws closer.  We’re excited but nervous at the same time.  I’m sure I’ll have another post ready once our trip ends.  Until then, we just keep repeating our mantra: please sleep on the flight, please sleep on the flight….

3 Favorite Infant Supplements

Given all the time and energy I have spent on finding the appropriate nourishment for my infant son (see previous posts: Judgments-Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding and Infant Formula Roulette), you know I did my research when it comes to additional nutritional supplementation.  After a fair bit of trial and error, I’ve found the supplement cocktail that has been working best for our little one.

Vitamin D:  This fat-soluble vitamin can be ingested via food (think fatty dairy products or oily fish) or synthesized via sunlight exposure.  It aids with calcium absorption and regulates calcium and phosphate in the blood to encourage normal bone growth.  Vitamin D deficiency can result in rickets, a childhood bone deformity disease.  Breastmilk unfortunately does not contain a high amount of Vitamin D – as such, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended in 2008 that breastfeeding women supplement their infants with 400 IU of Vitamin D per day.  Formula-fed infants typically receive a higher amount of Vitamin D through their formula; however it may still not reach the recommended daily amount of 400 IU/day.  What I did was simply figure out how much my son was ingesting via his formula based on volume, and then supplemented the rest using Enfamil V-Di-Sol (I found it at most of my local drugstores).  One dropper of Enfamil’s product is about 400 IU of Vitamin D, so I would measure out a portion of that accordingly and add it to one of his bottles.  He tolerated it well, and I continued with it until he was ingesting enough formula (about 28-32 oz/day) to reach the recommended amount using that alone.  One note, however, is that there appears to be some dispute as to what amount of Vitamin D is the “right” amount for an infant.  Potential toxicity is a valid concern as the amount reaches 1,000 IU per day, so stay well below that amount and always consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your baby’s diet.

Vitamin C.  We all know about Vitamin C… In fact, I loaded up just this morning to hopefully nip the scratchy throat coming on in the bud.  Found in many common fruits and vegetables (oranges, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, etc), the vitamin helps with immunity.  The good news is that both breast milk and formula should easily provide the adequate amount needed for infants.  So why supplement?  In truth, you don’t need to.  I choose to supplement before and after vaccinations only, to help with my son’s immune response.  So, about 3-5 days before and 3-5 days after each set of vaccinations, I supplement him with 1/2 teaspoon (50 mg) or less of Country Life Maxi Baby C Liquid in one of his bottles.  Just enough to hopefully give him that boost to get him over the vaccine hump.  The recommended daily amount of Vitamin C is 40 mg/day for infants up to 6 months, and while an upper tolerable limit is not established for infants, it is established for children ages 1-3 years at 400 mg/day.  Of course, as his daily formula intake increases, his Vitamin C supplement before/after vaccinations decreases; although the vitamin is typically well tolerated up to daily limits.

Probiotics.  LOVE.  THIS.  STUFF.  I was so worried about my son’s immunity due to him not being breastfed that I looked into all kinds of supplements to potentially help in this area:  bovine colostrum, raw milk, probiotics, etc.  It was an easy decision to go with probiotics.  Proven and safe, even my conservative pediatrician agreed that they “can’t hurt, and might help.”  I will say, since using them, that our son has had no more colds, has a better appetite, and has the wonderful regular bowel movements that all new parents pray for.  So what are probiotics?  Basically, strains of good bacteria to help maintain beneficial gut flora; in other words, to help with the proliferation of good immune-strengthening bacteria in the gut.  I tried a few different formulations before finally finding one that stuck.  I knew there were several bifidobactera (B) and Lactobacillus (L) strains that I wanted included: B. infantis,  B. breve, B. longum, L. acidophilus,  and L. rhamnosus.  I also wanted Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) included, which is actually a prebiotic that supports the growth of bifidobacteria in the gut.  The hardest part was finding a product that included both the bacterial strains I wanted AND FOS, but I finally found it in Nature’s Way Primadophilus Children (and btw, I could only find it at Sprouts).  It comes in a powdered form that needs to remain refrigerated, and I add 1/2 teaspoon to one bottle daily.  As I said, it’s worked wonders for our son and I only wish we started him on it sooner.

So there you have it – the three supplements that have worked best for our baby.  I would love to hear about what is working well for others… Any other recommendations?