Monday, June 27, 2016

food adventures begin

Charlie sits down for his first meal.
Now that we've hit six months, we had the green light to start Charlie on solids. Per usual, he was more than ready, and I was the one dragging my feet. I'm thankful we've been able to establish a good nursing routine, and especially now that he is an efficient eater, it's pretty effortless. Solids, on the other hand, involve a lot more effort- hence my dread. You need a high chair, bibs, placemat/plate, utensils, cup, food, wet wipes/paper towels and lots and lots of stamina. It takes patience to plan meals, patience to prepare or buy food, patience to sit there while baby eats and patience to deal with the mess...oh, the mess.

But alas, the kid can't nurse forever so thus we began introducing solid foods. We are trying to go with the baby led weaning approach. It's just a fancy way of saying that we are letting Charlie feed himself. Basically, you skip over purees and traditional baby food and let baby eat what you eat (within reason, of course).

Charlie joins in family meals along with us. So far, we just do 1 meal a day with him - usually dinner and sometimes we even skip that if circumstances don't allow for it. Eventually we'll work up to three regular meals. I'm enjoying the hands off approach because we all eat together instead of us having to eat before or after feeding Charlie.

I liked this idea as a natural extension of breastfeeding. The baby gets to take the lead in deciding what and how much to eat. And really, since breastmilk is still his main source of nutrition for his first year of life, solids are just icing on the cake at this point. In these early weeks/months, he'll largely play with the food as he learns to pick up, gnaw on, chew and swallow. It's already reduced my stress because I don't have to worry about whether or not he is getting enough to eat or if he finished that whole jar of baby food.

Enjoying a ripe peach
As an added bonus, it's hilarious to watch. He has no trouble getting food to his mouth, and even sans teeth, he often manages to bite off chunks. He hasn't quite gotten the hang of chewing yet so he usually spits out the chunks or attempts to swallow them whole. Luckily, babies have an active gag reflux that is located more forward in their mouths to prevent them from choking until they get the hang of eating. But even in just a few days, he's already improving.

We've found that it works well to give him spears of soft foods (cucumbers, bananas, and watermelon are great for this) that he can more easily grip. But we also give him whatever we are eating with slight modifications. So far this week, he's been offered rice, sweet potatoes, steak, meatballs, carrots, snap peas, zucchini, pineapple, catfish, bell pepper, and more. Sometimes he just plays the food, other times he gnaws on it, and sometimes it disappears so I assume it's been consumed! We are also working on helping him use a cup. He usually just ends up knocking it over or throwing it on the floor, but it's good practice for the future.

It's all trial and error, and it's an adventure for sure. Not everything has made it to his mouth, but so far, nothing has been outright rejected. He makes virtually the same face no matter the food so it's impossible to say if he likes or doesn't like anything yet. And for your viewing pleasure, here is Charlie in action vs. a cucumber.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Six Months

We've made it half a year! And we've all survived! There is something about six months that just seems monumental. It feels like we are right on the verge of hopping on the little man express. I can't stop it, and I just need to enjoy the ride.

You did not cooperate for your monthly photo. I tried three different times before giving up. Your 6-month appointment was today. You went through quite the growth spurt these past couple of months. You measured 28.25 inches, which puts you in the 97% for height. You weigh 16 lbs 4 oz, which puts you in the 25th percentile. Tall and lanky. You certainly don't look thin - I think all your fat is in your cheeks and thighs!

This age is so. much. fun. You are starting to become more independent and wanting to do more things on your own. You started sitting up unassisted right after 5 months, and now you can sit up on your own for several minutes. This has made you quite happy, and it's all you want to do these days. Mom likes this too because you are content to sit on the floor and play with your toys.

I'm sure you already have your sights set on your next move - learning to crawl. You get pretty upset when something you want is out of reach. You've figured out some creative ways to scooch, roll, or twist your way toward the object of your desire, but no crawling yet. It frustrates you to no end, but it's pretty cute to watch you try.

We took a few steps back over the last month regarding sleep. Nothing too drastic, but of course as soon as I felt like we were really hitting our stride and stringing together a few nights of no wakings, you changed things up. I blame the developmental leap we just survived. It was a doozy, but yet again, it was fun to watch you learn and master new skills. You have still been napping well overall, and going down easily at night, but your latest curveball is waking up within the first 1-2 hours and having a bit of trouble going back to sleep. However, once you do go back to sleep, you generally stay asleep until 7:00 a.m.

We spent the last 10 days in Kansas and Oklahoma visiting Schmeema & Papa, and then celebrating cousin Abby's first birthday. All things considered, you did really well. You were well behaved on the flights (save the last 15-20 minutes on the final leg, but I don't blame you - it was a short flight that lasted about 1 hour longer than it needed to), and you rolled with all the schedule upheavals. You were pretty content and happy during the day, but you did have trouble sleeping. It was a bit of a roller coaster - some naps were great, others were a fight. Some bedtimes were fairly easy, other nights you ended up waking a lot and/or sleeping in the big bed with me. It's hard to say how much of it was the travel vs. growth spurt vs. developmental leap vs. teething vs. all of the above. Once I accepted it was going to be a challenge getting you to sleep, I actually enjoyed all the extra snuggles. It's been a long time since you fell asleep in my arms, and it was nice to just be still with you again (you are such a wiggle worm that you have to be asleep or really, really tired in order to cuddle). But now that we are back at home, we are hoping to get back on track.

We are introducing solids this week - you are more than ready, but we thought it made sense to start in earnest once we were back home. You did enjoy a few bites of watermelon a couple of days ago in Oklahoma. And when Abby was eating her birthday cake, you helped her out by sticking your whole hand right in there. We intervened before you could get your hand to your mouth... you poor kid. Your parents are no fun.

You smile at us all the time, and we get you to laugh uncontrollably at least once a day, but when we are out and about, you are quite somber. You just really want to look around and take in all the new sights and sounds. You have no time for people distracting you from your observations. Of course, people are always smiling at you or talking to you (I mean, you are pretty my totally biased opinion), but you generally give them zero reaction. ZERO. I spend a lot of time apologizing to people on your behalf. It's pretty funny to watch, though, because I know it's coming every time.

There are no teeth yet, but maybe you are working on some? It's hard to say. You've always put everything in your mouth so I can't necessarily blame that on teething. And when I say everything, I mean everything. I know all babies chew on things, but you chew on EVERYTHING. In fact, you immediately reject toys and objects that can't fit in your mouth. Your favorite toys are not toys at all, but random things you find to stuff in your mouth. You love chewing on water bottles, wrappers, paper, and plastic ziploc bags (you don't even use pacis anymore, but I keep the ziploc baggie filled with pacis in your diaper bag for pure entertainment). Lately, you've been chomping down on bags of frozen corn or peas. If nothing is readily available, you'll gnaw on our fingers, hair, jewelry, phones, or even my face. If it's within reach, it goes in your mouth. We are going to be in real trouble when you start to crawl.

Favorite activities include bouncing in your jumperoo and flying around in mom or dad's arms. You especially love being tossed in the air. You like almost any toy that can fit in your mouth so it's hard to say if you have a favorite - probably still the Baby Einstein music toy. It's the master distracter. Your shark stuffed animal is also a favorite - you like to eat his nose. You stare in wonder at your crib aquarium. I use it to keep you still before and after naps when I'm getting you in and out of your sleepsuit and pajamas.

We can add bathroom hand dryers to the list of things you hate. You get a little cranky when you are tired, when you topple over and want to be sitting up again or when you can't reach what you want. Otherwise, you are a pretty content baby. Of course, since you are so serious, we never really know. We have simply taken the position that we assume you are happy unless you make it very clear otherwise.

Your personality it coming out more and more each day. You are fascinated by the littlest things. I'm always amazed at what you will find interesting or hilarious. One day, you laughed and laughed when I simply dropped a plush ball onto the floor over and over again. Another day, ripping pages out of a catalog was the greatest thing that ever happened to you. Of course, if I tried dropping the ball again or giving you a catalog to play with, you would probably look at me with your sarcastic side eye as if to say, "These things are old news, Mom. Try again."

You like to observe and study things before making a move, but once you've decided you want something or want to do something, you will not be denied. It's always a fun game to hypothesize about your future temperament. It's all a guess at this point, but I do think we'll be able to look back someday and recognize pieces of your personality that are forming even now. People who know me and your dad often comment on how much you are like us. We get a lot of "he is so your child" remarks. I hope we do you proud, little man.

A bird pooped on your head this month. You were unfazed. And that's all she wrote. Let's do this again next month.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

the baby item(s) i couldn't live without

I've been asked a few times what baby items I really love. It's always a loaded question because personal preference makes all the difference, and every baby is so different. What worked for me might be a terrible idea for you.

That being said, there is one item I really loved, and I think every mom would benefit from owning one. But first, the back story.

For the first few weeks, Charlie slept in a pack n play in our bedroom. (This one from Nuna, which I love - it has a built in bassinet option that is great for newborns). All were happy with this arrangement, but about 5 weeks in, Jon left for a couple of nights on a work trip. After one early morning feeding, I was being lazy and instead of getting out of bed to put Charlie back down in his pack n play, I kicked the pillows off the bed, rolled the covers down, and let him sleep on the half of the bed that Jon normally occupies.

Charlie loved it, and I loved it so the next night, I decided to let Charlie sleep in the big bed with me for the entire night. It was such a luxury. Instead of having to get out of bed every time he fussed, I just reached over to soothe or feed him as needed. We both slept great.

But, alas, Jon returned and Charlie got booted back to his pack n play. After one night of our old pack n play arrangement, I said never again. I had been totally spoiled by having Charlie right next to me. So that very next day, we loaded up the car - baby gift cards in hand - and went to Buy Buy Baby to pick up this beauty, the Halo Bassinest.

It's actually not that beautiful, and it's pretty expensive for what it is, but it made all of my new mom dreams come true. My only regret is that I didn't have it from day one. Charlie has since grown out of it, much to my dismay, but it's still my favorite baby item.

It sits right next to the bed (adjustable for your bed height), and has one side that easily pushes down so you can reach in to soothe or pick up your baby. For c-section and/or nursing moms, this would be especially great. The mesh siding is not only safe for baby, but easy for you to check in on him whenever you want. Again, really great for nervous moms who spend half of the night worrying that baby has stopped breathing.

You can get the one without any extra bells and whistles, but I say spend the extra $50 for the version that comes with the nightlight. It's the perfect amount of light to peek on baby or to get him out for a midnight snack. It also plays music and vibrates. I didn't use those features very often, but I loved having the light feature enough to justify the higher price.

The other awesome feature is how it swivels. Unlike other co-sleepers or bassinets that are stationary, this one swivels 360 degrees so you can easily get in and out of bed. I mean you should probably just watch the video to see how amazing this bassinet is.

You may not think you want a co-sleeper, and that's fine...if you have a miracle baby that sleeps through the night from day one. But if your baby doesn't, do yourself a favor and get this bassinet. It may not seem like a big deal, but every time you get out of bed - even if it's just to walk to the other side of the room - you lose sleep. Sleep is precious. You do not want to lose any more sleep than necessary. Being able to roll over to give baby his pacifier, or make sure he is still breathing, or to feed him is a luxury you will want in your life once baby is here.

I have not been paid by Halo. I just really love this product. Anything that allows mom to get more sleep is a big win in my book. It should also be noted that Charlie had no trouble transitioning out of this after hitting 4 months so if you are scared that a co-sleeping baby will never sleep in his own bed, you probably shouldn't be too worried.


And just for funsies, here are a few other baby items I recommend (these would also make awesome gifts). You can find great lists out there with lots of recommendations and info so I won't bore you with a rundown of every baby product I use and love. But here are some things I didn't necessarily see on every list, but I am so glad I found:

Keekaroo changing pad - If you are turning a regular or existing dresser into a changing table (which I highly recommend because it can grow with your child), you probably can't do any better than this changing pad. It's non-skid material means you can plop it down anywhere and it won't slide around. It also can be easily wiped down, it doesn't require covers that will need to be washed, and it looks way better than your average changing pad.

Babiators - These may seem like a silly item, but babies kind of hate having the sun in their eyes and car seat/stroller shades can only do so much. These sunglasses not only look adorable, but they come with a little case, cleaning cloth, strap and best of all, a lifetime guarantee. Just register them online and if they are ever lost or broken, you get a replacement pair.

Ubbi Diaper Pail - So obviously you will see diaper pails on lots of lists, this one included, but I couldn't resist adding it to my own list because it's just that great. We kept this in our master bedroom since that's where Charlie slept and was often changed for the first 4+ months. Our master bedroom did not smell like poop in the slightest (and we - rather embarrassingly - only emptied the pail once a week on trash day). Enough said.

Zutano Booties - Keeping socks on a baby is a full-time job. I thought it was ridiculous to spend over $20 on baby booties until these arrived via the Amazon prime angel and saved my life. They are easy to put on and they actually stay on. Charlie wore his fleece pair all winter, and they didn't wear out and they never fell off or got lost.

Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit - I had never heard of this product before, but it was given to me at my shower by a fellow mom who should probably be considered for sainthood. It's designed to help babies transition out of the swaddle. We just went cold turkey from swaddle to sleepsuit one night and have never looked back. When it comes time for your baby to lose the swaddle, I highly recommend giving this a try.

Pacifier Clips - We were about 2-3 months into parenting before it occurred to me to use a pacifier clip. Duh. Mom brain is real, and I think common sense is the first thing to go. But, here is my real tip - even if your baby doesn't use a paci, these are amazing for keeping toys from being dropped. I use them religiously now to clip balls, rings, teethers, etc. to Charlie's shirt, car seat or stroller. No more picking up his toy every time he drops it. Genius!