Door Jumpers

Posted by Alina on Friday Oct 31, 2008 Under Baby Products

A reader recently wrote in with a question about door jumpers. I bought the Graco Jumpster. It got great reviews from people on the internet and the moms I know personally. The jumper has three cords attached to the seat, making it very easy to get the baby in and out. It also has a mechanism that prevents these chords from twisting. The tray on the Graco jumper helps prevent the baby from hitting their head on the edge of the doorway when he gets extra excited. I found the Sassy Seat Doorway Jumper more pleasing aesthetically, but many of the reviews I read, mentioned that the way the ropes attached to the seat made it difficult to place the baby in and out, and the ropes would twist when the baby turned in place. Many moms I talk to, have the Graco jumper and love it. My son, who is now almost 7 months old, has never really taken to it. He would seem happy for a couple of minutes, but would quickly get bored, even with toys attached. He seems to prefer being on the floor.

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My son who is now six and a half months old, has begun pulling himself up in the crib. Three days ago he was getting to his knees, so we moved the crib mattress down a notch so that he would not tip over and fall out (our crib has 3 possible mattress positions). Today he started coming up on his feet, and we had to lower the mattress yet again. It’s now at the lowest possible setting. Although the crib has a drop side, the mattress is now too low to allow me (5’5″) to reach in and pick a baby who is lying down without injuring myself. When I come to the crib, my son is usually on all fours, waiting to get out, I first drop the side down, help him up to a kneeling position, then up on his feet (while he is supporting his own weight) and then I lift him up. This reduces the strain on my back, especially since I have to perform this motion several times a day. If the baby is too young for kneeling or standing, then sitting them up before lifting would also reduce strain. It is also important to keep your knees bent, tighten the abdominal muscles, avoid rounding your back over the crib side, and lift the baby up close to your chest/ shoulder.

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Baby Carriers

Posted by Alina on Sunday Oct 26, 2008 Under Baby Products, mommy products

When my son was a newborn, I used a Peanut Shell Sling, which goes over one shoulder and provides great support for a tiny baby. He loved being in there and would fall asleep almost instantly. It was a fantastic way to calm him down and allowed my husband and I to go out to restaurants for a peaceful meal. I was able to discreetly breastfeed in the sling so it really helped make the first couple of months easier. Because the sling distributes the baby’s weight unevenly on your body, it is important to switch sides often. If you have back problems, a carrier that distributes the baby’s weight more evenly may be a better option.

When my son turned 2 months, I switched to using a Baby Bjorn Synergy with back support, which felt much better for me and allowed my son to face in our out (once he had sufficient head support). I figured out how to breast feed in this carrier, and really enjoyed it for a few months. Then, my son got heavier (16lbs), and my upper trapezius muscles (between neck and shoulders) started to really hurt and cramp when I carried him for even two blocks. My husband still uses the Baby Bjorn and really likes it. My son seems very happy in it, especially when he is facing out, but I am just not able to use it any more.

My next purchase was the Ergo Baby Carrier. This carrier only allows the baby to face you, there is a special insert that can be purchased for a newborn, and the child can be carried on your back. When my son is in the Ergo, his weight is distributed much more on my hips than my shoulders, and this enables me to carry him around longer. If he falls asleep, I can walk around for about an hour and although I may feel a bit tired after, I do not have pain. The Ergo has a pocket, so I can pack one diaper, a small container of wipes (in a ziplock bag) and a disposable changing pad, in addition to my wallet and phone, so I don’t need to bring a bag at all if I have my son in the carrier. It also has a piece of material that can be used to cover the baby’s head, useful during breastfeeding on the go or for support when he falls asleep. The Ergo has allowed me to continue to carry my now 6 month old son in a comfortable and pain-free way.

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Sleep training

Posted by Alina on Saturday Oct 25, 2008 Under sleep, useful tips

I never thought that I would want to “sleep train” my child. By 5 months our son was going to bed at 8pm, waking up around 11:00pm for a feeding and then sleeping until 5:00am. Although he only fell asleep eating, I thought this was reasonable. He was sleeping in a crib in our room and at 5:00am I would take him into our bed for the early morning feeding. Everything changed when we took a one week vacation to Canada. At the hotel, our son slept in our bed, and was able to have the breast on demand throughout the night, whether for food or comfort. Once we returned home, he did not want to be in his crib, woke up every hour at night, and screamed at the top of his lungs whenever I tried to put him back down. Eventually, after a few hours, I would get too exhausted and take him into our bed, so we could all get some rest. This lasted for a week with no improvement. I felt tired, irritable, and decided that something had to change.

I did some research on the internet about various methods of sleep training. I spoke to my son’s pediatrician, who suggested we go “cold turkey”. He said “feed him, put him down in his crib, and don’t go to him until 7:00am. You will have three tough nights, and then he will sleep through the night.” I felt that this was too aggressive and because he sleeps in our room, this would be difficult to carry out.

So, in my search, I saw an interesting review for Dr. Ferber’s book, so I decided to see what it’s all about. The book is called “Solve your child’s sleep problems” by Richard Ferber, M.D. I recommend reading the book before actually performing any intervention. In the book, he gives the reader an understanding of what happens during different phases of sleep and how the patterns develop. He talks about normal patterns of deep and light sleep and says that we all have brief periods when we wake up and then return to sleep throughout the night, without remembering it in the morning. The book then identifies various common types of “sleep issues” for kids of different ages. Ours for example was associations with falling asleep. Our son associated the breast or bottle as something he needed to fall asleep, even if he was not hungry. After helping the reader establish a “diagnosis”, Dr. Ferber then offers ways of treating the problem. The book is not preachy, and he does not advocate for the “cold turkey” method.

In our case, the thing to do was to put our son down tired but awake, let him cry for 3 minutes, then go in and check on him/ talk to him (without picking him up), then 5 minutes, then 10. The first night he cried for a total of 20 minutes and then slept for 10 hours. He did not cry at night. If the baby does wake up at night, Dr. Ferber recommends following the same procedure as above (3, 5, 10). With each night, the intervals are supposed to get longer. Dr. Ferber states that it typically takes three nights, but may take up to two weeks. For the first week, our son would cry for 15-30 minutes at the start of the night and then would sleep for 9.5-10.5 hours. With each day the crying was less intense. In the second week, he would cry for 2-8 minutes. Now it has been about a month. At night, we bathe our son, feed him, and then I usually burp him, sing a song and put him down. He rolls over onto his tummy, without crying, and sleeps from 7:30-8:00pm until 6:00-7:00am.

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Breast feeding and back pain

Posted by Alina on Thursday Oct 23, 2008 Under body mechanics, feeding, useful tips

Breast feeding often results in some back, neck, and even shoulder pain for the mother. Being aware of and correcting body mechanics can have a big impact on preventing and/or relieving some of this pain.

Breastfeeding in sitting:

1. Choose a comfortable seat, with neck/head support if possible.

2. Use armrests or place pillows to support forearms/elbows.

3. A small pillow or rolled up towel at low back for lumbar support may help.

4. Bring the baby to the breast rather than leaning down to the baby. This may require placing the baby on a couple of pillows or placing an extra pillow under the Boppy or the My Breast Friend.

5. Try to have the baby’s weight resting on pillows so that your arms are relaxed.

6. It often feels good to elevate the legs and rest them on a foot stool.

7. Periodically perform a body position check: shoulders down, head/ neck in neutral (not forward), back relatively straight, abdomen slightly tucked, legs relaxed.

Breastfeeding lying down on your side:

1. Place pillow under your head.

2. Place the arm you are laying on straight out in front of you, may bend elbow to bring hand under head.

3. Make sure your head is aligned with the rest of your spine, not excessively forward.

4. Bending hips and knees and placing pillow between knees should help relieve back pain.

5. Placing a pillow behind your back, or having your partner close behind you to lean on and rolling 1/4 of a turn back may also help relax the back muscles.

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High Chair in Manhattan Apartment

Posted by Alina on Saturday Oct 18, 2008 Under Baby Products, feeding

We live in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan, as seems to be happening more and more with new families, according to a recent NY Times article. As a result of having limited space, I had some serious thinking to do when choosing a high chair. When I went to a store to look at them, I was surprised at the amount of floor space that most of them required. Even if the chair part looks small, the base is typically quite large. As a gift, I received the Phil and Teds Mee Too chair. I think this is a fantastic product! This chair attaches to most tables and counter tops, is very light weight (2 lbs), easy to clean, and folds up flat to the size slightly larger than a laptop, making it great for going out to restaurants and traveling. It can hold up to 40 lbs and has a 3-point safety belt. We typically have it attached to our dining table, so our six month old son can sit with us during meals. We bring it along when we go to visit family, which frees up our hands during dinner and makes him feel like he’s part of the activities.

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Breastfeeding and supplementing with formula

Posted by Alina on Tuesday Oct 14, 2008 Under feeding, useful tips

My son was born 8lbs 8oz. I began with purely breast feeding and at one month he seemed to be OK on the scale, although he did seem a bit thin. At two months, he had dropped to the 5th percentile in weight even though I fed him every couple of hours around the clock. His pediatrician said that we should supplement with formula, he recommended Enfamil Lipil with Iron.

I sought the help of a lactation consultant, Susan E. Burger, MHS, PhD, IBLCLC, RLC, who after exploring lactation issues with me, evaluating and weighing my son before and after feedings, and charting his weight gain from birthf agreed that supplementation was necessary. She worked closely with me and we explored various options. Susan showed me a way to supplement with formula and try to boost my supply at the same time. She had me use a nasogastric tube (Curity Kendall feeding tubes, 36″ long, size 5 fr), one end was taped to my breast, areola, and nipple such that the tip extended just beyond the nipple and in a way that the tube would contact the baby’s tongue. The other end of the tube was dipped into a bottle of formula, which would stand on a chair next to me (below the level of the nipple, so there would be no assistance from gravity). The plan that the lactation consultant devised for me, was to feed my baby 10 minutes on one side, then the other and then again on each side for a total of 40 minutes (4 breasts). At this point I would attach the tube as I just described and have my son latch back on. When he sucked, he was drawing in formula from the bottle and at the same time stimulating the breast to produce more milk. It may sound complicated, but it was quite easy to do and did not require dealing with bottles. After the feeding the tube needs to be flushed with water by use of a plastic syringe. I typically flushed once or twice with hot water and once with cold. Soap should not be used as it is hard to get it out of the very thin tube.  I was advised to use each tube for a week and then throw it out. I mistakenly bought and tried using a tube that was 15″ long, which I thought was too short and difficult to use. I normally placed the bottle with the 36″ tube in it on a chair next to me but with the 15″ I had to hold it in my hand which was too much to juggle while trying to nurse. One thing I should mention about the tube is that on one end it is closed and has two little wholes, this whole piece needs to be cut off creating an open end. The other end has a plastic tip (white or green) and a piece that can be used to plug the opening, I tore off this little plug piece, because it is not needed. This nasogastric tube method is also quite cheap.  (one tube is about $5, I have seen a case of 50 sold for $115.99, making it $2.32/tube)

During this period I also learned about something called the Medela Supplemental Nursing System (SNS). It is the same idea as I just described, except there is a special pouch that goes around your neck that holds the extra milk or formula. I read that the pouch is a bit cumbersome to fill with formula but I’m sure with practice it gets easy. The system costs about $80.

I found this to be a great way for supplementing a very young baby, for increasing lactation, avoiding nipple confusion, and an option if the baby refuses a bottle from the mother. I’ve also read that some women use this method for breastfeeding an adopted baby for bonding.

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How do moms ever get things done?

Posted by Alina on Sunday Oct 12, 2008 Under useful tips

When you start a new job, you usually get some sort of training and there is a period of adjustment where you learn all the small things before you can  take on responsibilities fully and complete projects independently. In the first weeks of coming home with a newborn, I felt like it was much tougher than any job I’ve ever had, there was no training period, I was expected to know how to do something that I had never done before, and I was suddenly working 24 hours a day with very limited sleep of 1-2 hour intervals. I had suddenly gained a new appreciation and respect for anyone who is a parent.

My son is now six months old but I have been thinking about this because I spoke to a friend who recently gave birth and she mentioned that she was having a hard time getting out of the house at appointed times. I knew the exact feeling. My advice for the first few weeks is: don’t try to get too much done. Make one goal for the day, keep it simple, for example, “Today, I will buy some soap”. Don’t plan on getting out at a specific time, just plan on getting out of the house at some point and getting one small thing done. This way, you will not add unnecessary pressure on yourself, and will feel good because you will have set a goal and accomplished it. And if you could not get to it today, then there’s always tomorrow.

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Crib Bedding

Posted by Alina on Friday Oct 10, 2008 Under Baby Products, useful tips

When registering for crib bedding, I looked for something that was made of 100% cotton and had an attractive design. I found that most places sold crib bedding sets that cost $200 and more and often included items that I knew I would not use, such as a diaper stacker. Luckily, I came across Pottery Barn Kids. Their bedding was really cute, made of cotton, and each piece was sold separately, rather than a 4-6 item package. This allowed me to pick and choose pieces that I wanted, and created several less expensive options on the gift registry.

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Soothing a crying baby

Posted by Alina on Tuesday Oct 7, 2008 Under Baby Products, useful tips

When we came home from the hospital with our newborn son, my husband and I felt very excited and more than a bit overwhelmed. We found that at times we were at a loss of what to do when he cried. We would of course check that his diaper was fresh, he had been fed, did not wish to sleep, did not have a burp, and didn’t have a hair wrapped around his finger or toe. When holding, rocking, singing, swaddling, and all our other tricks didn’t seem to work, the one thing that we found extremely helpful during those first weeks was music. We used our iPhones to provide music wherever in the apartment we happened to be. A small music player with speakers will do the same job. Not all music helped to soothe our little guy, but I must say, the Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of the Beatles, was FANTASTIC! This CD features reworked Beatles songs without lyrics and involves some sort of chimes that just seemed to put him in a trance. It was amazing to see how he would stop crying and just listen. The Rockabye Baby series offers reworked versions of music of multiple artists. I also purchased the ones by Coldplay and Bob Marley, but these did not seem to have the same effect. Our son also responded to the Simon and Garfunkel CD’s such as The Best of Simon and Garfunkel and Negotiations and Love Songs as well as classical music, but nothing was like the Rockabye Baby Beatles.

In addition to music, the other super effective calming sound was the blow dryer. Whenever he cried during diaper changes we would just turn it on and he would instantly calm down.

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