Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Having a plan...

Birth plans are tricky, most people either love them or hate them. The people that hate them usually say that birth plans are only for naive first time moms who don't understand how unpredictable child birth can be. I also hear people say that having a birth plan means you are a high-maintainance patient and difficult to work with and you should just relax and trust your doctors. All of this makes good sense in theory,  until you think a little more about it...
Firstly,  all aspects of life are unpredictable, but since when has that been reason enough for us to not plan ahead? We still make plans for the future, we hope things work out that way, and we even have back up plans and contingency plans.  We never say 'oh life is too unpredictable so I wont be making any plans... ever.  So I fail to see how having a birth plan is any different from any other plan you might make in life.
Secondly trusting your doctors is important, no doubt about it, but it doesn't have to be blind trust.  Being a 'good' patient shouldn't require you to be ignorant on the important decisions you will have to make during child birth. A good doctor will encourage you to be well informed on your birth options and will welcome any questions or input you may have.

In the very beginning of my pregnancy, I liked the idea of having a plan,but I didn't see the point of putting it down on paper. But as I heard other people's experiences, it started to make more sense. It's pretty much the same principle that applies with making a shopping list when you are heading out to the grocery store. You might remember everything without the list,but it sure does help if you have it written down. Not to mention how helpful it is when the nurses in the labor ward switch shift and you suddenly have to explain everything all over again to the new nurses that just started their shift.

A good birth plan should be short and concise, highlighting the important areas rather than every tiny detail. Preferences like lighting or music don't really need to be on there since those are easy to control yourself. Personally, I believe that anything more than one page is too long, I know a lot of baby sites will give you a template to fill out which is several page long but honestly  no one in Labor & Delivery has the time to read through all that. If you really want someone to take it seriously its best to get to the point. Most importantly,  a good birth plan should have already been discussed with your doctor ahead of time.

My birth plan had the following information;

The basics such as my name, myhusband's name, doctors name etc. I put this information on there so that in case some of the medical staff took the paper out of my room they would still know it was mine.

My preferences in each area of the birth process:
  • Birth type : Natural birth;Vaginal delivery preffered
  • Labor augmentation: None
  • Pain medication: None
  • Fetal monitoring: Only when necessary
  • C-section: Only as an absolute last resort
  • During labor I would prefer to be; mobile, no IV's conected, able to shower
  • During birth I would like to pushing in different positions
  • No episiotomy
  • No use of forceps or vacuum
  • After birth: immediate skin-to-skin contact if possible

Ultimately I was induced and my birth plan lay untouched in  my hospital bag the entire 5 days that I stayed in the hospital, but I don't regret having it as I gained a lot of information while I was putting it together.








Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Adventures in solids: Oatmeal

In the not so distant past, most pediatricians recommended that a baby's first food be a cereal, usually rice or oatmeal. However in more recent times, a lot of doctors are changing their opinion of this and recommend starting with vegetables or fruits instead.   After the squash fiasco, I decided to take a break from vegetables and give cereals a try. I thought it would be easy for me and a nice change in texture for her.  I wanted to hold off on rice a little bit since I've been told it can cause constipation and isn't really that high in nutrients anyway, so my main other option was oatmeal.  A lot of people suggested that I try organic baby oatmeal like the type made by Earth's Best. I liked the idea of this so I went by the store to take a look at the oatmeal options they had available..
 
 
It looked great on the outside, it didn't have too many added ingredients which is something I always check for,  but what really confused me was the preparation instructions. It basically just said to add the desired amount of oatmeal cereal directly to formula or breast milk and serve right away. Hold the phone! Serve the raw oatmeal to my baby? I scratched my head for a minute and read the instructions a few more times. I kept wondering why was there no cooking involved? I was thinking there is no way people would  be serving raw oatmeal to their infants. So I read a little more about it on the box and then researched it online and  go figure, the oatmeal in the box is already cooked. {Cue dramatic music and jaw dropping to the floor} 
 On the back of the box they briefly explain the process which is very similar to the manner in which mash potato flakes are made.  They basically combine rolled oats with oat flour and then cook it, and then dehydrate it, and then grind it into flakes. Pre-cooked oatmeal in a box? Hmmm.... No thank you. Why would I want to feed my child dehydrated oatmeal flakes when real oatmeal is readily available for less and doesn't take too long to cook either?
 
I went back to the drawing board to figure out the best way to make oatmeal for her.  I decided to just buy oats and grind it into flour in my blender. All the baby cook books I've looked at advised not to use instant oatmeal or quick oats but to use real oats instead. This confused me a little because even though I eat oats regularly, I really never paid much attention to all the different types available.  I was aware of the different terms such as rolled oats, steel cut oats, quick oats, etc but didn't really know the difference. So I did a little more research and decided to go with steel cut oats, which undergoes the least amount of processing. I went out to the nature food store to look for it and was really surprised by what I found.
 

 
 
 
 
It didn't look anything like I expected it to! I felt really ignorant once I realized that in my whole entire life, I had never before seen steel cut oats. I kinda imagined it would be a bigger version of rolled oats. Like the old fashioned oats sold by Quaker. But nope it looks more like broken rice or wheat. hard knobby pieces of oats. For the first time I actually understood why Americans use the term oatmeal for rolled oats.
 
So anyway, once I got over my initial surprise, I was curious to see how it would all work out. I took it home and then poured a few handfuls in my blender and put it on grind. I was really worried about grinding grains in the blender since I don't have special milling blades for the blender, and I didn't want to mess up the blades or motor but it worked out great. Within a few minutes I had a pretty smooth flour. It wasn't as smooth as regular flour you might buy in the store but I was okay with that. I could have blended it for a little longer to get it smoother but I didn't see the need to.  I tell you I'm starting to really love this blender of mine, its a cheapie 10-speed by Osterizer and it cost us less than $20 so I didn't expect much from it but its been awesome.
 
 

 


Once I had ground the oats into flour, I cooked a few spoons of it like regular oatmeal and stored the rest of the flour in a double ziploc bag. I discovered that just like regular oatmeal it gets a bit sludgy and lumpy  once it cools down, so its best to serve it warm and add breast milk to it while its still warm. It heats up fine with a bottle warmer after being in the fridge too! So this way I can make enough for more than one meal at a time.




 

And that's how I made my own oatmeal from steel cut oats! Its not as convenient as vegetable purees that I freeze into cubes because I can't make large batches and store it in the freezer.  But it's still great because it cooks really fast  and is the perfect food to travel with since I can just carry the dry oatmeal flour with me and cook it when needed.
 
 
xoxo
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On my wishlist: Infantino squeeze station

 
 
 
As a busy mom making my own baby food, this product could not be more perfect. I came across it a couple of months ago and I honestly haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I love the concept! I have always been quite impressed with the convenience of food pouches, kids of all ages seem to love them. Food pouches are fun to eat, and are an easy way to get your children to eat a healthy mixture of fruits and vegetables. I often pause in wonder at the neat rows of food pouches in the baby food aisle at the supermarket. There seem to be so many brands, so many options and all of them claim to be fresh, healthy and organic.  Below are some of the popular brands available in stores.

 
 
 
I thought at some point I would have to give in and buy the ready-made pouches for long drives, and stroller rides on days out where it wasn't practical to feed her any other way.  One thing that put me off the store pouches is the cost! Although the price varies by location, the average price is at least $1.50 or more per pouch. That can get quite expensive over time. Then there is the issue of not knowing exactly what they put in there. They all claim to be making the food so fresh and pure, but how fresh can it really be when its been sitting on a shelf for months?
 
The Infantino squeeze station made me realize that I can actually make my own pouches and just grab them from the fridge or freezer when we are about to go out. The infantino web page features a demo video, showing just how easy it truly is to fill the pouches with freshly made purees and smoothies for your child and even for yourself! The one down side of this is that the infantino pouches are not reusable.  They do have a reusable version made out of silicone but it's a bit more expensive for that and it's also harder to eat out of because the silicone is too squeezy and doesn't collapse as the food is being squeezed out like a regular disposable pouch.  I have also got my eye  on reusable squeeze pouches by other brands that I will be blogging about soon!
 
Truthfully though, while this product is nice to have, I don't think it is a must have by any means. If I purchased the reusable pouches I could just use a funnel to pour the purees and smoothies into the pouches and eliminate the need for the squeeze station all together.  I am still very happy I saw this product though because it gave me the inspiration to attempt my own food pouches when my child is old enough for them!
 
One disadvantage of homemade food pouches is that they need to be kept cool which requires having a cooler handy or freezing them ahead of time. The store bought versions on the other hand don't need to be refrigerated and are fine at room temperature which makes them more convenient for travelling.
 
 


 





 



xoxo

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baby milestones: 6 months in review

My darling baby is exactly 7 months old today! so I think its about time for a  review of the last month and all the milestones she has hit so far.  I never thought I would be one of those moms that would note down milestones, because I was sure I would remember every tiny detail. The truth is that my memory is already fuzzy on things that happened a few months ago. People will ask me when her first smile was and I have to squint and think really hard to recall. So I'm gonna start noting everything from now on.   I will preface by saying, milestones are a tricky thing, not every baby reaches them at the same time so they are just a general guideline rather than hard and fast rules. A lot of parents get worried when their child isn't doing certain things by a certain age.. Its natural to be worried and its good to be knowledgeable on what milestones your baby should be working on achieving at each stage, but unless your doctor is worried, you shouldn't be worried either because each baby develops at their own pace.

Stats: At her 6 month appointment she weighed  just over 16lbs and was about 27 inches long.( I will check her baby book and confirm the exact numbers)

Hobbies: This month her favorite things to do are; sitting up by herself, standing up with assistance, drooling everywhere, biting her toes, scratching everything and everyone including herself. Rolling from back to belly and belly to back. Picking up everything in her reach and putting it in her mouth.  She loves grabbing a fist full of my hair and yanking on it as if her life depended on it.

Speech: She loves to yell out dadadada as she practices her full volume potential, she starts with a whisper and very soon is loud enough for the whole city to hear. She likes "singing" aaaaaaaah in many octaves. When she is upset and crying I get a few more consonant sounds from her such as bububububu, geegegegege. I'm hoping any day now she will say mama!  Although she can't talk and doesn't understand the words I say,  she definitely understands the tone of my voice. If I say stop when she is giving me a hard time she gets quiet and thoughtful. When I finally manage to get her diaper on her squirmy bottom and I yell out "We did it!!" she gives me a giant smile and chuckles.

Teeth: None so far, but she is enjoying chomping on all her toys and drooling intensely.

Diet: In addition to her regular diet of breast milk supplemented with formula, she has tried green beans, squash, oatmeal, carrots & apple sauce. Primarily only one meal of solid food a day.

In progress: We are working on encouraging her to be mobile although its already hard to keep up with her, because she is so curious.  We have just introduced a sippy cup and she mostly wants to chew on it but is getting the hang of drinking water from it and holding it by herself.

Favorite toy: Television Remote control & her toes

We eagerly await what this coming month has in store for us!


Friday, November 16, 2012

The big fat list of pregnancy no-nos: FOOD EDITION

When you are pregnant, there are so many rules to live by, and the list of foods to avoid grows longer by the minute! As is the case with all medical issues, there are conflicting opinions on foods that are safe to consume during pregnancy. Some doctors are more strict about this, whilst others take a more relaxed approach. You will be surprised that random strangers you meet will also offer their opinions too.  Many people believe a lot of the rules are over cautious and just create unnecessary hype and fear; essentially much ado about nothing. The reason for this belief is that many people break most of these rules and still have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. In addition many of these rules were not followed by our mothers and grandmothers and we all turned out just fine. My opinion is to proceed with caution and common sense. Some of the rules are more important that others, and have higher risks attached. Also keep in mind that just because someone gets away with something doesn't necessarily mean it is safe to do. I know people who smoke and are still healthy, but that doesn't mean smoking is a healthy habit. In the same way, even though some people may break certain rules and not experience any consequences doesn't guarantee that you will be as lucky. I personally wouldn't want to take any unnecessary risks that might affect the health of my baby.

Here is a list of foods to avoid or limit intake that my doctor gave me as well as a few others I picked up along the way.



ALCOHOL


















I always thought this was a no brainer, because of course everyone knows that pregnant women shouldn't drink alcohol right? Wrong. I discovered during my pregnancy that  many pregnant women these days do drink lightly; a glass of wine here and there and believe that as long as they don't get drunk that they are okay. This new wave of accepting alcohol drinking during pregnancy is based on the theory that only excessive amounts of alcohol are harmful to the baby.  The first time I heard this from a pregnant lady my jaw hit the floor. Seriously? People are willing to take such risks with their baby?

The Surgeon General has clear warnings on alcoholic beverages that consuming alcohol during pregnancy is harmful to the fetus and can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) which range from "slight learning disability and/or physical abnormality, through full-blown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can include severe learning disabilities, growth deficiencies, abnormal facial features, and central nervous system disorders"

The notion that small amounts of alcohol on a regular basis are safe during pregnancy is not proven because all reputable medical authorities agree that they can't say for sure the exact amount of alcohol that causes FASD and thus they don't know the exact amount that is considered safe.  The Surgeon General stated "We do not know what, if any, amount of alcohol is safe But we do know that the risk of a baby being born with any of the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders increases with the amount of alcohol a pregnant woman drinks, as does the likely severity of the condition. And when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her baby. Therefore, it's in the child's best interest for a pregnant woman to simply not drink alcohol."

So basically no one knows exactly how much alcohol is safe but people still want to play Russian roulette with the health of their baby and take a high risk guess that maybe a glass or two of wine won't harm them. Sorry but that makes no sense to me whatsoever.
My doctor follows the traditionally accepted rule of no alcohol during pregnancy. She told me to avoid it completely, which was easy for me since I don't drink alcohol anyway.


CAFFEINE
Consuming large amounts of caffeine can cause several complications such as birth defects, preterm labor and even miscarriage.  For this reason most doctors agree that caffeine should be limited to small quantities. Usually the amount considered to be safe ranges between 150 to 300 mg per day.  I avoided caffeine even before I was pregnant so I didn't have a hard time with this at all, my only source of caffeine comes from chocolate and the amounts are so minimal its not even worth counting.

Many people turn to decaffeinated beverages  such as decaf tea or coffee. But what my doctor explained to me was that decaf products can be worse then regular caffeinated products. This is because the chemical process they use to remove the caffeine leaves harmful chemical residue in the beverages.

SEAFOOD

  • Fish with Mercury My doctor explained to me that larger fish tend to be high in the contaminant mercury which, when consumed during pregnancy can affect the development of the brain and nervous system of the baby. The fish that have the highest levels or mercury are: Swordfish, Shark, King Mackerel, Tile fish and Fresh Tuna as well as canned albacore tuna. She advised me to avoid these completely.  The sea food that are lowest in mercury are tilapia, cod, pollock, salmon, catfish, shrimp & crab; these she said were okay to be eaten but in smaller quantities, ie no more than 12 ounces per week. Honestly it was a bit much for me to remember how much was safe to eat and which ones were safe to eat. I just avoided most fish. I had sardines once and that was about it.
  • Raw seafood I was also told to avoid raw fish, raw shell fish and refrigerated smoked seafood like lox. The American pregnancy association explains that this is because of the risks of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. It makes sense that uncooked seafood has a higher chance of being contaminated. Everyone who eats raw fish is at risk but the risks are higher for pregnant women and the consequences are worse due to the fact that there are so many restrictions on the type of medication that is safe to take while pregnant, and illness during pregnancy can pose risks to the baby.  I don't eat shell fish so I was fine with that  but  I love tuna and salmon sushi!! Nothing like a spicy tuna roll to brighten up my day. I hated not being able to eat sushi. I would go to sushi bars with my friends and drool longingly at most of the options. I did eat some vegetable rolls but I realized they were rolling the veggie sushi on the same counters as the raw fish so I stopped eating them.  A lot of people argue that the women in Japan eat sushi while they are pregnant and are fine, this may be true, but I'm sure their fish is fresher and probably taken care of better than ours. Either way I just wanted to err on the side of caution.


MEAT, POULTRY & EGGS

Again it makes perfect sense that meat, poultry and eggs that aren't properly handled or cooked may easily get contaminated too. She advised me to:
-Avoid processed deli meats and hot dogs, unless they are steaming hot.
-Thoroughly cook eggs before eating, no consumption of raw egg or products containing raw eggs like cookie dough. I know several people who have eaten raw cookie dough while pregnant, most of them were fine except one who got violently ill from salmonella. That was all it took to convince me to stay the heck away from raw egg.
-Avoid raw poultry that has been pre-stuffed.
-Avoid refrigerated plates and meat spreads.
-Fully cook all meat and poultry before eating. I personally like my meat well done anyway so this was not an issue for me at all.

UNPASTEURIZED DAIRY

Any dairy products such as soft cheese, milk, or even ice cream shouldn't be consumed unless its pasteurized. Most dairy products found in a regular supermarket are pasteurized, you usually have to go out of your way to get fresh unpasteurized dairy, so this is not really an issue. I still did avoid soft cheese especially at restaurants since I couldn't be sure if they were using fresh or pasteurized ingredients.

In addition to the list my doctor gave me,  I also avoided:


PREPARED SALADS
During my pregnancy there was a listeria outbreak in romaine lettuce, which reinforced the warnings that pregnant women shouldn't eat prepared salads like the ones available in supermarkets that have been sitting around for a while. They are more likely to become contaminated. This rule made a lot of sense to me because some of those prepared salads don't even look very fresh, they aren't always washed as thoroughly as I would like and the leafy greens often look droopy and wilted.  I stuck to home made salads, or freshly made salads from reputable restaurants but nothing from fast foods or supermarkets. The same rule applies for pre-cut fruit platters.

It was really worrying that there was also a listeria outbreak reported in fresh cantaloupe during my pregnancy and just a few months ago another batch of fresh cantaloupe were recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.  As a pregnant woman trying hard to eat healthy, its disturbing when foods such as fresh fruit somehow manage to be contaminated.


SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM

It sounds bizarre saying soft serve ice cream is off limits, but the reason for this is not the ice cream itself but instead the machines used to house and dispense the ice cream. These machines can easily be contaminated with listeria if not cleaned properly

"According to Baby Center, the bacteria can affect the placenta, amniotic fluid or fetus if the mother becomes infected. Approximately a third of the 2,500 cases of listeria infection each year occur in pregnant women. An infection can lead to complications, including premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth and skin sores, respiratory infections or meningitis in the newborn." Source
I was at a local fast food place and I watched as they opened up their soft serve machine to refill it. It was so gross!!! At that point I really understood the rule regarding soft serve machines and why this can pose a risk for pregnant women. I tried hard to follow this rule and also to avoid shakes from fast food places in general, but I kept craving it! I would literally wake up in the middle of night dreaming about soft serve.  In the last trimester I gave up and had a few small frosty shakes from Wendy's.  Much to the horror of my parents, the day after the baby arrived I sent my husband out to get me a large chocolate shake from McDonald's. So yummy!

TEA

My doctor advised me to avoid teas with goldenseal, black or blue cohash, ephedra, dong quai, feverfew, juniper, pennyroyal, St John;s wort or thuja. This is because a lot of these have labor inducing properties and can cause uterus contractions leading to a pre-term labor.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh how I love Lansinoh

A year ago, I had never heard of Lansinoh and now I can't imagine surviving without Lansinoh products. Lansinoh is basically a brand of baby products most of which are for breastfeeding and pumping mothers and I have so far loved every one of their products I have tried. Below is a list of all the Lansinoh products that I have and use on a daily basis


Affinity Double Electric breast pump





 I've been using this daily for several months now and I have no issues whatsover. I was worried making this purchase because this pump is a lot cheaper than Medela and Ameda pumps which are considered the best on the market. At the time I was buying a pump the Obamacare requirement for health insurance to pay for pumps wasnt in effect yet and I honestly didnt want to spend $300 on a pump! I purchased mine on Amazon from seller GreenCupboards (Healthcheck Systems Inc) for $132, I believe the price has now gone down to $122.  Buying this pump was a gamble because I really had no clue if it would work well for me or not. Breast pumps cannot be returned once the seal has been broken, so even if I didn't like it I would be stuck with it. Much like other brands the reviews were very mixed, some people loved it and some people hated it, so I was very nervous making this purchase. I chose this pump because it was by a well known and respected brand and it had a closed system. A closed system basically means that it is designed in such a way that the breast milk cannot back up into the tubes or pump motor. The milk makes no contact with the tubing at all. This is a VERY important feature! Pumps that allow milk to get into the tubes are problematic because it is hard to thoroughly clean and dry the inside of the tubes. And if moisture stays inside the tubes it can cause bacteria and mould to build up in the tubes, which is not good!! This Lansinoh does not have this issue the milk stays sealed away from the tubes and so the tubes are always dry and clean.

Overall I love this pump as much as a pump can be loved. I don't like pumping, in fact I hate it, but it's a necessary evil since I want to keep breastfeeding as fulltime working mom. It does what it has to do and it's very fast and efficient. It doesn't come with a carry case or ice pack like other more expensive pumps, but those are easy to purchase from their accessory store or your can just use your own.  I give this 5 stars and don't know why anyone would spend double the price of this on a Medela pump that grows mould in the tubes.




Breastmilk storage bags


These are such an important part of storing breastmilk. Storing in bags is so much easier than any other option. In the early days I would store breastmilk in bottles but they take up so much space in the fridge!  These bags are like modified ziploc bags, but they are pre-sterilized,  strong and durable with a double lock seal, they can stand upright in the fridge or laid flat in the freezer to save space.  They have a tab so you can write the date and amount of milk before you store it. A lot of people claim that these bags leak, but they don't if you use them properly. I've only ever had one bag leak and I realized right away what my mistake was. Its simple science, when liquids freeze they expand so you can't overfill the bags. Even though there seems to be more space in the bag, you can't put more than 6oz in each bag, especially not if its going into the freezer. I think its ok to overfill it if you plan to just put it in the fridge and not to freeze it. The other mistake I made in the beginning was not squeezing out all the air before I sealed it shut, and this can also cause the bag to overexpand in the freezer and burst. From my experience its best to lay the bags flat in the freezer so they freezer in flat stacks.



Disposable nursing pads






I feel really bad using these disposable nursing pads, they are so wasteful and I've gone through tons of them! I did consider using reuseable nursing pads but its just so convenient and easy to use these. The main purpose of these  is to prevent breastmilk from leaking into your clothing during the day or at night. These nursing pads are thin and yet very absorbent with a strong adheseive back to attach to the inside of your clothing.


HPA Lanolin


I can't say enough good things about this Lanolin, it is so multi-functional! I currently use this on my baby's bottom  to soothe irritation and diaper rash. I also used this during my pregnancy for excessively dry and cracked skin. This is also great for soothing, healing and protect sore or cracked nipples as a result of breastfeeding issues.




Portable Cooler Bag


I got a few of these for free when I purchased some of the breastmilk storage bags. The inside of these bags is a shiny foil and even though the bag feels quite thin and flimsy, it really does a good job of keeping bottles cold for long periods of time especially if I add an icepack to it. I like using this for days when I only want to take one bottle out with me. Its just the right size to fit one bottle plus one ice pack



Clean and Condition Baby wipes






I've only used a few of these wipes, since I received a free sample of them, but I have no complaints!   For now I don't see myself switching over to using these full time but they are okay to have on hand.




Adventures in solids: butternut squash

My first attempt at home made baby food was a huge success, and this boosted my confidence even further to continue on with home made baby food for now. The first food she had was green beans, and I wanted to follow up with peas. But considering that we are in the fall harvest season there are no fresh peas to be found! My only option would be to use canned or frozen peas but for me that would defeat the purpose of making fresh homemade food for her. I strolled around the farmers market trying to decide what next to introduce her to and the one vegetable they had in abundance was squash. They had so many types of squash; acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, winter squash... I hesitated to try squash because I don't usually cook squash but it seemed pretty simple and straight forward. So I bought some butternut squash and took it home to give it a try.

Originally I was planning to peel it, cube it and then steam or boil it, but that seemed like so much work and all the baby recipe books say its easier to just bake it. So I washed and scrubbed the squash, cut both ends off, cut it in half and scooped the seeds out. Then I placed it flesh side down on a cookie sheet with a little bit of water and I put it in the oven for about 40 minutes. When the skin looked puckered and wrinkled I took it out of the oven and spooned the squash out of the skin and into the blender.

I really didn't need to put in the blender because it was already really soft but since I had already started spooning it in, I thought I might as well use the blender to evenly mix in some breast milk. Then just like with the green beans, I used a spatula to spoon the puree into my mumi & bubi ice tray and the left over I poured directly into the jelly jars. The good thing about butternut squash is how smooth and creamy the texture is straight out of the oven.






All was going so well up until this point. I left the squash puree to cool down and that's when I noticed that the fingers on my left hand especially my thumb were extremely dry and felt really tight. I thought maybe I hadn't washed my hands properly, so I went and washed my hands thoroughly and put some lotion on. Sure enough within a few minutes I had the dry, tight, cracking feeling on my fingers almost as though I had smeared super glue all over my hand and left it to dry. I washed my hands a few more times, but the dryness and cracking was only getting worse. The skin inside my palm was actually changing color to an eerie shade of orange. I went online to check if butternut squash was known to cause this type of reaction and sure enough, it is supposedly a common reaction that happens to many people and its called Irritant contact dermatitis. I also found this blog post that shows pictures of what the reaction looks like. I was so annoyed.I know it sounds a bit silly but there really should be some type of warning on the squash! What if I had touched my baby with the squash 'juice' on my hands, then she might have had to deal with that uncomfortable reaction too. It got worse and worse over several hours but by the next day it was gone. I could always wear gloves next time to avoid this reaction but I don't see myself cooking squash anytime soon.





 


My little one was okay with the squash but didn't love it as much as she liked the green beans. The very next day after we introduced squash she got a weepy gunky eye, that was constantly needing to be cleaned. I'm sure it was most likely a coincidence rather than a reaction to the squash. But I don't plan to give her squash again for some time, I fed it to her for 4 days consecutively and then I switched to something else.

xoxo

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I'm an Amazon Mom



When I first heard about Amazon Mom, I was quite intrigued, I didn't fully understand all the benefits but I still wanted to join anyway. At the time I tried to sign up, they were in the process of transitioning the Amazon Mom program to make it a paid membership. Basically to be an Amazon mom you need to have a paid membership with Amazon Prime.  Prime is in many ways similar to the paid memberships at wholesale warehouses like Costco or Sam's Club.
I was offered a free trial of Amazon Prime, but I didn't take full advantage of it because I didn't have much to buy at that time nor was I aware that Amazon carried such a wide range of merchandise. Once the trial was over I decided not to continue with it because I didn't think it was worth it. That was until the baby arrived. I suddenly came to really appreciate the convenience of ordering online versus shopping in store with a baby. Shopping online saves my time and gas, and helps me easily compare products and prices. I found myself going back to the Amazon Mom page over and over until I finally gave in and signed up for it. It felt like such a waste of money paying the $79 annual membership fee, but I convinced myself it was worth try, and I tell you, its been the best $79 dollars I've spent in a while. Here is why

  • Amazon mom allows me to save 20% on subscriptions for diapers and wipes, which is pretty darn awesome. That 20% makes quite a big difference over time. (Even though we use cloth diapers, we still need disposables for daycare.)
  • Free two-day shipping on all items that are 'prime eligible' with no minimum amount. This is my favorite feature of the program. Sometimes I need something right away and can't wait around for days for it, but I also don't have the time to drive to the store for it. With Amazon mom I am guaranteed to get my orders within 2 days, sometimes even faster. Plus its free!
  • Hassle free returns. This is one of the best things about Amazon Mom, being able to return items without any drama. Returning merchandise to a store can be tedious, especially if you cant find the receipt, some stores like Target make it their ultimate mission to be as difficult as possible if you try to return a product.  Another thing is that most stores have a 60 day or 90 day return policy which is silly for baby items because most people shop in anticipation of the baby's arrival, so my return policy would expire before I even got around to using the product, which means I would be forced to keep it even if it doesn't work right or I don't like it.  With Amazon Mom I get to return anything I don't want easily. I just print a free return label and then drop it off at my local UPS or post office and I get my money back, sometimes they refund the money and tell me not to bother shipping the item back. Does it get better than that? This feature keeps me loyal to Amazon because even if a product arrives and is not as described, or doesn't do what its supposed to do I just send it right back and order something else.
  • Amazon has great reviews I can rely on. Amazon buyers really do a great job of putting up good reviews of baby products complete with their personal photos. This really plays a big role in helping me choose products. At a glance I can see what the majority opinion is of a product, if many people are complaining about the same thing, it gives me a heads up and I can make an informed decision. Nine times out of ten I will agree with the majority view and will be happy with my purchase
  • Amazon Mom often have deals, coupons and promotions on baby items which lets me save even more money.
  • Amazon prices are sometimes the best price out there. Why pay more if you don't have to?
  • You also get unlimited streaming of many movies and television shows
  • One Kindle book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

A few things I don't like about being an Amazon mom

  • In some ways amazon is like eBay,  there are many different sellers and some are more trustworthy than others. Some sellers send out products that are not as described; I have so far experienced receiving items that were: the wrong color, the wrong style, a completely different product from what I ordered, as well as two products that appeared to be used. I have also heard of people getting fake Ergo baby carriers from Amazon, which sucks because who wants to pay full price for a fake product? 
  • Smaller priced items are sometimes more expensive on Amazon. I find that items under $25 that can be found at Walmart,Target or Babies R Us, are much more expensive on amazon. I'll give an example;
This medicine dispenser by Safety 1st is listed at $7.99 on Amazon

but the exact same thing is sold for $2.49 at Babies R Us


That's basically 3 times the price!! Of course if I went to Babies  R Us I would have to pay tax, but tax would only be 17 cents, so there is still no justification for Amazon to charge so much more for it.
I have found that this is consistently the case with certain lower price items, Amazon will have a much higher price than the regular retail value. so I always always compare prices before buying.

Overall, despite some minor issues I've had with a few sellers,  it has been totally worth it, I've saved a lot of money by being part of the Amazon Mom program and I'm definitely going to renew my membership when the first year is up





Thursday, November 8, 2012

My love affair with Trumpette


As I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to hold off putting shoes on my baby until she is actually walking outside and needs shoes, but I still wanted something cute for her feet.  I stumbled upon Trumpette socks, and it was love at first sight.  I immediately loved the Lucia version shown below.

Who wouldn't love such cute little socks that look exactly like shoes and have with real bows on them? This is a photo of my baby wearing the pink Lucia's at her baby dedication.




In addition to the Lucia's I pretty much love all the other styles that Trumpette has available. I love the fact that the bows are really firmly stitched on, I worried they would come off easily in the wash but as you can see in the photo below my baby has tried very hard to remove them with all her strength, but so far has been unsuccessful. {As of April 2013 the Aubree and Hearts styles were recalled because the flowers and bows were detaching https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2013/Baby-Socks-Recalled-by-Trumpette}




They are totally overpriced though, it costs about $25 to $ 30 for 6 pairs and it comes in a cute gift box. It is more than ten times the price of regular socks at walmart! Because of how ridiculous the price is I was glad to see knock off versions at Target, and even though the target ones don't have real bows on them, I think they stay on her feet a little better.  With socks like these who needs shoes?



Trumpette socks are not just for girls, they also have boy styles available! I wasnt aware of that until I saw a cute little boy at  my daughters daycare wearing sneaker socks complete with real laces!!

xoxo



My take on baby shoes...

 
 
I just posted the article Are baby shoes bad for your child?  And I promise it's not because I'm a horrible person that hates baby shoes. I like shoes just as much as the next person, in fact truth be told I love shoes. I'm a self confessed SATC addict and my love for the character Carrie Bradshaw only made my shoe obsession worse than ever, So then why is it that my 6.5 month old baby has never worn a pair of shoes yet?

Its really simple; above all, I want my baby to happy, healthy and comfortable! I don't know about the rest of the world but I don't wear shoes if I don't have to, especially now after having a baby, my feet seem to have gone up half a size and just can't seem to take the abuse they were accustomed to. I only wear shoes when I really need to, and its only fair that the same should apply for my baby too. She will wear shoes when she really needs to, which is when she starts walking outdoors. If you read the article you will see my reasons listed there for why baby shoes aren't the best for their little feet and how they can hinder their feet development. Baby shoes are are nice for photo shoots but are really not necessary aside from that.

So far my little one has two pairs of shoes, both of them were gifts and I'm really happy that they are both large enough that she will still fit into them in the months ahead when she starts to walk around. Until then her feet are bare and free!


In the meantime I am obsessed with Trumpette socks and I'll be posting about them shortly!

xoxo