Getting Started: Homemade Baby Food

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.32.53 PMLast night I posted this picture of my latest creation (steamed and pureed broccoli) for my little man’s breakfast and it prompted a lot of questions about my baby food making process. I’ve found it to be a pretty easy process so far (once I figured out his schedule with both bottles and baby food) and so I haven’t found the need to buy baby food yet which has saved us a ton of money in the long run. Besides, don’t you wonder what they put in those baby food jars which make them last so long? I think I’ll stick to giving our baby pure nutrition and simple ingredients for now. So to get started I usually make and introduce 1-2 new food items a week (depending on how much I have in the freezer and what I have going on that week). Last week was blueberries. This week we are introducing broccoli! Here’s a quick look at everything I use to make baby food:

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.34.16 PMBAEBA Babycook Pro:

Ok so yes, you can use your Vitamix or a regular blender or food processor however most everything I read about making your own baby food encouraged steaming instead of boiling the food to preserve the nutrients. Baking is also another good option but who has time to preheat and use your oven every night? Also when making small quantities it just seems simpler in my opinion for clean up and for blending to just have one small machine that does it all instead of steaming in a basket and then transferring to a large, oversized Vitamix. It took a little convincing to explain to my husband why I “needed” this but now he is 100% on board and we both love it!

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.34.26 PMSage Spoonfuls Cookbook

I don’t know how I would have even started without this gem! This “cookbook” goes through the order of solids (yes, there are certain foods appropriate by age for your baby), how long they need to be steamed, if you need to buy organic or if fresh or frozen is ok. It also talks about the health benefits of each different food as well.  I literally use this book for every new food I introduce to our little guy. If you don’t want to buy a book I’ve also heard a ton of great things about the Wholesome Baby Food website. It also lists the age appropriate for each food as well.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.34.34 PMOxo Tot Baby Blocks Storage Containers – 2 oz

For food storage I recommend these Oxo Tot containers. They are freezer and dishwasher safe. I like them better than ice cube trays because I can grab one for daycare and go and not have to defrost or pop out food and move it to different containers. I can literally store and feed from these plastic containers. Perfect.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.52.53 PMMunchkin White Hot Safety Spoon

Ok so yes I do realize that you should be able to judge how   hot or cold your baby’s food is without a spoon that turns white when it gets too hot.. but why guess… why wonder. These spoons are just another added safety net in protecting my baby and helping make life just a little easier.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.58.42 PMBumkins Waterproof Starter Bib 

We introduced waterproof bibs when we started feeding solids instead of using the cute cloth Aden + Anais cloth bibs I use when giving our baby a bottle. These bibs are waterproof and make clean up a breeze. I simply run them under the sink after mealtime and then hang to drive. They require little fuss, which I love, and still have lots of cute patterns.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 7.00.57 AMCulturelle Priobiotics for Kids

About a month after we started solids our little guy had constant boopy diapers (about 6-8 a day) and developed a horrible diaper rash. Our pediatrician recommended giving him a probiotic once/day to help his body process the foods he was eating. This particular probiotic helps to “support a child’s health by fostering the proper balance between good bacteria and the non-beneficial bacteria that resides in the gastorintestinal tract…it alleviates occasional digestive distress while supporting a child’s natural defenses.” This particular type comes in the form of a solid which we mix half of a packet a day in with some of his cold fruit.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 11.04.33 PM

Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster.

Last but not least is our high chair. Our kitchen is probably average size but it doesn’t really have a great corner or a lot of extra space for a large or bulky high chair. We have a small, round table with 4 wooden chairs in our kitchen and we decided early on to designate one of these chairs for our little man’s “high chair.” I’ve loved this seat. It’s a great space saver, its plastic (which comes in handy for so many reasons), and its portable. If you have extra guests and need the seat you can just unclick the two straps and voila! no more high chair. We’ve also taken this to the grandparents house and to restaurants. Portable, functional and pretty darn attractive- I’d say that’s a win!

Traveling with Baby

image1 2My husband and I recently decided to head back to Asheville after an interesting attempt to try and visit earlier this year for a “Babymoon” before our little man arrived. Our first experience was cut short after we rented a “cabin” that was actually right off a very busy road and was the home to several mice which kept us up through the night. After a sleepless night our friend and dog-sitter Emily called us up early in the morning to let us know that our sweet puppy was incredibly sick and as a result our home was in a less than ideal state… Needless to say our trip to Asheville the first time wasn’t so great and so it was time for a do-over. This time we decided to do it right- We decided to stay at the Grove Park Inn (picture above) which is absolutely amazing, especially at Christmas. I’ll probably end up writing an entire post just on the hotel because of how absolutely amazing it is. Before we venture out to see the Biltmore at Christmas time we are camping out in our hotel room while our little man gets in a good nap. I thought I’d take this opportunity to capture all of our tips and tricks for traveling with a baby which has made this a pretty great experience so far:

  • SOUND MACHINE is a must! When sharing a room with your little one it makes it easier for all involved to have that extra buffer to keep him sleeping soundly. It helps that our little boy is also used to sleeping with a sound machine at home.
  • SNAP IN GO STROLLER. The best light weight stroller around which folds up and is easy for carrying up and down stairs if needed with or without the carseat attached. This particular model is the only one we found that fits the Britax B-Safe Carseat.
  • FORMULA DISPENSER or formula in a bottle. Our little man is no longer on breastmilk which has its own positives and negatives. One positive we’ve found during this trip is that we can carry around an empty bottle in tow with the necessary formula power already measured out in the bottle and then just add room temperature water when we are ready to feed him. Makes life a whole lot easier. However if still using breastmilk then a small bottle cooler and warmer are of course great for on the go.
  • BABY CARRIER. Just for when you want to nix the stroller and take advantage of arms free mobility. Ideal for our trip to the Biltmore this afternoon!
  • BACKPACK DIAPER BAG. Leave the large diaper bag in the car or hotel room. When walking around on vacation you want to minimize the “load” you are carrying and travel a little more light weight. We actually lucked out and found an outdoor store in our hotel and picked up one of these Patagonia sling bags. It may look small but it was perfect to fit a changing pad, a couple diapers, wipes, one bottle with dry formula, boogie wipes and a change of clothes. Perfection!
  • HEADPHONES for mom and dad. For the evening or during nap time if you want to watch a movie or listen to something on your computer or phone.

Can you think of anything else you’ve found helpful that I’m missing? Happy traveling! 🙂

Diaper Diaries

It’s about that time again.. time to “up” our little man’s diaper size. How do I know? Well you can refer to the size chart that diaper companies provide or you may also know because you are constantly changing your little one’s clothing after multiple blow outs (3 exactly) in one day. That’s a definite sign that its time to “up” your diaper size. Here is my list so far in tracking how long our little one is in each size (pounds provided by Pampers). NOTE: I noticed that our little man started “exploding” out of his diapers 1-2 pounds sooner than the suggested weight range. For instance a size 2 diaper is listed for 12-18lb however we noticed they were too small for him at about 16lb. That’s been the case with every size so far.

IMG_6901

Size N (Our boy: 0-5 weeks)
Up to 10 lb.
222 Avg. diapers per month

Size 1 (Our boy: 5 weeks – 11 weeks)
8-14 lb.
216 Avg. diapers per month

Size 2 (Our boy: 11 weeks – 20 weeks) 
12-18 lb.
216 Avg. diapers per month

Size 3 (Our boy: 20 weeks – 30 weeks ) 
16-28 lb.
177 Avg. diapers per month

Size 4 (Our boy: 30 weeks – ?)
22-37 lb.
162 Avg. diapers per month 

Size 5: 27+ lb.
Size 6: 35+ lb.
Size 7: 41+ lb.

It’s also good to remember how many diapers you went through. Here is our record (yes, I tracked them this long and I’m not really sure why!):

May (birth- 2 weeks): 141 diapers

June (3-6 weeks): 382 diapers

July (7-11 weeks): 378 diapers

August (12-15 weeks): 324 diapers

September (16-19 weeks): 291 diapers

 

Bringing Home Baby

Before you bring home your baby for the first time there are a couple things to remember that are best to get done ahead of time.. and not once you have a newborn at home.

  • Prep the Nursery
    • You don’t have to have everything in your nursery done but you should aim for it to be as complete as possible. You really won’t have much time to finish it once your little one arrives so do yourself a favor and create an awesome oasis for you and your baby to come home to.
    • Key items include furniture, sheet and mattress cover on the mattress, changing pad and cover, diaper pail or trash can, rocker (if desired). Paint the walls and make it a special place you want to spend time in.
  • Take classes at your local hospital
    • If your hospital offers baby preparation classes I highly recommend you check them out and take part in at least some of them, even if you have watched young kids your entire life there are LOTS of things you still don’t know and will need to learn.
    • Some of my favorites include Infant/Child CPR, Breastfeeding for Couples (its not as awkward as it sounds and helps your hubby feel included and be able to help you) and Baby Essentials (tips on bathing, swaddling, diaper changing and all those general things you might not think to ask about)
  • Pack your hospital bag.
    • You want to be well prepared and not throwing things in a bag at the last minute. This includes items for yourself, your baby and your husband.
  • Hire a Photographer
    • Decide now if you want to have professional maternity and/or newborn pictures done and go ahead and schedule those. Most maternity sessions are taken between 30-35 weeks but this number fluctuates a lot based on the sites you read. Basically you want your belly to be large enough to be showing but you still want to have that cute glow and not the swollen uncomfortable feeling as you get closer and closer to 40 weeks.
    • Newborn pictures are usually taken within the first 10 days. The sooner the better so your little one will sleep a long time and their limbs will be flexible for posing. The older they get the easier they wake up and harder it is to maneuver them.
  • Wash your baby’s clothes
    • You don’t need to wash all of them but definitely all the newborn and possibly even your 0-3 month clothes (newborn clothes only fit up to 8 lbs so bigger babies will skip newborn sizes all together).
    • Don’t forget to wash your baby’s sheets, blankets, bibs, burp cloths and anything else that may come in contact with his/her skin.
  • Buy a Baby Book
    • I made the mistake of waiting until my little one was 2 months old before finally purchasing a baby book. Most baby books these days include some pages for your pregnancy and showers and of course labor and delivery. The farther away you get from these events the harder it will be to document and remember.
  • Spoil your Pup
    • I am a HUGE dog lover. I absolutely love our English Golden Retriever. We even have gotten in the habit of calling him our first born. But as much as I love him having a newborn is exhausting and demands a lot of your time. You will still love your pup and still be able to take him on walks and play with him but your time will be limited (especially with those 2-3 hour feedings). So do yourself and your dog a favor and spoil him in those last few months, buy some extra treats and toys to have on hand to give to him while you are at home and unable to play as much as you’d probably like to.
  • Design your Baby Announcements
    • Go ahead and check out your favorite websites and get an idea of the type of baby announcements you like, how many pictures you will need for it and what orientation that need to be (landscape or portrait). This will help you get them put together, printed and sent out faster and also tell your photographer exactly what you need when planning out your newborn sessions.
  • Print 2 sets of address labels
    • I read the recommendation to print your Baby Announcement address labels before your baby arrives and thought it was brilliant. Who has time to sit and write out addresses with a newborn?! But one thing I did learn is I wish I had printed TWO sets. One for the Baby Announcements and then one for thank you notes. Often times the people you are sending announcements to are also the people bring you meals or sending a cute little outfit or another fun gift for you after your baby arrives (even if they already sent you a shower gift). So do yourself a favor and print TWO sets. Oh and while you’re at it get some thank you notes ahead of time as well.
  • Read Moms on Call
    • A program started by two pediatric nurse-mom’s with over 20 years of pediatric experience and eight children between them this book goes over the same basic principles as Baby Wise but is a lot simpler to understand.
    • This book will walk you through how to start a schedule for your baby’s feedings and naps and eventually will help he/she sleep through the night. Our little one started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks! This book and their tips are game changers and are SO helpful!
  • Look Ahead
    • Check out your calendar for the first 2 months you will be home with your little one and note any special birthdays or holidays you need to pay attention to. Go ahead and buy cards and gifts if possible. It’s amazing how much work it is to get out the door with a newborn for the first time and how quickly time flies when you are nursing every 3 hours. So do what you can and save yourself the stress of trying to figure out gifts ahead of time.
  • Join Amazon Prime
    • This is for everyone out there! Baby or not Amazon Prime will save you time and money! Free two-day shipping and extra discounts on diapers, wipes, etc when you join Amazon Mom. There is really no reason not to do this. Oh and for all of your non-perishable kitchen and household items check out Amazon Pantry as well. Lifesavers!
  • Get the newborn sizes
    • The majority of the clothes and diapers we received started at 3 months and size 1. This is great if you have a big baby but if your baby is less than 8 lbs as you are nearing your due date (you’ll find out at your ultrasound) then make sure you have some newborn clothes and diapers on hand. Our little one was born at 6 lb 12 oz and was in newborn clothes and diapers for a little over a month. I definitely wasn’t expecting him to be in the smaller sizes for so long and had to stock up on some extra supplies after he was born.
  • Take Care of Home Projects
    • I can’t tell you how many “projects” I had planned for the 3 months I was on maternity leave.. And the first was started and completed 3 weeks AFTER I went back to work..
    • You think you may have a lot of time on your hands but taking care of a newborn takes A LOT of time and is amazing and exhausting all at the same time. So give yourself a break and save those house projects for another time.
  • Spend time with your husband
    • When you don’t have a newborn in the house its hard to appreciate the flexibility in your schedule and your ability to get up and go whenever you want. Make sure to prioritize your husband and your relationship and do some fun things together. Go out to a nice dinner, go to the movies or to the lake. Yeah you can do these things after your little one arrives and grandparents are God’s way of providing awesome babysitters pretty much whenever you need one but take advantage of your freedom and do some fun things together as man and wife.
  • Take Care of Yourself
    • Don’t forget to take care and prep for yourself – not just everyone else.
    • Go ahead and get a couple nursing bras and tanks (wait as long as you can and as close to your due date as you can- your breasts will increase once your milk comes in!)
    • Get your nails and hair done
    • Get some “in between” clothes or be prepared to wear your early maternity clothes post baby.
    • Take naps.. lots and lots of naps.

I hope this helps to prepare you before the big day! Once he arrives your life will change forever- and for the better!

Diaper Bag Checklist (3 Months and Under)

imageThe task of packing a diaper bag for the first time may seem easy but you can also go a little overboard.. Here is everything you need for your little man at 3 months and younger:

  • Diapers (for as long as you are going to be gone. i.e. You don’t need 10 diapers when leaving for an hour)
  • Gauze and vaseline for your little man post circumcision (only in the very early days)
  • Wipes
  • Changing pad (most diaper bags come with one)
  • Nursing cover (if applicable)
  • Bottle (if applicable)
  • Burp cloth
  • Bib
  • Pacifier
  • Extra outfit (yes you will need this- make sure its an outfit you actually like)
  • Blanket (regardless of what season it is – air conditioned stores can get pretty cold for your little one, so can the freezer section of your local grocery store!)
  • Coupon holder (for the tons and tons of coupons you will get in the mail and that you will want to keep readily available for purchases when needed)
  • Bag for dirty clothes and/or diapers if there isn’t a trash can around (grocery bags will work or you can buy the ones at the baby store. I’ve also been known to use our dog’s poop bag a time or too- hey, if its plastic then its good enough for me.)

 

I’m Having a Baby: Hospital Bag Checklist

IMG_2048I think it took me a matter of weeks (halfway joking) to pack my hospital bag. I read numerous posts and blogs and tried condensing and creating my own lists. Here is exactly what I used and a listing of everything you need (and don’t need) at the hospital.

Mom Bag (That’s You!)

  • The clothes you wear to the hospital
    • I had the pleasure of being induced and picking out my outfit and walking right into the hospital. Yoga pants, a tank and hoodie were the perfect combination.
    • No matter what you wear they make you get into a hospital gown about 10 minutes after you arrive- so your comfort is short-lived.
  • A top for each day you will be in the hospital  (notice I only said a top)
    • I went with a nursing tank and hoodie each day we were there
  • One pair of comfy shorts or yoga pants to leave the hospital.
    • You won’t be wearing any pants while you are there.. hospital gowns pre-baby and then after delivery you will have the pleasure of wearing these large mesh underwear with special padded ice packs (oh yes). When guests arrive just pull up that hospital blanket. They will never know you are sitting in your mesh undies.
  • Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, face wash, soap, deodorant, make-up. I also brought a travel hair dryer and straightener (I wanted to look halfway decent for all the pictures!)
  • Shower Shoes (seriously)
  • Personal items: glasses, wallet, pillow, computer and a movie or two for while you wait, phone charger,
  • Camera and battery
  • Folder or file to keep all the paperwork in (there is lots of paperwork!)

Dad Bag

  • 2-3 outfits for during the day
  • pjs
  • Toiletries
  • Shower Shoes
  • Personal items
  • The REI Comfort Cot  (your husband will thank me)Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 12.26.58 PM. My man found this and at first I thought he was kidding when he said he was bringing it with him to the hospital but it was literally a lifesaver.  At 6 ft 3 in the “bench bed” in the hospital was way too short for him and VERY uncomfortable. Every guest, nurse, and doctor we had who saw his cot commented on what a genius he was to bring it. He didn’t have any trouble sleeping and was so thankful he brought it. I seriously think we could have rented this thing out and made some big bucks in the process.

Baby Bag (combine in Mom’s Bag)

  • 2-3 outfits (if desired)
    • For the hospital photographer pictures
    • For him to wear while you receive guests (if not he will be in a diaper and a wrap around shirt with the hospital logo on it)
  • Knitted cap for boys
    • I know the cap had pink and blue stripes and is supposed to be unisex but there is seriously a lot more pink in those hats. Next time we have a boy I’m bringing my little man a more manly hat. (And yes the nurses will insist you keep a hat on him at ALL times.)
  • Going home outfit
    • If you’re into that its good for pictures.. but do yourself a favor and pick something that is cute and easy to put on.. Apparently I wasn’t thinking and we went for the outfit that had to be pulled over his head, buttoned and then snapped. Way too complicated. That was the first and last time he wore that outfit!

Things the Hospital Provides (And you should get extras of to bring home with you:)

  • Diapers – size 1 – Use them up and ask for more! You’ll never get another free diaper again!
  • Wipes
  • Blankets (lots of blankets)
  • Onesie/Wrap around shirt – ours had the hospital logo on it
  • Knitted Caps (see above!)
  • Baby socks
  • Bulb syringe
  • Gauze and vaseline if your little man is getting circumcised (Definitely ask for lots of extra to take home. Vaseline is cheap but I learned quickly that gauze is not, especially when you are using 2 pieces at every diaper change.)
  • For Mom: mesh underwear, padded ice packs and pain meds.